Alright so, this is the situation: I usually only post full reviews, but since TGXEAR buds seem to be as hot as Supreme merch drops, I decided to give a quick first impressions for this set and use it to link to everyone that has sent messages regarding it, added to my giant queue of sets to give a take on, so here we go. Please do keep in mind none of these are final and I did not A/B/C/D yet. Take a huge pack of salt with you from now on.
Disclaimer: This unit was sent, for free, by Tgx78 in exchange for a written-review and feedback. No incentives of any kind were given. The thoughts and opinions you are about to read in these impressions or in my full review are my own.
Driver: 100ohm Bio-fiber diaphragm
Purchase and info: TGXEAR.com
Price: $299 – On sale now for 11% off until 11.1 with the code TGX111 on checkout
Source used: Topping L70
First commendable thing will be attributed to packaging and shipment care, which is really a step up and all about the details. The earbuds came inside a foam block to protect during transportation, the now usual pin is blue and the new case is bigger but feels more premium with the slick logo engraved – accompanied by a band in case you wish to use it on the go.
Speaking of details, there’s now a customized card inside explaining how to use/fit earbuds. I mean, how more professional can this guy get month after month?
As for the build itself, they follow the same no less than perfection by Jim, but this time stepping away from the usual crystal clear looks and debuting as transparent black shells – almost as a mark to tell you these are special to him, or the so-called flagship.
Before diving into the sound impressions, I will have to take a pitstop and talk about the cable. A premium eye-catcher 4 core graphene that has been one of my favorites for a good while now, which makes me glad to see it touching some earbud’s land. All TGXEAR catalog shares the same 4.4mm termination with his logo engraved in the grip, but this time ending in rhodium plating instead of the usual gold. The latter would break the clean dark look and since all the details matter, rhodium was the choice – and my hat is off to that.
Now, it ain’t all rainbows and leprechauns. This also means the cable is slightly heavier than its previous offers, which means nothing on IEMs, but it will on earbuds, as they hang. They can mess with your fitting after a while, so you might find yourself re-adjusting it as the session goes on. You’ve been warned.
Now that the ramble was cut short, time for some actual dough. Do keep in mind that these impressions might completely change over time as I have only used them for a couple of hours, implying a heavy dosage of salt. Not much A/B was done yet.
In general, I would describe the Ripples as a warm-balanced bud, with just south of neutral treble presence and with the mid-range on full display (as in forward).
Starting by the thicker tail, the sub-bass rolls off around 30hz and follows suit along with Tantalus in that regard, meaning that the Serratus is still the most sub-bassy offer in his shop. It is objectively just good, which is a contrast with its mid-bass.
The mid-bass is not good. It is not great. It’s almost perfect, at least as earbuds go. This is a critical area that is very hard to tune right, as when you put enough “pressure” in this zone of the tuning, the mid-range will suffer and come out as blunt.
But not the mid-bass of Ripples. There’s a good sense of lead slam but it can’t match sealed IEMs, but what it can provide you is stupidly good texture. And I don’t mean for earbuds, as I have 64 Audio Trió in front of me. I will repeat it: the mid-bass texture is THAT good. That also puts it on top of the food chain in this region compared to the other three offers released so far.
The mid-range is very clean and on the thicker side, correctly balanced across its spectrum, and pianos sound great. What’s interesting – and actually across the full range – is that despite not being as transparent and clear as more thin tunings are, it contains all the information and is well separated. Witchery, I call it.
As for vocals, I will use a cursed word for it: luxurious. On a quick passage, male vocals might be slightly better than their female counterparts, which might lack the last hair of sharpness to them. This also puts, from memory mostly, Ripples in the top of the food-chain as vocals go.
But if I said the mid-range has some witchery to it, the treble region is Narnia. I am (and used to be even more) an adept of relaxed or just above neutral treble regions, as long as the drivers are capable of such. There is some special feeling about not being pierced but still get all the information needed without missing much on harmonics, smearing or detail. And the Ripples is just that.
Slightly south of neutral, cymbal strikes still have a great decay and presence, but they aren’t the star of the show. Vivaldi sounds great, but it’s already winter and the fireplace is starting to heat up – and you can have the whole afternoon to enjoy these, as fatigue is not near a problem.
Now, as for technicalities, I will be quick and dry: The stage is the smallest and more intimate of the bunch and accuracy is still on Serratus’ side – and so is sheer detail, but fool you not, this might surpass Tantalus and Alpha from memory.
I might fall into a fallacy here as I will say the timbre is not as good as the others, especially compared to Alpha, but they are all top of the line. The better word to describe it would be different, and this needs more testing.
You wouldn’t think I’d let you leave this first take on a warmluke note, would you? I left the cheesecake for the end – the dynamics. One of the first tracks I spinned was “The Audacity” by Polyphia (great album by the way), and my jaw dropped. I was listening to the U12T prio to this and I did not feel any huge difference between the dynamics of the former and Ripples. They are that good, as together with the mid-bass texture, they are the sparkle that comes down a new years’ eve. Yes, that good.
Now that you’ve read my first impressions, I’d like to warn you that I tried to be careful with the choice of words and hype levels. I do think these might be Jim’s best earbud, despite me preferring Serratus over it or not.
The Ripples is a true masterclass of love put into tuning, and a proof that the best pizza is homemade pizza – but that’s a story I will leave for the review.
I feel like a shiller by now, but hundreds of people have been getting his buds and they can all attestment to my takes, which is not usual in the audio world. Once again, and given the above, you know what two words come after this: highly recommended.
Provisory ranking: S or S+
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