Vietnam, more famous for the tragic Vietnam War, and delicious local fare such as pho, spring rolls and Vietnamese coffee, is perhaps one of the least likely of places for an audiophile to go hunting for their audio fix. However, Vietnamese upstarts Sunrise Audio is fast making a name amongst headphones enthusiasts for its bang-for-buck offerings. Needless to say, we had to investigate and what you are looking at now is its in-ear headphone, the Sunrise XW-Scape.
At first glance, the Sunrise XW-Scape doesn’t look like much. It appears to be like any generic in-ear headphones and that certainly doesn’t inspire confidence. However, according to Sunrise, the housing is actually solid aluminum cut by high precision CNC machines. Furthermore, it gets a healthy helping of accessories. A hard carrying case comes as standard as do three pairs of silicon tips (small, medium, large), a single bi-flange tip, and a shirt clip.
On the hardware front, it features moderately-sized 9mm neodymium magnet dynamic drivers and has a fairly wide frequency range of 20Hz to 24000Hz. Impedance is a very manageable 32ohms, so portable media players and mobile phones will have no problem powering it. However, as all audiophiles know, paper specifications count for nothing, so let’s find out how the XW-Scape performs.
With the XW-Scape, Sunrise is aiming for a more well-rounded sound and it achieves that remarkably. On one of our famous audition tracks, Hotel California, the bongo drums that kick it at the beginning had sufficient presence and oomph and Henley’s vocals were smooth yet with the right amount of texture. The guitars too were nicely textured and had great details.
Playing a few more tracks, it soon became clear that the XW-Scape excelled best at vocals. Like Frank Sinatra, the XW-Scape had a natural and effortless delivery, allowing for warm, buttery smooth and satisfyingly textured vocals.
Lastly, the supplied silicon tips did a good job of keeping ambient noise out, and they didn’t feel intrusive nor uncomfortable to wear.
Where it lets down slightly is that it doesn’t sound urgent and because of that, it sounds rushed on faster tracks. Playing trance music for example, despite having sufficient low-end presence, the overall rendition sounded hurried and not as tight. That aside, we also found that the XW-Scape has slightly steely and harsh upper mids and highs.
By and large, we were impressed with the Sunrise XW-Scape. It might look plain and unremarkable, but do not judge a book by its cover, for its performance is top notch. We especially liked its smooth and textured mids, and its well-controlled bass. It also fits comfortably and attenuates ambient noise considerably for a distraction-free listening experience. And considering its S$100 asking price, the XW-Scape is a real steal for such a terrific pair of headphones.