SoundMAGIC ES18 In-Ear Headphones (Black/Red)

  1. OSiRiSsk
    SoundMAGIC ES18 - All hail the Budget King
    Written by OSiRiSsk
    Published May 24, 2016
    Pros - excellent value, overall good tonality, great bass
    Cons - nothing really at this price, L/R marking not so visible when the light is not right

    I am in no way associated with the SoundMAGIC company. I have bought ES18 myself and just expressing my honest opinion here.

    I am a 25 years old music enthusiast and audio gear lover. I am not saying audiophile for a reason,as that sounds both, too scientific and pretentious. I simply listen to music easily ~8 hours per day, and I want to enjoy it as much as possible.  My first headphones were closed-back Sennheiser EH150 - very bassy and very uncomfortable headphones.

    I was slowly upgrading my gear and currently I own BD T5p I. While I started as a pure bass-head I am able to enjoy the neutral headphones now too (with BD being one example). But I do listen to LOT of electronic music a lot - hip hop, dnb, techno, trip hop, downtempo -  just to name a few, which means, that I need my bass to be good. I am not saying loud, but simply good - quality over quantity, that's for sure. In the past few years I have been extending my music horizons, and I am well into some other genres as well, including folk, indie rock, indie pop, blues, soul, and even little bit of metal.
    Currently my main source equipment is FiiO X7. I do own lot of FLAC files, but by no means 100%, so there are still a plenty of MP3s playing around.
    SoundMAGIC ES18 are my first IEMs ever, until now, I only owned closed-back over-ear/on-ear pairs.
    There is one thing I value almost as much as the sound quality - and that is the *comfort*. I don't care much about the headphones aesthetics, design and accessories. Sound quality, comfort and cable are the three most important things I value about headphones, and whenever I stand in front of a purchase I don't like to make compromises in any of these three areas.

    So - why would anybody even consider buying these? I mean - I paid 14 € for these, and let's be honest - this sounds plain suspicious.
    At least it did for me. My motivation was very simple - my Beyerdynamic T5p were being serviced (actually, at the time of posting
    this review, they still are :wink:) and I simply needed temporary replacement and I didn't want to spend lot of money, since I knew that I'll have my BDs back in a 30 days tops.
    So I came into my local audio shop and literally asked for the cheapest headphone they had - I was offered with these IEMs, and was told
    that they actually don't sound that bad. Still, you know motivation for buying these, so you may have already guessed -
    I've had absolutely zero expectations when purchasing these, and was not biased in any way.
     THE FIX

    So, I have bought these babies and plugged them right into my FiiO X7 /with AM1/. I have noticed two things right away:
    1.  They were slightly harder to drive then my Beyerdynamic T5p (just by few volume levels away)
    2.  The bass. It was everywhere. I didn't even know how to judge the sound quality.
    My first track was some Drum&Bass and I guess  that the transition from high-end headphones to cheaper IEMs can let you pretty confused. In fact, the bass was so all-over-the-place that I had to EQ this thing! This was my first time ever I was using the EQ!
     Then, after 2-3 days of active listening, I decided to turn the EQ off and all of a sudden it all made sense.  Just like a virgin remembers  his first encounter forever, I will remember what it was to experience burn-in effect for   the first time.
     I don't really care whether this was a brain burn-in or actual burn-in but I know this for a fact:
    1.   The bass has considerably calmed down, and became much more defined. So, now the bass has been tamed, let's discuss the sound quality.
    The orange looks really beautiful with these
    SoundMAGIC ES18 with accessories - S/M/L tips

     THE TRIP 

    These definitely can't be marked as neutral. Even after the bass has calmed down significantly after the burn-in, there is still slight emphasis on the low-end frequencies. The bass has nice impact, and extends really low. Initially, it was all about quantity. After burn-in  the bass actually reaches pretty nice quality too. As a lover of electronic music I am very satisfied with this kind of bass. It is certainly not the most tight I have heard, but the combination of the impact and extension make it very good.
    The mids and treble are just right for me - definitely not suitable for treble-heads, these aren't exactly bright.   On the opposite , the overall sound has quite dark signature. The vocals sounds very to put this - I have to say velvety, that's the impression I've got.  The soundstage is mediocre as one would expect from low-cost IEMs, but the imaging is pretty decent which compensates a lot.
    Still, when I listen to music I don't really focus individually on the bass, mids and the treble. I try to listen to the sound signature  of the given headphones. And this one suits me really well - I find it very relaxing, with the slightly elevated low-end there is a nice "fun" factor to listening your music, and these are never fatiguing. It all sounds very natural to my ears.
    To sum up : regarding the sound, there are couple of areas where these are average and couple of above average areas. And they truly   excel in the low-end.
    For 14€ I was expecting mediocre OR worse. Definitely not something which I am enjoying as this much!
    When it comes to comfort it depends on a fit you will be able to get. These comes with three pair of tips. With smallest size, the comfort is best for me, but the isolation not so much - which means the bass is slightly leaking.  With medium size, I have the average comfort (nothing hurts for the first couple of hours) - and the bass is just right. I haven't tried the largest tips, since they just seem too large :).
    I also have to mention that the isolation is just great - these actually isolates better than *any* of my previous closed-back headphones! Of course, it also depends on what fit you will get with different tips.
    The leakage is non existent as one would expect from IEMs.
    Another thing - the cable. It's looks pretty cheap, but never had any problem with it so far. And trust me, I usually have  problems with cable :). It never got tangled so far, the jack is L-shaped which I actually prefer by far.
    Finally, on my list of priorities the last thing - design. These comes in different colors, I have chosen the orange one - because why not?
    I love the minimalistic design,and find it very chic. 
    L/R marking is visible well only in correct light condition
    14€ IEMs and 600€ DAP making a great combination
    L-shaped jack looking durable


    You have probably guessed right - I love these IEMs. Especially for the superb value they are offering for the price. Yes, if I compare them to the TOTL headphones I will have to say that these the soundstage is not very wide, lack of airiness, and they are not so detailed. But such comparison is simply not fair.
    I have been completely ignoring this part of the market - I have actually never spent so little on any headphones for the past 10 years. I have also been secretly underestimating the IEMs in the past - this ends now, after this purchase. I am very surprised that there are manufacturers out there, who can offer so much, for so little money. I am not ashamed to say that I am enjoying both, SoundMAGIC ES18 for 14 € and Beyerdynamic T5p for couple of hundreds €. It's also a brilliant introduction to the world of IEMs for me - I keep asking myself - if 14€ IEMs can deliver so much, how must the Shure 846 sound?
    I guess I will have to find out someday.. But until then, I'll stick with my SoundMAGIC ES18 and I am going to love it.
    PS: Since this is my first review, I thought I'd give you some treat for reading it till the end - here, enjoy my rabbit (Johanka) wearing the SoundMAGIC ES18 - she enjoys them too.
    Johanka, enjoying SoundMAGIC ES18 too

      Brooko and zilvins like this.
    1. Sulbh
      There are the best budget headphones ever produced.
      Sulbh, May 24, 2016
    2. OSiRiSsk
      @Sulbh I agree ! :) I am waiting for the VE Monk to arrive, maybe that will change my opinion.
      OSiRiSsk, May 25, 2016
  2. d3f4ul7
    Great sound for cheap price.
    Written by d3f4ul7
    Published Apr 28, 2016
    Pros - Great Lows and Mids
    Cons - Highs

    I bought this pair of earphones as a cheap alternative for my broken phone earphones. Once I bought it, I never heard of the brand SoundMagic before yet, and doubted the sound quality and build quality of these things, since this was the first time I heard of the brand. Upon trying it out, it did not sound like a 15$ pair, rather priced more than 15$. Bass is clear, albeit a little bit muddy in some songs, but the mid-range frequencies sound the best. Highs were a little bit shrill, but for it's price, it is really a great bang for the buck. One disadvantage would be that there would be that the stock earbuds did not have that much isolation, so a quick fix by upgrading the ear tips with triple-flange earbuds did the trick. Overall, this pair of earphones is an excellent replacement for your phone's earbuds, or a solid entry-level earphone, that would sound very well for it's price range.
  3. TheAstray
    SoundMAGIC ES18. Good sound for a good price.
    Written by TheAstray
    Published May 26, 2014
    Pros - sound, good mids, price, value
    Cons - not that solid build quality, highs
    So this is my first ever review. Enjoy!
            I got my es18's for about $15 in my local store on December last year and I've been enjoying them since. SO let's start!
      Packaging is pretty decent for a $15 IEM. It includes 3 eartip sizes(small, medium and large) and a leather-ish carrying pouch that's a little bit too large. Overall, 10/10. Pretty good value for $15! :D
      I got the orange and grey color scheme. It looks quite simple, and cheap. But for $15 what do you expect? 8/10 I guess
      Build quality is average. The earpiece split open after 4 months of use but what do you expect with its price? Cable is a little stiff and cheap too. The Y-splitter is tiny but does its job and the jack is solidly built. Maybe 7/10 for build quality
    Now for the SOUND QUALITY:
     After burn-in. these sound absolutely great for $15! First of is the bass. The bass is quite good. Warm sounding but a little bit more than my taste. Mids are the best point of this IEM. Mids are a little forward, smooth and sweet sounding. Highs are the weakest point of this IEM. Highs are recessed, and not very good. Imaging and soundstage is average. I would say... 8/10 for sq
    So that's it. Thanks for reading! :) P.S sorry that I don't have pics
  4. Audeoboy
    SoundMAGIC ES18- Magic Sound, Magic Price
    Written by Audeoboy
    Published Jun 12, 2012
    Pros - Price is the main factor; did great on mids and lows
    Cons - Soundstage, recessed highs
    SoundMAGIC ES18- Magic Sound, Magic Price
    In this world, there are people who are willing to spend a lot to make sure they enjoy the incredible details and natural vocals drove by their high-end audio equipments. On the other hand, there are also people who just want to listen to music with a decent earphone that cost affordably. No doubt, the SoundMAGIC ES18 falls on this category.
    First of all, I would like to thank Li Yan for providing a sample of SoundMAGIC ES18. It is my 2nd SoundMAGIC IEM since I broke my PL11. If you guys notice, the SoundMAGIC company did a great job on their IEMs; the PL11, PL30 and the PL50, are the big three of SoundMAGIC that won them bunch of awards and recommendation from Audiophiles. And now, they came up with their brand new model, ES18, so let's see if it's standard is up to their 'brothers' one.
    Image of the SoundMAGIC ES18
    The SoundMAGIC ES18 makes a bold statement about making great sound affordable. Thanks to its upgraded 10mm Neodymium drivers and careful sound chamber tuning, the ES18 has a dynamic and refined sound signature that compares favorably to headphones many times its cost. The ES18 exhibits excellent accuracy and strong bass performance, delivering a deliciously full bodied listening experience.

    The ES18 is well made with a bonded plastic housing, extended flexible strain relief, and tangle-free cord terminated with a right angle gold plated 3.5mm jack. It is available in three exciting colors of red, green, and orange, and comes with a storage pouch and three pairs of silicone ear tips in small, medium and large sizes.

    Transducers: Dynamic 10mm Neodymium Driver
    Frequency range: 15Hz22KHz
    DC resistance: 16Ω (±10%)
    Sensitivity: 100dB/mW @ 1KHz (±2dB)
    Cable length: 1.2m (3.5ft)
    Connector: 3.5mm gold plated plug
    Weight: 11g

    After unboxing the small box of ES18 madly (over-excited), I found out that the ES18 came with a rather large (which I believe can insert two RoCoo P and an ES18 at the same time) black synthetic leather pouch with drawstrings. Next it has the silicon eartips of different sizes provided (S/M/L pair). However, I felt that the smallest size fitted me well and isolated most of the outside noise, so I decided to use the smallest pair of Silicon tips throughout this review. (ps. Tips may change the sound you listen). And lastly, I have to always press the IEM into my ear as time passes to make sure it stuck nicely in my ear canal and thus to maximize isolation. My advice, choose a pair of eartip that suit the best of you.
    Build Quality:
    The first thing that popped out in my mind when I held the ES18 in my hand was the word 'cheap'. The housing is made of plastic and nothing is special about the build quality. Design is just basic and since I got the red/black version, it does look a bit like the Monster Beats Tour if I place it far from me. Well, look is not so important after all, isn't it? However, I guess I have really underestimated it. I used it as my jogging rig and after withstanding all my sweats and impacts, it still serve me well. Loyalty IEM :)
    Sound Quality:
    I was shocked when I saw some people claimed that it delivers HI-FI standard sounds. And this was the reason why I was so eager to try them out until a point where I unbox it like a mad person. Initial expression was just so-so. However, after 50 hours of burning in, I do hear some significant improvement in ES18.
    The SoundMAGIC ES18 is actually a dynamic IEM. It delivers sweet and well balanced sound. It is fast, it is smooth, it is detailed. Thus, I believe this IEM will be working great on pop and rock music.
    Lows- The lows/bass of ES18 is well-controlled though at optimum level. Neither too much nor too shy. It feels as if it will always be there when it is needed to be. However, in some songs, I do notice that the bass covers/affects the vocal, making the whole song muddy.
    Mids- The sound signature of ES18 is more to upper-mid in my opinion. Full and smooth.
    High- Since the ES18 is a low and mid-focused IEM, the high of this IEM tends to be slightly recessed. And this leads to the lack of clarity. The good thing about this is you will not hear any piercing, harshness and maybe slight sparkling from this IEM.  
    Soundstage- Soundstage is just about average. Separation and positioning is not obvious.
    Conclusion- Do you believe in the quote "You get what you pay for" ? In my opinion, this may be applicable in some cases in ES18. 1. To cut down the cost in order to offer a better price for the casual audiophiles, SoundMAGIC has to sacrifice the build quality and use lower quality cable which produces a lot of unwanted noises when you walk etc. Clip is not provided on ES18. 2. At an asking price of around $15, the ES18 is producing the sound quality of IEMs which are a few times more expensive than it. No doubt, it is following the footstep of the big three of SoundMAGIC. 
    So, do you think you get what you pay for, or even more? Your call.
    1. DrHulkBanner
      Try them with the sony hybrids. I prefer them to the stock eartips.
      DrHulkBanner, Jun 13, 2012
  5. CrystalT
    SoundMAGIC ES18 In-Ear Headphones
    Written by CrystalT
    Published May 17, 2012
    Pros - Price, audio quality
    Cons - None at this price point. Sacrificed cord/housing quality for better drivers at a cheaper price point.
    This is my first review in the past year of getting in to audio as a hobby. My roots started last year around April when I purchased the SoundMAGIC PL11. I heard my father's various Bose products, which introduced me to the world of high(er)-end audio equipment. Directly comparing The PL11 to the Bose Triport made me realize that my $16 PL11 were nearly as good as my father's $130 Triport, and it lead me to Head-Fi.
    The SoundMAGIC ES18 use the same drivers used in the higher end E10. This is a budget-minded 'phone, sacrificing build quality to bring a higher quality sound to the lower income crowd, and they did a marvelous job of doing so. The 'phones aren't as machine-perfect as their higher-end models, but it's still far better than american bang/buck contenders such as Skullcandy, and other cheap low-end in ears saturating the consumer market. Mine shipped with some of the wire insulation stripped at the L plug, but not wire was exposed. No biggie.
    The sound is identical to that of the E10. It's perfect for long-term listening. Gently emphasized Low-end, and Mids, slightly recessed highs. I notice a dip around 8khz, and it rolls off gently as it gets higher. Little sparkle, but absolutely no piercing, harshness, or sibilance.
    Overall it sounds better than other Head-Fi favorites, such as the PL30/PL50, being newer, better technology, but it lacks the wow-factor that the PL30/50 have with their INCREDIBLE airyness and treble extension.
    Comfort is above average, but don't take my word for it. My ears are weird. I owned a pair of Klipsch Image X10 that caused me unnatural amounts of pain, and I'm probably the only person on the planet that had that issue. Fit is just like any other straight-barrel in-ear around the same size as it.
    A quick summary of the sound:
    well-extended bass with great impact, and attack/decay, and well controlled. Full-bodied mids. Recessed highs around 8khz, and 16khz.
    Soundstage is average.
    Lacks the clarity, positioning, and treble extension of the older PL models, specifically PL30/PL50, but overall sounds technically superior due to using newer/better drivers.
    Music used:
    320kbps MP3s using Voodoo mod SGS. Genres include Progressive Metal, Power Metal, Freeform Hardcore, Hard Trance, DNB, Hard Trance, Classical (Baroque concertos, 19th, 20th, and 21st century Minimalist)
    1. egosumlux
      What is their main difference between them and the e10's?
      egosumlux, May 18, 2012