Pros: Great Price, Quality Build, Deep Bass, Sparkly Highs, Clean & Clear Sound, Detailed, Good Amount of Accessories
Cons: Proprietary Cable Locking Mechanism
Review on the SoundMAGIC HP200
Hello all; I'm here to give you guys a review on this mighty fine pair of cans, the HP200's, that I found to be one that punches way above its price range.
Firstly, I'd like to say that I wasn't really in the market to get any headphones as of yet, but seeing that I recently got a part-time job to do this Christmas holidays, I decided to go read around some reviews on headphones that not many people own, but have good value for the price you pay - So yeah, an impulsive buy, if you'd like to call it. Nonetheless, after reading reviews here and there, I decided to purchase the SoundMAGIC HP200, because of their highly praised reviews, but minimal amount of owners across the globe; these were the ones I had to have.
It was not until I received the headphones from Noisy Motel (Great service as per usual - Friendly and very fast when it came to posting the item via Express), that I realised that they were worth every penny I spent on it. My impulsive buy, had just became my best buy.
Anyhoo...it's time for me to kick-start my review with my usual; pictorial unboxing pictures.
Not much needs to be said here, besides that the pictures were taken with my Nikon L310 with a UV filter attached:)
(Excuse the little black blur spots in the corners of some pictures..it was due to my lens hood that gave that effect. Some images are relatively dark due to the weather, as it was about to rain)
Pictorial Unboxing (Click to show)
The standard cardboard box that contains the great sensation.
FR Graph (Side View)
Other Side View
Bad Quality Birds-Eye View
Back View of the box
The beast with its plastic exterior covering
Aaand, there they are again:)
Accessories Included (Click to show)
All included accessories
3.5mm to 6.3mm gold-plated adapter
Warranty card (Closed)
Warranty card (Opened)
Sensitivity：98±3DB at 1KHz/mw
Maximum input power：100mw
Connector：3.5mm,L style plug gold-plated
(Source of Information: http://www.soundmagic.com.cn/en/news/Details_1_74.html)
I'll be using just the DX50 and C5 combo through this review for my sound quality judgement, as they are what I find to be neutral, and will fit the role for the review as my reference.
Build Quality & Design/Comfort Factor
To me, I found the build quality of these cans to be well built. Although being of a majority plastic build, you can tell from the feel that strong, high quality plastic (with a rubberized, thin coating) had been used, as the headphones has some weight to the whole construction. Just because these headphones were made by a small company in China, most would simply assume that these cans are of bad build quality with cheap plastic being used for the structure..except...that's not the case here.
The metal grills of the headphones not only feel great, and look great, but they are also built great! Feels solid, and won't cave in, even if you tried your hardest (unless you're some superhuman Hulk). Apart from that, the other metal part of these cans, are the metal height-adjustable band that runs through the headband. That too, is high class, and one should not worry about it breaking anytime soon.
Cable metal jack
Now onto the cable..The cable, although proprietary (hate that concept), feels highly durable. With a thick layer of rubber around the interior wiring, they were built to last, and cannot be easily torn, like some flimsy, thin cables. The end with the jack that was meant to go into the source is metal, and has a relatively long stress-relief, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but actually really good.
Headphones swiveled to maximum point with ear pads facing up
The ear pads were made of pleather or faux leather (not sure which one, but I'm sure it wasn't real leather) and did not feel tacky when I first felt them. They were really soft and plush, as they were on the ears, and provided great comfort. The elastic edges around the pad were also soft and somewhat very stretchy, and felt durable enough not too tear when stretched too much. The material in the centre of the pad was not too thin, nor was it too thick, so poking a finger at it won't dislocate or result in a hole in the fine membrane.
The hard-shell case
Now onto the case...When I first saw the case, I immediately thought of the V-Moda M80/V80's. The case is pretty much of the same build quality and materials as what V-Moda had used for their M80/V80's case. For those who don't know of these types of cases, they're very strong and I could probably kick them around like a football and they'll probably last, without having any parts of the case caving in. Overall, if you ever see this type of case, you should have a smile on your face, because boy, are they super durable and sleek!
For the comfort section of the headphones; I personally loved what SoundMAGIC did here. They made a great looking open can with amazing comfort! I can listen to these headphones for days on end without getting sick of the signature, nor be fatigued from the super comfortable ear pads.
The plush pleather/faux leather ear pads
You'll hear this from me a lot, but these amazing ear pads were so comfortable! They were just deep enough, and covered my ear completely without touching any part of the ear, and to top it off, they were incredibly soft. I'll stop talking about the ear pads now...I think you guys get the point of what they're like.
As of the design itself, SoundMAGIC did these headphones justice. Unique enough to be of it's own kind, and sexy enough to appeal to the eyes of audiophiles. I really liked what they did to this headphone all around, except for the proprietary cable locking mechanism, which I'll speak briefly about later on.
For the design of the case, I believe I covered that in the Build Quality already, but I'll mention it again. They were designed exceptionally well, much like the V-Moda M80/V80 case, and seem very sleek, whilst maintaining its durability.
What I found to be slightly unnecessary for the headphones was by adding the L/R indicators in bright blue and red on each side respectively for left and right. Small letters of L and R in a faint grey paint would have been enough for this indication purpose. When one inserts the proprietary cable, they would figure that the left side would be the one with the cable entry, and from there, they'd figure that the right side is the one without a cable entry. Nonetheless, I understand this may slightly be bias seeing that I personally prefer an all black design with silver accents to go with my black and white coloured rig, whilst others are not as picky, hahaha.
Apart from my picky-ness, I don't think it really bothers anyone, not even me at times. What does really bother me, is why SoundMAGIC kept the proprietary cable locking mechanism design! It is absolutely unnecessary, because it restricts us from replacing the cable with any other 3.5mm headphone cable, such as those from V-Moda or any aftermarket cable maker. This may become problematic over time, but the included cable holds up pretty well, so I doubt it'd break anytime soon, unless a lot of pressure and stress is applied to the cable.
Below, you'll find a picture of the despised proprietary plug...
And here is what it looks like when locked into position on the headphone's cable entry...
Anyways...Enough of my negativity and nit-picky-ness towards their minor design faults, and let's see what else these headphones can do in terms of their design.
Here's something. They fold like a pair of V-Moda M100's, although not as compacted, but still...they fold. Folding = Portability!
Well...I feel that's enough for it's Design/Comfort Factor, so I shall move onto the most important part..How they sound.
Soundstage, Imaging, Instrumental Separation & Quality
- The headphones have a big, wide soundstage with a lot of air and space all around, as well as good depth.
- These headphones are great at 3D imaging - With a high quality song, it'll almost accurately places each instrument around your soundstage, along with the way in which the artist may be facing when singing/producing sound. It just does this really well, where it'll put in the music.
- The instrumental separation is easily distinguishable with the precise layering that these headphones seem to be able to portray with ease.
- The quality of the sound doesn't lean towards the warmer end, nor does it lean towards the brighter side of things - just in the middle, hence why I'll put it as neutral, because it can somewhat be track dependent. In saying so, it does not ever become bloated-sounding, where it'll produce a congested, bassy sound, nor does it ever become bass-lacking, and overridden with sharp treble.
- The audio is always clean, clear, and crisp sounding with a lot of detailing. From the vocals to the beats of an EDM track, it always has a lot of detail and clarity to it. Never does it sound of low quality. As a fellow Head-Fi'er had said, they stated that these headphones will be harsh on low bit-rate songs, but that was not my case. I found these headphones to uplift the terrible quality of low bit-rate songs and makes them more enjoyable.
- The overall sound of this headphone, is exciting and fun - It is very musical and flows beautifully, which is what I enjoy best when it comes to listening to music. Because the lows extend nice and deep; and the treble extends high enough to give it that sparkle, whilst the mids are not falling behind at all when it comes to its quality. Still neutral sounding, but all of each category had been lifted up to another level. It does not sound flat, but it's what I'd call, an "energetic neutrality" - where the bass is not lacking, and nor is the brightness in the treble, and the fullness in the mids. (This is what I mean, when I say "Equality" in my review title. Each category just does so well, that you can't just say that one category outdoes another)
- The lows extend really low, and is well-textured with body, and still has a powerful kick to it.
- The sub-bass has a good vibe to it, but isn't overpowering.
- The mids are smooth and rich-sounding (has body to it), although being slightly forward..and when I say slightly, it does not mean that it is right up against your face, or anywhere near it, but just a hair difference between spot on, and a tiny bit forward. It certainly did not feel recessed though.
- It sounds very textured (especially female vocals), crisp and natural, not coloured.
- The highs are sparkly with a touch of brightness, but not to the point where it becomes ear-piercing harsh and sharp.
- Cymbal clashes sound as they should, and are not thin-sounding. Brings out the qualities of the highs.
I usually like to add this section into my reviews, where I compare these headphones, the SoundMAGIC HP200's, to the other headphones that I own, BUT, in this instance, I will not, because my other headphones are just not on the same level as that of the HP200's, and I feel it would just be a waste of space here. The only part about my other headphones that actually beat the HP200's, is the bass that comes from the V-Moda M100's. The powerful monstrosity of the M100's bass is far more textured, and hits way lower than that of the HP200.
This brings us to the end of my SoundMAGIC HP200 review, and so I will sum up everything in a few short sentences.
My what seemed like an impulsive purchase, turned out to be a great eye opener for me. I have learnt through these headphones, that for an easily reached, affordable price, one can achieve the entry level to high-end audio; and to some audiophiles, that means a lot. Excitement was something I always enjoyed in a headphone. I was never really that much of a fan of flat sound, so when I read a few reviews on this headphone, I had noticed that many had stated that these sounded like a pair of HD650's, but more fun, so right there was what triggered me to buy them. Knowing that the HD650's were already a highly ranked headphone here on Head-Fi, when someone says that another headphone is similar; it's really all it takes for me to be convinced to grab a pair. Right now, and throughout this review, I've been listening to my HP200's, and all I can say is...it's pretty addictive.
So with the said, if you're after a pair of headphones that not many people own, but has so much potential; look no further.
Over & Out,