Rock Jaw Alfa Genus V2
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.
If you want great-quality sound at an affordable price, these should be on your shortlist.