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Rose Technics Mini2 MkII review

  1. Coop
    I bought the Rose Technics Mini2 MkII as a Christmas present to myself. On the 26th of December 2018, my wife finally allowed me to unpack them. They were purchased through Penon Audio. This is my little review.

    A little bit of background info on my choice of the Mini2:
    I wanted a set of small yet wireless IEMs that I can use in bed as music (sometimes) helps me sleep. And I have narrow earcanals, so I wanted an IEM with the thin nozzles like Shure and Westone use. It seems that the thin nozzles are a rare breed amongst affordable IEMs these days. That really sucks for us people with narrow earcanals. I was happy to find the Rose Technics Mini series, as they met 2 of my 3 requirements. And as they have a replaceable cable, the wireless aspect was covered by ordering the Fiio RC-BT Bluetooth cable to go with it.

    Impedance: 45ohm
    Sensitivity: 108db
    Driver: Dual Balanced Armature*
    Connector: MMCX

    * The sellers' website does not mention manufacturer or type other than "Rose custom driver" (while its' predecessor had a Sonion 2600 and a Knowles 30095 if I'm not mistaking).

    In the box:
    - The Rose Technics Mini2 MkII IEMs
    - A braided, Silver-plated OFC cable, 3.5mm TRS jack to 2x MMCX male
    - A 3.5mm TRS to 6.35mm jack adapter
    - A (mostly) metal carrying case
    - 2 pairs of foam eartips (S & M)
    - 4 pairs of dual flange silicone eartips (XS, S, M & L or it could be S, M, L & XL, whatever floats your boat)

    First impression:
    When opening the sturdy box, you only see 2 items, the included case and the jack adapter. Everything else is inside the case. Once the case was opened, my initial thought was "they weren't kidding when they called it Mini". The IEMs were connected to the cable. Underneath the IEMs is a small ziplock bag containing the eartips. Fit and finish seems to be a bit behind when compared to similar priced IEMs like the Fiio F9, but not overly so.

    The IEMs themselves are made of a translucent yellow plastic. A rather bold choice in this world of black, silver and gaudy fake gold plating on IEMs. I wouldn't have chosen this color if there had been other options available and I can imagine there will be a few people who wont buy these because of their color. I really wish they had kept the look of the MkI. But sound and comfort are what matter to me, followed by features and a good price/performance ratio. Looks are waaaaayyy down the list of stuff that matters.
    And to be fair, they are so small that you hardly even notice to color when inserted in an ear.

    The braided silver plated cable looks similar to many of the cheap silver (colored) cables that can be found on AliExpress and the likes, but it feels quite nice. It's very flexible and has a bit of weight to it, which makes it quite comfortable to use.

    I mentioned my narrow earcanals, you can probably imagine my disappointment when the included small foam eartips turned out to be 2 different types. Slightly different in shape at the opening, different inner tubes and different types of foam. One is rather soft, pretty close to Comply foam, while the other is much harder and not nearly as comfortable to use. The medium sized foam eartips are of the same type, which is the harder foam, but this isn't an issue for me as I can't get then stuffed in my ear anyway. The smallest of the silicone dual flange tips is a good fit for me, but becomes a little irritating after 1-1.5 hours of use. One size up was a tight fit and I could only tolerate them for a short period of time.

    The sound:
    Odd as it may seem, especially for Head-Fi, I'm not going to go into much detail about the sound (keep reading, you'll find out why). They have a sound signature which to me seems like a compromise between audiophile and mainstream. There's clearly a bit of an emphasys on the lows, which struck me as odd for a 2BA IEM, but not overly so. The sound is neutral-ish, yet warm and full and really quite pleasant. So far it works pretty well with almost all genres I tried. But it must be said that these are more suited to casual listening than evening long sessions of nitpicking details in high-res recordings.
    With the right choice of eartip they offer good isolation from outside noises and I received no complaints about leaking sound from my wife nor my colleagues. For now, I'm leaving it at that...

    The comfort:
    When paired with the right eartips, comfort during regular use is excellent. No pressure points in my ear, the cable is great due to its flexibility and once you get used to the eartips being inserted in your ear, you hardly notice they're there. But I bought these for use in bed, and the square angled body, even if it's only a tiny shell, isn't very comfortable when you lay down your head.

    The disappointment:
    So, with less than 24h passed since I opened the box, I wore them while I went to get some groceries. All was good until I got back to my car. Driving with IEMs is not the safest thing to do, so I took them out of my ears. Only to end up with a foam eartip stuck in my earcanal. Not a huge deal, as I have a set of tweezers on my keychain and a few minutes later the eartip was out again. BUT, and this is a BIG but, the metal tube that's supposed to be on the IEMs nozzle had come loose. And of course, the metal tube got lost somehow in the extraction process.
    A closer inspection of the glue residue on the nozzle showed that it had only been glued on one side and looking at the other IEM, it seemed that the inner diameter of the metal tube was slightly too big for the nozzle on the IEM. The glue residue on the nozzle looked like regular Cyanoacrylate glue, which has poor filling properties.
    I contacted the seller for advice on how this could be solved. They told me to send it back. When I told them the shippingcost, they gave me a hard time. They didn't believe the shipping cost (which, at about 25% of the price of the IEMs, I agree is pretty high from the Netherlands to Hong Kong). After a week of mailing back and forth, running in circles over shipping cost, suggesting other options without much cooperation from the seller as they kept going back to shipping it back to them, they told me to try to fix it myself.
    It took me a few days to source a piece of metal tubing to replace the lost original. And I needed to buy a bottle of glue better suitable to the task. And while I wasn't very happy about how my contact with Penon Audio support went, they did redeem themselves by offering to cover the cost of the required items without even having to ask for it. Big thumbs up for that.
    With the right materials available, it was an easy fix. And after letting the glue set, I was able to use my IEMs again. And for a week I thoroughly enjoyed my new IEMs. Until the reaired tube failed again. And not even 10 minutes later, the tube on the other IEM came loose too... &$#*@!!!!!

    I have repaired them again, but a close inspection made it clear that the plasic nozzle coming out of the shell, isn't a hard material like the shell itself, but a piece of flexible tubing. While this was the case with the MkI too, there is a slight difference. The Mk1 had a flexible tube with an accoustic damper inside, the MkII has a flexible tube with a rigid metal tube glued to the outside. And glueing a rigid piece of metal to a flexible tube? Well, let's just say I repaired it again, but my expectations of it lasting are very, very low. This isn't a construction fault, it is a major design flaw. And to make matters worse, one that anyone with even the slightest insight in the behaviour of materials could have seen coming. This construction isn't a matter of if it will fail, but when it will fail.

    Therefore, while I like these IEMs for their neutral-ish-not-very-audiophile-yet-very-pleasant-sound and great comfort (as long as I'm not using them in bed) and friendly price, I just can't put myself to recommending these. I sincerely hope that someday, Rose Technics will make a MkIII that does not have this problem. But until that day, I'll be carrying a bottle of glue in my bag...
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
    davidcotton likes this.

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