Pros: Wide Soundstage, Clarity, Great Bass Response that doesn't drown out highs and mids.
Cons: Pads can get sweaty on my ears after a couple hours, but the pleather is primarily to blame.
After enjoying my re-branded Brainwavz HM5s for around 6 months, I decided that it was time to move onto the next best thing. Not that I got tired of my HM5s, but I just knew that there was something better out there. After looking around on Amazon, Head-Fi and a couple other websites and stumbled onto the Soundmagic HP100s. The looks really impressed me and although the headphones had very few reviews, every review that I read stated that they were one of the best headphones (if not, the best) within their price range. After doing a little bargain hunting for these headphones, I managed to find a deal on MP4Nation selling these headphones for $189 plus 2 day shipping. I'll post the link for the website right here --> http://www.mp4nation.net/soundmagic-hp100-closed-back-hifi-headphones-free-fedex-2-day-to-select-destination#review-form
My first impressions of these headphones after opening them were that they looked incredible. The carrying case that the headphones themselves came in was very high quality and to me vaguely reminiscent of the case that V-Moda packages their headphones in. After opening the case, one would see the headphones, a cleaning cloth for the earcups, a warranty card, along with a little fishnet back strapped to the inside of the case by velcro that contains a 3.5 to 6.3 adapter, an airplane adapter as well as a carbiner for use with the carrying case. As for the actual headphones, the construction looked top-notch (quite a bit better than my HM5s) and the earcups with their mirror-like glossy plastic and their beige checkerboard-esque printed lines truly gave me a feast for my eyes. The company logo and the headphones model number are placed seamlessly at the center of the earcups. The earcups also rotate which means that they can be used as DJ headphones or in the instance that one would want to hear something that someone said, instead of taking the entire unit off, one could just swivel the cups. The headphones also come with a lock mechanism for the earcup plug to prevent removing of the plug in the instance of turbulence on the cable. One final remark I would like to mention about these headphones is that they come with a coiled cable. I know that some have problems with coiled cables because they add weight to the headphone and may hamper portability but to me, coiled cables are a Godsend as they save me the extra effort of having to switch between cables when I want to use my headphones with my PC or with my phone (something that I found myself doing quite often with my HM5s).
Now the part that is most important, the sonic capabilities of these headphones. To be honest, I am not much of an audiophile so I cannot explain in detail every achievement or shortcomings regarding how these headphones sound, especially when the only other real headphones I've used were my HM5s and the V-Moda M80s which I've since sold. And while I cannot compare them to other headphones within their price range, what I've decided to do was to pick a total of 6 songs from different genres and state what my feelings where on how the headphones reproduced the sound. In addition, at the end of that segment, I will compare both the HP100 and my HM5s and they to elaborate more on the differences between the two headphones. As a point of reference, I have had my HP100s for around 2 months and any burn-in that will have been required to get the best sound out of these headphones has been completed. In addition, all audio for this test has not been amped and is coming straight from my PC.
- Tremonti - Proof
Track 8 off of Mark Tremonti's debut album captures the essence of sorrow and the hope to rebuild and I'm happy to say that the HP100s capture this feeling wonderfully. Everything from the bass guitar to the crystal clear hit of the cymbals in the background and Tremonti's amazing 20 second solo were reproduced beautifully without fail. Each hit on the bass drum was felt on my eardrums and never at any point cluttered the rest of the song. The amazing soundstage really helped to put together everything in this song as well.
- Johnny Hammond - Lost on 23rd Street
Off of Johnny Hammond's 1975 album Gears, this song has instruments from all over the sonic spectrum to truly put to the test the HP100s claim to being a neutral can. While listening to this track, every single instrument that I heard came in and clearly played their part without stealing another another one's show or being themselves overshadowed. Bells, the saxophone, the keyboard, the bass guitar; you name it. Each was portrayed in their full integrity and the fact that these headphones were able to perform such an act to me is astounding.
- Origa - Inner Universe
With a mix of opera elegance and modern electronic elements, Russian singer Origa's voice is brought to life by the HP100s. Each drop by the synthesizer is felt as the vivid bass is portrayed so naturally. Origa's voice, sounding so fully bodied and clear echoes and creates the illusion that you are listening inside of a concert hall, thanks to the amazing soundstage. This song is truly a treat to be listened to on these headphones.
- John Horner - A Kaleidoscope of Mathematics
This beautifully composed piece off of the soundtrack of the critically acclaimed movie "A Beautiful Mind" is reproduced wonderfully by the HP100s. Flutes sparkled, drums resonated, vocals mystified and string instruments danced elegantly as each instrument culminated to produce an overall wonderful listening experience. I realize that some say that closed back headphones don't have the soundstage to do classical music justice but to those I say this: Even if classical music can be reproduced better on open backs, these headphones do one hell of a job still giving you an experience that feels as though you are at an orchestra.
- Dj Nat - Theory of Everything 2
A nice dubstep song with a fair amount of drum and bass as well as some electronica thrown in for good measure to test the HP100s' bass response and its clarity as a result of its bass. I can honestly say that anyone looking for a decent amount of dubstep in their musical diet will not be disappointed. The bass response, while strong, does not drown out any other part of the music. Each drop was full, presented wonderfully and eloquently followed by the electronic piano in the background. In my opinion, this headphone would be enough for any basshead (this also being confirmed by a couple of my friends who are bassheads who tried my HP100s and feel in love with them).
- Nas - You Wouldn't Understand
As I end my song review, I thought I'd conclude with my favorite rapper Nas and one of my favorite tracks off of his latest album, Life is Good. All the wonderful things that I stated about the bass on these headphones on the dubstep song carries over to this song. Although there are many more elements in this song especially in the vocals, the bass is still wonderfully portrayed. Percussion elements and vocals come in loud and clear and as the vocals fade out at the end of the song, I get the feeling of wanting 4 more minutes to give the song a listen again.
Finally, compared to my HM5, the Soundmagics blow them out of the water. Practically anything pro you can think of in the HM5s is multiplied by 10 in the Soundmagics without any of the cons. The very first things that I noticed were much better in the Soundmagics than in my HM5s were the soundstage and the bass response. The soundstage in the HM5s to me was like listening to a 2.1 speaker system compared to the Soundmagics which were like listening to a 5.1 speaker system with a subwoofer. In addition, with my HM5s, I could at times enjoy rap and dubstep but always felt that there was something missing as the left earcup on those headphones is almost entirely devoted to treble and is almost completely devoid of bass. This was one thing that I enjoyed about my M80s when I had them; I very easily enjoyed the above two genres because they gave me the bass that I needed. The Soundmagics take it a whole step further and in addition to better bass, adds an amazing soundstage to complement the bass.
Overall, I am very pleased with these headphones and their functionality. In every single genre that I have thrown at it, these headphones have managed to reproduce the sound effortlessly and mystify me into listening to more and more genres to see how these headphones will rise to the challenge. If this review is any indication of how these headphones will handle other genres, then I am sure to enjoy these headphones for many years to come. At an MSRP price of $199, you are getting one hell of a deal that you will not be disappointed in. My only regret is not getting an amp to pair with these headphones as I can only imagine how much more impressed I will be when I find a great DAC and amp.
For those reading, this was my very first review of a pair of headphones and I welcome any criticism to this review. If I left anything out of this review that you would have liked me to answer, a comment helping me to improve on ways to become a better reviewer would be amazing. Thanks in advance!