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The best album of the Philadelphia band’s deep and underappreciated catalog dares to ask what comes after indie rock.
For Strange Ranger, indie rock isn’t just a genre; it’s an actual lifestyle, the prism through which every aspect of adulthood can be projected and understood. The 2016 album Rot Forever, by an earlier incarnation of the band, started its 72 minutes of Up Records fanfic with the line “She played rock guitar” and peaked with “Won’t you come see Pile with me?” Going by the name Sioux Falls at the time, core members Isaac Eiger and Fred Nixon were kids in Bozeman, Montana, who were prone to let one or two ideas stretch out for six minutes because that’s what their heroes Built to Spill and Modest Mouse would do. They moved to Portland for the followup, Daymoon, and it felt like a higher education, going deeper into the Pac NW canon and local scene politics (key song: “House Show”). They’re now in Philadelphia, and Remembering the Rockets is everything one might expect from…

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Rock Jaw T5 Ultraconnect Review


We test and rate Rock Jaw’s first Bluetooth earbuds, the T5 Ultraconnect

Should I Buy The Rock Jaw T5 Ultraconnect?
With interchangeable filters for the ideal sound and decent battery life, the T5 Ultraconnect is a pair of Bluetooth earbuds that won’t break the bank.

Price When Reviewed
  • $97.14
So-called ‘True Wireless’ earbuds are very fashionable at the moment, but Rock Jaw’s focus on sound quality and customer satisfaction has led it to develop a more traditional form of wireless headphones.

This means there’s a wire between the two earbuds on the T5 Ultraconnect, but the advantages of such a design include a battery life of around 11 hours, and simple volume and playback controls.

Price & Availability
You can buy the T5 Ultraconnect from Amazon for £74.95. In the US, you can get them from Amazon for $99.99 and it works out at about 85 € from Rock Jaw's website.

UK pricing is competitive, undercutting such rivals as RHA’s MA650 Wireless which cost £99.  

You can find more alternatives in our roundup of the best wireless headphones.

Features & Design
The Ultraconnect name comes from the fact that the T5 isn’t like the cheap Bluetooth headphones you often find. No. Here we have Bluetooth 5.0 which means better range and a more reliable connection, though obviously this only works if you have a phone – or other device – which also has Bluetooth 5.0.

Version 5 doesn’t mean better sound quality than Bluetooth 4.2, but that’s okay because the T5 Ultraconnect supports aptX and AAC, both of which are better than the worse-sounding SBC codec.

Again, you’ll need support for one or other of these in your phone in order to get this better-quality transmission. But, put simply you’ll get AAC if you have an iPhone, and plenty of Android phones support aptX.

Rock Jaw claims a range of 12m which is far less than the 240m over which Bluetooth 5 can theoretically operate. But given that you’re likely to have your phone nearby this isn’t something to quibble over.

Design-wise, things are kept simple: there’s a standard-looking rubber-coated cable and two housings placed equidistant from the centre. One includes three membrane buttons for controlling volume and music playback as well as answering / ending phone calls. And a long press will call up the assistant on your phone.
They’re not exactly good looking, but the rubber coating means they’re resistant to sweat and light rain, so you can exercise, even in drizzle, without damaging them.

Just above this is the only asymmetrical component: a MEMS microphone which is housed in a brushed aluminium sleeve and is a helpful visual aid that tells you the earbud next to it is the right one, not the left.

If we’ve one complaint it’s that there isn’t quite enough wire between the earbuds and housings which means you can feel their weight does pulling on the buds when walking or jogging.

However, there’s a good selection of silicone tips and our preferred Comply foam tips in the box. Take the time to find the one which best fits your ear canals – they may not be the same size, don’t forget – and you shouldn’t have any problems.

We favour the Comply tips because they expand to fill the space and create a tighter seal, just like foam earplugs. Obviously this means they stay in place, but the better seal also vastly improves bass and isolates external sounds.

The buds themselves are machined from aluminium and look the part. Magnets hold the backs of the buds together when they’re not in your ears, which stops them flying around or falling off entirely.

Drivers & Filters
Inside each is a CCAW voice coil and a titanium coated diaphragm. While neither of these are uncommon components to find, it’s the first time Rock Jaw has designed its own drivers and it’s  great to have them along with aptX and AAX support at this price.

Combine these with Rock Jaw’s now-familiar tuning filters and you can expect excellent sound quality. If the T5 Ultraconnect will be your first experience of Rock Jaw, you’ll be quite amazed at how much the filters change the sound.

Out of the box the gold filters are fitted and give a natural, balanced sound. However, if you prefer extra bass, unscrew those and attach the silver ones. Similarly, if you want to boost high frequencies, screw on the black filters.

Performance
When you pair, turn on and turn off the T5 you’ll hear a British English voice. That sounds like an irrelevant detail, but it’s nice to be able to understand what’s being said (unlike some of the Bluetooth headphones we test). It’s also in keeping with the fact that Rock Jaw is a small, family-run British company.

Onto the all-important sound quality, and we’ve only the highest praise here. As mentioned, you’ll only get the best quality once you’ve found the best-fitting tips, but when you do, expect to hear fantastic detail.

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The natural filters do exactly what Rock Jaw says, offering a flat, balanced response where neither lows nor height are accentuated.

We preferred the bass filters which produced stunning, tight lows without compromising the other frequencies. Basslines are well defined, as are kick drums. Plus, you’ll hear sub-bass in tracks you’ve probably never heard before if you’re coming from the earbuds which were bundled with your phone.

Vocals remain crisp and clear thanks to those CCAW voice coils, and there’s clear separation between instruments. Again, if you’re used to cheaper or bundled headphones, you’ll be able to hear details which were previously inaudible, such is the clarity from the T5. Details such as a plectrum picking individual guitar strings, or the sound of a piano’s keys hitting the felt pads – it’s a little like someone giving you a pair of glasses you never knew you needed.

Verdict
Whatever genre of music you prefer, the T5 Ultraconnect will make it sound great. And the tuning filters mean you can alter the sound to suit your preference without having to resort to your phone’s EQ settings.

With decent battery life and support for AAC and aptX, it’s easy to recommend these wireless headphones at this price.

Specs
  • Drivers: Titanium-coated diaphragm & CCAW voice coil
  • Chipset: aptX & AAC
  • (IPX) Water Resistance: IPX5 - Sweatproof & water resistant, in the gym or outside
  • Playtime of battery: 11+ Hours
  • Filters: 3x Interchangeable tuning filters
  • Range/unobstructed: 12M
  • Compatibility: iOS / Android / Windows
  • Impedance: 24 ohms (+/-15%) @1KHz
  • MIC. Yes. MEMS professional microphone
  • Sensitivity: 102dB (+/-2dB) @1KHz, 1mW
  • Frequency response: 15 – 25,000Hz
  • Connects via: USB Type C (charging cable)
  • Ear tips included: Comply Foam (S/M/L) | silicone (S/M/L) | (M) Bi - Flange

View my Flipboard Magazine.

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