There is no single definable general tonality you can attach to the Alfa Genus due to the application of the filter system. You are in short getting 3 IEM’s for the price of one. The first in silver has a focus on bass performance; the black filter has a focus more on a treble or top end performance. Then after initial feedback Rock Jaw introduced the third filter which is the gold neutral filter which is designed to be a midpoint between the black reference and the silver enhanced bass filters.
Silver Enhanced Bass
The name pretty much says it all really as the silver filter really is the bass head filter of choice. I didn’t find the bass performance of the Alfa Genus as pronounced or soft as the Fidue A71, more akin to the Arcana V2’s forward mid bass slam but with some decent clarity in the mids and a rolled off treble performance. Tonally the silver filter was more warm than neutral also, especially in the bass performance.
Decay was slightly longish but not as abundant as the A71 with a slightly higher degree of control. Lower mids tend to get a little clouded with the midbass hump using the silver filter and to be honest this is never going to be the filter of choice for quality listening sessions with intricate acoustical and vocal performances. If you have EDM, hip-hop and modern R’n’B then this filter is going to give you the hardest hit and the beefiest slam. At the same time, it’s warm and smooth tonality in the upper mids and lower treble won’t make it the most fatiguing of experiences making long listening sessions possible.
Black Reference Filter
The black reference filter is the ying to the yang of the silver enhanced bass filter. Bass output is much leaner with a more mid-centric approach and more forward treble making this the filter of choice for treble heads. The warmth of the silver filter is dialed down a bit more on the black filter producing a slightly cleaner if somewhat drier level of detail that makes this filter more suitable for tracks that require a higher degree of analytical aptitude than what was possible with the silver filter.
However, on the odd occasion, I found the treble to be too tizzy or peaky on cymbal and synth work and with it lacking a full sounding bass or midsection it could come across as a bit too piercing, particularly on more neutral or very clean sources such as the Shanling M3 and the Ibasso DX90. It performed with a bit more control on the X5 though with a slightly higher level of sibilance on vocal work (X5 can do that over the DX90 with most matches).
Gold Neutral Filter
This is more like it, the middle path between the silver and the black filter. The bass response is back, sounding fuller and richer but not as overpowering as the silver filter and the treble is far more polished and smoother than the black filter though with slightly less detail and presence. Vocals are clear, detailed yet smooth and lacking in any sibilance and a degree of warmth has returned though sounding much more natural than the silver filter. The gold filter is probably the most flexible of the three filters available. It has enough bass slam and detail to satisfy most bass heads and a more forward upper range, much like the Arcana v2, to keep vocals clear and audible for audiophiles on the go.
The only slight amiss on the gold filter is the treble doesn’t quite bite as much as I think it could have and can often sound a bit shelved down depending on the source. The DX90 with Dash Berlin’s “Better Half of Me” didn’t quite have the clarity and bite I hoped it would and Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” lacked its usual sparkle. Surprisingly the gold filter had a better tonal match with slightly more bite in the upper mids and lower treble on the iPod Classic 7th Gen though not quite at the same level of resolution. I ended up though with the “UI free” Shozy Alien DAP paired with the gold filter as the best balance between musicality and clarity.
The Alfa Jenus IEM’s really do not need any amping and much like the Arcana V2 they are flexible enough to match with most sources out there and should be seen primarily as an on the go or casual listening IEM only with a few added flavors depending on your preferences. Those flavors though may in the end dictate what DAP or mobile audio device you want to match it with. I had no issues with the DX90, AK120, Shanling M3, FiiO’s X1,3 and 5. Heck, even the iPod Classic 7th Gen took it all in its archaic stride with the gold filter. The black filter though I tended to try and match it was DAPs’ knowing to me more natural sounding or forgiving with top-end performance. FiiO’s X series and the AK120 handled the black reference filter with a degree more assurance than the DX90 and the M3.
Well with the Arcana V2 being reviewed a few weeks ago the element of surprise on Rock Jaw’s little gems has gone now and I was half expecting this to sound as good if not better and with the gold filter I think it largely succeeded. Much like other filter systems though there is always one filter that you like and the other two seem good at the time but never see the light of the day unless you are some local meet and want to give them a demo.
I remember that was how it worked with the AKG K3003 and their reference filter and I dare say for the Alfa Genus and the gold filter the same maybe true. But this is just my taste, bass heads and the silver filter maybe a match made in heaven and I am willing to bet there are plenty out there right now who will swear by it. In the end that is the beauty of the Alfa Genus and any filter based IEM. You don’t like it? Change it! You don’t like that one? Change it again!
Price: £49.99 / $79.95 (Tuning filter pack £9.99)
Alfa Jenus Technical Specifications
- Drivers: 8mm dynamic
- 3x Interchangeable tuning filters
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Sensitivity: 108+/-3db
- Frequency response: 20 – 20000Hz
- Cord Length: 1.2M
- Jack type: Gold plated 3.5mm
- MIC with pause/play button – (iOS & Android compatible)