ROCK JAW ALFA GENUS features a hybrid construction of Aluminium and Ebony. Applying centuries old...

ROCK JAW ALFA GENUS

Average User Rating:
4.26923/5,
  • ROCK JAW ALFA GENUS features a hybrid construction of Aluminium and Ebony. Applying centuries old techniques to offer a perfectly balanced sound signature. The ALFA GENUS also features interchangeable tuning filters, allowing you to change between enhanced bass and monitor class sound.

Recent User Reviews

  1. suman134
    4.0/5,
    "Can be a Bass Head's delight and a Less bassy, detailed one too!!"
    Pros - Bass!! Tuning filters that can bring you some control over bass!! Solid build quality.
    Cons - Bassy signature overall. Could have been a bit more detailed.
    My review of Alfa genus V2 can be found here.
     
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/rock-jaw-alfa-genus-v2-earphones-with-in-line-mic-3x-tuning-filters/reviews/16322
     
    Sorry for the wrong post.
  2. Talai
    4.5/5,
    "Versatile and Effective - The Rock Jaw Alfa Genus"
    Pros - Quite versatile because of the filter system, very cost effective
    Cons - No cable cinch, L/R markings are hard to read
    Hello Head-Fi!
     
    ROCK JAW audio was kind enough to ask me to review their Alfa Genus IEM, so here is my honest opinion of the product that they provided. I'll be touching on several different aspects of the IEMs, including the build quality, packaging, included accessories, and last but not least, the sound quality of the earphones.
     

    Video Review

    This video sums up my review pretty well. If you'd prefer a written review, well, read on!
    [​IMG]

    Preface

    I've been using the Alfa Genus for several weeks now, and have accumulated around 80 hours of listening and burn-in time. I don't feel that burn-in is necessary in most cases, but I figured it couldn't hurt to add on a few hours when I wasn't actively listening. All songs that I've based this review off of are 320Kbps Spotify streamed, sometimes though an ALO Rx Mk.3 B+ amp. I didn't use the amp at all times, because it's my opinion that a pair of mid-fi earphones should perform well out of anything... especially considering that a large number of users will be running straight out of their phones. Honestly these are ~$50 earphones, and you really shouldn't need an amp for them.
     
    Basically, if you couldn't tell from the above paragraph, I'm not an audiophile. I just like my music, and it's as simple as that.
     
    If you'd like to see the playlist that I used for the most part, click here to check it out. I keep it updated with all of the tracks that I use for critical listening.
     
    With all of that out of the way, let's jump into my review of the ROCK JAW Alfa Genus.
     
     

    Packaging, Accessories, Build Quality, and Other Stuff

    Packaging
    The Alfa Genus is packaged well. When it comes down to it, a product's packaging is simply designed to transport and display it well. If it ticks off just those two marks, it works. A practical example of this would be Mr. Speakers' Mad Dogs, which sacrificed fancy packaging in order to provide stronger sound.
     
    That being said, premium packaging certainly won't hurt a product’s chances, and it seems that RockJaw took that to mind.
     
    [​IMG]
    [sup]The package holds the filters securely and in a premium way[/sup]
     
    The soft foam held within a hard cardboard outer shell is a great combination, and it works well to store everything safely. In fact, I have very little to complain about when it comes to the way that the Alfa Genus is packaged. The only issue that I had is that the filters can be difficult to remove from the foam if they get pushed in too deep.
     
    Accessories
    The first included item is the "case" for the earphones, which is simply a fabric pouch emblazoned with the RockJaw logo. The drawstrings on the top serve well in holding the IEMs within the pouch, and while it's not the most glamorous solution, it gets the job done. I do wish that it was just a bit more premium feeling though... there's nothing wrong with the pouch, it's just nothing special.
     
    The only other included accessories (not counting the filters, which I'll talk about in the Sound section) are 4 different sets of tips and a small shirt clip.
     

    [sup]           All of the included accessories, not counting the filters[/sup]
     
    Accessories are one of the areas in which the Alfa Genus could use some work. The included ones are fine, but they could be better. However, when you bring the price point back into consideration (hovering around $50 USD on Amazon right now), I feel that it's fair to cut RockJaw some slack.
     
    Build Quality
    As it says right on RockJaw's website: these bad boys are made from a combination of Ebony and Aluminum. Yeah, they're $50. I'm actually impressed by how nice the Alfa Genus really feels. My pair has different designs and wood grains on each side, which is a really nice touch.
     

    [sup]                     The wood grain on my pair of Alfa Genus[/sup]
     
    The cable is thicker than a typical one, and adds a level of confidence that I like. There is a short(er than I'd like) section of flexible plastic right where the cable meets the driver housing that feels like it'll do a decent job of protecting against any strain. The cable terminates into a 90° jack that seems to be engineered to fit into any phone case - it's thin and light, but also has a decent amount of strain relief. The Y-connector is simple, but light.
     
    I have exactly two complaints about the build quality of the Alfa Genus: the left/right markings are nigh impossible to find, and there is no cable cinch to be seen. The lack of a cable cinch means that when you're sitting down (or in some other situation where the cable wouldn't be taut) the cables have a tendency to move outwards - a minor inconvenience. As the built in microphone will always be on the left side, the simple solution that I used to solve the L/R problem is just to use the mic to find the left side.
     
    For the price, these earphones look awesome, and have a build quality to match.
     
     
    Other Stuff
     
    Microphonics aren't great. Sounds are pretty easy to get if you disturb any part of the cable above the Y-connector, and it can get annoying. It helps to wear them over the ear, but with this type of earphone that's not much of a solution.
     
    The other side of that negative is that the earphones are compact and lightweight. Their design makes them really comfortable to wear once you find the right tips, and it's simply pleasant to use them.
     
    On the note of tips, the included ones aren't very sound isolating... at all. They are constructed well, but they simply let in some sound. If music is playing it isn't too bad, but don't expect CIEM levels of isolation.
     
    The microphone could be better, and the inline controls don't work on any of my android devices.
     

    Sound Quality and Filters


    Filter Impressions
    Allow me to preface this section by confessing that I have no idea how RockJaw got the filters to change the sound so much. As I compared the build of the black (reference) and silver (enhanced bass?) filters I was unable to find a single difference physically between the two - they looked fully identical except for the colors. With that in mind, when I tried both sets, they were very different. I... don't know how. The black filters made the bass back away and give the stage to the mids and highs, while the silver filters presented an enjoyable (more bassy) performance. I'm baffled.
     
    I tested myself by using one black and one silver at the same time - there is a very audible difference. That's pretty cool to me. I can understand how the gold (neutral) filter changes the sound, as when you look through it you can see a foam of some sort. The black and the silver? Not so much. Magic!
     
    Anyways, my preferred filter overall was the silver one, so I used it for most of my listening. I know that RockJaw released the gold filters in response to the reviews that they got over the years, but I found that the silver filter created the blend of sound that I enjoyed the most. My impressions veer away from what the box would have you believe, as my thoughts were that the gold (neutral) filters had more bass than the silver (enhanced bass) filters. I think that's why I like the silver filters so much - it's a good blend between the two others.
     
    On a less positive note, this impression has me questioning the quality control in place to ensure that all of the filters produce the same sound. Other (more notable) reviews have concluded that the gold filter is the middle ground, while I found that it was on the end of the spectrum in my case. By far. The gold filter also reduces the sound level, probably because of the foam inside of it.
     
    In any case, the two most noteworthy filters in my book are the silver and black. I'll now go a bit more in-depth into these two options.
     
    Silver Filter
    RockJaw promotes the silver filter as having enhanced bass, which it most definitely does if you compare it to the black filter. I love this filter, and it turns the Alfa Genus into an awesome IEM for the price; one that I'd be willing to pay a lot more than $50 for. This filter is roughly V-shaped, and has more emphasis on the treble and bass than the mids. However, this isn't to say that the mids are drowned out, as the deep bass compliments the mids more than overpower them. I seriously I love this filter. The bass in the opening of "Windows" by AWOLNATION with this filter was so enjoyable that I decided I needed to make a note of it.
     
    That being said, if you want the best clarity you can get from this IEM then the silver filter isn't for you. To be honest though, it wasn't designed to be the most clear. The silver filter presents an enjoyable sound that is reasonably clear, and the thumpy bass makes up for the drop in clarity (at least in my book).
     
    Black Filter
    The black filter would be my second choice if I could only choose one pair of filters. The beauty of the Alfa Genus is that you don't need to choose, but still. The black filter severely gimps the bass, but the rest of the spectrum is nicely clear and bright. So bright in fact that it can get fatiguing if you listen to the wrong (right?) genres of music for too long.
     
    This filter is clarity, and it's awesome for some genres.
     
    Other Sound and Filter Notes
    One thing that I really like about the Alfa Genus is just how big the difference is between filters. Another IEM that I reviewed also had a filtering system, but I realize now just how little the effect was compared to RockJaw's offering. Instead of slight changes that you actually have to listen for, the Alfa Genus is almost three IEMs in one, and honestly I'd be surprised if it didn't make somebody happy.
     

    Final Thoughts

    RockJaw has done something special with the Alfa Genus. It's extremely impressive for the price, and the filtering system is so effective that it's one of the most versatile IEMs that I've used to date. In normal folk terms, it's awesome. I've loved my time with the Alfa Genus, and it gets my full recommendation.
     
    Oh, and I can't forget to praise the company itelf. Free next-day shipping in the U.K. and free shipping to the rest of the world is pretty unique. My experience talking to Joe from RockJaw was very pleasant. Seriously, no complaints. I'm always happy to recommend a company who actually cares about their customers, and my experience has been that RockJaw genuinely does.
     
    I can see the Alfa Genus going a long way from here, and it has been my genuine pleasure to work with both it and RockJaw.

     
     
    Thanks for reading the review guys, hope you enjoyed! To see some more shots of the Alfa Genus be sure to check out the video review above, and thanks for being so awesome! [​IMG] 
  3. anoobis
    4.0/5,
    "Alpha Alfa"
    Pros - soundstage, clarity, filter options, dynamics
    Cons - cable microphonics, filters can be a bit fiddly
    Introduction
     
    So here's my contribution to the growing collection of reviews on Rock Jaw's Alfa Genus. For those of you interested in purchasing a pair, hopefully this is a useful addition; for the rest of you, another post on Head-Fi with which to while away the time!
     
    Before we get underway, it would be remiss of me not to thank Rock Jaw for sending a pair to review, the opportunity is appreciated.
     
    I'm going to take the slightly indolent approach of skipping a detailed description and comments on aesthetics, accessories &c. as these have been well covered in other reviews and the discussion thread, and because I don't have the retail package.
     
    My listening sessions have been conducted using the ODAC/O2 separates, mostly with the champagne filters. I tend to listen to jazz, classical and pop/rock and those have been used here. I stick to well-recorded pieces where I can and all tracks were CD quality or better. No mp3s were used in the making of this review [​IMG]
     
     
    Short Version
     
    I think it's fair to say that overall it's a win for Rock Jaw on build. The cable seems sturdy and flexible enough, and the insertion point is protected with metal. I must admit, I haven't used the Alfa Genus on the move, so I can't comment on whether microphonics would become annoying in that case.
     
    As intended, the filters differ predominantly in bass quantity. In practice, I think most people will pick one and stick to it but the key is you get to make a selection and the alternatives are always available.
     
    I found myself using the black and champagne filters the most. With both, the Alfa Genus produces a slightly forward sound but nontheless has a spacious soundstage with some depth to it. Instrument separation is good, balance is neutral-ish, altered slightly by the filters. (For me the silver filters are bass heavy; I probably wouldn't buy a pair of IEMs with this signature but that doesn't mean I would never use these filters.) My only real complaint sound-wise is a slight grainiess or harshness to upper registers, especially with strings but I may have to revisit this.
     
    I focussed on the Alfa Genus whilst reviewing but have made some quick comparisons and found the Alfa Genus fared more than favourably.
     
     
    Sonic Evaluation
    I generally listen to a genre at a time when evaluating gear, to get 'into' that sound and see how well it's conveyed, so that's how I'll present the comments. The switchable filters are a major selling point of the Alfa Genus, so inevitably a large element of the reviews will concern them.
     
    Jazz
    Starting with the black filters, I found the Alfa Genus to present a clean, clear sound, with individual instruments in ensembles distinct, yet the music was coherent. I like to use HoneyDripper from Jools Holland's Beatroute to assess how well larger groups are portrayed. This piece gets busy and has elements of fast percussion too. The Alfa Genus (black filters) did well here, maintaining instrument separation and keeping up with the pace, never sounding muddy. The black filters bring out cymbals and the like, and have a somewhat detailed, forward presentation. That said, I did note depth to soundstage on some of Diana Krall's tracks. Overall, lower registers do take a back seat with the black filters but the music still hangs together well.
     
    Moving on to the champagne filters, bass is stronger with more reverb. The sparkly cymbals are more subdued and less 'in your face', the bass solo in King For A Day has more prominence. The champagne filters add overall weight to the sound, at the expense of obvious detail and some clarity but the trade-off is minor. If you're sensitive to treble you may find the champagne filters a better option for longer listening sessions.
     
    I'm still exploring my personal filter preference for jazz. Initially I thought the black filters had better balance but now I'm not so sure. Occassionally the treble is a (tiny) bit much and the bass not quite enough, so there is a slight treble emphasis. That said, the bass is cleaner and 'faster' than with the champagne filters and still present. Ultimately, I could happily take either; the differences are worthwhile but not massive. Even better, you get both and don't have to choose! With both filters, the Alfa Genus presents good, strong dynamics, especially noticeable with percussion hits. Along with the soundstage, this results in a lively performance of faster/swing style tracks. As an aside, if you can check out the Doc Anello Disneyland binaural recordings (posted on Head-Fi many moons ago) with these, you're in for a treat.
     
    Classical
    I listened a range of scales, including string quartets, full orchestras, choral, piano, expecting the richness of champagne filter to play well here, and it did.
     
    Instrument balance and tone sounded good, regardless of the ensemble size. I found it easy to follow individual instruments, yet the sound was still appropriately full with the other instruments. Listening to the likes of the Hebrides Overture and Canon In D with the champagne filters, the bass strings have decent extension. I would like the upper strings to be more liquid smooth but maybe that will happen over time. I should listen to Brahms' Hungarian Dances, there are plenty of strings there to sort out what's what!
     
    Admittedly I have listened less extensively with the black filters but the upper registers are less smooth, maybe a bit grainy; however, they are by no means thin/brittle. At times the lower strings could do with being richer. Listening to O Fortuna, it was very vocal led and I felt that there should be more weight with the orchestra, especially the timpani. The champagne filters addressed this.
     
    Other
    In this case, 'other' consisted mostly of pop and rock. When I say rock, I'm talking about the likes of Bon Jovi.
     
    I perhaps wasn't listening as critically as with jazz and classical pieces, and that perhaps reflects that those genres are generally more intricate, but nontheless I found the Alfa Genus (with champagne filters) to offer an easy listening experience, where you can just get lost in the music. I noted good layering of instruments, clarity and nothing overly emphasised or amiss. I heard good detail and ancillary parts of the music. For the most part, the vocals stand out and female voices manage to acquire an airy quality whilst other components retain a good comparative weight. The soundstage is enveloping, having width but not pushing the sound purely to either side.
     
    What I wasn't expecting, coming from the other genres, was to find the champagne filters initially a bit light. Whereas before I was debating between black and champagne filters, here I would debate between champagne and silver. If you like a prominent driving beat, the champagne filters may not cut it. I would characterise the lower registers and drums with the champagne filters as 'polite'. Everything's there, it's fast, tight, clean but not dominant. That's a presentation you may or may not prefer. As an example, I tend to find Meatloaf's Dead Ringer to either be on the heavy/slow side, or bright/fast. With the Alfa Genus it seemed pretty neutral.
     
    I wonder whether the difference in apparent weight is down to the different mix of electric/acoustic instruments and relative importance of bass in different musical styles. Perhaps the soundstage also affects things? So I'm afraid that got a bit woolly and vague but I definitely enjoyed listening to the Alfa Genus here.
     
    Overall, here I would describe the Alfa Genus (champagne) as natural, if not neutral. I certainly appreciated not being assaulted with treble, as can happen!
     
    As an aside, I have a recollection of similar music out of a Rockbox Sansa Zip being too bass driven and heavy. It could be due to a lack of amping, or I could be completely mistaken! Unfortunately I have misplaced the Sansa, so I can't check [​IMG] Maybe someone else could.
     
     
    Endnotes
     
    In general, I have been impressed by the way in which the Alfa Genus presents sound across the styles I tested. The soundstage, instrument separation and dynamics are always good, levels of clarity and detail are more than decent. The filters largely enable you to control the level of bass you prefer. It's not possible to rapidly switch between filters, which makes it a bit more difficult to directly compare them, however, the more I listened to the (black and champagne) filters the more I noticed the differences, but they are not extreme. The champagne filter both ups the bass/weight and slightly subdues the treble, to good effect in my opinion.
     
    I should note that I have found the filters can unscrew when fitting the earphones, which is a little bit annoying. I would also comment that, personally, I wouldn't be switching the filters while on the go, as they are small, easy to lose parts. These are minor quibbles and I applaud Rock Jaw for the inclusion of filter options. I think the Alfa Genus are an inherently good set of IEMs and having the different filters means not only do you get to tailor the sound but alternatives are always available to you, while retaining the underlying qualities. This last point is worth emphasising. Supplying filters makes the product an attractive proposition but they would simply be a gimmick if the earphones weren't up to par. As it is, I'm happy to recommend them.
     
    A final note on Rock Jaw themselves. They (well Bob) have been very active on the forum, engaging the community and reacting to comments and suggestions. At the same time, they have followed their own path and not tried to promise everything. I think this is a sensible approach. There can be a clamour for the latest and greatest here but from a business point of view, endless revisions and tweaks can alienate customers or cause them to indefinitely delay a purchase. Thankfully Rock Jaw seem to be refraining from this.
     
    So the final verdict is 4/5 stars (80% - 90%, including half stars), reflecting the overall package, flexibility, qualities and price point.
     
    Well done to Rock Jaw [​IMG]
    Brooko and TrollDragon like this.

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