Review: SoundMAGIC PL50
Firstly i would like to thank Tony at SoundMAGIC for supplying me with this sample, I will try and write as honest a review possible.
All opinions expressed are my own, this is a subjective review, and others may not agree.
I used the PL50 with small Shure Olive tips, as i find them more comfy.
IPod Classic 7G 160gb > SoundMAGIC PL50
Transducers: Micro balanced armature
Frequency range: 15hz-22khz
Sensitivity: 109db at 1khz/mw
Max imput power: 20mw
Cable length: 120cm
Pros: Comfort, overall sound balanced
Cons: Not the most realistic tone, build quality may be an issue in the future.
Very simple white packaging from SM, a clear window on the front to view the IEM, and specifications on the back.
A fairly decent array of accessories from SM, S, M and L foam tips, S, M, L and XL single flange silicone tips, a cable clip, a soft carry case (shame they got rid of the hardshell case from the older PL50) and ear guides. All the necessary is included, but some dual or triple flange tips would have been nice, and the older hardshell case too.
Build quality is nothing special, the housing is plastic but very small and light, which helps with comfort, the cable isn't very thick, and quite thin from the y-split up, the cable is rubbery, the strain reliefs are good on the right angled jack and the y-split, the cable going in to the housing could have better strain relief though.
I prefer the Red for right, bLue for left colour strain relief to tell the channels than an L or R.
Fit, Isolation and Microphonics:
These are fairly shallow fitting IEMs which makes them very comfy, i find the stock foams to be fine and very comfy, but the Shure foams provide a better fit and comfort for me.
The housing is very small and fits flush with your ears, so it is easy to sleep with these in, and they are very discreet, also i can wear them for hours with no discomfort as they are so light.
Isolation is very good, considering they are shallow fit the isolation is excellent. They are perfect for public transport and the likes.
Microphonics are non existent as the cable is worn behind the ear.
typical BA in speed and resolution, but unlike a few others they can actually produce a little bit of rumble down low. The impact isnt huge, but very tight, the extension is very good for a single BA driver, with dubstep actually being enjoyable with these. They dont have huge amounts of bass but the speed and detail of the bass makes up for the quantity and separation in the lows is really very good.
The best bit, very airy and detailed, but a little dry in presentation. The mids are slightly forward and are very detailed. Guitars have power, vocals have great presence and never sound shouty or harsh, with little sibilance in the upper mids. They link the lows and highs perfectly.
Not very present but with good enough detail as to not sound boring. They dont extend very well, and this is where they fail a bit, but what do you expect from a single BA driver. I think the highs do sound good but could do with a bit more presence. At least like this they never sound bright or harsh. Bad recordings will sound bad, but well recorded cymbals do sound very good.
Instrument separation, Imaging and Soundstage:
Instrument separation is brilliant, with a slightly airy presentation, everything is portrayed in the right places.
Imaging is done very well too, and never sounds detached from the center image.
Soundstage is nothing special, fairly narrow, with width and height not very good either. But they do sound good like this, not aggressive but more engaging and not laid back.
For the price i think these are still a great buy, i know they have been out for a while, but i think the get left in the shadows a bit, they are truely great if you want detail but not a harsh presentation. They are balanced but not neutral, with pretty good extension on both ends for a single BA driver. The comfort is a big plus, and the presentation is fairly airy.
These are fairly forgiving of bad recordings, but they will bring out the best on good ones.
Amping does not bring a worthwhile gain, as these are very sensitive and dont really gain much from amping, they are driven fine from a portable source.
One thing is that these do not have the most natural sound to them, with a slight metallic tone to them, i dont find it too distracting, but it is there.
I would still recommend these if you know what sound you want, i think they do very well for their price range.
I would take these over the Etymotic HF5, and their rival the MEElectronics A151 dont come close, the SM just sounds so much more detailed and balanced, the MEElecs are way too dark in presentation, with very little high frequency extension or presence.
Skrillex – First Of The Year (Equinox) (320kbps MP3)
Paramore – Franklin (320kbps MP3)
Diana Krall – The Girl In The Other Room (FLAC)
Deolinda – Passou Por Mim E Sorriu (live) (ALAC)
Suicide Silence – Unanswered (FLAC)
Massive Attack – Angel (ALAC)
Eat Static – Dzhopa Dream (ALAC)
The XX – Crystalised (FLAC)
Funeral For A Friend – Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings (ALAC)
Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man (FLAC)
The Scene Aesthetic – Humans (259kbps MP3)
A Hero A Fake – Swallowed By The Sea (254kbps MP3)
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, Spring Allegro (ALAC)
Johnny Craig – Children Of Divorce (161kbps MP3)
Deadmau5 + Kaskade – I Remember (Caspa Remix) (320kbps MP3)
Black Uhuru – Utterance (ALAC)
We Are The In Crowd – Never Be What You Want (226kbps MP3)
Silverstein – Discovering The Waterfront (320kbps MP3)
Concept Of Thought – Our Thought (FLAC)
Nirvana – Something In The Way (Unplugged) (ALAC)