Today we’re checking out the Aurora from Rose, an earphone which I have been using regularly since it was sent over sometime during the summer months.
The Aurora, unlike many of Rose’s other products, is a humble single dynamic-driver based in-ear. The 9.8mm found inside this unassuming earphone is coated in titanium and falls into what I would consider basshead territory with an abundant low end. This sound signature and the fairly generic shell remind me strongly of an earphone I experienced last year that I thought was good, but overpriced for what it did. Where the Aurora’s sonic performance is a modest step up, it’s the rest of the experience that makes the 69 USD asking price stomachable. Let’s take a closer look shall we.
The Aurora was sent to me free of charge for the purposes of review. The thoughts within are my own and do not represent Rose or Penon Audio who shipped it over. There was no financial incentive provided to write this review, nor was there any expectation set for positive coverage.
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 in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer unique examples of signatures I enjoy.
For at home use the Aurora was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp or straight out of my Asus FX53V laptop. For portable use it was paired with an LG G5, Walnut V2s, or Shanling M1. The Walnut F1 also made it’s way into the rotation at times, even though the Aurora in no way needs to be amped.
- Headphone sensitivity: 112db/mW
- Frequency range: 10-24000Hz
Packaging and Accessories:
The Aurora’s packaging is simple and unassuming, with some classy touches here and there. The main section of the case is composed of stiff cardboard with a black wrapping that contains the Rose branding. The exterior sheath which only wraps around a small portion of the box has Aurora printed in cursive, and notification that it was design by Rose Technology. The rear of the sheath in massive writing says ‘Made in China’. Most companies hide that in the bottom corner somewhere as if they are ashamed. Not Rose, and they shouldn’t. The Aurora is a nice product.
Sliding off the sheath and lifting the lid of the box reveals a clean presentation with the Aurora ear pieces set within some foam cutouts, and a plethora of accessories. In all you get;
- Aurora earphones
- 5N high purity oxygen-free copper cable (MMCX termination)
- Pelican style hard case (just like the one you get with the Masya and Mojito)
- soft carrying bag
- four pairs of single flange tips (2 x large, 2 x small)
- one pair of medium bi-flange tips
- one pair of foam tips
- shirt clip
The presentation is overall quite nice with the accessories all clearly laid out and visible. The only aspect that really detracts from the experience is the foam which in some places looks like it was cut with a pair of scissors while blindfolded. Excusable given it’s not really all that important and Rose to my knowledge, is a very small company.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The Aurora might look familiar and for good reason. This housing is about as generic as it comes. Offhand I can name a handful of earphones that use the same one; Rhapsodio Clipper, QKZ W6 Pro, and the Kinera BD005. I know there are many more out there too. That said, the use of this housing isn’t a bad thing. The plastics, while not overly premium looking or feeling, are thick and dense with good resistance to scratching and damage, though I know the Rose logo will wear off in time. The nozzle lacks a lip which I always find irritating but at least the fine metal grills protecting the drivers are neatly in place. Just behind the tip at the base of the nozzle is a ventilation hole which ensures there is no driver flex, a huge issue on the Clipper and W6 Pro, neither of which were ventilated.
The cable is quite nice with a durable sheath that is reinforced with threading. Microphonics are minimal and so is memory. Tangle resistance is also a strong point, though the built in ear guides nullify that benefit somewhat. The ear guides are pre-formed as opposed to the more common memory wire which I consider a plus, especially as the shape Rose chose keep the cable tight to your ear and out of the way. The shape Brainwavz uses on the B100 and B150 still feels better, but Rose did a good job here. Also well done is the metal straight jack which is well relieved and slender enough to be compatible with most cellphone and player cases. The y-split is less impressive,if only because there is no strain relief. Still, it looks nice and feels good in hand with it’s finely cut knurling. The plugs for the MMCX connectors are a simple, soft plastic affair but they’re easy enough to grip and plug in with a solid click. They let the ear pieces spin in place, but are not so loose that it’s either annoying or worrisome for short term durability.
Comfort I found quite fine given the housings are extremely light and the profile quite minimal. Ergonomics were more of an issue for me making the Aurora very tip dependent. Without the right tips I spent way too much time fiddling around trying to get a good seal. Based on impressions from others using earphones with the same housings, I seem to be in the minority. I suspect most will enjoy the fit of the Aurora.
Lastly, these were advertised as having up to 26dB of isolation. I don’t know where they came up with that measurement, but no way in heck was I getting anywhere near 26dB of sound suppression, even with foams installed. That’s active ANC levels of isolation. I’d put the Aurora below average for a vented dynamic, mostly down to the shallow fit. I had no issues holding conversations with others with them inserted and music off. Even with my music playing people could be hear chatting around me, cars, myself typing, etc. I personally would not recommend these if isolation is a key factor in your purchase.
Overall the Rose Aurora’s build is what I would consider acceptable. The housings are generic and lack a premium air to them, though they seem to be quite durable. The cable is quite good with many positive properties. Comfort is fine once you can get a good fit, something I find challenging with this housing. Lastly, isolation is pretty mediocre and the Aurora let’s in lost of noise.
Tips: Due to the issues I have with fit with this design, tip selection was limited. Wide bore options like those included with the Clipper paired really well and gave the Aurora some extra love in the upper regions. Small bore tips like Sony Hybrids increased mid-bass more than I like. The stock tips were also nice, but fell second to the Clipper’s tips.
The Aurora’s tune is quite safe and should appease a wide variety of listeners. They’re quite warm and smooth with an elevated low end, slightly recessed mid-range, and lightly rolled off treble. This tune makes them excellent for modern recordings, EDM, and classic rock. They also truly excel over long term listening sessions. I had no problem lying back and running through the entirely of ‘Tweekend’, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, ‘Crime of the Century’, and ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ back-to-back over the course of my workday.
While the treble rolls off at the top, extension up to that point is decent letting the Aurora show some sparkle when called for in a track. It avoids any sharpness or aggression like a lot of budget hybrids in this price bracket, and to my ears ends up being quite organic and easy going. It’s also very well controlled avoiding any splash or sibilance which when backed by good clarity and separation gives the Aurora an airy feel to it. It’s a n odd combination of qualities for a warmer sounding earphone, but it works in it’s favour.
The Aurora’s mid-range is quite coloured with a warmth to it that I found beneficial with female vocals and softer male vocals. Guitars lack some bite and grit, but the rest of the signature doesn’t really play to that sound anyway. This mid-range has a pleasant weight and thickness to it too, even if it’s recessed ever so slightly. Overall clarity is good, though some of the finer details are smoothed over.
The Aurora’s low end is a real treat with what feels like endless extension and a hefty mid-bass punch to back it up. I do wish there was a little more emphasis placed on that textured and visceral sub-bass, but as-is it’s still pretty damn addictive. I found myself hunting down drum and bass tracks with long, grungy basslines just to feel and hear this earphone rumble my ear drums.
Like other earphones that use this housing, I found the Aurora to have an fairly even and above average soundstage giving strong impressions or width and depth. This is always welcome with bassy tunes as lingering basslines tend to trail off into the distance and background vocalists feel like they’re singing on a different plane. Imaging is strong too, with clear transitions between channels and no particularly vague areas. I wouldn’t use these for gaming or anything, but for music it’s plenty adequate.
Overall the Aurora’s tune is quite pleasing. It’s smooth presentation and deep bass that doesn’t bleed into and overwhelm the mid-range, combined with a spacious sound stage and mellow treble, brings a smile to my face.
(Volumes matched as best I could using Dayton Audio’s iMM-6 calibrated mic and Audio Tool for Android.)
Rhapsodio Clipper (55.00 USD): The Clipper was one of my favorite earphones of 2016 but ended up being a hard recommendation for a few reasons. The QKZ W1 Pro matched it feature for feature and had a similar accessory kit, in addition to sounding almost as good. What’s so bad about that? The W1 Pro could be found for well under 10 USD. While I loved the Clipper and still think it’s bass is some of the best in the business at the price, it felt lacking in value at 55.00 USD, especially when it came with nothing but three sets of tips and a generic case you can often find on AliExpress for under a dollar.
That’s where the Aurora comes in. It is pretty much everything I wanted the Clipper to be. It has a complete and well-rounded accessory kit. The housings are ventilated negating all driver flex, one of my primary complaints about the Clipper. It’s also tuned almost exactly the same but greatly improves on the Clipper’s treble quality. The Aurora trades a smidge of sub-bass for mid-bass, but the steps forward in tuning elsewhere easily makes up for this. My suggestion? If you want the Clipper, spend an extra 15 bucks and get the Aurora. It’s a more refined and complete product.
Meze 12 Classics (79.00 USD): Meze needs no introduction, storming onto the scene with the 99 Classics full-sized headphones and following them up with the 11 Neo and 12 Classics in-ears. At 10 USD more than the Aurora, what makes the Classics so special?
To start, with their Walnut and gunmetal aluminum housings the 12 Classics are simply more premium and not by a small margin. In hand there is no comparison with the 12 Classics feeling much more expensive than a measly 10 USD. While I have some issues with Meze’s cable (horrendous microphonics), it’s thicker and more durable and with better strain relief to boot. The only downside is that it is fixed, unlike that on the Aurora which you can replace whenever you want. In the Aurora’s favor, Rose equipped it with a more extensive and complete accessory kit.
While they have different signatures, the 12 Classics and Aurora are comparable on a technical level offering similar levels of detail. In the Meze’s favour you have a more neutral signature with a clearer and more forward mid-range. It’s sound stage is smaller but with more accurate imaging. On the Aurora’s side you have that expansive sound stage and bass that digs deeper and is more visceral. Since they’re about on par in terms of sound quality and only separated in pricing by 10 USD, build, design, value, and signature preference are the deciding factors. For me, the 12 Classics’ build quality and design/comfort push me in it’s direction.
Even though it is no longer a new product, Rose’s Aurora is a solid offering. With a warm and bassy signature that retains good detail and clarity, it should satisfy the needs of most modern listeners looking for an easy going, non-fatiguing earphone. Add to that some really nice accessories and a replaceable cable with a common MMCX connector and you’ve got yourself a decent value.
If Rose replaces or updates the Aurora, I hope they refine the packaging and presentation, and move to either a unique housing or at the very least one with better ergonomics. Improving isolation would also be a plus.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (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)
Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)