There are two switches on each earpiece which can be used to have 4 different types of tunings.
1. With both the switches up the SG3 delivers the best possible balance (default) 2. With both the switches down it delivers more forward vocals 3. First switch up and 2nd switch down means better bass body and lesser treble energy 4. Reversing that delivers lesser bass body and more energetic treble.
Let me emphasize about the other three switch positions as I reviewed the earphone with both switches up.
2. With both switches down you get just a bit less bass emphasis with elevated and lush mid range, the focus is at vocal and upper mid region, there isn’t much help at the lower mid region. The treble region remains more or less the same with notes presentation but the extension is slightly lacking.
3. With the first switch up and 2nd switch down the bass brings more body and boom while the rest of the spectrum takes a back seat. Mid rage and treble region miss out on a bit of forwardness and notes depth.
4. With the first switch down and 2nd switch up the treble and upper mid range feels more forward while the bass feels a bit hollow with rest of the spectrum more or less the same.
TECH TALK AND MATCHING WITH SOURCES:-
A look at the spec sheet of the SG3 reveals its different impedance values for each switch position. It ranges from 13-23 OHM and is fairly easy to drive out of less powerful sources. Using it with lower end mobile phones might result into some background noise, it is good enough with mid range mobile phones and should be perfectly fine with high end ones. Another good thing about the SG3 is it is very easy to drive plenty loud.
Plenue R (8.5/10):-
When the analytical sounding Plenue R is paired with the SG3 it delivers slightly faster decay speed resulting into sharper, cleaner and deeper notes with slight dry feel to it. The bass loses some weight and is not as punchy. The mid bass loses some fullness. The mid range sounds more precise with admirable clarity and resolution. Especially the micro details are marginally more transparent giving a better perception of clarity. Vocals are a bit tighter and less juicy while maintaining similar texture. Treble region is slightly more energetic with equally good extension. The stage size is slightly smaller than the M6 from every direction.
The pairing of Plenue R with the SG3 is totally a matter of preference. If you like a more analytical approach this pairing is very good, if you like it lush..
Shanling M5s (8.8/10):-
This pairing brings out the more musical side of the SG3. It makes the SG3 sound slightly less sharp, a bit more mature and poised compared to the R. Where the R can feel like a bit on the agile side, the M5s is a bit more collected. Notes have slightly better precipitation resulting into fuller body. Bass delivers nice slam with slightly bigger mid bass body. The mid range feels a bit less analytical, giving up on a bit of attack and bite. The vocals feel more throaty and textured. The instruments have similar transparency but smoother finishing and thicker notes body make them lose some attack. The treble region has slightly better perceived extension thanks to the deeper stage. Notes presentation is exactly similar to the mid range but treble is more energetic and slightly forward.
Even when the M5s is not as sharp as the R it still brings out a lot of details with fantastic clarity.
VS TSMR4 pro ($319):-
Back in 2017 the TSMR3 really started the tuning switch trend. Oh my my are they good.. I previously reviewed the TSMR2 and was impressed by that and the TSMR4 pro with its 4 BA drivers (2 CI-22955 drivers for mid and low, 2 ED-29689 drivers for high) is even more capable than that. Thanks to 3 switches it has 7 tuning possibilities (000 an invalid position).
Compared to the SG3 the 123 position of the 4 pro provides more bass body and slam. The mid range is slightly thicker with more lush notes. The Tonality and texture is better across the spectrum. Instruments feel less sharp, a bit blunt when compared to the SG3. It doesn’t have the bite. Treble is similar with extension but is not as tingly or engaging as the SG3. The stage is similar with a more in the head presence. The TSMR4 pro has a bit more details than the SG3 but lets the advantage diminish by lacking notes depth and sharpness. Thanks to more leaner notes the SG3 manages to deliver slightly better separation and layering.
It comes down to personal taste, if you like sharp and more pin point notes, prefers precision over fun the SG3 is better than the smoother sounding TSMR4 pro.
VS Avara AV3 ($340):-
The 3BA driver earphone from Avara customs is a very capable earphone which can give the ER-4 series a run for the money. It is a very precise and detailed earphone. Where the SG3 is slightly gloomy and nearly colorless the AV3 brings more brightness.
Bass region of the AV3 has similar sub bass presence but the mid bass and upper bass are more prominent giving a sense of fullness. The SG3 has slightly better notes depth but the projection is lower than the AV3. Vocals are very similar and so are texture and tonality. Instruments have equally good clarity. The similarities lie with notes body and finishing, both have equally sharp finish. Where the AV3 pulls ahead of the SG3 is the forwardness across the mid range, even the micro details sound clearer, more transparent. The treble region of the AV3 is similar. Let it be extension or energy both the earphones are not much apart. Stage size of the AV3 is slightly bigger in every direction.
When it comes to shear amount of details and technical abilities the AV3 reigns supreme, it not only delivers better transparency and micro details it manages to fill the stage with better density. What it does perfectly is keeping the shadow of the notes in the background while bringing newer notes at the foreground, a skill missing with the SG3.
SG3 is one of the most expensive earphones from TFZ and it doesn’t disappoint. It does not have a very full and meaty feel to it but it doesn’t try to be a very analytical or a dead serious sounding IEM either. It has a nice balance of transparency, details and musicality which is a bit inclined towards accuracy and precision.
Is it the best earphone you can buy for under $400? Its subjective, but are there better alternatives? Yes, the AV3 can be an answer for those who are looking for a more detailed and analytical sound, the TSMR4 pro has more lush and musical presentation. Go for the SG3 if you are in the market looking for an earphone that fits nicely, has a nice cable, looks good and sounds detailed and engaging while having a bit of analytical touch.