Kickstarter campaigns are a dime a dozen these days. You can happily spend hours browsing the pages of Kickstarter to find inspirational projects to back. These range from simple 3D-printed garage projects to more involved product launches. Recently, we've seen Pebble make it big on Kickstarter - again! - and it's helped the Nextbit Robin get off the ground as well. One thing that we often forget about Kickstarter projects however, is that there not always big, corporate-planned projects that just need a bit of capital to get off the ground, and are often smaller, more unique projects. Not too long ago, UK firm Rock Jaw Audio took to Kickstarter with their Sentio headphone, looking for £48,987 ($68,173~) to bring in a new product line and offer backers - as well as future customers - a versatile and unique set of headphones. We know music is important, and we've reviewed a lot of headphones from brands like Audiofly, Sennheiser, Master & Dynamic and Rock Jaw themselves, so it was nice to get to spend some more time with such a small and low-key Kickstarter campaign, compared to the goliaths like Pebble and Nextbit.
I live in England, and while writing for Android Headlines often means I'm writing about people and products launched worlds away from me, I was happily intrigued when Rock Jaw Audio reached out to us last Summer, less than an hour's drive from where I live and work. Joe Watts, the head of Rock Jaw Audio recently let me spend some time with the Sentio, or at least a production sample, the only one in existence right now and it was a real pleasure to talk about a down-to-earth Kickstarter project about something I'm interested in.
The first thing I was surprised by is just how durable and well-built even this production sample felt. On their Kickstarter campaign, Rock Jaw state a use of aluminum and leather for different parts of the headphone. They certainly feel well-made and the leather headband was more comfortable than I thought it would be, but this is possibly down to the deep, plush ear pads that the Sentio is fitted with. They're not an especially light headphone, but they're not heavy, either. I'd say they were on the heavier side, but they don't feel weighty on the head and there's a good seal around the ear, too. The design of these is definitely a love-it or hate-it kind of vibe, but they're certainly different than what we've seen from other brands from the past couple of years. Despite the size of the ear cups, the driver-housings themselves are remarkable thin to say there's a mechanism to change from open to closed and back again. These are certainly well-built and while the design might not be to everyone's taste, these set themselves out from the pack and they show off the materials that they were made with. Little touches like a slight swivel back and forward for each ear cup and a diamond-quilt stitching on the headband help the Sentio stand out.
Sound is the most important part of any headphone, and the Sentio have two drivers per ear cup, something that's relativiely uncommon in the world of full-size headphones. There's a 30mm driver on top of a 50mm driver in the Sentio and the end result is something that's hard to describe and definitely more than a little different. The bass is punchy, precise and extends well. I wouldn't say it was boomy, but those looking for a good amount of bass won't be disappointed, but what I was really impressed with was how forward and detailed the mid-range was, without sacrificing the upper-ranges. The treble here is definitely not up there, but it's not forgotten and instead is more smooth and refined than a hyper-accurate response for the sake of it. The mid-range however is detailed with lots of layers to it and vocalists - male or otherwise - sound excellent. I got to listen to some of my favorite tracks on the Sentio (I didn't have long) and the vocals were smooth, forward and resonant, I was definitely impressed.
Speaking of the campaign itself, Joe tells me that the struggles are with getting the cash to provide their manufacturing partner to produce moulds and set up a production line. As Rock Jaw is a firm that strives to offer low-cost items above all, there isn't any cash lying around to start up a new product line out of thin air. The Sentio has been in development for roughly two years now, and backers can add an extra gaming mic to their pledge, or choose velour ear pads as extras. All backers will be able to personalize their Sentio with an engraving. Deliveries of the £95 ($130~) and up Sentio will start to hit backers around September, and those interested can back it or learn more here.