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Impressions: TGXEAR Sunniva

Thanks again to Jim Park for sending us a review sample of Sunniva, and for always making himself available for information and advice. We truly appreciate your support!


If you’ve read my review of TGXEAR’s Serratus and Ripples, you’ll have a good idea of what the company and its products are all about. In the world of bespoke, hand-made audio gear, few come with more attention to detail and love for the craft than Jim Park’s range of class-leading earbuds. 

My personal journey with earbuds has been a mixed one. I’m probably not who you’d want as a poster-child for these confounding devices, always fiddling with the fit, and not really agreeable with the idea of putting foam anywhere near my ears. 

But on the flipside, listening to some of Jim’s creations has changed my perception of what’s possible with this format. Let me be clear: earbuds are never going to replace IEMs for me. I love my bass response too much, and bass is the one aspect of earbud sound that’s never going to come close to a good IEM, no matter what you do or how you wear it. 

Yes, that’s probably subjective, and I know many users who absolutely love the bass from their buds and even prefer it to the physicality of IEM bass. But just about every aspect of this hobby is subjective, so I’m willing to stick my neck out and say that if IEM bass is your thing, you might be left wanting with earbuds.  

This context is important because the earbud we’re looking at today, Sunniva, is at least in part a bass-first bud. Its elevated midbass tuning colours the sound beyond Jim’s usual neutral-leaning style, and even though on balance it’s still a fairly neutral-sounding IEM, you’re going to have to really love your midbass colouration to enjoy what Sunniva is about. 

Sadly, for me, midbass colouraton is not exactly my cup of tea, even as a bass lover. I covered some of this conundrum in my Ripples review, and while I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Sunniva is a big step up from Ripples, it follows a similar tuning style that may or may not jive with your preferences. 

That said, there will be plenty of you for whom this warmer, fuller type of tuning is just the ticket, so don’t be put off by my biases, and let’s take a closer look at Sunniva – Jim’s ‘Gift of the Sun’.

Package, build and specs

Sunniva ships in a similar oval zipper case to earlier TGXEAR buds, but the accessory count has been upgraded. You get no less than three types of foam covers: clear, focus and smooth (although I also got a few sets of ‘neutral’), and Jim was kind enough to include a pack of ‘wingtips’ in the case too (more on this later). 

The design and build of the buds themselves have also been upgraded, with Sunniva sporting a ‘7N Ohno Continuous Casting’ silver cable, terminated in a 4.4mm pentaconn plug, and featuring colourful, ceramic-like hardware that’s pleasant on the eye and not too weighty. 

Technically Sunniva is easier to drive than Serratus (and about the same as Ripples), with a 180ohm Beryllium PVD N52 Driver rated at 102dBs/mW. Practically speaking that’s at least 15 clicks less on the volume dial of the HiBy RS8 in high gain compared to Serratus, so while it’s easier to drive, it’s still going to demand a powerful portable amp for optimal performance, and will no doubt scale even further with desktop amplification. 

The driver itself can be clearly seen through the ‘freeflow’ faceplate design, reminiscent of mag wheels on a fancy sports car. The whole look and feel of Sunniva is top tier, and while there’s only so much you can do with the plastic housing of these buds, it’s good to see the level of the design evolving as the range matures. 

As for fit, well, nothing much has changed here, but I did have an epiphany trying out the included wingtips: silicone is simply far more comfortable than foam. While Jim doesn’t recommend using wingtips with MX500 shells, for my ears they make the buds much easier to wear. I still use the foam covers, cutting a small slit in each cover so it slides over the wingtip, but once it’s in place, the buds don’t move, and I feel the seal (and sound) is better too. 

On that note, it’s very possible that my ear anatomy just isn’t ideal for MX500 shells, but I get an even less comfortable fit with bell shells. Still, fit with the wingtips is a big improvement, so if, like me, you struggle with getting earbuds to stay in your ears and not cause pain after a short listen, give the wings a try.

Continue to sound impressions…



Picture of Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.


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