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Sunrise Audio - Impressions of AS-Charm and AS-Feeling earBuds, and Sw-Xcape canalphone IEM

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

I received some review samples of Sunrise Audio's earBuds and IEM, and wanted to post my thoughts about them here.  I've spent the most time with the AS-Charm, and less time listening to the other two. I listened to a wide variety of music from jazz to rock and electronic, using my iPhone 4 unamped and with a Pico Slim. I'm also doing burn-in with my Headroom Micro Amp at my bedside, and briefly listened with that as well..

 

Construction seems sturdy, and the cables have a nice feel to them. I like the small clam-shell carrying case that's included with all of these, and the 1/4" adapter with the AS-Charm was a nice touch.  The earBuds come with a few foam covers that prevent slippage and improve the fit a lot.  The IEM came with several sizes of tips, but I only needed to use the ones that were installed on them before shipping.

 

AS-Charm and AS-Feeling:

 

 

charm.png

 

 

 

AS-Charm - When I first listened to the AS-Charm I was surprised, and even out of the box they were enjoyable sounding.  Even with no burn-in they clearly sound better than my portable Koss KSC-35 and KSC-75 or Nuforce UF-30 portable headphones.  The upper mids and treble of the AS-Charm is much more natural sounding than the headphones above, without the glaring colorations that the others have.  And the warmth and bass makes them sound more like a full size headphone than a portable.  They do offer a nice size and space to the soundstage, with a little better depth than the AS-Feeling, and I don't feel like I am missing anything by moving from over the ear phones to these earBuds.  The mids are actually still a little fuller than those of the UF-30, which have been my "go to" non-isolating portable phones for a year now.
 
I compared them to my Sennheiser PX-100, and I think they might be closest in sound with their nice warm smooth bass and mids.  However, the AS-Charm are not as dark and veiled as the Sennheiser in the treble, and they present details and cymbals a bit better than the PX-100.  I've been known to describe the PX-100 as a portable/budget HD-650 before, but even the HD650 is not as dark as the PX-100.  So, I was pleased that the AS-Charm could take that type of sound but improve on it nicely in the highs, without making the treble glaring or colored.
 
Vocals are very pleasing and engaging, and the overall balance of the bass, mids and treble is nice.  Detail is good with the AS-Charm, and just like with the UF-30 it's easier to pick things out of the mix than with the PX-100.  I like when an earphone can present good detail without boosting the treble to do it.  
 
I usually do not use earBud style headphones because they fall out too easily, but the foam sleeve on the earbuds helps them stay in place.  I had a pair of Sony earbuds that came with an NE-20 portable CD with optical out, which previously were #1 for this style of headphone, but the AS-Charm is much warmer, fuller and inviting sounding.  The AS-Charm's timbre and tone also reminds me a little of my Monster Turbine Pro Gold, but with less bass impact and extension, less forward mids, and much less efficiency.  Although their warm sound signature is very similar to the MTPG (or HD650), the AS-Charm are not quite as detailed sounding vs the MTPG either.  Not unexpected when comparing to an IEM that costs 3x more.  
 
With the iPhone 4 I have to listen to these 150 ohm earBuds with the volume set between 70-90% of maximum, and with my Pico Slim amplifier the maximum volume is usually about the same as with the iphone 4 at max (the Pico Slim is better with less than 150 ohm).  I briefly tried them with my Headroom Micro Amp (2006 portable version) and it has significantly more power to drive these earBuds, and they sound even better with this amp than the Pico Slim.  I have many other amps with similar high power levels that will drive the AS-Charm well, with the Slim being my least powerful amp and made mostly for very sensitive IEM.  So, you can get by without an amp, but they sound much better when using one.
 
I can safely say that I prefer the AS-Charm sound over all of the above $30-80 portable headphones, although I still like my headphones to have a headband when I'm not using a noise-isolating canal phone.  If I needed a small and very portable or pocketable earphone and I was unable to use an IEM or ear canal phone for any reason, or I needed to hear what is going on around me, I would be happy to grab the AS-Charm for a listen over most of my small and lightweight portable headphones that I would previously reach for.  These are the best "iPod style" earBud headphone I have ever tried, and I think they are worth the asking price.   I have never heard the Yuin earBuds to compare, sorry.
 
AS-Feeling (updated 12/4/10 in bold) - These are an earBud like the AS-Charm.  Out of the box these are somewhat brighter sounding than the AS-Charm, and maybe a little more open sounding.  But they are not as warm and inviting although bass is still good.  They don't have the same feeling of refinement and transparency as the AS-Charm, but after some burn-in they started to sound better and smoother.  I'd like to double my burn-in to 100 hours, but I don't think my impressions are going to change much from now.  After 200 hours the As-Feeling have definitely improved, and have become smooth and grain free.  I'm now liking the AS-Feeling as much or more than my $45 KSC-35 which have a more colored upper mids like a Grado SR-60 or MS-1.
 
They don't need to be amped and an iPhone 4 will drive these 22 ohm earBuds loudly, but these also sound much better with the Micro Amp than iPhone 4 un-amped. They get along well with the Pico Slim due to their increased efficiency, but the Micro Amp did more easily take them to very high levels.  I can set the volume knob a bit lower with these (60%), and at max volume setting they will play noticeably louder with the iPhone 4 headphone jack than the AS-Charm can.  My iPad is a bit more powerful, and max volume with the iPad is much too loud, with normal listening at 50%.  But at 50 hours they are more full bodied sounding when amp'd, and more enjoyable that way.  After 200 hours I am happier with the un-amped sound through my iPad, which is nicely balanced for a $40 earBud.  It's still not as warm an inviting as the AS-Charm, but they don't need to be amped to enjoy.
 
Overall they are not quite as fun sounding as the AS-Charm, but rather seem to strive to be more accurate or balanced, as do the Sw-Xcape.  The mids are a little more forward and present than the AS-Charm, and not bad but also not remarkable.  The sound is good for an earBud, but they don't quite meet my standards for personal listening after 50 hours.  I have a taste for higher performance gear, and I find myself reaching for the AS-Charm more.  On the other hand, even out of the box the AS-Feeling easily beat my daughter's Skull Candy ink'd and smokin' buds for transparency and accuracy.  I'd pick these over those every time.  I have not listened to a stock Apple iBud in ages, and none of the ones at home have been burned-in at all since everyone prefers other IEM.  I may get around to comparing those later.  After 200 hours they do sound good enough to use if they're the closest earBud within reach, and they are clearly better than the Apple earBuds that I put 50 hours on recently.
 
SW-Xcape IEM:
xcape.png
 
Sw-Xcape - These are an IEM or canalphone whose timbre and tone is closer to the AS-feeling than the AS-Charm, with a brighter and crisper treble, and a little less warmth than the AS-Charm.  However, even right out of the box I like them more than the AS-feeling.  They remind me a little of the original Monster Turbine, which I don't have anymore for comparison, however the overall sound is also similar to my new Nuforce NE-700.  The NE-700 are a little more efficient and a little warmer sounding in general, but the similarities are more than the differences.  Unfortunately it's the differences that make the NE-700 slightly better.
 
The bass is more present than the HiFiMan RE-2 or ER-6i, but less than the Monster Turbine Pro Gold or MP4Nation M2 and M3.  I'd say the bass has a proper balance, and is never bloated or muddy, nor lacking either.  I'd much rather listen to these than the RE-2 or ER6i which are bass-lite, or the Denon C700 which can often be muddy or bloated.  With B.o.B. Presents The Adventures of Bobby Ray the bass still hits quite nicely un-amped.  They don't need to be amped for volume, but the bass increases noticeably when listening via the Pico Slim.  However this feels more like a lift in mid-bass punch than an added deep bass hit.  With the Bella Sonus "Enamoured" introduction, they still don't extend as deeply when amped as something like the MTPG or the NE-700 which are still strong at the deepest notes.  While 20Hz notes are still present with the Xcape, I feel that roll-off begins at about 40Hz.  When amp'd the bass is similar to the AS-Charm amped, and they do sound warmer and more inviting with the Pico Slim than when unamped; reinforcing my preference for the Xcape over the AS-feeling.  While not perfect and needing better deep bass extension, the bass is what they do best, with mids a close second and treble last.
 
Mids are not recessed but are slightly forward, and music with vocals sounds good without feeling like there is a hole somewhere.  With Diana Krall "Live in Paris - A Case of You", the piano and vocals are well represented, but the mids are still less warm and full than with the NE-700, amped or not (after volume matching).  This improves noticeably when amped with the Pico Slim vs the iPhone 4 headphone jack.
 
Treble has good presence and sparkle, but it's not as smooth or refined as I would like.  Applause sounds more fatiguing with the Xcape than with the NE-700.  Clarity is better than my PX-100 which are darker and more veiled sounding, but the NE-700 are just as detailed while sounding slightly smoother.  While the Xcape have less coloration in the upper mids and treble than my KSC-35 or Nuforce UF-30, they're still not as transparent and inviting sounding as the AS-Charm or NE-700.  
 
Overall  transparency is fairly good, and I enjoyed listening to some live recordings of Diana Krall and Eva Cassidy with them.  But they are not totally neutral or uncolored.  There is still a very slight "spitty-ness" or sheen to the highs in some music (not all).  It's not sibilance, but it's slightly above where it should be and not as far as to call it an etch either.  While smoother and more relaxed than my Maximo iMetal, I'd worry that listening for long periods might become a little fatiguing.  I don't use the Maximo much anymore for that reason.  So far with the shorter 30-40 minute sessions I've had with the Xcape that is not a problem.  They have improved in just the first 50 hours of burn-in, but they sound the same to me today as they did yesterday before I left them running with music overnight.
 
These are more efficient than the AS-Charm and normal listening volume on my iPhone 4 is at 60-70%, and 90% is about as loud as I'd want to go.  I enjoyed them un-amped, however the sound is noticeably fuller and richer when amp'd via Pico Slim than when using my iPhone 4 headphone jack.  I think this is more than just because the iPhone line-out is a better source, but because there is better synergy with the amp in the Slim for driving these.  Amping brings the Xcape closer to the NE-700, while un-amped the gap widens.  Many IEM respond well to amping, and the Xcape is not alone in that regard.  Comfort and fit is good, and isolation is also respectable but less than the NE-700.  I have not needed to try any other tips than the medium tips that came on them already.  
 
At this point I would put the Xcape close to the similarly priced Nuforce NE-700, with their sound being respectable for the price.  While I slightly prefer the NE-700 over the Xcape, these are still enjoyable IEM and I think that many listeners would enjoy them.  It comes down to preferences, and I think the Xcape will appeal more to Grado lovers than Sennheiser lovers, while the AS-Charm would appeal more to a Sennheiser fan.  
 
Update 12/4/10:  I have over 200 hours on the Xcape now, and I think they are done burning in.  They have matured nicely in that time, and are non-fatiguing, crisp and detailed.  I posted updates on their improvement in post #3 http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/524682/sunrise-audio-impressions-of-as-charm-and-as-feeling-earbuds-and-sw-xcape-canalphone-iem#post_7087917 and #9 http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/524682/sunrise-audio-impressions-of-as-charm-and-as-feeling-earbuds-and-sw-xcape-canalphone-iem#post_7090508 
 
Also, these have now become my son's favorite earphone, over his RE2 and RE3 prototype, and he told me today that he felt that "they have better detail than his Westone 1 with similar bass".  He likened the experience with the Xcape to be similar to listening to his Stax SR-Lambda (not a direct comparison since we recently sold the Lambda to buy a Lambda Nova Signature that isn't here yet).  He's previously felt his Westone 1 sounded more like his Stax SR-80 electrets, likely due to the mids centric sound signature.  Lucky 13 year old, or just spoiled?
 
 

Edited by HeadphoneAddict - 12/5/10 at 12:09am
post #2 of 27
Thread Starter 
Post #2 reserved
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
The Xcape have definitely smoothed out with more burn-in, and they are a little more transparent now at 150 hours. Their overall character and tone are pretty much the same as before, but I'm not finding them to be borderline fatiguing to listen to anymore. I've been enjoying them this evening even un-amped with my iPhone 4, but they still blossom with the Pico Slim amping them. Listening to Eva Cassidy "Live at Blues Alley - Tall Trees in Georgia" the highs a still slightly spitty sounding with vocals, but I can live with it. I think they are a little less aggressive sounding than my Maximo iMetal iP-5HS (i590 with mic).

I'm sure many people will enjoy these, and they're starting to sound more like a balanced armature IEM than a dynamic driver. I'm vaguely reminded of the Phonak PFE now, which I don't have anymore to compare and I'm just going by memory. I'm interested in what others think about these.
Edited by HeadphoneAddict - 11/28/10 at 10:23pm
post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post

The Xcape have definitely smoothed out with more burn-in, and they are a little more transparent now at 150 hours. Their overall character and tone are pretty much the same as before, but I'm not finding them to be borderline fatiguing to listen to anymore. I've been enjoying them this evening even un-amped with my iPhone 4, but they still blossom with the Pico Slim amping them. Listening to Eva Cassidy "Live at Blues Alley - Tall Trees in Georgia" the highs a still slightly spitty sounding with vocals, but I can live with it. I think they are a little less aggressive sounding than my Maximo iMetal iP-5HS (i590 with mic).

I'm sure many people will enjoy these, and they're starting to sound more like a balanced armature IEM than a dynamic driver. I'm vaguely reminded of the Phonak PFE now, which I don't have anymore to compare and I'm just going by memory. I'm interested in what others think about these.


The treble and clarity definitely started to open up for me after more burn bringing things more in balance IMO.  They did sound more like a turbine type phone out of the box but they now have an identity all their own to my ears.  Myself and others have remarked they have an uncanny ability to sound dry and somewhat analytical but still full bodied and far from thin.  Unique combination that does seem to straddle a BA and Dynamic sound me thinks.  

post #5 of 27

i am interested with as-feeling, but looks like it is out of stock :(

post #6 of 27

I have a 2nd-hand Xcape from a forum member, and while I don't know the number hours he put on them, I've put about 50+ so far, some burning, but mostly listening.  They look and sound very much like the RE0, which I don't have for direct comparison, but with some bass body that I just couldn't seem to coax out of the RE0.  The HJE900 was definitely too dark and thick sounding to me, and the MC5 oddly hollow to me, so I'm glad to get back to a clarity + body combination that I can like.

 

I'm using a iBasso T4 with the bass boost on, plus boosting the bass and upper bass +3 or so on my Rockbox'd Fuze to give it a bit more bottom end and warmth.  Mids are nearly perfect to me, and highs continue to be smooth out, losing most of the initial grainy-ness.  Having owned the RE0 and the MC5, which both were very clear and detailed, I'm not as awed with the clarity and details as I remember being with the RE0, but the RE0 was a stunning revelation in smooth mid and treble details, and I have come to expect that in good IEMs and have rejected several that don't have that.

 

Bottom line for me, the Xcape is a very balanced and clear IEM with an initial mid and high emphasis, but with a definite bass and lower-mid body capability.

 

Right now the only thing I can see wanting to replace the Xcape with is the ER-4P, but not at the current street price nearly equaling the MSRP of $299.

post #7 of 27

I've been working on a comparison review which includes the Zero and Xcape and I found them more similar than different. The biggest difference would be the bass on the Xcape is better with more body and the vocals on the Zero are better a bit more forward.

post #8 of 27

All this feedback makes me glad I purchased the Xcape. I have just received them, with zero minutes burn-in they sound [edit: MUCH ] better than RE-2s (RIP).

 


Edited by utkusu - 11/29/10 at 11:45am
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by utkusu View Post

All this feedback makes me glad I purchased the Xcape. I have just received them, with zero minutes burn-in they sound [edit: MUCH ] better than RE-2s (RIP).

 


Yes, they are better than the RE-2 and many other under $100 IEM.  I prefer them slightly to my Maximo iMetal iP-HS5.  They also have better bass than my Nuforce NE-8 which just don't fit me well.  They have more clarity and detail than my Nuforce NE-6/7M, and better sonic balance than my Denon C700 which have tipped up bass and treble.  But the NE-6 are still a little more romantic or euphonic sounding.  I do agree with kmhaynes that the Xcape are a little dry and analytical, but not too thin or bass-lite like the RE-2 (which do better with an iBasso T4 amp and bass boost on).  I'm now finding I can get a little better balance by pushing the Xcape deeper into my ears.

 

Like I said before, they sound closer to the new Nuforce NE-700, but with a little less fullness, depth and warmth than the Nuforce.  The Nuforce NE-700 also sounded more refined/smoother with much less burn-in than the Xcape, but after burn-in the highs do get closer.  But I'm finding that the Xcape need to be amped to get close to the NE-700, and unamped from my iPhone 4 I still prefer the NE-700. 

 

The Brainwavz M3 in comparison have a little less clarity and detail, and a more closed in soundstage yet with less forward mids, but a warmer, fuller and bassier sound.  The Xcape are less efficient, and I'm listening with the iPhone volume at 70% vs 50% for the M3.  This makes the M3 better for rock music, or listening un-amped and at higher volumes.  I need to get the M2 back for comparison, but if I recall they had even more bass presence and a sound signature that reminded me of a less detailed/less refined UE11Pro.

 

 

 

post #10 of 27

I am from VN, so I tried it half a year ago.

 

The Xcape is a good combination between analytical and warmn sound signature. It is quite accurate but still full and dynamic with adequate bass and smooth treble L3000.gif.

 

The unamped As-Charms, in my oppinion, are still better than the Feelings

post #11 of 27

Thank you for your impressions beerchug.gif

post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NCT View Post

Thank you for your impressions beerchug.gif


Hi, and thanks for the opportunity to try these.  I tried to be fair in my impressions, and I hope you don't think I was too hard on these earphones.  I do think they are a good value and there are many people who I think would enjoy them.

post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 

I've updated post #1 with changes in bold after more burn-in.  The Sw-Xcape and As-Feeling have matured nicely after over 200 hours of burn-in.  I also believe my iPad headphone out is a little warmer and more powerful than my iPhone 4, and they match the iPad a little better as well (un-amped).

post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post

I'm sure many people will enjoy these, and they're starting to sound more like a balanced armature IEM than a dynamic driver. I'm vaguely reminded of the Phonak PFE now, which I don't have anymore to compare and I'm just going by memory. I'm interested in what others think about these.


I completely concur as far as the BA-like sound of the SW-Xcape is concerned.

Generally speaking, SW-Xcape reminds me a lot of my beloved Sleek Audio SA6. Ironically, the SA6 sounds like a dynamic IEM, while the Xcape could be mistaken for a BA take on the same sound signature.

post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sepinho View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post

I'm sure many people will enjoy these, and they're starting to sound more like a balanced armature IEM than a dynamic driver. I'm vaguely reminded of the Phonak PFE now, which I don't have anymore to compare and I'm just going by memory. I'm interested in what others think about these.

I completely concur as far as the BA-like sound of the SW-Xcape is concerned.

Generally speaking, SW-Xcape reminds me a lot of my beloved Sleek Audio SA6. Ironically, the SA6 sounds like a dynamic IEM, while the Xcape could be mistaken for a BA take on the same sound signature.


Yeah, it's possible for either type of IEM to sound "in the middle" of BA and dynamic, as not all of them have a characteristic sound based on the driver type (although many do).  I probably should have worded it a little differently, but at least you understand what I mean.  Many people come to think of the BA IEM as being crisp, fast and very detailed, and the dynamics to have some rounded edges or slowness or smoothness to transients and details.  And the Xcape have none of that slowness or rounded edges.  

 

The same thing happens with amps of the tube and solid state variety, where we have stereotyped them into one kind of sound or another.  But they don't all fit the stereotype.  Some SS amps sound warm and euphonic like people expect from a tube amp, and some tube amps sound sharp and crisp and dry like some people expect from an SS amp - but there really is no characteristic sound that all Tube or SS amps fall into, and same should go with BA and dynamic IEM.

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