With a weight of just 11g, these are thoroughly lightweight earphones so you'll hardly notice their burden. They're not quite as effortlessly comfortable to wear as something like the Klipsch X10s but for an earphone of this type and price they're entirely typical. What's more, their simple design has a real boon – you can choose to wear them with the cable dropping straight down or looping over the ear. The former makes them easy to quickly fit while the latter allows for a deeper insertion (resulting in better noise isolation and audio performance) and more secure fit.
The overall fit of the phones is reasonable with either fitting option, though it depends greatly on how you wear them and what tips you're using. Used with the standard tips and worn with the cable hanging straight down we found it was difficult to insert them far enough to get a really good seal against our ear canals, resulting in mediocre noise isolation and bass response, though they were reasonably comfortable and allowed for resting against a pillow (and are still a vast improvement over earbuds). Worn with the cable coming over the ear resulted in much more freedom to wedge the tips further into the ear canal, getting better performance and maintaining a comfortable fit.
However, these earphones really come alive when using the Comply Foam Tips (not included). With the standard rubber tips there is next to no noise isolation, with just the slightest muffling of the outside world. With the Complys, though, there is almost complete isolation. It was quite a moment when on one occasion we switched from the rubber to the foam tips while sat in an otherwise empty office and whereas the rubber failed miserably to block out the air conditioning unit, upon fitting the foam ones we could really notice the air conditioning noise slowly disappearing as the foam expanded in our ears.
They also have a significant impact on sound quality. Using the normal silicone tips we found that due to the uneven seal in each ear we got variable sound quality, resulting in a lopsided sound – different tones were stronger in one ear than the other. We didn't seem to be able to rectify this no matter how much we adjusted the fit. However, with the foam tips we got a much more consistent seal and more balanced sound.
As for overall sound quality the E10s have plenty of bass and a slightly boosted top end. The result is a fun sound that gives modern pop, rock and dance music a nice driving bass line and a sprinkling of sparkle. More sensitive fare such as jazz, acoustic, rnb or classical does sound a bit muddy, with a narrow sound stage and slightly flat vocals but there's still enjoyment to be had. Clearly, at £34 you're certainly not going to hear every detail either but there's enough to keep you entertained on your commute.
The SoundMagic E10 are a good all-round upgrade to your bog standard earbud. They're compact and light, so are comfortable to wear, and the universal design means you can wear them with the cable over or under your ear. They may not reproduce every last detail but they provide a decent bass thump and have a bit of high end sparkle. We'd prefer a little more finesse in their design and accessories but for £34, you really can't go wrong.