Astell&Kern IEM-JH Audio THE SIREN SERIES-Rosie ROSIE

Aegruin

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Fast and detailed.
Cons: It's not the best option for treble sensitive audiophiles.

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[size=17.03px]Intro[/size]
Rosie is an in-ear monitor made by JH Audio and Astell&Kern together. They said that Rosie is the universal and improved version of the JH Audio JH13 Pro Freqphase. JH13 Pro is one of the flagships of JH Audio since 2009. They had many years to think about what improvements they could do. Rosie didn't just pop out from nowhere. They made the universal and improved version of one of their custom flagships after 7 years. Also this should be noted, JH13 Pro Freqphase does not have a bass knob unlike Rosie.
 

[size=17.03px]Incredibly Necessary (!) Information[/size]

  1. Drivers: 6 Balanced Armatures per side. 2 Low - 2 Mid - 2 High.
  2. Frequency range: 10 Hz – 23 Khz
  3. Impedance: 17 ohm
  4. Sensitivity: 117 dB @1mW
  5. MRSP: $899
 

Little about me, little about the review gear.

I prefer only portable or transportable sources since I travel a lot. That being said, for this review, I’ve mostly used iFi Micro iDSD.
I used Rosie’s stock 4-pin 3.5mm cable.
I listen pretty much every genre.
 

Box Contents | Accessories

 
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Rosie comes with a Astell&Kern type of box. Elegant, stylish. Feels premium.
Accessories are not bad at all.
The CNC aluminum carrying case is perfect for moving around, making it literally indestructible. When you open that case, Astell&Kern 2.5mm balanced cable comes out.
When you open the black cardboard box, 3 pairs of silicone tips, 3 pairs of foam tips, 1 screwdriver and 1 cleaning tool appears. Also that box includes the warranty card and manual.
 
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Rosie has two stock cables. 2.5mm balanced and 3.5mm unbalanced. Rosie’s stock cable is a black Moon Audio cable. The cable is solid, durable. It has a memory wire that is connected to the 4-pin JH connector. On the other side it has a very durable 3.5mm unbalanced plug. It has a bass knob near the jack. 2.5mm balanced and 3.5mm cable is about the same at everything except -you know- the plugs.
 
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Design | Build | Fit

Rosie is made of Aluminum. That makes it very fashionable, high-quality, solid but unfortunately, it also makes it very heavy.
It is one of the heaviest IEMs I’ve ever seen but it is also fitting and looking very well compared to the other smaller but edgy monitors if you have average ears.
I also auditioned Rosie to a friend that has very very small ears. It fitted well. He implied, it is comfortable, but I must admit, it looked so weird on that tiny pair of ears. It was like.. like.. do you remember the Cybus Earpods from Doctor Who? Well, think bigger. It was that funny ...but I still recommend trying before buying if you have small ears.
 
 
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Tip Rolling & Subjective Notes - Everyone’s ears are different. So everyone hears different from different tips. I
mean this is a very subjective topic but I wanted to share my adventure on tips because tips changes are not that subtle at all. Anyway, for my ears the stock silicone tips sounded good, but it was uncomfortable. Stock foam tips were good(and had a darker sound), but it was uncomfortable too.
 
I spent quite some time to find better tips. Spinfit fitted good but it was somehow mid-bass enhancing which leaded to a bloated sound. RHA’s fit were also good, but it sounded muddy. Ortofon tips seems to be working fine. It was very comfortable and it sounded similar to the stock tips but it is a bit less mid-bassy, therefore clearer mids but also led to more prominent upper mid and highs.
 
 

Sound Signature

When the knob is on 8 o’clock, there is a little too much emphasis on the mid-bass that makes vocals warmer and puts them a little behind. Also there are little dips on the upper mid section that smoothens the sound, also there are little peak points that gives a soul to some instruments. Rosie can be musical, Rosie can be -almost- reference flat, Rosie can be boomy bass monster based on your personal preference. That is the good thing about having a bass knob. You can play with it however you like.
As I mentioned before, when you turn up the knob, the change isn’t in just the ‘bass’ section. Mids do change as well. If we compare the ratio of change, in every step you increase the knob, bass quantity increases 2x, mid-bass quantity increases 1.5x, mid quantity increases(until 3900hz) 1x and I haven’t heard any increase on highs. (highs are way beyond 3900hz) That means the treble quantity decreases when you turn that bass knob to the right because the bass knob affects basses and mids, but it does not affect highs.
 

Bass Region

One of the fastest low end that can be experienced. Tight. Fluent. Since it has a bass knob, let’s talk about following placements of the knob, 8 o'clock (0%), 12 o'clock (50%) and 4 o'clock. (100%)
 
8 o'clock: Mid bass and mids are very close as quantity. Still it has its warmth a little bit, but subbass doesn't extends the best in this way. Bass is very tight and fast. If we were talking about technicality, this would be the most detailed, most open sounding position of Rosie, also has a bigger soundstage and sharper imaging compared to other positions.
 
12 o'clock: I personally find this the most musically satisfying sounding one in a 'warm' way. Subbass extends just fine, midbass won't bleed into mids, it is articulate and it still has its fast presentation with a slightly more V-shaped sound.
 
4 o'clock: Smoother and much more emphasized bass section. The bass puts everything behind. Rosie still has a good detail and it still sounds coherent but unfortunately bass slows down and the detail of bass decreases. It is not ideal for fast genres like metal etc, but it is good enough.
 
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When you start to turn the knob, according to the technical description it goes 0 to 10dB on 10-100hz, but I don’t think that’s true. I think they wanted to say, it “mostly” affects between 10-100hz, according to my own experiments the knob changes/increases every frequency between 6-3900hz, but it increases low frequencies, especially 50-100hz the most.
All aside, I should admit that it has a sound of a standard armature when we consider low frequencies. A little impactless. This makes it is not very suitable for “Electronic/EDM listener heavy bass-heads”. BUT, -yes, there is a but- when you turn the bass knob over than 2 o'clock, “standard armature bass” disappears and that impactful bass comes into play. Although I find it unsuitable for Rock/Metal because the bass response and attack/decay is getting slower after 2 o’clock.
 
In my opinion, between 8-2 o’clock (0 - 60%) is enough and awesome for every kind of music.
 
 
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Mid Region

Rosie has airy, detailed, gentle and clear mids. Rosie has a little bump on the midbass and little dips on the upper mids at very critical points that gives a warm, non-sibilant, smooth and harmonic vocal presentation.
 
Vocals are mildly laid back, bass guitars and drums are more apparent because of this type of presentation. Instruments have more emphasis compared to vocals.
 
When it comes to vocals, Rosie has a smooth presentation, yes, but when it comes to upper mid instruments, -partially from electric guitars to snare, cymbal and tom tom drums- Rosie may sound little aggressive. Some may find this kind of attack/decay enjoyable, some may not, it is entirely up to how would you want your dish served. Besides that male and female vocals are just fine and smooth.
Leonard Cohen to Joan Baez, Till Lindemann to Timo Kotipelto. Vocals won’t disappoint in any kind of music with a suitable source. Brutal vocals are very defined and well-layered.
 
Rosie is a mid-bass prone monitor, so make sure not to use it with a source that presents excessive mid-bass. Otherwise male vocal may sound a little distorted or muffled.
I’ve also come across with people, saying Rosie can be sibilant sometimes, I personally tested it with aggressive sources and yes, DAPs with prominent upper mids can sometimes cause sibilance, but this is only a synergy issue. I highly recommend you to combine Rosie with a warm, lush device. Tamed upper mids would also help to achieve maximum efficiency.
 
Subjective Notes - Foam tips made vocals a little more smoother to my ears but silicones are more detailed and airier.
 
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Highs

Refined, detailed, controlled and a little prominent treble with a really admirable resolution. They are clear and apparent but never leaves its territory. They are definitely not too harsh or edgy.
About treble quantity, they stand out more than mids but not in a excessive way. Rosie’s highs are quite delicate. Still, I generally prefer a darker presentation but I didn't even try any EQ on treble. I really like that stock tune.
To wrap things up, Rosie has sparky, energetic highs with a fine extension.
 

Soundstage, Imaging and Instrument Separation

Imaging is accurate and it has a medium sized soundstage. It places the stage close to you and this results in an intimate presentation. In general, Rosie achieves a good imaging and separation if the recording is not a disaster.
 
Rosie also nicely reacts to high output impedances. I have used iDSD Micro. iDSD has a thing called iEMatch that increases the output impedance a little. (1-3Ohm) Increased output impedance improves imaging and smoothens the upper mids. Experts generally suggests using a low output impedance, but this is after all, a choice. Try and find out!
 

Isolation

Foam tips are better at isolation than silicone ones but I don’t think you need to change tips for better isolation. I’ve used Rosie on my travels at airports and busses with the stock silicone tips. Of course you can slightly hear the noise when there is no music, but when the music plays, nothing cuts in.
I’ve mentioned Ortofon tips above. Unfortunately they are not good at isolation as the stock ones.
 
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Quick Comparisons

vs. Earsonics Velvet ($700)
Accessory wise, Velvet has a cloth/plastic semi-hard case against Rosie’s aluminum hard-case. Rosie comes with two good quality cables whereas Velvet has a standard quality cable.
Rosie’s aluminum housing is much more durable than Velvet’s semi-plastic housing.
Sound-wise, Rosie is more bodied, detailed, smooth and intimate. Velvet is airier, has a more spacious soundstage and even more deep and elevated bass. In fact Velvet has one the most impactful low end I’ve ever heard, Rosie’s lows may sound impactless compared to it. Rosie has more upper-mid spark than Velvet, therefore cymbals and snares can sound more prominent. Velvet is mellower compared to Rosie.
 
vs. Earsonics S-EM9 (1.500€)
There are two things that Rosie is better than S-EM9. Firstly, Rosie is more durable with its aluminum housing compared to SEM-9’s acrylic housing. Secondly, Rosie has better stock accessories that comes with the monitor if we consider S-EM9’s standard level stock cable and box content.
Sound-wise, with a good cable S-EM9 has much more impactful low end, it has a better separation and it's even more detailed. (especially it has the most detailed highs I've ever heard) They are both slightly V-shaped but the difference is, Rosie has a warm, midbass prone sound whereas S-EM9 is generally 'basstastic'. They are both very suitable for fast recordings. I would recommend S-EM9 if you're willing to pay much more and expect the best. Note that you will also need to buy a proper cable.
 
vs. Noble Kaiser 10 ($1.600)
K10 has a better mid resolution and it has a more musical tuning. K10’s low end is more impactful, it is a warmer sounding monitor. Its attack/decay speed is slower compared to Rosie. Especially at high volumes, this can lead to a congested presentation in fast and complicated songs. (Dragonforce etc.) K10 has a very intimate mid presentation and it is quite extraordinary to listen female vocals with it. Rosie is more distant in this regard.
Its headroom is narrower compared to Rosie.
I would choose K10 for Classic, Jazz and maybe even EDM, Rosie for Rock and Metal.
 

Summary

If we try to sum things up, Rosie easily deserves its price tag with its fast, adjustable bass, a little laid back but also clear mids and its detailed, enjoyable treble. Maybe it does not have the phenomenal vocals of K10 or the magically detailed treble of S-EM9 but Rosie still does a great job as a whole in its price range and even much above.
 
It also comes with rich accessories such as aluminum carrying case, two high quality moon audio cables. Rosie’s housing is milled aluminum as well and it is one of the most durable IEMs I’ve come across.
 
 

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Aegruin
Aegruin
@karanehir35 Thank you. I haven't had the pleasure of using Rosie with HM901 but I'm guessing it could be awesome. :)
Onik
Onik
I got this IEM but don't really like how it sounds, What's the best tip for this item?
Onik
Onik
Where can I buy compatible earbuds online?
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