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Sunrise Xcape, M1, MC5, HJE900 4 way comparison (Now w/ TS02!!)

post #1 of 69
Thread Starter 

PREFACE:  Each one of these IEMs is fantastic in their own right.  I could easily be happy listening to any one of them if they were the only IEM I had.  The point of the review is to help people find the phone that best matches their needs and wants.  It's not about saying X>Y>Z, etc.

 

NOTE:  The opinions herein correspond to the v.1 Xcape.  

 

My original intent was to post some initial impressions followed by a more comprehensive review of the new Sunrise Xcape. Then something caught my eye. The shimmer and sinew of three comparable IEMs resting their loins on my table. I pondered when push came to shove, who would rise to claim Alpha-Male status. They beckoned, cried and pleaded. I succumbed to the will of the majority and after much auditory deliberation, the results are in. I submit the following for your consideration.  Remember, YMMV and keep my comments in context w/ the comparisons rather than seeing them as universal statements of fact.  

 

Contenders:

 

Sunrise Xcape v.1-$80-available only on Ebay at the moment. Favorably reviewed by a few trusted members of our brotherhood. The new kid on the block.  (Discontinued)

 

Brainwavz M1-$20-$40-Available from MP4 Nation. The much revered and long standing giant slayer of the dynamic driver world. (I will be listening without EQ for this comparison as I usually EQ my M1. From past experiences the M1 has the highest level of EQ flexibility and headroom I have heard so far in an universal IEM. My minimal use of the Clip+ has not allowed me to test this ability on any of my recent purchases.)

 

Etymotic MC5-$55-$80-Available many places. The new budget Ety that promises Ety sound in a cheaper dynamic driver package.

 

Panasonic HJE900-$80-$200-Engaging, aggressive sound enclosed in nearly indestructible cubic zirconium housings w/ detachable cables. I recently burned in my pair by letting a Chevy Silverado run over them repeatedly.  (Discontinued)

______________

 

* Because the IEMs in question weren't available at time of the initial comparison, impressions should be judged relative to my Xcape to provide a reference point.  

 

Added impressions 11.12.2010  

 

Thinksound TS02-$89, Fun sounding with a wonderful, natural, organic timbre and BIG bass.  Elegant wooden housing available in red cherry with mic functionality.  Relatively small and light housings which enhance comfort and ease of fit.  Special thanks to Rawrster for the loaner.

 

vs. Xcape:

 

Off the bat, there is a slightly better clarity in the mids that lends itself to sound cleaner on vocals.  Initially and at low volumes the Xcape tends to portray a sort of sheen over the vocals by comparison.  That can largely be remedied if you are not set on low volume listening.  However, the TS02's advantage in the mids sadly does not carry over to the highs and lows which are easily bettered on the Xcape.  The bass is big and boomy in comparison which can be fun w/ certain genres but certainly not accurate.  The treble is present yet rougher and harsher compared to the Xcape which is also brighter and has more sparkle.  Overall, the Xcape sounds more detailed, cleaner and refined.  It does a better job at checking the technical boxes yet still engages and sounds fun provided you give them some power and volume to let loose a bit.  Where the TS02 shines though is that natural, organic timbre w/ acoustic material.  The Xcape and none of the IEMs here have that weapon in their arsenal.  Before you get excited lets not get carried away and think we have $90 FX700s here.  All in all, I can agree w/ Rawrster that despite certain shortcomings I would enjoy the TS02 over something like the HJE900 (unmodded) despite that.  i would go for the Xcape over either though.  YMMV as usual.

 

Added impressions 05.12.2011

 

Meelec CC51-$80

 

Xears TD III Pro Blackwood-$70 (approximate after Euro conversion)

______________ 

 

After much sonic comparison, the following data was attained:

 

Isolation

 

Xcape-Better

M1-Decent

MC5-Best

HJE900-Good

*TS02-Less than the Xcape but better than the M1

*Meelec CC51-

*Xears TD III Pro-

 

Treble

 

Xcape-Good treble on electric guitars and cymbals. Not as good as the M1 or MC5.

M1-Sounds more detailed, china hat in backgrounds noticeable. More energy with good crisp cymbals. Best treble here.

MC5-Second best string detail, second best treble.

HJE900-Average treble clarity in this group. Quick decay, perhaps too fast. China hat a bit too rough, lacking refinement.

*TS02-Probably the worst of the group despite being good for a $90 phone.  Competition is stiff these days.

 

*Meelec CC51-

*Xears TD III Pro-

 

Mid-Range

 

Xcape-Vocals present, a bit forward but not too much. Perhaps a slight upper mid dip a la M50 controlling sibilance but less noticeable than the M50. Second best vocal presentation of the comparison. The M1 is the best choice for accuracy but the Xcape will get you close and still tame the nasties to encourage your euphony.

M1-Most balanced, complete mid-range and vocals. Also more prone to sibilance as vocals are clearer and well represented. Good vocal texture and detail retrieval.

MC5-Usually cooler than the M1 and Xcape w/ less detail and texture. Not as rich.

HJE900-Mids definitely recessed. Not a problem w/ long listening sessions and no competition.

*TS02-Tied for second best mids in this group.  The hinderance is the ever present bass encroachment and a bit of grain that keeps the mids from truly shining.  The grain is nothing like the GR8 or lesser Grados though.  More akin to the DDM grain probably.

 

*Meelec CC51-

*Xears TD III Pro-

 

Bass

 

Xcape-Full, round bass. Controlled, good decay. Extends better than the MC5.

M1-Bigger bass, more impact, weight and rumble. A bit boomier, bordering on floatiness for some. Snappy kick drum though, very present.

MC5-Bass a touch lighter than Xcape.

HJE900-Big, impactful bass. Lacking texture and detail, too quick again. Quick, heavy and hard hitting, but too fast and at times seemingly muffled.

*TS02-Biggest bass here.  Less impactful than I recall the 900 but looser and boomier.  Detail is lost down here due to lack of control.  Worst of the group certainly.

 

*Meelec CC51-

*Xears TD III Pro-

 

Clarity

 

Xcape-Tied with the MC5. Despite a slightly warmer presentation, the detail is evident but not as good as the M1.

M1-The Rooster in this Hen house. Micro detail is great all the way through.

MC5-Tied with the Xcape w/ cooler presentation which adds to the appearance of clarity.

HJE900-Least prevalent. The recessed mid-range didn't help and the treble and bass extremes seemed to get congested at times. Think opposite of muddiness. Quick-set concrete?

*TS02-Tough call.  The clarity is able to match the M1 here but the lack of control and refinement hurts detail retrieval.  EQ would have it easily on par w/ the M1, w/o EQ perhaps tied with or behind the 900.

 

*Meelec CC51-

*Xears TD III Pro-

 

Temperature

 

Xcape-Warmish but not dark at all. Expands your content much the same way Monster Golds do but more neutral.

M1-Sounds neutral but on the warmside.

MC5-Can be odd. Tip-toes the neutrality line between cool and warm. The unique imaging seems to give you both at times.

HJE900-Warmest phone in the group.

*TS02-Somewhere between the M1 and Excape.

*Meelec CC51-

*Xears TD III Pro-

 

Timbre

 

Xcape-Slightly warm nature hurts horns and brass.

M1-Best timbre of the group. Almost everything sounds as it should in relative comparison.

MC5-Good accurate timbre. Better on vocals than Xcape but a touch more prone to sibilance.

HJE900-Suffers the same fate as the Xcape but more so.

*TS02-Another tough call.  Although the temperature is represented well, control is all over and its hard to appreciate at times.  The wooden housing does seem to add something special to the quality of notes when organic notes are called for.

 

*Meelec CC51-

*Xears TD III Pro-

 

Balance/Tonality

 

Xcape-Balanced all the way, Drums, Bass guitar, Lead guitar, vocals are all present with lead singer just a bit forward on the mic, great stuff. Best of the group. Nothing takes precedent over anything else. Not even the slightly forward vocals. It all just sounds right.

M1-Bass can be a bit intrusive over the mids and domineering w/ respect to the treble. Not in a way that sounds bad. All the sound is there and present, just more prominent as you move toward the low end. Less balanced than Xcape.

MC5-More mid-centric w/ the rest of the band and frequency range taking more of a backseat.

HJE900-V/U-shaped curve. As your main phone it won't be a problem. In direct comparison, the results are clear.

*TS02-Bass heavy by comparison.  Tip selection is crucial to tame the bass and bring out a more balanced sound but its still big bass around these parts by comparison.

 

*Meelec CC51-

*Xears TD III Pro-

 

Speed/Decay

 

Xcape-Smack dab in the middle of the MC5 and M1. Probably the happy medium for many. Those seeking that extra reverb and decay in wood percussion would be happy w/ the M1. For other genres where bass can get boomy, look no further than the Xcape to give you the right dose.

M1-Good decay on strings. Might get lost a bit when speed is of utmost importance.

MC5-Lighter on decay than the M1 or Xcape. Not as dismissive as the HJE900.

HJE900-Very quick, handles a lot of complex information speedily but some micro detail can get lost because the phone has moved on to better things already. Short of natural, least decay of the group. It would rather be doing other things.

*TS02-Longest decay and slowest speed of the group.  For Jazz and such that can be very entertaining.  For other genres, not so much.

 

*Meelec CC51-

*Xears TD III Pro-

 

Signature

 

Xcape-Fun, enjoyable, unobjectionable. Reminds me of an Alessandro MS-1i without the open can feel. Perhaps w/ more punchy bass. Think MC5 but kick the balance and fun factor up a notch. Throw in a touch of warmth and done.

M1-Similar to the M50 without balance mod but leaner. One of the Smoothest of the bunch. Excellent technical performer and very engaging sound.

MC5-More professorial in approach to musical enjoyment. Good, neutral sound for those that like lounging back with cognac and cigar in hand pondering where the world went wrong.

HJE900-A lot of aggressive energy. Wants to smash guitars and drum kits and spit on the audience. Very smooth sounding when the music slows down and gets a chance to breath.

*TS02-Fun phone w/ an organic wood coloration and big bass if you want it.

*Meelec CC51-

*Xears TD III Pro-

 

Imaging

 

Xcape-All share the stage equally, singer steps forward a bit.

M1-Drums forward of strings just behind singer. Like a Godsmack concert showcasing percussion.

MC5-Singer present up front, but rather than step forward the band is pushed further back. Different from the Xcape. Might give people a better sense of Neutrality.

HJE900-Closer to the drums and guitars pushed a bit back, not as much as MC5 but having the singer almost join them.

*TS02-Similar to the Xcape but fuzzier.

 

*Meelec CC51-

*Xears TD III Pro-

 

Sound Stage

 

Xcape-Small to medium. Congested for some.

M1-Medium or Average. Very nice.

MC5- Medium size, a bit wider than the Xcape,. The way I like it. Similar to the M1.

HJE900-Wider stage, about the limit of what I can tolerate before being unnatural to my ears. I don't usually listen to rock concerts from the pit. If you do, this your cup of tea.

*TS02-More left and right than the Xcape.

 

*Meelec CC51-

*Xears TD III Pro-

 

Considering the Alessandro MS1i goes for $110, $80 is pretty damn good for such a well balanced, decently built, fun and unobjectionable phone. The Sunrise Xcape should handle most repertoires well and is a highly competent investment for the money. All these phones are worthy of love and affection. Hopefully I could do my part to find new homes and families for all the stray IEMs out there.


Edited by Anaxilus - 5/13/11 at 5:20pm
post #2 of 69

Do you think the Xcape is a $40 upgrade over the M1s?

 

the question is.. are they THAT good?

 

Edit: Is the treble smooth? or is it KSC-75 like aggressive?


Edited by Jozurr - 9/17/10 at 3:14am
post #3 of 69

Great review!

 

Can I ask that how long did you burn your Xcape? Can your ear fit the bi-flange tip? Can you use S:flo2 and Gumstick to test too?

 

Thank you for you review!

post #4 of 69

Thank you for the review. Those interested search for Sw-Xcape on ebay and you will find the listing :)

post #5 of 69

Anaxilus, nice impressions. By the way, what does YMMV stand for? How much burn in did you get in on the HJE900? Very good job.

post #6 of 69

YMMV = Your Miles May Vary

 

I'll find out about the HJE900 soon enough for myself. The recessed mids are the only thing I'm worried about with them as recessed mids (TF:10) is not something I would like. I do look forward to a very well built backup or an earphone that could go well with an RE-Zero in offering different signatures at same level of performance.

 

Nice impressions on the 4 earphones of two I'll probably never hear.


Edited by rawrster - 9/17/10 at 8:36am
post #7 of 69

Am I reading this review right, that for you, the Brainwavz M1 seems to come out on top of nearly all categories?  Reads that way to me!  

 

What about the M2?  Many reviews I've read say what the M1 does great, the M2 does just a bit better.  Any comments?

post #8 of 69

It sure sounds like the M1 is quite the earphone. I'll have the ViSang R02 shortly so I'll see for myself how good these budget earphones are. It's supposed to be pretty close to the Brainwavz M2 according to one head-fi member who has them both.

 

Also interesting take on the MC5. I found them pretty boring esp on vocals compared to the RE-Zero. I guess that's the clinical part when people associate that with Etymotic. I found it pretty odd as they have a signature I typically enjoy but not so much with the MC5.

post #9 of 69

@ rawrster According to joker,  the R02 is more in relation to the M2/R03 than the M1s which have a more balance signature.

 

Pretty spot on the M1 except I find the bass only minimally intrusive of the lower mids, it's really not that much imo because the midbass isn't that obtrusive. The imaging may also be a bit different for me, to get more in depth i find the drums closer to the singer, but the strings are about the same level but are further away from the two, but not necessarily behind as the decay and clarity of notes has something special on them. I believe these seem to have a small hump near the 700hz-1khz zone which gives instruments like the piano or acoustic guitar that clarity I find very appealing.

post #10 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jozurr View Post

Do you think the Xcape is a $40 upgrade over the M1s?

 

Edit: Is the treble smooth? or is it KSC-75 like aggressive?


Are they worth it.  Yes, if you like the incredibly balanced sound that commits no offenses.  I think its simply of determining the right sound signature for you.  Is a $2 Orange worth double the price of a $1 Apple?  Can't answer that for anybody.  Keep in mind the Xcape is also better built and has better isolation than the M1.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NCT View Post

 

Can I ask that how long did you burn your Xcape? Can your ear fit the bi-flange tip? Can you use S:flo2 and Gumstick to test too?

 

Thank you for you review!

 

About 20 hours on the Xcape prior to the review.  Yes, Meelec BiFlanges work.  That is what I used for the review.  It would make more sense to do a DAP review than test each phone w/ each DAP.  So till then.  Your more than welcome!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericp10 View Post

How much burn in did you get in on the HJE900? 


20 hours as well.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmhaynes View Post

Am I reading this review right, that for you, the Brainwavz M1 seems to come out on top of nearly all categories?  Reads that way to me!  

 

What about the M2?  Many reviews I've read say what the M1 does great, the M2 does just a bit better.  Any comments?


As for the M2, despite scoring higher on points on say Jokers review, many prefer the M1 to the M2.  Remember, more points doesn't necessarily  mean 'better' or that you will like it better.  As for counting categories, it may seem the M1 has the upper hand.  The question is, are each of the criteria of equal value?  The answer to that for me is no.  Does decay carry the same weight as overall balance and signature?  Not to me.  The thing I should have been clearer about was that each one of these IEMs is fantastic in their own right.  I could easily be happy listening to any one of them if they were the only IEM I had.  The question is, and the point of the review is to help people find the phone that best matches their needs and wants.  It's not about saying X>Y>Z, etc.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

Also interesting take on the MC5. I found them pretty boring esp on vocals compared to the RE-Zero. I guess that's the clinical part when people associate that with Etymotic. I found it pretty odd as they have a signature I typically enjoy but not so much with the MC5.


You are correct about the MC5 vs ER4.  They have their Ety sound but they do not sound like clones at all.  Quite different in presentation.  I definitely didn't judge whether something might be boring, too subjective.  Doesn't mean I don't agree w/ you.    
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inks View Post

 

Pretty spot on the M1 except I find the bass only minimally intrusive of the lower mids, it's really not that much imo because the midbass isn't that obtrusive. The imaging may also be a bit different for me, to get more in depth i find the drums closer to the singer, but the strings are about the same level but are further away from the two, but not necessarily behind as the decay and clarity of notes has something special on them. I believe these seem to have a small hump near the 700hz-1khz zone which gives instruments like the piano or acoustic guitar that clarity I find very appealing.


x2.  Remember the comments are more of a comparison in relation to each of the phones in the group rather than an absolute generalization about any particular one.  There are many more IEMs out there that has much more intrusive bass.  I think I said intrusive originally, I never found the bass obtrusive.  You can clearly hear the mids being resolved, there is no veil or muddy obscuration.

 

post #11 of 69

Thank you for your kind reply. I think you should give more time on Xcape and HJE900 (I mean burn in it more, Xcape will need 100-150hours depend on how you burn in it).
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

 

 

"The question is, and the point of the review is to help people find the phone that best matches their needs and wants.  It's not about saying X>Y>Z, etc.  "


 


You are more than right when said that

post #12 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NCT View Post

Thank you for your kind reply. I think you should give more time on Xcape and HJE900 (I mean burn in it more, Xcape will need 100-150hours depend on how you burn in it).
 


I'm not sure what more burn-in will do for the Xcape since it doesn't do anything wrong in the first place.  I was listening to it last night out of my newly arrived Arrow 12HE 2G.  Fantastic!  I only see it it becoming more refined in everything it does well.  Rawrster will be able to do more burn-in on the HJE900s.    

post #13 of 69

so you're loaning his zeros? been trying the zeros myself, would be interested in what you think about them. Oh and this thread also pretty much made it clear that the once tempting HJE900 is definitely not for me. thanks for that. 

post #14 of 69

how does the IE6 compare with the HJE 900 and the MC5? i've basically narrowed it down to these 3 and not the RE0 since of the durability issue. i listen to classical, rock, hip hop and a little bit electronic. basically allpurprose? sub 100 category. or do i have better options?

post #15 of 69

not many own the ie6 and the few that do doubtfully own the mc5s or even the 900s. Not much info on the IE6s but they seem to be a tier down from the latter two from what I've read. Could be wrong thought, but either way it's more of a gamble because of the lack of info while there's tons of stuff on the 900s/mc5s which upon reading will make your decision easier. Search is your friend.

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