SoundMAGIC HP200 Review
First of all I would like to thank Tony at SoundMAGIC for keeping me up to date on their products, and supplying me with this sample to review. I will try and write as honest a review possible.
These received over 50hrs of burn-in, and the sound definitely became more refined, so don’t judge them out of the box.
IPod Classic 160gb (rockboxed) > HP200
IPod Classic 160gb (rockboxed) > DIY Sliver/DIY Copper LOD > JDS Labs C421 (AD8620) > HP200
Packaging, Accessories, Build Quality and Comfort:
Packaging is a simple white card box, with a picture of the HP200 on the front, on one side there is a frequency graph and styles of which you can wear these, on the back are the specifications and accessories included. I like this simple approach and the box is easy to open.
Accessories are great, the cable is detachable and come with a short 1.2m cable and a 3m extension cable, they also come with a 3.5 to 6.3mm adapter, a flight adapter and a hard carry case. The hard carry case if perfect when transporting them as it prevents scratches and also has a pouch for the accessories inside. A great array of accessories from SoundMAGIC.
Build quality is excellent as expected, the headphone come with a detachable cable that has a locking system which is great but means that you cannot use aftermarket cables, the cups are rubber coated plastic with metal grills and a metal SoundMAGIC badge in the middle. Extender arms are metal and the headband is pleather coated with memory foam on the top, the padding is excellent. The cup can swivel 90 degrees backwards so you can use them on one ear, the cups also fold inwards (like the ATH-M50 and Shure SRHXXX) and the hinge is metal and feels strong.
Comfort is very good, they are fairly heavy but the ear cups are big and spacious and also very soft, also the headband has memory foam padding, so they distribute the pressure very well, no problems with pain after long listening sessions. Also your ears don’t get hot after long listening and clamping force is not a problem. The arms of the headphones also don’t stick out much, so you won’t look that bad wearing them, and they will fit all size of ears.
I will separate this into the usual categories and then write a final conclusion
Well these are open cans, and usually open cans struggle with sub-bass but these sound very linear in the lows, with it extending low into the sub-bass and only gently rolling off. The bass is very tight and accurate also being fairly transparent, where it is present when needed. It is also very well articulated and separated with various instruments, it has no noticeable mid-bass or sub-bass elevation. The bass never bleeds into the mids either.
I may just say that these have awesome mids, more detailed than my Shure SE535, Spacious, airy and crystal clear. The mids sit perfectly in the mix, maybe even a little forward, but they sound superb. Never is there any hint of warmth, but they are not clinical or cold either. Vocals have body and detail, they do however have a slight bit of sibilance. The separation again is astounding, the air between vocals and guitars is very impressive. Acoustic music sounds great along with jazz, they handle male and female vocals exceptionally.
I give it to these cans, they handle every frequency well, highs are well extended and defined, and they never become too bright or splashy but are always present as they should be. Also the placement of the cymbal crashes is perfect and they are very detailed. These are revealing of bad recordings, so the highs in mp3’s will not sound as good as a nice lossless track. Diana Krall sounds brilliant as you hear all cymbal taps, brushes and crashes with so much detail.
These can be driven from a portable source quite well actually, you do have to crank the volume up a bit but they sound decent coming straight from an iPod. Once you add an amp, these will improve quite a bit, the sound becomes tighter and better defined, with the soundstage widening too.
Instrument Separation, Soundstage and Imaging:
Instrument separation is excellent, there is a real sense of space between everything.
The soundstage is nice and wide, but that is expected as they are open back, but they are not artificial sounding in the way they present the stage.
Imaging is also very well done and they never sound detached, vocals are center and everything comes in around them.
These have a fairly natural presentation, but i think a little more body and they have some killers here.
Warning: Revealing headphones, these will sound best with lossless music files, MP3 can sometimes become splashy and veiled.
As you can guess I am impressed, I think these could easily compete with the big boys, the amount of detail, the accuracy of the sound and the soundstage make these brilliant, and great all rounders too. They work great for music, and I can imagine that for films and gaming they would work equally well. For the price I think these are real contenders, and I will be able to compare them to some DT880 300ohm soon. The sound is slightly mid forward, but with a linear bass response and detailed but never harsh highs.
I have to give it to SoundMAGIC, first they came out with the great HP100, and they have improved it and made it open back and even better for $50 more. Of course you lose the isolation, but the sound improvement is huge if you know what signature you like. I cant wait to see what they have done for the HP300, as these will be hard to improve on.
The HP100 is slightly warm and laid back, where as these are slightly more upfront with a more neutral signature and better detail.
I will highly recommend these if you know your needs.
Hope you enjoyed, comments and questions are welcome
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)
Deadmau5 + Kaskade – I Remember (Caspa Remix) (320kbps MP3)
Black Uhuru – Utterance (ALAC)
Silverstein – Discovering The Waterfront (320kbps MP3)