Rock Jaw Alfa Genus V2

Tech Advisor - - REVIEWS - Jim Martin

You prob­a­bly haven’t heard of Bri­tish com­pany Rock Jaw, but that doesn’t mat­ter. What does is the qual­ity of the head­phones it pro­duces, and the Alfa Genus V2 in-ear buds are truly as­ton­ish­ing for this price. En­gi­neered by mu­sic en­thu­si­asts who wanted to pro­duce high-qual­ity head­phones at a price that’s much more af­ford­able than premium brands, it’s clear that the team has suc­ceeded bril­liantly.

The Alfa Genus V2 is the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion of th­ese head­phones. They no longer have the twisted cable – also used by the firm’s Kom­mand IEM – but in­stead a sub­stan­tial rub­ber cable that re­sists tan­gling. The other change is from a wooden en­clo­sure to alu­minium.

In line with most mod­ern head­phones, the 3.5mm mini­jack plug is kept as thin as pos­si­ble, so it will fit through the small holes in smart­phone and tablet cases. How­ever, the 90-de­gree bend might cause trou­ble if you’re us­ing a bat­tery case on an iPhone as the plug won’t be long enough.

There’s a soft carry case in­cluded in the box where you’ll also find three ad­di­tional sets of rub­ber grom­mets, one of which should suit just about any­one’s ears, though those with the small­est ears might strug­gle with even the small­est tips.

Some­thing we’ve not seen be­fore are in­ter­change­able fil­ters. Once you’ve re­moved the rub­ber grom­mets, you can un­screw the cur­rently in­stalled fil­ters and swap them for an­other pair. In to­tal there are three sets. In­stalled by de­fault is the sil­ver set, which en­hances bass. A cham­pagne-coloured set pro­vides a neu­tral re­sponse, while the black set en­hances high fre­quen­cies.

It might sound gim­micky, but swap­ping the fil­ters changes the sound ap­pre­cia­bly, so you can use the set that’s most ap­pro­pri­ate for your taste or what you’re do­ing. For ex­am­ple, the cham­pagne fil­ters are ideal if you’re edit­ing au­dio and need to hear unadul­ter­ated sound – just as you’d get with mon­i­tor or ref­er­ence head­phones. Hav­ing tested the Alfa Genus on var­i­ous smart­phones with a wide va­ri­ety of con­tent, from high-qual­ity pod­casts to dif­fer­ent mu­sic gen­res, they man­aged to out­per­form RHA’s MA450i – our other favourite sub-£50 in-ear head­phones – in vir­tu­ally ev­ery area. In fact, you’d typ­i­cally have to pay around twice this much for this level of qual­ity.

With the mon­i­tor-style fil­ters in­stalled, the Alfa Genus has a de­cent and well-rounded re­sponse that is no­tice­ably crisper, brighter and fuller than the MA450i, which in com­par­i­son sound slightly muted. They’re still great head­phones, but there’s an ob­vi­ous step up when you switch to the Al­pha Genus.

With the bass fil­ters in­stalled, there’s a big jump in low fre­quen­cies giv­ing punchy, warm bass, which will suit fans of rock or dance mu­sic (or any­thing which re­lies on good bass). Some may find it a lit­tle too much, but swap­ping to an­other set of fil­ters takes less than a minute.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, swap­ping to the high-fre­quency fil­ters means you get a much more toppy sound with very lit­tle bass. Re­gard­less of the fil­ter, au­dio re­mains crisp and de­tailed, with no mud­dy­ing of in­stru­ments: there’s al­ways clear sep­a­ra­tion.

For those who want an in-line re­mote and mi­cro­phone for mak­ing phone calls, there’s now the op­tion when or­der­ing from Rock Jaw’s web­site. It costs just £1.05 ex­tra com­pared to the mic-less ver­sion. The sin­gle but­ton lets you pause, play and skip tracks as well as an­swer a call. Un­like other head­phone re­motes, there are no vol­ume but­tons.

Ver­dict

If you want great-qual­ity sound at an af­ford­able price, th­ese should be on your short­list.

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