Raptgo Hook-X

zenki

500+ Head-Fier
Raptgo Hook X - What a weirdo
Pros: - Cable
- Excellent Fit
- Overall sound
- Imaging
Cons: - Details may be lacking a bit
- Treble
TL;DR
This thing sucks power.

Package
IEM, Tips, 0.78mm modular cable, crappy pouch, modular plugs etc2x.

Build
Full Metal build. Nice and solid.
Excellent fit too which is unexpected. Definitely a big plus.

Cable
Pretty good cable. Good looking + modular.

First thought/What to expect
Fist planar + Open back. Not sure what to expect. Chin slider works.

SOUND
Bass
Right planar bass. Lets get into it. Hmm not sure what too say. Quality wise it's quite good but
quantity is mixed. In some tracks it sounds alright, in some it lacks impact but in others it has a tad too much? How bizarre. Generally it's on the light side. Bass got speed though which is good.

Mids
No issue whatsoever. No harshness, peakiness etc2x. Pure simple natural sound. No. not smoothen sound; Natural. However, this can have the opposite effect eg. electric guitars lack the 'zing' energy but it's not a biggie really. Vocals are good, which can be further complemented by the techs. Instruments also pretty well done.

Treble
The treble presence is the kinda weak which is surprising. Not sure why it's like this. Maybe it's designed this way to complement the planar driver or due to open-back?
As for micro-details, we need to separate them into majority and minority. Most IEMs will try show the majority but this set seems to do the opposite. The result is that the majority sounds weak & lacking (but still there), while there will be a minority that you haven't heard before but it's very rare. It doesn't have any issue such as sibilance etc.

Techs
The freak of the show. This set is rather clean sound quality and has an overall natural sound.

Sound stage
The soundstage itself is pretty wide. The height is also pretty tall. Not your average chi-fi but it's not fixed. Depth is available too but generally it's not that deep.

Imaging
It's really a variable. Tracks can sound close suggesting lack of depth but it's doesn't feel like in front of speaker placement either. So it does have depth or some sort. Depending upon the track, vocals can come forward closer to you which makes you appreciate the quality. On a certain track, the vocal actually comes out behind your head. Normally vocal stays in front and comes to you like speaking with another person. But not this one, no. This time it's like you both merge into one and the other party do the talking. So the sounds flow out behind your head instead of receiving them in front. Some instruments can also (be forced to) appear behind the ear. It makes me wonder if the imaging axis are shifted. But it's definitely not the case because other songs sounds normal.

The overall soundstage & imaging can sometime sound close to you where it normally doesn't.
It also has somewhat incomplete 360 audio? The rear low region behind the ear is exceptional. One track actually managed to produce a sensation of ants crawling on skin. Unreal.
However the other region are not as good. They feel rather weak or incomplete. It's such a pity.
Make no mistake though, most IEM may not even be able to produce this kind of imaging.

Lastly, there will usually be at least one thing that will stand out in a track, whether it's the vocals, plucking strings, sound effects etc. There's something mysterious that will attract you to this IEM. Not sure what it is but there's something alluring within.

Itsy Bitsy Tips
Didn't use.

FR
Later or never.

Comparison
vs. Sora2.
Not really a fair comparison but Sora2 owns the treble. Everything else is Hook-X.

vs Miyabi. Hook-X has a better low rear field and maybe a slight edge in vocals. Else, it's all Miyabi.

vs. EST50. EST50 has an edge in treble, vocals, soundstage width and height. Hook-X owns the imaging.

Closing thought
This set definitely has an up and down qualities built into one. It's rather unpredictable.
So the 101 question is:
Would you keep this IEM? Of course because it's a bizarre creature.

Verdict
Hmm... 3/5 is too low, 5/5 is a no go. 4/5 doesn't seem right either

Redcarmoose

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: New sound possibilities as a result of new driver technologies
Bone conduction
Piezoelectric technology
Planar technology
Full open-back technology
This is the future kids
Cons: Does not add anything to poorly recorded music, but plays things as they are
If I had a dream.....
RAPTGO HOOK-X

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RAPTGO arrived on the scene awhile back with a 4 Knowles all Balanced Armature model, the GR 40CP, and the GR DR3H hybrid model............consisting of 2BAs and a DD. Priced at $169.99 and 129.99 respectively, they didn’t really make a mark on the highly crowded and competitive modern day IEM market.

While strangely the company has named itself as a medical technology company! Or maybe it's actually a medical technology company who makes IEMs on the side?


Minami Medical Technology (Guangdong) Co. Ltd.

But I can tell you........from here on out they have made a mark. I mean who would be smart enough, brave enough or stupid enough to mix a Custom Made 14.2mm Planar Magnetic Driver and Custom 18 Layer Double-Sided PZT (Piezoelectric) Driver?

It has never been done, ever.......until now!


Now if that wasn’t unique enough for you............they also did something else totally original, they made the IEM open-back.


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The thing has a real working open-back design!

Now I’ll never forget hearing about the arrival of this strange duck. When it was first introduced it was introduced as “New Concept-New Attempt” as experimental as that sounded, the name was quickly revamped into "Novel Concept-Precise Execution". Not only were those descriptions changed but the HOOK-X went from oddball to inventive all with-in a short time.

It went from Strange and Possibly Bad to Strange and Wonderful all in a week!

What I mean is "The HOOK" had the kind of sarcasm attached to anything you could imagine being 1/2 Planar 1/2 Piezoelectric! You know all great ideas are met with doubt until they work out. The car was at first laughed at, the airplane, ridiculous at first.

So I’ll be the first one to stand up and say bravo! Not only is this 100% great sounding, it’s mature sounding.
Oh, by the way I forgot another amazing 1/2 way unbelievable add. It’s got Bone Conduction too!
Ok so let’s add this up....

Planar

Piezoelectric
Open-back
Bone Conduction


Oh, and it’s black/grey and green, with a black and green cable. But if that still wasn’t enough for you, it comes with some new style of cable which comes with adapters for 2.5mm balanced, 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced. Not only that but it comes with a total of 9 sets of ear tips, a nice storage case.

I went though an interesting journey upon testing it out. At first it was totally without bass, the sound slowly becoming thicker as burn-in hours passed. At around 50 hours the true personality started to emerge. I didn't really loose my cool till the 85 hour mark. At approximately 85 burn-in hours the proverbial jaw then dropped!

Jaw Dropped!


First off I just want to say that every new IEM is met with suspicion and distrust. It’s only upon finding out the magical properties of music replay that such an item gets loved and respected!

Love and respect!

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RAPTGO HOOK-X
If you purchase from Linsoul you also get free world-wide shipping, and a 1 year warranty.
Linsoul website: https://www.linsoul.com/
Linsoul Aliexpress Store: https://ddaudio.aliexpress.com/store/2894006
Linsoul USA Amazon Store link: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=merchant-items&me=A267P2DT104U3C

Disclaimer:
The RAPTGO HOOK-X was sent to me by Kareena Tang of Linsoul in exchange for this review.



Planar + Piezoelectric Drivers Hybrid IEM
  • Novel Concept, Precise Execution
  • Custom Made 14.2mm Planar Magnetic Driver
  • Custom 18 Layer Double-Sided PZT Driver
  • Open-Back Design
  • Interchangeable Connector Cable

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS
Driver: 14.2mm Planar drive+Double-faced 9-layer PZT drive
Wear Type: In-ear
Sensitivity(1KHz): 105dB SPL/mW
Frequency range: 20Hz- 40KHz
Impedance(1KHz): 15Ω
Audio interface: 0.78mm - 2.5mm/3 5mm/4.4mm
Earphone cable length: 1.25m
Packing List:
RAPTGO HOOK.X Earphones*1
0.78 2pin OCC Silver Plated Coaxial Shielded Wire + 2.5mm/3.5mm/4.4mm Plugs
Earphones Bag* 1
Headphone Silicone Sleeves*3 (S M L)
Warranty Card And Instructions*1

In August of 2021 there was a Youtube video introducing the 7HZ Timeless IEM. This “Planar” was a new take implementing a 14.2mm planar membrane. Needless to say the 7Hz became a legend in our industry. Soon to follow was the Shuoer S12, a 14.8 Planar membrane. It too became the talk of legends. These two Planar IEMs have really laid the groundwork for this next new-generation of IEMs. If the 7Hz Timeless or Shuoer S12 are truly better, it will have to wait for another day as I’ve never heard the the two.

HOOK-X Planar:
The two N52 magnets suspend the ribbon driver. The magnets and 14.2mm Planar driver are custom in-house made as is the Piezoelectric driver. Simply stated, the mass of the ribbon is lower which results is extreme responsiveness in comparison to BA or DD technologies. Thus this magic ribbon results in better transients and response times. The frequency response at 20Hz to 40kHz.............becomes somewhat of an enigma! The trick here is we are copying regular full-size open-back planar headphones by using open-back design. This in itself makes the RAPTGO HOOK-X stand out, by design description anyway!

The open-back design philosophy creates a fatigue free listening environment due to relieving pressure on the ear-drum. The open-back character also cancels out any standing waves or vibration caught inside the shell. The 5-axis CNC shell guarantees precision alignment of constituents, resulting in construction variations kept at a minimum. The 0.78mm 2-pin cable jacks mean easy switch-ability..................if you want to roll cables. But more than that a modular plug system is in place so you never have to do cable changes. Use the included 2.5mm balanced connection for DAPs, use the included 3.5mm unbalanced if you want to go to a 6.5mm adapter then to a desktop. Also a 3.5mm output of course or 4.4mm balanced from your DAP or desktop.

Of course the included cable is OCC silver-plated with coaxial shielding offering dynamic results, questioning ever rolling cables. Amazingly the cable and IEM are color matched stifling OCD desires you may have.

Why did they do it?
A revolutionary juxtaposition of sound elements. Never before has anyone been brave enough, stupid enough or smart enough to merge these philosophies into one IEM shell. Supposedly it does work. But how well will it work for you? I will attempt to explain what is taking place.


Custom 18 Layer Double-Sided PZT Driver:
We have come in contact with this build philosophy a few times in the past. But what’s novel is merging it with a planar. Supposedly military technology comes into play here as a double sided-layer system is formed consisting of 18 ceramic piezo elements that come together to make a final “PZT” unit. My experience with the BQEYZ Spring 2 was my introduction to this new (in use) sonic technology. And while the Piezoelectric part really did well with the Spring2, offering a special window into guitar harmonics. The Spring 2 low end (which has nothing to do with Piezoelectric) was another story. When in fact after hearing the way Piezoelectric was which was truly kinda like EST technology, but was offering a softer edge. In truth I liked the tone of the top-end, though would have to wait for a year and a half for someone (RAPTGO) to merge the Piezoelectric technology with Planar technology and make it real!

Piezoelectric is slightly fuzzy in contrast to BA, DD and Planar technology. What they are in-fact trying to do is a treble response which offers an alternative to the steely BA character.

This venture is basically looking for correct timbre and instrument tone. But the kicker is mixing it with a full open-back design, so we bypass any threat of standing waves or driver reverberations.

Did I mention Planar Technology yet..............just kidding!

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The Music:
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Daft Punk TRON: Legacy OST 44.1 kHz - 16 bit
Rinzler:

At only 2 minutes 17 seconds in total, this “song” is almost only a sound demo. It has been ages since I saw this movie, but I play this soundtrack all the time. While the beginning is “shot-up” with giant percussion......which actually sounds live. We are then met with a wash of high-pitched synth placed on the outskirts of the stage, adjacent to a syncopated low-end synth centered in the middle. The high pitch synth actually sounds like a vocal sample and we are delighted to be able to comprehend such with the HOOK-X. There is also strings that subtlety accompany the toned down syncopated synth, showing us the timing and pace here at the 44 second mark. Yet the meat and potatoes starts up at 46 seconds. This is actually the complete focus of the song, and probably what ends the most memorable facet presented, arguably? The fact the the HOOK-X has (so far) been a fine player of all aspects. Funny how even though well recorded this piece can come across (with other transducers) pressed up against-a-wall or too intense! Today though we encounter the HOOK-X weaving a pleasant tale, for us.

Though I have to say this recording is highly distorted at times. It's like the process of recording a live orchestra and synthesizers was too much to actually put down on tape. They just went ahead and let everything become too hot maybe, or they thought the red-line effect was cool? What ever the story we can at least enjoy this masterwork for the sounds and musical ideas, even though the recording process is questionable, if not revolutionary!

It goes without saying that this style of music is designed to draw emotion. The fact that it borders on sensory overload, is an understatement. This is in no way, shape or form background music, it just is not! Such demands are tolerated but maybe here we are given sonic-relief? The fact that this musical example truly showcases the forgiveness present in our HOOK-X replay.

Strangely though not blue, but Fluorescent Green, the RAPGO HOOK-X actually looks futuristic like something a TRON character would wear! The air-holes on the faceplate.............the curves of the shell.........the colored beveled trim....................would all be a prop/fit-in with this movie. The cable is matching the color trends too, a spiral of black/green thread separates a construction.

Again another signpost that we are in the future too, just like the TRON Arena. The fact that this headphone cable has been crafted as an intertwining spiral with the right and left signals completely encased in their own glowing fabric encasement!

At 46 seconds the real bass hits, and while it has impact it’s kinda this whole flowing mood, where nothing is too abrupt, even though it is spectacularly an abrupt musical piece. This is maybe the magic at hand? The fact that everything is slightly sanded down to a digestible level. Not bad in any way, but smooth!

But more importantly I hear the bass emphasis that is the skeletal framework here......walking the pace. With Sony Hybrid Tips the bass is perfect and even slightly better than the included tips, in my opinion. Also any hint of that blanket of distortion making the HOOK-X sound almost low-res, has been removed. What happened was the “rough” midrange was lowered into the lower midrange and any hint of that fizzy/fuzzy stuff was pleasantly removed!

We now find the bass to be our tale teller. As this musical story unfolds we are taken to places of drama. Within this small song is in-fact a world, an entire world of knowing. Knowing the subtle aspects as they are presented and feeling the experience. What is happening is the violins are in syncopation with the bass. Of course this is in a way........the whole soundtrack...............at least the musical ideas we remember. But more important than generalization of the music, we are now right in the middle. At one minute 9 seconds it seems maybe all this is math. Do Daft Punk have a method to their madness? Of course they do!

At one minute 20 seconds we are now shown a high pitched (treble) shaker! As a new sonic addition we are presented with a subtle brilliance. And I can’t help but find the separation here unique. The fact that it comes in sounding almost like it was there all along. But of course these guys know exactly what they are doing. This small rhythm was a planned add, that would be used to show a style of climax in the piece. And the fact that the HOOK-X was guilty of portraying it perfect. Just perfect!

Because when well done, it’s all in the details. Then the drums again from the beginning are used. But they are actually the same drums used in other places. Just the fact that the drums are used in the song previously “Arena”............should be of no surprise. It’s as if these songs where cut up from a larger musical presentation, that in fact this whole thing all runs together like some giant live show! And not only that but “Arena” (the song prior) has the same DNA. There is a method here. A repeated theme with the drums. Still none of that takes away from the unique experience “Rinzler” is. The fact that this song has a pace emphasis where there is a give and take. Some kind of breathing is going on. It’s alive!

Yet it is all incredibly simple. It’s maybe like the very first thing you learned to play on the piano? But before you know it, it’s now the real climax at 1 minute 55 seconds...............fully following flowing into saturation and actual recorded distortion. Still this has a place with the RAPTGO HOOK-X, being total entertainment. Somehow everything is packaged up for consumption, all is tolerable, nothing too much, when this seems like it could maybe almost......be too much!

This is of of course the result of electronics and an 85 piece orchestra recorded at AIR Lyndhurst Studios in London.

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Daft Punk TRON: Legacy OST 44.1 kHz - 16 bit
Outlands:

I could very well be accused of being too myopic choosing another TRON song..............so be it. Truly though the RAPTGO HOOK-X are in their element. I simply like the way the low end is presented. The fact that it has dimensions of tone. This is why we are here, at Head-Fi anyway. To experience this stuff the way it was meant to be heard.

Even before the 32 second “blast” we hear what sounds like a supporting set of violins....way off to the right. Now of course orchestras “talk” to themselves. But this sound is not reverb. It’s maybe the resonance of slower delay in instruments? What ever it is it’s singularly fantastic. And I’m not even 30 seconds in! Now I hear it better, there is another accompaniment that is of stings! Of course. It’s a style of synchronization or syncopation.... I’m not a classically schooled at this....only enjoying it all!

I will say the RAPTGO HOOK-X walks a fine line. That line contains detail and seems to go right to the edge of too hot, but it never is. They seem to have this FR down nowadays? The fact that with “Outlands”..............the cello counterparts the big bass drop in drums. But the best part too, is the decay.............that you can truly experience the orchestral decay..............and it sounds exactly right. At the climax at 2 minutes 16 seconds there are three musical elements made of three sections of the orchestra.

So you have a burst of violins and cello and drums and yes, they are in conversation, yet they would almost be fighting now. Fighting but also in-synchronized harmonic fashion. OK, they are not actually fighting but yelling. This yelling is all good! As the next song “Adagio for TRON” is a homecoming for the theme. Reintroducing the main theme once more. But that’s another song in this soundtrack for another IEM on another day!


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The Cure-Faith 44.1 kHz - 16 bit
All Cats are Gray

One of my favorites pieces of music to review IEMs. This release came out in April of 1981. Being both classic and representative of the time, it showcases both an incredible instrumental performance and vocal statement. We find “The Cure” in their infancy and arguably their best form. Robert Smith vocalist was just transitioning into use of the six string bass guitar though supposedly Smith here only does vocals, keyboards and piano. We are first introduced to the pace of the song via heavily reverberated drums. Interestingly enough this type of drum sound was really the sound of the times. Especially showcased in the Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” from the same year........these sounds really were new in 1981. Obviously the Cure is not Phil Collins and their drums are not Phil Collins drums.......plus it sounds like a drum machine with reverb. This was more underground.....and unpopular. Here once more we are met with the 9 second mark recording artifact. This small “sssss” sound I use to judge detail and resolution in IEMs. It’s maybe a dirty knob movement or microphone cord? Just a 1/2 second sound to let us know we are hearing detail.............because if this sound is not heard, we are in trouble.

What is great about the HOOK-X is the cymbal detail. The fact that at one minute 9 seconds we get the second major cymbal crash. Such are the songs signposts. Funny too as there are cymbal treatments where the tail end of the reverberations fall into a slight sound that actually sounds like angry-cats. Like cats making a slight screeching sound....like cats maybe outside? This of course sounds faint....but they are there. Often recording engineers will use strange recording techniques to surprise the listener. It would not be too much of a stretch to guess they did something unrecognizable to the cymbals.......like dipping them in water or hitting them with power-tools to create this surprising sound. I don't know how they did it, but (not knowing) is half the fun. It's this level of detail that's a delight with the HOOK-X.

You have to wonder how the creation of the actual ACaG recording took place? A couple attempts to get it on tape previously produced boredom...............though somehow magic was discovered upon this final take? Maybe it’s the details? Maybe it's the cats in the cymbals? But whatever it is there is still a nonchalant vibe here. Like they could care less about the fact that it WAS being recorded. Maybe the song was recorded way too many times......? The facts are that they changed recording studios. This seems to be the one take that will forever be special.

Then we hear the two separate synths finding their true separation with the HOOK-X. And the bass.....it’s part this song from the start. A maybe more laid back rendition of bass, yet totally musical. Though the bass emphasis and subtle changes can be heard in their entirety. That’s what is maybe special about planars, the fact they reproduce the instruments slightly different. The fact they are more integrated together......... like a sanded down perspective? Yet those drum machines also have space. The piano has a subtle floating aspect that sounds so natural...........though I don’t think I ever heard it quite this way before? It’s composite in that the instruments are all both in tune and timbre, yet parts make it out of the union. The emphasis is just that...........an emphasis with the HOOK-X and it’s soft and responsive. The velvety way Robert Smith’s voice is introduced. His voice isn’t necessarily that far out-front, just like all the rest, it’s somehow coherent............and cohesive, yet linear in attack. There is almost no front and center to the vocals? But none of it is wrong, it’s just right really? A blend, maybe even more blended than I’ve ever heard this song......a more connected way. The tail-ends and decay of Robert Smiths voice.........and we can hear multiple tracks; the fact that he of course is singing along with himself. He almost doesn’t sing very much in this song, his few words are maybe expensive and......... and not to be waisted.

I never thought that I would find myself
In bed amongst the stones
The columns are all men
Begging to crush me
No shapes sail on the dark deep lakes
And no flags wave me home
In the caves
All cats are gray
In the caves
The textures coat my skin
In the death cell
A single note

Rings on and on and on


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The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
44.1 kHz - 16 bit (Polydor Ltd. UK, 833 736-2)

I chose this album not because the sound goes with the HOOK-X, even though it does. But because it represents a paradigm shift to the tectonic plates. A shift in popular culture.

A shift to open-back designs
A shift to Planar
A shift to Piezoelectric


Frankly the rest.............................is history. Sorry (other) IEM companies.


Much like the HOOK-X......... Arthur Brown was an unknown, but formed upon the grassroots of culture. It was his apparent strangeness that caught hold, and the wild juxtaposition of elements in-which his fame somehow formed?

Here an older song results in a just "OK" sound, nothing special, or nothing bad. Some transducers gussy up the tones, though here we are left with the true reality of music.

So to get to the bottom of why older music sounds just “OK” is due to the transducers just playing back the reality of the signal. That and we are on the faster and thinner side of the fence anyway. But the stereo rendition of “Fire” plays back with consummate “fun”. There is a passage before the actual song where Vincent Crane does a Hammond C-3 performance! It goes without saying that Vincent’s Hammond is the perfect accompaniment to the album. With all that Arthur Brown is known for..........arguably Vincent Crane’s contribution to the mood is crucial. Yet just like the HOOK-X, Arthur Brown is basically unstoppable. Being an egomaniac maybe? Or just really egocentric........we are gifted with this otherworldly performance. A swirling take on an audio-journey complete with poetic narrative and splendor. Somehow an unexpected progression into the ultimate core of 1968 Psychedelic Rock. While produced by Kit Lambert and Pete Townsend.....no one truly knew how big of a splash the album would make on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean! And while many would single this out as a one hit wonder, many are still under the spell all these years later!

"Fire"
I am the god of hellfire and I bring you
Fire, I'll take you to burn
Fire, I'll take you to learn
I'll see you burn
You fought hard and you saved and earned
But all of it's going to burn
And your mind, your tiny mind
You know you've really been so blind
Now's your time, burn your mind
You're falling far, too far behind
Oh no, oh no, oh no!
You're gonna burn
Fire, to destroy all you've done
Fire, to end all you've become
I'll feel you burn
You've been living like a little girl
In the middle of your little world
And your mind, your tiny mind
You know you've really been so blind
Now's your time, burn your mind
You're falling far, too far behind
Oooh
Fire, I'll take you to burn
Fire, I'll take you to learn
You're gonna burn
You're gonna burn
You're gonna burn, burn, burn, burn,
Burn, burn, burn, burn, burn, burn, burn
Fire, I'll take you to burn
Fire, I'll take you to learn
Fire, I'll take you to bed

Fire, I'll take you, fire

The stuff you get:

  • RAPTGO HOOK-X Earphones
  • 0.78 2pin OCC Silver Plated Coaxial Shielded Wire + 2.5mm/3.5mm/4.4mm Plugs
  • Earphones Bag
  • Headphone Silicone Tips (S M L)
  • Warranty Card And Instructions

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Really I view all three sets of tips falling into the medium sonic character, which may be perfect for folks. So you have black inner rings, green and clear. Each set finds themselves to be both a nice shape as well as having an incredibly gummy texture. They fit great, are very well made while each bestowing a “tuning” unique to each color. Though you may want to look outside the given collection for wider bore (imaging/treble) tips or super narrow bore (bass) tips.

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Form-Factor:
Everything about the build in fine. They are not that heavy, but a nice weight. They don't really leak sound, the cable is not microphonic. One of my favorite parts probably is that they are made from metal. The 2 pins are in the perfect position for cable rolls. All and all I give the form-factor a perfect 10/10.

But probably the best part is simply how they fit. The included tips as well as aftermarket tips have a freedom of positioning to arrive at placement success.

They even do really well to block outside sounds. I guess this would be due to having a lot of material inside the shells between your ears and the outside world?

The nozzles hold tips on really well. There has been particular design effort on just how the included tips seem to match the nozzle shape? Such a discovery shows just how advanced we have become from only a few short years ago.

Bone Conduction:
It’s interesting as you really don’t notice the effect of bone conduction till it’s removed. Meaning it’s in hindsight that you seem to miss it. It’s a subtle way that the IEMs get an add in listening. It’s a set of lower frequencies that you can tell are not coming from your ear drums. But especially noted when you return to regular IEMs without it. It’s not a gimmick but another add, that simply enhances the bass character.


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So, you made it this far.....what about the sound?
The Sound:

Bass
I’m not going to fully go into how I got to this point, but the HOOK-X has 85 hours burn-in and the sound has both added thickness and maturity. Somehow during that time the imaging became clearer and soundstage became wider. I don’t want to tell you about the labor pains..............only show you the baby!

The Bass Experience:

Both clear and analog. Being well defined, sculpted, fast and pure. I know those are a lot of adjectives, well try the HOOK-X and you will see for yourself. It’s not that anything is disjointed somehow, that everything is coming from the same grocery store. Yet there is separation and elements which are defined. At first there really wasn’t all that much bass. I even accused the HOOK-X of being thin and airy, never to alter or blossom-out. But no.........the HOOK-X proved me wrong, becoming all grown-up with a full-example of character. The fact is the bass bumps and scales and does it all just the way we want it. Any ineptness has been left at the doorsteps.

In fact this is great fast-bass at any price point. What? Any dollar value. Maybe it’s that bone conduction or something. Truly I don’t know? My job is not to know only to explain.

The bass has a pure, fast and a position in the soundstage which is agile yet not totally thick, meaning I’ve heard thicker DD bass, but that’s not the point. Here we are gifted with a faster, nimble and almost transparent, yet real bass. The attacks are legendary as the leading edge cuts through and is always heard. All this means that the quantity is right, even though leaving room for all the rest of instruments to be heard.

There is a politeness to everything that takes the cake.


Just the right amount of decay and reverb, which maybe means it’s faster than other methods of producing bass, yet it’s all good. A stripped down and still “there” bass. All I can say is the word Planar, and hope you may get the clue? As it’s a different neighborhood we are visiting, and not exactly a place I’ve been to before. Probably the way the bass pushes into the music, that fact that it comes and goes with additional precision and still has texture. Though the texture isn’t big and totally tactile, it’s almost invisible at times, but that is in-fact which makes it unique. The fact that it caresses the midrange in ways never before thought possible. So there is really no occlusion going on. No frequency is being stifled or smeared in the mids.

It’s the tale of the perfect neighbor who knows and understands his boundaries!

The Midrange Experience:

At the start I really thought these were all about a dynamite midrange, and in a way they still are. But really the full-spectrum is represented. The fact that it’s all just so attached.............somehow fused together, and because the treble and bass are in a way attachments to the main “thing” the midrange, it still seems like more mids, mistakenly.

But the true love of the HOOK-X is still for the love of mids.

I mean that’s where it all goes down, the midrange. Yet there are those embellishments which always take place outside the midrange, those upper treble areas, those lower (bass) realms that seem like they are not really as low or as high (as normal) due to the cohesiveness! If that even makes sense? Meaning the magic here is that nothing seems like it’s the odd tone or even a need in any one frequency, yet it still seems like it’s all midrange. All.

Like the treble has now joined forces into the mids, that the bass (while still low) has now (also) joined the mids strangely enough. All is one!

Again, I guess this is the Planar experience? The personality is unique yet totally accessible. The music is different but still very natural, like getting your first glass of water on vacation in a new country. Same, same but uniquely different, but still water. As natural as water is, when it does have a character.........but that character is just the unique glass your experiencing at that place in time. But the question here is cost. These are $239.00, and how do you quantify that single aspect. I really have lost track of price. Concentrating of qualities which are beside the point. When normally price is always a critical factor, I guess because these are such an enigma, that I forgot about the price?

Could they be my only IEMs? Yes, gloriously they could.

They can actually do it all. The way I test this is fairly simple. I just take a look at a list artists on my DAP and run down the list. I keep playing different genres until I get to where it’s doesn’t sound right. Though here there is only 1980s stuff that sounds thin simply because the mastering is thin. Any notice of diminished interaction, so it’s the song file, not the IEMs. At the same time you actually want that style of honesty, as it’s showing what’s up.

09C1ACA4-0C5A-4577-93BA-73FDF6A55CC7.jpeg


The Treble Experience:
96 kHz - 24 bit Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

"Beautiful Lie"


This is maybe out of character but I want to use a song to explain the treble. This album was in-fact the creative work of one of Head-Fi’s very own members. In charge of the total sound of the movie..........was his responsibility. Though this album would have been a favorite anyway..............even if I did know someone who worked on it.

This starts out with attacks being whole composites of sounds, though they quickly pass and we are left to explore a simple piano theme. Taking place on the upper registers of a piano, we are almost stifled as to the simplicity of it all. It holds a musical passage though.......... maybe this start is meant to show a character's vulnerability? Normally superheroes are about strength, but here? Challenging the stereotype?

Such is the contrast to the very start..........this contrast causes both aspects of the beginning to contain even more a variation of perceived character.

Even the title is maybe meant to show things are not what they seem on the surface. The HOOK-X not only works to show those slight keys, but the dramatic washes that accompany the keys make them even more vibrant in contrast. There is a backwards introduction to the theme. The song is truly a start of a movie soundtrack..............as the creation seems as if it was first made as an improvisational piece, but of course it’s not. The HOOK-X provides the single vocal statement and hearing it, it becomes a surprise being another level of treble. The choir is really a single voice never multiplying into anything other than a single expression of an individual. Once again we are asked to comprehend this single lonely start. As if it’s only one individual against the world. And we are left with this panning synth wash way-up-high, just as in the beginning the song circles back to it’s origin. Only this time we are missing the bells, somehow the bells were witness to the start? No need for bells.............as this is the end of the song. In our memory is the main theme..................really primarily the violins and synth washes, as the song ends.

The Sound In General:
We as reviewers are supposed to listen and report back. Only we are venturing into the unknown. We are putting these things we never had in our ears....in our ears. We are describing sound. First off the HOOK-X actually never got really good till 50 hours, though in hindsight it still wasn’t broken in. If you don’t believe me stop reading, I truly don’t care. At 85 hours the HOOK-X was a whole new beast. The reason I’m describing all this is truly you will not know what you have till at least 85 hours of continuous play. Then and only then you can say I told you so. Because I just did! You yourself will know too!

The HOOK-X is a masterpiece. Beyond anything you can grasp for the USD $239.00. Why? Simply because it’s super super clear. The way it does clear is with fantastic positioning. The musical elements are actually pretty far outside. But not just that, the instrument tone and timbre is correct. I’m actually looking for negatives, but there are none. Silly me, I sound like a fool. But I could get rid of everything and simply ride of into the sunset with the HOOK-X. I know those are pretty big words........yes....I just wrote them. They are that good.

Though to be fair here they need the best files in your library to be their best. They simply respond with what they have to work with, that’s all. A window into your own big musical world. I’m grateful to have this opportunity. It’s life changing, really it is. And before I forget I will try to describe what’s going on. Sure there has to be something up. I mean there is no way a $239.00 headphone can be total endgame? Can it? Can it? There are no more “if you like this” or “only with this genre” or “only if you like this style of bass” or whatever! I think they call it an absolute.

.......not qualified or diminished in any way; total.

Because folks it’s 2022. And this is the kinda surrealism that’s going on. Don’t believe me? Think I’m making this up? Buy a pair. When I heard other reviewers say there is nothing bad to say about the HOOK-X, I thought they were just saying that. I didn’t realize they absolutely mean it?

The sound in general..........is totally a new paradigm.
So what’s going on here is we are truly surrounded by sound. So the detail that gets found is simply due to the imaging leaving room and actual space between sound elements. The bass walks this line where certain tones actually travel out to a different area of the soundstage. I’m not sure if the music was mixed this way, or it’s just the character we are working with? But I truly never heard my library like this. So try to imagine a song you know............only supersized. Due to everything being bigger you now gain perspective to be able to experience more. You can aurally see into the music better than before. There are no downsides to this phenomenon, this is not a question of giving up anything at all. At first I did hear a slight blanket of distortion that was perceived as fuzz. After I switched to Sony Hybrid Tips that all went away. Burn-in brought a wider soundstage, as well as slight smoothness. But the other thing that happened was I guess the Planar drivers and maybe the Piezoelectric drivers somehow became not only smoother but their sound output was then showcased with world class imaging. It’s the kind of imaging that would make a normal audiophile sit down and ask for a big glass of water. It challenges all you have ever learned or know about audio.......and even that is an understatement. It’s just something new due to the four concepts already gone over.
  1. Bone Conduction
  2. Piezoelectric Drivers
  3. Planar Drivers
  4. Open-back shells
I can’t over emphasize the difference that these ideas make. But all put together they seem to enhance each other’s normal intrinsic value? The end result may cause your significant other to gain a great loss of attention due to increased listening times. That’s what happened to me!

It’s not that any of your music sounds different.............but in a way it does. The arraignment of positioning may in fact be subtlety different except because it’s fabulous you never notice any reposition of sound elements.

Stuff is detailed, crystal-clear and fast! Really fast! Maybe just slightly less physicality, but the trade off is nimbleness and agility!

The effect is just hearing more. Especially this trait becomes known in the vocal areas. As when higher detail is arranged for the vocals you start to notice how many variations there are. They of course were always there except never revealed. The phenomenon that is super noticeable is pace.

Because the sound elements are removed just as fast as the were created, there is now more room for new additions.

This dealing with the time element means that transient components are first rate. So these gifts are all across the board. Though to try and at least try to throw rocks, there are way more IEMs which do better with decays and reverberated elements. That single issue is in the reverb.........where the instruments actually can come off as sounding a hair thin.

Also truly maybe all tones could be perceived as going up a notch in tone due to this loss of physicality. But again it takes a lot of searching to not take the HOOK-X performance at face value, with-out being critical. I can only imagine the young-ins who will be blown away at the playback......and due to their naivety may take years to find fault here. So maybe these are possessing attributes of smaller book-shelf speakers and maybe not the giant floor-standers? Still the illusion is thick and potent!


Conclusion:
First off......this sound is the exact reason I love this price bracket. Reason being is every once in a while you hit oil, you find gold, you stumble upon a four leaf clover. I truly admire this level of replay at any price. I’ll say it again, this sound is special at any price. So why again do I like this price bracket? Because anyone can make $1000 sound good. Well not everyone, but there is more of a chance your going to hit pay dirt with an expensive purchase. The riddle.....the confusion here.....comes from the magic in that this cost $239.00! Now still $239.00 is a lot of money, especially if you don’t like the sound! But if you do truly groove with what the HOOK-X is doing (and you will) then it’s money wisely spent. I know I’m into IEMs, so maybe you think I like all kinds of signatures? And I do, but the HOOK-X is truly one of a kind. It’s unique and maybe slightly different but different in the most like-able of ways. You see that’s all they are doing.....they are somehow able to stack up the special sauce and apply it with finesse.

With the HOOK-X RAPTGO knocked the ball out of the park. As a company they have included a quality build, a unique design, and a grouping of needed extras. Just the fact that the HOOK-X does music like no other IEM ever made, makes the decision to buy it a no-brainer.


Disclaimer:
These thoughts and ideas are of one individual, your results may vary.


Interestingly enough I used the Sony Hybrid Tips for the bulk of this review. Though upon reaching the 85 hour burn-in mark texture and bass seemed to bloom. There was an absolute thickness to be found. So finally after gaining total respect for RAPTGO/Minami Medical Technology (Guangdong) Co. Ltd....... I decided to try their included IEM tips once more. As fascinating and unbelievable as it sounds, the included tips actually showed promise. So much so that I can't really recommend going out and finding the rare discontinued Sony Hybrid Tips. Though maybe call it expectation bias, the Sony Hybrid Tips did sound slightly different than the included "green-ring" tips. This would make sense as the sound bore inside the Sony Hybrids are just slightly more narrow in construction.


Equipment Used:
Sony WM1Z Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm/3.5mm
Sony WM1A Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm/3.5mm
Sony TA-ZH1ES DAC/AMP Firmware 1.03
Electra Glide Audio Reference Glide-Reference Standard "Fatboy" Power Cord
Sony Walkman Cradle BCR-NWH10
AudioQuest Carbon USB
Apple iPhone




End of Review.
Last edited:
ElCaspari
ElCaspari
thanks for sharing:thumbsup:! I think I will stick to my Timeless 7hz though:smile:
ElCaspari
ElCaspari
or maybe... I'll give it a try :smile: Thanks again!
szore
szore
Ordered....

antdroid

Headphoneus Supremus
Interesting Driver Config + Analog Sound
Pros: Warm, cozy analog sound
Swappable connectors (all included)
Open-back shell design
Above average soundstage and imaging
Very comfortable design
Cons: Mid-range lacks detail and resolution
Lacks isolation, if you care about that
Cable can get tangled easily


The RAPTGO Hook-X is an interesting new hybrid IEM that mixes two less common driver technologies together along with an even rarer open-back shell to create an exciting and somewhat refreshing new product on the market. The Hook-X retails for $239 and is sold by online retailer Linsoul. The product page can be found here: https://www.linsoul.com/products/raptgo-hook-x

As you suspect, this product was provided free of charge from Linsoul for review. And with that, let's talk more about this new in-ear monitor that's gaining some momentum in the community.

The Hook-X is a semi-open back design that has several perforations on the faceplate allowing sound to travel in and out. This isn't nearly as open as the Audeze iSine Planar series of IEMs, nor is it even close to an open-back headphone. It also still isolates more than ear buds, but it does let some sound go through and that's something I personally have been wanting a while just for my personal awareness around me, and the ability to relieve any pressure build-up and heat.

Inside this unique shell houses a 14.2mm planar magnetic driver and a "custom 18-layer double-side piezoelectric driver." With that said, I don't believe this is the same type of PZT ceramic driver that is found on previous IEMs which, in every case I've tried, have been piercingly bright and obnoxious to use. Nope, this is a different beast. In fact, the product box says its a bone conductor driver.

Bone conductor, you say? Like the Unique Melody MEST series? Like Aftershokz? Perhaps. It is also a known fact that bone conductor drivers are piezoelectric as well. So, I think that may end this confusion. And how does it sound? Well, that's the interesting part, and I'll talk about that after I discuss some cables and accessories.




Yes, as per usual, this product comes with a bunch of tips, and a fake-leather gray zip-up case. It's actually a decent case with a pocket inside and plenty of space to store things.

The cable included is green, just like the accents of the shell, and the cable connectors and also share green accent rings as well. The green braided cloth sheathing has a glowing green look to it, and it does look pretty neat. In actual use, it can become a tangled mess at times, but not too bad and not too annoying.

The connectors at the shell are flush-mounting 2-pins, and the opposite source end is a swappable cable feature. Included are a set of standard 3.5mm, and balanced 4.4mm and 2.5mm modular connectors. This specific modular connector-type is similar to the ones found on a lot of the newer chi-fi products coming out, such as from Kinera, Tripowin, and TRN. I am not 100% sure they are interchangable, but they all feature a push/pull insertion method with 4 pin connectors, and aren't held by a mechanical locking mechanism. Either way, it extends the length of the source connection by about 1/3rd of an inch and is not too distracting.



Sound Impressions​

So about that bone conduction thingy: My first impression putting these on and playing a variety of indie rock music was essentially, "wow, this is different." I couldn't totally put into words exactly what I was hearing. It sounded tonally balanced, and nothing really bad to say overall about its frequency response, which later measured just as well. But, there was just something unique about how it sounded in the mid-range, which coincidentally reminded me quite a bit of listening to your normal, average bone conducting earphone, such as the ones made by Aftershokz.

I happened to have a set with me just two weeks back, and had quite a bit of time listening to one of them, so I did have that interesting playback and presentation of music recently pushed into my mind. Literally? It's a different sound if you have never heard it before. It plays music, but it comes across more soft, more grainy in a way, and is not anything I would call high-definition, high resolution audiophile sound.



The Hook-X's initial impression has that type of mid-range to me. In my first pass through with, again, a lot of indie rock, vocal-led guitar music. I put down the IEM and wrote down my impressions online, as a record.


My first impressions of the Hook is that it actually has a mid-range that reminds me of the softness and lower-resness of Aftershokz, which I have listened to recently within the last couple weeks. That said, its a pleasant sound, maybe too smoothed over, and missing exacting detail and edge. It's tonality is for the most part fine, it just presents sound a little softer and different. I wouldn't call this hi-res audio for some reason, but this is just my initial impressions after about an hour of listening. These are very comfortable to wear and the color of the cable is really nice. Connectors are also swappable.


After coming back and listening several times with this IEM throughout the past week, my impressions went from medicore, to not bad, to somewhat enjoyable, to "wow, I just listened to these for 4 hours straight and it's way too late in the evening!"

What changed? Nothing really. Well, I did get a new DAP in-between listening sessions and going from the Hiby R5 Saber to the iBasso DX240 is a pretty big jump in quality. But, I did quite a bit of listening on the Chord Mojo/Poly as well, so I can't say it's just do to the step-up in source quality.

I think the Hook-X can take a little bit of getting used to to really enjoy its presentation style and uniqueness that is a little different than the other two recent planar IEMs on the market making a splash right now. In those, I mean the 7Hz Timeless and the LetShuoer S12, which I both enjoy and recommended in the past.



The Hook-X has a much more analog, cozy, and comforting sound to it that is different than the faster, edgier, and more in your face, high-definition-like sound of the other two planars. It does not necessarily put out the best hi-res quality, but it's still an enjoyable listen and beats other IEMs in a few areas, which made me spend hours and hours at night listening to this IEM.

What it does bring is a somewhat natural, analog, and somewhat lively sound that has good imaging and a good sense of space and openness. This could be partially attributed to the open-back nature of the shell, but the frequency response may also play a bit into this with a less forward upper-mid-range than other IEMs. I was surprised that I was able to overlook the grainy nature of the mid-range, which is pretty important to me, and just chill-out and relax to hours of various rock and jazz music and even listening to some old skool R&B jams.

The treble is extended and while it doesn't have the most air of IEMs, it still has plenty of output in these extreme areas to provide proper sounding percussions and reed instruments, all while not sounding muted and congested.



Final Thoughts​

The HOOK-X puts together an interesting package. It cost just a tad more than its competition, but is one of the rare semi-open in-ears on the market. It has an interesting sound signature that originally I disliked, and as I listened more, you can say that it "hooked" me in.

If you're looking for something that is clear, crisp, and forward, with the sound and presentation that is fast and hi-definition, this isn't the one you're looking for. If you want a more low-key, cozy and an analog-feeling sound that is easy on the ears and willing to sacrifice clean and clear mid-range, this isn't a bad choice at all. Normally these "analog" type sounds turn out to be horribly tuned (outside of say the Vision Ears and Sony gears), but this one is did a surprisingly good job of drawing me in over time and making me enjoy it as a nice alternative to my normal listening pattern.
J
jmwant
Nice review. With all these planars coming up, I'm hopeful that someday soon we'd get timeless sq in a sub $100 planar.
Cecala
Cecala
No, I would prefer a new Timeless around the $400 mark. Imagine how good that would sound!!!
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