Skip to main content

RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X Review

Last updated: 2 months ago
8 min read
Editor
rating
4.1
RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X IEMs and the case

RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X are high-end in-ear monitors with a gorgeous design and detailed sound that will force you to relisten your entire music catalog. However, they only sound amazing 95% of the time.

Summary

  • Linsoul’s RAPTGO is a relatively new Chinese brand from 2019 focusing on high-end audio gear.
  • Their HOOK x HBB edition (calling them HOOK-X throughout the review) are an upgrade over the original HOOK-X, made in collaboration with an audiophile reviewer called Hawaiian Bad Boy (HBB).
  • These IEMs are an engineering marvel, showcasing an open-back design and interchangeable connectors.
  • The metal construction gives them a premium feel, with an excellent braided cable for extra durability.
  • The IEMs have a planar magnetic and piezoelectric driver “under the hood” for natural, hi-res sound.
  • However, while they sound enchanting, they can also throw you off with their treble. More on that later.

Are RAPTGO HOOK-X worth their price of around $240, or should you save your money?

Learn all the details in the full review below.

HeadphonesAddict is user supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

  • Natural, controlled, and detailed sound
  • Easy to drive even from a smartphone or laptop
  • Replaceable cable with different connectors
  • Made from high-quality build materials
  • Comfortable & stable for everyday listening
  • Great passive noise isolation for an open-back design
  • Occasional sizzling treble (only on cymbal-intense tracks)
  • No built-in mic or controls in the cable
Editor
rating
4.1
By HeadphonesAddict
User
ratings
3.7
User Ratings: 6
Our rating
  • Star Rating
    4.5
  • Star Rating
    4.5
  • Star Rating
    4.0
  • Star Rating
    3.5
  • Star Rating
    4.0
  • Star Rating
    4.0
User rating
  • 2.8
  • 2.8
  • 4.0
  • 4.0
  • 4.0
  • 4.5
RATE THIS MODEL
CONTENTS (show more)

    Sound

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X have an impressively dynamic and natural sound that requires an amp to show its potential. However, you can hear an occasional sizzle in the treble, which prevents me from giving them a full score.

    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X Sound Comparison

    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    There’s no denying that RAPTGO HOOK-X sound fantastic. IEMs play well with most music genres, delivering detail, control, and dynamics.

    And that’s despite their slightly V-shaped sound signature and some boost between 5kHz and 9kHz.

    The in-ear monitors use unique hybrid drivers (planar magnet and piezoelectric driver), the latter taking care of higher frequencies.

    However, that piezo, while responsible for good resolution, is also the reason why I can’t recommend these IEMs to everyone. But let’s dive into more details.

    Bass: Boosted but very well controlled

    Planar magnetic drivers are known for their impressive control, especially in the low end. The one in the HOOK-X is no exception.

    Despite IEMs having a boost of around 7dB above neutral, you can distinctly hear all nuances and bass guitar plucks.

    Granted, this 14.2mm planar magnetic driver can’t recreate a more natural thump of the regular dynamic driver. But I happily trade control and detail for that.

    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X Frequency Response

    RAPTGO Hook-X measurement
    Using the included white ear tips (red line) results in a slight but audible boost from 5kHz and above.

    Midrange: Warm and natural

    Despite a slight recession in the mids, the upper part lifts up the instruments and vocals, so it doesn’t feel quieter.

    Due to excellent dynamics (the difference between the quietest and the loudest parts of a song), it’s actually quite the opposite. I have never heard snare drums hitting so loud.

    There are plenty of details to be found here, forcing you to revisit your playlists and listen to new tiny sounds in the music.

    It’s worth noting that vocals are sometimes on the edge of becoming sibilant, but they usually don’t cross that line. I’ve noticed some sibilance in the “Face It Alone” by Queen, or when playing video games, even at moderate volumes.

    It’s worth noting that due to the boost between 5kHz and 9kHz, the louder you try to play them, the harsher they get.

    Treble: Detailed and well-textured, but that naughty sizzle…

    In terms of clarity and resolution, treble is quite impressive. Playing music at normal volumes reveals many small details and textures in the instruments like strings and cymbals.

    There’s a good amount of air, too, although you have to make sure not to push them too deep into your ears to get the best treble extension.

    But let’s discuss the elephant in the room: the sizzle. Cymbals sometimes make the same noise as frying a steak. The good thing is that it only happens when listening to cymbal-intense music.

    For example, the death metal song “Atoma” by Dark Tranquility, with a lot of cymbal bashing (as with most metal music), can reveal the sizzle quite quickly.

    Thankfully, most other genres aren’t affected. For example, pop listeners are safe from the sizzle.

    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X 2-pin connector
    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X use 2-pin jacks to connect the buds.

    Moving to the soundstage, it’s wide for an IEM but not as much as you might expect from an open-back design. Still, Ambiental tracks like “Marooned” by Pink Floyd sound beautiful on these.

    On the other hand, the imaging is spot on, with zero blurriness between the center and left/right channels.

    RAPTGO HOOK-X are an excellent upgrade for a beginner audiophile looking to experience more out of their music as long as they don’t listen to metal.

    Overall, you’re getting a detailed sound performance that can easily beat most earbuds at this price.

    However, I still find their wireless competitor, Sony WF-1000XM4, overall more enjoyable due to more forgiving treble and upper mids.

    Do ear tips make a difference?

    RAPTGO HOOK-X (at least the HBB version) come with 6 pairs of ear tips; half are white, and the other half are dark grey. They’re visually and physically different, so they output a different frequency response.

    RAPTGO Hook-X insertion depth measurement
    The deeper you push the ear tips, the more you boost the 3-6kHz and lower the higher-treble region.

    As seen from the graph, white ear tips make the sound slightly brighter in the treble region, which makes it harsher.

    Consequently, you should use grey ear tips as they produce the best sound.

    I also did some tests with foam and some third-party ear tips, but they all made the sound brighter.

    Does their sound improve with an amplifier?

    There’s a smidge more control in the bass and a hair-sharper treble response when using an amp (I’m using AudioQuest DragonFly Red, which is also a DAC (digital-to-analog converter). Still, you only notice a difference after extensive A/B testing.

    RAPTGO Hook-X (amp vs laptop vs phone)
    The graph shows no differences in frequency response between a laptop, a USB-C dongle, and an amp/DAC.

    Frequency response stays unchanged no matter what source you use. I tested RAPTGO HOOK-X using the amp/DAC, a laptop AUX output, and a Samsung AUX dongle. All of them show the same results.

    The only difference is in the loudness of the output. In comparison, 8% volume on the DragonFly Red amp was as loud as 34% via laptop AUX and 70% via Samsung AUX dongle.

    Comfort & Fit

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    RAPTGO HOOK-X can stay comfortable for hours on end due to their ergonomic shape and over-the-ear cables that distribute the weight over the entire ear. But the tips could be more “grippy” to receive a full score.

    I had no issues using RAPTGO HOOK-X for 2 hours straight without experiencing noticeable fatigue.

    The simple, ergonomic design truly helps ensure long-lasting comfort. There are no weird, unnecessary curves to better contour to the human ear like with CCA LYRA since not all ears are the same.

    What about silicone ear tips?

    You get 2 kinds in the packaging: white stiffer ones and grey softer ones.

    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X ear tips
    Ear tips come in a plastic box, which seems a bit wasteful.

    Both types provide equal comfort, although I recommend using grey ones for sound quality reasons.

    Thankfully, ear tips don’t produce any pressure inside your ear canal. Possibly due to the open-back design, which ensures unrestricted airflow.

    Another thing that helps is the over-the-ear cable design. The latter helps distribute the weight of the metal earbuds throughout your ear lobe.

    That cable design also plays a role in providing better stability. Even though you probably won’t use these IEMs for exercising.

    Still, it ensures the HOOK-X don’t fly off your head when you turn it around or while walking.

    A minor grime is that when you’re sitting, the cable can push on IEMs a little, causing them to lose a little bit of seal. But that’s the issue with all wired earbuds.

    Durability

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    RAPTGO HOOK-X have a premium build quality with metal construction on the buds and all connectors, while the cable is braided with thick fabric. However, the open-back is exposed to outside elements.

    These IEMs are built incredibly well. Apart from cable, everything else feels cold to the touch due to the metal materials used for construction.

    Housing is made of 2 parts; one is solid metal while the other is a metal grill (I assume), getting you a glimpse of the planar driver behind.

    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X open back
    A metal mesh showing a little bit of what’s inside the HOOK-X.

    While that looks cool, it’s also one of the potential weak points if you plan to use the HOOK-X outdoors. Any rain droplet could easily sneak inside, causing permanent damage.

    Moving to the cable, it also feels built like a tank, with metal connectors on both ends and thick, braided wire.

    However, you can also see potential weak points like the 2-pin connectors, which might bend if you put too much strain on the cable.

    Another are the interchangeable AUX connectors. My advice is to avoid constantly switching between different connectors to prevent bending the pins or overly scratching the surface of the pins. That could result in static noise.

    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X IEMs
    So that the HOOK-X don’t get damaged during transport, they come with a hard-shell carrying case.

    Also, the connectors on both sides have no strain relief. You shouldn’t bend them too much to avoid breaking the wires inside.

    Thankfully, you get a hard-shell carrying case inside the box to always protect your IEMs.

    Features

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    RAPTGO HOOK-X offer interchangeable AUX connectors on one side and a 2-pin connection on the other. However, you don’t get an inline mic or controls.

    The more you pay for something, the more you expect to get great build quality and additional features to play with.

    While RAPTGO HOOK-X don’t have active noise cancellation or ambient sound modes of wireless siblings, they come with goodies that many audiophiles love.

    On top of replaceable cables with popular 2-pin connectors, the most crucial feature is an interchangeable connector cable with different end connectors.

    You get 3 different types: standard unbalanced 3.5mm, and unbalanced 2.5mm, and 4.4mm.

    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X connectors
    A set of balanced and unbalanced connectors and a proprietary 4-pin plug on the cable.

    Balanced connections are used to eliminate any rogue noise that ends up in the cable and could interfere with the listening experience.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have the equipment to test if there’s any difference between a balanced and unbalanced connection on RAPTGO HOOK-X. Still, I know some people swear by using balanced cables.

    This is where HOOK-X’s feature set ends, as the cable lacks a built-in module with a mic or controls.

    Since the instruction manual implies using these earbuds with a smartphone, I would expect them to have a control module.

    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X cable color
    The cable is thick and braided with black-blue fabric for extra durability.

    Noise Isolation

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    RAPTGO HOOK-X have a surprisingly strong passive noise isolation, despite their distinct open-back design that consequently leaks more music than regular earbuds.

    What most open-back headphones have in common is poor passive noise isolation.

    However, RAPTGO HOOK-X somehow managed to block outside noise more efficiently than most earbuds I’ve tested.

    They block a similar amount of ambient noise as Edifier W240TN or Sony WF-1000XM4, both excellent earbuds for passive isolation, with Sony even using foam ear tips.

    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X in the bush
    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X are nice to look at and even nicer to listen to.

    Of course, even excellent passive noise isolation isn’t a substitute for ANC, so you still need to play some music to mask the background noise fully.

    How severe is sound leakage?

    RAPTGO HOOK-X leak slightly more than average earbuds, but less than you might think. Unless you’re in a quiet library with people in the vicinity, you shouldn’t bother anyone with your music.

    Is there any cable noise?

    The cable noise on the HOOK-X is very minimal, which is surprising given the braided cable that usually amplifies the vibrations.

    Of course, when you’re using them behind the desk, you can hear a little bit of cable scratching.

    But during outdoor walking, the microphonics are equally as loud as with some wireless earbuds (hearing earbuds scratching your ears when they bounce in your ears).

    Should You Get RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X?

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    If you’re looking for an upgrade over in-ear monitors under $100, these will reveal new details in your music.

    And since they sound equally as good with amps, smartphones, and laptops, anyone can experience their full potential at no extra cost.

    However, they’re more geared for home listening, maybe commuting. But definitely not for working out or running.

    RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X Alternatives

    KZ AS16 Pro

    KZ AS16 Pro IEMs

    AS16 Pro use 8 balanced armature driver assembly in each earbud to deliver very controlled, detailed audio quality. Of course, they aren’t as detailed as the Hook-X

    IEMs deliver impactful sub-bass response, slightly recessed mids, and smooth, rolled-off treble.

    They, too, use a 2-pin connection for the buds and over-the-ear wearing style. IEMs are even larger than the Hook but equally comfortable.

    If you can get them for under $80, they represent an excellent value.

    KZ AS16 Pro review

    Shure SE535

    Shure SE535 wired IEMs

    The SE535 are an upgrade over the HOOK-X in terms of overall sound performance. They use multiple BA drivers to achieve incredibly detailed audio that reveals mistakes in your music.

    Furthermore, they also use a removable cable but with MMCX connectors. Buds are smaller and comfier to wear.

    Due to impressive passive noise isolation, they’re great monitors for musicians on stage.

    Shure SE535 review

    Sony WF-1000XM4

    Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds with case

    Our pick for the best true wireless earbuds on the market isn’t as pin-sharp as the HOOK-X, but their tuning is more balanced, smoother, and, therefore, more enjoyable.

    They work on batteries which keep them alive for around 7 hours per charge. Also, you get impressive active noise cancellation and transparency mode, which HOOK-X lack.

    RAPTGO also lack Sony’s sweat resistance and touch controls and the practicality of using wireless earbuds instead of wires.

    Sony WF-1000XM4 review

    What’s in the Box?

    RAPTGO Hook-X accessories
    • RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X wired earbuds
    • 6 pairs of silicone ear tips (2xS, 2xM, 2xL)
    • 3 cable adapters (3.5mm, 2.5mm, 4.4mm)
    • Hard-shell carrying case
    • User manual

    Specifications

    Type: In-ear monitors
    Connection: Wired 3.5mm & 2.5mm & 4.4mm
    Back design: Open-back
    Drivers: 14.2mm planar magnetic & piezoelectric driver
    Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz
    Impedance: 15 Ohm
    Weight:
    Mic & Controls: No
    Water resistance: None
    Battery life: /
    Charging time: /
    Active noise cancelling: No
    Bluetooth codecs: /
    Wireless range: /
    Microphone: None

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *