Pros: Bass impact
Cons: Soundstage and high end won't be for everyone
They're back! I was the first to review these back in November and I was not impressed. They were harsh sounding to say the least.I did my review. I said my piece. A few couldn't believe my findings. My review went against many others at the time, What Hi Fi seemed to love them, for instance. As a result of mine and other reviews, the Soundmagic P55 Vento was recalled. And revamped. Fast forward 9 months to August 2016 and the new batch have arrived.
Thanks to Tony of HiFIHeadphones for the loan and a chance to revisit these phones.
These are on ear headphones. They are lightweight , clamp well and are comfortable for prolonged use.
I spent a couple of days listening solely to these to adjust my ears to their characteristics. The good news - the Ventos have lost that boomy harsh sound and have a subtler presentation. The music is not thrown at you is I remember it was , there is still punch and some rawness to the sound. Much has thankfully been tamed.
The bass has been toned down and the flabbiness has been reasonably well removed. The bass and mids have some punch to them , the top end no longer grates the way it did.
For music styles, driving rock and pop was the easiest to listen to with these. Classical music especially violins and Orchestras in full swing were not the P55s forte.
A review is not a fair one unless a comparison is made against headphones in a similar price range so without further ado....
I have used a pair of Pendulumic Stance S1+ Bluetooth Headphones
in the first head to head. The Stance can be used wired or wireless, is an over the ear style headphone , does not clamp as well but is comfortable for extended periods. It retails at a similar price level.
The Stance has bigger, deeper cups. This results in the drivers being further away from the ear. The immediacy of the Vento hits you - they have more impact in the bass and mid regions.
The Ventos sound more congested than the Stance, the initial excitement and liveleness of the presentation eventually lost out to the more controlled Pendulumics.
Instrumentation and vocals are easier to follow on the Ventos. This is an advantage of a more intimate soundstage.
Some of the tracks I used
The Judgement is the Mirror - Dali's Car
A little known collabaration between Mick Karn formerly of Japan who provided the instrumentation and mixed the track and Peter Murphy of Bauhaus fame who provides lyrics and vocals. The song reached the giddy heights of No.66 in the UK charts in 1984. This somewhat obscure song I own as a single and I ripped it onto digital some years ago. There are pops and clicks galore. A spacious musical landscape with very smple synth and drum machine and bass sounds that will reveal any harshness in a headphone. There was nothing here that made me wince when I put the Vento's on , thankfully.
Classic- Adrian Gurvitz
Released in 1982 and again from a 7" single which is badly warped , Adrian Gurvitz's only well known song has scratches galore , lots of echo and tons of bass. The Vento was unleashed on this track and came up trumps.
It's difficult to criticise the Vento's in this respect. Although the cups do not fit over my ears , the soft material covering them makes them clamp with a perfect pressure even for my abnormally thin head. Coupled with the fact these are so light it's easy to forget you have them on.
When buying full size headphones such as these many people will be wanting to use their new phones outside their living room , so there are other factors to consider. Microphonics - any cable noise working it's way into the drivers is often caused by movement ; bad on walking , terrible on running. Not a normal problem for full size headphones and the Vento's exhibit no cable noise. 1 thin cable fits well away from the right driver at the bottom of the driver housing and is detachable. Isolation also synonymous with leakage, the Vento's are, well, vented....so they let in noise from the outside world but also broadcast a little too. Discretion will have to be used on the tube and whether this would be an enjoyable experience is debatable. Which is a shame. The Vento's punch is clearly lessened on the go- the ambient background noise floor in the outside world being fairly low frequency- but is far better than most headphones in it's class. These headphones are useful to take out for a quiet country run ; they clamp well, they're light and there is very little vibration noise inherent in the design. The Stance has a headband design that has a lot of movement built in and there is an annoying squeak present which leaves them trailing behind the Vento despite the lack of wire getting in the way.
The Vento's have been tweaked to good effect. They have lost much harshness in the top end. The intimacy of the sound stage will appeal to some and will not be favourable to others. Driving rock dance pop etc will sound vibrant and alive with these and you will want to turn them up. And with the new Vento you should be able to do this without too much flinching. I preferred my Pendulumic Stance S1+ phones which have the added wireless capability ; but not for all variables and not with all music. I can't unreservedly recommend these but if I have whetted your appetite then take the chance to have a listen yourself and tell us all what you think