Until now, I’ve yet to review many truly premium Chi-fi earphone so the BR5 MKII really intrigued me. And that’s because these smaller brands usually leverage value as their greatest asset yet with a $300 USD asking price, the BR5 MKII is hardly for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of trust to leap into this price range and while value orientated Chi-fi IEMs like the KZ ZS5 can be rewarding impulse purchases, the BR5 is a heartier commitment.
Rose may not be a household name, but they’ve made waves on Head-fi as a Chinese audio manufacturer that’s a step above (and with pricing to match). Their dual driver earbud, the Mojito, cemented their name in the minds of many and pioneered their very neutral orientated house sound which pervades throughout their entire product lineup of varying price and form factor. The BR5 was one of their first attempts at an in-ear design and a pretty premium one at that. And with a 5-driver design utilizing components from Knowles and Zsound, the updated BR5 MKII promises strong sound quality comparable to significantly more expensive. Let’s see what Rose’s flagship armature in-ear is all about.
I would like to thank Chi Kong Hui from Penonaudio very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Rose BR5 MKII for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
The BR5 MKII comes within a nice hard box that magnetically latches open. The latch has a metal plate engraved with the company slogan and interestingly, the rear showcases that the earphones have been “designed and made in China”. It’s definitely intriguing to see Rose brandish this like a selling point, reinforcing that we can’t generalize the quality of a product simply by its country of origin.
Inside is the BR5 MKII and some ear tips presented nicely within a foam cutout. Rose also includes a plastic case filled foams and a shirt clip in addition to a soft pouch and Westone-vault imitation hard case in the two boxes to the right. The hard case is exceptional, the vault case is easily one of my favourites and Rose’s derivative is just as compelling; perfectly sized, immensely protective and well presenting with a metal Rose plate at the top. Inside is a silver plated cable which is also of excellent quality.
The BR5 MKII pursues a custom-like design that will be immediately familiar to buyers accustomed to in-ears like the Ibasso IT03 and Kinera H3. However, to my ear, the Rose is substantially better shaped than both, achieving exceptional fit depth and seal that is among the best I’ve tested. In addition, Rose offer the earphone in countless configurations similar to customs with colour choices ranging from transparent to a vibrant blue and green in addition to varying faceplate textures to mix things up. I received the BR5 MKII with a red wood faceplate and transparent housings that I find to look pretty stunning.
Build quality on the BR5 is good but not outstanding, chiefly because they are a plastic earphone lacking the solidity of the all metal cloaked Oriveti, Meeaudio and Dunu earphones. That being said, they do feel similar to models from Westone and Shure with no flex or visible joins in the plastic. Their transparent shells and perfectly joined wood faceplates with silver Rose text also grant them with a striking aesthetic that is only amplified by their braided silver cable. However, I do have some concerns with their construction, it would seem that the areas behind the driver assembly is hollow and the acrylic used by Rose isn’t perfectly transparent with a slight misting/haze to some areas but I didn’t find this to compromise the rigidity of the housings in any way. I doubt this is a limitation of Rose as an audio manufacturer since the Mini 2 has a perfect build; they likely did this to reduce the weight of the earphones and it does give them a more DIY look which has a certain charm. I would also intimate that the coloured options won’t be as affected.
And despite their long dimensions, the BR5 MKII actually has a pretty low profile fit on account of their fit depth. I wasn’t able to comfortably sleep with them like the Oriveti’s, but wind noise was minimal when out and about and they look pretty sleak during wear. Otherwise, I have very few complaints with the BR5 MKII’s ergonomics, they are simply an impeccably formed earphone. What most stuck out to me was the BR5 MKII’s fit depth, they are as close to customs as universals get. And combined with their fully sealed design (there is a small vent behind the driver assembly but this doesn’t affect isolation at all), the earphones produce more isolation with silicone tips than most sealed in-ears with foams, perfect for travel and use in other louder environments.
Stability is also faultless with an over-ear fit and that excellent fit depth augmenting some smart ergonomic forming on Rose’s behalf. However, this does come somewhat at the cost of comfort; while the BR5 MKII is small and smooth enough not to form any notable hotspots in my ears, they do produce quite a lot of pressure due to that deep fit and anything, no matter how perfectly shaped, will cause some level of discomfort at that depth. After a few days I acclimatised pretty well to the BR5’s however, listeners sensitive to pressure and bone conduction noise should probably consider a shallower fitting or vented earphone like the New Primacy. Otherwise, the BR5 MKII is more isolating and more stable than competitors, they just don’t disappear comfort wise.
The BR5 MKII utilizes a typical MMCX removable cable interface. The connectors are clicky and were completely reliable in my testing even with several different aftermarket cables. The stock cable is a very nice silver plated copper unit that is very supple with no notable memory or cable noise though it does have a slightly grippy texture. Otherwise, the cable looks fantastic with a loose braid, machined MMCX connectors and a straight 3.5mm plug laser etched with Rose branding. The Plug is also case friendly which is a bonus for smartphone users. In addition, the cables leave the earphones at the perfect angle which, in culmination with their well-shaped pre-moulded ear guides, creates a comfortable yet stable fit, something some other Chinese earphones like the Magaosi, Simgot and TFZ Exclusive earphones struggle with.
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