I’ve had the opportunity to listen to the evolution of in-ear monitors from Rock Jaw Audio, known for mid-range headphones and earphones. My most recent pair dubbed “Clarito” are a solid next step.
The British firm is targeting frugal customers looking for a higher quality audio experience at a great price.
If that sounds like you, give these earbuds serious consideration.
Clarito Aesthetics & Fit
How your earbuds look is of much less importance than the sound they produce. But aesthetics are not without their place and Rock Jaw has produced monitors that look more expensive than they are.
The aluminum dark gray casing looks elegant and is more classy than the plain white or colored earbuds you’ll get out of the box with most devices. The bullet shaped design means the earbuds will protrude a little from your ears but not uncomfortably so.
The cord is a simple, black, and rubber coated, some what more indicative of the price. It looks good and feels nice but is otherwise unremarkable.
The design is nice, but not opulent, which is spot on for its intended market. If you want to look like you spent more on your earphones than you did, these will get you there.
The earbuds use interchangeable silicon tips which fit comfortably in your ears. Small, medium, and large sizes come in the package. I’ve found that the snug fit and design do a good job of blocking out most external sounds. Even while flying there is a noticeable reduction of ambient sound even when no music is playing.
Clarito are also comfortable to wear for long periods of time. I’ve worn them during several 1 – 1.5 hour walks and workouts without developing any soreness or fatigue in my ears.
As for working out, these earbuds are a good choice. They’re snug enough and light enough to stay in your ears during most activities including running. If you’re into particularly aggressive workouts or activities that are high-impact, theses monitors may not serve you as well as some specifically designed for those activities. But for the rest of us, they will perform just fine in most active scenarios.
Clarito Electronics & Construction
Inside the aluminum bodies the Clarito put to work 8mm drivers that resonate a frequency response between 20 – 20,000 Hz. The drivers and frequency response are inline with earbuds in this price range.
The 3.5mm jack extends at a right angle from the end of the cord eliminating some of the stress tat is often put on the cord when plugged in. The base of the jack is also covered in rubber and is reinforced where it connects with the cord.
Strongest in the bass-range, these monitors still deliver respectable mid-range and high-end audio. It is a solid audio experience across a variety of music, particularly for earbuds at this price point.
The lows are deep and rich across almost every musical genre I tested.
The highs were there but don’t get the same treatment as the bass range.
The mid-range is quite clear but also sounded a touch flat to me. While it wasn’t at all bad, it sounded a touch overlooked. That said, I wouldn’t consider that a detractor for these earbuds. Rock Jaw is still over-delivering on sound for the price.
While the earbuds remained reasonably clear across the sound spectrum, at volume they loose a little clarity. I found this particularly with music that has a lot going on by way of voices and instrumentation. If you want to keep the audio experience at its best with the Clarito, I’d keep the volume to an 8 or less.
If you love that amped up hyper-bass at volume experience, knock yourself out.
The Test Playlist
I tend to be a Rock guy but put the Clarito monitors through a variety of songs across musical genres to offer a sense of what you might expect depending on your preference in music.
I tested all songs playing through a MacBook Pro and iTunes to reflect what I believe will be a common experience for a lot of listeners. What follows are rough-notes form 15 songs, jotted down while listening.
Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey:
Since this song is pretty much universal loved I thought it would be a good place to start.
The piano bass is rich and full. Steve Perry’s voice is clear, though a pinch more high would be nice. Rhythm guitars sound a pinch flat but not bad. The bass line really stands out.
I can hear all of the individual instruments clearly.
Smooth Operator – Sade:
Again, the bass jumps out. Sade’s voice is very clear. The high/low separation is clearer on this song that some others. Harmony vocals also sound good and clear. The saxophone has classic raspy sax sound and is distinct in the mid-range.
Sade sounds great on these monitors.
El Tango De Roxanne – Moulin Rouge Original Motion Picture Sound Track:
The bass is rich and the opening violin is clear in the highs. The bass (or double bass) really fills your head with music. Vocals by Jose Feliciano get a little lost in the bass. You can hear him but the bass seems to over power him a bit.
Ewan’s early high notes sound clear and as the song builds and more instruments and voices overlay this is where the earbuds struggle a bit at volume. The clean separation gives way to less distinction of individual instruments and vocals. It’s not bad, but noticeable if you’re listening for it.
Rainbow In The Dark – DIO:
Classic metal sounds surprisingly good on these monitors. Ronnie’s voice jumps out and the guitars sound good. Bass still dominates a bit but not as much as with some of the other songs tested. Music of this era was mixed flatter than current music tends to be which is why it suits these earbuds so well.
The highs of the keyboards is also nice and clear.
No One Like You – Scorpions:
Guitar harmony right out if the gate is clear and distinct. Bass is rich and not as overpowering here. Klaus’ vocals sound amazing and the clean guitar part really sounds nice. More 80’s metal guitars sounding good here taking good advantage of the mid-range these earbuds produce. The guitar leads sound good too.
Just A Kiss – Lady Antebellum:
This song sounds particularly well balanced through the Clarito earbuds. Female and male vocals are well balanced and the harmony parts are clear. The bass is very present when it kick in but vocals still sound good. Other instruments seem to get overshadowed a bit.
Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood:
Lots of clean bass in this song. Carrie sounds good and overall vocals are clear and clean including the background vocals. Guitars blend a bit but are distinct in their solo parts and riffs. I’d like the hear the steel slide a little better but given the emphasis on bass this is inline with expectations.
Tonight I Want To Cry – Keith Urban:
Ballads seen to do especially well on these earbuds. His voice is full and clear. The strings are easy to hear without overpowering anything else or loosing clarity. Bass is still rich but a little less overpowering than on some other songs.
You Know My Name – Chris Cornell:
The full range of this song fills your ears through these headphones. Bass might be a little bit much here as it really overpowers other instruments. There are some subtleties in this song that get a little lost. Cornell’s voice still stands out well. The brass instruments definitely get knocked back a bit.
Bad Romance -Lady Gaga:
Lot’s of bass again, it’s clearly the strongest point for these earbuds. In this case the bass is a little too much and causes a pinch of distortion. Gaga sounds good and the subtle notes are still audible, though during the chorus the bass really takes over.
Bleed it Out – Linkin Park:
This song sounds like it might have been engineered on these earbuds. Everything is well balanced, vocals are clear, and instruments are present but not overpowering. Even the bass seems a little toned down on this one.
The Mission – Queensryche:
Acoustic guitars and Geoff Tate’s voice come through with great clarity. I love the way the bass in his voice sounds on these monitors. Guitars are well balanced in the mid-range. Harmony vocals are clear and crisp.
The lead guitars are also clean and crisp. All-in-all this is an excellent experience.
This song is from the album Operation:Mindcrime and is a great album to kick back and listen to through headphones, as if it was engineered with that intent While I would recommend doing so through the highest-end pair of headphones you can get your hands on, you won’t be disappointed with the experience with the Clarito earbuds. It’s quite notable that this album performs well through them.
Umbrella – Rhianna:
I love the bass on this song, the earbuds really bring it forward. Rhianna’s voice is upfront but the bass is keeping pace. The keyboards get a little lost but still play their part well. Harmony parts are easy to here but get a little lost at high volume. If you’re into R ‘n B or Hip-Hop you’ll love the Claritos.
Fleurs du mal – Sarah Brightman:
Sara’s voice will test any audio system so I was really looking forward to how this one would turn out.
The orchestral intro on the song plays well in the mid-range and is nice across the full dynamic range.
Sara’s voice sounds extremely clear and the notable bass in these monitors puts a nice underscore on her vocals. The subtlety of the music doesn’t get lost at all which was a bit of a surprise given then tendency of bass to dominate here.
The backing chorus sounds very good as well. Sara’s neo-classical music is a great fit for these earbuds.
Symphony 40 – Mozart, Conducted by Christopher Hogwood:
Strings are clear and crisp and the bass isn’t overwhelming, thought it’s present when things kick in. Getting through the first movement, which is rather dynamic in it’s range, these earbuds provide a nice listening experience for classical music.
Should I Buy Clarito from Rock Jaw
The short answer is yes. If you wan an attractive, well built, good sounding pair of in-ear monitors. Clarito will definitely up the game from the stock earbuds that came with your device.
I would give you a particularly strong “Yes” if you love emphasis on bass.
They’re also good for workouts, unless you’re doing something very high-impact or aggressive.
At this price the Clarito In-Ear Monitors from Rock Jaw are hard to beat.
You can get yours on the Rock Jaw website. At the time of this writing they were going for $31.55 USD (converted from GBP).