INTRODUCTION:

Akoustyx, most of us might not have heed about this brand but some if us must have heard about “Rockit sound”. The Rockit R50 was one of the best dual BA based IEMs 4-5 years ago along with the Q-jays, DBA-02 and ATH-IM02. Rockit is now, Akoustyx. They changed their portfolio, they came up with newer models with similar set of IEMs under their belt.

Akoustyx has been in the market for the last 2-3 years but their flagship is still a dual BA IEM based on Knowles drivers. The R220 is basically a R50 with a more generalized shell and removable cables. The tuning is more or less the same. There are no color options, it comes in black and is priced at $199 now with a MRP of $250.

I will compare it with ER-4P, Campfire Satsuma and a Final F4100.

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I would like to thank Akoustyx for the review unit. No exaggeration of facts have been made here, I always stay true to my feeling.

ACCESSORIES AND PACKAGING:-

R220 ships in an good looking rectangular box. There is an outer paper cover and inside it is the protective inner cardboard box which contains everything else. The earpieces are stuffed in foam while the cable is attached to it. The cable and all the accessories are placed under a paper box under the foam.

There is a soft zipper pouch which contains 5 pair of tips. There is a set of silicone tips in S/M/L sizes, a pair of dual flange tip and a pair of comply tip. Unlike any other IEM the R220 ships with 3 pairs of “Patented fitting customization kit with EarLock® retention-interface” which can be used to get better more traction and less movement inside the ear. A quick start guide concludes the list of accessorizes.

HOW IS THE CABLE:-

R-220 ships with one of the supplest cable I have ever seen on an IEM. If you like a well behaved cable, this 4 core mono-crystalline OFC copper cable is the best I have seen. No other IEM ships with a quieter or stable cable than this. There is no microphonics to talk about. And unlike most of the audiophile grade IEMs this cable has a built-in 4mm Omni directional microphone with a 3 button remote which works with both Android and Apple devices. It has dedicated volume buttons, it helps when on the go.

The cable guides are a lot softer and some of the least bothering ones I have ever come across. The Y-splitter is small and has stress relievers around it. The 90 degree jack has its own protection too.

HOW DOES IT FEEL:-

Build quality:- R220 uses aluminum alloy as the body while the later half with connectors uses polycarbonate. This straight barrel design is very comfortable will fit smallest of ears without any problem. It feels sturdier and string than most of the plastic and acrylic based IEMs. The 90 degree bend at the connector end give it the edge over ETY, making it shorter and less protruding. This is one of the lightest IEM in the market too.

Comfort and ergonomics:-  It is one of the most comfortable earphones in the market which doesn’t have a semi custom type shell. The small form factor helps a lot with fitment, even people with smallest ears can accommodate it inside their ears without any problem. The long nozzle helps with deep insertion and giving the earphone a very secure feel inside the ear. All the ear tips provided with the R220 are fairly comfortable too. If you feel all the tips are failing you, use the comply tips.

It is designed to sit effortlessly in the ear. It sits plush in my ears without sticking out, easy on ears and comfortable to say the least, the longer and narrow nozzle plays a good part here. I like the way the supple cable guides do their job, sits firmly and comfortably over the ear holding the ears tightly without any scope of uncomfortable movements, no adjustment required.

SOUND QUALITY:-

R220 uses two BA driver in tandem to deliver the whole spectrum I don’t think there is any crossover here.

If you are using a really weak source the R220 with its 29ohm impedance can sound flat and sharp. But when driven out of good sources like a dedicated DAP or decent Dongle like Earmen Sparrow it delivers a reference sound with little room for improvements when it comes to extraction of details. It is a typical BA based earphone with its mind at details only.

The R220 has a neutral an natural timber with little to no coloration.

Tips Preference:-

 I advice to use foam tips as they give a better sense of space and sounds more out of the head where as dual flange and single flange silicone tips produce more in the head type of stage. It helps with curbing sharpness. With foam tips sound stage is slightly better than average with decent depth and width with better height. With silicone tips the stage is taller but not wide enough.

SPEC TALK AND MATCHABILITY:-

 Even when specs suggest an impedance of 29ohm and 109db sensitivity at 1k it’s not one of the loudest earphones around. It does get loud without a lot of efforts but getting the best out of the R220 is kind of tricky. Driving it out of an average mobile phone is not prescribed at all.

When not fed properly R220 is difficult to handle. All the upper mid and treble instruments sound splashy and sharp without proper power. It doesn’t even get satiated by a entry level dongle like shanling UA1, which otherwise is plenty good for most of the IEMs in the market.  R220 needs an dongle like Earmen Sparrow or Qudelix 5k. This really makes the Microphone nearly useless.

Thankfully R220 responds exceptionally to EQs. Drop the bands in the 4-8k ranges and it is an IEM to beat.

BASS:-

As mentioned earlier the R220 is a typical BA based IEM. It has pure dedication towards details and nothing else. The lower is just north of being dead flat. But guess what, it has better sub-bass extension than the Campfire Satsuma. Don’t expect nearly anything else. It has no mid bass emphasis. It isn’t full or meaty but delivers all the details and leaves in a jiffy. The decay speed is very fast but doesn’t make it unreasonably dry. This lower end has good texture and details but lacks most of the slam and punch. Bass notes don’t just arrive and vanish into thin air but don’t precipitate either. Compared to earphones like ER-4P and q-jays it manages to deliver similar type of bass. Upper bass is nicely controlled with very good accuracy and details.

The quantity is slightly more than q-jays and marginally less than Avara AV3.. R220’s lower end that aims for accuracy and precision while delivering plenty of details and retaining acceptable amount of texture. It does not deliver thumpy bass.

MIDS:-

I personally love mid rage and, this is where the magic happens. R220 with its dual BA drviers delivers a lot of details with fantastic clarity and transparency. The mid range is nicely balanced with the rest of the spectrum. The transition from upper bass to lower mid range is one of the best in this price range. There no loss in energy or details at all.

Vocals sound crisp and clear with fairly natural tonality, the decay is slightly on the faster side giving the notes some sharpness. Both male and female vocals sound accurate. Male vocals have slightly slower decay, giving them a more textured and throaty feel. Female vocals are sharper with accurate notes depth and are a delight with plenty of bite. Vocal notes have very good texture to them with a lot of resolution and transparency. Instruments on the other hand have plenty of attack and bite to them. Notes are sharp and have slightly leaner body with fantastic precision and accuracy. The upper mind rage is exceptionally clean and vivid. With added brilliance to it, it shines with a lot of details and clarity. The overall experience is nothing short of delightful. Layering and separation is of top notch with good amount of air between the instruments.

HIGHS:-

The transition region of upper mid to lower treble is as good as it gets. There is no loss of details or energy. The entire treble region has fantastic energy and clarity. Aided by exceptional transparency it is easy to pick micro details. The lower treble delivers class leading clarity, resolution and details. Notes are fairly sharp with excellent height. A bit more sharpness would have made things uncomfortable for many.

The R220 has fantastic treble extension. It feels endless and the best part is that even when it goes deep into the spectrum, notes maintain excellent energy and transparency. If you love treble, this is tailor made for you. Needless to say that separation and layering is up to the mark with good amount of air and space between instruments. The treble stage is well spread and has very good density to it.

P.S. if you are finding it sharp or splashy, most probably you are not feeding it properly. Try using foam tips too.

COMPARISONS:-

VS Final F4100:

F4100 is an old IEM with only one BA inside. It is a straight competition to the ER-4 series and is a contemporary of the R50.

It has slightly bigger lower end slam and a bit more weight. Keep in mind that none of these have enough volume to be called bassy by a long shot. The R220 is a bit more sub-bassy but does not have much mid bass. Both have similar details but the R220 has better texture. Mid range of the R220 is more energetic and attacking. Vocals are fuller on the F4100. F4100 lacks a bit of notes height across the mid range. R220 has slightly better upper treble energy and the energy is bordering uncomfortable while the F4100 is lot more tolerable.

R220 has a taller stage while the F4100 has a wider stage but the overall volume of the R220 is better. If you want details and are not scared of attack the R220 is simply better or else F4100 is calmer yet very detailed.

VS Etymotic ER-4P

Etymotic started it all more than decade ago. My ER-4P is nearly 10 years old. This single BA driver IEM is still one of the most accurate.

R220 has a smaller lower end than the ER-4P but has better sub-bass and sounds less dry. ER-4P is more into mid-bass. Mid range of the ER-4P is more forgiving and has less energy and note height. R220 is more transparent. Instruments on both have similar edge and attack but the R220 has more definition. ER-4P too lacks some energy at the upper treble region while the lower and mid treble region are similarly energized. R220 has better separation of instruments thanks to leaner body. Stage of the ER-4P is similar in character but has around 20% more width.

It’s kind of strange but the R220 is cleaner and more transparent than the ER-4P. R220 is a lot more closer to live music.

CONCLUSONS:-

If you love a lot of details with your music, you will love the R220. It is not an Etymotic “wanna be” but an improvement in some areas. Etymotic has the name, but if you have a R220, don’t bother about accuracy and precision of any other IEM up to $650. At $650 the Campfire Holocene is the next stop for this kind of accuracy and precision.

This simply is something extraordinary. If you are a treble head or detail hog, forget Etymotic, this is the IEM to get.