Rose Mini 2 Review – Sub $100 Reference Standard

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Comparisons –

Shure SE215: The SE215 is an important benchmark around this price if due to popularity rather than outright sonic performance. The Shure’s are easily one of the best fitting, most isolating earphones around this price point and above it, the Kinera and TFZ earphones though fine earphones in their own rights, fail to challenge Shure’s on stability or noise attenuation. That being said, the Shure’s are a little long and a little tubby so they aren’t perfectly comfortable like the Mini 2, they trade perfect long term comfort for some additional isolation and stability. Both feature a removable MMCX cable though the cable included with the SE215’s a bit cumbersome due to its length and weight. Sonically, the Shures offer a pleasantly warm, laid-back listen though they lack some technicality and balance when compared to more modern earphones offered at the same price. The Mini 2’s have a much tighter and more balanced bass response while the Shure’s offer considerably more bass fullness at the cost of moderate bloat and a considerable loss of both texture and bass definition. Mids are pretty smooth on the Shure’s and more natural than the King’s and H3’s though upper mids are a pretty distant and have some veil. Similarly, lower mids are quite thick and lacking a little clarity, they are clearly don’t possess the transparency, balance and layering that the Mini 2 is able to produce. Highs tell a similar story, the SE215 has a little extra lower treble which grants guitars and strings with some added clarity and crispness but they do have a notable roll off after that which saps them of the air and detailing of the Mini 2. Otherwise, treble notes are nicely bodied and decently textured, lower treble detailing is commendable and quite natural though they fall off quite notably after that. The Mini 2 is simply cleaner and crisper with much better detail retrieval. The SE215 isn’t a terrible earphone, but there are many alternatives like the Klipsch X10/11/12 that can often be found at the same price, offer a more comfortable fit and pursue the same kind of sound but pull it off a lot better.

Kinera H3 ($99): The H3 is a comfortable and stable earphone with good but not great isolation due to their vented nature. That being said, they can’t best the Mini 2 on fit simply due to their size. Both have excellent removable cables utilizing the MMCX interface. The H3 has a V-shaped sound with somewhat scooped lower mids and quite a moderate amount of treble aggression enhancing their higher level of retrieval. The Mini 2 is considerably leaner within the low-frequency department but also faster and a lot tighter. The H3 has a notable sub and mid-bass emphasis that grants it with a lot of fullness without sacrificing too much bass detail. The H3 has a more natural midrange than the King though the Mini 2 is more realistic yet and quite a bit smoother. Both have similar clarity though the Mini 2 is noticeably more linear throughout their midrange with more consistent vocal tone and placement. The H3 has a treble spike that bothers some but not myself while the Mini 2 pursues a more neutral response.

TFZ King ($99): The King is a nicely constructed earphone whose semi metal build does feel more solid than the acrylic Mini 2. Both were also comfortable to my ear, but the larger King never disappears like the Mini 2. The Mini 2 achieves a deeper fit but isolates similarly due to its smaller housings, the King protrudes a lot from the ear and has some stability issues due to its weight and size. In addition, the King has a very stiff cable that is a far cry from the supple SPC Rose unit. When it comes to sound, the King is another earphone that many complimented on its balance however, the Mini 2 takes this to another level. The King has a noticeably deeper, fuller bass response though the Mini 2 is a bit faster and has an advantage on texturing. The Mini 2 is immediately more natural within their midrange though the King has considerably more space and clearer layering. The King also boasts more clarity with increased resolution at the cost of sounding a bit artificial and over-forward. The King has a very clear treble response with a middle treble boost where the Mini 2 is more neutral and linear. While the King is more aggressive, the Mini 2 retrieves more detail and presents it in a more natural manner. I still stand by my recommendation of the King for clarity lovers but the Mini 2 very much replaces it for balance and neutrality.

Pinnacle P1 ($200): Both earphones are very comfortable, but the P1 lends itself both to over ear and cable down wear. The Pinnacles isolates slightly more on account of their larger, metal housings, they also feel far more solid in the hand. Both have removable MMCX cables and both are excellent. The Pinnacle P1 is more v-shaped with extra midbass fullness and a notably more aggressive treble response. The P1 has more bass texture but lacks the definition and linearity of the Mini 2, both lack some sub-bass extension, the P1 to a lesser extent. Mids are more recessed on the P1, especially lower mids, but clarity and layering are great and resolution is improved over the Mini 2. Treble on the P1 is a bit spiked but still more even than the $100 Chifi iems. As such, they are very detail forward but also retrieve a lot of the smaller nuances that earphones like the King skip over. The Mini 2 is more natural than the P1 and more even in the highs though the P1 still manages to be more detailed and airy. Most notably, the P1 has a very large soundstage that the Mini 2 can’t match which really aids with layering, separation and general immersion though the Mini 2 doesn’t really struggle in those regards. Despite costing half as much, the Mini 2 does actually hold numerous advantages over the P1 simply due to its excellent balance and neutrality. The Mini 2 actually has more deep bass definition, more consistent midrange presence and a more natural treble response though the Pinnacle P1 is a very well-considered v-shaped earphone that is still relatively balanced and has plenty of technicality on top.

New Primacy ($300): The New Primacy is one of my favourite earphones due to its brilliant balance between sonic finesse and ergonomic excellence. While I can’t say they’re more comfortable than the Mini 2, both disappear and can be worn all day without discomfort. Both also provide excellent noise isolation though the New Primacy actually has a lower profile fit that makes it easier to sleep on. And as much as I love the look of the Mini 2, the matte black, all aluminium New Primacy is just as striking to look at and ever more solid. Both have a removable cable and both are a bit rubbery, I personally prefer the Rose cable though the Oriveti unit is transparent enough and has a more pocket-friendly right angle plug. The New Primacy actually sounds quite comparable to the Mini 2, both are very balanced earphones though the New Primacy has a few deviations that imbue it with some extra engagement and they are just as coherent sounding despite their driver setup. Starting from bottom to top, the NP has a more robust bass response though one that is also very well balanced with mids and highs. Sub-bass extension isn’t fabulous, but they are very tight with nice rumble and slam when called for, the New Primacy also has really great bass definition that bests the armature based Mini 2. Mids are also quite similar, both are slightly brighter with a fuller tone to vocals and both are very natural though the New Primacy has slightly more clarity and better resolution/layering. The New Primacy’s upper midrange smoothly feeds into treble like the Mini 2 though the New Primacy has a little bump in the lower treble that makes them more detail forward, balancing out the smoothness where the Mini 2 can sound slightly too laid-back at times. Extension and air are similar on both, neither are particularly outstanding in this regard, but the NP does have noticeably more detail and a more spacious soundstage. The Mini 2 sounds almost like a scaled down New Primacy making the Oriveti a logical upgrade in addition to Rose’s own BR5 MKII that goes for the same price.

BR5 MkII ($300): The BR5 MKII is much larger earphone though one that actually achieves a deeper, more isolating fit. I actually prefer the build on the Mini 2, the BR5 MKII has an area of hollowness behind the drivers in addition to some haze of the transparent elements. Comfort easily goes to the Mini 2 simply on account of their smaller size and more orthodox fit depth. Sonically, both clearly carry the same Rose house sound, both are very balanced, almost neutral with more reserved bass and a focus on midrange elements, specifically upper mids. However, there are some notable differences akin to the difference between the RE-400 and RE-600, the BR5 MKII is slightly more mid-forward and notably brighter. It is also a considerably more aggressive earphone with much more high-frequency energy. The BR5 MKII has a faster bass response with a lot more definition though the Mini 2 has a little extra fullness. Mids are gorgeous on both though the BR5 MKII once again takes the cake with added resolution and considerably more detail. That being said, I actually preferred the more balanced tone of the Mini 2 as opposed to the more forward BR5 MKII. Treble is similar, the BR5 MKII is both more detailed and more detail forward, it also has better extension and air. Soundstage also goes to the BR5 MKII which possesses appreciably more width and outstanding depth. Unsurprisingly, the BR5 MKII is a relatively natural progression of the Mini II with increased technicality throughout though their tuning is subjectively less accessible than the more neutral Mini 2 unlike the New Primacy.

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About Author

Avid writer, passionate photographer and full-time student, Ryan's audio origins and enduring interests lie within all aspects of portable audio. An ongoing desire to bring quality audio to the regular reader underpins his reviewer ethos as he seeks to bring a new perspective on the cutting edge and budget dredge alike.

24 Comments

  1. Ivo001 on

    Wondering how these compare to Ibasso IT01. Similarly priced.

    • Ryan Soo on

      I found the IT01 to be considerably more V-shaped. It has better sub-bass extension and a fair deal more emphasis. The IT01 is more aggressive with greater clarity and a brighter signature, while the Mini 2 is more balanced and linear, retrieving greater micro-detail. The IT01 is also a fairly small in-ear, both are comfy and isolate well. Different kinds of sound, it depends if you’re looking for something more balanced (Mini 2) or more engaging (IT01).

  2. DJ Peeti-V on

    Quick tip after some use with the Mini 2: If you want more isolation but do not want to use foam tips, use Shure Triple Flange tips. The Shures provided more isolation than any of the tips that were shipped with the Mini 2.

  3. YWYW on

    The Mini2 does ship to Singapore from PenonAudio, ‘tho not for sub-$100. Will give it a shot.

    Thanks for the timely advice. I was close to ordering the F9 Pro, but since none of the personal monitor mixers I’ve used have precise EQ, they would have been a nightmare to EQ!

  4. YWYW on

    Hi Ryan, thanks for the review. Unfortunately the Mini2 doesn’t ship to Singapore. Any alternatives at around the same price range?

    Currently I’m using the RE-400. Was using the M6 Pro before it broke. Looking to upgrade for:
    – better isolation (for public transport)
    – more articulate highs
    – tighter and punchier lows for faster genres like prog metal
    – decent separation for live on-stage monitoring

    Would like something fairly balanced like the RE-400, but doesn’t have to be reference. Would the Fiio F9 be suitable?

    Thanks!

    • Ryan Soo on

      Hi YWYW, I don’t feel the F9 is the most balanced in-ear on the market, it is definitely skewed bright. However, if you’re comfortable using eQ, it may be what you’re looking for.

      It has pretty tight bass with the balanced tips, great clarity and separation combined with great resolution and treble air for the price.

      That said, isolation is pretty mediocre and definitely lower than what the RE-400 is capable of though it does have more low-end which may balance it out in louder environments.

      Regarding the Mini 2, perhaps you can try Penonaudio, they are quite flexible with international shipping.

      Cheers,
      Ryan.

  5. Jay on

    Hi Ryan, long time fan.
    I recently lost my Kinera H3, which were a tad too V-shaped for me. Previously i was rocking some gr07 that I loved but build quality made me want to stay away from Vsonic for good.
    Would the Minis be a good next step? I’m kinda afraid of BAs, I’m currently using some Meelec A151s and I find myself missing my old iems quite a bit.

    Thank you for all your work !

    • Ryan Soo on

      Thank you Jay!

      The Mini 2 is in the same ballpark as the GR07 in tuning but, due to its size and use of BA drivers, it does not possess the same bass extension and rumble. That said, it is still a natural sounding earphone and isn’t lacking body as some other neutrally-orientated BA in-ears can since it does have a slightly warmer bass response. Be sure to purchase them from a seller like Penon Audio for warranty as Rose has had some QC issues in the past. I do love how they fit and sound but this is something I have to let people know. Let me know if you have any other questions and hope you have a happy holiday!

  6. Shawn on

    Hey Ryan,

    How would these compare to the Etymotic HF5? Would you say Etymotic is still the best choice if isolation is an important factor?

    • Ryan Soo on

      Hey Shawn, from memory, the HF5’s do isolate a bit more, but the Mini 2 will isolate very well with foam ear tips or triple flanges. I feel the Rose is slightly warmer down low and a little more laid-back up top though it is hardly a bass-heavy earphone.

  7. DJ Peeti-V on

    How would you compare these to the TDK BA 200s?

    • Ryan Soo on

      Sorry DJ, I haven’t heard the TDK’s.

  8. Austin Lau on

    I bought the Mini 2 a week or so ago after reading this review and I agree wholeheartedly with your impressions. It’s an incredible IEM and the balance is simply astounding – especially compared to the TFZ Exclusive 5’s that I purchased in a similar fashion. Thanks for the review!

    • Ryan Soo on

      Thanks for your feedback Austin, glad you’re enjoying them and that Rose are getting some attention!

  9. Gaston on

    Hola Ryan, gracias por las actualizaciones tan buenas que hace, es un placer leerlo. Me gusta el Mini2 (tengo un Hifiman RE400 muriendo por el cable, pero que puedo decirme de los nuevos Ibasso it01, mismo precio, y el Brainwavz
    B400, un poco mas caro pero con 4 conductores, Gracias y un saludo.

    • Gaston on

      Hola Ryan veo que no ha contestado seguramente esta muy ocupado ,queria preguntarte sobre el
      Jay-Q-Jay,muchomas caro contra el Rose Mini 2 que parece tu favorito .Gracias un Saludo.

      • Ryan Soo on

        Hi Gaston,

        Apologies for my delayed response, I haven’t heard the Jay-Q-Jay or IT01 unfortunately, but the Mini 2 is pretty comparable to the RE-400 in balance and quality. It is perhaps sligthly more bassy and less dynamic as it uses armature drivers but the removable cable should ensure better longevity.

        Cheers,
        Ryan.

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  11. Kamil Raja on

    Hey Ryan I wanted to ask how do these compare to the westone w20/w2, audio technica im02 or gr07? my westones just died so i was wondering if these are a good replacement. Thank you so much for review, it really came in handy since i’m looking for a new pair of iems

  12. William on

    How do these compare against the GR07? My ones finally broke and I’m looking for alternates or even sonic upgrades. Anything that comes to your mind as a recommendation would be helpful as well!

  13. Daniel Rodrigues on

    Hi!

    Thanks for the review!

    Can you compare them to the RE-400’s?

    Thanks

    • Ryan Soo on

      Pretty similar balance and style of tuning, the RE-400 is a dynamic driver earphone so it has more sub-bass extension and slam though the Mini 2 has slightly more mid-bass punch. Mids are similar, the Rose is smoother and upper mids are a bit more detail. Treble is more linear and extended on the Rose though the RE-400 has a wider soundstage. I would pick the Rose mainly due to the removable cable and build which feels better than the Hifiman despite their diminutive size.

  14. Kevin Scott Caja on

    Hi Ryan, awesome review! I’m tempted to buy this IEM. How would you compare this to Apple’s ADDIEM?

    Thanks!

    • Ryan Soo on

      Sorry Kevin, haven’t had a chance to try Apple’s in-ear, I believe there was a review on Head-fi that provided some comparison.

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