I don’t think there is a single person who is not aware of TFZ, The Fragrant Zither is a Chinese brand which makes some of the best single dynamic driver IEMs on budget and around $200. They mostly work on dual cavity chambers but for the last two years they have come up with BA based earphones. Their foray started with the Secret Garden series which was supposed to get a 3BA version along with 6 and 9BA models. The 6 and 9BA models are yet to materialize but the 3BA version has been in the market for around a year.
There were mixed feelings about the SG3, some talked about how they will fair with BA based earphones but there were no doubt about TFZ’s tuning capabilities. Priced at $359 The SG3 comes in a handful of colors, red, black, purple and grey. It houses 3 BA drivers, one for bass, one for mids and one for highs in a 3 bore design. What really set the 3BA earphone apart from others are its tuning switches, two of them, some brands use three but TFZ has made a more conservative approach here.
In this competitive market the SG3 faces competition from a lot of earphones in the $300-400 price bracket. I will be comparing the SG3 with TSMR4, Fibae 3 and Avara AV3.
I would like to thank Apos Audio for the Unit.
You can get your Secret Garden 3 from here:-
apos.audio on SG3:
“The TFZ Secret Garden 3 is a high-end IEM within the TFZ line-up and we feel the naming of the product doesn’t do it justice. It’s almost double the cost of the Secret Garden, but it would be grossly unfair to compare it to its cheaper cousin. The “3” uses three well-known, well regarded Knowles balanced armatures within the internals which can be further adjusted with 4 preset sound signatures (that favor between highs to lows). The result is a very high end product. From a listening perspective, the Secret Garden 3 delivers value for its price and our only criticism would be the prominent branding on the housing (which is a bit surprising given how beautiful TFZ products look, in general).”
ACCESSORIES AND PACKAGING:-
The SG3 comes in a neat looking white box with information about the earphone on the back of it. You can find a warranty card and the cable inside a paper box, beneath all of this is the signature white carry case which comes with all TFZ IEMs. You can find two sets tips in the case. The black wide bore tips are supposed to provide better stage size and a more balanced sound while the grey-red tips are supposed to bring out a bit more bass. A sim ejection type tool placed inside the case to flick the switches is the last bit of accessory out of the box.
Of all the accessories the switch flicking tool needs improvement. It has sharp edges and looks bad, unpolished and rough.
BUILD AND ERGONOMIC:-
TFZ don’t really believe in semi custom type shells, we don’t see that most often with their budget earphones, even their expensive Series 7 has a simple design to it. But for the BA series they have gone with a more stage friendly semi custom type shell. A lot of brands use metal in this price range, some have resin shells. The SG3 has a plastic shell with a few layers of medical grade resin on it. The marble stone type back plate design gives it a nice character. It feels sturdy and strong to the hand. The overall build quality is very good. I will not like to drop it on solid floor though.
The nozzle of the SG3 is on the wider side compatible with t400 size tips. Even though the nozzle is is not really deep it is deep enough to escape the shallow title. The foam tip which comes in the box gives a more secure fit than the rubber tips. The shell has a standard size to it and might not fit the smallest of ears. The wing on the inner side of the earpiece helps a lot with the fit by providing good amount of traction inside the ear. Thanks to it the SG3 finds itself between some of the most comfortable earphones in this price range.
HOW IS THE CABLE:-
I complain a lot about cables because I expect expensive earphones to ship with aesthetically complimenting cables. The SG3 ships with one of the best quality cable in this price range. It uses a 4 core silver plated oxygen free copper cable. The braided cable has a nice feel to it, there are no unnecessary layers of rubber on it hence it’s not bouncy and has little to no memory. It’s very supple but the thinner 2core cables coming out of the y splitter are slightly prone to tangling. There is no microphonics to worry about though. The straight 3.5mm gold plated jack has a nice metal finish to it and is reinforced with some stress reliever. The best part of the cable is the cable guide. It is very supple and has little to no weight to it. Putting on the 2pin jack is easier thanks to the protruding socket.