Sunrise SW-Xcape earphone in review:
Sunrise SW-Xcape earphone in Review – Xtra good
As noted above, the Xcape is a fun-sounding earphone that really proves how far the market has come in just a couple of years. It fits more comfortably than the Sleek SA1, but otherwise, is worthy of compare. Both earphones hit the same MRSP price bracket and come with great accessories. But, where the SA1 sounds small and loses detail in some music, the Xcape never fails to go 'bam!' in all the right tickle spots.
I've come to expect pretty good extension from Sunrise's earphones. The Xcape hits 45Hz with no problem and drops ever so slightly away toward 20Hz, but overall sustains a good, flat lower frequency range at the ear. Highs jolt up before 12kHz and the signal stays strong till after 17kHz with drop off afterward. In other words, with a nod toward the treble, the Xcape does a good job of emulating the ear's own acoustics. What this means in everyday use, of course is a slight v-curve to help you keep your music at reasonable volume levels.
Here're some real-world examples: Markus Schulz's Mainstage, a mainstay performer here at TouchMyApps, is an intro of a song hinged on very low bass. Surprise surprise, the 80$ Xcape can resolve the first 10 or 20 seconds of the song, a feat that the Sleek SA1 couldn't do as well. But trance (and most other music) isn't all about the barely audible 20-50Hz sine wave. Stepping up to the world of lowly-voiced PRAT in the 80-120Hz range, the Xcape keeps up happily, never ever smearing mid and upper bass. Hands down, it is more balanced in the lower half of the frequency than the Sleek.
In the midrange, there is a slight sheen on both male and female vocals. You'll hear these mostly on higher-pitched vocals. This sheen extends into percussion and electric strings. There is a LOT of energy in the vocal range. On the one hand, it is exciting and fun, but on the other hand, it can at times, sound strained. I think that a lot of reviewers may describe it as 'detail' or clarity. Indeed, I get the impression that the minty breaths of Nick Cave, will pop up between his dark rhymes. The truth, however, is that you cannot hear them, oh well. What it does for music depends on your tastes. For most male vocals, its effect is negligible, but moving up to Eminem, The Streets, or Shaggy ;), you'll experience Ultrasone moments where the high midrange 'tweaks' a bit in your ears.
Despite a lot of midrange energy, sibilance isn't a problem. Rather, there is just a lot of chunky, meaty sound in there. Acoustic guitars, which come to the foreground, centre acoustic music. The vocals, of Nick Cave, for instance play nicely with the back up instruments in The Boatman's Call. Moving onto modern alternative like Broken Social Scene shows where the Xcape's trumped up midrange can get a little hot. With so much confusion in the wild instrument arrangements, the Xcape just swarms with sound. There is no real way to tame Broken Social Scene, and the Xcape missteps only a small amount with this Toronto group's more chaotic songs.
On the other hand, transitions between high frequencies and the midrange are smooth and clever. The Xcape casts a pretty good shadow between the midrange and anything else. You get very clear instrument separation and a decent illusion of space. The soundstage tends to wrap from the side of the head to the back rather than toward the front. Every earphone is different, and for the most part, the Xcape sticks to its guns rather than forging new paths, but the guns it sticks to, are realistic and fun.
Finally, the Xcape isn't overly sensitive. Of course you won't hear hiss from a modern iPod, but even the older iPod shuffle 1G's horrid hiss is somewhat tamed when played through the Xcape and if you are very brave, the HiSound AMP3 Pro2 even, is somewhat listenable. You also won't need an amp to get volume or resolution with the Xcape unless you are stuck with an old iPod or you know, an 'audiophile' unit from Microsoft, Cowon, or iRiver. ;)