SoundMAGIC A10 Review

Sections

Pros

  • Good battery life
  • Easily portable
  • Sounds good

Cons

  • Somewhat expensive
  • Not entirely necessary

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £64.96
  • 10hr battery life
  • Automatic power on/off
  • Charges over USB

Headphone amplifiers are
something of a niche market, and with good reason. For one, most headphones
that require additional amplification are meant for use with powerful Hi-Fi systems, not low-power
sources like mp3 players. For another, they’re an extra bit of bulk to carry around, somewhat
defeating the purpose of a portable media player being, well, portable. And yet,
examples like the SoundMAGIC A10 remind us just why we shouldn’t be so quick to
write off headphone amps as unnecessary – in the right circumstances they make
a tangible difference to your listening experience.



To look at it you would
probably guess that the SoundMAGIC A10 is pitched somewhere between rival
FiiO’s E5 and E7 amplifiers, erring towards the side of the smaller of those
physically, but matching the price of the larger, at £65. At a glance that does
seem quite expensive – in fact it is quite expensive – but we’ve seen enough
pricey audio equipment to know that you almost always get what you pay for, and
the A10 definitely makes an effort to justify its cost.




The physical design is attractively
understated. The 50 x 12 x 70mm frame sits well in the palm of the hand,
has rounded corners and edges, making it very comfortable to hold. The matt
slightly rubberised finish feels as great as it looks, and we were rather taken
by the fancy golden-yellow artwork and the metal band that bisects the front of
the A10, with the SoundMAGIC name emblazoned upon it.


 


The placement of the 3.5mm
input and output jacks on the top of the A10 is the best possible, as it means
when placed in a pocket cables don’t get in the way. Less to our tastes is the
use of an analogue volume dial on the top right corner. Frequently we found
output of the A10 unintentionally changing as it moved about in our pocket -
that can be solved by placing it in its supplied faux-leather carrying case,
but really we’d rather see buttons. Speaking of which, the A10 lacks one for
toggling its power; rather, the device turns itself on and off automatically
depending on whether the 3.5mm headphone jack is in use.

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