HiFi Rose RS250A Network Streamer Review Roundup

Updated: 11/06/23

The HiFi Rose RS250a is a complete, high-performance network media playing solution that seamlessly combines high-resolution audio and video collections with music streaming services. Housed in a high-quality aluminum chassis, this sleek and modern device features a host of cutting-edge technologies aimed at delivering an exceptional audio and video experience. The RS250a is an update to the original RS250 which was released in 2021.  This article focuses on the updated RS250a but many of the reviews walk through the previous model.  As a result, we’ll help you walk through the model upgrades but much of the functionality remains consistent between the two models.

Design, Construction, and Aesthetics

The HiFi Rose RS250a’s design is a harmonious blend of form and function, meticulously crafted to elevate your audio and video experience. At the heart of the RS250a is its stunning 8.8-inch wide touchscreen, offering intuitive control and access to a world of entertainment. Key to its exceptional construction is the integral aluminum cutting-processed case, showcasing a commitment to both aesthetics and performance.

Integral Aluminum Cutting-Processed Case: The chassis is meticulously fashioned from high-quality aluminum, serving as a home for the linear power system, high-performance DAC, and preamplifier section. What sets this design apart is the use of high-purity aluminum processed as an integral unit. This innovative approach maximizes thermal efficiency while minimizing the assembly area, resulting in a remarkable reduction in vibrations that could otherwise compromise sound quality. The outcome is a profound and ideal sense of space, providing the perfect environment for your audio and video experiences.

Main Features

Enhanced DAC for Audiophile Sound: One of the standout features of the RS250a is its upgraded 8-Channel ESS Sabre DAC chip, the ES9028 Pro with discrete OP AMP provides “the best of wide bandwidth, separation and audio clarity.”  The RS250a supports a wide range of audio formats, including up to PCM 32-bit/768KHz and Native DSD512 (22.5792Mhz) making it a true audiophile’s delight (compatible formats: MQA, WAV, FLAC, ALAC, and many more).

HifiRose RS250a Internals

Image courtesy of What HiFi?

Seamless Connectivity: The RS250a offers versatile connectivity options. It supports Airplay and DLNA functions, enabling seamless streaming across devices. Whether through WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, or Bluetooth, you can effortlessly connect your smartphone, computer, or tablet to the RS250a. It even supports popular music streaming services and internet radio:

  • SPOTIFY CONNECT: Seamlessly integrate Spotify Connect to play and wirelessly control Spotify music on your RS250a over a network. Enjoy a variety of music with hi-fi sound quality on your ROSE device.
  • TIDAL: The RS250a includes a built-in Tidal App for a high-performance streaming service. Easily sign in, create playlists, and enjoy playback with MQA Full Decoder support for high-resolution music.
  • QOBUZ: Explore music streaming with Qobuz’s various functions. With support for hi-res audio (24 bit/192 kHz), you can immerse yourself in high-resolution music.
  • APPLE MUSIC: Rare to many devices, Hifi Rose released an update to their ROSE OS to support a built-in Apple music app in 2022.
  • INTERNET RADIO & PODCASTS: Access over 9,900 internet radio stations from around the world and explore podcast channels provided by Apple iTunes.

Pre-amplifier Versatility: Beyond its exceptional audio capabilities, the RS250a functions as a pre-amplifier, adding versatility to your audio setup. You can seamlessly integrate the RS250a into your system, controlling and enhancing your audio experience.

HiFi Rose RS250A Connection Chart

Building a Home Media Library: Designed with music enthusiasts in mind, the RS250a accommodates extensive storage options. With the capability to recognize up to 4TB of SSD and 10TB of external HDD, you can build a vast home media library without concerns about storage capacity limitations. Additionally, it supports NAS connections, allowing you to access your entire collection conveniently.

Roon Ready: For those who demand the highest fidelity sound, the RS250a is Roon Ready. Roon is a powerful way to organize and enjoy your music collection, and the RS250a seamlessly integrates with it, delivering an outstanding audio/video experience.

Ultra HD 4K Video Support: Experience the magic of Ultra HD 4K video quality with the RS250a. Whether you’re watching local video files or exploring the captivating world of RoseTube, the RS250a delivers stunning visual clarity and detail when connected to a large display via HDMI. Feel the grandeur and vividness of your favorite content, right in the comfort of your home.

RoseTube: Discover the enchanting world of RoseTube, an exclusive feature of HiFi Rose. RoseTube allows you to enjoy a diverse range of music-oriented content, including music videos, performances, and documentaries. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Opera House or relive iconic live concerts, all from the convenience of your RS250a.  For those not familiar with this or who have not viewed a demo, RoseTube is basically YouTube but with high fidelity and no commercials!  

ROSE Connect Application: To enhance your control and convenience, the RS250a includes the ROSE Connect Application. This intuitive and dedicated app allows you to access and manage your music and video content from local and network sources. Effortlessly navigate through your music library, create playlists, and enjoy control over your RS250a, all from the palm of your hand. The ROSE Connect Application adds a layer of convenience and sophistication to your audio and video experience.

HiFi Rose RS250A Top View with App on Ipad

Differences Between the HiFi Rose RS250a and the RS250

The HiFi Rose RS250a is an evolution of the award-winning RS250 network player, and it brings substantial improvements:

  • Upgraded DAC: The RS250a features an enhanced ES9028 8-Channel PRO DAC chip, delivering even higher audio quality compared to the RS250 (ESS 9038 Q2M – Single Stereo Design).
  • Optimized Signal Path: HiFi Rose has paid meticulous attention to components in the signal path, resulting in a considerable performance jump and a more immersive listening experience.
  • New Output Stage and Oscillator: New 100MHz Femto oscillator and a new HiFi Rose in-house made discrete op-amp based output stage.
  • Expanded Finish Options: In response to customer demand, the RS250a is now available in a sleek black finish, offering more aesthetic choices.  We’re honestly not sure why this was not an option in the first place.  In Violet HiFi’s humble and non-authoritative opinion, every audio/video component should be available in black.

HiFi Rose RS250A Diagonal Front View Silver Model

Hifi Rose RS250 Network Streamer Review Roundup

Below is the breakdown of reviews and official information about the RS250.  Please note that the majority of video reviews focus on the earlier model RS250.  As mentioned previously, we’ve already defined the differences so the focus of these reviews should likely familiarize you with the variety of functions.  While the sound quality information is helpful, we can only imagine the aforementioned updates improve the already stellar auditory experience.

Independent Video Reviews

Below is a comparison review with the RS250

Unboxing Vertical Style

Dealer Video Reviews **All RS250 Reviews**

Written Reviews

AVForums.com – Ed Selley (2023)

  • Viewed objectively, this is a well built, functionally excellent and unconditionally stable streamer that will keep rivals at the same price point honest. More than this, it’s a fantastic piece of industrial design that is laden with surprise and delight features which, if and when the mood takes you, gives the RS250A a genuine, unique selling point.

Hifi Wigwam – Martin Virgo (2023)

  • “The HiFi Rose RS250A is a well-made component that in a suitably balanced system will pay dividends. In such a system you will find that you have a flexible friend with a number of ways in which you can interact with it. This flexibility will mean that it can remain in your system as you upgrade other components.”

Hi-fi News – Andrew Everard (2023)

  • “HiFi Rose’s ability to reinvent and refine continues apace with this compact network player/DAC/preamp. The Rose Connect app offers excellent flexibility while the RS250A is memorable for its ‘widescreen’ user interface and, above all, highly competitive sound.”

RS250 Written Reviews:

HiFi Rose Official Info

  • HiFi Rose RS250a Official Web Page
    • The specifications at the bottom of the page provide specific clarity and more information on the differences between the RS250a and RS250.

Is the HiFi Rose RS250a the Right Network Streamer for You?

Choosing the ideal network streamer is a crucial decision for audiophiles and enthusiasts seeking the perfect balance of performance and features. To help you make an informed choice, here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of the HiFi Rose RS250a:

Pros:

  1. Enhanced Sound: The RS250a features an upgraded ESS Sabre DAC chip, delivering exceptionally quiet and precise sound reproduction for audiophiles seeking top-tier audio quality.
  2. Versatile Connectivity: With support for Airplay, DLNA, WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, and Bluetooth, the RS250a offers seamless streaming and connectivity options, ensuring you can connect your devices effortlessly.
  3. Pre-amplifier Functionality: The RS250a’s pre-amplifier versatility allows you to integrate it into your audio setup seamlessly, enhancing your control and precision over your audio experience.
  4. Ample Storage: Designed for music enthusiasts, the RS250a accommodates extensive storage options, recognizing up to 4TB of SSD and 10TB of external HDD, along with NAS support.
  5. ROSE OS Compatibility: The ROSE OS provides an innovative musical experience, offering 4K high-definition video playback, music-oriented YouTube listening, podcast access, radio broadcasts, CD playback, and CD ripping, making it a versatile multimedia hub.
  6. Ultra HD 4K Video Support: Experience stunning Ultra HD 4K video quality when watching local video files or exploring the captivating world of RoseTube, all through HDMI connectivity.  Special note here: This is one of the most valuable aspects of this streamer.  In a world of expensive music streamers striving for unparalleled sound, most don’t assume a screen joins the party. Yet, many are incorporating TVs into a combination mixed-media space, and the idea of 4K output, in my opinion, should be a part of any streaming device over $1000.
  7. ROSE Connect Application: The intuitive ROSE Connect Application offers convenient control over your music and video content from local and network sources, enhancing your overall user experience.
  8. RoseTube: Discover RoseTube, an exclusive feature of HiFi Rose, allows you to enjoy a diverse range of music-oriented content, including music videos, performances, and documentaries.
  9. Digital VU Meters: While this was not mentioned previously, all HiFi Rose models offer amazing visuals when it comes to digital VU meters with a stunning variety of background colors.

Cons:

  1. Higher Price: The RS250a falls into a higher price range, which may not be suitable for budget-conscious consumers or those seeking more affordable alternatives like the BlueSound Node X.
  2. Complexity for Beginners: Its advanced features and capabilities may be overwhelming for users who are new to network streamers and audiophile equipment.  Specifically, there are complaints from reviewers regarding the options on the LCD screen as well as the functionality of the ROSE Connect app.
  3. Form Factor: The RS250a’s size of 11″ X 3.25″ X 10.5″ (W,H,D) may not fit the aesthetic desire for the usual full-size pieces.
  4. Visual Overload: While the Violet HiFi team prefers the 4K HDMI connection and visuals including the multi-colored VU meters, others may prefer an auditory experience free of visual effects.  If so, this may not be the product for you.

Pricing and How to Purchase

Note: Violet HiFi does receive a small commission for affiliate sales for the online links above.  We appreciate your support of the blog!

Alternatives

When considering the HiFi Rose RS250a and exploring alternatives within the $2500 – $5000 price range, here are notable network streamers to consider:

  • AURALiC Altair G1.1 ($3250) – The AURALiC Altair G1.1 is a network streamer with DAC capabilities, offering a balance of performance and features in this price range. It’s known for its streaming versatility.
  • Lumin U2 Mini ($2400) – The Lumin U2 Mini is a compact network streamer known for its sound quality and user-friendly interface. It provides an option for those seeking a smaller form factor.

Comparing the Hifi Rose RS250a to the Blue Sound Node X (Personal Thoughts)

Comparing the hifi rose RS250a to the Bluesound Node X Music Streamer

I realize this looks like a failed science experiment but my friends over at Just Audio, took the time to help perform a direct test between the RS250a and the Bluesound Node X which we reviewed in July of 2023. Tom, who is incredibly passionate about all things audio, was also incredibly interested in running this test and to remove the DAC from the equation, he hooked up two Oppo stand-alone DACs.  Therefore, we simply listened straight to either the RS250a or the Node X going through the same DACs (stacked on the bottom left of the photo) to the Parasound Pre-Amp to the Parasound A21 amp and then into the Kef Reference 1 Bookshelf Speakers (future roundup coming).

While I was quite clear that Violet Hifi was not created to perform our own reviews, this was a personal endeavor because I’m in the market for a streamer and wanted to ascertain sound differences between these two streamers. On paper and based on the review roundups, the HiFi Rose should be a clear winner if the budget allows.  I base this mostly on the 4K 2.0 HDMI Out, Rose Tube, and the sexy screen.  Still, I pondered if sound would be starkly different between the two.  I’m not going to bore you with extreme audiophile superlatives (which I love and you’ll note that from our merch section)but the A/B test was definitive.  I used one of my favorite reference tracks, “Differently” by Marian Hill.  I also need to mention that while I pick a clear winner here, the Node X and Node in general are excellent streamers and killers at the bang for the buck situation.  With that stated, it was incredibly evident when switching to the 250a as a streamer only that the entire soundstage widened, the clarity of the vocals increased significantly, the detail elevated and the layers of music were beautifully intertwined and separated simultaneously. As Tom mentioned after I expressed my feelings, he could just hear that the music condensed into a much smaller space with the Node.

For 3x the price ($2685 vs. $799), it is absolutely expected that the RS250a would win this battle but it was a pleasure having the opportunity to hear this for myself before making a significant audio investment. As I mention in many of these roundups, I strongly recommend either listening to the device you’ll purchase locally or work with an online company (such as Audio Advice who I partner with) who will help with returns and testing the device in your home.

RS250a at Just Audio - Front View with CD Player

Full Specifications

HiFi Rose RS250A Rear Connections and Input/Output Ports

  • Operating System: Customized Android 7.1 based Rose OS Ver 1.22.4
  • Dimensions: 10.9″ H x 7.9″ W x 3″ D
  • Weight: 7lbs
  • Materials: Aluminum Top Plate With Plastic Sides
  • Display: 8.8″ Wide Viewing Angle Multi-Touch Panel
  • CPU: Hexa Core CPU, Dual-core Cortex-A72 up to 1.8GHz, Quad-core Cortex-A53 up to 1.4GHz
  • GPU: Mali-T864 GPU, OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.0/3.1, OenVG1.1, OpenCL, DX11
  • Memory: LPDDR3 4GByte
  • DAC Chip: ES9028 Pro
  • Output Level: Max 2.3Vrms  (Unbalanced)
  • THD: 0.0002% (1kHz 2.3Vrms Unbalanced output)
  • THD + N: 0.0003% (1kHz 2.3Vrms Unbalanced output)
  • IMD: -102dB (SMPTE 4:1, 60Hz:7KHz)
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 116dB (A-wt)
  • Dynamic Range: Max 126 dB (CCITT filter)
  • Stereo Crosstalk: Better than -133dB, 20-20kHz
  • Output Frequency Response: 20Hz to 40,000 (+/-0.5dB)
  • Output Impedance: 100?
  • Network Support: Ethernet 10/100/1000 BASE-T, WiFi (802.11 b/g/n/a/ac) 2.4Ghz/5Ghz Dual Band
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth supported (A2DP Sink, AVRCP v1.3)
  • Streaming: Airplay / DLNA / Roon Ready / MQA Full Decoder
  • Music Service: TIDAL / Internet Radio / Podcast
  • Audio Input: Line Input x 1, Optical In x 1, COAX x 1, USB Audio In x1
  • Audio Output: PreAmp Out (Unbalanced RCA) x 1, Optical Out x 1, COAX x 1, USB Audio Out x1, Headphone Out x1
  • Video Output: HDMI 2.0 x 1 ( up to 3840 x 2160 / 60Hz )
  • Media Connection: USB3.0 x 2 ( File System – NTFS/FAT32, Supported Capacity – Max. 10TB ), SATA3.0 SSD x 1 ( File System – NTFS, Supported Capacity – Max. 4TB ), Network Support Protocol – SMB/FTP/WebDav
  • Audio: MQA, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, DFF, DSF, AAC, CDA, AMR, APE, EC3, E-EC3, MID, MPL, MP2, MPC, MPGA, M4A
  • PCM: 8KHz~768KHz (8/16/24/32bit per Sample)
  • Native DSD: DSD64(2.8MHz)/DSD128(5.6MHz)/DSD256(11.2MHz)/DSD512(22.5792Mhz)
  • Video: ASF, AVI, MKV, MP4, WMV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 H.263, H.264, H.265, VC-1, VP9, ??VP8, MVC, H.264/AVC, Base/ Main/High/High10 profile@level5.1 up to 4Kx2K@30fps H.265, /HEVC, Main/Main10 profile@ level 5.1 High-tier up to 4Kx2K@60fps
  • Voltage/Power: Input Voltage : AC100-120V,220-240V 50/60Hz
  • Input Power: 50W
  • Update: SW update via Internet, USB OTA, Rose Store
  • Remote Control: Bluetooth remote control
  • Remote App: ROSE Connect (Android, iOS) / Google PlayStore, App Store
  • Accessories: Power Cord x 1, Bluetooth Remote Controller x 1 (AAA Battery x 2), Manual x 1, SSD Screw x 4

HiFi Rose RS250a with CD Player on top Just Audio

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