I would like to thank Mr. Cong of Sunrise for the chance to review these fantastic IEMs. I would like to leave a note here that I received these in Sunrise Xcape packaging, but Mr. Cong has assured me that these are the Sunrise Xcape Impressive Edition.
Pros: Warm pleasing sound
Cons: Soundstage is a tad congested at times
I can't exactly comment on the packaging as the Xcape IE arrived packaged in an SW-Xcape box. I've been assured that these are the first revision of the Sunrise Xcape IE though and they simply packaged it in the old Xcape box by Mr. Tuan Cong of Sunrise Audio. I assume the Xcape series all use similar packaging though in different labels so I can comment on how it came packed.
The Xcape IE came packed very securely in a circle semi-hardshelled case with a styrofoam type material holding it securely in place and well protected. The Xcape IE and the included tips were packed safely inside with absolutely no worries of anything being damaged inside. Included with the Xcape IE are a set of single flanged clear silicon tips (S/M/L) and a pair of small bi-flanged tips. A shirt clip and warranty card are also included in the box.
Sunrise will turn no heads with its included accessories, quite average for the price. The included case is certainly a step up from others I've used though and the IEMs came very secure.
Design and Build Quality
The Xcape is built very similar to the RE0. While the shape is similar the Xcape gets rid of the rough inner half of the IEM and makes it smooth. I have no idea why the RE0 has a rough inner half as it caused me and my friends a lot of in-ear irritation, but I thank Sunrise for changing that. The RE0 and Xcape share the same housing problem though, they're both held together in the middle of the housing which has proved to be a huge problem for the RE0 causing them to come apart. Hopefully Sunrise has taken precautionary measures here to prevent that though.
The housing itself is black aluminum with a silver stripe where the two pieces of the IEM come together with a silver circle on the outer edge of the IEM. The cable comes out of the housing with a long and sturdy feeling stress relief that has a small R or L to indicate right or left. The cable feels rather well built with decent flexibility. The cable is split by a silver aluminum slightly cone-shaped Y-split that, unfortunately, has no cinch. On the Y-split though Xcape is stamped on in white lettering. The cable ends in a silver aluminum 3.5mm I-plug which feels well built.
Once placed in the ear I found myself unable to find a good seal with any of the provided tips so I turned to my Sony Hybrid tips and found a good comfortable seal. Isolation was less than stellar isolation despite the semi-deep insertion. I found that the Xcape blocks out about 40%-50% of outside noise with no music playing, but almost all of it with music playing at reasonable volumes. The fit is very comfortable though not sitting very deep, but definitely securely in my ear. When worn down there are microphonics, but worn over-ear they're eliminated.
Overall the Xcape cause some concerns for durability, but only because of a similar design to the RE0 which I've had bad experiences with, hopefully Sunrise proves my concerns wrong. The comfort is good and I like the semi-deep insertion. Isolation could be better and I wish there was a cinch to help reduce microphonics when worn down. The Xcape are average for the price for build quality to me, not bad, but room for improvement.
Mr. Cong of Sunrise assured me that these were burnt in, but just to be sure I gave these an additional 50 hours of burn-in to be fair, though I found no noticeable changes.
The Xcape produce a sound that many IEMs strive for and simply fail in some aspect. They have a warm tone to them, while at the same time have clean and present mids while still having clear and well extended highs. These are simply fantastic all-rounder IEMs that I find manage to produce a natural sound without faltering in any glaring way.
The lows are natural and well pronounced with good extension and decent mid-bass slam, while allowing for room for the mids to breath. The lows honestly are near perfect for me giving the overall tone a pleasantly warm sound that works for electronic as well as alternative rock. Not once did I find the Xcape to be lacking bass, nor did I ever feel it was too much. The mids are clear and sweet giving the vocals a nice warm intimate feel to them. While the mids have a nice relaxed sound to them, they come forward when needed giving aggression to vocals that need it. The highs are laid-back, but that doesn't mean they're lacking. The highs don't sparkle like the q-JAYS I recently reviewed, rather they have a sweet rolled off sound to them, in a good way. They don't have an edge, but they aren't lacking.
The soundstage on the Xcape is rather narrow, I should say rather intimate. At times music sounds a tad congested, but only for songs with many instruments playing at the same time. At times it's hard to pick out certain instruments causing some confusion. Imaging is also a bit lackluster here, then again I'm comparing the Xcape to the Brainwavz Beta here which have possibly the best imaging of any sub-$100 IEM. The presence of the Xcape isn't bad, but it's not wide and open.
The Mars Volta - Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt
This song has a lot of energy, a lot of instruments and hits every frequency. The Xcape do the songs energy justice. I'm nodding my head along with the tempo changes and find myself wanting to drum along with the song. This is honestly the most important thing here to me. If a headphone can't carry a song's energy through it then the music just isn't enjoyable. The song sound a bit congested during the chorus, though I still find myself able to discern most of the instruments and throughout the song everything from the percussion to the odd guitar riffs are discerned easily. The song actually sounds a bit bright through the Xcape though. The song itself is on the bright side, but it's shown that the Xcape are easily able to reach the lows, then produce the sharp highs. The guitar sounds wonderful during the interlude and the bassline comes in silky smooth and the percussion sounds fantastic.
Animal Collective - Fireworks
I chose this song for it's quirky sound and layered instruments. The Xcape give a nice warm tone to this song taking some of the bright edge off. From the repeating guitar, odd vocals and wonderful percussion, everything simply sounds wonderful and has room to breath. While this song has a lot going on the intimate sound stage suits it's lo-fi sound.
James Blake - Limit To Your Love
I love to choose this song for it's intense bass. The vocals and piano sound wonderful, warm and smooth as they should. The bass is what I'm testing here though and it extends very well, though not as detailed as some other IEMs in the lows, nor as fast, they still sound good and mesh well with the vocals going on. Bassheads probably won't be satisfied, but a non basshead will be.
Sigur Ros - Glosoli
This song has deep lows, well pronounced upper-mids and highs and fantastic atmosphere to it. The Xcape are one of the few IEMs I've heard that does Sigur Ros right. The bass is almost perfect in presence and impact though the kick drum could use a tad more slam. The vocals and atmospheric sounds as well as piano sound good, though the lack of a big soundstage takes some of the depth away from the panning on the instruments.
Sara Bareilles - Morningside
I chose this as a sibilance test mostly and I must say the Xcape pass. Little to no sibilance here. The Xcape actually might be the best representation I've heard of this song. There's a perfect balance of warmth from the instruments and Sara's voice. I love this song through these.
The Xcape IE are a great IEM for the price. The sound is very inoffensive having a nice balance that leans to the warm side. The Xcape aren't very detailed, but they have a lot of musicality. It's easy to simply put the Xcape in your ears and simply listen to music as opposed to analyzing every aspect of it. With the Xcape added to my list of IEMs I own, I am going to find it very hard to decide what I want to listen to. I have a feeling I'll be grabbing for these more often than not. I definitely recommend these.
Come see more pictures of the Xcape here!
Edited by keanex - 10/13/11 at 1:22pm