1. Cinder
    Rose North Forest Review: Budget Bass
    Written by Cinder
    Published May 28, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Strong bass response, relatively good detail retrieval and spatial cues, attractive design, comfortable
    Cons - Occasional loss of bass control
    Rose North Forest Review: Budget Bass
    Rose Audio, now Rose Technics, has made a name for itself by building beautiful IEMs with compelling and unique sound characteristics. The North Forest is their cheapest IEM yet, in a form-factor that Rose has never used before. But how does it sound? Well, spoiler alert, I liked it enough to hike through a forest to get pictures of it.

    You can find the North Forest for sale here, for $25. You can choose between red and blue colorways. Additionally, you can add an inline microphone for an extra $1, which my unit does not have.

    About My Preferences: Heads up, I’m a person! As such, these words are my opinion, and they are tinged by my personal preferences. While I try to mitigate this as much as possible during my review process, I’d be lying if I said my biases are completely erased. So for you, my readers, keep this in mind:

    • My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass.
    • I have a mild treble sensitivity.
    Source: The North Forest was powered like so:

    HTC U11 -> Zorloo ZuperDAC-S-> earphones

    or

    Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones

    or

    HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones

    or

    PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones

    All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC. The North Forest paired best with the ZuperDAC-S.

    Tech Specs
    • Frequency response range: 14 ~ 23000hz
    • Sensitivity: 105db
    • Independence: 18 ohms
    Sound Signature
    Sonic Overview:

    The North Forest features a V-shaped sound signature with an emphasized upper-midrange and boosted upper-treble. The lower register is composed of a mid-bass hump near the 150Hz region that slowly rolls off into the 50Hz region.

    Treble: Songs used: In One Ear, Midnight City, Outlands, Satisfy, Little One

    The North Forest’s treble is bright and energetic. The upper-treble is emphasized, giving the treble a more clinical tonality, a core characteristic of IEMs with titanium diaphragms. Thanks to some clever micro-emphasis placed in the lower-midrange, the North Forest is capable of picking up a ton more details than it has any right to at this price-point.

    Cymbals and high-hats are very distinct throughout In One Ear, never losing separation from the rest of the instrumentation. General instrumental separation is quite good as well. The relatively high-level of detail that the North Forest brings to the background of each song gives it a fairly airy presentation.

    Attack and decay speeds are above average for dynamic drivers, but par for the course for titanium-diaphragm IEMs. The closest analog I can think of in terms of speed would be the Macaw GT100s. And unlike the GT100s, there is no hint of sibilance with the North Forest.

    Midrange: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Dreams, Too Close, Little Black Submarines

    The midrange of the North Forest is, like the treble, quite energetic. This owes mostly to the upwards slope in the upper-mids, giving guitars and vocals some added degrees of separation. The midrange’s tonality is pretty life-like, barely missing the mark in some cases. The midrange isn’t as “transparent” as the treble is though.

    The North Forest weights male vocals well and adds some sweetness to female vocals. They are far and away the most articulate component of the midrange. Intelligibility is far above average for this price point, making the North Forest a contender for my favorite pick under $30.

    The lower-midrange is fairly lean. Fans of cleaner midranges will appreciate the North Forest’s presentation here. That said, it is still blended pretty well with the mid-bass hump, so there’s no strange disconnect between the midrange and the lower register.

    Bass: Songs used: Moth, Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix), War Pigs (Celldweller Remix)

    The North Forest’s bass is weighty and packs a good punch. Drops in electronic genres have a satisfying oomph to them and the midbass's synergy with the sub-bass gives bass-synths a really hearty tonality. Despite its notable emphasis, the mid-bass is generally polite to the midrange, only ever becoming overbearing in some cases, such as in the thick of War Pigs’ chorus.

    Sub-bass articulation is really good. It reaches down to about the 50Hz range, where it rolls off slowly into the 20Hz region. Depending on how good of a seal you can get, the North Forest can produce a reasonable amount of rumble. While it's not much at lower volumes, you can get a respectable amount of vibration going at higher volumes (though be careful, you could damage your ears if you listen too loud).

    Packaging / Unboxing
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    Build
    Construction Quality

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    The North Forest’s shell is made out of a reflective metal for the outer faces and a smooth plastic for inner face and nozzle. It seems durable and the shell’s two pieces are tightly sealed together. The North Forest’s single dynamic driver is vented through a small hole in the back face of the housing.

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    The cable is permanently affixed to the shells. It’s got a good amount of stress relief and should protect the cable well enough through normal use cases.

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    The cable is made from a standard plastic but is thicker than below the Y-splitter. It has microphonics, but nothing world-ending. The cable is terminated via a 3.5mm jack, which like the Y-splitter, is housed in a light metal that is coated in a reflective paint.

    Comfort

    The North Forest is very light and is worn cable down (though you can wear it over-ear if that’s your thing). It has a shallow insertion depth and, as such, should be quite comfortable for most people. The key here is finding the best eartips for your specific canal as having a good seal can often times make or break your opinion of an IEM. I, luckily, had no problems getting comfortable with the North Forest and found a good seal with relative ease.

    Accessories
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    Inside the box you will find:

    • 3x sets of spare silicone eartips
    Yep, that’s it. I didn’t expect anything more though, as the North Forest is operating at some razor-thin margins to create something that sounds so good at such a low price. You can pick up some Comply eartips and a carrying case for about $10 total if you want some, and those can be transferred to any other IEM you want if you decide to try something new.

    Comparisons
    1: Auglamour R8 ($30)

    The R8 has a far less aggressive mid-bass. Its midrange is also more linear, with a warmer lower-component and more relaxed upper component. The R8 also has a much more relaxed vocal range. Its spike is about 2dB less emphasized than the 1–2KHz spike that the North Forest has.

    2: KZ ZSR (~$30)

    The ZSR has a leaner midrange than the North Forest, and a much more emphasized treble. The ZSR, by comparison, has an aggressive upper-treble. The North Forest has a thicker mid-bass and more pronounced sub-bass than the ZSR and produces much more punch. The ZSR does have a somewhat more controlled mid-bass though.

    3:KZ ZST ($20)

    The North Forest has a much more weighty and warm sound signature than the ZST. Its mid-bass is far more pronounced and packs a significantly larger punch and extends farther down too. The ZST has a mildly more forwards lower-treble than the North Forest does, and its upper-midrange is more closely matched with its recessed lower-midrange than the North Forest’s is to its lower-midrange. The North Forest is the clear winner for bassheads, while the ZST will suit listeners who prefer more “neutral” sound signatures (though the ZST is not neutral IEM in absolute terms).

    Summary
    The North Forest is far better than it has any right to be, given how cheap it is. Rose managed to distill their expertise with high-end IEMs into a very compelling budget product. Articulate treble, punchy bass, and a decent construction make the $25 Rose Technics North Forest a noteworthy IEM, one that perfectly captures the spirit of the ChiFi market. So please, do yourself a favor and take a listen to the North Forest if you like bassy V-shaped IEMs with a bright tonality.

    As always, happy listening!
      B9Scrambler likes this.
  2. darmanastartes
    Give 'em the axe
    Written by darmanastartes
    Published May 28, 2018
    2.0/5,
    Pros - Comfortable, attractive design
    Cons - Overblown mid bass, overall muddy sound
    Rose North Forest Impressions
    INTRODUCTION/DISCLAIMER:

    This review is based upon a commercial unit purchased by me for personal use. This review represents my honest and unfiltered opinion. I am not being compensated in any way for writing this review.
    This review can also be read on my blog here.

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    ABOUT ME

    I listen mostly to heavy metal, hip hop, and electronic music, as well as movie and video game soundtracks. I value detail, clarity, and soundstage above other acoustic qualities. I like V-shaped sound signatures, generally those with more of an emphasis on the treble. Other headphones I own or have owned in the past include the Campfire Audio Polaris, Meze 99 Neo, E-MU Teak, Mee Audio P1 Pinnacle, Mee Audio P2 Pinnacle, Yersen FEN-2000, UiiSii CM5, Fostex TH-X00, V-Moda M-80, V-Moda LP2 Crossfade, Beyerdynamic DT-770 (250 ohm), KZ ATE, Mixcder X5, Mee Audio M6, Hifiman HE-400S, and (very briefly) Phillips Fidelio X2.

    SOURCES

    I have used the Rose North Forest with the following sources:

    Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Global > Rose North Forest

    Windows 10 PC > JDS Labs The Element > Rose North Forest

    I have tested these headphones with Spotify Premium high-quality streaming and local FLAC.

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    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES

    The Rose North Forest comes in a small rectangular box with the IEMs pictured on the front and technical details about the IEMs listed on the back. The included accessories are spartan in comparison to other Chi-fi IEMs I have reviewed recently, only including 4 pairs of silicone eartips (3 standard in Small/Medium/Large sizes, and 1 double flanged pair).

    BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN

    The Rose North Forest is designed to be worn cable-up. The North Forest has a simple straight black cable terminated in a straight 3.5mm jack. The cable is resistant to tangling and is non-microphonic. There is no choker above the Y-split for adjusting fit. The IEM housings have an attractive metallic red finish with the Rose logo in white. There is strain relief at both the driver housing and jack ends. The only quality control issue I encountered with my pair was noticeable driver flex while inserting one of the IEMs, though it was not as unpleasant as that on the Campfire Audio Polaris. At this price point ($25), the absence of detachable cables is unfortunate but not unforgivable.

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    FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION

    The Rose North Forest is more comfortable than average for long periods of wear. Isolation is average with the included double flange eartips.

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    SOUND

    The Rose North Forest has a V-shaped sound signature that suffers from overblown mid-bass. Sub-bass extension is poor. The midrange is recessed. Distorted electric guitars and male vocals sound thin. Upper-mids and lower treble is shouty. Treble is reasonably detailed without being sibilant. Overall tonal balance is just off. The layering of instruments feels messy. Separation is below average. Soundstage is average.

    EQ

    The Rose North Forest benefits greatly from EQ. The below settings were based on the frequency response chart on the front of the North Forest’s box and go a long way to cleaning up the tonal balance of these IEMs. However, male vocals still sound pretty thin even with EQ.

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    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

    At 18 ohms and a sensitivity of 105db, the Rose North Forest can be comfortably driven from a smartphone and does not benefit from additional amplification.

    CLOSING WORDS

    Despite an attractive and comfortable design, the Rose North Forest is not worth picking up, especially at its current price of $25. They are overly bassy and muddy-sounding. Correcting the sound signature with EQ, while possible, requires desktop software to accomplish and is frankly more trouble than it’s worth given that there are better options at lower prices that do not need such drastic correction. I absolutely do not recommend them for portable use where tailored EQ is not possible.
      hqssui likes this.
  3. Kervsky
    Rose North Forest: A Good Surprise
    Written by Kervsky
    Published Apr 29, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Affordable, easily pocketable, sturdy, sounds great, looks nice, very easy to drive, good fit and isolation (with the right sized tips.)
    Cons - L/R markings are hard to see (could have marked one and left the other blank for a tactile solution, or made both shell logos face forward for easy identification of left and right), cable is a bit rubbery/springy
    [​IMG]

    Rose Technics is a company that first gained fame with their Rose Masya earbuds and from then they started making more diverse products for the audiophile community like the North Forest, a dynamic driver driven IEM released around January that's aimed at the budget audiophile. Let's explore this intriguing forest with a review but before that, I would like to thank Penon and Rose Technics for this review unit.

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    Specification:
    Driver: titanium metal rare-earth magnet steel dynamic driver
    Earphone cable material: 128 shares 4n oxygen-free copper+ anti-pull bullet-proof wire
    Earphone shell: aeronautical magnesium-aluminum alloy
    Frequency response range: 14 ~ 23000hz
    Sensitivity: 105db
    Impendence: 18ohm

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    The Rose North Forest comes in a sturdy black cardboard box that's covered by a slip off sleeve. Inside are the IEM's with fitted medium tips, and in the tray is 2 more pairs of silicone tips (Small and Large) as well as a double flange tip (white silicone), under the tray is space for the cable and nothing else.

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    The North Forest is a single dynamic driver driven IEM house in an small aluminum case with plastic internal fittings, the simple design allows for easy fitting as a conventional earbud (wires dangling) or over the ear. In either position, the light design of the IEM helps in providing comfort while wearing it. The wire near the IEM has good strain relief and has the L and R markings for each IEM's position, the cable is non-removable and comes in a no microphone model and one with a mic, this sample has no microphone and has a slightly rubbery wire, it has a tendency to retain some curves but generally is resistant to tangling. Though there is no chin strap, the splitter is plastic covered in silver aluminum and looks nice. The plug has a rose branding and is similarly made of aluminum, it is very thin so it'll fit through most phone or DAP cases with no issue. Overall, the build is good and sturdy and will likely last a long time.

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    Bass: The sub-bass of the North Forest extends rather well to give a good amount of bass rumble that is clearly felt but is not along the levels of the Ibasso IT01 in terms of reach and quantity, the mid bass has enough punch to make it's presence known and possesses a good amount of body. North Forest has good decay enough for good resolution of complex bass tones and has enough speed to sound complimentary to the music and helps it to be engaging.

    Mids
    : There is a good amount of body with the North Forest, male vocals sound meaty with a good enough separation that the voices are not overwhelmed by the bass. Female vocals sound warm and smooth with a bit of intimacy but is treated nearly equally the same as male vocals as they occupy a neutral positioning. There may not be a lot of transparency in this area and there is a lack of crispness or definition but vocals come out clean and mixed with music provides a good and emotive progression.

    Highs: Are naturally extended without sounding sibilant or harsh as they sound like they belong in the song, some high pitch sounds may surprise you on higher volumes but are not piercing. One thing to note is the dip in the 10khz area that prevents cymbal crashes to bloom and may sound rolled off. There is body and a good amount of clarity in the treble area that is not fatiguing and fun to listen to.

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    Soundstage: For something that's small, there is a moderate amount of stage for the music to play around that sounds natural, with decent width and some depth that prevents it from feeling congested (St. James), resolution overall is good enough to track instruments and voices and 3d positioning is fairly accurate.

    Driveability/Useability: This can easily be driven by the weakest phone in my arsenal and still sound better than certain stock earphones, but it doesn't scale much with the source (better players will push the North Forest to sound better, but not to a great degree). Considering the build, this can easily be seen as gym, exercise IEMs, sweat doesn't seem to bother the cables much, it's light and easy to insert and remove with no fear of a piece falling out (ohhh, two jabs in one paragraph!)

    Conclusion: The Rose North Forest is a surprising IEM and shows just how far good tuning can get you at this budget range as it sounds musical where headbanging doesn't seem like a bad idea when listening to heavy rock or just thinking about your ex while listening to Adele, it's not gonna topple mid range IEM's at any time with more detailed, technical and revealing listening, but the fun you can get out of this is considerable and at an incredible value IEM at $24.90 USD, it sounds better than some IEMs in the market that are above it's price tag.

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    Pros: Affordable, easily pocketable, sturdy, sounds great, looks nice, very easy to drive, good fit and isolation (with the right sized tips.)

    Cons
    : L/R markings are hard to see (could have marked one and left the other blank for a tactile solution, or made both shell logos face forward for easy identification of left and right), cable is a bit rubbery/springy

    Nitpicks: Removable cables or easily replaceable cables, it's a shame since they sound real good but if the cables break, it might be hard to replace the cables.

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    Original Review appears in AudioBuko @ Blogspot
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