With a strong foothold in many well-known British retailers, Bloc & Roc are a new audio company located along the outskirts of London. Their claim to fame has been their use of high-grade construction materials presented in a minimalist and stylish form factor. With engineering being put into the forefront, Bloc & Roc have been incredibly proud of their handcrafted designs which have taken more than a year to implement.
The Galvanize S2 headphone is just an example of that with the body of the cans being constructed from a premium aerospace-grade aluminium and steel frame. Memory foam and other supple materials have also been employed to redefine the portable listening experience. As if that was not enough, the sound engineers have customised 40mm dynamic drivers to yield “powerful” and “high-fidelity” results.
The headphones, themselves, are presented in a variety of forms with the cheapest single colour versions coming in at £169 and the most expensive 24K gold and 18K rose-gold variants weighing in at £299.
Packaging & Accessories
The packaging of the Bloc & Roc Galvanize mirrors the design language of its headphone; classy and minimalist. The company have done well here to establish their product in the audio community. Included within the matte black box are the headphones themselves along with a canvas travel bag or zip carrying case. I have been notified that on-line orders are despatched with the zip cases whereas retail boxes only include the canvas pouches.
Design & Build
The design of the Galvanize S2 headphones is great with an understated elegance. The all-black finish is very well constructed with a slick sliding mechanism on either side of the housings. In addition, the headband is nicely stitched with an even padded texture running across from one housing to the other.
One of the unique selling points of Bloc & Roc is that all of their headphones and aluminium speakers chambers are machined, anodised and gold plated in the UK. This extends to the build of the headphones too as they all hand-manufactured in Britain.
The 24K gold version of this headphone is slightly heavier than its counterparts with a more ostentatious design language that boasts a golden outer shell.
Comfort & Isolation
Comfort levels are simply outstanding due to this headphone’s very light footprint. As mentioned, the headband feels well supported and is of just the right width and thickness to support the headphone’s weight evenly across the head. The memory foam on-ear cups add to this necessary comfort and the clamping force is neither too loose nor too tight.
Perhaps Bloc & Roc could have implemented an over-ear design here but it would be hard to imagine that they could have kept the 230g weight the same without having to compromise.
Isolation levels are above average with the headphone easily able to seal music inside and keep noise out. This holds especially true for the daily commute and in environments with high levels of ambient noise.
The underlying bass is polite with good extension into the sub-bass territories. Whilst being moderately tight, impact levels are not authoritative with slams coming across as rather soft and agreeable in nature. Contrary to the V-Moda M-100 headphones, the S2s are more dialled down in the boosting of both the mid- and sub-bass compartments. Despite this, the M-100s still remain punchier and a hair faster in the low-end transients compared to the Bloc & Roc Galvanize S2 headphone. In Three 6 Mafia’s “Late Nite Tip”, however, the S2s are easily able to handle the demanding sub-bass without resorting to distortion and bleeding into the higher frequencies. Overall, the bass has a pleasant texture which is neither offensive nor overwhelming; instead, it performs when called upon and subsides in tracks which do not demand it.
This part of the frequency spectrum is spacious, inviting and tends towards the warmer side owing to the able body of bass. Vocals are clear and enveloping with good projection of sonic cues for a closed-back portable headphone. Clarity levels are good and compete well with other headphones in this price bracket. Perhaps there could be more retrieval of micro-details to elicit a sonically clearer picture but it is still decent for what it is. In comparison to the S2, the vocals on the Focal Spirit Classics are grander with a more musically tuned presence. However, the two are quite similar with regards to their laidback tonality in spite of the Classics being smoother and more forgiving.
The upper midrange and lower treble does have a slight peak which can detract from the overall listening experience. This is particularly evident in sibilant-prone tracks and those which rely on the higher-frequency part of the sound spectrum. Despite this, the upmost frequencies are smooth in tonality without ever being etched or strident. There is a noticeable roll-off at the top-end which does lose some sparkle in tracks. The result is that more emphasis is placed on the stronger mid-section which is not that common in consumer-oriented equipment. I have found that through EQing, these headphones did improve in treble extension with their general sound being quite receptive to frequency point changes.
The Soundstage & Imaging
There is a decent sense of spatial separation which can otherwise go wrong in closed-back headphones. Instruments seem to emanate from different places and there is good projection of sonic cues in the dimension of width.
The 3D and out-of-head experience is decisively present which help these headphones communicate music in an engaging fashion.
The Galvanize S2 impedance rating of 32 Ohms with a sensitivity of 115 dB. This means that it can be driven out of the common laptop or smartphone without requiring an amp.
iBasso DX90 DAP
With this DAP, the S2 has a slightly clearer vocal range with enhanced separation and a slightly larger soundstage. The peak in the lower treble range is not resolved however with some tracks aggravating its very presence.
ALO’s Continental Dual Mono DAC/Amp
This source has a knack for making anything attached to it sound better regardless of the sound signature and design of the audio equipment. The S2 is certainly no exception to this and gains the needed air to make it more spacious and enveloping. Added warmth here makes the listening experience even more euphonic and musical.
With a utilitarian design, the Galvanize S2 headphones are an excellent companion where lightweight and good build are paramount. Portability could have been further enhanced, however, by making these foldable like the V-Moda M-100s but they are still able to snugly fit into the zip case provided. The sound is decent for its price with a spacious midrange and warm tonality. The tuning could have been improved, though, to extend treble whilst also alleviating the upper midrange peak. Bassheads should also look elsewhere as this does not provide the thunderous impact to suit their requirements. For those wishing to rock a classy pair of headphones with a generally pleasant tonality then, the Bloc & Roc Galvanize S2 are a solid choice at £169. For an extra £30 and £100, the gold and rose-gold variants offer an even more of a grandiose appeal that truly stand out from the competition.