Raptgo Hook-X ($239)
Thank you for checking out my review of the Raptgo Hook-X. I purchased this set with my own hard-earned money for $239 off of Amazon. I’ve owned only a few Planar driver iems in the past. The TinHifi P1, 7hz Timeless and a tribrid, the TRI I3 Pro. I suppose I am somewhat limited in my experience with the driver tech compared to other reviewers, but sound is sound.
Quickly…how I review
Whether it’s a Planar, DD, Hybrid, Tribrid… whatever, what sounds good will sound good and what doesn’t… doesn’t. Since this is my published review, I get to be the judge of that. This is not something that I take lightly. I try to review in an objective as well as a subjective way. Meaning, I will give my thoughts as to what I like, and I will also give an objective view on the quality of sound as well, whether I like it, or not. Also, I say what I hear and nothing more.
I try to view each audio device through the lenses of multiple styles of signatures and even try to adjust my brain to other styles and find the joy in them. Trying to find and figure out what a company was going for and did they succeed? It takes an open mind sometimes. However, something technically bad or off in some way will always be bad no matter the style. Again, I paid for this set as I do for the great majority of my reviews. Okay I am sorry for that people, I just felt I had to get that out.
Back to the review
Anyways, back to the review. I was thrilled to check this set out. I was somewhat impressed by the Timeless but thought of it more as a novelty type earphone. A great set with few drawbacks. I will say that the I3 Pro is still one of my absolute favorite iems at any price yet the Planar within the I3 Pro only covers a portion of the spectrum. The Hook-X is another animal altogether, mixing different technologies in an unheard of or unseen manner. Spoiler: I am completely impressed people… let’s take a closer look.
-More natural timbre
-The entire Low end
-Speedy attack/Appropriate decay
-Detailed and Engaging
-Soundstage is immersive
-Imaging is very nice
-Very slick looking iems
-Isolation / Sound leak (Music is faintly heard from others)
-Details in the treble area
-Not quite for Bass-heads or Treble-heads
-Bad quality tracks will show
-Treble at rare times exhibits a very quick “tzz” sound at higher volumes
The Hook (as I’ll call it for the review) comes to us in a smaller package which utilizes the space well. Not a whole lot of waste. You get a shallower rectangular box with a graphic of the company logo Yada Yada Yada. Do any of you actually care about any of that?
You care about what is inside of that box. Raptgo added a decent unboxing here. I mean at $239 you should receive quite a bit in accessories. I’d say that what you get here is about standard for any iem above $150.
Three sets of knock off Spinfit type ear tips come in small, medium and large sizes. They feel like quality ear tips to me. For the review I used Kbear-07 tips, however. A light gray case can be found as you search through the small box. The case is a decent size to make home to your iems. The zipper functionality is a bit of a question for me as it isn’t the easiest case to open and zip closed. I suppose I’d call the material of the case faux leather and printed on that case is the Raptgo logo again. Inside that case you’ll find the cable, more on that in “Build Quality” in the next section.
I noticed right away during unboxing, the fresh aesthetic and appearance. The unique look of the faceplates is somehow refreshing to me. Tiny holes dot the entire Faceplate in a perfect pattern revealing the tech within. I would call this a semi-open back design even though the entire back breathes easily, open to the atmosphere. Black was the color of choice for the Faceplate with a raised brighter green metal trim standing out for an awesome look. Green on black will always be tough. I personally really dig the look of this set. Raptgo did a fantastic job on the design aspect for a unique and modern and confident look. The Hook is a handsome looking set.
The open back or semi-open back design is used to add an airy and clean listen which normally creates a more immersive and big stage. Yet with that can also bring isolation or sound leakage. Sure enough, there is some sound leakage happening to those around me while listening. For instance, my 6-year-old always tries to hear what I am listening to, and she only slightly has to strain to hear the music leaking through. I don’t think this would cause a distraction; it definitely isn’t uncomfortably loud to those around you. That said, The Hook doesn’t isolate completely as there is some outside noise into the listening session. I dont consider this an issue at all. Again, nothing too annoying at all but I figured I should at least add that. Just turn up the volume a bit more or find a quiet spot to listen and problem solved.
I have no idea what the Faceplate is made of. I’m assuming it is aluminum but don’t take that as fact. It feels well-made and premium. As we make our way to the shell, I love the color choice that they added into the mix. An alloy metal flat gray shell looks flat out poised and durable as it contrasts with the green accents. As far as build quality is concerned, I would say that the materials used, and the flawless construction add confidence that the Hook will last a long time.
At the top you’ll see the two-pin connector with “Raptgo Hook-X” written just beneath. Closer to the nozzle is a small front vent and covering the nozzle is a nice-looking metal filter plate.
No doubt a certain feeling of withstanding durability is conjured within my mind. All materials used feel well made and solid. I do admit I carelessly dropped the Hook a couple times on our hard tiled sunroom floor. I was impressed and relieved to see no nicks or scratches and the Hook works perfectly fine.
The Hook has an interesting driver combination. As far as I understand this is the first time these two driver technologies have ever been used in tandem and in the same shell. Raptgo used a 14.2 mm planar magnetic driver, driven by Neodymium N52 Magnets. The other driver is a custom designed 18 Layer Double-Sided Piezoelectric. Very cool to see a company break new ground and put their development skills to the test and out in the open. Especially in the time of the “Planar Wars”.
Novel Concept, Precise Execution
The Hook-X is the first attempt at a hybrid in-ear monitor design utilizing the planar magnetic driver in combination with a piezoelectric (PZT) driver. These two driver types are among the most sensational driver technologies in the audio industry and have never been utilized together in an IEM format. We took on this momentous concept, and through careful engineering and testing, have successfully created an IEM that encompasses the powerful characteristics of these drivers fashioned with tonal perfection. Unlike other IEM novelties that simply cram in hyped drivers, we are proud to achieve a product that is tuned to balance and allows the listener to both appreciate the acoustic superiority of these drivers as well as enjoy the music through their harmonious tonality.Raptgo Hook-X promotional above
I suppose I should add in the cable build as well, being that the cable is an essential piece of the puzzle. The cable itself is an OCC and Silver-Plated cable of some weighty girth. I love that Raptgo went the extra mile and added a modular cable, with 2.5, 3.5, and 4.4 connector jacks. I love modular cables as I can switch between balanced and single ended very quickly. Even better, the cable is just as striking as the earphones. The cable matches the green-on-black boldness of the iems, with green-on-black fabric (possibly Nylon), which covers the whole of the cable. Again, the color scheme carries over to the Y-split with a flat gray accent and terminates with male two pin connections.
No need to upgrade…
I always purchase upgrade cables for all my iems and this is one set I didn’t feel I should buy one for. Cables matter to me, honestly, I get just as jacked up for a cable “mail call” as for any audio device. I’m just happy I didn’t have to fork over any more cash. The cable is durable and slick looking attached to the Hook. If anything, It may be a bit stiff… if I had to name a downside. All in all, I am happy with it. The modular connections feel tight enough and so long as you don’t throw this set around like a ragdoll, it should last.
The Hook is said to be rated at 15 ohms and a sensitivity of 105db. This is another case (like with other planars) where I can drive the Hook to reasonably good volume levels with lower powered dongle dacs. In this case the Zooaux Dongle Dac. However, it is plainly obvious how much more open and expressive the Hook becomes with more power.
I chose the 4.4 balanced for 90% of this review and this option paid off fairly quickly. Using the Fiio Ka3 proved to do the job pretty well, easily driving the Hook to a satisfying listening sesh. The same goes for the IFi Go Blu (4.4) or the Qudelix 5k (2.5). The Hook doesn’t need a huge desktop setup I don’t think, a decently powered dongle dac should do the trick.
Switching to the Ibasso DX240 with Amp8 MK2 in medium gain was a pretty nice step up in overall dynamics and presentation. Yet when I switched the DX240 to high gain things reached another level of musical enjoyment. The DX240 with Amp8 MK2 was easily the best option for me. Moral of the story… if you can, give this set some good power. If you only have a decent dongle… no worries the Hook will still do very well and sound very nice.
Real quick, I have to mention that I did let the Hook-X burn in for about 70-80 hrs using the 1more Assistant app. Also, I did use the KBear 07 tips during this review period.
I haven’t had the opportunity to test out every planar driver out there, however of those which I have tested, the Raptgo Hook-X sounds the most complete to me. This is a dynamically balanced approach. A balance is nothing new for Planar iems, in fact the Timeless has a good balance across the spectrum. What I hear different is the overall dynamics and a more engaging or even emotional tilt towards the music in my library. Heftier note weight also. You could even say a smoother presentation I suppose. That is debatable though. I don’t have the Timeless in hand to directly compare the two so even mentioning it isn’t really fair.
I hear a warm of neutral sound with a close to U-shaped tuning. The Hook has a very energetic, dynamic and lively sound across the board. There is a growling, forceful and punchy low end which hits fast and hard. I hear a more forward midrange which is clean and clear and detailed. The treble is well enough extended too. Highs certainly have some air with good presence to them in the region.
The Hook has a more natural sound to me with its open presentation. This is a flat-out fun sound. Nothing dry or analytical. There is this tangible almost fervent charge to the sound. Hook-X jams people! It carries a very musical and engaging sound. I feel the sound is well laid out and cohesive between driver techs. Couple that cohesion with fun and exciting and what you get is a very expressive but clean playback.
The low end has some very natural sounding coloration going on. I absolutely require bass in my music, no matter the genre in my library of music. The Hook definitely has a low end that conjures a smile to my face. Please, don’t accuse me of inferring that the Hook is a bass headset. It is not. That said, I am impressed by the quantity as well as the quality here. This is fantastic bass for under $250 in my opinion.
The sub-bass reaches pretty deep and does so with good vibration and feel. This is not a juddering quake here, however. Instead, the Hook plays back what is given to it. If it’s a big bass track, then big is what you will hear. Hook has a very tight low end with fast attack and appropriate decay. Not at all forced or pushed too forward so as to sound unnaturally big. For instance, in “Paradigm” by The Head & the Heart. The song begins right away with a clean and deep and quick bassline. The Hook does it well. Rigid note edges chisel the outlines with good pace and rhythm. Again, nothing forced. What you feed the Hook is what you will get back but with gusto and fun. Tactile texture is evident from the sub bass to the mid bass.
Mid bass is no slouch either. Pretty much the same story. Textured and fast. Big enough for hip-hop but quick enough for speedy bass lines or multiple basslines. I hear layering going on as well. Also, nothing is too big in slam to overtake any area of the mix. Yes, the slam is punchy and satisfying but in the same breath there is air to breathe with this bass. Notes solidify quickly with a strong attack and decays with a certain evanescence. Basically, you get what a recording asks of the Hook-X. Another thing, I do not perceive any encroachment into the midrange at all.
Bass in a nutshell
Bass guitars crunch and growl with a pretty realistic timbre here. Kick drums boom with rounded and well-defined hits. Males who sing so low to occupy this space are forward and sound great. For a planar driver I am impressed. While I could always do with a hair more in quantity, I can’t help but love the low-end presentation.
This isn’t the fullest bass out there, but it has real good punch and scales to the music being played. Agility and separation are its strong suit as the Hook plays like a chameleon and interprets exactly what is asked of it. Beginning edges of attack have character and definition. Also, the Hook decays to the speed of the file being played. The Hook thunders during thunder yet can be soft and mellow with slighter and more softer bass hits. It may not be for absolute bass heads, but it is for those who enjoy good bass.
The midrange of the Hook-X does have good body and a little warmth carried over from the low-end. Mids sound forward as a whole and have good clarity. Notes have a crispness to them, and resolution is above average to me. Still the speed and separation of the midrange is quite good without losing that emotional tilt to my music. The midrange has an engaging quality to it, more so than the hi-res Timeless. Instead, the Hook has a more expressive and smoother and more moving presentation. The Timeless is a great set but for me the Hook-X fits me better.
Starting with the lower midrange. Males have a stark and hefty sound. Broad bodied, full and distinct with a forward and inherently emotive sound. A low reaching voice like Avi Kaplan in “On My Way” sounds sonorous and very clear. The Hook is pleasing in tonal character and represents Avi’s vocals to my liking. There seems to be a nice balance with the rest of the song as well.
Female vocals follow suit, as they are more forward to my ears and play along so well with everything else. Females aren’t dazzling with shimmer so much as they are revealing with an emotional glaze. Soft, gentle and tender in softer vocals. More coarse and edged and energetic when it needs to be as well. Females have a very real and raw sound. “Everything I Didn’t Say” by Ella Henderson simply sounds great. The emotion of her voice hasn’t been drawn back like so many iems can do. The Hook illuminates the inflection and tone of her voice while not artificially boosting the sound and drowning out the sentiment of the song.
Extra thoughts about the Mids
This set has a very nicely detailed midrange which focuses on tunefulness in the melody. The Hook does so effortlessly, like it isn’t even trying. Yes, there are iems which do it better, but honestly better is the wrong word. Perhaps some sets do it with better resolution and are simply different. I didn’t hear any sibilance at all and heard zero shoutiness or anything piercing either. I’ve said it a few times and likely will say it again, the Hook plays to the track being played. There is some mid coloration to a degree, but it all comes across natural and well behaved.
Instruments which play in the Midrange sound full and with good timbre to me. Timbre is all in the ear of the beholder and what is correct will not always be correct to the next guy. To me… the Hook displays the tone color of a voice or instrument very nicely.
The higher regions walk step in step with all other regions. Staying at pace and perfect stride with any track. Smooth enough for easy listening yet chiseled just enough to define. The treble simply wraps up the world of sound that the Hook evokes onto the listener. Like the cherry on the top or the tie on the suit, it all ties together as a whole.
How does the Treble sound…
The highs are elevated but never emphasized to induce fatigue. Shimmer and shine exist but only goes so far. There is a nice vibrant sound that doesn’t peak-out or act shrill or sibilant. This is a smoother treble. Stuff like details aren’t as easy to pinpoint in a track. I think Raptgo was going for musicality and the engagement of the person listening over analytical dryness. Still this region is resolute enough and raised enough to present a balanced attack with the rest of the mix.
Note weight in the treble area has body to it. At least that’s what I hear. Cymbals crash and not splash. Granted cymbals also play a lot in the upper mids but the decaying crash is not tizzy, but more focused. Instruments in my library never sound harsh or peaky. The extension of the Highs rolls off on a pretty nice downward slope to capture most information well. Percussion and even strings residing in the upper areas sound as they should with enough vibrancy for me.
As a whole I’m not mad at the treble area of the Hook. Maybe it isn’t as detailed as some iems but it is musical and engaging. The treble fits the replay just fine. Treble Heads may be left wanting, but for those who want a non-pain, non-fatigue and zero shrill treble performance… my friends the Hook-X.
The only real knock against the treble is a strange artifact that faintly shows up on rare occurrences. Occasionally I do hear a faint ZZZ or TZZZ at higher volumes at the note ends. Forgive me for my interpretation of this. This rarely happens but I do hear it at times. Maybe a longer burn-in period will fend off this sound. This is nothing too troubling as the overall experience is a solid one.
The stage which comes across through the Hook is above average across the board. In width, height and depth. Like all iems this is not a grand hall experience but it’s pretty close with the right track. With the semi-open structure, there is air to play those more open songs. On the reverse, more intimate tracks come across just as intended.
Separation & Imaging…
Separation of Instruments and voices is pretty good. I can easily make out different pieces to a song. The Hook has enough air between elements caused by good enough resolution and a speedy driver. This causes almost partitioned off instruments. Imaging is spot-on as well. Everything has its place and seems positioned very well. Again, the speed of the drivers coupled with good resolution and a few other factors help to really create an imaginary stage which makes sense. It all goes into the final product. I enjoy that I can actually envision what is happening in this psycho-acoustic magic that the Hook-X is able to conjure up. What a track feeds this set is what will commence from the Planar speakers.
Details are very nice as well as the Hook can pick up smaller little pieces to a song fairly easily. Maybe the treble area could be a bit more detailed but in truth, this set gives me everything I could want. The treble is a bit more smoothed over and truthfully, I like this tuning. Plus, if I’m not critically listening and simply casually listening to music as one would… who really cares. However, completing a review, I have to critically hear as best I can to hopefully help someone in a purchasing decision. In truth, critical listening is not my favorite way to listen to music. The Hook makes this easy on me though as the Bass has above average details and texture and the Midrange follows that with an even more detailed presentation.
Boy what a set. The Hook seems to do everything very well. Obviously, you have to agree with this type of tuning to appreciate it. Also, it’s very obvious that the guy reviewing this set right now happens to agree with it. I like fun, I like a dynamic yet controlled sound, I like a more natural sound that isn’t veiled even in thee slightest. Also, I like to hear an iem which can play at a rapid-fire pace, or just as easily slow down and capture the soft mood in a moment. Timbre, tonality, musicality, dynamics, staging and resolution are all qualities which the Hook-X performs well in. Not to mention it’s nice to look at and built seemingly very well.
Fellas and Ladies, I really want to thank anyone who chose to read anything that I write. I truly love to explain what I hear and to do it in a way that I leave nothing on the table. Leave it all on the field so to speak. Maybe one day I’ll get better at it. We have a great community of people in this hobby of ours and I do enjoy helping one another out. Ultimately though, it’s all about the music and the endless pursuit to find better ways to best enjoy that music.
I can only explain from my perspective, with my gear and with my knowledge base. I may not be the most knowledgeable, but I am the most knowledgeable that I’VE ever been in this hobby, and in time I will only learn and grow more. This is the hope for us all. As I always say, please read, listen to, or watch other reviewers with other perspectives. We all hear different, like different signatures and maybe have different gear so take that into account as well. I hope the best for all of you, please take care as best you can and thank you for reading.