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The ENCORE RockMaster IE earphone outperforms anything in its price class and can compare to IE...

Encore RockMaster IE

Rating:
4/5,
  • The ENCORE RockMaster IE earphone outperforms anything in its price class and can compare to IE products costing much more. It provides the listener with truly full-range sound with commanding bass and impressive frequency response. It's a high-performance, high efficiency in-ear headphone designed to work with your phone, your headphone DAC/amplifier or your portable music player.

    Feature:

    Balanced Armature and Dynamic Dual Driver earphones: BA driver Size: 7.9mm x 4.3mm x 2.97mm; Dynamic driver size: 9mm
    Balanced Armature Driver delivers the speed and high frequency extension; Dynamic Driver produces deep bass and full mid range sound
    Frequency range: 20~20KHZ
    Impedance: 12 Ohms
    SPL at 1KHZ: S103+-3db
    Microphone & mute button
    An assortment of rubber and foam ear inserts to provide a perfect, comfortable, custom fit.

Recent Reviews

  1. nmatheis
    Encore RockMaster IE: Dual hybrid for $30!
    Written by nmatheis
    Published Sep 5, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Natural, smooth sound. Comfortable. Bang for your buck.
    Cons - Driver flex with silicone tips. Lacks upper end energy.

    INTRODUCTION

    The Encore RockMaster IE is a new crowd-funded IEM from SonicUnity, and new audio company formed by Rick Hopkins. Rick's a music industry veteran who's helped with concert design for a number of amazing bands, including one of my all-time faves - Rush. To design the RockMaster IE, Rick turned to a trusted name in portable audio products - NuForce co-founder Jason Lim.
     
    Before we get started with the review, please take a moment and head over to Encore's indiegogo page and skim over the info: LINK.
     
    You can also find @Armaegis's take on the RockMaster IE here: LINK.
     
    And the Headfonics review here: LINK.
     
    And finally, here's RockMaster IE dedicated thread: LINK.
     
     

    DISCLAIMER

    There is no financial incentive from SonicUnity in writing this review.  I am in no way affiliated with SonicUnity, and this is my honest opinion of the RockMaster IE.  I would like to thank SonicUnity for giving me a chance to test drive the RockMaster IE, and I hope my feedback proves useful for my fellow Head-Fi members as well as for SonicUnity.
     
     

    ABOUT ME

    I'm a 43 year old music lover who listens to a wide variety of genres and artists (but mostly electronic, metal, and modern composition these days). As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues - some upper frequency loss and mild tinnitus. My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders, and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-120, iPod, iPhone, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso. My headphone journey started with Sony MDR e888 and Eggos back in my minidisc days.  I moved on to full-size Beyerdynamic and Ultrasone cans and Shure E2 and E3 IEM. Those all served me well for quite some time.  Then I rediscovered Head-Fi, and my poor wallet...

     
     

    SPECS

    1. Balanced Armature and Dynamic Dual Driver earphones: BA driver Size: 7.9mm x 4.3mm x 2.97mm; Dynamic driver size: 9mm
    2. Balanced Armature Driver delivers the speed and high frequency extension; Dynamic Driver produces deep bass and full mid range sound
    3. Frequency range:  20~20KHZ
    4. Impedance: 12 Ohms
    5. SPL at 1KHZ: 103 ± 3db
    6. Microphone & mute button
    7. An assortment of rubber and foam ear inserts to provide a perfect, comfortable, custom fit



     

    PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES



    Since this was a pre-release unit intended solely for review, there was no packaging. Accessories consisted of S, M, and L hybrid-style silicone tips and foam tips. I let the team at SonicUnity know that I preferred the foam tips, but that they were just a bit on the small side. They responded and will be offering two sizes of foam tips with the final product to make sure everyone gets a good fit. Nice!
     
     

    BUILD & ERGONOMICS

    On the Indiegogo page, the RM IE are always shown worn down, like this:

     
    But it's just as easy to wear them up, like this:

     
    I've used a lot of IEM over the years. I started using IEM when the venerable Shure E2C were first released, and have listened to and owned a lot since then. The RockMaster IE are comfortable work up or down. I'm a wear 'em down kind of guy if I can get away with it, so I wore the RM IE down for the most part. But those wear 'em up kind of guys (and gals) out there should find them comfortable. The only caveats are they don't have a cinch (but you can always DIY one pretty easily) and wearing them up places the mic + play/pause control in an awkward spot. I'm not using those, so this wouldn't bother me in the slightest.
     
    Some people are fussy about flat cables. This one is pretty narrow and supple and microphonic weren't bad, so I wasn't annoyed with it like I am some flat cables.
     
    I wore them while wandering around the neighborhood, and I didn't get a lot of footfall or wind noise. This last is because they isolate well, since they have no vent holes. This is a double-edged sword of sorts, though. The lack of venting caused my one real issue with the RockMaster IE - vacuum seal and associated driver flex with silicone tips. I tried pulling up on my ear during insertion, no better. I tried pulling down on my ear during insertion, no better. Foamies solved the issue for me, though. Once I got the foams on, my problems with driver flex and the vacuum seal were gone. Whew!
     
    Build quality was good. I don't have any concerns about these falling apart anytime soon. I liked it that an L-shaped plug was used. There isn't a cinch, but I don't think that's a big deal, since these didn't suffer from a lot of microphonics and you've got the mic + play/pause button to contend with.
     
     

    SOURCES

    The RockMaster IE was designed to sound good with your smartphone, but c'mon we're on Head-Fi. What're the chances that you're just listening with your smartphone, right? When I got the RockMaster IE, I was lucky enough to be testing out the Calyx PaT and Cozoy Astrapi and Aegis battery-free DAC/Amps. You just plug them into your smartphone and should get much better sound. How did they fare with the RockMaster iE?
     
    Well, if you're looking for an entry-level improvement, your choices are the Calyx PaT and Cozoy Astrapi. Out of these, I'd easily choose the Calyx PaT. It has a slightly warm lower end that doesn't add much color to the mids, adds some sparkle up top, and improves the soundstage. Unfortunately, the Astrapi didn't play well with the RockMaster IE (or another BA IEM I tried it with), making the bass sound downright bloated, scooped out the mids, and made the upper mids and lower treble harsh and edgy.
     
    If you're looking for something more upscale, the Cozoy Aegis is just amazing and will grow with your setup for quite awhile. It increases dynamics, make the bass feel quicker and punchier, mids are clear and clean, the upper end is quite resolving, and the soundstage is very natural. Somehow, the Aegis just feels right no matter what I plugged into it.
     
     

    SOUND

    I'm going to keep this section simple. I appreciate reviewers who wax eloquent, describing each peak and valley - but for me that's still a work in progress. Other reviewers have done a superb job describing the sound, so if you need further clarification please refer to their reviews.
     
    As mentioned above, I mainly listen to experimental electronic and metal and use those genres to evaluate HP & IEM. For critical listening, I volume match. I also take some quick n dirty measurements after listening to validate my listening notes.
     
    With that out of the way, how do the RockMaster IE sound like?  
     
    Bass is slightly enhanced but isn't overly warm or full sounding, which is a big turn off for me. I hate that fat, bloated bass sound so prevalent in entry level IEM. Not found here, thank goodness!

    Mids aren't recessed, which is a wonder at the Indiegogo price. Vocals are clear and not recessed. Neither are they overly warm and intimate. I'd say they're just on the warm side of neutral.

    The upper end isn't overly energetic but still sounds fairly crisp, which is good for listening for awhile as it doesn't veer off into sibilant / piercing territory at all.

    Soundstage is pretty good, too. I'm actually surprised by this because I can't find any vent holes on the RockMaster IE. Those vents usually help create a sense of space, but these are doing just fine without them.
     
    Here are some listening notes vs. some pretty common IEM:
    1. RM IE vs. VSD3S - VSD3S have more bass with quite a bit of mid-bass emphasis, mids are more forward, upper mids are splashier, highs have more sparkle, soundstage is more 3D. Choose VSD3S if you want a warmer, more energetic presentation.
    2. RM IE vs. MA750 - MA750 have more bass with a bit of mid-bass emphasis, mids are a bit warmer, upper mids aren't as prominent, highs are splashier, soundstage is comparable but has better placement / separation. Choose MA750 if you want a somewhat similar presentation but slightly warmer and with more bass.
     
     
    And now for something out of the ordinary...
     
    Something struck me as I listened to the RockMaster IE. Some of you may have heard for VSONIC's elusive 16th Anniversary IEM (ANV16). For those of you who haven't, Vsonic took the revered GR07's driver, put them into the GR06 shells, and released it as a free gift with VSD2 and VSD2S. So what struck me? Well, RockMaster IE have a similar presentation to ANV16, but the RockMasters have a touch more low bass, a bit more mids, and much less peaky upper mids and treble - nice! So, if you missed out on ANV16 and want a taste, try the RockMaster IE.
     
     

    SUMMARY

    You're getting a really smooth response without the upper mid / treble peaks a lot of other IEM have. This makes them less shimmery / sparkly / vivid (whatever your favorite term is) but also makes them really easy to listen to for long periods of time without fatigue. Honestly, for the $30 Indiegogo price, I thought these might have some screaming BA treble peaks, but they've done a really good job controlling the BA driver in these to achieve a smooth, relatively linear listening experience.
     
    And really, dual hybrid for $30? It's a no-brainer to give these a shot.
      hakushondaimao and zilvins like this.
  2. Armaegis
    a superb $30 budget IEM
    Written by Armaegis
    Published Sep 4, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - good bass, cohesive sound
    Cons - none at this price point
    The Rockmaster IE is a new offering from Encore that explores crowdfunding as a way to produce high quality yet low priced items. They can do this by selecting OEM manufacturers and customizing the tooling to save on time and costs, and the crowdfunding angle allows them to significantly reduce operational costs such a advertising, storage, distribution, and all those other things that we as consumers don't really think about. The result is the ability to offer products to us at a fraction of the cost of typical consumer good.
     
    This would be all for naught if the Rockmaster IE didn't sound good however, but it does not disappoint. It has a firmly bassy but not overblown sound, and remains remarkably cohesive whereas others feel muddled and the bass is a separate entitiy from the rest of the sound. The build quality is about as good as one can expect at this price range, and it comes with a reasonable set of tips (including several different sized silicone and foam tips).
     
    Here's the link to my full review and indiegogo page:
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/775812/
    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/encore-headphones-affordable-audiophile-quality#/story
     
    In short, the Rockmaster IE is a phenomal bargain at $30 if you get in on the crowdfunding. As an extra bonus they're also including an OEM NE-600X (original msrp $25) for free. Seriously folks, this one is a no-brainer. Even if you don't need one or are already into the high end, these would make great gifts or even just serve as beaters to use at the gym or tossed into a bag for backup.

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