Disclaimer: Rockjaw sent me a free sample of the Rockjaw Alfa Genus for this review.
Rockjaw Audio (UK) got in touch with us via the contact form and I have to admit I had never heard of them before. I hardly ever actively look for universal IEMs to review and most of the time it is Nathan who checks out universal. Maybe that’s the reason. This time however, I really wanted to do this review myself as the Alfa Genus has the same changeable filter system than the RHA T10i -which I reviewed a couple of months ago- has.
Rockjaw seems to be a reasonably small company and they for the moment have 4 different models in their product line. Rockjaw’s goal is to deliver as much quality as possible to those on a budget. The Genus officially costs £49.99 and it actually is their 3rd most expensive unit (the TOTL costs £119.99). I, to be honest, didn’t have high hopes when I saw these were going for only £49.99. Until I received them.
The Alfa Genus comes in a very simple box that displays the different filters, the IEM of course and the different tips. You also get a basic pouch to carry them around and a few tips with different sizes. You can’t expect much more for the price they’re going for but they have all the basics covered.
The Alfa Genus IEM is a dynamic one driver unit with an 8mm Neodymium 16Ohm driver. They’re crafted from ebony and aluminum and as a result they are very light. The Genus has a non-removable cable that reminds me of the Brainwavz M2 cable. It’s reasonably thin and has this plastic sleeving that feels great. It doesn’t really tangle and there hardly is any microphonics. The strain relief on the cable is good and the cable actually has an extra-long fixture so it doesn’t bend too much near the solder points. The cable is terminated in a 90° angle 3.5mm plug which makes it even more pocket safe/friendly.
I have told this so many times already and I’ll probably mention it a few times more: I don’t like cables with phone answering features. Very often the plugs on these cables don’t like amplifiers and it is no different with the Genus. I have to wiggle and push and pull and bend the plug for it to make a good connection and get normal sound. Luckily this isn’t the case when using it directly with my DX90, which would have been fun… The Genus doesn’t need any amplification at all though, so most of you who use their phone or a DAP will never even notice. I just had to mention it.
The Alfa Genus’ build quality is pretty good and the wood and aluminum is very nicely finished. If you’re planning on just throwing them in your bag or keeping them in your pocket, you will have to pay some attention to not break the cable relief system. For the rest it’s a very well built unit. I just wish the L/R markings could have been done in a more visible way.
I quickly mentioned it in the intro already but there’s something special about this IEM. The Alfa Genus comes with 3 different filters: silver will give you a bass focus, black stands for reference/treble and the champagne/gold color corresponds with their balanced/neutral tuning. Of course this isn’t the first time we see the use of filters. The TOTL AKG and the gorgeous RHA T10i did exactly same. The RHA filters even fit the Alfa Genus and vice versa. Unfortunately Rockjaw doesn’t supply a portable filter management system like the T10i has and you have to make sure not to lose the filters, especially when you’re using the little pouch that came with the unit. I also didn’t always find it easy to see the difference between the gold and silver color of the filters under artificial light. The filter system is pretty neat and you can clearly hear a difference in tuning but most people, me included, wind up listening to one filter in the end. In the beginning it’s fun to change the filters based on the music you’re listening to, but when you’re on the go, you’re really not going to change filters during a hectic bus ride and you end up using the same filter all of the time. It’s simply too complicated to do when you’re not at your desk, and there’s the risk of dropping and losing a filter as well.
Sound and more on the next page, just after the click: