disclaimer: I was approached by a representative of The Fragrant Zither (TFZ) asking if I was interested in reviewing the T2G. I’ve had several TFZ models in the past and have generally found them to represent good value so I agreed to review the T2G. I have no financial interest in TFZ, any of its resellers, or subsidiaries. For more information about TFZ products, Please see their website. To purchase the T2G or other models in the TFZ line, see their store.
Unboxing / Packaging:
Those familiar with the BL-03 packaging or previous TFZ offerings will recognize the package. The box has a clear top that allows the user to see the earpieces in a foam surround at the top with a smaller box containing all the other included items below it. The smaller box contains a carry bag, 6 sets of tips on a card for easy of storage, the cable, a shirt clip, and the instruction book. The earpieces have an additional set of tips attached for a total of 7. This is a solid kit for an item in the $50 range, but the carry bag is a bit of a let down as it feels a bit like raincoat vinyl and is rather stiff.
The T2G follows the same styling cues as previous generations of TFZ with a metallic faceplate and a transparent inner shell that allows the user to see the drivers. From the underside, the earpiece looks semi-circular with the nozzle exiting the top just short of the lead edge. the nozzle has a distinct upward rake and a pronounced lip for tip retention and uses standard T400 sized tips. A single pin-hole vent sits at the center of the dynamic driver and can be obstructed by contact with the ear so some adjustment may be necessary. The bi-pin connector is the hooded type with squared edges so works with non-hooded connectors as well although it looks a bit odd when combined with some non-hooded cables, particularly those with an extension for insertion into a recessed port. Size is best defined as medium/small and I suspect all but the smallest ears wont have fitment issues. BTW, the faceplates are actually better looking than some of the photos suggest as they still had the protective plastic film on them in the early shots.
The heart of the T2G is a 12mm graphene coated dynamic driver with a dual magnet design. TFZ claims a 30% improvement in magnetic flux over the 1st generation driver used in previous models. Rated impedance is 16Ω with a listed sensitivity of 110 dB/mW. This puts the T2G in a class that is easily powered by phones, tablets, and portable devices and while I found it did scale well qualitatively, it didn’t need the extra power provided by more potent sources to be at its best.
The provided cable with the T2G is also going to be fairly familiar with other TFZ products as it is exactly the same as what is shipped with the series 2 and some of the my love series at the very least. Materials are listed as silver plated oxygen free copper in a 4 wire twist up to the splitter and 2 wire twists above it. Hardware starts with a straight 3.5mm jack in a brushed metal housing, followed by a disk shaped splitter in black rubber with the TFZ logo on one side and the stylized Z on the revere. No chin slider is present above the split and the northern ends terminate with pre-formed earhooks and clear .78mm bi-pin hooded housings. L/R markings are moulded into the clear plastic and can be a bit difficult to see. a red ring or dot would be much appreciated for those of us with aging eyes. The cable is rounded out with a velcro tie for storage. Overall, its a pretty standard offering and while some will choose an upgrade cable, the one provided is workable if a bit tangle prone at times.
The T2G comes with 3 sets each of narrow bore and wide bore tips in addition to the tips that ship on the earpieces. The graph below was done using the medium sized wide bore tips which does accentuate the bass (to my ear) but surprisingly running the same test with the narrow bore tips did not reduce or enhance any frequency beyond the margin of error of the equipment so I chose not to display both. Use of foams does improve isolation but changes the signature significantly enough that I preferred to use the medium narrow bores for listening.
Sub-bass has good rumble and is well extended with roll-off not becoming evident until down into the 30Hz range. While probably not basshead level, the sub-bass is certainly a focal point and gives the T2G an almost visceral punch. The good news here is while the T2G shares the same tuning as the earlier T2 models, the Graphene coated driver seems a bit faster on both attack and decay and the T2G is less likely to thicken up or get sloppy as tracks get faster. Mid-bass drops away starting at about 200Hz and is much less a focus than the sub-bass. If anything, the mid-bass and lower mids come across as slightly recessed. Mid-bass textures are good with instruments having good clarity and separation if coming across just a touch thin. The sub-bass helps hide the thinning of the mid-bass so tracks that don’t have a lot of sub-bass will more readily display this trait. Because of the tuning, the T2G is perhaps best suited for EDM and similar genres.
Lower mids start off in the same dip with the mid-bass but the transition is clean with very little bleed evident and no obstruction. Timbre is good for the most part with a little of the thinning previously mentioned but a fairly natural sound. Male vocals do sound a bit thinner and less forward than their female counterparts as the mids definitely move to the front as you go upward. The nice thing here is the previous versions of the T2 had some spikes and dips that made the mids a bit uneven. Here the T2G has a much more gradual rise with no large peaks or deep valleys to detract from it. Female vocals are well defined, have good energy, and a realistic timbre. Guitar lacks a bit of growl at times due to the lower mid recess, and strings are a mixed bag as well with higher voices sounding a bit more realistic than lower. Here again, I think the speed of the driver has improved the original T2 as detail is improved and attack is a bit better defined.
Lower treble continues the climb started by the upper mids and peaks just at the transition into the treble range. This gives the T2G good energy and clarity in the lower-treble but stops short of getting harsh and fatiguing. Treble falls away fairly quickly above the lower treble plateau which contributes to the lack of fatigue, but also limits top end sparkle. Cymbals are generally well rendered but do occasionally sound metallic and a bit unnatural. Snare rattle on the other hand is well delivered and here again I think the driver speed has helped with their presentation. There is a small peak at about 11kHz before roll-off becomes evident above that. This keeps the T2G from feeling too closed in, but again expect air and sparkle to be somewhat limited in comparison even to the original model which had a bit more extension if a bit more uneven treble.
Soundstage / Imaging:
The T2G has a deeper than wide stage with some sense of height. This may be that the mid-bass/lower-mid recess artificially makes the stage seem narrower, but at least to my ear depth is good but width feels fairly intimate by comparison. Separation is good and layering is improved over the original (probably again mostly due to improved transients). Seating the orchestra is fairly straight forward although at times it does place some instruments more front to back than side to side but even then clarity remains fairly good. Imaging is good despite the odd stage shape with movements easily identified and tracked and positions being clean and absolute.
Thoughts / Conclusions:
TFZ has been a prominent player in the budget space with the T2 series being a big reason for that. They offer a lot of performance in the ~$50 space and TFZ continues to improve upon the design. The T2G offers solid construction and as long as reasonable care is taken, they should last well. With the nozzles being part of the shell rather than brass or aluminum, they may be slightly more fragile, but unless really abused this should not be an issue. Signature wise, these are a mid depth V with emphasis points at the sub-bass and lower treble and the recess being mid-bass and lower-mids. The T2G shows that TFZ has been listening to the feedback given regarding previous versions and are actively trying to improve the product. Sub-bass remains a focal point, but is tightened up a bit from previous generations and the treble is much more linear and polite than the previous iteration. The T2G is perhaps best suited for genre’s that don’t rely heavily on lower mids and midbass, and I found the T2G to do its best work with EDM and Hip-hop, while it did acceptably well with pop and rock, and felt less at home with orchestral works. Perhaps oddly, it does reasonably well with piano concerto with the piano having a fairly realistic timbre which is tough at any price point and particularly respectable at the Sub-$100 mark. These weren’t designed with critical listening in mind so it hardly seems fair to criticize them for not performing well in that department. Overall, I think those looking to improve upon what came with their device and looking for more sub-bass push will find the T2G quite appealing.
- Bass - 7/107/10
- Mids - 5.5/105.5/10
- Treble - 6.5/106.5/10
- Soundstage - 5.5/105.5/10
- Imaging - 7/107/10
Pros: good sub-bass push, much improved treble tuning
Cons: recess in mid-bass/lower mids, case feels cheap