Rose Mojito: Earbuds are where it’s at
Today we’re checking out Rose’s flagship dual-driver earbud, the Mojito.
My first run in with Rose was with the stellar Masya. The Masya impressed with a unique and unconventional yet supremely comfortable design that encased a pair of well-tuned drivers per side. It was my first time listening to such a well-rounded ear bud and I came away with a deeper respect for that style of headphone. In terms of physical design and driver set-up, there isn’t much differentiating the Mojito from the Masya. Listen to them, however, and the Mojito’s 140 USD premium makes perfect sense.
Let’s take a closer look at the Mojito to find out why this premium ear bud deserves it’s top-of-the line title.
There was some confusion surrounding the accessory kit and cable, so I reached out to Penon for clarification. The accessory kit is not as extensive as what I was sent, nor is the braided cable standard kit anymore. The review has been updated accordingly.
The Mojito was sent to me for the purposes of an honest and unbiased review. The thoughts and opinions with this review are my own and do not represent Rose, Penon Audio, or any other entity. There is no financial incentive for writing this.
At the time of this writing the Rose Mojito was retailing for 259.00 USD: https://penonaudio.com/rose-mojito.html
The good cable has been relegated to upgrade duty and can be bought separately for 22.90 USD: https://penonaudio.com/Rose-Masya-Mojito-Earphone-Cable
My Gear and I:
I’m a 30 year old professional working for what is currently the largest luxury hotel chain on the planet. I have a background in Psychology which probably explains my somewhat dry writing style. My entry into the world of portable audio was due primarily to a lack of space for a full-sized stereo system during my university years, and truly began with the venerable JVC HA-FXT90. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI’s multi-earphone review thread, reviews from other established writers, and thus being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own.
Fast forward a couple years and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to write about products from wonderful companies like HiFiMan, RHA, Accutone, ADVANCED, NarMoo, Mixcder, Brainwavz, Meze, and many more. I don’t do it for money or free stuff, but because this is my hobby and I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to a product that makes them happy, I’ll consider that a job well done and payment enough.
Gear used for testing was a Shanling M1, HIFI E.T. MA8, HiFiMan MegaMini, and my TEAC HA-501 desktop headphone amp. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even mid-range response, and reduced mid-bass. Lately I’ve been enjoying more mellow and relaxed products with a bass tilt. Two of my favorite in-ears, the Echobox Finder X1[i] with grey filters installed and the Fischer Audio Dubliz Enhanced are good examples of my preferred signatures.
(Image of accessory kit provided by Penon)
Packaging and Accessories:
I have really enjoyed the packaging on the Rose products I’ve had the pleasure of checking out, and the Mojito is no different. The large 17.5cm x 15cm x 5cm cardboard box is covered in a very tactile and uniquely textured black material, starkly contrasted by the Rose branding in gold foil letting. A large metal plate with the statement “Create difference” adorns the magnetically sealed front flap.
Flipping open the lid reveals the Mojito’s removable ear pieces, a 3.5mm to 1/4” adapter, and a small plastic case containing some spare foams encased in a porous foam inlay. Below are two cardboard boxes containing a very extensive accessory kit. In all you get;
- Mojito ear pieces
- 8 core, 5n, silver-plated oxygen-free copper cable
- Pelican-style hard case
- small hard case for carrying spare foams
- silicone ear hooks (m)
- one pair of silicone rings
- 3 pairs of solid black foams
- 1 pairs of solid red foams
- 1 pair of solid blue foams
- 1 pair of black donut foams
Due to the Mojito’s unique housing design, its not the kind of ear bud that’s going to work with every ear. Therefore, it’s great that Rose provides such an extensive accessory kit, allowing you to customize the fit.
Design, Build, and Comfort:
At this point it should be of no surprise to anyone that follows my reviews that I’m a sucker for a cool design, a category I think the Mojito would fall into. It’s hourglass-like shape is unlike that of any other ear bud or earphone I’ve tried to date, except of course the Masya which shares the base shell components. It’s a quirky design and the silver colour scheme of the Mojito might not be for everyone, but for me it works, even if I prefer the Masya’s gold/black scheme more. It’s interesting to examine and unlike most anything I’ve seen on the market.
The Mojito is 3D printed so don’t go in expecting a flawless build. Like the Masya, it has a DIY, home brew feel to it that you really wouldn’t expect from a flagship product. That’s not to say it looks or feels cheap, but it doesn’t exude the same level of quality that an equivalently priced earphone from RHA would give off. The small metal back plate sporting the Rose logo also looks, well, tacked on. It’s rectangular shape is certainly at odds with the circular motif used everywhere else and would be more at home on something like the OURART Ti7.
The cable is a little different. On paper it sounds pretty terrible. The sheath above the y-split is a dense, clear plastic. As a result, it hold memory when you bend it. Noise from the two cables clinking together transmits clearly up to your ears, though it remains oddly flexible. Below the y-split, the cable gains a thick cloth sheath. While it’s exceptionally durable, reminding me of the 550 paracord Double Tap uses for the R1, it’s not as well behaved as that material and retains looping waves down the length of it. The build is also rather slapdash. The strain relief sticking out of the plug is just a piece of shrink tubing that doesn’t quite fit properly; glue fills the gaps. The y-split is much the same, with a pile of dark glue pressed inside, holding everything in place. Even down at the jack there is a hastily cut piece of rubber sticking out around the edges.
Despite this cable sounding absolutely terrible, in hand it feels tough, very tough, and in use none of the above qualms make it stick out in a bad way. I liked it enough that it became the regular cable for my Masya, replacing that model’s already excellent cable. Go figure.
While the build quality of the ear pieces isn’t anything to write home about, I do find the Mojito’s comfort levels to be particularly noteworthy. The exceptionally low weight and well-behaved cable really help. Unlike many earbuds I’ve used, the base that slides into your ear is exceptionally thin and tapers off to a fine, rounded edge. Most earbuds are quite thick in comparison. The Mojito’s design allows the ear pieces to dangle lightly in your outer ear providing the least intrusive fit of nearly any personal audio product I’ve tried. You don’t have to wedge them uncomfortably in place like most earbuds and nothing is intruding on your ear canals as is the case with in-ear monitors. You don’t have the flat pad of an on-ear headphone crushing your outer ear, and there is none of the lower jaw discomfort I occasionally get with over-ear headphones that clamp too tightly.
There are ways of improving fit if you’re running into issues. The included ear hooks are one. You can double up on the foams, or add a rubber ring under a layer of foam. Maybe you want to use the rubber rings by themselves? Unlike with in-ears or headphones which are limited in fitment options, ear buds offer numerous ways to improve fit that can be mixed and matched to suit your ear. Obviously your mileage may vary since fit is a somewhat personal thing, but the Mojito comes across to me as very ergonomic and forgiving when it comes to ear buds.
Overall the Mojito offers up a cool design, acceptable build quality with a DIY air to it, and outstanding comfort. If you’re having issues with that last point (comfort), these are an ear bud so you’ve got a ton of methods to improve fit available to you.
The Mojoto’s upgraded .75mm two-pin braided cable is one of the best I’ve come across. Memory is non-existent, it’s not thin and delicate, it doesn’t tangle very easily, and you’ve got a very useful chin cinch if needed. The straight jack may not line up with everyone’s preferences, but it’s well-built and properly relieved protecting the cable from unexpected tugs or undue pressure. Microphonics (cable noise) are pretty much non-existent too. The only area where clear improvements could be made would be to add strain relief to the y-split and leading into the ear piece plugs. Other than that, this is pretty much a flawless cable in my opinion. Heck, it even looks nice. I did not notice any improvements in sound quality compared to the stock cable.
– Driver :15.4mm dynamic driver
* Impedance: 18Ω
* Sensitivity: 108dB
– Driver : 10mm dynamic driver
* Impedance: 12Ω
* Sensitivity: 98dB
– Frequency response: 8-28 kHz
Foams: Penon Audio sent the Mojito to me with the rubber rings pre-installed under the stock black foams. This served to created a tighter seal and more secure fit, increasing mid- and sub-bass presence. While this was nice, I preferred the more neutral and balanced signature afforded by using the black foams alone. The donuts also sounded excellent, increasing mid-range and lower treble presence, while also making the already impressive sound stage even more airy.
Source/Amping: I was afraid the impedance and sensitivity mismatch of the two drivers would cause issues, such as an incoherent sound or extreme source sensitivity, but that doesn’t seem to the case. The Mojito does require some power to get the most out of it. They sounded plenty good but less impressive out of a weaker or lower quality source like my G5 or laptop. Feed it something cleaner and/or more powerful like my TEAC HA-501 and they “open up”, sounding more spacious with improved imaging and layering, and with better texture top to bottom.
The Mojito is one of the few audio products I’ve tried that I would slot into neutral territory. It carries a similar signature to the Masya, but unlike that model which has a treble/mid-range focus, the Mojito rounds things out with no particular aspect of it’s sound taking precedent.
Treble is crisp and well extended without any of the strident tendencies occasionally heard in the Masya. It has a very natural sound to it with instruments and effects having the right amount of shimmer, attack, and decay. Things are raw when they’re supposed to be, and smooth when it’s a part of the recording. The level of detail on offer is also impressive. There are no peaks that cause discomfort and overemphasize the detail provided, such as the 7k spike on the HiFiMan RE800. Instead, everything sounds as it should.
Many of the same comments can be applied to the mid-range. Vocals simply sound honest and true, never overshadowed by overboosted treble or bass. Everything is clearly separated from surrounding instruments or effects. No matter how busy or intense the audio gets, the mid-range remains detailed and well-textured. Another aspect of the Mojito’s mid-range that I found quite impressive was the weight and authority behind it. It’s presentation is thick and meaty with an honest presence.
Moving into the low end, the Mojito continues to impress. The Masya provided a bass experience unlike anything I had heard from an earbud before. The Mojito improves on this giving me the same sort of experience I get from a full-sized headphone. The amount of sub-bass this thing can put out would be good for an in-ear monitor, let alone an ear bud. There’s none of the early roll off you get with other buds I use on a routine basis, like the OURART Ti7 or Penon BS1. The Masya is capable of providing a similar experience, but to get at it you need to wedge them in at an odd angle. You don’t need to do that with the Mojito. Even with barely a seal at all, the Mojito’s low end is robust and textured with amazing extension.
Sound stage is another area where the Mojito gives me a full-sized headphone experience, easily running with the likes of my AKG K553 Pro or modded HiFiMan HE-350. Once again, it takes the Masya’s awesome sound stage and simply makes it larger. Depth, width, everything is improved. In-ears that I consider to have excellent sound stages, like the Havi B3 Pro series and HiFiMan RE2000, simply cannot match the sense of space the Mojito provides.
Using the Mojito with a sound reliant video game like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds gives me what feels like a distinct advantage. It gives off a true impression of distance allowing me to accurately track footsteps, engine noise, weapons reloading, and other sounds that are integral to tracking down opposing players and understanding what is going on in your surroundings. With music, instruments play within their own distinct locations, supported by a clean black space and multi-layered sound field. The Mojito sounds about as far from congested as I’ve heard.
Overall the Mojito has a detailed, well-rounded sound with a signature approaching neutral. It simply that works with everything I’ve tossed it’s way. It proves that ear buds can provide a no-compromise and fully comprehensive experience from top-to-bottom.
The Mojito provides me with the auditory experience I would want from a TOTL ear bud. This is one of the few audio products I’ve heard where I have zero complaints about the signature or performance on tap. The unboxing experience is good too, providing you with a slew of accessories. The comfort of the Mojito’s design is unmatched among ear buds I’ve tried, except for the Masya of course which shares it’s form factor. Sure, the build could be better but the Mojito doesn’t feel delicate or cheap which is more than I could ask for given they’re 3D printed.
If you’ve been on the fence about jumping into the world of ear buds, why not go big and start at the top? The Mojito is a seriously good ear bud and one that deserves to be heard and appreciated by true audio enthusiasts, or someone that simply wants a very capable alternative to in-ear monitors or headphones.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – Skelethon (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)