Thursday, 11 August 2016

Rock Jaw Audio Clarito Review by mark2410

Rock Jaw Audio Clarito Review by mark2410

Thanks to Rock Jaw Audio for the sample.

First Impressions:  This looks a little bit different from the previous Rock Jaw stuff.  This i think looks a bit more commercial, which I guess is what the Clarito is with its pretty low price point.  Opening it up and I see there is a little baggy for them and the buds look rather pretty.  I cannot help but look at them and think these are s500 competition, though these are rather bigger housings.  Hmm must look up driver sizes.  Hmm a relatively pedestrian affair, so let’s just get them in the ears shall we. 

Oh, they call them a perfectly balanced sound signature, that doesn’t seem to be far from the truth, these sound pretty damn good fresh out of the box.  Sigh this means I’m going to get to spend hours A/B’ing things.  Not sure I like the little baggy they come with but these are sounding pretty good.  Hmm maybe a bit of undue hardness in the upperish region. Hmm interesting.  Burn in time.

Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle with 75 ohm added, Nexus 5, Lumia 735 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.

Lows:  For the most part the bass seems relatively polite, tame, and quite happy to sit unmoved.  It can be a gentle accompaniment so at first I thought it relatively bass reserved.  A little above natural but you know, nothing wild.  Then you slap in some very bass centric pop explosion it, it can come barrelling out of nowhere at you.  Comparing back and forth with the go to IEM’s in my head, the S500 and the M6, the Claritos sit squarely in the middle of them acoustically.  So it’s got most of the S500 balance but with a little dash of M6’s bass.  Oh and these are really sensitive, really loud compared with the M6 especially.  These are really fun actually, they really can keep up with a rather bombastic bassline, rather more tight than the M6 but not so much as the S500.  Damn, these really do sound like those two got drunk one night and 9 months later we got the Clarito’s.  They are finely balanced between giving a bit of punch but following it up with a goo follow through.  My go to bass track, “Your Father And I” when the bass kicks in it does so with a huge amount of power.  So much so that I can feel that pressure wave on my sinuses.  It can and does move a fair chunk of air and when you push it towards the bass it will be vigorous.

Quantity wise it is elevated, it most of the time doesn’t feel particularly so until you throw on something bass heavy.  I did find that I began erring towards more acoustic, more natural type lows because the bass hump here is avoidable if you stay away from electronic bass notes.  Clearly there in a frequency that they hit and abound in abundance but it never seemed to be there consistently.  The bass was calm in calm tracks then in more bassyness it would just come out of nowhere, blast your sinuses, then in the next track go back to being all calm again.  It’s still elevated of course but gently so, then boom, smack you with a brick in the face.  Very, very acoustically flexible.

Mids:  Nice.  The mids are where the heart of most music lies and it’s what I like most.  The Clarito’s are certainly clear and forthright with the mids.  They do a very generally good and competent rendition.  Though you know I do believe they are at their best when you play more poppy type stuff.  The mids are rather pleasant in highly acoustic stuff but they have a little bit of distance, a little just out of reach something.  They have a certain passion but to me it feels like they either want to focus all their abilities on the mids, treble or the bass and doing all at once it gets confused.  Then I slap in the s500 which sound so comparatively thin, the greater breadth and scale I find here, can sounds wonderful.  Mariah’s “Without You” sounds heartfelt and grandly portrayed before you.  She takes on that stage and utterly dominates, the whole thing belongs to her.  Inversely the intimate in your face style that works for other tracks, they just can’t do it, they need to perform for an audience, not just for you. 

Tonally they are a bit on the dry, cooler side of things and I found that a warmer source / amp was the way to go.  While they do round some texture and detail themselves adding warmth smoothed their tonality.  That bit of warmth gave a dash of richness that their vocals benefited from.

Highs:  Good.  Though these are hard up top, you will want to feed them well.  If you throw on treble heavy, bad bit rates, bas mastering etc etc then the treble here with its hard cutting edge be unkind.  That edge of course give you a greatly enhanced sense of clarity, it start s to make detail more obvious and hurl it at you a bit.  Being quite treble sensitive I wasn’t in need of this so once more I went to warmer sources and more refined tracks.  However if you slap on some Gaga with her acoustically acerbic style, I found her to be very edgy.  Wow, dynamics and drama hurled at you and dragging you along for the ride.  Wild and exciting for sure but gosh, its draining.  So much dazzle, so much edge, drama, drama, drama.  Highly fun but it’s a very attention grabbing dynamic sound.

Extension wise it’s not bad, it does however trail away after that metallic slicing edge.  Perhaps it’s my ears, being dazzled by that initial blinding flash?  If you want an acoustic roller coaster this I’m sure would please.

Soundstage:  These create a large presentation.  Lager than is common in this sort of price and quite frankly the s500 beside it sounds like a nasally little pinpoint.  Not that I’m saying grandly scaled or in your face intimacy is better than the other, any more than chocolate is “better” than vanilla.  These simply have some space, they sound like a good sized hall and have a space to fill out in.  Instrument placement and instrument separation are bit more diffuse and nebulous.

Fit:  Great, in ears and done, up or down.

Comfort:  As with the fit, in and done.  They did however get a little ear exhausting if I played loud for long.  The bass like to shift some air and that treble like its cutting edge.

Aesthetics:  Rather attractive if you ask me.  I can’t tell just what it is though, the outside looks metallic so I want to say its bare metal.  It must be bare metal, its almost gun metal but is it me or is there a faint blueness to them?  Maybe it’s but me but anyway…… they are pretty pretty aren’t they?

Isolation:  They are dynamics and they are I think a little bitty vented.  Still their isolation while not BA good is pretty good for a dynamic.  So totally fine for out and about, on a bus type stuff.  Maybe not what I’d pick for a Tube commute or long flight but would do in a pinch.  Naturally that means like with most IEM’s, you won’t hear traffic, right up until it impacts you by which point it’s a bit late to do much about it.  Remember, near traffic you need to use your eyes.

Cable:  It’s really rather good.  Its little bit thick but it feels really sturdy and nicely flexible.  Its slightly rubberised which feels nice in the hard but can be a little clothing clingy if it gets between your t-shirt and your jacket.  Nothing major, on the whole I like it,  feels really sturdy.

Accessories:  You get a rather decent bundle for the price.  4 pair of tips, a shirt clip and little baggy to keep them safe.  You can always hit up eBay for a hard case if you want to.

Microphonics:  While I note the lack of a neck synch the inclusion of a shirt clip should sort of balance it out.  Tbh wearing up I never really got any microphonics, down however I got a bit.  Nothing major but it was there.

Amped/Unamped:  These were really, really easy to drive.  Really easy to drive to, omg super loud levels.  I mean out of my Nexus 5, half way up the volume dial was absolutely loud enough for me.  With a lot of things I have the volume bar almost right up at full so be warned.  Turn the volume of things down before pressing play with these in or you may end up deafening yourself.  However if you’ve got a pour source that can barely spit out any power, these will drive go to crazy loud with ease.  If anything they are too sensitive.  Actually I found that they really liked having the Ety 75 ohm adapter added.  Seriously before I’d get an amp for these, spend 10 bucks and grab an impedance adapter.  They really markedly cleaned up, especially in the highs.  Seriously, there was really pleasing improvement.  So, as for amped vs unamped, ignore that get them additional impedance.

Value:  At the unusual number of £24 these are great stuff.  Of course in this price range any deviation represents a huge percentage difference but a small numerical one.  So value is always relative and blah blah blah, you know what I mean.  But you buy these you get a bargain and I don’t see anyone being displeased.  They are really enthusiastic little beasts, not perhaps one for very mature tastes but for versatility and a dash of poptastic you can’t really go wrong with them.

Conclusion:  These are confusing and awkward.  For me that is, they in review terms slot right in-between the two things that I most want to compare them too.  They capture elements and flavours from them both yet aren’t exactly one or the other in pricing nor in acoustics.  Sometimes I feel they have M6 type aspects, the bass the air movement, the power.  Then the next track comes on and the veer way over to the S500 in clarity and balance.  I feel like a want to grab them and nail their behaviour to the desk.  Stop it, just sit still and be one thing.  It’s highly versatile and I know that if you’re just dipping your tootseis in the audio waters, you probably think that £24 is a reasonable sum and you probably don’t know exactly where your tastes lie.  So for you, oh for sure the Clarito is a grand option.  It gives you a bit of a dash of everything and can be whatever you want it to be.  For reviewing, this is pain in the bottom.

The Clarito, is interestingly balanced.  Its has a rather WWW shaped signature with a bit of a skew towards the bass as human perception demands (and popular tastes desires.)  So I find I want it to be something plainer, be that open, polite nicely scaled rendition of something soft and gentle.  Des’ree’s “Love Is Here” is so sublime, gentle, and sweepingly delicate.  Then Miss Minaj’s “Anaconda” pops up and oh my poor little sinuses.  Oh good lord where’s that volume dial, and it’s not even that bassy a song.  The Clarito is trying so hard to be all things to all people, it’s trying to be a spectacular generalist and…… it does a really very good gob of it too.

So should you buy one / would I?  For me I suspect not it’s too exuberant for my own tastes.  Though I know exactly what I like, what I want, what works for me and what doesn’t.  The Clarito isn’t aiming itself at me.  It’s aiming at those new to all things audio and doesn’t know what they want.  It is going for that, I want great bass, great mids, great treble people that really have no idea what they mean by that.  This is the “I want something that will take the stock included buds I’ve been using and will smash them to bits.”  These are ready willing and able to have a stab at being all thing to all people and revealing what decent earphones are able to do.  Like a little taster plate, it’s got a bit of everything to tickle your aural taste buds with.

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