The TGXear Desolation Sound create an immersive musical experience that sounds all too real, breaking the confinements of small-sized portable transducers.
- Dynamic bass, lush and clear midrange, vibrant treble
- Organic, natural, and extremely pleasing timbre
- Very palpable notes with well-articulated and robust definition
- Well-rounded three-dimensional headspace with top-notch separation and imaging
- Comfortable fit
- A slightly wider midrange would have been perfect
- Cost may be high for some
These are his current top-of-the-line earbuds. Jim has gone to great lengths to develop a custom-made driver solely for them that, along with the premium accessories, seems befitting for their relatively high price tag (more than USD $500).
Unboxing and First Impression
Design and Build
The Desolation Sound are made with transparent mx500 shells, providing a clear and enticing view of the internals. The right and left earbuds are labeled accordingly.
The cable is made of 7N OCC silver with a lower gauge than the discontinued Serratus model. It is very soft, pliable, and lightweight. There are zero microphonics. The 4.4mm balanced plug is gold-plated. The right channel has a red o-ring for easier identification.
The shells fit inside the ears quite snugly. The lightweight cable makes the fit more comfortable. Using aftermarket foams can further improve comfort.
Under the Hood
In collaboration with his supplier, Jim created a custom-developed driver solely for the Desolation Sound. It uses N55 magnets (boasting around 1 tesla magnetic flux) and has 180 Ohm impedance.
The exact details of the diaphragm are a trade secret.
Despite the high impedance, they are sensitive enough to be driven adequately from a phone’s 3.5mm jack. However, they sound more dynamic and textured with better separation when paired with better quality and higher-powered sources.
How Do the Desolation Sound Sound?
I evaluated the Desolation Sound for over 100 hours paired with numerous sources, including the Shanling M7, Tempotec V6, A&K PA10, and iFi XDSD Gryphon. Here are the test tracks I used: sub-bass, midbass, male vocals, female vocals, instruments, and treble.
My first interaction with the Desolation Sound put me in euphoric bewilderment.
They sound vivid with masterfully sculpted and delightfully energized bass. It is a blissful musical experience.
The bass immediately gets my attention with its wonderful slam and deep and exceptionally textured rumble. The incredibly articulated presentation balances energy and control pretty well. It maintains a strong, fun presence and recreates intricate textures yet remains in its lane.
Jim always tunes the low end of his buds with the utmost care. Here, all of his tuning prowess has culminated in a most commanding and deftly controlled low end, with profound depth and pronounced detail, complemented by well-fleshed-out notes.
This is the best bass I have ever heard in earbuds in terms of note weight, presence, texture, slam, and depth.
This is the very pinnacle.
Organic goodness, precise details, life-like dynamics – it is not often I get hit by all of them together with barely perceivable compromises.
The midrange is spectacular.
The tonality is warm-neutral but with enough vibrance to keep it exciting. Timbre is the most natural I have ever heard. The notes are full and defined with little to no artificial emphasis. The clean background and high transparency make the presentation even more exhilarating.
Male vocals are portrayed with care and flavored to the max. They sound rich, full, highly textured, and extremely pleasant. They are particularly expressive but never sound forced. Be it deep or raspy – all convey the underlying emotion very competently.
Despite the warm tilt, female vocals do not sound dull or lifeless. They have that magical, ethereal touch, which, coupled with the added body and depth, make the whole presentation very lush and emotive. The uneven and sibilant peaks are handled splendidly to retain the grit while avoiding discomfort.
The instrumental notes have that distinct tactility I felt in the Serratus. However, it is now enhanced by a more well-rounded body. Plucked string instruments sound really rich, like acoustic guitar and lute, and brass instruments like saxophone. Violin notes have a delightfully organic brilliance. Even harsh electric guitar riffs sound plentifully enjoyable.
Vibrant tonality and full-bodied notes with meticulously sculpted details make the midrange luscious and real!
The treble is energetic but deftly controlled. The meticulous details immediately grab one’s attention. The sound is delicate and effortless.
The way the Desolation Sound produce the finest of details so accurately without sounding over-emphasized is marvelous. The notes flow naturally, never fighting for presence yet being prominent on their own. This is quite a regal presentation.
The treble notes have a solid presence. Both the leading and trailing edges are very distinctly present. Even when the music gets busy, no details are masked.
The treble section is refined with beautifully articulated details that never get tiresome.
Soundstage, imaging, and details
The Desolation Sound project a well-rounded headspace with an evenly expanded width, depth, and height. They have a three-dimensional presentation and an enveloping soundstage. Their spatial positioning and layering are outstanding, drawing the listener in evermore.
The notes sound very real, reproducing the tiniest details very cleanly and elegantly. Their robust definition, beautiful textures, and highly palpable presence are magical. The separation is quite exceptional, too.
The final aspect that sets this set apart is the excellent balance between macrodynamics and microdynamics. They have an extraordinary combination of a very toe-tapping vibe and a well-crafted display of the details.
Vs. Venture Electronics Sun Copper
The Sun Copper are one of the TOTL offerings from Venture Electronics. They boast a custom-made copper horn-shaped shell and LCC (long crystal copper) cable. Inside, 15.4mm N52 dynamic drivers of 180 Ohm impedance and 109 dB sensitivity are used.
Physically, the Sun Copper look more premium than the Desolation Sound but are significantly heavier, with a notoriously poor fit. Conversely, the Desolation Sound fit like a glove for most.
Sonically, they are remarkably contrasting. Both of them are great-sounding earbuds but with entirely different approaches. The Sun Copper are distinctly warmer in the midrange and treble. The bass is noticeably less dynamic, but details, separation, soundstage, and imaging are superior on the Sun Copper.
The Desolation Sound, on the other hand, have considerably more bass – more dynamic, more textured, deeper, and fuller. They have a much more pleasant tonality and natural timbre compared to the overbearing warmth of the Sun Copper. Even though the technicalities may sound better on the Sun Copper, the Desolation Sound provide a better listening experience.
Vs. TGXear Serratus Black Sand
The Serratus Black Sand are based on the earlier Serratus. They have custom N55 180 Ohm PET dynamic drivers with a new kind of black sand damping applied on the inner surface of the acoustic chamber. The tuning is neutral.
The Serratus Black Sand have relatively less midbass slam than the Desolation Sound. They are slightly more transparent, and the notes feel a bit wider. The treble energy is similar. However, the notes feel flat compared to the Desolation Sound. The presentation is more laid back. The soundstage is wider and has less depth.
Vs. TGXear Sunniva
The Sunniva have custom N52 180 Ohm Beryllium PVD dynamic drivers in clear mx500 shells and 7N OCC cable. The tuning is warm-neutral.
The Sunniva are distinctly smoother, favoring a full and dynamic presentation with a slight compromise in the details. They are less transparent, and the treble feels noticeably smoother. The presentation has a smaller, three-dimensional touch. The soundstage width, height, and depth are also slightly less, but not by a considerable margin.
Where to Buy
Who Should Buy This?
The Desolation Sound are a pair of earbuds suitable for audiophiles who prefer a balanced sound profile while still having a wonderful bass section. They are superior to all others I have heard. However, a sense of diminishing returns is prevalent here. The target audience is those willing to pay for that last mile of improvement.
The TGXear Desolation Sound are a gourmet meal. I have auditioned more than 20 earbuds of varying price points in less than a year, but honestly, this set is in its own class, distinctly above all the others I have heard.
The class-leading dynamics, empowered by the best possible earbud bass, make the experience truly unforgettable from the very first listen. Lush, detailed sound is brought to reality by Jim. A definite sense of realism and an enveloping soundstage make them a winner!
Despite the organic timbre and a slightly warm tonality, it is amazing how well transparency is maintained throughout. The final portrayal of the sound is euphoric. Of course, they are not affordable for everyone, but then, such an impeccable delicacy comes at a price.
The Desolation Sound are the apex of Jim’s creations to date. They make the music come alive with enhanced musicality and technicality. I take a bow to this man’s tuning prowess and his dedication to creating unique offerings that set a new performance bar.
Jim Park, classically trained in music and an acoustic engineer, developed TGXear, a personal audio brand to satisfy his high standards. As Jim is quite well-known and respected in the Head-Fi community, the brand soon caught attention and garnered praise for the outstanding quality of its products.
“I am many things – a visual artist, a classically trained musician, an acoustic engineer, an audiophile – but I am first and foremost, a lover of music. TGXEAR is an idea 30 years in the making, born from a deep desire to develop personal audio systems that satisfy my high standards.
My products offer balanced sound signatures, life-like timbre, and an immersive sense of space. Every one of my products is hand assembled and tuned by me in Vancouver, Canada, and undergoes strict quality control so that it lasts and delivers an audio experience that you will not forget.” – Jim Park
What’s in the Box
- Desolation Sound earbuds
- Extra full foams
- Extra foams with small holes
- 4.4mm balanced to 3.5mm single-ended adaptor (optional)
- TGXear pin
- Rubber ring – 1 pair (for better fit)
- Cable (non-detachable)