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The Encore RockMaster’s tight bass, crystal clear midrange, accurate highs and wide soundstage...

Encore RockMaster OE

Rating:
4/5,
  • The Encore RockMaster’s tight bass, crystal clear midrange, accurate highs and wide soundstage compete with headphones at several times the price.

    Feature:
    50mm dynamic speaker driver
    Soft and breathable memory foam ear pad and padded head band for exceptional comfort.
    Replaceable braided fabric-jacket 3.5mm male-to-male headphone cable
    Frequency Response: 20–20,000 Hz
    Impedance: 32 ohm
    Sensitivity: 107 dB

Recent Reviews

  1. MatthewRed
    Best headphones I've ever owned
    Written by MatthewRed
    Published Jan 15, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Great fit on head and ears, rugged build, clear/full sound
    Cons - Not many that I can hear
    I put on a Spotify hi-def remastered Beatles recording last weekend and found myself in an immersive musical soundscape that gave me goosebumps. LOVE these headphones.
  2. nmatheis
    Encore RockMaster OE: Good sound at a good price - but took some work.
    Written by nmatheis
    Published Sep 7, 2015
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Tough as nails build. Comfortable. Detachable cable. Good sound (but took some work).
    Cons - Design needs some tweaking to get good sound.

    INTRODUCTION

    The Encore RockMaster OE is a new crowd-funded Over Ear Headphone 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 OE, 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@Armaegis's take on the RockMaster IE here: LINK.
     
    And the Headfonics review here: LINK.
     
    And finally, here's RockMaster OE 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 OE.  I would like to thank SonicUnity for giving me a chance to test drive the RockMaster OE, 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. Frequency Response: 20–20,000 Hz
    2. Impedance: 32 ohm
    3. Sensitivity: 107 dB
    4. 50mm dynamic speaker driver
    5. Soft and breathable memory foam ear pad and padded head band for exceptional comfort.
    6. Replaceable braided fabric-jacket 3.5mm male-to-male headphone cable



     

    PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES



    Since this was a pre-release unit intended solely for review, there was no packaging. I just received the RockMaster OE and detachable cable.
     
    Here's what the final packaging will look like:
    Encore-Headph-Box-Vis-02-B.png
     
     
     

    BUILD & ERGONOMICS

    Here's the RockMaster OE courtesy of SonicUnity:
    800x600px-LL-3c7f5849_900435262_RockMaster_OE_01.jpg
     
    As mentioned above, you get a detachable cable wrapped in braided nylon. Feel free to experiment all you cable tweakers [​IMG]
     
    The headphones are plastic and metal and seem quite durable. In fact @Armaegis gave them the "throw them down the stairs test", and they survived to live another day!
     
    Pads are rectangular and have a generous fit, which should make over ear fit easy for all ear sizes. I don't often find myself saying this, but I'd love to see a thinner pad on these. I think that'd help me with the fit issues I experienced. I'd also love to see a velour pad to wear when it's hot out.
     
    Since the headband is metal, you can bend it to improve fit. This is important, as I guess I must have a small head. I'm an average height guy (5' 10"), but the headband on these was too big for me on the smallest setting, and clamp force was quite low. This caused a poor fit which compromised the sound for me, making it difficult for me to accurate gauge the RockMaster OE's performance. Frustrated, I set them aside for while. After a bit of back and forth with Jason Lim, I decided to give two tweaks a shot. 1. Bend the headband, improving fit on my narrow head. 2. Compress the ear pads. Both of these tweaks helped immensely, and the SonicUnity team is considering this feedback to help improve the final product. Nice!
     
     

    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. During my time with the RockMaster OE, I've used them with my iPhone, as well as various DAPs and Amps. I didn't find source mattered much for these. With that out of the way, how do the RockMaster IE sound like?
     
    As mentioned above, my experience with the RockMaster OE has been a bit Jekyll & Hyde. I get quite sound signatures depending on ear placement within the cup - more so than with other headphones I own. I typically place my ears as far back in the cups as possible to increase the sense of space and imaging. With RockMaster OE, this does help with space and imaging but for me turns the sound overly bass-enhanced and soft up top. Placing my ears dead center in the cups tightens up the bass and brings out the upper end a bit more, making it a much more balanced sound without degrading space and imaging too much. Placing my ears all the way forward in the cups gives these a an even more balanced sound. It's actually fun to play around with this aspect of the RockMaster IE. I'm a big IEM guy, and this part of the experience reminds me of tip rolling with my IEM.
     
    So, we've established that the sound signature is quite dependent on placement within the ear cup. Two other tangentially related factors for altering sound signature and quality with RockMaster OE are clamp force and distance from ear to driver. I mentioned above that the headband was too big for me, making for a loose fit with low clamp force. This was partially remedied by bending the headband and impressing the ear pads overnight. However, it didn't completely do the trick. I found that pressing the cups during listening sessions gave more typical clamp force, improved the seal, and brought the drivers closer to my ears. This gave a very positive result, tightening up the bass and bringing the upper end forward for what I'd cal a dramatic improvement in sound quality.
     
    So, for best overall sound, I found the following tweaks important: improving fit by ending the headband and compressing the pads, placing my ears near all the way to the back inside the ear cups, and pressing on the cups during listening. All of this gave me a nice u-shaped sound signature that was an engaging listening experience. It was, however, some added or on the end user's part. I mentioned this to the development team, and they're working on some fixes for the final product to give an improved out of the box experience. Nice!
     

    SUMMARY

    I hope the SonicUnity team works quickly to implement the tweaks I mentioned to help out those of us with smaller heads. If the sum of all those tweaks were the out of the box experience, I would've been readily impressed with the sound straight away. As it is, it took me some experimentation to eke the best out of  these, and so they'll get dinged. If I hear reports of this being fixed in the future, I'll revise my review. For the price the build quality is amazing, and the potential for quite nice sound quality is definitely there. A nice first attempt that ultimately fell short.
  3. Armaegis
    a whole lotta bang for a whole little buck
    Written by Armaegis
    Published Sep 4, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - superb build quality at this price
    Cons - none at this price point
    The Rockmaster OE (along with its sister product 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.
     
    Overall I would classify this as a "consumer" sound with elevated bass and treble for more punch and snap respectively. It is a bit weak in the midrange as most headphones of this type are, but it also avoids the pitfalls of a spiky treble so there's little to no fatigue for long term listening. I particularly enjoyed these for movies. The build quality is amazing for this price range, with memory foam pads and metal parts and no squeaking joints. I have literally tossed them down the stairs with no ill effect.
     
    Here's the link to my full review and the indiegogo page:
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/775541
    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/encore-headphones-affordable-audiophile-quality#/story
     
    For $30 you can't go wrong. Get in on this while you still can!

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