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SoundMagic HP100 review

Andrew Williams

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Superb detailing
  • Wide sound for a closed pair
  • Good sound isolation
  • Very comfortable

Cons

  • Slightly naff design tweaks

Key Features

  • Removable coiled cable
  • Closed design
  • Carry case
  • Jack adapter, airplane adapter, carabiner
  • Manufacturer: SoundMAGIC
  • Review Price: £169.99

Introduction

SoundMagic is a company that has clawed its way into the consciousness of headphone fans by producing affordable earphones that sound a lot better than their modest prices would suggest. However, the Chinese company is spreading its wings with the SoundMagic HP100s lining up as the company's first full-size over-ear headphones. What's more it has managed to come up with something pretty special.

Design

However, as usual SoundMagic doesn't make an auspicious entrance. Making the right stylistic choices has never been a particular forte of the company, and there are a few complaints with the SoundMagic HP100s that we want to get over with right away.

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The SoundMagic HP100s use shiny curved circles with a texture of criss-cross lines to cover the ear cups, and red/blue signs to let you know which side of the headphone is which. These are purely aesthetic parts of the headphones, but both are stylistic misses in our book. Full-sized closed headphones rarely look cool, but the HP100 go the extra mile, and end up looking a bit naff as a result.

It's a good job, then, that they make up for it in just about every other area.

They are extremely comfortable, for one. The headband and the cups are generously padded with foam, using different levels of resistance for each to ensure the most comfortable wear. They may not make you look particularly cool, but we found them almost as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 15, which are some of the most comfy closed headphones in existence.

The SoundMagic HP100 heat up your ears a bit less than Bose's pairs too, partly because the giant cups leave more room for your ears and partly because of the 2-part style of the pads. There's a strip of fabric on the inside of each, so your earlobes rest against something a lot less sticky than leather. They're a delight to have on, and good weight distribution means you should be able to wear them all day without any discomfort.

Accessories

The SoundMagic HP100s are also very portable for such a large set of audio suppliers. There's a ratcheted pivot at the point where the ear cup meets the headband, letting the cups twist right up into the band. They do occasionally start folding in on themselves when you don't want them too, but it's not a big problem.

The SoundMagic HP100 headphones come with an unusually good case too. It's semi-hard, red on the inside and black on the outside, and comes with a little Velcro-attached sack that holds the 3.5-to-6.3mm jack converter, an airplane converter and - most unusually - a carabiner.

Earning the SoundMagic HP100 more design brownie points, the cable is removable, using a twist-to-lock mechanism and an otherwise-standard 3.5mm stereo jack that plugs into the left earcup.

Unlike most headphones that are at least partly aimed at the iPod crowd, these headphones use a coiled cable. It's 1.2m long, stretching out to 4m. Using such a cable does seem a little off if SoundMagic is aiming at the mainstream audience rather than studio-bound folk as it feels a little heavy when walking about. Ideally we'd prefer to see dual cables - one short one for on-the-go use and a longer one for at-home listening. Admittedly, such generosity is a rarity but the coiled cable does put a slight damper on the otherwise luxurious comfort.

If you can stomach having such large, and not particularly cool-looking, headphones on your noggin, they work very well as a portable pair. The closed design provides well above average noise isolation, coping with the ruckus of a city with relative ease. We've used them a good deal on the train and tube, and barely had to up the volume level.

These really feel like headphones that are intended to be able to skip between at-home and outside use. The particularly robust jack sleeve protector is a particular giveaway that the SoundMagic HP100 want to spend some time in the living room too - it's just a bit to big to slip into pockets innocuously. They're a lot like the Shure SRH840 in this respect. But does the sound match the big boys?

Elio Andia

December 26, 2012, 7:46 pm

Awesome review! I'll try these out and see how they compare to my Grados.

The Musical Juice

January 14, 2013, 2:44 pm

Shure 840 (125 euros) or Soundmagic HP 100 (170 euros)?

JamieBeen

May 10, 2013, 3:07 pm

Nice review of the HP100. I've had trouble finding this headphone for months now, but it appears stock is now available and just ordered one. I'll post up my impressions.

lumberjake

May 12, 2013, 10:39 am

This is a very good headphone.I also have the well received V Moda M80s and these simply destroy them. Sometimes I actually use them as portable despite their size but mostly use the M80 cause it still sounds great and looks way better. The only weakness in their sound may be a lean lower mids but it has a great sound stage, imaging and awesome detail resolution with perfect sparkly highs and incredible sub bass. Oh and its super comfy as long as you have fairly shallow ears(some find their ears rub the driver).

JamieBeen

May 20, 2013, 5:54 pm

I've now tracked down somewhere I can buy the SoundMAGIC HP100 in the UK and confirm they are universally excellent!

I've compared the HP100 with the Beyerdynamic DT770, Audio-Technica ATH-M50 and the AKG K550 and the HP100 is the clear winner. I was considering the SoundMAGIC HP200, but need the closed back design to prevent sound leakage.

Bass is powerful and well controlled. Mids are smooth and sweet (acoustic instruments and female vocals sound beautiful) and the trebles are detailed (without being harsh).

Overall the HP100's are superb headphones that look like they will be serving me well for many years.

lumberjake

October 18, 2015, 7:04 am

Just like to update.
I am not careful with my headphones and these have drpped several times, unfortuanetly, needing to be super glued at the crotch of the "Y" cup attachment. So be careful.
These can be powered and used portably due to the low impedance of 32 ohms but the large 53mm drivers really like more power and I have been more satisfied using these at home through a PC via a DAC/Amp, both the Headstreamer which I love and is a warmer rich sound producing incredib;e bass then my Fiio Kunlun with high gain and bass boost both on, this latter set up brings more sparkle and speed along with bass.
I have been going through IEMs and portable on ear headphones for awhile since my M80 including the Yamaha EPH100 , Panasonic hje900 and currently Sennheiser's new Urabnite. Unfortunately, despite all these being touted as robust,all have met their demise in about a year and really hope that Sennheiser will last.
I mention the above portables because they are all highly rated for their quality and are about the same price as these HP100 yet none come close to the Soundmagics sound.
I am surprised these don't get more attention because this is probably the largest HP market pricewise with a ton of competition yet all I have had or tested ,even costing $100 more just don't compare.
I think what really makes these stand apart is the amount of clarity and detail yet somehow remain smooth/never harsh which is bizarre as that is usually unavoidable. The Soundmagic never sound veiled, and are so immersive especially for a closed can
The bass is also a funny one. Listen to music where bass is not big and you would never imagine how capable the bass is, until you try some EDM then WOW, these kick those portables I mentioned down, and both the Panasonic and Urbanite are supposedly poweful in the bass department, these should satisfy a basshead IMO, they literally shake the cups.
Honestly the best $200 I have spent in a very long time. If these do die I wouldn't think of buying anything else because I know I would be disappointed.

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