Rose Technics QT-9 MK2S

Otto Motor

Headphoneus Supremus
Great iems, but not for everyone
Pros: Excellent imaging, staging, timbre and other technicalities; light & small earpieces; superb accessories.
Cons: Midrange bright and lean; extreme nozzle angle and short nozzles may create fit/seal problems.
This analysis was previously published at


Rose Technics Co. Ltd. is a large tech enterprise out of Chengdu, Sichuan, China, that focuses on R&D, manufacturing, and sales of digital 3C products. Rose is one of their audio brands that strives for unique design and outstanding (sound) quality.

The QT-9 MK2S is the latest product of their QT series since 2014 and the 3rd generation of the QT-9 model (>10K sales). It features 5 drivers: a Sony LCP diaphragm, two mid-frequency BAs and two high-frequency BAs. It was tuned by a former Fostex engineer in a one-year period. Goal is to compete (sound) quality wise with $700-800 flagship earphones – at a mid-tier price.

As a (former) frequent traveller to Chengdu, I was not aware of Rose Technics, though I am almost certain I experienced their 3D printer demo at the local Holiday Inn back in 2005. I’d agree that the QT-9 MK2S is a unique design with a technically great sonic performance, which I applaud the company for…but I am personally struggling with these owing to my European physique. It comes down to “big head vs. small earphones” and German hearing vs. Asian-preference tuning.


Drivers: 1DD (10mm diameter Goertek tungsten alloy diaphragm dynamic driver) + 4BA (2 TWF30018 mid frequency & 2 TWF30019 high frequency)
Impedance: 12 Ω
Sensitivity: 108 dB/mW
Frequency Range: 8 – 44,600 Hz
Cable/Connector: 4N single crystal copper detachable cable/MMCX
Tested at: $249
Product Page/Purchase Link: Rose Technics Outlet

Physical Things and Usability

In the box are the earpieces, a textile-coated non-microphonic cable, a set of eartips/foams, replacement nozzle screens, 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm adapter, MMCX tool, paperwork…and all that in 2 sturdy hard cases. Very generous, high-quality accessories.

The earpieces are made of plexiglas, which, in contrast to metal, works better at cold temperatures (“Canadian winter”), is a better electric isolator, and is very light. Build quality is impeccable. They are very small, smaller than any other comparable 5-driver iems I have tested, but they also have rather short nozzles at an unusual angle.

And that’s where my problems started. The QT-9 MK2S require deep insertion, which I cannot achieve with the stock tips. The SpinFit CP100 work better but I ultimately use the long Azla SednaEarfit. Whilst I reach a good seal, the earpieces always feel forced into my ears and are never really comfortable. The designer obviously did not have western head designs on the bill.

Rose Technics Qt-9 mk2s

In the box…

Rose Technics Qt-9 mk2s

The iems and accessories are stored in two high-quality hard cases.

Rose Technics Qt-9 mk2s

Looking through the plexiglass: stacked BAs below the nozzle in the earpiece to the right.

Rose Technics Qt-9 mk2s

From L to Ri: MMCX socket, dynamic driver, angles nozzle with BAs.

Rose Technics Qt-9 mk2s

Deeper insertion is reached with the SpinFit CP100 (left) than with the stock tips (right).

Tonality and Technicalities

Equipment used: MacBook Air, iPhone |Earstudio HUD 100 with JitterBug FMJ, Questyle M15 (low gain), AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt | SpinFit CP100 eartips | stock foams | Azla SednaEarFit Long tips; Sony XBA tuning filters; 3M micropore tape.

Sonically, the Rose QT-9 MK2S are a somewhat different kettle of fish compared to what I have listened to over the last few years. Their overall signature is uniquely warm-bright-lean, almost fragile, possibly tuned with Asian markets in mind. The tuner claims it took him a year to get it right. But does the result appeal to everybody?

On another note, the sound of this earphone shows us once again the limitations of frequency-response graphs. What these graphs convey is quantities of sound pressure levels, which may give you hints that something is sounding “wrong”…or is not to your preference. But quantity and quality are not (linearly) related, and this graph holds a lot of information on sound quality back. Careful, please.

rose Qt-09 MK2s KAZi FR

Kazi’s measurements reveal a 6-8 kHz peak that causes irritation to my ears. The 8 kHz peak may be partially a couple artifact.

frequency response Rose

The company’s measurements bring the upper midrange peaks out even better.

In the big picture, the QT-9 MK2S may be unpleasantly sharp sounding to some ears whereas others welcome this signature. They offers a somewhat unusual combination of limited punch from the low end – and extreme crispness in the midrange, with “normal” attack but rather fast decay. A strange contradiction. You may try the QT-9 MK2S with warm sources first.

I lifted the nozzles screens off with tweezers and stuffed low-density Sony XBA tuning filters into the nozzles to round the midrange edges a bit. It makes some difference in the midrange (while not affecting the low end) but still may not be enough for some. I also taped 90% of the nozzle screens over with 3M micropore tape.

These measures affect the 2-5 kHz range, the most sensitive frequencies to the human ear, but they leave the lower-treble peaks between 5 and 10 kHz unaltered.

Whatever I did, it never resulted in an entirely relaxed listen for my ears. Every time I put these into my ears, it takes me some time to get used to them. So be prepared…

Rose Qt-9 mk2s

I added Sony XBA tuning filters (‘low-density foams’) to the nozzles to smoothen the sharp midrange edges, which does not affect the bass. The mid-density foams muddle the bass. Filters kindly supplied by Larry Fulton.

I continue with the modified version of the QT-9 MK2S. In order to compensate for the short nozzles, I replaced the stock tips with Azlas for deeper insertion (as mentioned before).

In detail, the low end is very good – and speedy. It offers a deep reaching bass into the lowest frequencies with a good rumble, always well composed, well layered, well dosed, finely woven, almost hesitant. Very detailed and marginally warm.

There is not too much oomph, the well-dosed low-end dynamics cater more to sophisticated jazz or acoustic music and less so to rock music. Led Zeppelin fans may miss some mid-bass punch, though it has enough zing (“quality over quantity”).

The low end stays where it should be and does not smear into the lower midrange, which is free-standing, more neutral and much leaner. Vocals are very articulate with excellent note definition but lean, breathy, and they bother my ears (probably because of the greatly overrepresented upper harmonics).

Without the mod, higher notes of wind instruments and strings were outright strident to my ears, which also stems from their overly fast decay.

After reducing the upper-midrange/lower treble energy with the mods, the crispness remains but these higher midrange tones are now better tolerable, albeit still far from being relaxed sounding. Vocals remain lean and can still be a bit scratchy. I’d prefer a bit more cream in my coffee.

On the positive side, the interplay of well-dosed bass and lean midrange provides for a very good spatial cues which is probably class leading. Musicians are well placed in space – and well separated from each other. Midrange is clean and clear, transparency is excellent and so is resolution.

Lower treble tags seamlessly onto the upper midrange. Cymbals are also crisp and well resolving, though still decaying rather fast, whereas upper treble remains in the background.

Timbre is natural apart from the fast midrange decay – and somewhat inviting to my ears. Timbre against midrange sharpness, a strange competition.

Stage scales with volume to my ears: at low power, it has a low ceiling but is reasonably expansive — everything becomes bigger when turned up, though it never reaches too deep.

In summary, my modding efforts affected the upper midrange (2-5 kHz range) but not the lower treble. The peaks between 5 and 10 kHz remained, which boost some upper harmonics, and cause me discomfort after a while. To me, the QT-9 MK2S offer the opposite of a relaxed, chilled listening experience, that is a technical and intense one.

Just like that German proverb “surgery successful, patient dead”, the QT-9 MK2S are technically and even timbrally excellent iems – as intended – that is simply a tad too much for my ears.

Beichuan 2004

Size difference: the author (in his younger years) with Sichuan natives, Beichuan, Longmenshan. Who will have the bigger ears?

Concluding Remarks

The Rose QT-9 MK2S are well resolving iems with a good timbre, but they may not be for everyone, fit wise and sonically (owing to their energetic upper midrange and lower treble). While the tuning aims to strive for technical perfection in terms of imaging, the result appeals to a certain listener preference.

Maybe, Rose should widen the appeal by offering two differently tuned versions, one for relaxed listening, and the other for spicy listening.

Until next time…keep on listening!

Jürgen Kraus signature
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Rose Technics QT-9 MK2S Review
Pros: Good bass reproduction (Personal preference)
Good note weight across the frequency range
Balanced tonality
Very pleasant sounding mids
Smooth and non sibilant treble
Plenty of detail
Cons: Stock eartips may not fit well for everyone due to short stem
MMCX connector (My right side is already loose and wobbly now)
Rose Technics QT-9 MK2S Review


Rose Technics is a brand which flew under the radar of many audiophiles. They are very popular in mainland China but internationally,not so much. They are well known for their earbuds and also several IEMs which can be found in their Taobao’s store. I came across the design and specifications of the QT-9 and it piqued my interest in trying it out as their previous iteration of QT-9 is well received by several reviewers in HeadFi. Without further ado,I approached Rose Technics about my interest to test it out,and here I am today ,ready to pen down my thoughts about QT-9.

Specifications (Information grabbed from Rose Technics AliEx Store)
Impedance - 12Ω
Sensitivity - 108db
Connector - MMCX
Frequency Range - 8-44600hz
Drivers Config - 1DD+4BA

The packaging came in a very minimalist style. It looks simple yet doesn’t lack the premium touch. The QT9's head unit itself is stored in a hard case, while the accessories such as eartips and cable are also stored in another hard case. I have yet to come across such packaging style at this price point, it is unique for sure and I appreciate the hard case given and it has ample space to store your IEM with cable, or you can even store your dongle dac/amp with it.


QT-9’s shell is made out of PMMA(methyl methacrylate) which is a kind of high toughness plexiglass. The faceplate is made out of Aerial Aluminium Alloy,which according to Rose Technics’s marketing material,will not oxidise nor risk the paint being stripped.

As for comfort,they are very lightweight and there aren't any weird protruding edges that cause discomfort. I am able to wear them for as long as I want without feeling any discomfort.

Foobar2k -> TRI TK2 -> Rose Technics QT-9 MK2S (Stock cable and eartip)
Foobar2k -> Questyle M15 -> Rose Technics QT-9 MK2S (Stock cable and eartip)
iPhone 12 Mini Apple Music -> Apple Lightning 3.5 Dongle -> Rose Technics QT-9 MK2S (Stock cable and eartip)

If you are looking at the graph of QT-9 from Rose Technics’s AliEx store,you will see that it has recessed mids. Let me tell you that isn’t the case at all. The mids are in no way recessed,in fact the upper mids do sound a little boosted to my ears,in a good way of course. The tonality of QT-9 MK2S to my ears sounded neutral to slightly bright,it may come off as a little dry sounding to some depending on which source you are pairing it with. Let’s take a look at the break down below:

QT-9 MK2S’s bass won’t hit you really hard, it does its job,it is clean and punches hard enough when it’s called for
  • Bass is tight and clean,the speed is very good as well
  • Sub bass is slightly roll off,but you will still feel its rumble when it’s called for,it is not emphasised for sure
  • Definition is very good and well textured
  • Mid bass is no slouch as every drum hit got a very good definition to it,not to mention its speedy as well,very good and enjoyable thump
The mids of QT-9 MK2S reminds me of SeeAudio Yume’s mids. It is lush and certainly not dry sounding. The mids of QT-9 MK2s is clean and it sounded full
  • Vocal positioning is rather in your face,not laid back nor intimate,just nice to my ears
  • Female vocal sounded just right with the right amount of texture and body,not overly warm nor cold sounding
  • Male vocal sounded thicker compared to female’s,very enjoyable especially those male artists with a very low deep voice. A track that i enjoyed very much from Zhao Peng, The Moon Represents My Heart
  • Instruments sounded realistic and yet there’s a slight boost on the upper mids that can be felt,but to me it is enjoyable,your experience might differ as we all have different ear structures,all that does play in a role in terms of how you perceive the upper mids
The treble is very lively and vivid to my ears,yet it is not fatiguing and i enjoyed it alot
  • Very good detail retrieval capability and i can easily pick up the micro details on QT-9 MK2s
  • Good amount of air and well textured
  • The treble to my ears,it is as if a combination of monitor earphones with a hint of musicality on it,so it doesn’t sound dry
  • The treble is non sibilant,not fatiguing and very enjoyable to listen to,even when you crank up the volume,it remains very enjoyable
Soundstage and Imaging
  • Soundstage of QT-9 MK2S will largely depending on the eartips that you’ve chosen,for this review,i am using the stock eartips
  • On stock eartips, the soundstage is average,not to wide nor in your head,average depth and height
  • I tried Final Type E eartips and it does expand the soundstage making it sound wider and slightly taller
  • Imaging is quite good,stereo positioning is on point and instruments can be pinpointed easily
  • HRTF transition from left to right and vice versa is very clear across the transition

Comparison (SeeAudio Yume Midnight)
  • Yume Midnight is slightly warmer to my ears,it has got thicker weight notes and more slam on the bass
  • Yume Midnight doesn’t sound as vivid/sparkly as QT-9 MK2S (YMMV)
  • Fitment of Yume Midnight is a little problematic for me as it is slightly bigger,QT-9 MK2S fits very well in my ears
  • Mids noticeably better on the QT-9 MK2S,it is similar to the OG Yume,which sounded lush and sweet
  • Soundstage is wider on Yume Midnight but that’s not really a cons as it’s more of a preference,some prefers intimate soundstage while others wide,again,very easily rectifiable by tip rolling
  • In terms of technicalities,both Yume Midnight and QT-9 doesn’t stray too far off each other.I do find QT-9

Cable Rolling

  • I do find QT-9 MK2s is sensitive to cable change as well,different cable material does affect the tonality of QT-9
  • I have tried several cables,pure copper,and silver plated copper,and mixed gold,silver,and copper cable,they sound different on QT-9 and it is fun to experiment with and see which signature you actually prefers
  • I settled with the stock cable in the end as i find it synergize well with my source and the signature is what i preferred

Final Thoughts
QT-9 MK2S in my opinion is the IEM that flew under the radar,I personally think that it deserves more exposure. Sound wise, for the price that it is asking for,I have tried several hybrids, although at a lower price point,but by paying slightly more for the QT-9,you are actually getting more than what you are paying in terms of the extra amount that you’re spending. Worth every penny in my opinion.

It may sound like I'm trying to shill QT-9,rest assured that I am not,it is just that good and who knows,you may like it after you try it.

If you are interested in getting one,head over to RoseTechnics AliEx store to grab a pair!12000028123091802!sh

*Although QT-9 MK2s is sent over to me for free for the purpose of this review,I am in no way influenced nor compensated by RoseTechnics in producing this review. The store link provided above is non-affiliated as well.



Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: -very well balanced tonality
-pleasantly warm bass
-good note weight
-natural dense timbre
-good imaging with holographic layering
-beautifull male and female vocal
-immersive dynamic musicality
-no sibilance or harshness
-super small shell for a penta hybrid
-very generous packaging
Cons: -not the most controlled or snappy attack
-hint blurry micro definition
-lack of treble sparkle and air
-hint sloppy bass

TONALITY: 8.6/10

ROSES TECHNICS is a chinese audio company thats has been their for more than 5 years but seem to have take a hiatur or lack covering in audio world. I remember in my old chifi days, they were very respected and among first serious hybrid IEM maker with offering like the Rose Mini serie, ultra small multi-BA IEM that get good praise.
All this experience sure should pay off for tuning talent, which I will judge today with the review of their latest flagship QT serie offering, the Rose QT9 MK2S, a 1DD+4BA penta hybrid selling for 250$.

You can check how wide the Rose IEM catalogue is here (16 models, MK2S not include):
Rose Technics (



Small, you say small?
If you look at Roses past IEM, it seem they love to use smallest shell possible for their driver configuration, the Mini being their smalles 3 BA housing, while this one being smallest of a penta Hybrid IEM I ever own. Small doesn’t always mean comfort, Tinhifi P1 being a good example, but the MK2S nozzle is perfectly angled to fit easily the ear canal and smooth plastic used have an organic shape, while the back is a flat metal plate so you can sleep on your ears without having any protuberancethat will interfer with an healty sleep.
Sure, the construction is all about practicality, it’s light too due to light plastic and alloy use, but the mmcx connector is well embeded and feel very durable, so overall built seem sturdy too. Since you can see through the body, you’ll be impress by quality of clean craftmenship too.


When it come to the cable, it’s a decen one made of braided nylon, which i like. It’s very light so I do think Rose have for goal to take care of all practical aspect, which I respect. Cable have an L plug, weight nothing, seem sturdy and have flexibile ear hook, overall great pairing I would say!


The PACKAGING really surprise me to say the least, I mean…I was thinking there were 2 pair of IEM since inside package cardboard their 2 solid magnetic carrying case, the package might seem small but is quite heavy and number of accessories included are near over the top! And everything is again practical and of good quality. The ear tips even have their own cases so in fact it make 3. We have an extra 6.35mm golden plate jack, 6 pairs of different model eartips all coming in M size and even a more than welcome MMCX disconnector tool. I’m impress!


(gear used: Questyle M15, Tri TK2, Ibasso DX90 and Xduoo Link2 Bal)


The QT9 MK2S have a smoothly (and safely) balanced W shape tonality, from warm low to smooth gently bright on top, yet energic and treble focused enough. The mid bass is boosted in punch and texture presence, mids are widest focus, with emphasis on clarity and note weight while the treble is all about effortless clarity and snappy attack. Overall balance is highly cohesive yet not mushy or messy by warmed definition spike. Whole tonality mix in resonance, air and natural acoustic presentation, unlike lot of tubed IEM that tend to make presentation clinical or too perfectionist, here it’s life like musicality with a trick that make you think you have great hearing capabilities.

The bass isn’t what seek for your attention at first, yet, it never feel lacking. This is the type of rare IEM that render kick drum in all its well rounded glory, you feel and see the hit of every strike, it have punch and weight yet a tight attack and decay and texture is nuanced but never fall into dryness. Once you focus on bass, you begin to get addicted by its energic rendering and excellent transient speed. Metal rock fast drum strike will not overwhelme those and every hit will have its definition, this is how good is bass of QT MK2S. But to get this speed, well rounded define punch, their a trade off which is sub bass rumble, it’s more flat than mid bass and doesn’t move lot of air nor will make vibrate your ear drum. Again, Rose use a trick and doesn’t make sub bass line disappear, they are textured and well define, easy to follow it presence but not physical as said above. This type of bass have both ”oomph” and thumping rendering, yet no vibrant extension down to 20hz. Nonetheless, it feel well balanced, tone is right and the slam have enough dynamic weight to compensate a colouring preference.

Balanced armature mid range are rarely lush, dense or even realist, but Rose achieve a similar mid range than much acclaim Seeaudio Yume, with more notes weight and denser smoother timbre. Unlike the Yume, QT9 MK2S doesn’t have tubed balanced armature and presentation is more open and natural in resonance, less dry, bright and frontal than lot of other hybrid IEM. Yet, mid range isn’t warm, it’s clean, full sounding and highly resolved. Vocal of both male and female will be dense with texture richness, well sculpted presence thais is fowards but not unbalanced. Sure this resonance and note decay can stole some clean silence, but this doesn’t affect macro-resolution or sounds layers extraction. Tone of every instrument are right, gently bright yet realist in timbre. Transparency isn’t boosted here since texture saturate it a bit. Is there sibilance, no intrusive one to my ears, in fact, their more breathyness than upper mids bit, yet we have enough texture abrasiveness to rendr electric guitar bit and energic presence without timbral spike unbalance. Just wow really, these mids are dynamic, energic higly resolve and rightly softed in brightness, it’s sure not laid back or boring, but everything is so well rounded in Rose vivid colors universe.

And now this treble, following same tonal ideology where energy meet balance and avoid harshness. As if the tuner was addict to monitor speaker tonality but wish to inflict them extra musicality and just a pinch of fun. It’s full yet not overwhelming, crisp yet not trebly or too micro details fowards, ultra fast yet not out of timing with mids and bass. In fact, everything is at same speed with those, so the fast transient fascination isnt limited to highs and doesn’t distract you yet when you go in there, your blown away by tight snappy highs speed and timing, full sustain with just enougn decay to avoid dryness, i rarely share the tracks i listen to because I listen too much different music style, well recorded one is no1 bulimic obsession and i like challenging listen too, so fast crazy electronic beats is something i love to listen (and produce), this is a good test for QT9 that pass it like a champ, not missing one bit of percussions and giving them this exciting note weight highs often lack with BA. No shoutyness, just snap and crunch. And this is where my nit pick of utopian perfection come in, highs aren’t very sparkly, which will affect critical listening of Pierre Hantai session. In fact, treble as well as overall QT9 presentation is just not an airy one even if we never suffocate with them. It one with brilliance, snap and good note weigth impact.

When it come to spatiality, ear tips will inflict alot on this, to open these up i use Kbear KB07 which make overall soundstage a bit over average wide and deep, but not very tall nor very out of your head. I feel like their a pair of bookshelf monitor speaker with a sub in middle, at about 20cm of my head with perfect stereo positioning.

This doesn’t mean imaging is bad at all, quite the contrary in fact. Both static instrument placement and moving sound layers are easy to position due to well sculpted and define presence. We have an holographic instrument positioning which only big bass slam could affect accurate separation.

Technicalities are great but understated, in the sens everything flow naturally with the QT9, and lack of individual BA tubing let natural resonance mix togheter beautifully, which can mislead the listener about above average transient response. Dynamic is fast but warmed in edge, it’s not a crisp and sharp sounding IEM yet clarity feel effortless. Still, i do think faster sustain-release would permit cleaner presentation and add air to the top. So at they end, Rose put everything into tonal balance, avoiding a technical focused approach that would boost resolution or magnify attack snap, which is a bit lacking.




The Kinera are brighter, dryer and more analytical with cleaner less warmed macro-resolution. Bass is less thick, more textured and dry, lighter in punch and less resonant in rumble, making the QT9 bass feel quite warm and dense. Mids are more agressive with more boosted upper mids, thinner brighter timbre, less dense and lush male and female vocal which seem very centered, QT9 timbre being notably denser and more natural and presence of isntrument and vocal more open and wide. Treble have more texture boost with IDUN, high harmonic are more boosted than low harmonic while QT9 have a good balance of both. IDUN highs are more revealing and boosted in micro details, they are more agressive, dry and upfront. Note weight is heavier with QT9 ,their less sibilance and both tonal and timbral balance is better, yet warmer and smoother. Soundstage is wider and taller with QT9, deeper with IDUN. Imaging is less foggy with IDUN but layering feel less dynamic and holographic.
All in all, IDUN sound more technicl-clinical-analytical than lusher, bassier and more organically balanced QT9 MK2S.

VS FIIO FH7 (1DD+4BA-500$)

Ok, i was very confident that Rose QT9 MK2S will beat the FIIO FH7…let say i was overly confident. FH7 is a brighter, bassier and more energic W shape, with a more open soundstage and holographic presentation. Imaging is superior and sounds layers are less compressed, but upper mids are more agressive and prompt to sibilance and vocal a bit more recessed and artificial in timbre while fuller and more breathy with the MK2S.
FH7 bass is incredible and sure higher in both quantity and quality, the slam have more weight and is better rounded and define, as well, we have more rumble and bass line are thicker and easier to follow than dryer one of MK2S. Strangely, bass is warmer and a bit more bleedy with MK2S too.
Mids are less agressive yet more dense and upfront in presence, but not as clean and well separated as FH7, so warmer they are and a hint more blurry yet not as grainy and spiky as FH7.
Treble is very different here, again, FH7 being notably brighter yet fuller in treble response which extract greater number of details to the cost of making percussions a bit too in your face sometime, were MK2S feel more balanced yet more rolled off after 10khz too. Attack of FH7 is more snappy too.
Soundstage as said is notably wider and deeper with FH7, imaging too is superior, more accurate and precise and less affected by resonance or lack of definition edge.
All in all, the FH7 is like a QT9 MK2S on steroid, tonal balance isn’t as organic but technicalities are superior…which confirm again how great these flagship FIIO are but how well tuned is 2 times cheaper MK2S too.



It’s the first IEM I test from Rose Technics company and hope it’s not the last because i’m truely impress by how well balanced, natural and cohesive is the tonality for a penta hybrid of this type. This QT9 MK2S is a very musical earphones with heavy dynamic and smooth dense timbre, this is a ”Jack of all trade” kind of sound with it’s own twist, it can sound fun bassy as well a neutral warm depending of music you play, it’s versatility is one of it’s highlight as well as it’s innoffesive yet energic in dynamic weight higly appealing musicality.
I’m truely impress by the tuning fluidity of this IEM which can be put in same league as Dunu DK-2001.
Highly recommended!

PS: I want to thanks Rose Technics for the review sample. I’m not affiliated or financially compensated for this review. Their zero bias and i’m 100% as honnest as always.
You can buy the Rose QT9 MK2S for 250$, directly from their official Aliexpress store here:

For more honnest audio reviews, give a look to my No Borders Audiophile website HERE.


Headphoneus Supremus
A Rose of a Different Color
Pros: A pair of (dual) TWF30019 balanced armatures for the treble
Another pair of (dual) TWF30018 balanced armatures for midrange
A single 10mm Liquid Crystal Tesla Dynamic Driver "Woofer"
Another great example of a modern-day Hybrid design
Spacious treble elements projected-out into the soundstage
Really good pace and rhythm
Comes in your choice of three colors-Green/Blue/Gray
Comes with your choice of 3.5mm/4.4mm or 2.5mm plug/cable
A literally crystal-clear shell-back, allowing the 10mm driver and 4 BAs to be seen
Enhanced phase correction over the previous models
Lower harmonic distortion than previous models
Two super-nice spring-loaded (synthetic-velvet lined) carrying cases
Comes with a small sheet of extra nozzle-filters
Comes with a cool MMCX cable removal tool for detaching the cable from the IEM
Included 1/4 inch jack adapter, to apply the cable to home amplifiers
Comes with a huge selection of ear-tips, some inside their own special carrying case
Gorgeous cloth-covered cable
I’m pretty sure this is the smallest 5 driver Hybrid IEM I have ever seen
Cons: Extra note weight could/would be desired, though it may be the key in how this signature all works-out?
Questionable amount of bass presence, probably enough for many
A Rose of a Different Color

Did you know there are 150 different species of roses? There are over 2500 rose varieties. The earliest roses originated in China over 5000 years ago. So it makes perfect sense to have an audio company name itself Rose, don't you think?

Screen Shot 2022-06-02 at 1.05.53 PM.jpg

Rose Technics/Technology

Archiee (the Rose representative) was nice enough to ask if I wanted to review the Rose QT-9 MK2S. Even though I had never heard a Rose product before, I said sure send them over. Rose has dialed-in the “QT9” 3 separate times over the years. Now even though it’s quite the name.............the “Rose QT-9 MK2S”……….it really means something. The products history is in the name. So even though it’s a mouth-full, it all means a progression, and if anything shows just how sincere Rose is to the original design. They don’t want to make a new name, they simply want to prefect the QT-9 model.

So three new QT-9 models in a five year time-frame. :astonished:

Rose QT-9 MK2S

one two three.jpg

Rose Technics/Technology has been bumping around Head-Fi for a few years garnering a loyal and sincere fan base. My personal discovery was inside the original Rose Technology thread here on Head-Fi in 2016.

I will never forget seeing the Rose IEMS back then. Back then, even in 2016, China made IEMs carried an air of exotic charm, due to coming from far-away. You even had trouble communicating with manufactures then. From 2016 till 2022 the world has somehow gotten even smaller? Nowadays they still carry (that) air, but they are more common. Now everyone has imported IEMs.

Some past flourishes:




Rose (for short) has made a number of products over the years. The first one that took hold was the 2017 #5 balanced armature flagship. Priced at $300 USD…….the BR5 MKII was top-of the-line! A quick scan of the internet shows they currently make a whole slew of in-ear-noise-makers and amazingly an extended offering of earbuds. You know those things that used to come with phones before IEMs? Maybe you don’t remember those times? I’m dating myself.....let’s get on with the review.

Now let's see what they are up to? What? They currently make all this?

The Rose BR5 MK11S, 5 Balanced Armature IEM $309.00
The Rose BR7EZA, 7 Balanced Armature TOTL IEM $549.00
The Rose Margaret, 2 Dynamic Driver IEM $169.00
The Rose Maria II, 2 Dynamic Driver Earbud $379.00
The Rose Martini, 1 Dynamic Driver Earbud $249.00

The Rose Mini MKII 2.0, 2 Balanced Armature IEM $109.00
The Rose Mini3Pro, 3 Balanced Armature IEM $149.00
The Rose Mini4, 4 Balanced Armature IEM $199.00
The Rose Mini6Pro, 6 Balanced Armature IEM $379.00
The Rose Miracle EST, 4 EST 2 Dynamic Driver IEM $879.00
The Rose North Forrest Pro, 1 Dynamic Driver IEM $26.90
The Rose Pudding, 4 Balanced Armature 1 Dynamic Driver IEM $385.00
The Rose QT-7 MK3, 1 Dynamic Driver 1 Balanced Armature IEM $139.00
The Rose QT7 Pro, 1 Dynamic Driver 2 Balanced Armature IEM $129.00

That’s quite a mouth full, or actually and ear-full! Whew! So? That’s just what they make right now, not their product history.

The newest QT-9 model described in summery:
You don’t have to read the whole review, just read this……

I found the Rose to be careful and reserved. Such an IEM is actually a very refined experience. You take it out of the box, the size, the weight! Very very small. The cable has a black cloth cover that feels wonderful. The MMCX connector offers a twist movement that you really almost don’t even need as they enter your ears. The Rose is incredibly easy to drive and sounds great from a phone or DAP. I even tried it with vivid/vibrant EDM and they were actually very very nice. Such an IEM doesn’t offer the biggest soundstage or note weight but kind of miniaturizes the experience. It’s actually much like looking at the QT9-MK2S in person. It sounds like exactly like what you think it would sound like by looking at it.

A miniature IEM.
Now in this day and age the word miniature is a controversial word. Isn’t bigger always better? Yes, and no. The no because at times there is an enjoyable balance…….a fusion of tone. Think of spreading stuff out too far and loosing cohesiveness, as that can happen. I mean this is a really tiny 5 driver IEM, and it overcomes many of the basic short-comings other IEMs have. At the bottom is a list of comparisons, so if you keep reading you will find-out how it stacks up to the competition. Their attribute is that they don’t try and do more than they are designed to do. Everything is in order and accounted for. The 10mm Liquid Crystal Tesla Dynamic Driver does the low-end. The dual TWF30018 balanced armatures expresses the midrange……………..and a dual TWF30019 balanced armatures focus on the the highs. This is a modern day Hybrid sound which offers a delineated treble experience and robust separated bass tone…….even though perception would tell you the QT9-MK2S is mainly midrange!

I would like to say that the Rose QT9-MK2S is unique sounding but it’s not……..but that doesn’t make it boring. It does the basics well and gets the job done, all the while still remaining super-small. It offers and enjoyable complete listen while still being a relatively good-value. The treble can be slightly bright with too much volume combined with the wrong file, but mostly it’s a pleasurable listen. The Rose QT9-MK2S comes with a great accessories package and unique design. The construction is first rate, combined with a daily user experience that is smooth and rewarding. It doesn’t really stand-out of the pack with a drastic personality, but makes its way by simply being conservative and friendly. Priced at $249 the Rose is a nice purchase, though maybe not an exceptional value……….but average. Meaning you get exactly the sound quality you are paying for today. You are not getting less sound quality and you are not getting more for your dollar. Where the uniqueness of value does come into play is the shape and size. Somehow they have been able to miniaturize the form-factor and supply the ultimate comfort which goes along with microscopic size? Due to the size/comfort the QT9-MK2S is perfect for sleeping, as well as the ultimate (low-weight snug-fitting) sports IEM. Combine that with great construction, a complete accessories package and we have a winner. You have a choice of three colors and three plug sizes to allow use with any DAP/Amp or phone. While in my comparisons it beat out some of the competition due to its special sound characteristics.

$249.00 USD
Rose Technics The Aliexpress Store to make your purchase.

End of encapsulated review:

The Rose QT9-MK2S, a study in balance
What is it?

Well of course it’s the advancement of the QT9 MK2, which is an advancement of the QT9. So? You can’t help but commend Rose for working hard to advance the sound quality. A better, new and improved Rose QT9-MK2? I hope so, I have never heard any Rose Technology IEMs.

Choices, choices choices:
A gray, blue or green faceplate is an option, as well as a choice of three plug styles; being 4.4mm balanced, 3.5mm or 2.5mm balanced.

A new sound?
This particular IEM is becoming really well received. It’s always nice to see when a manufacturer comes through with a new IEM that's a refinement of an older model. If it is truly an advancement, it's up to you to decide.

Have you ever witnessed someone struggling to get a written description of middle-of-the-road? To try and truly express the aspect of (the) middle is nearly impossible. You can say it’s medium on bass, but without extra examples for reference the reader is lost. Due to the fact that medium bass could mean anything! Same as midrange and treble descriptions, we need examples as to their character. Due to the Rose being this generally evenhanded performer, such extra associations are mandatory.

As in fact “middle-of-the-road” can actually have character too. You can think of that character-add like color and you would correct. But strangely to a point “color” seems to have derogatory connotations? When in reality color is what’s fabulous. Color in fact is the spice of life with headphones. We actually want tasteful color to guide us, to show us the path. This path is simply entertainment. And the fact that color is what makes listening interesting and fun. Any derogatory thoughts associated with color are in fact the substance of a true gripe, though just color in and of itself is not bad, it just depends how and where it’s used.

So while we are on the term, let’s just say the color is tasteful and in just the right amounts with the Rose. Not skewing reality or even a totally noticeable add. When done right it’s like the Cindy Crawford of adjustments. That small beauty mark which sets off a statement simply setting her apart from all other females of the species.

The bass:

The bass is noticeable though my personal preference leans to wanting more. I always wonder if I’m a borderline bass-head and I may actually be? Still the Rose offers a well done round and crisp bass experience. The key here is they have found a balance where all instruments are fully heard and can be viewed from an aerial perspective. Probably the best outcome of this style of bass response is the pace and timing at hand. There is no drunk sloppy bass floundering about making a mess. This is the accountants style of bass response, everything is in check and found to be ultimately in order. Lol

Such are the dynamics of a real DD in action, that many companies feel this style of bass is just the right amount of add, to complete and fulfill the sound requirements. A foundation of support for the rest of the playback. The evenness at times makes me respect the Rose even more as there is never an unwanted surprise. There is never that off-chance that the bass in a track will come on too strong. What I’m saying is if anything it’s the general consistency at hand that becomes the ultimate value here. It is like one of those things that nothing is jumping out at you, but in time…………………after a long while…………………the subtle charms of the Rose start to introduce themselves with this reserved and careful stance. What was boring at the start then becomes intrigue and curiosity.

And folks that’s the real magic at hand.

The midrange:

Don’t judge the Rose by any graphic representation. Why? The Rose actually comes off almost like all mids; the graph shows nothing of the sort. I mean that’s the thing, with all the styles of IEM tone/sound/personality responses this particular IEM finds replay right in the center of character. Not even contrasty or super vivid. So just like I have been putting down in print, the Rose is not boring or even colored (in a good way or a bad way) that much. The only color is the timbre off-color from the BAs, but even that is not real big deal. Supposedly there is harmonic distortion numbers and phase coherence numbers better than the last edition of the last QT9, but I have not heard that edition, so I can’t comment.

There is a pinna gain issue which will rear its peaks if you are not careful. If you are a super low volume listener this may actually never really be much of an issue. But with poorly recorded music combined with loud volumes it’s trouble…………….in what is normally a serene and peaceful style of playback. It’s also the fantastic imaging and itemization of elements in the upper midrange that causes all the action here. Those flourishes of entertainment happen primarily in the midrange due to the soundstage.The forwardness, if there is any, results from pinna gain energy. What this ends up doing is equalizing all attributes to gift us with perfect low volume listening.

So if you wonder what low volume master IEM of the year is…….you are reading about it right now.

You know how with a Sony V signature you may be always cranking the volume to hear the mids? Well my friends this is the total opposite. You will never be searching for the mids, as the are clear as daylight on a sunny day. The midrange is constantly bringing us more and more information. Though with super fast speed of music there may be a slight element of confusion? Like the BAs are slightly running over each other? Some may actually find this slight distortion fun and an endearing quality, as it’s simply the midrange balanced armatures doing what some balanced armatures do? There is a mild off-timbre, of course there is. But I have heard way worse, and the musicality at hand seems to make it less noticeable? I mean the Hybrid attributes are that there is serious separation and delineation of elements at hand, and for that I am grateful.

The treble:

The dual BAs do their job. While not necessarily of any true outstanding character, the Rose kinda just parlays a style of basic servitude. It’s probably the accountant’s IEM again. Lol

Nothing colored too different, in fact this may be zero color except for the slight off BA timbre? Just the basics done in basic servitude, doling-out basic results. It’s kind of this generic almost big-box-store style sound. Like you are in public........walking in a store and hear the stereo on display and listen for a moment. You make that face where your lower-lip rises for a second, then you walk-on and look somewhere else. It’s on the border of boring. Not quite boring, but not anything to write home about. The strange thing is this middle stance of colorless seems to be exactly what they were going for? I mean you don’t find this by random. You have to go out and search out this level of refinement.

The Package:
THe correction.jpg

Included in the package:
1) The Rose QT9-MK2S IEM

2) A MMCX cable removal tool

3) Two clam-shell boxes with synthetic velvet lining, you may want to put a different IEM in one?

4) 3 silicone tips sets and a double flange set

5) 6N Copper upgrade cable with complete cloth covering (update from the 4N before)

6) 1/4" stereo adapter plug for home use

7) A set of replaceable nozzle screens

8) Chinese language paper-work, maybe instructions or warranty information?


new plug.jpg

CONNECT .jpg new.jpg

Sound response discoveries:

Going through a plethora of music, it turns out the QT9-MK2S is well rounded. Meaning I could play The Star Wars and the entire OST was brilliant. I could play some early nineties poorly recorded and mastered music, and the Rose was not forgiving at all. Meaning I heard a slight compression and brightness in the treble, that was there in the music. Though really if you bring it well recorded music the world is your oyster! It really is. I especially liked well recorded OSTs as everything was correctly played, in fact, there was nothing added or subtracted from playback. All things were as they should be. Often I will review an IEM which is both colorful and vivid, here we are met with a subtle V response, only there is also a fully involving midrange to boot.

Here are examples of success stories....but remember with such a even-handed response, good music is almost everywhere, just don’t expect any poorly recorded digititus to somehow be brought back to life.


The Dark Knight Rises: OST
Hans Zimmer
192 kHz - 24 bit

A Storm Is Coming:

Highly controlled and yet full-scale response! The best part of “A Storm Is Coming” is that it’s only 36 seconds long, yet the perfect introduction. At 22 seconds we are treated to wide ambiance. Also there is an echo-rhythm and which ends almost at the song end. Such effects are almost like a sound-effect in the movie, but here it’s the soundtrack. You can actually hear the violins at 27 seconds which is the example of great separation.

On Thin Ice:

At 2 minutes 16 seconds we hear the bass start yet it is fully controlled. Over the years I’ve heard this 100s of ways, yet today is one of the most subdued yet correct ways I have heard it. You kinda have to be into the mood to hear this piece; the ebb and flow of the stings, the whole experience.

All and all this IEM is special in that it does many styles of music well. Still though the general character, even though it does everything correct, is a little on the pedestrian side, just a little. I say it’s maybe exactly worth what they are asking in contrast to what is out there. Though for classical buffs it’s worth way more than the price they are asking.

Gotham’s Reckoning:

I have heard the bass is this be way more emphasized, yet it seems very unified here. Also I don’t hear any off timbre or bad instrument tone. The bass is still incredibly visceral at the 20 second mark onward. The ultimate low note is at 32.5 seconds. I have concentrated on this single bass not since I first heard it. There is also these claps that sound like wood being hit. We are fine with this level of playback but those claps are borderline intense. Maybe they are supposed to be. This IEM doesn’t sugar-coat anything. The 2 minutes 35 second blasts show the climax of this particular song. And they are borderline too intense.

Mind If I Cut In:

This is a regular test song. Here the piano sounds correct and has nice decay. Though maybe slightly steely, just maybe? I mean actually it should, I guess? Still not a deal breaker, as when that bass drops at 2 minutes 7 seconds it is amazing. The bass rise at 2 minutes37-38 seconds can be heard well.

The comparison list:

The Giant Panda TINHIFI P1 MAX Universal IEM $169
The RAPTGO HOOK-X Universal IEM $239
The Tansio Mirai Sands Universal IEM $319
The THIEAUDIO Legacy 4 Universal IEM $195
The See Audio Yume Universal IEM $169

Upon seeing such list, the first thing that comes to mind is not knowing the driver make-up of the other contestants. Lets make that simple. The Panda and HOOK-X are planar IEMs, though the HOOK-X is actually a Hybrid planar, the sound is primarily planar sound. The other three are Hybrids, and our Rose QT9-MK2S is a Hybrid. So in may ways this test centers around Hybrid sound as well as all these are roughly the same price, with the See Audio and Panda being $169 and the Sands being the most pricey at $319. The Rose is priced at $249.00.

But before I get started I’m going to cut to the chase here. Why? Well there is too much information out there and too many reviews which are convoluted and long. So I’m going to actually start with the ending of this comparison battle. While it may be anticlimactic for some, for others it’s simple and just possibly all they need to read?

By the way, this is an excerpt from my Sands review a few days ago:

A comparison of the Rose QT9-MK2S Hybrid and the Tansio Mirai Sands Hybrid. Tuning Dip switches left standard:

A wild thing happened. As fate would have it I received the Sands one day before the Rose Technology QT9-MK2S. In fact they are both Hybrids and sport 10mm bass dynamic drivers. While the Rose has a dual TWF30018 for midrange and a dual TWF30019 for the highs, you would think that’s a pretty good resume. The Sands sports 2 Sonion balanced armatures for the middle and 1 Knowles balanced armature for high frequency. Now on paper this would seem like both IEM would share similarities. It was slightly anticlimactic. The Sands is $319.00, the Rose $ you would guess that the two IEMs would share the same Hybrid qualities. would be mistaken. The best way to describe the two is with the Sands offering a more vibrant and vivid display of all musical elements. (I like that feature) Where the Rose is slightly better compacted, it ends with less entertainment and less interaction/involvement taking place. IMO Thus the imaging of the Sands was dramatically larger, while a little less complete with the evenness, that drawback was well worth the attributes at hand. So I kept testing and moved from using my DAP for side by side tests to the Sony TA-ZH1ES desktop. The TA was utilized with the MUC-M12NB1 Balanced 4.4mm cable for the QT9-MK2S, and the HanSound Zen OCC in 4.4mm was used for the Sands. The reason I did this was to give the QT9-MK2S every possible advantage. Listening to the QT9-MK2S I liked what I heard, but it seemed to be missing a little note weight. The QT9-MK2S has a new 10mm driver, making it perform simply more even handed missing the boomy bass of the prior QT9-MK2. So the S stands for evenness. I made that nomenclature up.

All I wanted was the QT9-MK2S to become more weighty. Not a lot to ask right? I actually like all the IEM does, even though it’s very much prim and proper in comparison to the wild-man the Sands intrinsically is all the time. The TA-ZH1ES is my most weighty DAC/Amplifier. I even utilized DSD Remastering Engine, the DSEE HX and the DC Phase Linearizer. Such fancy processes are just names for a kind of up-sampling effect. They do more than up-sampling, but let’s leave it at that. The results were that yes, the QT9-MK2S was the best I ever heard it, but the Sands jumped up too, to a wider soundstage and better imaging. Where the bass on the QT9-MK2S jumped in quality, the Sands jumped in quality too. The bass is simply more prominent and real with the Sands. The Sands bass was distinguished as being way wide out on the soundstage where the QT9-MK2S had noticeable bass, it didn’t have much impact, like it forgot to take its vitamins that morning. Ahhh what can I say, I’m trying to be fair but love is blind and I love the Sands. Is this a question of preference? Maybe a little, but no. I feel most people would gravitate towards the Sands. Though they would need to match it with the correct cable and DAC/Amplifier to get the best results. Some how the Sands BA section is louder and more real, it’s like the QT9-MK2S is correct and all, but farther away and being at such distance it needs mental focus to see. Still what is there is very well displayed and complete. The QT9-MK2S needs your best files as with old hot treble masters, it's slightly hot at times. Though get the QT9-MK2S your best polished files and there is no trouble at all.

This ends in emotion as the result of auditory input. Better replay means you are watching the movie on a 60” wide screen TV, and not squinting to see a 12” monitor from across the room. Now I don’t want to exactly call the QT9-MK2S a 12 inch monitor, but you get my point. So laughably I did my best to cater to the Rose QT9-MK2S, and it did work out slightly. But still the Sands achieves a full-on 5 score and the Rose just makes a 4.

End of comparison to Sands:
So after all that I will continue to fold in the other 4 IEMs in our comparison today. Now as you may guess, there is a benefit to trying these other IEMs. Why. We just had the two heavy hitters battle it out? Well as is always the case with life, there are more differences and things to learn. The main issue and main problem many will have with the Tansio Mirai Sands is its brightness. Brightness is a whole concept in Head-Fi but I will try and reduce it here.

Brightness is the perception of detail and tonality in the mids and treble area of the IEM sound response spectrum. It’s actually individualistic, meaning it’s a person by person phenomena. What may be perfect tone for one.............will be too bright for another.

What that says is the Tansio Mirai Sands may in fact be too bright for some. So if that is the case, now others on the comparison list have a greater chance of being alternative choices besides the Rose QT9-MK2S. We are simply trying to discover if the Rose is competitive and how much so in comparison to other Universal IEMs in the same price bracket. When in fact the HOOK-X, Giant Panda, Yume and Legacy 4 are totally popular IEMs with large and loyal fan bases.

So let’s get going, shall we?

The HOOK-X vs Rose QT9-MK2S:

For the sake of completeness, the Rose had 75 hours of burn-in and the HOOK-X had 200. Both IEMs using the 3.5mm cable from the same DAP.

The Rose QT9-MK2S starts out spectacularly more efficient, not a little………….but a lot. This concept in and of itself suggests a huge issue with my testing methods, as I don’t have an electronic volume meter. So there is no-way of knowing (truly) the exact volume levels are of each IEM. This is a huge deal, and has more ramifications than on the surface would be guessed. So as always, I will do my best to still be accurate and fair.

The Rose QT9-MK2S shows straight off more high-end treble involvement. So much so that a tinge of spikiness was shown in comparison to the laid-back sonic luxury the HOOK-X is renowned for. Still, they are both Hybrids with 4 BAs X 1DD in the Rose QT9-MK2S and a Piezo with a planar in the HOOK-X. What this amounts to is a slightly brighter Rose QT9-MK2S. In this test today the bass was actually an area of profound confusion. As I have a long and detailed history with the HOOK-X bass, still my bass comparisons today were not adding up? Going by memory/experience the HOOK-X should have a lot more bass? But in side by side tests there was not the difference I expected? Emotionally I expected the HOOK-X to fully win-out over the Rose QT9-MK2S, but that was not the case. This of course could be the fact that with the Rose you are concentrating more on the treble and midrange than the bass in daily use, but when you concentrate on bass (like in a side-by-side test) then there is maybe more of it? Truly I don’t know? It’s "OK" to not have a definite idea about a segment of the response in comparisons. But the HOOK-X had longer tail-off to the bass, a stronger decay feeling. Where the Rose QT9-MK2S was more hit-and-be-gone bass. Somehow the two bass amounts were very close, with the HOOK-X winning by a smidge. Maybe todays issues resulted due to the time needed with the HOOK-X. The HOOK-X actually needs a long listening time before you mentally adapt to its charms. It appears one way in side-by-side tests, only to become much more "warm" after mental adaptation sets-in.

Still the main differences that are found with the Rose upper midrange and treble expansions, the fact that they always provide more (brightness) with every genre of music and at all volume levels. Such abilities stay in contrast to the HOOK-Xs more flat field treble/midrange dynamics. Do you want that BA differentiation, or the “oneness” of the HOOK-X? Such differences bring out the question is BA detail truly better or just different? I will let you decide. I probably have and have had more fun with the HOOK-X? The soundstage is the biggest issue too, being that the HOOK-X offers wider stage and therefor more involving than the Rose QT9-MK2S. Still there will be those that find the Rose QT9-MK2S soundstage to be more accurate and together, being ever so prim and proper in its character.

The Giant Panda TINHIFI P1 MAX vs Rose QT9-MK2S:
The Rose miles more efficient again! Miles easier to power/drive. Now it’s fun as the bass differences are by far easier to understand. The Rose makes the whole sound of the Panda more reserved and tame. While the Rose finally gets its chance to flaunt its character in contrast to another. No more wondering or subtle differences. The Rose in comparison to the Panda is way more vivid and shows it's ultimate vibrancy here. It’s not funny now………..finally the Rose has an IEM to beat-up.

While the the Panda owns a darker (non-BA) non-metallic tinge of guitar replay, the Rose has better bass tone. The treble with the Panda shows that oneness and compactness.....................where the Rose is compact to the Tansio Mirai Sands, it’s open and spacious in comparison to the Panda. But to go back to guitars, it’s amazing how the overall tone can be so different.

The reason some reviewers say the Panda is not a vocal IEM is due to the relief (the distance the vocals emerge in the soundstage). Where some reviewers place the Panda as a vocal IEM being based simply on tonal response. When in reality they are both right. That is the Panda has a character of not owning recessed-mids, but at the same time never expands ANYTHING out or into relief into the soundstage. So here we witness our true diversity. The Rose happens to be an opposite of the Panda here. The farther I get from my stellar review of the Panda, the more of an odd-ball I see it. Remember though, nothing wrong with being an odd-ball!

It's odd due to a number of things, while those “odd” things don’t make it bad, they do make it one of a kind. I like that. Still the Rose is carrying on with the standard hybrid design and theory. Rose Technology has improved phase character and harmonic distortions to arrive at the QT9-MK2S. Those improvements may be real, and going old-school Hybrid on the Panda, I think maybe it’s better. The Rose has more of an issue with the slight heat in places, but over-all it’s better due to winning out on a number of testing metrics. The planar is doing what Planar drivers do, and classic Hybrid here has been slowly refined to be all it can be. More contrast, more vividness, more resolution, more music.

Still, when you are in the mood, the Panda is wonderful. A very together response that can be tailored in to produce a super fast bass experience, even faster than the QT9-MK2S. That’s right, Rose was actually attempting to arrive at that same quality of bass as the Panda does naturally, but of course multiple drivers (DD+4BA) can’t in any way replicate the cohesive qualities of a planar. In my testing today, the Panda is so reserved that you need to take time to get to know once more and all over again! Even if you haven’t heard it for a day. Such subtlety is waisted on fast side-by-side testing. To get to know the Panda means taking at least an hour before your mind starts to open to the compactness and structure at hand. It’s not really boring, though may come off so, in relation to these vibrant QT9-MK2S BA experiments? At the same time the Panda is a 6 hour listen where the Rose limits her stay due to the focus and intensity uniformly provided with no let-up.

The THIEAUDIO Legacy 4 Universal vs Rose QT9-MK2S:
So somehow the Legacy 4 is slightly better than the Yume (below) at doing correct timbre. Still the Rose QT9-MK2S is actually better at technicalities including timbre, staging, pace, detail and transient response. What the Legacy 4 does have better coherency due to (I’m guessing) less drivers? There is a special flow that takes place with the Legacy 4 that is maybe done with a special tune. While some may run from the upper midrange peak the legacy 4 has the Rose has a peak too, and not much far behind in intensity. But all is well, as the people who buy these styles of Hybrids at least know what they are getting into. Luckily, now you know too! The bass style is different, yet exactly the same here. They Legacy 4 using a faster 8mm DD in comparison to the slightly more substantial 10mm used by the Rose. How would I rate the two? Well, really they put out close to the same value, though the Rose has more fullness and does slightly more with the technicalities. The Legacy 4 is stripped down in a way, less busy and almost doing the same amount of playback?

The See Audio Yume vs Rose QT9-MK2S:
At first I was going to not compare these two. I just thought the missing bass on the Yume made it no longer pertinent? But as always an investigation un-folded, new enlightenment took place. The first thing is today the Yume sounded great. Somehow I have placed her into the Bermuda Triangle of destinies. Somehow great, but owning of properties too easily bettered in rotation to another IEM. So today I see her in crystal clarity, for better or worse she is what she is. And what a story. Probably the first thing is the timbre. Yes, the standard off-timbre, but somehow the midrange focus (due to lack of bass) causes the timbre to come out “nude”. Fully the off-sound of BAs just doing what they do to replicate music. And while in this price range, there is all over the road styles of BA timbre. Which in itself means we can witness some OK, some bad, and some not so bad. Here, well let’s just say the Rose QT9-MK2S is way better at sounding natural and wholesome. The fact that the Rose also has better defined and louder bass seals the deal. Rose 9 points, Yume 2 points. I’m not actually doing a point system, that was for laughs. Though I will give the Yume a plus for having a great overall tune, it's just missing a large part of the technicalities we take for granted as being included in the price range.

The Incredibly small form-factor:

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It turns out this is the 3rd reiteration of the QT9 in 5 years time. That means instead of making some new design/name, they are sticking to evolving the model closer to perfection. The resulting S model offers better phase coherence and harmonic distortion numbers. The DD is now a 10mm Liquid Crystal Tesla Dynamic, changing from the Goertek Tungsten Alloy Dynamic in the last non-S model. The dual TWF30018 for mids and dual TWF30019 for the treble are the same from before. Our color choices offer a Blue, Green or Grey faceplate, the cable will come with your choice of 3.5mm single ended or 4.4/2.5 balanced. As you can see the Rose QT9-MK2S really caused some havoc in the side-by-side completion, wining out over the Yume by a score of 9 to 2. The Giant Panda an interesting dilemma? The RAPTGO HOOK-X was a draw and the Sands won-out over the Rose QT9-MK2S.

The Rose QT9-MK2S offers a stand-up package with not one but two carrying cases. What makes this product totally unique is the size, an IEM you could even sleep with if you so desired. Such comfort is a trademark of great design. The stand-out value is that it's well tuned and covers the whole audio spectrum. The Rose has an even, correct and complete frequency response, it is just short on technicalities. The Rose QT9-MK2S's biggest technicality issue is note weight. It is what it is. It looks like Rose went and curtailed the bass slightly too much this time and maybe note weight went along with it.

An increase the soundstage, bass and note weight may truly give us a winner, as everything else is great, and better than great.

$249.00 USD

Rose Technics The Aliexpress Store to make your purchase.

Disclaimer: These thoughts and ideas are of one individual, your results may vary.

Equipment Used:
Sony WM1Z Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm/3.5mm
Sony WM1A Walkman DAP MrWalkman Firmware 4.4mm/3.5mm
Sony TA-ZH1ES DAC/AMP Firmware 1.03
Electra Glide Audio Reference Glide-Reference Standard "Fatboy" Power Cord
Sony Walkman Cradle BCR-NWH10
AudioQuest Carbon USB
Apple iPad

This ends review.

Last edited:


500+ Head-Fier
Rose Technics QT-9 MK2S
Pros: -
- Highly resolving
- Superb technicalities
- Super easy to drive
- Great speed
- Very well built
Cons: -
- Could use a bit more density with dynamic transients
- Slightly on the drier side with overall timbre
- Highly technical, somewhat lacking on musical elements
- Will need time to adjust to wearing the shells



  • This unit was provided by Rose Technics for review purposes
  • My has QT-9 MK2S undergone over 200 hours of playtime
  • I don't do measurements, I just describe what I hear, from my own POV
  • I don't use EQ
  • The entirety of my impressions was done with the stock Foam Tips
  • Ultimately, my reviews are purely subjective and biased to my personal preference in sound
  • CEntrance DACport HD
  • Cayin RU6
  • NotByVE Avani
  • LG V50 ThinQ
  • HiBy Music Player (USB Exclusive Mode)
  • FLAC Lossless Files
The Build
QT-9 MK2S came in a very professional looking package end to end. From the box to the IEMs itself. No silly Waifus or anything like that. Just pure practical unit, built with purpose. I really like the transparent rear shells, with all the internals shown clearly. The front flat side being equally simple and elegant. However I must say that it takes some time to adjust my ears to wearing this QT-9 MK2S, while seemingly smaller than most IEMs, the design of the inner side has some sort of upper ridge serving the role of an anchor which in turn making it possible to attain very secure placement. After getting used to the feel, I was able to wear it comfortably for few hours non stop.

The MMCX terminated stock cable comes in fabric sleeve finish. All black and seemingly very robust too. Complete with functional chin slider and ended with a 3.5mm angled stereo jack. The twist braid of the main cable imparting no nonsense professional look that is functional as it is practical.

Thankfully, QT-9 MK2S also comes with neat boxed set of accessories which include different array of silicone and a pair of foam tips.


Sound Impressions


Tone and timbre signature of QT-9 MK2S hovers towards “almost” neutral sound. Taking Etymotic ER4 series as the benchmark for Diffused Field Neutral, QT-9 MK2S almost matched the sound curve of the Etys - at least that's what my ears are telling me. Nonetheless, QT-9 MK2S assuredly fall into one of the most neutral sounding unit available. It is admirably mature with fluid dynamic transients, non euphonic vibrancy. However upon further scrutiny, I sensed that the Midrange may appear slightly less pronounced, not exactly recessed, it remained neutral but reined in mildly.
Dynamic range appeared well spread. QT-9 MK2S offers great extensions end to end. Perhaps being clinical I would say it does seem to fall slightly short on the most extreme region of Treble when compared against TOTL standards, in this case I get more extensions from the likes of Shure KSE1500 or Etymotic ER4SR.
Subjectively critical, from my own perspective I think the overall sound characteristics of QT-9 MK2S can appear a tiny bit dry and lean especially when paired with natively bright sounding partners – just a little short on organic touch (but this is nitpicking really). But then when paired with an already neutral organic sources, QT-9 MK2S will then sound very well balanced and articulate – devoid of any edginess - the sound theme being highly fluid and effortless.


Mids of QT-9 MK2S, very neutral and uncolored. The staging of Mids properly placed to appear well defined with clean and crisp imaging. Tonally faithful to the sources. there's great amount of texture and details especially for acoustic, percussions and air instruments, polished maturity in the way attack and decays with how the instruments being played.
On vocals, QT-9 MK2S exhibited similarly neutral presentation. Diana Krall and Sinne Eeg vocals, properly chesty and deep, no indication of added element of warmth. On the other hand, with something a bit peakier like Alison Krauss, QT-9 MK2S faithfully presented her Soprano singing with piercing tone which may appear borderline sibilant. I personally find this to be quite acceptable because I get similar results from the Etys. For male vocals, QT-9 MK2S works equally great with Baritone type, or low Octave – being very chesty, deep and commanding, Nick Cave and Morrissey sounded realistically lively and engaging. Again, without any hint of added warmth.


The general theme for QT-9 MK2S Treble, it is super clean, smooth and crisp. There's abundance of micro details where I can hear subtle high frequency nuances, bested only by TOTL level IEMs. If I want to dig for smooth Treble details, QT-9 MK2S will not disappoint. Despite all this, Treble will never appear to outdo itself by being unnaturally bright. The shimmer and sparkle sounded just about right, always crisp and smooth at the same time. I think to fully appreciate QT-9 MK2S high frequencies, it is best suited for music with myriad of percussion instruments, recordings that has lots of cymbals and splashes, works great too for classical and acoustic music.


What is certain, QT-9 MK2S is not for Bassheads. Bass being very tight and fast. QT-9 MK2S favors prompt and clean edged Sub Bass decays over lingering dispersal. Mid Bass offered neutral mass, density and presence. Both being well balanced to not overshadow each other. It was not difficult for me to discern the transition of Bass flow from Mid Bass to Sub Bass, QT-9 MK2S being highly disciplined with clean output making it possible to achieve this. Mid Bass does have substantial impact and slam when the recording demands for it, otherwise it will remain disciplined for most of the time. My own observation, QT-9 MK2S Bass prowess will be suitable for stringed Bass and not so much for electronic type of Bass responses


Perhaps the strength of QT-9 MK2S, technicalities. For one, this IEM exceed at being highly resolving and detailed. QT-9 MK2S would pick up subtle nuances that exist in the recordings. The layering clinically clean and succinct. The flow of notes easy to track no matter how complex the composition is. Which suggests that there's great cohesion for QT-9 MK2S multi drivers, working in harmony and keeping speed to resolve them all admirably.
However, I do feel that the soundstage and headroom could use a bit more of space. While not exactly narrow, I was hoping for better presentation that is more open and spacious. Even when subjected to high powered driving partners, the staging and headroom still felt it needed a bit more of space to fully breathe.
In short, QT-9 MK2S absolutely qualify itself for the use of studio monitoring for the technical prowess alone. I can imagine that the good balance of neutrality and excellent technical prowess that is very transparent will make QT-9 MK2S completely at home in any studios.


At just 12 Ohms, QT-9 MK2S will already sound great even with my LG V50 ThinQ at low gain settings. QT-9 MK2S is highly efficient and adaptable. However this also means QT-9 MK2S exhibited less competencies to scale better with more powerful partners. Comparing my QT-9 MK2S when driven with the 4.1 Vrms 775 mW of DACport HD and 2 Vrms of Cayin RU6, I honestly can't decide if there's any improvement over what I heard as when driven with my 1 Vrms Avani. But this should be viewed as QT-9 MK2S being pleasantly easy to use, that is a huge bonus for those who prefer to keep things simple.


Final Thoughts

Reflecting on my own experience with QT-9 MK2S, I can clearly see this wonderful IEM being very suited for those preferring highly technical output. It is amazingly clinical and clean. However, from a very subjective standpoint - over the years I have developed a preference for something a bit more musical. I still do appreciate highly technical set, but I would prefer for them to be well balanced too. So honestly I feel that QT-9 MK2S fell a bit short on the musical element. I have transcended from the "analyzing the music" stage to "just enjoy the music" state. I feel that QT-9 MK2S could have done better with conveying the emotions of sound instead of just presenting it transparently. Oh well, that's just me being me.

Let's not ignore the fact that QT-9 MK2S will surely please and satisfy the need for Hi-Fi sort of sound reproduction. The technicalities alone will ensure that element will be offered in abundance.

Cheers :D
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that eartips is very special really attract me
Easy driveability, that's what I was looking for. I use IEMs for portability. Thanks for the awesome review.


Headphoneus Supremus
Rose QT9-MK2S
Pros: Well designed, smaller compact form hybrid housing two dual BAs or 4BAs and a highly specialized 10mm LCD Dynamic for bass. A good spacious stage, especially for using such a small housing. Good technicalities, imaging, detail, sound separation, timbre with good balanced tonality. Utilizing a new tesla magnet with a new LCD dynamic for a new bass presentation from their former MK2 model resulting in a better tonal balance and cohesion for the drivers.
Clam shell hard cases more sturdy vs the traditional zip up case or pouch.
Cons: Might be a bit too small for larger ears to get a good fit using included tips. Tip and cable rolling recommended for the best fit and sound from the QT9 earphones. More of a revision vs being completely different from the former MK2 version. Has less bass presence but speedier and tighter bass presentation vs the MK2 so will depend on how you like your bass.
Rose QT9-MK2S

Rose Technics has been making earphones for years and it is one of those groups that keep on keeping on and has for the most part been overlooked on headfi. I have to admit I am guilty of overlooking this brand myself, that was until I got to review the Rose QT9-MK2 last year. I know naming conventions here are a bit confusing. Would have been better if they called it MK3 or something entirely different but why throw the 3 if you can just throw an S. The new S version promises a few new aspects that make them a revision. A new upgraded dynamic driver, new upgraded cable and a slight balancing tweak.

Slight tweaks for already established earphones seems to be a good way to revise and renew an older product. The Rose QT9-MK2 was a surprise in several ways. It had an energetic, balanced V shaped tuning with some very surprising technicalities all within one of the most compact shells that can house 4BAs + 10mm dynamic. My take on the original MK2 you can read about here.

What you get.
The Rose QT9-MK2S comes with 2 medium sized rectangular clam shell case/ boxes for storage and carry. You can pretty much fit the entirely of what comes with the QT9-MK2S inside one of them but you get a 2nd box just in case. A smaller box houses the tips 3 silicones in various sizes, a double flange and a large foam set. The new cable is a newly developed 6N OCC copper cable that is supposedly an upgrade from their prior 4N crystal copper. A stereo adapter and new to Rose technics one of them mmcx removal tools.

The new S version has a new upgraded 10mm Liquid Crystal Tesla Dynamic. Moving on from a 10mm Goertek tungsten alloy dynamic. And here was the only real change in drivers. A bit of research on my end shows the new S version is using the same Knowles BAs, a dual TWF30018 for mids and a dual TWF30019 for the highs. So yes technically they are using 4BAs. Using dual BAs makes sense in a smaller form factor shell. The drivers here are stuffed inside the same exact compact housing which was reused on the new S version. Why change one of the most comfortable smaller form factor plastic shells. The new S version has increased sensitivity and a more expanded frequency range from the former MK2 version. Also apparently the tunings for the QT9 series have been done by a former Fostex tuner Xie Yu. Interesting. I can see how these QT9 series of earphones have some similar tuning philosophies with some of the traditional older Fostex tunings. As they are all V shaped tunings.

Is the change in a dynamic driver enough for a new version? It is a revision but one of the aspects I actually liked about the former MK2 version was its visceral bass. Ya sometimes you want an IEM with some visceral impactful bass in it. That was the MK2 version. The new one is supposedly an upgrade, Yes and no. Let me explain.

Firstly I would like to thank Archiee from Rose Techniques for reaching out to me to do a review for the Rose QT9-MK2S. The review unit was burned in for a period of a week and are now ready for evaluation using my sources Ibasso DX300Max, Fiio M15, Shanling M6 pro, M5s, M3s, IBasso DX160, Fiio K3 2021, IFI black label for amping. The QT9-MK2S was provided for the purpose of a review. If you feel you need to get a smaller form factor well tuned hybrid you can get yourself a set from Rose Technics Aliexpress page here.

I am wondering about the reasoning for this revision. It is very obvious Rose Technics folks are proud of this one. They even put in the descriptor on their Aliexpress page as using flagship level components. Marketing stuff for me is mostly ignored but truth be told their former QT9-MK2 was a surprise for me and every other person that got one.

It was and still is for its price, one of the best small form hybrids you can buy in the market. Smaller form meaning the actual shells are smaller than your average medium or larger hybrid shells used in the market. Can you show me just how many smaller hybrids are out on the market today that includes 4BAs and a 10mm dynamic? Ya that's what I thought.

Not many is the answer. The QT9 earphones are actually one of the smallest out there if not the smallest. This is an immediate plus right there. Sometimes good sounding earphones don’t mean squat when the fitment is too big or awkward to the point there is discomfort. However there is one negative about just how small these QT9 shells actually are. The shells are small and so are the nozzles, being relatively short. This means if you have large ear cavities you will have to use longer tips to get optimal seal inside your ears. I think overall having a small form factor is never a bad thing but in order to fit most ear shapes it will be the large eared folks that will have to adjust to the small size of the QT9-MK2S. The same shell was used for their newest S version. If I showed you a picture side by side

Of the older QT9-MK2 blue and the new QT9-MK2S green. While they look the same, the sound however has some key changes that you might actually like better or worse depending on how you like your earphone bass presentation. And that is where the biggest change comes from.

So far going back and forth from the prior MK2 version and the new MK2S version. Bass characteristics have clearly changed. MK2 version had a fun/ exciting visceral bass. It was one of the factors that separated the MK2 from other hybrids I have reviewed in the past using similar driver make up. There is bass emphasis and then there is visceral. The MK2 was visceral. It rumbled like a champ and hence it was an addictive listen. But the QT9 earphones are not just about the bass but its utilization of 2 sets of dual Knowles BAs which held up their parts of the sound just fine.

Sometimes you take away that visceral quality to help out for a better balanced tonal presentation and that is what you're getting with the new S version. The new dynamic seems to have its own flavoring when it comes to bass as well.

Treble is clean, extended well and presents with good imaging, detail and transients. Treble tuning has a moderate emphasis to offset the bass end of the QT9-MK2S but this time around due to the tighter, cleaner bass presentation of the new S version, treble and mids get a slight boost for its balancing. In simple terms you take away a bit of the bass which lets mids and the treble breathe and take more of the center stage. This is what you're getting with the new S version with the side benefit of better coherency as well.

BA timbre is there but not to the point where thes QT9 earphones sound unnatural or overly clinical. QT9 both the MK2 and the new S version both have good coherency and its sound balancing is done tastefully which includes bass presence. The new upgraded bass component actually helps a bit with even better coherency on the new S version as it does not have the same pronounced impactfulness as the prior MK2 version. So while the new S version, one would assume it will be an obvious upgrade on the older MK2. It is and it isn’t. Some will actually prefer the prior version due to the more impactful visceral bass. I will get into the bass aspects of the new S version but for now. I don’t necessarily think these are an immediate upgrade, in fact the S version shares more similarities than differences vs the prior MK2 version. Especially when comparing their mids and treble aspects. The S version is more like a different take on the MK2 vs being a different earphone altogether.

Mids on the S version is clean with enough body to not make them thin sounding or missing some aspects. While the mids are not forward in the balancing. They don’t have an obvious recession either. Mids have good presence with about the same amount of upper mids of the prior MK2 version had roughly 10dbs of upper mid pinna gain. Utilizing a dual BA to do the mid bands. Mids have good fundamental layering, good tonal balance and show the benefits of utilizing some nice BAs.

Its technicalities are what you would expect for using two BAs. Dimensional aspects are about average here for the given drivers but considering the restriction of the housing space, you get a bigger sound than the physical size of the earphones would indicate. Stage is quite good in how it expands and makes good use of the depth and height as well as the width being clearly above average. Coming from a small housing this is quite magical actually. Its Imaging has proper space to work with and detail and sound separation for the mid bands are good at the price range but not remarkable. If I was to complain a bit. Mids come a bit dry in presentation but otherwise the mids have very good presence for proper engagement for your favorite tracks.

Rose Technics provides a graph on their sales page that clearly shows these are a V shaped tuning however if you were to judge the sound just based on the graph it shows the mids have recession. This is just not true when you listen to these and their former MK2. Mids have good body and density to its presentation and does not show obvious recession traits. Having ample pinna gain or upper mids helps in that regard giving a vocal lift for vocals and instruments.

Bass is where the main differences are from the prior MK2 version. As such we are going from a borderline bass head MK2 to a moderate, tighter and speedier bass presentation of the S version. Utilizing a new Tesla magnet, I do notice a tighter speedier bass performance from the S version. I didn’t think the prior MK2 was sloppy or slow by any means but it clearly has more of an impactful nature to its presentation that the new S version does not. I can argue that the new S version is more of a mature take on the MK2. But at the same time I actually thought it was one of the better traits for the MK2. So it will come down to what your preferences for bass are. Brawny vs tighter speedier bass, is the difference. Another benefit of the new bass on the S version is that it brings better tonal character to its overall presentation simply by the fact that the bass does not stand out as much.

Bass on the S version is plenty impactful when called upon, again its speed is clearly noticeable on speedy metal tracks. While not as fast as all BA bass offerings it makes up for it with a more natural bass presentation and a deep reaching sub bass with good texture. So the bass end will be reliant upon a proper tips selection. In going with a small form factor and a short nozzle. Both the prior MK2 and the S version shown here

For folks with sizable ears will have to find longer stemmed tips, like double flange tips in order for the ears to seal correctly. This matters especially for bass. I let a coworker try out the QT9 MK2S using a standard tip and he was saying how they sounded bass light.

The bass on the S is not light, I would say more moderate in impact with very good extension. Subbass is excellent on the S but he was not hearing it as much as I was. That was when I realized the guy had larger ear canals than me. The smaller housing will fit everyone but at the same time it will be the large ears that might have a slight fitment issue. While Rose provides a single pair of double flange tips I had to resort to my tip collection to get the best tips for better seal and sound. Tip rolling will most definitely be required to get the best sound out of the QT9-MK2S. While on the subject of tip selection. I also recommend trying out your favorite aftermarket cables as well. I feel the stock cable does just fine but I do notice clear improvements with aftermarket cables.

Overall the Rose QT9 MK2S is more of a revision than an upgrade of sorts on the sound. I think Rose is reintroducing the MK2 with a more mature take on the sound is what they are doing on the new S version. Its advantages are that it clearly utilizes each driver to maximize the sound presentation of the MK2S all inside one of the smallest housings in the industry. Due to the new bass presentation the S version actually has the upper hand in versatility vs the prior version. But at the same time folks that actually want a more impactful deep rumbly bass would probably prefer the prior version over the new S version.

However, the new S version has better tonal qualities with a speedier, tighter bass presentation. As I understand it, you can still purchase the MK2 version on the nets, but the Rose site only has the new S version. It will really be up to the prospective buyer of these earphones if they want the new S version or the MK2 version based on sound descriptors. Rose has done a great job in creating one of the smallest hybrids in the industry with a big sound but at the same time there is nothing really groundbreaking or substantial for hybrids here. One suggestion I have for Rose is that they need to explore a medium sized shell for an even better stage and improve the ergonomics of the shell with a longer stem.

I would say these earphones are priced accordingly and represent hybrids in the price range just fine and I suppose if you're looking for a smaller more compact hybrid design these are an easy recommendation. They have a very good energetic balanced sound signature and provide an easy formfactor to get into and clearly shows its versatility. It has a large sound that engages the listener and will be a good earphone to get into for your daily sessions. Thanks for taking the time to read .
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1000+ Head-Fier
Third Time's the Charm?
Pros: Improved cohesion and tonal balance, now sports a very natural signature
Well-textured bass
Clear and open midrange
Natural body to male vocals
Sweet and energetic female vocals
Extremely well-extended, airy and even treble
Solid technicalities
Outstanding timbre for a hybrid
Excellent build and comfort
Good accessorization in general
Cons: Bass lacks some slam and physicality
Pinna gain may be too aggressive for some
Anti-sibilance scoop is large, losing some harmonics
Some central imaging congestion on busier tracks
Isolation could be better
No carry case

Introduction: Rose Technics remains a lesser-known manufacturer in Western markets, although it seems as though they are slowly but surely gaining some notice both for their earbuds and for their IEMs, the latter of which have the claim to fame of being some of the most compact hybrid units on the market.

Last year I reviewed the QT-9 MK2 and was surprised by how much I enjoyed its juxtaposition of a meaty and visceral DD-powered bass with an airy and technical midrange and treble. Now Rose is back with another revision to the same IEM series, the QT-9 MK2S. How does it compete against its predecessor on the one hand, and entries from other manufacturers on the other? Read on to find out.

I would like to thank Archie from Rose Technics for reaching out and offering to send me a sample of the MK2S in exchange for my honest review.

The specifications are as follows:
  • Driver Configuration: 1DD+4BA
  • Frequency Response: 8 - 44600Hz
  • Sensitivity: 108dB
  • Resistance: 12Ω
  • Cable: MMCX to 3.5mm

Packaging & Accessories: Rose has upgraded the packaging, opting for what is (at least for me) a complete novelty in separating the contents within the slip cover into two separate hardshell cases: one for the earbuds and one for the accessories. Each of these cases are not simply for packaging, but rather are intended for permanent storage and lined interiorly with faux-velvet to keep your earphones looking good. The disadvantage here is that neither are at all pocketable, and no other form of carry case is included.


As far as other accessories go, we receive a fairly complete package. By way of tips we get a set of rather nice and pliable wide-bore tips in S/M/L, a pair of foams tips, and a pair of double-flange tips. We also receive a set of replacement nozzle filters, a 3.5mm-6.35mm adapter, an MMCX tool, and a very nice upgraded stock cable (MMCX to 3.5mm with an L-shaped plug). The stock cable deserves special notice since the older model had a good-sounding but rather thick and inflexible copper cable, while the new model comes with a 6N OCC cable which is now braided with a nylon cover, and is much more ergonomic while retaining the same sonic benefits. However, there are unfortunately some microphonics.


Build & Comfort: The QT-9 MK2S retains substantially the same shell design as its predecessor, which is all to the good in my view. The shells are interestingly constructed out of plexiglass, giving it a much sturdier constitution than many competing IEMs. The faceplate is aluminum and now comes in a choice of blue, green, or gray. The shells also continue Rose Technic’s legacy of extremely compact and ergonomic shells, and are still the smallest and amongst the most comfortable hybrids I’ve ever possessed; side sleeping is no issue for me and I suspect will not be for most. The MMCX connectors are tight and feel very solid. The one shortcoming is that the triple-vented shells are not the most isolating out there; otherwise, everything is as good as I could ask for.


Signature: The MK2S retains the W-shaped signature of its predecessor, but the revised version I find it to be a more balanced and natural tonality: whereas the original had a visceral subwoofer-like bass combined with light and airy mids and treble, this has much more homogenous sound with more or less equal emphasis between the bass, vocals, and treble. In addition, the lower and true mids are less recessed and overshadowed by the bass than the original. All in all, I would call this a lowercase-w rather than the uppercase-W of the original. It has a very natural presentation, nicely detailed yet also prioritizing a sense of engagement throughout each of the tonal regions.


Bass: The bass is certainly elevated on the MK2S, though it is not nearly as bold and visceral as on the original MK2. While it is fairly fast and tight, the attack is on the soft side, it doesn’t move a ton of air, and it doesn’t have a great deal of slam or impact (although the mid-bass slam can be somewhat more satisfactory than the sub-bass impact, having a slighter greater elevation and degree of emphasis). On the other hand, texture is quite nice and there is good detail in the lower registers. Decay is slightly on the slow side, but only slightly, imparting a hint of atmosphere while keeping everything very clean. My theory here is that Rose was perhaps trying to thread the needle and retain some of the benefits of a DD while at the same time emulating certain other characteristics of BA bass in order to improve coherence throughout the tonal ranges.

Mids: The lower midrange, as mentioned above, is slightly recessed but still hews fairly close to neutrality. The note weight is a bit on the lighter side, although not so ethereal as on the MK2; there is a greater sense of body to instrumentation and to male vocals in particular, and while certainly not warm I would not characterize them as cool either. There is a great deal of clarity and openness, and resolution is quite satisfactory.

The upper mids are another story, as they have a fairly energetic character which gives very good presence to stringed instruments and sweetens female vocals while pushing them forward in the mix. Some early impressions of the MK2S have included reports of shoutiness and brightness; at first I did not find this to be the case for me and my personal preferences and sensitivities, but after further listening I did begin to encounter some tracks where the MK2S gets right there at the edge of shoutiness, crossing that boundary rarely enough but not never. I will say that the pinna gain here plateaus rather than peaks as did the MK2, which makes it much more tolerable for me and also avoids the rather thin and reedy-sounding vocals that were the main downfall of the older model to my ear. In addition there is a substantial anti-sibilance scoop following the upper mids, which goes a long way towards making the energetic presentation tolerable (although it does of course also excise some harmonic nuances). So the summary here is that those sensitive to an upper mids push should exercise caution, but I do not think this means that they should automatically write it off.

Treble: The treble is very well-executed, and following the anti-sibilance scoop returns to exhibit absolutely astonishing extension. There is no peakiness, only an even spread of detail, sparkle, and air. I do wish that the lower treble was a little less neutered, but the outstanding upper treble goes a very long way toward making up for this. I am hard pressed to recall any hybrid in the price range that has even a comparable degree of extension and evenness.


Soundstage & Technicalities: In general the technicalities of the MK2S are respectable if not class-leading. Resolution and detailing are good for the price range, and clarity (aided by the upper mids push) is excellent. The soundstage is not the widest in absolute terms, but is fairly well-proportioned with very good height and good depth. Imaging has very good localization although it stops short of pin-point accuracy. On simpler tracks or those with a moderate number of instruments and voices, the layering is quite good (although there is never an extreme amount of air between the instruments). The main weakness in terms of technicalities, however, is that on busier tracks the imaging can become condensed toward the center of the soundstage, creating some amount of congestion.

Where the MK2S truly stands out by a good margin, however, is in its timbre which is astonishingly good for a mid-fi hybrid. There is only the barest hint of BA timbre in the mids and treble on certain instruments, and much of the time it is practically indistinguishable from a decent DD’s timbral presentation. In addition coherence is certainly above average for a hybrid, due to a seamless transition between the bass and midrange (and as mentioned earlier, likely aided by some rather BA-like properties to the bass quality itself).


Select Comparisons:
vs. Yanyin Aladdin: The Aladdin is one of the more competitive similarly priced hybrids which target the same generalist credential as the MK2S. Their technical performance is fairly comparable, and the main differences come in tuning. The Aladdin has a much more substantial sub-bass emphasis and fuller lower mids, while the QT-9 opts for more energetic upper mids and a more prominent upper treble. The Aladdin is a more laid back and slightly romanticized sound, while the MK2S instead chooses clarity and openness. Both are excellent choices, it just depends on which signature one prefers.

Conclusion: It is clear that this is a substantial revision and not a mostly pointless reissue (a la the NF Audio NA2+ for example). Rose has retained many of the key benefits of the prior model (not least of which is the comfort and ergonomics which remain unparalleled among hybrids) while greatly increasing the homogeneity and cohesion of the sound, improving the timbre to a degree practically unequalled in hybrids in this price range, and giving more body and fullness to the lower midrange and male vocals. The technical performance is also quite strong, only suffering some congestion on the busiest of tracks. In short, if you’re looking for a comfortable jack-of-all-trades in this price range and can tolerate a fairly restrained low end and fairly energetic pinna gain, there are very few options as compelling as the Rose QT-9 MK2S.

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Great review!
Just what I wanted to hear!
Excellent review!