Fusion, Emotion & Energy
Like with their Alfa Genus V2, RockJaw has implanted a filter system as a method to fine tune the sound of the earphone to your tastes. They screw in and out with relative ease. They have small rubber o-rings on them which do fall off a bit too easily but I don’t think much is affected even if you lose them. You get a yellow, blue and green filter or as they like to call them, ‘Fusion’, ‘Emotion’ and ‘Energy’. If I am honest the naming scheme makes no sense, if I was to try to decipher it I would guess ‘Emotion’ is the bassy filter, ‘Energy’ the treble-orientated sound and ‘Fusion’ a balanced between the two. I couldn’t be more wrong.
‘Energy (Green tuning filter) = Bass. Whilst keeping plenty of detail in the music.’
I found the green filters to offer a super punchy sound. The bass was not overblown by any means (but will get you the most bass out of this earphone) and a sparkly treble allowed for a shallow V-shaped signature. Shallow because we still have a very clear midrange that may not be as forward as the frequencies situated next to it but are hardly recessed. Maybe just a bit restrained with female vocals. It suits music like New Order very well, putting a focus on the right areas and you not wanting the mids at the forefront.
I think this is a filter I can get behind, it is not the normal bass crazed filter I often see, instead just increasing body a little bit for that more satisfying hit of notes.
‘Emotion (Blue tuning filter) = Treble. Offering a reduced bass sound signature with more detail on the upper mids and treble.’
This goes in the opposite direction to the green filter. As in the official description, it does indeed reduce the bass and coming off the green filter that is quite a night and day difference. The green filters bass was energetic and fun, but still with a shorter decay time. The blue filter lacks body and paired with a quick decay sounds very anaemic. They give the impression they are rolling of very early and as far as I am concerned the lack of bass really prevents this becoming a viable option. I had similar findings on some of the Torque T096z filters. I also don’t detect an actual boost in the treble, instead, the reduction of bass just plays you a fool into thinking there is more ‘detail’ on the top end. That isn’t me slagging off the detail mind you because on all filters it is very shimmery and focused in on the finer details!
The blue is a no go for me.
“Fusion (Yellow tuning filter) = Reference class. How the artist intended. A fun and exciting middle ground of all frequencies combined.”
My favourite filter is a close call between this and green. There is not a huge gap between them, with green only have a tad more bass and this potentially has a little more sparkle (most likely based on how I perceive sound). It still is a slightly V shaped sound, one with a sizzling treble and flat bass response. For my tastes, I think this does just get the nod so I will delve a little bit deeper with these filters.
I find the bass (this goes for the green filter as well) is more focused on being clean cut with fast and precise hits. It has a relatively noticeable roll-off, which is a shame as this was initially one of the main reasons for hybrid driver setups, getting that larger air movement from dynamic drivers that smaller balanced armatures couldn’t achieve. Only with the ‘Emotion’ does it actually sound like a real issue, if not for most genres you will still find plenty to love with the sound. For me personally, I will take this type of bass over something super inflated and I am glad that RockJaw did not opt for a basshead earphone, even in its most bassy setting.
As with most gear that I review, I let Josh have a listen to these. His first thoughts were that they were quite incoherent (he didn’t even know what was inside them at this point so it was no bias to hybrids) but overall pleasant and listenable, even more so when he found out their fair price. I think the splashy treble may overlap the midrange a little bit but I don’t so much think there is an incoherency of frequencies going on. The treble does like to throw its weight around a little bit and on top of being extended and a little forward, it does at certain points have perhaps a little to much decay on its notes and that is what crosses into the midrange a little and creates a colder vibe. Other than a little sizzle at 6kHz, it is not a treble that hurts in any way and the heaps of energy makes for a vibrant and detailed listen.
This continues into the midrange which is balanced and ever so open and defined. It doesn’t favour male or female vocals and the little distance between you and the midrange gives the staging an accurate positioning. On top of that, there is a nice texturing and weight through the midrange, it is just a touch plump which certainly makes it stand out more than something objective like measurements might show.
I have found its use of width in the staging to be very impressive. It disperses certain instruments wide and in their own little bubble, really giving a distinction and focus on certain aspects of the sounds should you wish to zone in on say just a guitar, that is being picked with real emotion out to the left (Adele’s ‘One and Only’).
It Was All Yellow
While it is not flawless in its sound it is a very bubbly and engaging listen and while we no longer have unheard of price to performance ratios like we did with their previous models, I am happy to see RockJaw pursue things bigger and better. I should clarify it still sounds good for the price but I wouldn’t put it on a pedestal above similarly priced Dunu, Echobox or Trinity models. Instead, it just plays in the mix with them and maybe the way I have described this will leave it more up your ally.
Beyond that it is a solid product in all its attributes but in no area does it do anything new, it very much is a product that fits into a preset mould. There is nothing wrong with that, they are contouring themselves to what people want and so are most other companies. All in all, I think RockJaw have done a great job finding their way into new territory.