SoundMAGIC E80 Review by mark2410
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SoundMAGIC E80 Review
 
Thanks to Hifiheadphones for the sample.
 

 
 
First Impressions:  Ahh another SoundMAGIC.  It hasn’t been too long since I had the E50 in, it was nice, very nice, very pleasant and it seems to have failed to capture many imaginations.  Sometimes round Head-Fi being good at everything isn’t enough, you need to excel somewhere.  I’ve read good things about the 80 so I’m optimistic.  I know I’ll like it, SoundMAGIC have a tendency to do great mids and I love mids.  The box is fine, the cable, wow now that’s an eye catching red.  Oh my and the buds and the jack too!!!  They certainly make a visual impact.
 
Ooh Comply’s.  Let’s get these rubber one’s off and then get these in the ear.  The first thing that strikes me is they are bass light.  Now that might be me, I’ve been using bass monsters all morning.  Next, oh those the mids I was hoping for.  Oh my they might even be PL-50 challenging?  Oooooooh.  Okay I’m smiling, yep I like these, wow they feel like such an abundance of fresh air.  So open and hyper fluid. 
 
Yep, I’m singing and dancing in my chair.  I like these, I like them lots.
 

 
 
Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.
 
Lows:  The bass here is strictly complimentary.  It is reticent, capable, lithe and nuanced.  It’s how I like bass to be, so solidly articulated and accurate.  Sculpted from the finest alabaster.  Hard to the touch but not so solid and hard that its granite like and capable of just ploughing through everything in its path.  There is a finely honed lower end that smoothly sweeps and flows.  It’s not the deepest of bass but it’s pretty fine for anything I’d use it for.  It doesn’t really soften any as it descends and so it retains its composure as it diminishes, rather than bloom.  Poppy and rhythmically bass centric stuff is very able but the bass is too polite and composed, which I’m a fan of but a mainstream audience may find it too polite.  The bass just never comes out rip roaring and centre stage.    
 
It quantity terms it’s a little behind the mids.  Even when you throw in really bassy stuff the bass hasn’t got the aggressiveness to dominate.  Its achingly polite bass, which for music that isn’t all about the bass is a perfectly lovely compliment.
 

 
 
Mids:  This is where the action is.  SoundMAGIC have a habit of doing spectacular mids and here they are showing themselves at their best.  Gloriously beautiful.  So swooping and melodically nuanced.  Creamy yet airy and delicate.  Perhaps akin to the finest moose or some ice cream / sorbet hybrid.  It’s no secret I love mids and there is so much to love here, I love it all.  One of the reasons this review has taken a stupidly long time is that it’s exactly the sort of tuning I like.  It’s like a dynamic version of the PL-50 (which has remained one of my long time favourites.)  Any vocals you throw its way sound fabulous.  Sweepingly grand and liquid and effortlessly flowing.  It maybe not as creamy and thick as some might care for but I’m good.  Ditto with the air, some want more breathy.  Personally I think they have nailed a perfect balance.  There is literally not a vocal that they don’t do justice to.
 
Quantity wise they are a bit middy.  I’m good with that, others won’t, particularly that its bass is comparatively so polite, then nail on a little bit of an upper mid / lower treble “enthusiasm.”  It’s not ever actually sibilant.  Sometimes some vocals get a little bit over energetic that had me nudging down the volume dial. 
 

 
 
Highs:  Similar story to the bass really.  The mids are where it’s all at, treble is highly competent and skilful but it’s a touch polite.  It’s got minimal edge or aggression, a wondrous shimmer its great at but if you need that crisp clean bight, sorry.  Cutting and abrasive the E80 is certainly not.  It’s so light on its feet and nimble feeling.  You don’t really notice that the furthest uppers roll away, they don’t do so till fairly far up.  So it takes the bit that wears out the ear from the top and keeps its light feeling with a touch abundant middle and lower treble ranges.  How clever.    The only thing is if you try to force it to do abrasive, hard, edgy treble it instantly softens those corners.  Aggressive grrrrr type music just doesn’t work.  Lol it’s an adorable little puppy trying to rip the throat out of a fluffy toy.  Notionally it’s a fierce and aggressive action but you end up responding with “awwwwww.”  The E80 can’t really convince you it’s a savage aggressive beast, it’s just not.
 
Still there is a far bit of energy in the lower treble ranges than can occasionally get shouty.  If you work the volume dial these aren’t quite as perfectly composed as the BA’d PL-50 but it’s close, very close.
 

 
 
Soundstage:   Where the PL-50 was right up in your face, super direct the E80 is way more spacious.  There is air to move, space so breath in and thus music sounds much more reasonably scaled.  It’s got imaging too and acoustic placement.  ON paper I’d have to say the E80 is better, its more accurately placing things where and how far they should be yet for the most part keeping the vocals dead centre.
 
Fit:  Great.  Oddly I got a fair amount of driver flex with the left bud.  Only the left, it soon equalised but hey, it did happen.  I slapped Comply’s on anyway because I’m lazy.
 

 
 
Comfort:  Great really, up or down even with the silicon’s on.  No issues in comfort at all.
 
Cable:  Physically it’s great, woven with a sheath over it.  Nicely flexible, sturdy, etc etc.  However, gosh that’s an eye catching red.  I more than once picked up something else because I just thought oh god that red is so eye catching.  Anyway, yes all nicely built.
 

 
 
Isolation:  Pretty good.  Slightly better than a typical dynamic.  So easily enough for out and about or on a bus.  As ever not sure flight or Tube worth but better than most I guess.  Oh and as ever, more than easily enough to get yourself run over with if you don’t look where you’re going.
 
Aesthetic:  I have to confess me wasn’t a fan.  There is nothing wrong with them but I just wasn’t taken with that red.  I didn’t hate it or anything but they sound so grown up and that red was just so bright.  For whatever reason the colour just did not grow on me at all.
 

 
 
Build Quality:  They would appear to be very nice.  The jack is sturdy, the Y splitter is, like the buds metal so they should stand up to time well.  Nothing exceptionally amazing, it’s an upper budget IEM so it should have upper end construction.
 
 Amped/Unamped:  Well they were fine out of just a phone they were good sounding but, yeah while these might not “need” the power of an amp they getting good enough that they do want one.  Dynamics particularly were so much more vibrant and alive when amped, as was the staging.  Amped they felt like they had so much more space and so much more articulation on just where everything was.  Unamped they a slightly dimmed, slightly greyed version of what it could when amped.  So while you don’t “need” to get one.  I would start to think about getting one.
 

 
 
Accessories:  You get the little case, a bunch of tips, 3 narrow bore, 3 wide bore, a double flange pair, 3 pairs of Comply’s and a little shirt clip. Does anyone ever use shirt clips?  Anyway it’s a nice little bundle that should get everyone a tip they suit.
 

 
 
Value:  So they go for £65 which is about US$100.  Hmm that’s RE-0 territory, well it was anyway.  I dunno, these don’t feel like super-duper stupendous value and I’m not sure why.  Maybe im lacking sugar and caffeine.  Still for mids, I could not right now tell you anywhere your find mids this good for this money.  Hmm maybe the PL-50 actually.  The tonal purity that is the mid range here is easily worth the money, it’s a very grown up, Head-Fi type sound which if you want these are a bargain.  However if you want this sort of sound you are probably at a point where you willing to throw considerably more down for a pair than £65. 
 

 
 
Conclusion:  I’m trying hard to be objective and balanced about the E80.  You see I love mid’s and I love mid centric sounding things.  So I am very much inclined to gush over the E80 as it’s just the sort of thing I like and that makes it harder to fair to it.  That trying to separate out what you like from what is “technically” superior to another gets really had when one pushes your buttons.  Like maybe trying to judge an art contest of small kids and one of those kids is yours.  Maybe you do love that one because it deserves it and maybe not but at the same time it’s not fair to be especially hard on that one either.  This is how I feel abet the E80
 

 
 
I can’t help but feel it’s the dynamic version of the PL-50.  God the PL-50 is so good, it doesn’t have the bass though nor the air movement that many crave, so in comes the E80.  It fills out that bottom a little.  BA’s move very little air so it was a complaint many had of it.  To an extent too the treble on the PL-50 could be that BA over crisp and once more the E80 addresses that issue.  The E80 therefor for me is the dynamic version of the PL-50.  The mids are almost as perfect but with a breadth and depth the little 50 can’t manage.  There is also some similarity to the GR07 but the E80 has the superior mid-range, though I’ll grant the 7 pips them in the treble.
 

 
 
The E80 is for me a SoundMAGIC that is aiming for a slightly more generalist sound but it’s still retaining that magical midrange.  A sound that isn’t unlike its sibling, the E50 but the 80 is just better in every conceivable fashion so I can’t ever see a case where I’d suggest them over the 80.  Even if you budget was super tight, I’d still recommend hold out and get these instead. Their mids are fantastically good, class leading good.
 
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SoundMAGIC E80 Quick Review
 
Thanks to Hifiheadphones for the sample.
 
Brief:  SoundMAGIC takes it up a notch
 
Price:  £65 which is about US$100
 
Specification:  Driver: Dynamic, 10mm, Neodymium, Frequency range: 15Hz - 22kHz, Impedance: 64Ω, Sensitivity: 102dB, Maximum input power: 20mW, Cable: 1.2m, Connector: 3.5mm, angled jack, gold-plated, Weight: 13g
 
Accessories:  3 pairs dome shaped silicone eartips (S/M/L), 3 pairs flat silicone eartips (S/M/L), 1 pair Double Flange silicone eartips (M), 3 pairs Comply foam tips (S/M/L), Hard carrying case, Cable clip
 
Build Quality:  They would appear to be great. 
 
Isolation:  Fairly good.  For a dynamic they are relatively sealed, notably more than the GR07 so you could use them for most duties.  Not really Tube or long flight but you know, fine for a bus or normal traffic.  Easily enough to get you run over too of you aren’t looking.
 
Comfort/Fit:  Rather good.  I did get a bit of venting issues in my left ear, only the left.  Nothing huge and after a min or so it equalised and was fine.  Comfort was fine too.
 
Aesthetics:  I, well, I’m not loving the red.  Its just so red and expect mountains of bass, you know a bit of a “mainstream” type sound and these are if anything middy.  Dunno the red just wasn’t doing it for me.
 
Sound:  Lovely.  SoundMAGIC have long been a fav of mine, with their amazing little PL-50’s as one of my all-time fav’s.  These are dynamics but they retain a near magical mid-range.  Not unlike a GR07 that has been sculpted to make the vocals shine.  Not just shine but soar and sweep and vault and bank and just everything you could vocally want.  The bass is pretty great too, mildly polite but deep down its got a bit of grunt and can almost keep up to the mids.  The treble it’s not quite so grand, good but not amazing.  It can be touch lacking from time to time and it hasn’t the same nuance and detail level the GR07 has and if anything edgy tracks it can be abrasive.  However you stick to those mids and woah are they good.  Heavily acoustic stuff are just exactly what the E80 is made for.  Strings, male or female vocals it really doesn’t matter as it does them all with such passion, neither dry or over creamy, such fluidity out of a dynamic.  Mid heads who want something that can move more air than a singly BA can manage should take a good look at these.
 
Value:  Lovely.  Not quite the generalist that the GR07 is but these are easily on a par with them and have notably superior mids.  One of the most enjoyable midranges of any dynamic drivered IEM’s.
 
Pro’s:   Mids.  Neatly sculpted bass. Mids, and the mids.
 
Con’s:  Treble lags a touch.  Maybe too middy for some.
 
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Nice review. Gotta love how Soundmagic's products always seem to slip under everyone's radar.
 
Of the 60+ IEMs I've owned, the PL50 is my personal all-time favorite. Over the likes of the W4, DBA-02, A83, RE600, GR07, BA200... just to name a few. Unfortunately, one of the channels died.
 
I'll likely order the E80 after reading this and seeing your comparison to the PL50. BTW, do you know if the Hybrids fit?
 
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If I hadn't upscaled so much and have a drawer of things I don't use, I'd be all over these. Gr7s are too hot for me and are at my warmth limit as well so these sound like they'd fit. Have you tried partially covering the from vent, if that's what it is. Should give more and perhaps better delineated bass.
 
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I absolutely love these, and they can be found for almost 1/2 the price mentioned. I got mine new for $55 shipped from micca store. So clear sounding, i could use more bass but these are my best value ive had under $100 easily.
 
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How would you compare these to the RE-400, if you're able to from experience? It sounds in broad terms like the mids are similar in character, but the treble extension and clarity of the HiFiMans might edge these out a bit. Given that they exist in the same price range is there a particularly valid reason to own both?
 
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  I'll likely order the E80 after reading this and seeing your comparison to the PL50. BTW, do you know if the Hybrids fit?
 
yeah should do, might be a little snug but should go on.
  How would you compare these to the RE-400, if you're able to from experience? It sounds in broad terms like the mids are similar in character, but the treble extension and clarity of the HiFiMans might edge these out a bit. Given that they exist in the same price range is there a particularly valid reason to own both?
hmmm curious.  tbh i find the 400 are more bass/mid where asthe 80 is more middy.  as for the treble, hmm the 400 might beat them but i never was a lover of the 400's treble.  the old RE-0 treble was soooooo much better i just never quite felt much love for the 400.  its good yes but it dissapointed me boing the replacement for the 0.  the 80 doesnt have the same baggage so  you know, it didnt dissapoint. 
 
however, since you have asked specificaly about the treble, the 400 and 80 arent wildly different and if treble is your consern hit up the for sale / trade for an old 0, its treble is still pretty much untouchable.
 
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Great review.
 
I love my E80s.  Now that I've unlocked the amp in my HTC One M8, I find they can be driven at a level they deserve.  I'm not keen on separate headphone amps due to the faff factor, so this is good news. 
 
Of course, they don't have that big consumerist sound which the E10s do so well, but as a more sober yet still hugely enjoyable experience the E80 are pretty much unimpeachable at the price. And they are built to a really robust quality standard so hopefully should withstand the knocks of daily portable life.
 
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indeed, a beautifully middy sound that really gives mids some legs.  its a bit of a shame that more people wont appreceate their abilities becasue most people just want massive bass.  such a shame.
 
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yeah should do, might be a little snug but should go on.
hmmm curious.  tbh i find the 400 are more bass/mid where asthe 80 is more middy.  as for the treble, hmm the 400 might beat them but i never was a lover of the 400's treble.  the old RE-0 treble was soooooo much better i just never quite felt much love for the 400.  its good yes but it dissapointed me boing the replacement for the 0.  the 80 doesnt have the same baggage so  you know, it didnt dissapoint. 
 
however, since you have asked specificaly about the treble, the 400 and 80 arent wildly different and if treble is your consern hit up the for sale / trade for an old 0, its treble is still pretty much untouchable.
When it comes to car stereos I'm definitely a basshead because there is nothing more exciting than feeling visceral double-bass drum kicks threaten to blow your windows out; however, with headphones I've trained myself rather well to appreciate neutrality—although an enhanced-but-controlled low end can be quite lovely. To hear you say that the RE-400s, whose bass is just ever-so-slightly above neutral, are more bass-oriented than the E80s makes the latter sound totally anemic in the lower frequencies. About the only earphones I've ever heard that have less bass than the RE-400s are my Havi B3 Pro 1s.
 
I might give the E80s a shot still, but I really want something with a healthy body to it.
 
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oh there is still  a fullness and capability in the low end.  it just never really likes to take centre stage, so it never really dominates the mids are always there, present and in a comanding position
 
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Hi Mark,
 
How would you compare the E80 signature to that of the Trinity Delta's?
 
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A very nice read Mark! Looking forward for more reviews from your end mate! 
 
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  Hi Mark,
 
How would you compare the E80 signature to that of the Trinity Delta's?
well, no i wouldnt.  the Deltas have much more of a low end vigour, the 80 is comparativly meek there and you get it because you want soemthing that is mid centric and the delta never is in the same way.  with the 80 the spotilight in on the vocalist, that is what matters, everything is in the shadows.  the delta has the whole band lit up.  in terms of picking one over the other, if you want something midcentric, all about the vocals, its the 80.  soemthing more even handed and generally capable everywhere its the Delta.
  A very nice read Mark! Looking forward for more reviews from your end mate! 

thanks
 
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