The Raptgo Hook-X took the audio enthusiast world by storm over the last two months, and it’s not hard to see why. The company’s unique combination of a big planar magnetic driver and a bone conducting piezoelectric driver is more than a little unique, and has a direct impact on their Hook’s sound. At $239, they’re not cheap, but let’s see if this combination delivers a bit of audio magic to earn that asking price, shall we?
Thank you to Linsoul for providing the sample for this review.
- Current Price: $239 (Amazon)
- Driver: 14.2mm Planar drive+Double-faced 9-layer PZT drive
- Wear Type: In-ear
- Sensitivity(1KHz): 105dB SPL/mW
- Frequency range: 20Hz- 40KHz
- Impedance(1KHz): 15Ω
- Audio interface: 0.78mm - 2.5mm/3 5mm/4.4mm
- Earphone cable length: 1.25m
- Packing List:
- RAPTGO HOOK.X Earphones*1
- 0.78 2pin OCC Silver Plated Coaxial Shielded Wire + 2.5mm/3.5mm/4.4mm Plugs
- Earphones Bag x1
- Headphone Silicone Sleeves x3 (S/M/L)
- Warranty Card And Instructions x1
Raptgo Hook-X - What Is It?
Raptgo is a new audio company, established in 2019. With the Hook-X, the company may have found its breakout IEM, as its unique design has gained a lot of attention. It joins the 7Hz Timeless and Letshouer S12 as the trio of IEMs out to prove that planar magnetic drivers have a place in the IEM world and can sound great, without costing an arm and a leg.
The Hook-X isn’t just a planar IEM, however. In fact, it’s a hybrid. In addition to its 14.2mm planar, it’s equipped with a 18-layer, double-sided Piezoelectric (PZT) bone conduction driver. This driver is used to enhance the treble performance of the earphone. Raptgo describes the PZT as adding “sonic resolution and air that is incomparable with typical balanced armature or even electrostatic drivers.” The Hook-X claims to be the first IEM to pair a planar driver with a PZT, but let’s be real here: a hybrid planar itself is pretty unique. A planar and a bone conduction PZT is something else entirely. In a world of “me too” products, this level of uniqueness is a very welcome change!
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The Hook-X also challenges convention and uses an open-back acoustic design. We’ve seen this on other earphones, such as Fiio’s FD5, but it works especially well here. The FD5 was technically “semi-open back” whereas this is wide open with a fully perforated faceplate. Not only does it look cool, but it effectively widens the soundstage to deliver a more natural acoustic performance. This also makes it an appealing option if you plan to use it for gaming.
Raptgo also deserves points for delivering an especially full package. Inside the box, you’ll receive the earphones themselves, nine sets of silicone tips, a very nice faux leather travel case, and a full set of 2.5mm balanced, 3.5mm single ended, and 4.4mm balanced terminations for the very nice woven fabric cable.
These last additions are especially important. The cable, which is soft and not microphonic, uses a hot-swap socket on its end, allowing you to convert the earphones from balanced to single-ended and back again. The Hook-X benefits from additional power (though will still run and sound good on a dongle), and this design makes it easy to match whatever gear you may be using. Cables like this are also rather expensive on their own, so it was great to see included here.
The earpieces themselves are beautifully made. They are made of CNC-milled aluminum and colored in gunmetal grey for the inner contour. The faceplate is trimmed with a reflective green ring while the faceplates themselves are simple, black, and milled with precise holes. The green and black aesthetic also carries through to the cable, giving the earphones a unified design.
Raptgo Hook-X - Fit and Comfort
The Hook-X plays it safe in terms of shape and design. They’re a medium-sized earphone and fit well in my medium-sized ears, but smaller listeners may find the nozzles to be a bit tight. They fit snugly for me, even using the smallest silicone tip in my left ear. To that end, it is especially important with these that you find the proper tip to properly seal the ear canal and experience the set’s full-bodied bass. Raptgo includes three sets of silicone tips (s/m/l) to help with this. With the proper fit, I was able to wear them for multi-hour sessions without any fatigue or discomfort.
Raptgo Hook-X - Listening Impressions
Image Credit: Crinacle
As my own IEM test rig remains in the works, I would like to thank Crinacle at In-Ear Fidelity for making his graphs available to the public. The above frequency response chart shows that the Hook-X has a shallow u-shaped tuning with emphasis on bass and prominent mids. This type of tuning should make for a fun listen for rock, pop, and vocal driven music.
Testing for this IEM was conducted using an Xduoo XD-05 Plus and an iFi Go Blu over LDAC. Sources were local high-res audio files and Spotify streaming on Very High quality.
Bass: Bass on the Hook-X is thumpy and fun. I particularly enjoyed it on electronic tracks, like Eminus’s The Ocean in My Heart, where the synth fills out the body of the song. Kick drums are also punchy and have a driving impact that sounds great with fast-paced rock. The Liars Club was full and fun. This isn’t a basshead set in particular, but offers enough body to really fill out pop, rock, metal, and hip-hop very well.
Mids: Mids are very vocal-centric on this set. Voices pop right out of the mix and step forward. This is right in line with what I would expect from a set that seems designed for mainstream listeners. Adele’s Easy on Me was lush and airy, and the Hook-X did a good job of capturing the iconic soulful blend of smoothness and rasp. If I Were a Boy by Beyonce was particularly enjoyable, and played to the set’s strengths in the lower register as well. There is plentiful detail in these two frequency ranges, which makes listening more fun and true to life, though I don’t find them to be the most detailed set you can find at this price.
Treble: Treble on the Hook-X is smooth and not fatiguing. Percussion has realistic attack and decay, and it delivers plenty of air to wisp up the sound a bit. Like the mids, I didn’t find this range to really accentuate technical prowess in a way that stands out in busy tracks. It’s well-tuned, but the highs blend so naturally from the mids that it feels relaxed and comfortable. During acoustic or quieter tracks, however, I was repeatedly surprised as treble notes and details peeked out with subtle sparkle.
Soundstage/Imaging/Tonality/Timbre: The soundstage is one of the highlights of the Hook-X. Its open-back design is effective and allows sounds to spread out and seem to emanate from around your head instead of directly inside your ears. The layering is also very good, so you can clearly hear every sound source and their directionality. The stage is wider (left and right) versus deep (front and back) and has a moderate sense of height that lets sound sources sound bigger than they would on more constrained earphones.
This design is great for music, but also makes the Hook-X an effective choice for gaming. Pair these with a microphone and you could easily get lost in an immersive gaming session. Turn on Dolby Atmos to enhance the effect further.
Tonality is an interesting one with this earphone. There is something slightly different in the timbre of its sound. The way notes hit is unique. There’s planar clarity here but the character of the notes is subtly different from anything I’ve heard before. I can only assume that this is the result of the bone conduction piezo driver. This isn’t bad, mind you, and allows the Hook-X to sound unlike anything else on the market I’ve heard. But it is different.
Overall Impressions and Final Thoughts
The Raptgo Hook-X is an interesting earphone. Its hybrid design is unlike anything else out there right now, and it’s yet another earphone this year that shows planar-magnetic IEMs can be great with proper tuning. And that tuning is especially important here, because it strikes me as aiming dead squarely at mainstream listening tastes. The emphasized bass and vocals are great for pop, and rock, and paired with that open-back design, they even become a good fit for gaming. They have plentiful detail, but those technicalities come in second place to their tuning.
What does all of this mean and where do I land? I’ve gone back and forth in where I would land on a grade for these earphones, and the more I listen, the more I enjoy their unique sound and wide-open stage. They don’t seem to be competing with the other “audiophile” sets as much as doing their own thing, and I can get behind that. If you enjoy the tuning, there’s a good chance that you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.
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