Comfort wise the Alfa Genus is remarkably good. My ears don’t like universal monitors except for the T-Jays, RHA t10i, Eterna and a few others. The AG monitors aren’t the smallest but even with the extra-long strain relief they, when using the smallest tips, fit without a problem. Isolation wise the Genus isn’t the best, certainly not when you, like me, are used to the isolation levels of custom monitors. In the train I found myself listening to higher volumes than I’m used to, just to block out talking people who were sitting next to me. Fortunately it doesn’t leak too much sound.
Sound wise these earphones surprised me in a positive way. For the price range they’re in you get a more than decent sound stage and detail retrieval. Depth and imaging aren’t the strongest points though. Of course the sound still is more central/inside your head: balance and stereo separation aren’t especially top level, but again that’s only normal.
I’ve been enjoying these monitors will all types of music, going from German drinking songs, to Mozart to The Arctic Monkeys. Everything goes and everything sounds musical. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed monitors in this price range as much as this, except for maybe the Brainwavz M2. The Genus is very easy to drive and it doesn’t need amplification at all. That means you can forget about the cable/amp issue, unless you of course will be using it with an external amp. I haven’t heard any hiss coming from any source with the Genus, and that’s always good.
If you’re in to a lighter and more neutral sound signature where the treble tones get more focus, the champagne colored filters are the one for you. It doesn’t really add anything to the treble, it just trims down the mids and especially the bass which has become very light. As a result you get rather forward sounding voices and guitars. Bass is tight but is more in the back. This filter isn’t really for me, there’s too much going on in the upper regions for my taste and I prefer a bit thicker mids. The gold filter isn’t bad, it’s just not my personal thing. I can see why lots of people would enjoy it though.
Each time I put in the black reference filter (it has foam inside) I feel like the Genus is sounding muffled. Yet after 5 minutes, my mind seems to have adapted. Bass goes deep but isn’t the tightest and sounds more bloated. There are more mids than with the gold filter and treble gets less focus. I find the black filter to be rather confusing to my ears.
The Silver bass filter is the one I prefer most of all. It gives the bass a bit more body than the black filter and it strongly improves the mids while keeping the same level of treble. As a result I find it to sound better as a whole but it would have been even better if the bass was tighter, it still bleeds in to the mids.
The Alfa genus has a top build quality and sits comfortable in your ears. The sound quality you get for only £49 (£39 on Amazon) is really good. On top of that you can modify the monitor’s sound by changing the filters yourself. To me the silver one is the best out of the three as it has the best mids. If there was one thing I could improve in the Alfa Genus I would tighten up the bass. If Rockjaw manages to fix that in a revised version, the Alfa Genus just might kick the M2 from its budget IEM throne. The M2 has a comparable sound to the Genus, except Brainwavz implemented a much tighter bass with a little less body resulting in a more linear and clear/faster tuning.
The Genus isn’t as good as the RHA T10i is but it has a way better price/quality ratio. Rockjaw did a nice job with these and if you’re on a small budget and still want good sound, these just might be the ones for you. That is on the condition that you don’t care about the looser bass. Or maybe you want that kind of bass for your rap/hip-hop/dance and R&B collection, who knows. With the filter system these monitors easily adapt to all musical genres and your tonal preference. I’m sure you’ll enjoy these very much for your casual/on the go listening where musicality is more important than precision and detail retrieval.
To readers on a budget I, from now on, will surely be recommending this set of monitors, right next to the M2. If you have a budget that stretches a little higher and you like your bass, I also suggest to check out the Fischer Audio Eterna, a classic.