QOA Barbados Sunrise review: hybrid headphones with their own unique character

I have been following Queen Of Audio headphones for a long time and very closely. Among them there were such a number of frank hits that there is no point in listing them. And now, after quite a long time, the company introduced its new hybrid model, based on a 10 mm titanium-coated speaker and the classic 30095 high-frequency armature driver, which is not disdained even in the tops. The novelty, in my opinion, turned out to be very unusual, with its own characteristics, which can both tear off the roof with delight and scare away the ordinary music lover.

Characteristics
  • Emitters: dynamic 10 mm (titanium) + reinforcing 30095
  • Connector: 2Pin 0.78mm.
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 106dB/mW
  • Impedance: 23 Ohm
  • Cable resistance: 0.318 ohm
Packaging and equipment

The headphones arrived in a small but tastefully decorated cardboard box, where all our attention is focused on the name and the hybrid scheme of the emitters, and on the reverse side there is a list of technical specifications and a factory frequency response graph. Of particular note here is the impedance of 23 ohms and the sensitivity of 106 dB / mW.

In the kit, we put two cards with information about the model, a tight branded leatherette case and two sets of silicone ear pads of different sizes.

The cable looks respectable: tactilely pleasant, twisted, flexible, with a 3.5 mm straight metal plug, heat-shrinkable ears and a 0.78 mm male connector connection. The equipment showed its resistance to be approximately equal to 0.318 ohms. Not a record, but quite worthy.

Design/Ergonomics

The cups themselves are completely made of some kind of resin with a single compensation hole pointing back, a medium-sized sound guide and a brightly colored outer part.

The nozzles on them sit tightly, and from the end the sound guide is covered with a classic metal mesh.

The model looks great, it sits very comfortably, and passive sound isolation is at its best here, and with each of the two types of complete ear cushions.

measurements

According to the measurements, we have a super-fast impulse, acceptable discrepancies between the left and right channels and distortions reaching 1% at the peak. Which is pretty good.

The phase behaves naturally, and the attenuation is at 30 and 60 dB. correspond somewhere around 74 and 96 ms, with minor perturbations in the low frequency region.

The difference between the ear cushions, as you can see, is present, but by and large affects only the amplitude at the peaks, and even then not very much.

In terms of frequency response, we have a straight jeweler rise in low frequencies by 4 dB with a smooth approach to the middle, a solid selection of the intelligibility area with an imitation of the auricle and a slight peak at 8 kHz to enhance the sharpness of the sound. In total, the schedule was honestly brought to us up to the declared 20 kHz.

With the image on the box, my result coincided almost perfectly.

Measurements taken on an artificial ear according to the IEC-60318-4 standard.

Sound

By its nature, Barbados Sunrise builds a moderately emotional picture, with noticeably compressed expressiveness and a neutral balance. In addition, the models obviously need a sufficiently high output power of the source, so connecting them to a smartphone or other low-power devices does not make any sense at all. For this task, I personally used a stationary amplifier with an exhaust of 6 watts per channel. All sorts of mobile DACs shake Queen Of Audio almost to the limit of their capabilities.

At the very beginning of testing, by the way, I made another important mistake – I replaced the nozzles with my favorite ones from KbEar, those with a wide neck. Because of what, the sound turned out to be just incredibly natural, but too bland. Almost any headphones after them seemed to me terribly bright. But this was my fault, since both sets of stock ear pads sound completely different. It, of course, is not at the level of competitors, but there is noticeably more brightness, nuances are highlighted, but, in my opinion, the weight and sound depth are slightly reduced. At the same time, completely black ones give a thick, slightly softened bass, a slightly warm middle with notes of musicality, and comfortable, slightly muffled high frequencies. In contrast, white tips with a red core have a less deep, but much more textured bass, an even brighter mids with a good emphasis on nuances, and slightly illuminated highs. So for some quiet music, I would choose black tips, and for fast or rich high-frequency percussion, white ones.

However, as you understand, the differences are significant if we have the opportunity to alternately change the tips and listen. If we compare Barbados Sunrise, for example, with 7Hertz Eternal or Kinera Imperial URD, then, as they say, there will be no trace of their brightness. Almost all in-ear headphones with near-harmonics or other popular settings will seem unrealistically clean, transparent, with an expressive and overly emotional middle compared to the heroes of the review. So it’s hard to compare them face to face. Queen Of Audio in any scenario will seem much calmer, and even a little squeezed to someone. In fact, you get used to this sound very quickly and it starts to seem that all the other headphones are playing incorrectly.

Parsing by frequencies, the bass, surprisingly, seemed quite enough to me, of course, you can’t call it completely transparent, but the textures are read well. The middle is also served whole, with a pleasant analog softening, and with a noticeably restrained energy. The high ones here are absolutely comfortable. Yes, far from stratified and not extended, but without excessive harshness and sibilants. At the same time, all timbres sound recognizable, the pitch is close to neutral, while the sound itself is slightly detached, dried, with such a good bias in macro. Well, personally, I didn’t have enough own weight in it, if we talk about stock nozzles. You have to choose either saturation or brightness.

If we talk about the overall impression of the headphones, then this is more of an experiment. Personally, I am puzzled by the power necessary for their buildup, and, despite the presence of a reinforcing emitter 30095, the lack of transparency even in the upper part of the spectrum. I can’t say that I didn’t like them at all, but using them in portable solutions seems very doubtful, and for a hospital I would look for something more expensive than $ 89. In terms of style, they seem to be universal, but they present music in a special way: somehow too restrained. I’m sure some music lovers will mark this sound as insanely interesting, but most of them will rightly call it a fan or an amateur. That is what he is, in fact.

findings

As a result, the QOA Barbados Sunrise in-ear hybrid headphones personally pleased me with their simply amazing fit, nice appearance, really sound-changing eartips and a very good cable.

In terms of sound, the model turned out to be very different from the huge list of headphones resembling each other. For some, this will be a definite plus, but for someone – a huge minus. I was somewhat puzzled by the high power output requirement, the rather restrained macro feed and the slight lack of own weight. The scene is well represented in width and rather mediocre in depth.

In terms of style, everything is also not so simple, I would rate the way the heroes of the review present the orchestra as “weak”, but everything related to heavy music is undoubtedly pleasing: good intelligibility, vocals are slightly pushed forward and absolutely non-conflict highs. I personally will not recommend them, too controversial set of qualities. One of those cases where you just need to listen on your own.

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