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Rose RS201E: A Hi-Res audio and video network media player with integrated touch screen and amplifier

Door ALBAN AMOUROUX |

Rose is a fairly new Korean HiFi brand. Its major goal is to improve dematerialized audio systems. The brand offers recent products, not more than two or three years old, but very advanced in terms of technology and aesthetics. The wireless amplifier RS201E is a perfect example of Rose’s savoir-faire. It provides maximum features within an innovative design.

A single article would not be enough to address all of RS201E’s possibilities. We will focus on the player’s Hi-Res capacities and mention how it will enhance your audio/video system. RS201E is mostly an integrated and wireless stereo amplifier. It is based on the same concept as the music player Rose RS150, but it features less audio connectors and more amplification. The RS150 is a high-end device with premium components. It costs twice as much as the RS201E whose aim is to be competitive on the broader market.

Rose’s products also include all-in-one media players with integrated speakers and complete high-quality audio sound via local or network. Equipped with a wide high-resolution touch screen, easy to use, they are good alternatives to the wireless speakers we all know. All of the brand’s devices display an original, unusual, and Scandinavian-influenced design. Thanks to its efforts, Rose has won many prizes, including the Red Dot Design Award and the iF Design Award. But aesthetic is not enough! Let’s see how the RS201E will treat your audio files.

Characteristics

Price: 1799€
Power: 2 × 50 watts at 4 ohms
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0, 1x analog input, 1x optical digital input, 3x USB ports, 1x SD card reader, 1x analog output, 1x optical digital output, 1x HDMI output, 1x headphone output
Formats: PCM up to 384 kHz, DSD256
Streaming: Roon Ready, DLNA, AirPlay (Upcoming integration to Qobuz)
Weight: 2,2 kg
Dimensions (W x H x D): 278 × 85 × 202 mm

General presentation of the RS201E

Integrated amplifiers gather more and more features but they never cease to get smaller. The RS201E is only 36 centimeters wide and 8.5 centimeters high, feet included. A valuable asset in this competitive market is the wide view 8.8-inch touch screen that covers the front of the device. The façade also includes a power key, a volume knob and a headphone output.

You must push the fairly unusual-looking volume knob to make it work. A slight touch can mute the system. The player can be fully operated on the high-resolution touch screen. The screen is perfectly contrasted and can be seen from a distance. A remote control connected via Bluetooth gives access to all major commands, but you will probably use the app instead.

The RS201E’s connectivity is complex enough to address a sophisticated audio and video system. Let’s start with the line input Rca. If you want to connect a turntable, it must be equipped with a RIAA preamplifier. If it is not the case, you will need to add one. The optical digital input can be used with a CD player or a TV set. The many USB ports (2.0, 3.1 and C) are here to play music from a USB stick or an external hard drive. Under the device, you will find a specific location for SSD allowing you to store your music library. All of these storing tools are shared on your network so you can access with other players.

The speaker’s outputs are accessible via two terminals compatible with banana plugs. The RS201E can also work as a preamplifier. You can use three outputs (one analog, one digital and one USB) and plug any DAC USB. It will immediately be detected by the Rose amplifier in the output settings.

The HDMI output is for video. However, it does not include an ARC, meaning it will not receive the return sound from your TV. It is therefore just an output and the RS201E will only be detected as a regular HDMI video source. Remember that the device is both an audio and a video player! You will be able to watch videos directly on the amplifier touch screen, using YouTube or files stored on a USB drive.

The RS201E is compatible with most audio files, including DSD and MQA. It can read 4K videos at 60 images per second. Rose uses the Sabre ES9018K2M converter equipped with many features to process the signal. The 2 × 50 watts at 4 ohms amplification uses Texas Instruments PurePath Ultra-HD Class-D components.

Features of the I15 Prisma

All features can be set on the front touch screen. When installing your player, you will follow the different setting options on a series of nicely designed slides. A tutorial explains the icons you will use and the accessible connections.

The screen shows all the available sources on a banner. You will find the physical inputs/outputs, the web radios, the music on your network, the videos and a direct access to YouTube. A light application store can also be found. It will soon include Qobuz.

It is easy to navigate the system’s tree structure. The Rose logo at the top right of the screen allows you to return to the home screen. You can personalize the icons, modify the screen brightness and change the voltage of the output from 100 mV to 2 V, the up-sampling up to 192 kHz, the setting of the DSD and MQA files or the audio and video settings of the HDMI output…

The Rose Connect App shows access to the different sources and makes it easy to search for an audio file or a YouTube video. It also displays the track played, even if it was launched from another app. Also included are the track’s sample rate and resolution.

Upon listening

The RS201E is compatible with AirPlay and Roon Ready (RAAT protocol). The latter integrates Qobuz and we used it to explore the device. App in hand, we were able to confirm that the amplifier’s screen always displays details about the track played, including a large format album cover easy to spot from a distance.

The soundstage is excellent. Each instrument is at the right place and, the general feel is clearly organic. We chose to listen to the Ayoub Sisters’ cover of Uptown Funk. The soundstage was impressively deep. No instruments were shadowed by others, and the pop song was faithfully reproduced in an orchestral mode.

On the unplugged version of Agitations tropicales by L’Impératrice the differentiation between instruments was also remarkable. During the first part of the song, we could easily hear the voice, the finger snaps and small percussion, each on a different plan within a diagonal placement.

The RS201E is ideal to enjoy the sophisticated production of Post-R&B (((1))) by ((( O ))): the different sounds, the recordings of waterfalls, cracklings, and bird songs create a tridimensional mood, almost in a multichannel approach, that only a device mastering complex signals like the RS201E can render.

The bass stays at the right place, adding round tones and clear sounds to the drum shells. In contrast to what you would hear with a more aggressive amplifier, bass can sound here slightly too discreet, especially at a low to medium volume. But this is to the advantage of all the micro-details enhancing the clear hit sounds and the resonance. As for the midrange and treble, it is also precise without being aggressive, highlighting the voice with a realistic touch.

+ :
High-Resolution audio and video streamer
Pretty and easy-to-use touch screen
Holographic soundstage
Precision and warmth at the same time
Possible subjective loudness

- :
Waiting for Qobuz to be in!
More personalization tools? ?

Conclusion

Rose deserves to be known. The RS201E mixes a superb design, with its outstanding unusually wide touch screen, and a remarkable attention to audio rendering. With the RS201E your listening experience will be sharp and smooth, very audiophile-friendly. But even though each element is perfectly placed, the general feel remains dynamic, never off-putting. It is an excellent mix between precision and musicality, displayed on a grandiose soundstage. The wide touch screen is well thought-out, and you will not need any instructions to operate. The RS201E offers many features for the best connection and storage options and thanks to its playing capacities and HDMI output, it will become the center piece of your audio and video system. There is so much to say about this device, we even forgot to mention its ability to rip CDs via an external USB player. The integrated amplifier RS201E is the essential “Swiss Army knife” of wireless HiFi.