FirstLook: Alfa Genius by RockJaw
- Company: Rock Jaw
- Model: Alfa Genus
- Length: 1.2m
- Weight: .5oz
- Color: Ebony and Aluminium
- Price: $29.95
- Website: rockjawaudio.com
RockJaw is a diamond in the rough, a company composed of music lovers dedicated to finding solutions to common problems. They believe there is only one way to recreate the emotions you've felt while listening to your favorite artist for the fist time. They understand emotion is linked to us by sound and to achieve this starts by laying a solid foundation of quality materials, then fine tuned by an array of real people in real environments.
All products go through rigor of designing, building and testing phase and have to make it through a 12 week panel of independent testers, weeding out and identify any flaws making them stronger and more durable. At this point, each product is then handed off to a few artists, producers and professionals for their thoughts and feedback on the fine tuning.
Rock Jaw Alfa Genes are a high quality in-ear headphone constructed of Aluminum and ebony. Combining century old techniques to offer a balanced sound signature. They feature neodymium drivers creating a wide accurate range of detail and 3 interchangeable tuning filters allowing you to change the range between high, neutral to enhanced bass.
Definition: Neodymium Driver
The term "neodymium driver” refers to drivers that are made using neodymium magnets. Conventional drivers have typically been built with iron-ferrite magnets that offer good performance, but iron-ferrite magnets are heavier than neodymium magnets. Neodymium itself is a rare-earth metal, found naturally in various compounds, from which it is refined. Magnets made from neodymium are light and very powerful, making them perfect for a wide variety of industrial and consumer applications.
The design and feel of these Alfa Genus IEMs are very solid with a dark brown and black (ebony) and aluminum trimming. The cable runs close to 4feet and has a nice spiraling rubberized texture which seem to limit tangles.
Normally I'm used to having my volume controller on my right side, however the Alfa Genus is on the left. The controller is constructed of plastic and has a nice click to each press
The angled gold plated 3.5mm connector was the perfect touch. Most companies have been going straight in order to be compatible with a larger base of iPhone cases.
With larger phones like the iPhone6 Plus, I can’t stand this because if feels you have something sticking so far out of something that is already big to start with
Rock Jaw has nailed it here by keeping the plastic dynamiter right after the actual connector small giving you another 12mm before the angle enough to fit most cases and keeps
The Alfa Genus also comes with three replaceable filter inserts to further dial in the tone you're looking for.
- Chrome comes installed and is meant to “enhance bass”
- Gold and was intended as a more “Neutral” sound
- Black was aimed at bringing clarity to the top-end
These inserts were machined very well and led to the threads feel buttery smooth
There are three very comfortable sets of silicon ear buds with rubber inserts in addition to the set which came on the IEMs, along with a felt type pouch to keep everything in.
FEATURES & SPECS:
- DRIVERS: 8MM DYNAMIC
- 3X INTERCHANGEABLE TUNING FILTERS
- IMPEDANCE: 16Ω
- SENSITIVITY: 108+/-3DB
- FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20 – 20000HZ
- CORD LENGTH: 1.2M
- JACK TYPE: GOLD PLATED 3.5MM
- MIC WITH PAUSE/PLAY BUTTON – (IOS, ANDROID AND WINDOWS COMPATIBLE)
The thick textured cardboard design feels good in the hand and the display area’s on the front as well as the back was a nice design choice and really does show off all the parts of the Alfa Genus.
However, on the inside we did run into some trouble removing the filters from the hard rubberize foam insert.
- Alfa Genus: IEM’s
- Filter inserts: Chrome, Gold, Black
Earbuds: 1x Small, 2x Medium, 1x Large,
- Wire clip
As with all IEM's, we test it starts with finding the right fit ear tip giving you the perfect seal. Any sound leakage here will skew our results before the testing even starts.
Next we listen to the IEM’s right out of the box a few times on different mediums. In this case, our first medium is using the iPhone6 plus especially due to indication on the box of its support. With some IEM's, we also run them through an amp, but this time around we does not. On our 5k iMac, our testing is done using a Duet2 by Apogee.
Over the past few years, we have put together what we consider to be a good playlist for testing (included below). It spans multiple genres in order to check things like frequency response, tone, clarity, vocals and soundstage. Our playlist streams from Rdio on high at a 320 bit rate.
Once we have an idea of how these IEM’s performances out of the box, we begin our time consuming burning processes.
Burning in headphones or speakers has consistently been a very controversial subject. In our findings, however, we find it has improved frequency response and overall tone to at least 80% of our tests. With that being said, we never found a case of it is degrading the sound. We are keen to include the burning process in our review so you don’t have to waste time on that 20% of the units.
Our Burnin Process consists of 100hrs at 10hr increments of Pink Noise. Increments are very important. Speakers need a rest period from all the pounding. We use a Mac app called “Burnin” which can be found on the Appstore. This app makes it easier to keep track of the different burning process, you have gone as well has options for different types of noise and a counter to keep track of your progress. Volume levels also have a big role to play as well. We like to maintain our audio levels just a bit louder than your average listening levels.
Pulling this all together we run the “Burnin” app which supplies us with Pink noise for 10 hours a night for 10 nights through our Duet2 at about 75-80% volume on our 5k iMac
Final Thoughts: (after a week of use)
The Alfa Genus has hit the mark between quality sound and materials for an IEM under a hundred dollars. I don’t believe anything on the market match it in this price range and found myself going back to IEMs 4-5 times the price to compare tone and frequency response.
With that said the Alfa genus is very light and comfortable giving way for you to get lost in your music. I was a bit skeptical of thinner cabling, thinking there may be a lot of rubbing noise when moving around, but to my surprise its very minimal and only noticeable when no music is playing. The twisted cabling and rubberized coating must be helping to eliminate that.
The filters are a nice touch and lend to some fine tuning for your taste in genre. For me, I like to go neutral, trying to mimic how the artist intended their music to be heard. With that said I didn’t lean to the Gold/Neutral filter I gravitated to the Chrome which was supposed to be the bass enhancer filter.
I would compare them this way.
- The gold’s high, mediums and the lows are perfectly leveled, but it’s like they leveled and squeezed them so the sound stage is not that wide.
- Where the chrome has a wider sound stage, which brings with it some needed bass, but seems to wash out some of the mids.
All the filters provided a crisp and clean sound and my burn-in process did show an increase range in frequency response which seemed to improve the sound stage.
These IEM’s are made from quality materials and produce exceptional sound and anyone looking for a sub hundred dollar pair of IEM’s will be hard pressed to find one better.
DISAPPOINTMENTS: (SMALL NIT-PICKING & Suggestions)
- Inside packaging material needs to be rethought: Had issues removing the small filters and even damaged one just trying to remove.
- Filter storage: These are just so small to just store in a pouch. Possibly do something like RHA and have a metal sheet that they screw into
- A pet peeve of mine is volume controllers. I like something that is solid and click. In a perfect world, I would like to see this made of aluminum. I have a pair of Miles Davis trumpet IEM’s and they made the volume control out of metal to imitate a trumpet it just has the best solid feeling and a solid click.
All of these suggestions and examples I gave are of IEMs 4-5 times the cost of the Alfa Genus. It just goes to show at what level they are competing.