Review - Rock It Sounds R-50
This will be a review of the R-50, which uses a well known Knowles TWFK Dual Armature BA driver. The same driver used on the ATH-CK10, UE700, FA DBA-02 (both versions), Brainwavz B2, Q-Jays and some else. From these, I'd only had the chance to listen to the B2, which was about a year ago when it was first released. In fact, both B2 and R-50 share many similarities, both in sound and design.
Price: $120 (excellent for the sound)
Package and Accessories
They arrive in a black box, nothing fancy and not too strong.
As for accessories, well, very few. The regular round clamshell (similar or same as the B2, I just don't remember), airline adaptor, and 3 pairs of single flange ear tips. That's all. And you'll probably need extra ear tips to get the best sound out of these.
Build & Design
Starting from the plug, it's a straight one, well relieved. The cable is the braided one (same as the Meelec A151 and DBA-02/B2), it's very soft and easy to store. It tends to tangle a bit. The housing is made of plastic, covered with a silicone cover which protects the housing and also make them more comfortable. The earpieces are very small, even with the covers. With the covers on, they are shorter than the B2 and without them, they look like a mini version of the B2, really small. The R-50 is printed on both sides. The nozzle is about 2mm and like 45° angled. And finally, there a long strain relief, which acts as a ´memory wire´.
Fit and comfort
The good news, the comfort. They are worn over-the-ear, and they are very very comfortable, not quite SM PL50 level, but almost. More comfortable than the SHE3580 and FA Eterna, and a bit more comfortable than the HSA Crystal, just for reference. The silicone covers also help a lot here. Once on, it's easy to forget about them, but….
Yes, the fit. The ´memory wire´ is the most annoying thing of the R-50. It's very hard to mold it to shape of the ear and doesn’t allow to the cable to be well placed. It can be cut though, so those who don’t mind can try it.
As for isolation, with the included tips, it's not good. The ear tips don’t seal well enough. I tried some hybrid style tips, but didn’t get much better results, so ended using triple-flanges. Those gave me the better seal and pretty good isolation. So far, the most isolating IEM I had, a bit better than the tiny HSA Crystal (which was very good).
Here comes the best part. The sound makes up for everything else. As expected from the Dual BA TWFK, you get the great clarity and light speed. The R-50 is bright, very bright, but still carries a small sense of warmth. The highs are aggressive and very upfront, also a bit harsh. They extend pretty far, so you won't miss a single beat. Sibilance is also present, not ear piercing, but can't be avoided. Of course the detail is awesome, among the best out there (and not just for the price). Electric guitars, for example, sound very full and energetic, very exciting.
The mids are slightly forward, and like the highs, extremely detailed and clear. The lower mids carry a bit of warmth too. Vocals aren’t the best here, while very detailed, still lack some fullness and sweetness. That's they don’t sound good, but not the main vocalist out there.
And, THE bass. If you're coming from any dynamic based IEM, and a good one, it's a big disappointment. But obviously you don’t get the R-50 for the bass. In fact, this the most surprising part. Once you forget about a 'dynamic' bass, and you get a good seal, these don’t sound bad at all. On the contrary, very good for a bright BA. It's punchy, very tight and accurate (definitely beat the PL50 here). But of course, will lack the ´boom´ and depth on the sub-bass.
Speed, as mentioned above, is terrific. These are SO fast. While other single BA I had could handle quite good the speed of many tracks I listen to, the R-50 do it so effortless. It so fast that sometimes it feels like various track playing at the same time and not missing a thing. They also handle complexity with ease (something the Siren BA was lacking).
Soundstage, it is wide. Very airy and with great sense of space.
If I had to compare, from memory not to take as a fact, with the B2, then the B2 are a bit brighter and the R-50 warmer (but just a bit). And the B2 have wider stage and further treble extension. But overall, both are more similar than different. The R-50 feels more versatile with more genres. Quite good with Rock music, if bass isn’t a priority.
Value? For $120 is very good, and one of the best you can have if this is the sound performance you're looking for. The accessories pack and design could be improved, but on the whole, a very good buy indeed.