Tangzu Ze Tian Wu Review
Linsoul churns out new brands of IEMs at an impressive pace that few other consumer audio companies can match. The Ze Tian Wu comes from the Tangzu brand; while I haven’t had a chance to try Tangzu models before, I’m more than familiar with Linsoul. Seeing the company’s name associated with with a pair of $150 IEMs that feature sizable 14.5mm planar drivers is certainly enough to evoke an optimistic curiosity from me. Let’s see what what this intriguing little release from Tangzu, the Ze Tian Wu, has to offer in the way of accessories, fit, and, most importantly, sound quality.
What’s In The Box?
-Ze Tian Wu In-Ear Monitors
-Semi-firm leather carrying case
-3 pairs of “Balanced” silicone eartips (S/M/L)
-3 pairs of “Bass Enhanced” silicone eartips (S/M/L)
-1 pair of “Foams” silicone eartips
-Detachable 5N ONC 1.2 meter braided cable (2 pin to 3.5mm, 4.4mm balanced version also available)
-Tangzu Drink Coaster
Look and Feel
Probably the nicest looking part of the package is the red-leather carrying case with some gold-colored zipper lining. The metallic purple on the back of the housing is the prominent contributing aesthetic factor to the Ze Tian Wu itself, and is engraved with a curly, nondescript design that somewhat resembles flowery embroidery. The rest of the visual features, from the dark brown cable to the black on the ear-facing side of the buds, is tasteful even if a bit plain. Overall, these little guys are no Xelento in the style department, but still have a nice, attention-grabbing look to them that doesn’t go over-the-top.
Despite appearing a bit large, I was pleased to find that the IEMs slipped into my ears with exceptional ease. Once in, no adjustments or fuss was necessary as the rounded design of the housing was conducive to a comfortable fit. The cable was a perfect, casual length and was particularly resistant to tear with its well insulated and braided design.
Also, these come with a drink coaster, which is, um, nice? There’s bound to be one person reading this who finds that to be the dealmaker.
At a low impedance of 16 ohms, the Ze Tian Wu can be plugged right into a phone and reach satisfactorily high volumes without additional amplification. Lots of respect to the Tangzu brand for squeezing Planar drivers into such an affordable and accessible unit that a casual listener can enjoy.
Driver: 14.5mm Planar
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Impedance: 16 ohms
Sensitivity: 100 dB
Distortion rate: <1%
Let’s start with what I liked the most about the Tangzu Ze Tian Wu’s staging. As one might expect from a unit with a planar magnet, there was special quality to its response time. The heavy and fast tremolo panning on the synth in the intro of “Between the Lines” by Robyn was represented with a stark staccato that had sound leaving the left bud and flying to the right as quickly as it had previously entered. This quality was noticeably present in just about any track that featured such fast and sharp pans and made for fun and, if I may say, zippy listens.
There’s not much depth in the Ze Tian Wu’s general imaging. And while I didn’t find an amazing width in the image either, it didn’t disappoint me and seemed pretty standard for IEMs in the $150 range. Most of the distinction and layering seemed to occur in theZe Tian Wu’s balance, which, despite having a somewhat generic mids scoop, I generally enjoyed and was undeniably clean and spacious. If you’re reading this and already have a lot of experience and exposure to a variety of IEMs and headphones, I’ll just say that you’ll recognize the character of the general balance pretty quickly. If that’s not you, that’s okay, I’ll flesh it out below.
The Ze Tian Wu has a special emphasis in what sounds like the sub 80 Hz region while tastefully placing slight attenuation on high bass. This gives kick drums and bass parts room to come through with pronounced power without muddying up the mix. Though subs had a touch of vibration to them, rumbling qualities were only fleetingly present. This certainly isn’t meant as a criticism, but rather a neutral observation. There was still a satisfying thickness in the subs and mid bass that gave me something to chew on, and they came across as an important and pronounced part of the Ze Tian Wu’s timbre.
This probably depends on who you ask, but the middle frequencies seemed to be the weakest part of the overall balance. Once again, for those experienced listeners, you know the story: boosted subs and highs that find room via an attenuated center. While I can tolerate a moderate mid scoop, the one present in the Ze Tian Wu’s balance was unusually wide, spanning quite a large area of the spectrum. I found this generally thinned out vocals, and weakened horn parts specifically. Heavier rock tracks took a bit of hit as well, with distorted guitars losing some meat and teeth. This mids balance isn’t quite right for rock or jazz, but can admittedly do justice to pop, dance, and generally more electronic genres that take on a lot of character from the extremes of the frequency spectrum rather than the center.
I may have been harsh on the mids, but I can honestly say that the planar drivers in the Ze Tian Wu bring a crisp and well-done sparkle to the high end that sets it apart from a lot of other IEMs in the price range. The treble roll off featured in virtually all earphones seemed to start late and slope gently. Even if the mids tuning was bringing down the meat behind vocal parts, the boldly present high end breathed some refreshing air into them. Hi-hats landed pointy-side-down, penetrating the thick sub bass that anchors the sound on the other side of the frequency spectrum with a satisfying and musical contrast. My only slight criticism of the high end is that sibilants could come across a bit loudly at times which could perhaps lead to some degree of ear fatigue for some listeners; this effect may be the result of the lower mids amplitude relative to the highs rather than the high end proper.
We’ve seen some pretty impressive and not-terribly-expensive IEM releases in the past month, from ThieAudio’s Oracle to iKKO’s Asgard OH5. While I may have been a bit critical of the Ze Tian Wu’s mids profile, I want to clarify that it nonetheless is continuing the apparently recent trend of bringing clean and clear sound quality to an affordable price point. Though my rock-leaning music preferences weren’t quite right for the balance, pop and especially drill and trap boomed and glittered. For me, the genuine planar driver qualities exhibited by this Tangzu release makes the $150 price tag seem like quite the bargain. I am certainly keeping these in mind as the perfect gift for the the people in my life who aren’t insufferable audio nerds like myself.