Rose Mini 2 Review – Sub $100 Reference Standard

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Verdict –

The Mini 2 is quite an oddity, they are so supremely balanced in a market that really values more sculpted earphones. As a result, the benchmarks and references around this price become these more popular, more sculpted models which probably explains why the hifiman RE-400 received such varied reviews. To my ear, the Mini 2 is more pleasing than Hifiman’s offering and build quality is miles ahead. They may sound a little bland and mid-forward when coming from more V-shaped competitors, but give them a few days and the Mini 2 will enlighten you with balance and nuance that these models glance over by virtue of flawed design.

Again, it all comes down to individual preference and reference, for example, some call the SE215 balanced but to me they’re very much on the thicker more laid-back side. I suppose I’ll chuck in individual ear anatomy into the subjectivity of this hobby as well because I could sit here and gush all day about the Mini 2 but ultimately, that is just my take according to my personal preferences. So many question and inquire about the absolute best earphone under $100 when in reality, no clear winner exists. At the very least, Rose has given us another excellent offering around this price range; if you are looking for absolute comfort and acoustic balance with hints of musicality sprinkled in, I can’t think of a better choice than the Mini 2. For those looking for a bit more vibrancy and engagement to their sound, you can see my other reviews, I have covered dozens of in-ears of different forms and flavours.

Verdict – 9.5/10, The Mini 2 may not be the most vibrant, shimmery or thumping earphone out there but there are plenty of models that already satisfy those criteria. Rather, the Mini 2 occupies a vacancy around this price, offering some real neutrality with a taste of additional musicality. Top that off with perfect comfort and an excellent removable cable and the Mini 2 becomes an easy recommendation for lovers of natural clarity and balance and perhaps those that struggle to find a solid fit on conventional IEMs.

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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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