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RockJaw Hydra V2 and Arcana V2 Review: Good things come in pairs

  1. BillsonChang007
    Ever since I first listen to the RockJaw Alfa Genus, I fall deep in love with RockJaws. It is not the flagship model of RockJaws[it definitely not, RockJaw is much more capable than just the Alfa Genus], but I personally find it to be a nice earphone that nicely represents RockJaw themselves or to simplify it, their "signature model". It features 3 sets of exchangeable filters and I think that is what makes it so special besides the awesome sound it reproduces and not to mention the sweetie ebony wood as housing. Of course, the awesome cable that RockJaw choose to use for all their IEMs is also a rather smart choice and promising.

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    Another huge thanks to Bob @ RockJaw for sending in the RockJawArcana V2Hydra V2 and the flagship, Kommand but the Kommand will not be mentioned until my next review but for this paragraph, I am giving it an exception. If you have been wondering why is there no “V1” for Arcana and Hydra as well as the Kommand, it is because, all the Arcana V2, Hydra V2 and Kommand is being refreshed as the first gen of them wasn’t satisfying. Guess what? All the hardwork and homeworks done by RockJaw are entirely worth it and paid off as the Kommand is very impressive as a hybrid BA and dynamic driver with 3 exchangeable filter in a beautiful wood enclosure. Not to mention, the Arcana V2 and Hydra V2 have yet to fail to impress me for its price although I do have some very minor disappointment in them but its nothing huge.

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    Both, the Arcana V2 and Hydra V2 are priced the same [$50] and I will be completely honest with my opinion and humble, it feels kind of weird to have two IEMs, from the same company, to share the same price. That said, before I received the two units, I was a little bit confused and I do not wish to make any in depth research of these two on the cloud because I do not wish my opinion to get blended like mixed fruit juice. I wanted my opinion to be pure in taste with no other mixture of fruits and whatsoever. So I waited and I waited for a week and then the packages arrived at my house.

    Wow. Just. Wow! I have not even opened the black boxing of RockJaw my mind already took a rocket and flew up and blew like a firework. I have already seen a picture of RockJaw’s packaging online but I have never seen it personally myself in real life as the Alfa Genus I received was in an old white box. But yeah, the packaging is very nice and feels rather like you purchased a Prada bag or some sort of branded stuff. Oh, if you are from UK, of which, is where RockJaw is based at, you may receive some interesting stuff too!

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    In the box, you get of course, the Hydra V2/Arcana V2, a small tiny pouch and 4 pairs of eartips of different size, S, L and 2x M. Nothing much but it is worth mentioning that, the eartips included are of pretty high quality and if you have other IEMs, do try to do some eartips rolling with the RockJaw’s included eartips! Its very comfortable, soft and it has wide bore which some IEMs benefits from such as, my Sony XBA-4 and of course, RockJaw’s own earphone. The pouch has RockJaw logo on it and while the pouch will not be shockproof, I don’t see neither of the two earphone needing a better protection than its own chassis. Anyway, the RockJaw’s logo is very nice to see on the pouch.

    I know I have said it before but do allow me to be a broken record for once and repeat once again, the cable is a beauty. I mean, why can’t all IEMs uses such cable? It’s lightweight, flexible, beautiful to the eyes, and most importantly, its not microphonic that is, when it rubs against your shirt, the sound will not be transmitted to the ear and make it audible. Its just stunning! My only grid on RockJaw’s build quality is mainly the Arcana V2. I am not sure if my unit is the only one but I can see some very minor opening on the earphone but I am glad that, it did not affect the sound of the unit but it is definitely something worth mentioning. Also do hope RockJaw can help avoid that in their future productions.

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    Other than that, both the Arcana V2 and Hydra V2 are very solidly built with the Arcana V2 made of wood and Hydra made of nicely polished metal. These are the materials that you don’t often see at this price range for an IEM. The unit feels very turgid and looks like it is going to last long. So if you are a heavy duty user and your past earphone have never made it for more than 3 months or a year, do try either one of these earphone or more specifically, the Hydra V2. The jacks on both are 3.5mm 90 degree angled. Depending on preference, some would like it angled while some don’t but I am fine with either way. Lastly, the “Left” and “Right” label is on very clear on the Arcana V2. I have similar issue with the Alfa Genus and RockJaw have set out plan to address this issue but yeah, I hope they do work on it ASAP. Perhaps, a black labeling or something with better contrast will do. Other than that, both the Arcana V2 and Hydra V2 shows a very promising build quality and design. It is also a very sweet of RockJaw to include an inline mic and play/pause button for convenience if you are more of a smartphone listener. RockJaw also said that, there will be a version where there is no in line mic or buttons edition for all their IEMs later this year.

    Thanks to the very straight forward design, inserting both the IEMs into the ear is a piece of cake and does not require a prof. degree of any sorts. It also sits inside quietly while whispering to the ear with some alluring music or anything you demand it to play. It really do feels like you are the Prince/Princess and the Arcana V2/Hydra V2 as your henchman. They are good henchman by the way depending what you are looking for! So yes, they are comfortable and does not fall of the ears easily. Feel free to run around and jump up and down with them.

    The Arcana V2 and Hydra V2, unlike its more matured brother, Alfa Genus, they do not come with exchangeable filters but I find both to have their own sound signature and depending on what you like or/and what you listen to, you can easily choose between the Arcana V2 and the Hydra V2. But if you are not sure of what kind of sound you like and you listen to wide genre of music, you can choose one of them based on what you like [in term of design]. Otherwise, go for the Alfa Genus, which sound more refined and a pretty clear step up from the two with 3 sets of exchangeable filters.

    If you have skipped all the previous paragraph to this page for my sound’s impression, you must be very hungry to know how do they sound so let’s not drag any further. As mentioned, they both, although are of the same price, they sound different and depending on what you like, you can easily choose between them. However thought, if you are more into a audiophile-style sound signature, neither of these two will do you much favor but the Alfa Genus or the better Kommand will do it just perfectly.

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    Both, the Arcana V2 and Hydra V2 is more suitable for urban style as I find both to possesses a touch push at the lower midrange thus, it is far from being dry or thin. Both will easily fit into the pop genres and top hit tracks. There’s really no real winner here [again], but I do see them as the new best sub$50 IEMs together with Brainwavz S0 and TekFusion TwinWoofer. To simplify the overall sound signature between the Arcana V2 and the Hydra V2, the Arcana V2 is more mid-centric while the Hydra V2 is bassier. I wouldn’t say the Arcana V2 is empty in bass thought. Its there and still pretty strong but Hydra V2 is much stronger.

    Although the Hydra V2’s bass is rather powerful, it does get out of hand and some may like it while some may not but most will probably love it especially bassheads, the Hydra V2 is more of a v-shape sound with the vocals being behind the music slightly but I do find it satisfying and its easier to listen to female vocals than with the Arcana V2. Because the Arcana V2’s midrange is more concentrated, there are times, especially when listening to female vocals, it gets a slightly too sharp and concentrated. After all, too much sugar is not good for your health. The Arcana V2 sounds great with male vocals and music that has less concentration at the treble. In fact, the Arcana V2 offers a better controlled bass than the Hydra V2 most of the time. Due to the midrange and treble spikes on the Arcana V2, bad recordings are easily notable with it and sibilants are sometimes audible with certain tracks. The Hydra V2 on the other hand, is a very gentle headphone and I especially love it when listening to RnB stuff.

    With all said, the Hydra V2 is more of a relaxing, easy going earphone like Sennheiser HD598 + some bass boost deep down while the Arcana V2 is more of an aggressive earphone sharing some similarities with Grado’s sound signature.  Soundstage is decent but the instrumental separation feels a little congested. Detail pick-up wise, the Arcana V2 does ted better than the Hydra V2. Now, down to some civil war and comparison between other brands!*Dramatic background music* *Thunderstorms*

    The Alfa Genus is obviously more refined, more open sounding than the both but it also comes at a higher price. Value wise, I would say that, the Alfa Genus offers better price to performance ratio and the Arcana V2/Hydra V2 comes right under the score chat. Sound wise, the Alfa Genus with bass filter, midrange sound more recessed than the Hydra V2’s but is clearer and bass is ted tighter in comparison. With champagne filter, the midrange is more focused as well but it is more equally pushed unlike the spikes on the Arcana V2.

    In comparison to the king of cleaniness at $50, the Brainwavz S0, both the Arcana V2 and Hydra V2 easily win in bass quantity however, other than that, I feel that the Brainwavz S0 is a step better than both the Arcana V2 and Hydra V2. However thought, switching from the Arcana V2 and Hydra V2 to Brainwavz S0, it does feels like the S0 sound a ted thin to certain extends. Soundstage, instrumental separation and details the S0 is a knob better as well.

    The build quality, packaging was good but the overall sound quality is just average but I would still recommend it if you are looking for sub $50 earphone with good bass and last long.

     

     

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