Firstly I would like to thank Mark from Hifiheadphones for lending me this sample to review, I have been using these headphones as my daily headphones for a few days before critical listening. They have received over 50hrs of burn-in, I have heard very slight changes to the sound, so please do not judge them straight out of the box.
iPod Classic 7G > P55 Vento
Dell XPS 15 > Cyberdrive Clarity Feather > P55 Vento
Driver: 40mm Dynamic
Frequency Response: 15Hz – 22kHz
Max Power Input: 20mw
Cable Length: 1.2m
Connector: 3.5mm Stereo Jack
Warranty: 2 years
Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
The Vento has upped SoundMAGIC’s game in the packaging department, it is still very minimalistic which I actually like as it is more eco friendly, but the look is much improved. The print quality is better than their old packaging, it is more attractive and has plenty of info on the P55 on the sides and back of the box. On the front there is a silver badge that catches the eye, stating these have a 2 year warranty, a great selling point proving they believe in their product. The box is a simple outer box, inside everything is packed away in the included carry case, which is the size of the box, no extra packaging needed.
Build quality is very good, the construction is nearly all metal, with some parts being high quality matte rubber coated plastic. They feel built to last, with easily replaceable pads and detachable cable I see these lasting a long time. Due to the fact these are built to last, they don’t fold us as compact as some other portable headphones, but less hinges means less weak points in my opinion. The ear cups to rotate so they can be stored flat in their case however. The included cables are fairly stiff but with excellent strain relief, I can see the cables lasting a long time, and as they are detachable with a standard 3.5mm connector, it is very easy to replace or upgrade should you wish. Overall I cannot fault the build quality, they are very well built and have a understated premium look.
Included accessories are also very good, you get a hard case with a piece of foam to keep them safe and the foam helps secure them whilst in storage. Also included is a small pouch which fits in the case between the headband and cups, in this you will find a standard 1.2m cable, and also a 1.2m cable with remote and microphone, this is Apple compatible but with the included adapter can be Android compatible too, there is also another adapter, perfect for PC usage as it splits the microphone and audio for the respective ports on a PC. Overall a great list of accessories, and I could only ask for a airplane adapter and maybe a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter, then it would be complete.
Comfort, Isolation and Cable Noise:
The comfort of these is good for short periods of time, definitely better than a lot of headphones out there. They are not too heavy, the pads are soft and also made with memory foam but I still find them to get a little uncomfortable after periods of over an hour, mainly because they are on-ear but the pads have quite a large centre opening, which means they do put a little bit of pressure on the back out your ears. The headband is well padded, but I do have quite a sensitive head and I do have to reposition them sometimes to alleviate the pressure, as I find the headband padding to be a little stiff. Clamping force is however not problematic, so for short periods of time, like commuting and walking around (what these are made for) the comfort is just fine.
Isolation is not great, but most supra-aural headphones don’t have great isolation. I also think the many bass ports on the ear cups also does not help with isolation, they do just fine for general usage, but if I were using them in a noisy environment I would maybe choose something that isolates a little more.
So here is the part you all want to know, how do they sound?
Well this is soundMAGIC’s first go at a more premium on-ear portable headphone, and they have done a great job at producing a portable headphone that takes on the big names and wins. I have always liked their budget on-ear headphones, they were always great value for money, these take it one step further.
Lows: The lows are tight and controlled, with excellent articulation and separation. They do lack little bit of body down low, but they never sound bloated or muddy. PRAT is very good on these, with them easily keeping up with faster paced music. The slight lack of body can easily be fixed by EQ if you like to use that, or an external amp with bass boost if you have one. I find that one their own kick drums sound a little hollow without enough punch. Extension is good and bass guitar lines sound fantastic, they could do with that tiny bit extra body though. Acoustic has good body, and slower music fairs better, acoustic and jazz don’t feel like they need extra body. But fast rock can get a little thin at times.
Mids: Clarity is what the mids are all about, they have very good neutral tonality with no added body but also no harshness up top. Just very clean and clear, also very well separated mids, vocals are in the right place, with guitars easily distinguished. Electric guitars have power and crunch when needed, with great speed and attack, yet acoustic guitars have perfect reverberation and tones linger as they should.
A Portuguese band Deolinda is a band I usually use to test headphones as it has a little bit of everything, I love the singers voice and the recording is brilliant. These headphones really let you hear everything that was recording, these never miss a beat and subtle details are all there, the panning of the guitars is spot on and the double is bass is present in the background giving the sound body but not overdoing it. A pleasure to listen to, these manage to represent all the emotion that they have tried to capture.
Highs: The highs are present and have great clarity and extension, they are by no means a dark sounding headphone. I do find that listening to certain genres the sound can become a little thin, I do not think the highs need to be toned down however, as I do not find them harsh or fatiguing. Every tap of a cymbal can be heard, and when the music gets busy they don’t get splashy like more budget options. Overall the top end is very refined, some treble sensitive users may find them a little hot up top, but they are not harsh and I find the presence to be just right.
The soundstage is good, it is not as big as some full size headphones, but for an on-ear portable headphone the sound is in no way congested. Instrument separation fairs equally well, with very good air between everything.
Conclusion, well I have always liked SoundMAGIC’s headphones, as they are well built and provide excellent value for money. These are up against the likes of the Sennheiser Momentum on-ear, Beyerdynamic T51p and etc... What I have found is that the bigger brands play it safe with a warmer, even slightly congested sound. SoundMAGIC have gone and made a very clear and crisp sounding portable headphone, this is great if you appreciate hearing all the detail in your music, yet without harshness.
I personally would have liked a little extra body down low, but this is track and also equipment dependent, so finding a good pairing is key to getting the most out of these. For fun I hooked them up to my Feliks Audio Espressivo valve amp and wow was the sound incredible, very detailed yet with a very pleasant smoothness to the sound.
So overall I really like these, comfort could be slightly improved, but for their portable usage they fair just fine, isolation again isn’t the best in class, but is fine for what people will use these for.
Sound Perfection Rating: 8/10 (clean, clear and crisp portable headphones)