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  1. Zelda
    SoundMAGIC HP1000
    Written by Zelda
    Published Oct 10, 2019 at 4:40 PM
    2.0/5,
    Pros - Excellent build quality
    Comfortable enough for over-ear set
    Very good bass quality
    Detail
    Cons - Very proprietary detachable cable option
    Cable ergonomics
    Everything else in Sound quality is missing (midrange, treble, stage, timbre, etc)
    SoundMAGIC HP1000 – Closed back over-ear headphones

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    Website – SoundMAGIC

    specs (1).jpg

    Price
    : ~U$300.

    HP1000 product page

    The HP1000 unit was sent directly by SoundMAGIC for purpose of review. The following impressions are based on the limited amount of time of about a month.

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    Design


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    The new HP1000 are over-ear closed-back headphones. Price goes higher than any previous product from SoundMAGIC, being the current flagship, and as such has excellent build quality and nice elegant design without fancy looks. There are no plastic parts that can spotted on the HP1000, at least not on the outside, all made of tough aluminum in a very smooth finish. The top main headband may not have a broad curve, however it is flexible enough and easy to adjust with slider mechanism on both sides. Moreover, the round cups and yokes are all aluminum too, can rotate to both front and back sides so the whole design sits very securely atop of the head and around the ears. The design only allows to fold flat to be stored inside the hardcase. The headband is well covered by real sheepskin leather, being very soft with plenty foam material inside. The ear pads are made of PU leather and have good amount of foam too. While the headphones weight is about 400g it is very well distributed and with the soft leather and thick enough foam, all results in a very comfortable over-ear set. The isolation is fairly good for a closed back design too.

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    The cable is detachable and connects to both cups unlike the previous SoundMAGIC headphones models. The HP1000 introduce their own proprietary connectors, instead of standard 3.5mm / 2.5mm audio plugs. The connectors are long but are easy to install. They connect securely and can be remove from the cups without much effort. The proprietary design works fine, but logically limits any possibility to try other cables and, more importantly, balanced outputs. The cable itself is quite thick with a kind of rubber sheathing. While not noisy it is not very soft and less comfortable for dedicated portable use. The plugs are very well covered by metal parts and well relieved on both cable ends. The y-split is simple, made of two attached plastic parts. The main cable is of standard length of 1.2m for portable use. The extra extension cable is of same build quality and adds extra 3m, suitable for desktop or more dedicated large music systems.

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    Sound Impressions

    Sources: iBasso DX220, HiBy R6 Pro & R5, Shanling M5s, Aune X1s Pro.

    While build quality is worth some praise on the HP1000, keeping good ergonomics and comfort for over-ear closed headphones, it wouldn’t mean much if the sound quality is not matching. Well, I could not find the HP1000 very positive. Again, the allowed time to try the HP1000 was limited, and further burn-in time may (or may not) improve this further; moreover, there could be (less likely) a chance of receiving a faulty unit as well. Anyway, after trying with various and good sounding DAPs, like iBasso DX220 and HiBy R6 Pro, and even a desktop Amp/Dac like the Aune X1s, the sound presentation on the HP1000 follows the same formula, and faults. The P55 Vento, on its third iteration could be still easy to recommend as one of the best sounding products from SoundMAGIC. The first and second versions were quite uninspiring, and while the HP1000 is not as bad, it is still far from being worth the V3 Vento high rating.

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    The HP1000 presents a mild v-shaped signature; not by having very elevated bass and treble, but rather a distant and cold midrange. There is undoubtedly a lot of potential on the large dynamic drivers inside as the HP1000 is capable of showing good dynamics and speed and a particularly high level of detail for the price. However, it is the final tuning and lack of separation what seems to break the whole listening experience for the HP1000. The lack of power is not an issue as it is an easy to drive set for an over-ear option.

    The bass actually is very good on the HP1000. There is good extension for a closed-back set with fairly good sub-bass reach. Mid-bass is a bit more punchy though keeps a nice balance. It is nothing heavy or too thick; the attack has speed and decay is natural. There is not much of bass rumble but it is well textured without having a sense of warmth.

    Midrange is where things start to get wrong. A v-shaped signature is not something I’d dislike when it’s well tuned, even more on an over-ear set where there is more room for stage and separation. The mids are a bit distant, which is fine, but are somehow uninspiring. Technically, there is lot of detail and each instrument is clearly heard. The negative side is the cold tonality and a bit thin texture. There is no emotion and timbre is quite off. Vocals lack natural-ity, especially male vocals, and while female are more forward still miss in texture and can be a bit sharp.

    Treble is pretty much as prominent as the bass – a bit elevated to the bright side, nothing overdone. Quality, however, it is not as impressive as the on low-end. There is not a certain peak that can be noticed at moderate listening volumes. Still, not a smoothest response; it is a sizzling kind of treble, energetic, sparkly and decently extended, very even quantity-wise from low to upper treble. The tonality is again quite off, feels very unnatural and lacks focus.

    The detail is there, and a high level of micro detail for the price, but it is missing coherence. Soundstage is around average in width, limited in depth and low in height. The presentation is somehow congested; while instruments are detailed, there is very little space and all arrive together from a same position.

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    Overall, while the build quality on the HP1000 is excellent with fine selected materials, elegant design and comfortable enough, it is ultimately missing in the main part, the sound. Trying other cables is impossible with these so proprietary new introduced plugs – they might become a good option later, but right now limited to the stock cable and single ended output. It is not difficult to see there is a potential on the drivers inside the HP1000, and unless this is a faulty unit, a new tuning would be needed to start recommending them.
  2. Wiljen
    Soundmagic HP1000 - a worthy successor!
    Written by Wiljen
    Published Sep 15, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Good dynamics and tonality, solid construction, and very expressive sound.
    Cons - Proprietary connectors limit cable options, may be hard for phones/tablets to drive
    disclaimer: The HP1000 was graciously provided by Soundmagic for review. For more information on Soundmagic or to find a dealer, see their website or shop their Amazon Store.



    Unboxing / Packaging:

    The box is a standard cardboard style designed to be hung on a retail rack. The front has the make and model information with the particulars on the reverse. Inside the box everything fits neatly in a hard-sided cloth covered zipper case with the SoundMagic logo and name on the top face. Inside the case is a formed tray with positions for the phones themselves and a black velvet bag sporting the logo /name in gray, with the accessories inside. Included in the bag are the cable, an extension cable, and a 3.5 to 6.3mm converter. The case is solid enough to protect the contents, and the bag prevents cable ends scratching the cups while in storage.

    SoundMagic-HP1000-box-front.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-box-rear.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-box-left.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-box-right.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-case-bottom.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-case-inner.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-case-top.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-case-inner-empty.jpg



    Build/Fit:

    Build is impressive with aluminum cups, steel gimbals, cast aluminum hinges, and metal band covered in soft leather. The only plastic I could find anywhere was the joint between the band and the leather cover and the sides of the cups both of which are low stress locations so not likely to cause problems. Cups are large enough that fit over the ear is good even with larger ears and adjustments are both positive and plentiful so even the smallest and largest user shouldn't run out of adjustment before they find comfortable fit. The adjustments are particularly impressive to me as the picture below shows, they are machined into the aluminum rather than being a stamped part that relies on friction fit like so many others (Hifiman, are you seeing this?). Comfort on the head is good and I had no problem with either my glasses or long listening sessions causing fatigue. This is probably due to a combination of the soft vented leather pads and the light weight of the unit . The connectors on the cups are dead vertical rather than having a forward cant like come others with the connector protruding slightly over an inch before the cable can bend forward. For me, I found the connectors to sit about an inch away from skin so no discomfort caused by them whatsoever.

    SoundMagic-HP1000-side.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-pads2.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-IMG_0865.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-gimbal.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-cup-w-pad-removed.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-cup.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-connector2.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-connector1.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-bottom.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-angled-driver.jpg



    Internals:

    The heart of the HP1000 is a 53mm dynamic driver with a composite diaphragm and neodymium/iron/boron magnets mounted at an angle inside the cup. Nominal impedance is 66Ω with a sensitivity of 120dB/mW and no, that is not a typo. Most of the time when we see sensitivities that high, we expect to see impedance that is below 32Ω as well. In this case the high sensitivity with a bit higher impedance is a good combination as it still has a low noise floor, but remains easy enough to drive that it is usable with portable devices and even passable with a cellphone or tablet. I did find the HP1000 scaled quite well and details improved considerably as source improved even though I don't think the extra power of the bigger amps was as much a factor as the improved DACs ahead of them.



    Cable:

    The cable deserves its own discussion as it is not a standard design and will limit aftermarket options. Having said that, it is extremely well made and the need for an aftermarket model may not present itself. The 3.5mm straight Jack is housed in a black metal barrel with a proper strain relief as the cable exits. Cabling itself is a heavy but pliable black rubber of about 3/16th of an inch thickness from the jack up to the splitter which is a heavy black rubber Y shape. Each wire above the splitter is nearly the same size as the single below it with terminations having black metal barrel housings like the jack and what can be described as a cross between an HD-800 style connector and a banana plug. The gold plated connectors have a ring of 6 fingers around a central pin with the fingers providing the resistance to keep the plug attached but allowing for easy removal when called for. One upside of this connector design is if the cable is caught on something it will pull the connectors from the headphone rather than putting pressure on the DAP. These aren't particularly well suited as a portable, but they are very usable from devices like the AK70Mk2 and Sony NWZ-300 so it isn't outside the realm of possibility.

    SoundMagic-HP1000-cable-connector.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-cable-connector2.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-cable-connector3.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-extension.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-jack.jpg SoundMagic-HP1000-splitter.jpg



    Sound:

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    Bass:

    The HP1000 shows good sub-bass depth and rumble but is not exaggerated and will not please the basshead crowd. Those looking for something where bass is well controlled, doesn't overlap the mids, and is good proportion to the rest of the signature will appreciate the signature. Mid-bass follows the same pattern of present, but not over-stated or boomy. Slam is good when called upon, but can fly under the radar until a passage plays that makes it front and center. Attack is a bit faster than decay at times and leaves a bit of lingering warmth wtihout feeling thick or overly slow. The bass has good texture and detail and builds a strong foundation for the rest of the signature.



    Mids:

    There is some warmth brought to the lower mids but no obscuring of the lower mids from bass bleed. My Frequency response graph shows a bit of a drop in the midrange that I don't hear so I am left questioning if that is more an artifact of my rig than a feature of the headphones as I find the mids to be in good proportion to the mid-bass and then move forward as they move toward the lower treble. The 151 got panned as having poorly tuned mids and it generally was one of the low points of the previous Soundmagic models. It is quite obvious that Soundmagic took the criticisms to heart and has done a good job of cleaning up the mids and making them more present in the mix. Guitar timbre is good and I especially like the growl on blues guitar as rendered on the Hp1000. Mids are notably more textured and detailed than on their predecessor. A push of the upper mids forward brings vocals to the front with exaggerating them.



    Treble:

    Lower treble is somewhat emphasized without being sharp or strident and brings good energy and life to the mix. Above that lower treble push, the treble drops back to the same level as the mids and mid-bass up to about 15kHz where it starts to roll-off very rapidly. This gives the Hp1000 a fairly bright signature without getting fatiguing which is a tough combination to pull off. I found cymbals sounded more realistic than anticipated and snare hits have that nice crack and rattle I look for. Treble detail is quite good as well. When I initially started my listening I anticipated fatigue due to the treble, but the longer I sat and listened the more I began to realize these do a masterful job of providing enough brilliance to feel open and detailed but not enough to sound harsh or fatiguing. I was able to wear these for an entire work day.



    Soundstage / Imaging:

    This is the strongest card in the Hp1000's hand. The Soundstage is huge, not for a closed back, but for a headphone in general. I found the stage to be roughly comparable to several of my open-back models when A/B testing and kept coming back to test another track as a result as normally a closed back just can't compete with their open siblings in this respect. Those looking for a good soundstage in a closed back model should definitely audition the Hp1000 as if you like the signature, your search may end right there and even if not, at least you know what kind of staging is possible in a closed back model. Imaging is very good as well which is aided by above average instrument separation and seating the orchestra is straight forward as a result with no odd placements or errors. Layering is better than expected from a single dynamic at this price point as well.



    Thoughts / Conclusion:

    I'll admit to being a Soundmagic fan from the days of the Hp100. I thought that model provided really good sound for the asking price, but will also readily admit I thought build quality needed some improvements to be as good as the sound. So, I went into this review with high hopes with a somewhat skeptical thought or two lurking in the back. I was probably harder on the Hp1000 as a result as I kept looking for the "But". I am happy to say now that despite my best efforts, I didn't find one. The magic of the Hp100 has been improved on in both build with the aluminum hinges and in sound with the more engaging mids, and the more refined treble. Soundstage is a master class on what can be done with a closed back, and the signature gives plenty of detail and energy without any stridency or becoming grossly fatiguing. These deserve serious consideration if you are in the market for a closed-back headphone. They compete well with models I didn't expect them too (LCD2C for example). While I am not thrilled with the proprietary cable connections, I have already done a bit of looking and I think converting them to either 3.5 or 2.5mm jacks will be a fairly straight forward process for those that are interested in recabling them. Other than that one caveat, these earn an enthusiastic recommendation and are one of the best new models I have gotten to audition this year.

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      volly likes this.
    1. The Third
      Excellent read, well described review and I am hyped to add this headphone to my Soundmagic library which already consists of the HP100/150 :D
      The Third, Oct 6, 2019