RAPTGO Hook-X Review


The RAPTGO Hook-X is an interesting new hybrid IEM that mixes two less common driver technologies together along with an even rarer open-back shell to create an exciting and somewhat refreshing new product on the market. The Hook-X retails for $239 and is sold by online retailer Linsoul. The product page can be found here: https://www.linsoul.com/products/raptgo-hook-x

As you suspect, this product was provided free of charge from Linsoul for review. And with that, let's talk more about this new in-ear monitor that's gaining some momentum in the community.

The Hook-X is a semi-open back design that has several perforations on the faceplate allowing sound to travel in and out. This isn't nearly as open as the Audeze iSine Planar series of IEMs, nor is it even close to an open-back headphone. It also still isolates more than ear buds, but it does let some sound go through and that's something I personally have been wanting a while just for my personal awareness around me, and the ability to relieve any pressure build-up and heat.

Inside this unique shell houses a 14.2mm planar magnetic driver and a "custom 18-layer double-side piezoelectric driver." With that said, I don't believe this is the same type of PZT ceramic driver that is found on previous IEMs which, in every case I've tried, have been piercingly bright and obnoxious to use. Nope, this is a different beast. In fact, the product box says its a bone conductor driver. 

Bone conductor, you say? Like the Unique Melody MEST series? Like Aftershokz? Perhaps. It is also a known fact that bone conductor drivers are piezoelectric as well. So, I think that may end this confusion. And how does it sound? Well, that's the interesting part, and I'll talk about that after I discuss some cables and accessories.



Yes, as per usual, this product comes with a bunch of tips, and a fake-leather gray zip-up case. It's actually a decent case with a pocket inside and plenty of space to store things. 

The cable included is green, just like the accents of the shell, and the cable connectors and also share green accent rings as well. The green braided cloth sheathing has a glowing green look to it, and it does look pretty neat. In actual use, it can become a tangled mess at times, but not too bad and not too annoying.

The connectors at the shell are flush-mounting 2-pins, and the opposite source end is a swappable cable feature. Included are a set of standard 3.5mm, and balanced 4.4mm and 2.5mm modular connectors. This specific modular connector-type is similar to the ones found on a lot of the newer chi-fi products coming out, such as from Kinera, Tripowin, and TRN. I am not 100% sure they are interchangable, but they all feature a push/pull insertion method with 4 pin connectors, and aren't held by a mechanical locking mechanism. Either way, it extends the length of the source connection by about 1/3rd of an inch and is not too distracting.

 

Sound Impressions

So about that bone conduction thingy: My first impression putting these on and playing a variety of indie rock music was essentially, "wow, this is different." I couldn't totally put into words exactly what I was hearing. It sounded tonally balanced, and nothing really bad to say overall about its frequency response, which later measured just as well. But, there was just something unique about how it sounded in the mid-range, which coincidentally reminded me quite a bit of listening to your normal, average bone conducting earphone, such as the ones made by Aftershokz.

I happened to have a set with me just two weeks back, and had quite a bit of time listening to one of them, so I did have that interesting playback and presentation of music recently pushed into my mind. Literally? It's a different sound if you have never heard it before. It plays music, but it comes across more soft, more grainy in a way, and is not anything I would call high-definition, high resolution audiophile sound.


The Hook-X's initial impression has that type of mid-range to me. In my first pass through with, again, a lot of indie rock, vocal-led guitar music. I put down the IEM and wrote down my impressions online, as a record.


My first impressions of the Hook is that it actually has a mid-range that reminds me of the softness and lower-resness of Aftershokz, which I have listened to recently within the last couple weeks. That said, its a pleasant sound, maybe too smoothed over, and missing exacting detail and edge. It's tonality is for the most part fine, it just presents sound a little softer and different. I wouldn't call this hi-res audio for some reason, but this is just my initial impressions after about an hour of listening. These are very comfortable to wear and the color of the cable is really nice. Connectors are also swappable.


After coming back and listening several times with this IEM throughout the past week, my impressions went from medicore, to not bad, to somewhat enjoyable, to "wow, I just listened to these for 4 hours straight and it's way too late in the evening!"

What changed? Nothing really. Well, I did get a new DAP in-between listening sessions and going from the Hiby R5 Saber to the iBasso DX240 is a pretty big jump in quality. But, I did quite a bit of listening on the Chord Mojo/Poly as well, so I can't say it's just do to the step-up in source quality.

I think the Hook-X can take a little bit of getting used to to really enjoy its presentation style and uniqueness that is a little different than the other two recent planar IEMs on the market making a splash right now. In those, I mean the 7Hz Timeless and the LetShuoer S12, which I both enjoy and recommended in the past.



The Hook-X has a much more analog, cozy, and comforting sound to it that is different than the faster, edgier, and more in your face, high-definition-like sound of the other two planars. It does not necessarily put out the best hi-res quality, but it's still an enjoyable listen and beats other IEMs in a few areas, which made me spend hours and hours at night listening to this IEM.

What it does bring is a somewhat natural, analog, and somewhat lively sound that has good imaging and a good sense of space and openness. This could be partially attributed to the open-back nature of the shell, but the frequency response may also play a bit into this with a less forward upper-mid-range than other IEMs. I was surprised that I was able to overlook the grainy nature of the mid-range, which is pretty important to me, and just chill-out and relax to hours of various rock and jazz music and even listening to some old skool R&B jams.

The treble is extended and while it doesn't have the most air of IEMs, it still has plenty of output in these extreme areas to provide proper sounding percussions and reed instruments, all while not sounding muted and congested.


Final Thoughts

The HOOK-X puts together an interesting package. It cost just a tad more than its competition, but is one of the rare semi-open in-ears on the market. It has an interesting sound signature that originally I disliked, and as I listened more, you can say that it "hooked" me in.

If you're looking for something that is clear, crisp, and forward, with the sound and presentation that is fast and hi-definition, this isn't the one you're looking for. If you want a more low-key, cozy and an analog-feeling sound that is easy on the ears and willing to sacrifice clean and clear mid-range, this isn't a bad choice at all. Normally these "analog" type sounds turn out to be horribly tuned (outside of say the Vision Ears and Sony gears), but this one is did a surprisingly good job of drawing me in over time and making me enjoy it as a nice alternative to my normal listening pattern.



Comments