Today I’ll be reviewing the TFZ Balance 2M, a single dynamic with detachable MMCX cable. Let’s do this. TFZ (The Fragrant Zither) is somewhat of a newcomer in the IEM world but this Chinese company has already established themselves as a serious contender with their iconic SERIES series. Here’s some information from their website:
“TFZ not only manufactures high-end audio-video products, it is also a unique lifestyle which represents personalized courage, insight and exquisite trendiness. TFZ has been striving to redefine the pure audio-video leisure method and developing it into a heart-stirring leisure activity full of fun and worthy of enthusiastic discussions.”
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” Thomas Merton
This product was sent to me for the purpose of this review. I have no affiliation with the company and all opinions and observations here are my own, based on my experience with the product.
Unboxing the Balance 2M was a real treat, like a fine meal that reveals its individual layers of flavour one by one and combines them all in a culinary delight. These come in a simple black box with the TFZ logo and Balance 2M on the front. I love this kind of plain but sophisticated presentation. It doesn’t try to amaze you with a bunch of marketing hyperbole, rather it lets the product speak for itself.
In the box we find
2 pin airplane adapter
x4 wide bore silicone tips
x4 narrow bore silicone tips
x1 double flange silicone tips
x1 foam tips
Was that a mouthful? It should be. This is a great package and I thoroughly enjoyed myself discovering all the separate accessories.
The provided cable is classy and its dark bronze colour is a perfect match for the gold of the earphones. It feels strong and has decent strain reliefs in all the usual areas. There’s a cable cinch just above the Y-splitter to keep things in place if that’s your preference.
The cable terminates in a rather large L-shaped plug which can cause some difficulty when trying to plug into a phone if it has a case but fortunately was not an issue with any of the DAPs or DACs that I tested with.
The case is the nicest I’ve seen with any IEM to date. It’s large and luxuriously soft pleather feels (and even smells) great, like a nice wallet. It’s too large to fit most pockets but perfect to keep in your bag. There’s enough room for several IEMs or it can comfortably fit your earphones along with a DAP/portable amplifier and some extra accessories. It’s a nice touch and tops off the bundle nicely.
Build, comfort and isolation
These things are built like a tank and are the heaviest earphones I’ve seen to date but because they’re worn over-ear it doesn’t pose any problem whatsoever. It gives you a feeling of solidity and ruggedness wrapped in a luxurious shell. The housings are made of a magnesium alloy and have smooth, rounded edges with a ridged pattern on the outer side.
The nozzles are a standard width so if you’re a tip-roller they should be compatible with most types. The housings are quite large but don’t protrude out of your ears and so have a fairly low profile when being worn. I found the best fit with the shallow, wide bore tips that allow me to fit the whole housing inside my outer ear and get a good seal at the same time.
Isolation is pretty good, as you might expect, having a large chunk of magnesium alloy in your ear.
Equipment used for testing
JRiver media player > Micca OriGen+
JRiver media player > Arcam irDAC-II
FiiO X1 II > Shinrico E11
Utada Hikaru – Deep River album [flac]
Arne Domnerus Group – Jazz at the Pawnshop 2cd album [flac]
iamthemorning – Lighthouse album [flac]
Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts album [flac]
Hilltop Hoods – Drinking From the Sun album [flac]
If you look at the frequency response graph of the B2M you might think that these have a very flat and analytical presentation but that’s far from what this offers. What it does offer is a balanced sound with slightly boosted mid-bass and impressive sub-bass. This is accompanied by some fantastic mids and smooth treble. The Balance 2M doesn’t really need amping to sound good in my opinion and they play well from just about anything.
Bass on the B2m can be meaty with impact when called for but close to neutral for the most part. On bass-heavy tracks, these things can really rumble with a sub-bass that digs deep. I’d say the mid-bass is close to flat but sub-bass seems to be elevated which for me is never a problem as I like to get my feathers ruffled by some shake now and them. Even with hip-hop tracks, the bass is just part of the whole rather than trying to be the star of the show but when tracks have sub-bass in them you’ll most definitely notice.
The B2M has some of the nicest mids and vocals I’ve heard from an IEM in this price range. Female vocals really shine, are rendered beautifully and sound so clear and vibrant. Even Utada Hikaru’s “Traveling” is a breeze to listen to with the B2M. In “Lighthouse” by iamthemorning, Marjana Semkina’s vocals are soft and airy and later in the track, Mariusz Duda’s deep tones are perfectly rendered alongside hers.
High notes are smooth and non-fatiguing but still carry loads of detail to give things a lift. The high hats and cymbals in “Final Thing on My Mind” by The Pineapple Thief don’t have any hint of artificial accentuation and the B2M lets me fully enjoy Gavin Harrison’s great skill. These have a relaxed presentation of high notes which I can comfortably listen to for hours on end.
The soundstage on these is wider than it is deep and imaging is above average giving a good indication of placement and direction. Separation and detail are superb which isn’t an easy thing to achieve with such a smooth high end.
TFZ Balance 2M Conclusion
The TFZ Balance 2M has a clean, balanced sound with smooth highs, great mids and slightly elevated sub-bass. It comes with a wonderful kit of accessories, is well built and very durable, not to mention the detachable MMCX cable. It’s not cheap at around the $200 mark but I do think it’s still a good value IEM.
It’s like a good sounding piece of jewellery but may be physically heavy for some (although they’re worn over ear so maybe not). Personally, I really like the sound signature – smooth highs, velvety vocals and punchy bass in that warm, analogue, dynamic presentation. Highly recommended.