Sunrise Charm3 & Dragon2 Ear buds

Sunrise Charm3 & Dragon2 Ear buds

Value & Conclusion »

Performance

Ear buds are for those looking for a set of transportable headphones that are easy to use on the go. They are less bulky than on-ear (supra aural) headphones and can in some incarnations provide very good sound quality. In-ears have of course conquered quite a bit of the ear-bud market, but there are still some things that make ear buds interesting. They, for one, do not block out all noise and are easy to remove and insert, which can be somewhat tricky with some in-ears. Also, they are usually more durable, which makes them a better in-the-pocket partner for your smart phone than most in-ears with, for example, small and delicate sound tubes.

Dragon 2

Dragon 2 is Sunrise's top model. These ear buds are very special. First of all, they have power requirements similar to that of the Yuin OK1/PK1s. I took the Dragon out for a serious listening session after a 100 hour burn-in period. The new Dragons are definitely not bass heavy, but that has always been a pitfall of pretty much any ear bud. The Dragon 2s are, like its elder brother, extraordinarily detailed in the midrange and treble region. That coupled with its good soundstage presentation makes them very interesting to listen to. The bass has been improved over the older Charm ear buds, but they are still ill-suited to very bass-intensive music. They suit vocal-oriented and acoustic music; they are fabulous here. The linearity from the midrange and up is definitely class-leading, and they have a really open sound when paired with the right amplifier. You will need some kind of external amplification to get them to sound their best since they are quite hard to drive, but it is definitely worth the effort. This does mean that they are harder to use well in a portable setup, since you will need a portable amplifier to get them to sound their best. They have a very fast presentation and capture distortion and over-drive guitar sound just perfectly, with the right amount of intensity and crispness.

The soundstage representation of these ear buds deserves some credit because it is better than anything else that can be had for around $100, at least based on what we have tested; even the Sennheiser PX-200 IIs and KRK-6400s get a run for their money which is just mindboggling considering the very small form factor of the Sunrise Dragon 2s.

Charm3

The Charms are definitely the smartest-looking ear buds Sunrise has at the moment, and they do have a lot of things going for them. The fit is easy to get right because the cable exit-hole is a ways away from your earlobes. They are, even though they have a rugged aluminum exterior, really light, and the tangle-free, rubber-enclosed cable is surprisingly light as well. Like the Dragon, the Charm ear buds are very mid-centered and quite treble-happy. The tonality is basically shared, but the Dragons are on top in terms of midrange and bass. Treble performance is good on both, but the Charms are a tad brighter, to a point where it will be annoying on ill-mastered tracks. This is quite annoying since the bass is a bit more boomy on the Charms which could make them a bit more ideal for hip hop and bass-oriented music. The amount of bass they have exceeds that of the Dragons a bit, but it falls off faster and is less linear. They do share the same fantastic soundstage representation; it is better than what you get from a set of Sennheiser PX-200 IIs. It has a good handle on portraying the depth of the soundstage, which is a quality you rarely find on sub-$100 portable headphones.
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