Friday, 18 July 2014

Review: SoundMAGIC P21s, Perfect iPhone+Android friendly portables

Firstly I would like to thank Tony at SoundMAGIC for sorting me out with this sample for review, I will write as honest a review possible, these also received over 50hrs of burn-in before review, no changes were noted.

Gear Used:
iPod Classic 7G > P21s


Transducers : Dynamics,40mm,Neodymium
Style: Supra-Aural
Frequency range :20Hz~22KHz
DC resistance : 32±4.8Ohms
Sensitivity : 103±3dB at 1KHz/mW
Cable length : 1.2m
Connector : 3.5mm,L style plug gold-plated
Weight : 110g
MSRP: £45

Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
The box is nothing special, very simple with a picture of the headphones on the front, info and specs on the back. The headphones are stored inside their pouch, inside the box, this provides enough protection and at this price I cannot find fault as I would not expect lavish packaging, much more went in to the sonics of these.

Build quality is fine for this price point, the construction is mainly plastic, the hinges and joints do creak a little when moved, the headband and adjusters are metal reinforced, and the adjustment arms are numbered, which is a small detail that I do really appreciate on headphones. The plastics used feel strong and as long as you take some care I can see these lasting. The cable is flat with good strain relief, the mic is not the slimmest I have seen, but it never gets in the way. The L jack is quite bulky, but there is a reason for this and I will explain later.

Accessories are a small pouch, and an adaptor which splits the audio and mic for computer use, a very handy accessory if you are using these with a PC. Other than that there are no other accessories, and I cannot think of any that would be needed.


Comfort, Usability (mic) and Isolation:
Comfort is great, the headphones are very light due to the mainly plastic construction, clamp is not a lot but firm enough to keep them in place, the pads are soft and also replaceable, the pad on the top of the headband is also soft and distributes the weight nice and evenly. I can wear these easily for long periods of time.

Usability is great, the mic has only one button, which means no volume control but that is not a problem. As I mentioned before the L jack is on the larger side, this is because very cleverly they have integrated a dual mic support, one for Apple standard, one for Android. This is such a great feature, it has a small switch on the jack for you to change between the 2 settings.
The mic works fine and quality is also acceptable, the button also works well on my iPod Classic for changing tracks and pausing my music.

Isolation is fine for a portable headphone, it will be fine for most normal usage and even for public transport.




Sound:
Split in to the usual categories with a conclusion at the end

Lows:
Well the lows are slightly boosted over the rest of the spectrum, but this is not a bad thing, as when you are out and about it is usually the lows that suffer the most from outside noise. So this means that when out and about you can still hear the lows, and they are in no way bloated or too much quantity wise, even when at home with no outside noise the lows behave themselves. They are quick in attack and recovery so they can keep up with most rock, they also don't drown out the mids, nor veil the sound in any way.
They also have good body and extension, even handling dubstep well, they hit with authority when called for in bass heavy music, yet sit more balanced when listening to rock and acoustic. The lows are excellent, articulate and well placed, filling the sound but not overwhelming it.

Mids:
I love the mids on these, the lows don't interfere here, and you get great vocals from male to female with details easily picked out. The mids are very natural, guitars have good timbre in acoustic recordings, the mids are never thin or harsh either, I cannot detect any unwanted sibilance in the upper mids either. I can't really find fault in the mids on these, no major peaks or dips just very smooth and enjoyable.

Highs:
The highs are not in your face or aggressive, they are borderline subdued, but luckily they have enough presence and sparkle to not sound dark or congested. The highs are actually quite airy with good detail. Extension is not their strength, but for this price they really do deliver without being splashy, harsh or non-existant. Ok there could be a little more detail and extension, but they are fine as they are, not causing any fatigue.

Soundstage is actually quite good, ok it may not be the deepest or widest, but there is enough space to pinpoint instruments and enough air to not sound congested.

Instrument separation is very good, never sounding congested, always well separated.




Conclusion:
Well SoundMAGIC have a reputation for making excellent sounding products for a modest price, and they have done it again. The P21s is a versatile, portable headphone, with a sound leaning toward balanced with a small boost in the lows making them perfect for the daily commute. They are comfortable, lend their hand to any genre and have a non fatiguing sound signature, yet are still fun and engaging to listen to. These really are everything you could want in a portable headphone, they fold up small, sound great and do beat other portables that are pricier. I can highly recommend these for a cheap portable solution if you don't like IEM's, or if you just want a quality portable headphone on a budget.

Thanks for reading, this review is based on many hours listening, to many different genres and most of my music is in ALAC, some in MP3.