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In-Ear item created by Rockbob, Apr 22, 2014
Pros - Changeable filter, woods, pretty comfortable, price ratio to performance
Cons - Overwhelming bass on silver filter, Edgy highs on black filter
A very big thank you to Bob at RockJaw for sending in theAlfa Genus for review! It is also worth mentioning that, what I am getting may be different from what you are getting. Here’s a little background information about RockJaw. It is a brand new company straight from the UK whose goal is to design something that almost everyone can afford, and something that punches well beyond its own price bracket. While they have partially achieved the goal, I personally like how they are accepting the suggestions of others whilst applying it. In all honesty, I do think that RockJaw will see a bright future ahead if they carry on what they are doing, that is, improving.
At £49.99, there are literally no plastics in Alfa Genus’s housing. There is only aluminum and woodies. We all love woodies, don’t we? RockJaw uses some high quality ebony wood as well-though from which region was not specified. I did some research on the ebony wood and was pleasantly surprised! According to the source, ebony wood is among the most expensive wood in the world. It is finely-textured and has a very smooth finish when polished, making it valuable as an ornamental wood. TheRockJaw Acero also uses the same wood as the Alfa Genus, but RockJaw should be more than proud of their beautiful wood and shouldn’t be covered with black paint which sort of spoils the design. It is nice, but I would still prefer to just leave it as it is.
The cable is on the thinner side, and feels pretty light unlike the JAYS A-Jays Five’s which’s cable feels as if it is weighting the earphone down. The low profile 90 degree 3.5mm headphone jack makes it fit into almost every smartphone case, including the thick ones. Microphonic wise, it is not the quietest but it definitely isn’t the worst either. It’s not loud enough to ruin your music but it is loud enough to be heard. RockJaw has been said to include foam eartips in the near future as part of the accessories of the Alfa Genus as well as every other IEM of RockJaw. There are only three eartips included in the box butthe M-size fits my ears extremely well. As far as quality goes, these are of really good quality. The only thing lacking in Alfa Genus’s accessories is a carrying pouch which RockJaw will be including as well in the future.
The RockJaw sits in my ears, no doubt perfectly. It has a very comfy IEM and does not fall off easily and even has a tight seal as well. It is one of the few earphones that I can stand wearing for over an hour without adjusting it in between.
The RockJaw Alfa Genus features changeable filters which make it very flexible to suit a variety of people by switching between the black filter and silver filter. The “changeable filters” are not just for show, both really do sound like day and night, especially in the bass department-though I personally like the black filter best. Some have suggested that it would have been better if RockJaw designed another filter which would suit the best of both worlds. Gladly, according to Bob, they are already working on it.
The RockJaw Alfa Genus, as suggested, has been given roughly a hundred hours or more of burn-in time. Using the black filter, there is an obvious major bass roll off and things seem to leans on the dry side. Some may hate this filter with nearly no bass presence and the more mid-centric sound signature. It is however, very clean sounding, very detailed and the bass is small enough to not overlap the mids and the highs. The slightly edgy highs and upper-midrange can be a tad piercing with certain female vocals and inappropriate for bad recordings and that is where I find myself crafting for the silver filter. Other than that, it’s cleaner, slightly more spacious sound and brighter sound signature.
Switching to the silver filter, everything just feels slightly congested and the bass thought goes way deeper in with far better body. It does bleed into the midrange and put the midrange behind a little bit. The upper frequency spikes have disappeared though the bass can be slightly “boomy” at times. Vocals can sound a little chesty as well. Detail retrieval is similar to the black filter. The soundstage depth andwides are certainly lacking. I happen to enjoy the silver filter with James Blake’s Overgrown.
For £49.99, with a changeable being hard to find, it is certainly worth a try if you are unsure on what sound signature suits you the best. To sum it up, the silver filter offers some very over powerful bass and the black filter has brighter highs. If RockJaw were to develop their 3rd filter for the Alfa Genus, I would prefer it to be slightly punchy at the bass region, with deep but not overpowering, less edgy highs and a smooth midrange. Otherwise, they should redesign the silver housing for a better bass response.
Pros - Price vs Performace, High quality build, Sound Signature I absolutely enjoy
Cons - Currently using a tupperware container for a pouch
Price – Approx $73 Canadian
Preface : I am just a typical guy / father of three young children who loves music and has been a member of the head-fi for approximately 4 years. I have no background in music and work in IT for my career.
I have been fortunate enough to own some TOTL headphones / IEMS over the years (HD800, LCD2.2, T1, Heir Audio 8A Customs, etc…) and the words I type are my own personal opinion of a product that was given to me for the intent of evaluation.
Rock Jaw has sent me two set of head/ear phones to evaluate: The Alfa Genus and the Acero.
This review will only reflect my honest thoughts on the Alfa Genus since they are the only pair I have concentrated on to this point in time. I have used the Alfa Genus for one week on a daily basis in my office with no prior burn-in for 3-5 hours per day.
The thing I thought immediately from the moment I opened the cardboard box and viewed the Alfa Genus was simplicity. I am not saying that simplicity is a bad thing at all, just the opposite actually. I literally had these earphones stuck in my head one minute after I had the shipping box opened.
-The cable is not removable, but in this price range I certainly wouldn’t expect it to be. The actual cable is thin, but a coating on the cable gives it a solid feeling and makes me feel that it will withstand some abuse if that’s how you tend to treat your equipment. I am happy that the cable is terminated with a 90 degree jack, but I guess that comes down to personal preference.
-The Alfa Genus came with two sets of filters which can be used to customize the sound to your own personal preference (pretty cool feature IMO). I tried both initially and knew right away that the ebony filters were NOT for me. This entire review will be based on my using the silver metal filters.
-The casing on the earphones seems extremely well put together and solid. They are quite light however and they seem to disappear in my ears in a very short period of time. One thing I would prefer is that the L and R were printed in black opposed to white on the metal since it takes me a little bit of effort to differentiate between the two.
-I can honestly say that I tend to stay away from IEMs due to what I thought was a personal problem of having monster large ear canals which has caused me grief for years on getting a good / solid seal with earphones. As we all know, no seal…. No bass. When I received the Alfa Genus, I immediately pulled of the medium tips provided and replaced with the large tips (3 pairs of tips come with the AG - sm, med, lg) I was happy to see that seal was not going to be a problem with these earphones. The tips that come with the earphones (although not a wide selection) are what I consider to be high quality.
I have used the following setup to evaluate the sound of the Alfa Genus over the past week.
Samsung Note III > OTG cable > Dragonfly 1.2 > Alfa Genus
I have used USB audio player for the first half of my evaluation week playing a selection of lossless flac playing directly from my phone. For the second half of the week I used Spotify (extreme quality streaming) and also used Gizmo which has the ability to access my home library and transcodes to 320kbps over an LTE connection.
I only evaluated with music that I actually like and listen to a daily basis. Typical music includes Anne Akiko Meyers, Christina Perri, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Foo Fighters, Of Monsters And Men, Brandi Carlile, Jack Johnson, The Civil Wars, Mumford & Sons.
I have no desire or interest to describe the minutest details for a list of songs which I probably couldn’t do accurately anyways. I don’t believe I have the golden ear skill and accurately give a detailed written representation of what I am actually listening to.
If I had to sum this sound evaluation up in three words: Detail, Bass, and Fun.
I am still surprised when I put these little bullets in my head, how good they sound to me. I have spent double / triple the price on earphones in the past and have not had that enjoyment feeling that I am getting from the Alfa Genus IEMS. I am listening to Guns & Roses - “Patience” as I type and there is a feeling of soundstage that I get that is wider than I am used to for IEMs. Instrument separation is impressive to me and everything just sounds right to my mind.
Sound is very detailed to me without sounding shrill or sharp, I have noticed zero sibilance during my time with these.
Bass, man the bass is wonderful in my opinion….. It seems to hit low without being sloppy or over-exaggerated. It also does not seem to kill any of the yummy detail these earphones can produce.
Would I actually buy these for MSRP ?
I would buy these without a doubt. These are absolutely impressive to me for less than $100. I will say that I am now a fan of at least one rock jaw product and would recommend the Alfa Genus to anyone looking for top notch sound quality at a totally reasonable investment. I literally can’t wait to try some of the additional products (Kontrol in particular) in the Rock Jaw IEM lineup.
Thanks for the opportunity and sincerely,
Pros - Woody sound signature; smooth, rich with great clarity and balance. Novel tunable filter design for enhanced bass or flat response. Fantastic value.
Cons - Cable is not significantly robust. Little extras.
Rock Jaw Alfa Genus IEMs
Rock Jaw offers a variety of IEMs and headphones, aiming to provide great value, reliable and robust devices, with self proclaimed minimal packaging overhead to help minimise cost.
The Alfa Genus IEMs from Rock Jaw are novel user tunable single dynamic driver IEMs with ebony wooden and aluminium housing.
I have so far racked up well over 100 hours of use with the Alfa Genus IEMs from various sources; Rockbox’d Clip+, FiiO X3 and ODAC.
I have attempted to be as objective as possible, however as we all know perceived audio has a significant subjective variable and comments are often relative to the price range.
Drivers: 8mm dynamic
Frequency response: 20 – 20000Hz
Cord Length: 1.2M
Jack type: Gold plated 3.5mm
Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality
Rock Jaw managed to provide an excellent value for money, with little extras including no travel case, although I really do like the inner packaging that houses the IEMs and filters. I would more than happily use that as a mini travel case if I could fit a Clip+ in there too.
The Alfa Genus IEMs are lightweight and comfortable, with a twisted non-tangle resistant wire. The cable is strong, but it is not anywhere near as robust as the Rock Jaw Arcana cable.
I discovered the clear plastic tubing support at the IEM housing popped off, much to my surprise as I use a hard carry case and take extreme care of IEMs when listening. I have been in contact with Rock Jaw and they are aware of the tubing and will most likely take action as required, since they are actively listening to constructive feedback, which is a sign of a great company with fantastic devices to come. Another sign of Rock Jaw listening to the customer is the IEM tips have been upgraded to significantly better silicon tips from previous revisions - as noted in my Arcana review. The interchangeable filters are small and can be easily lost, I carry mine around in a mini see through plastic bag tucked inside my IEM case.
To me the Alfa Genus provides a warm and smooth sound signature, with intense lush and richness. The bass enhanced filters provide deep bass, without the boomy rumbling effect caused by lower level bass roll-off, while the interchangeable flat filter provides a much more flatter bass response to obtain a more neutral and a relatively even sound. I found the mids to be very clear with excellent detail, while highs appeared to be brightly detailed and extended. In particular I found the smoothness to be impressive at this price range.
I really enjoyed my use of the Alfa Genus for various types of music ranging from Reggae to Rock and in particular I found female vocals to really shine.
Very smooth and rich sound.
Great clarity and balance.
Novel interchangeable filters for enhanced bass and more neutral responses.
Cable doesn’t appear to be significantly robust.
Clear plastic tube support at IEM casing pop off - Rock Jaw are currently working on this.
Rock Jaw Alfa Genus provides a fantastic wooden single dynamic driver IEM with a novel interchangeable filter to provide user configurable tuning for bass enhanced or more flat sound signatures at an extremely competitive price range. I have said it before and I will say it again; Rock Jaw has my attention. Rock Jaw is an impressive company, not just with their products, but how they actively listen to the community and add their feedback to the development cycle.