Editor’s Note: shotgunshane is a fan of Aurisonics and has been to their Nashville headquarters. Mr. T envisions a projectile trajectory with the Rockets. This a brief hive-mind amalgamation of their thoughts on these ‘Made in USA’ products.
Aurisonics was one of the first personal audio companies to run a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Boasting titanium housings milled from a high-end multi-axis lathe, nearly indestructible kevlar-reinforced cables with a gazillion pounds of pull strength, and IP65 waterproofing, the Rockets were built for durability and made to withstand both active and destructive people.
While I haven’t been quite the dark lord of destruction since elementary school when I completely dismantled my R/C car down to the coils of its motors, I was still a backer of the Aurisonics Rockets despite disliking the original ASG-1 quite a lot, mostly on account of shotgunshane‘s recommendation.
This happened back in December of 2013, when shotgunshane had the opportunity of stopping by the base of operations for Aurisonics in Music City USA — Nashville, Tennessee. Greeted by Dale Lott, founder and CEO of Aurisonics, where he was shown around the company and even more.
Dale, forward thinker and inventor at heart, was very excited to show me something new he had been working on — an early prototype of the Rockets. I remember his handing me something very, very small and shiny. The smile on his face absolutely dwarfed those little titanium shells; it was clear he was very excited about the Rockets and eager to hear my feedback. In fact, he had two tuning options he was considering and quickly turned them over to me, as well as the use of his desktop system. Of the two signatures I heard, I instantly preferred the prototype with the flatter, more neutral frequency response. The other was more bass boosted but both were essentially mid-centric and very smooth. Treble sparkled but never became fatiguing, even at unreasonably loud listening levels. I was more than impressed; in fact, I was floored. I turned to Dale and told him that this was the most impressive sound I’d heard out of Aurisonics to date and that I preferred it to both the ASG-1 and 2, as well as the Sennheiser IE800 that I recently auditioned.
With those words, and a little help from the internet, the Rockets ended up going live as a Kickstarter campaign on January 3, 2014, becoming the first enthusiast-oriented earphone product to turn to crowdfunding.
Kickstarter backers ended up getting to chose from options not available on the retail version. Those additional options mainly consisted of a black kevlar cable option and various TiN (Titanium Nitride) color coating options on the housings. Those options included gray, blue, gold and rainbow. Both SGS and I ended up choosing the gray TiN coating and black cable. The retail version only comes in standard water-honed titanium finish and white kevlar cable with red and blue fiber weavings to differentiate right and left.
Official delivery of the first sets of Rockets (albeit without microphone and controls) began in mid-July 2014. Those that chose the microphone option are still awaiting delivery, which as been delayed due to microphone development issues. February 2015 is the anticipated delivery date.
Instant Impressions (from shotgunshane)
Mid-centric. Better yet, vocal centric, with a rawness and edge. Polite, non-fatiguing but weighty treble with excellent timbre. I would prefer a bit more presence and sparkle but it works perfect with the overall signature. Excellent bass quantity- this is not your typical consumer bass heavy sig- rather it’s tight, textured and nimble. Bass texture is really great; no excessive decay. I’m hearing very good sub bass that starts it’s roll under 40 Hz.
The midrange is the show. Vocals are front and center with great intimacy. The vocalists are thrust upon you with grit and emotion. Backing vocals are more intelligible than ever before; similarly lifted and thrust forward. You can’t accuse the a Rockets of not being engaging.
Layering is superb. Vocals are lifted and presented on a platter before the feast. Drums are nicely separated from guitars. The head space is not dramatically wide but has great proportions. Most importantly it has fantastic height that is often missing in many well-performing IEMs. Depth is simply top-tier. Instrument timbre is very good, especially strings. Acoustic guitar is fantastic and drums, especially the kicks, are pretty spectacular. Guitars are big and bold.
These things are seriously tiny. The cable might just be the best stock cable I’ve ever seen. I feel like it would come in handy for MacGyver. Over-the-ear wear mostly eliminates microphonics but the cable does stick out from the ears a bit.
Instant Impressions (from Mr. T)
My first thoughts of the Rockets’ sound were of amazement at how smooth-sounding they were. Clarity-oriented dynamic driver earphones usually contain a lot of treble peaks that contribute to harshness and ear fatigue, but the Rockets seemed just to sing without surprises. Perhaps there are indeed a few errant peaks here and there, but they definitely didn’t stand out to me. The Rockets are also not as sensitive as should be anticipated, but are still easily driveable from an iPhone 6, and seem to scale to their source.
This kind of “do no wrong” neutral signature is perfect for long listening sessions — the bass is never overwhelming, and the treble is smooth and relaxing, but never out of the picture. This type of sound personality is ideal for exercisers that forget how loud they’re listening to music at the gym (though it’s still highly advisable that you try to listen to music as softly as possible), or people who need to read and study for hours at a time.
If there were a clear weakness to the Rockets’ sound, it would be that the $249 (at retail) IEMs aren’t quite as revealing as much higher-priced earphone models that I’m used to hearing, including its own bigger brother the ASG-2.5. However, it strikes a good balance between in-the-zone smoothness and distracting, obsessive-compulsive detail.
In some ways, if we go by the sound, despite the silicone tri-tabs creating the illusion of a rocketship-like exterior, these earphones aren’t “rockets” at all — they’re too smooth to be so. Astronauts often report how incredibly violent the launch experience is, with shaking and vibrations abound. It’s only when the booster stages have finished and the spacecraft enters orbit that all is calm and Earth is a marbled bauble of ocean, land, and clouds.
To me, the Rockets have already taken off. Kickstarter was the launchpad for Aurisonics — we’re just here for the zero-G orbit.