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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