TFZ Exclusive 5 Review – Sound Like Salted Caramel

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Introduction –

TFZ pioneered a truly revolutionary dynamic driver formula with their recently released King, a $100 earphone that held a notable advantage over many other iems I tested within a similar price range. However, though the King is an immensely impressive earphone, its aggressive mid-forward tones are certainly not for everyone nor are their large housings and bright blue colour scheme (though TFZ has since released a gunmetal variant).

TFZ has made an intelligent move here, by filtering this cutting edge technology down into their lower end models, creating an entire lineup of competitive earphones at various important price points. And perhaps the most sought after is the Exclusive 5, sitting a step below the King, the 5 sports an enticing full-metal build and a more universally pleasing v-shaped tonality based on the same driver tech as the King. Let’s see whether the Exclusive 5 is the King alternative everyone has hoped it would be.

Buy at Penonaudio

 

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Chi Kong Hui from Penon Audio very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Exclusive 5 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

Unboxing –

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The entire exclusive series has essentially the same packaging though I have few complaints since TFZ provide a nice simple unboxing with a comprehensive set of accessories.

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The Exclusive earphones come in a tall box with the TFZ branding embossed in silver print.

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Inside sits the earphones within a moulded tray with the accessories below. TFZ include a soft pouch with every earphone in addition to a range of ear tips, 3 pairs of wide bore tips, 3 pairs of small bore tips, a pair of dual flange tips and a pair of foams.

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About Author

Avid writer, passionate photographer and full-time student, Ryan's audio origins and enduring interests lie within all aspects of portable audio. An ongoing desire to bring quality audio to the regular reader underpins his reviewer ethos as he seeks to bring a new perspective on the cutting edge and budget dredge alike.

12 Comments

  1. matt colquhoun on

    So I purchased the EX 5 and DELIGHTED I did. IMO it beats the iBasso it01 on sound and build. When i bought the it01 I was actually wasn’t expecting it to be so smooth and uncontrolled in the sub bass. The EX 5 is brighter but not fatiguing (I’m treble sensitive and it hits the line for me perfectly). The bass on the EX 5 is just… WOW. This is sub woofer bass, this is full sized headphone bass… and done just perfect as it never clouds the mids… everything else is just so clear.

    What i like most is the timing of music… everything is so fluent (is that the right word?).

    The detail on offer is better than the iBasso it01.

  2. matt on

    Hi Ryan, another great review. I’m looking at the Ex 5 (£70) for just a good fun, jump about town or on the train listen. I’m also looking at the Basic (£60) tho. I already have the LZA4 which is great but I’d like a bit more detail /clarity in the mids/highs and less bass bloat. I use Black/Black as favourite.

    … and here’s the Q you get asked most… what would you recommend?

    • Ryan Soo on

      Hi Matt,

      It’s a tough pick between the two. The Basic is slightly more balanced and less bloated as it has more sub-bass and less mid-bass than the E5. The E5 is more V-shaped overall however, it has more clarity, especially within the highs. If you want a clean bass presentation that still has heaps of slam, a smooth midrange and crisp but otherwise dark high-end, the Basic is excellent, it also isolates and fits much better. I would say the E5 is more fun sounding with its bigger mid-bass and brighter top-end, it has more air and a better soundstage. The E5 also really nice build quality though it’s pretty heavy so it doesn’t disappear in the ear like the Basic.

      Cheers,
      Ryan.

      • matt on

        Thank you Ryan, I went ahead and bought the Ex 5… and I’ve just saw the Basic at £50 refurbished on eBay UK from reputable online shop so might buy that too lol.

        • matt on

          Out of curiosity what is your daily headphone of choice or do you stick solely to IEMs?

  3. Kyle on

    How do these compare to the ibasso it01 and fiio fh1? Which sounds best?

  4. Jeff on

    I just got the Kinera H3’s, and while I really like the sound, I am not sure I’m sold on the amount of bass provided. While before I bought them I had read both the reviews for the TFZ Exclusive 5’s and Kinera H3’s, and ultimately decided on the H3’s, I am wondering if you think it’d be worth also getting the TFZ’s if I want a little more bass I can ‘feel’.

    Or do you think it might be a better idea just to be happy with the H3’s and save the money for a pair of IEM’s that’s definitively better than both the TFZ’s and Kinera’s?

    • Ryan Soo on

      Hard to say really, both iems are similarly bassy, the Exclusive 5 is more v-shaped to my ear. When shopping for your next earphone, maybe look for one with a sub-bass emphasis because a lot of earphones boost mid-bass instead which is more or less how the Kinera’s sound.

      • Jeff on

        Thanks for the reply. The reviews made it sound like the TFZ’s were bassier. I’ll hold off for now.

  5. Martin on

    Hi,
    What would your choice be out of Oriveti Basic or 1More Quad driver.

    Or can you recommend any IEMs in the £100-200 mark. I love deep bass but i also like them to sound balanced as i love jazz fusion and acoustic music too.

    Thank you for all your efforts in your informative and welcome site

    Best
    Martin

    • Martin on

      Sorry. I meant to include these as an option as well as the Basic and 1More

      • Ryan Soo on

        Hard to say, if you’re looking for balance, the Basic and TFZ 5 aren’t the most even, linear earphones though they also aren’t horribly sculpted either. For acoustic, I might take the Basic since it’s smoother with a more natural midrange, treble isn’t super sparkly or airy but has a little more aggression that makes acoustic sound nice and crisp. The 1More Quad is more balanced than both, it has nice clarity and a great soundstage, it’s a good choice if you don’t mind the ergonomics and lack of removable cable. Pinnacle P1 is a pretty good option as well unless you’re treble sensitive of wants loads of sub-bass but deep and mid-bass are organic and full. It’s a good all-rounder and the tuning is nice for acoustic.

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