Rock Jaw is a brand that you might not have heard of, which is quite frankly a shame. A plucky British brand that passionately wants to deliver excellent sound quality without the associated price tag, Rock Jaw focuses on earphones such as the Kommand we reviewed over the summer. The Hydra V2 however, is a lower-cost earphone designed for those looking for a hard-wearing set of earbuds with all the bass and warm tones that many look for these days. Retailing for just $35.55 on Amazon in the US and £ i30n the UK, these are an inexpensive set of earphones that look the part and have a lot going for them, so, let's see what they're all about.
Design and Comfort
The Hydra V2 are constructed out of aluminium and feature a sort of copper-colored look with some blank, metallic circular rings inlaid into them. They look good, and if you're not into the plasticky or wooden trends we've been seeing in earphones and headphones these days, then the Hydra should suit what you're looking for. The cable itself is a little bit thin, but after a good few weeks of regular I have come across no connection issues or anything like that. Terminating in a right-angle 3.5mm jack and splitting with a confident y-split for left and right there's not much to write home about the cable, but the braided look - covered in a glossy black material - is not only a Rock Jaw trademark, but also something different.
In the box, you're given a trio of ear tips in three different sizes, a small carrying pouch and that's about it. There's no sound filters to change the sound here as you'd find in other Rock Jaw products, more on why later. I'd have loved to see a hard case or something a little more substantial here, but at this sort of price point we can't expect too much.
As far as comfort goes, these are pretty damn good. They're fairly small in size, which means those with smaller ears can just jam them in and rock out. There's no hook as with the Kommands, and these are specifically designed for quick and easy use on the move. They didn't fall out of my ear at all, and even though noise isolation wasn't perfect, it was pretty damn good. Spending time on a train or airplane might defeat them here and there, but busses and walking on the street doesn't affect the overall sound quality too much.
After spending a few weeks listening to the Hydras for extended sessions, quick listens while walking and so on, I discovered one way of describing them best; boomy but clear. There is no doubt that these are a pair of earphones for the listener that wants a little - or a lot - more oomph in the low end, while that might not be to everyone's taste the Hydras thankfully don't go too crazy here. Listening to rock from the likes of Royal Blood, Interpol, Muse and the Foo Fighters I was pleasantly surprised. This is a bombastic pair of earbuds, bass is boomy and tight, with just a tiny bit of bloat here and there, but crucially the high-end isn't tossed by the wayside.
Listening to tracks with high female vocals, like synth pop from the likes of CHVRCHES and Purity Ring was great fun as well. While I got all of the boom and thump of those warm synth notes and drum machine beats, I also got the delicate female vocals from both bands coming through. Admittedly, these high notes and delicate vocals were a little muted compared to the low-end and low mid-range, but overall I was happy with this combination of low, low and okay highs. These are, one of the pairs of earphones that are 'fun' without being lazy a la Beats and co.
There is a little loss of detail in the upper mid-range and high-end with no matter what you listen to, but there's never any distortion and even though some things might be hard to pick out, they are indeed quite clear, merely subdued by the low-end rather than knocked out cold.
This sort of sound signature is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, after all classical and pop lovers looking for luscious and precise highs won't like the in-your-face of the low-end. However, those that love rock, hip-hop, R&B, rap and anything else with an emphasis on warm tones and bass notes will love these. At this sort of price range as well, these offer up a good sound signature for the everyday modern music listener. Precision is of course not fantastic, but these are not your typical 'basshead' earphones, although they definitely aren't for those looking for balance.
So, who are these for? The Rock Jaw Hydras are inexpensive, they're unassuming in their approach to design - while taking a cue from the Xiaomi Piston design - and they have a wicked low-end. That makes these a pair of earbuds for the modern listener that just wants to unravel a pair of earbuds, plug in and get some music pumped into their ears. Which is certainly not a bad statement when we consider how much easier music can make our commute or long travels. I might be more of a critical listener the majority of the time, opting for more neutral headphones and setups, but I love a nice, deep warm tone and these have that in abundance, there's no denying that.
At just £30 in the UK and $35 in the US, these are also a great deal, too. The aluminium earbuds are hard-wearing and the cable might be thin, but hasn't given me any grief just yet after a month or so of use. An excellent pair of earbuds for a great price, this is what Rock Jaw is all about and they've delivered swimmingly here.