Pros: Multiple filters to change the sound, wood body, great price to perfomance ratio
Cons: Case is a bit bulky, changes between current filters may be to drastic (3rd filter in the works may resolve this issue)
I am going to just stick with a written review for this little gem as others have already done an admirable job of photographing this IEM and all of it's accessories in all their glory.
When my reviewer package arrived I liked how they had made it appear crooked in the box and was even fooled initially thinking it had slipped in transit . Upon opening the box I was treated to a snappy but over engineered case that kind of reminded me of the IE8 case from Sennheiser. While I find this type of case to big for practical daily use I do have to admit it really works well for holding everything securely from a packaging perspective.
Upon inspection of the IEM I liked the quality of the cable and the strain reliefs and like the fact it is an L jack. I missed it not having a neck cinch but this is only a minor miss in my opinion. Rockjaw has downplayed the fact that these are wooden but I personally am glad to be hearing a wooden IEM. My only area of concern is the filters do come loose easily necessitating the need to tighten them occasionally.
Upon initial listen I will be honest and say I more than a bit dismayed. The bass was over cooked and so was the treble which came across as hot and flashy. But I thought I could hear potential in this little IEM so I through them on the burning station and left them for a week. During that time I would occasionally have a peak listen and could hear that these were changing for the better. But the bass was still a bit over cooked while the treble was settling down. It was at this point I started to read more about the filters (I was still using just the silver ones that came pre-installed). So I let the IEM continue to cook until I started to write up the review today.
So what's in a filter?
A lot apparently! The best way to describe the silver filter is the word DIVA! Shouty, loud, and wayyyyyyy to confident for it's own good . The black filter on the other hand is a bit of a stuffed shirt, so concerned about form that it forgets to let the music breath. So before you decide to write off this IEM because of these to statements please realize that both of these filters are great when used in the right circumstance because let's face it we have all heard some damn fine Divas in our day and I don't know about anyone else but I also can appreciate a singer who eschews control over just letting it all hang out. Which brings up the fact that Rockjaw is working on a 3rd filter that will land somewhere in the middle. This will allow people to have a nice well seasoned meal and then occasionally enjoy a spicy dish or a savoury dish for a change of pace.
OK, so when do I like the silver filter?
I have found this filter works great for albums like 2 Cello's, and live performances like Neil Diamond Hot August Night. The filter allows the raw nature of a cello to come though with excellent timber and vibrancy giving the music an extra level of aliveness. Likewise it makes Hot August Night sound fuller and more spacious. It also makes Celtic music like Loreena McKennit sound larger and more immersive.
Where this filter does not work is songs with lots of complexity and songs with lots of cymbals and delicacy as the bass and treble simply become to loose and splashy overwhelming the music turning it into a noisy mess.
When do I like the Black Filter?
The black filter reigns in the bass and treble allowing the mids to be more present especially the upper mids. So for some they will appreciate Loreena McKennit more with the black filters even though they stifle the sound stage and immersion a bit, personally I like both presentations. Harder Rock like ACDC, Led Zeppelin, and Heart all work better with this filter as it allows their complexity to come through, it also works better for Jazz from artists like Patricia Barber and classical music that is complex.
The black filter does expose music to sibilance though so artists like Patricia Barber who enunciate their S's strongly might be a bit harsh for some. It also may be to tightly controlled for some listeners. But out of the 2 filters I found it suited more music.
**NEW BALANCED FILTER** - The final filter from Rockjaw offers an excellent balanced sound that completes the chameleon abilities of this IEM. It tames the sibilance of the black filter and keeps the bass and treble in check as well.
So where do I stand on this IEM?
I find this to be an excellent mid-entry level IEM that allows you to change up the sound signature through filters in a unique way that works very well. While some like to do this with software EQ this is a good option for those that hate that option or own a device that has only fixed presets that don't match their listening preferences. For the price you won't find a more configurable IEM on the market.