- Nice bassy thump
- Some high end sparkle
- Universal design
- Reasonable selection of accesories
- Really needs foam tips for best performance
- Lacklustre styling
- Review Price: £34.00
- Metal driver housing
- Four pairs of silicone tips
- Single dynamic driver
- Bag and cable clip included
SoundMagic hasn’t broken the mould with the design of the E10s. They sport a plain cylindrical driver housing, a downward facing cable, and a selection of silicone tips to get them to fit in your lugholes – there’s none of the over ear hooks, moulded driver housings or peculiar ear mounts of some sets.
They claim to have a robust metal design – “feel the charm of metal”, the slogan says – but there’s little noticeable benefit. At this size, plastic can be as strong as needs be. In fact, despite a metallic sheen, you’d be hard pushed to tell these were metal – they could just as easily be painted plastic. The slightly angular design is inoffensive but neither are they anything special. They really do just look and feel like any old earphone.
In the box you get a choice of small, medium and large single flange silicone rubber tips, or a medium sized double flanged pair. We found the standard medium size tips to be a decent fit but preferred the double flanged ones as they provided that little bit more of a seal as they go in slightly deeper. If you’re not a fan of earphones delving too deep into your head, you’ll want to stick to the single flange type, which still provide a reasonable improvement in noise isolation and bass response over earbud style ‘phones. What’s more, all will ensure you don’t disturb fellow tube travellers by cranking up your music, unlike leaky earbuds.
You also get a rather oversized drawstring bag for keeping your ‘phones safe, while a cable clip comes pre-attached. This is a perfectly acceptable selection for such a modestly priced set of earphones – you simply don’t get much at this price.
If you prefer foam tips instead of silicone, HiFiHeadphones.co.uk“>HifiHeadphones.co.uk (who supplied our review sample) recommends investing in some Comply Foam Tips T400. Available for £12 for three pairs, we can confirm that they make a world of difference, but we’ll talk more about this later.
We’re looking at the black and grey E10s but you can also get rather more statement making black with metallic purple, red and yellow. All have black cables with red and blue colour coded rubber sleeves round where the cable meets each driver so you can tell which phone is which (you can also tell by one driver having the SoundMagic logo on the back and the other reads ‘E10’ – there’s no way to tell them apart by feel alone, though). All, that is, except for the red and black versions that instead have red cables and red and black sleeves.
The cable itself is split into two even lengths which join about a quarter of the way down, with the full length of cable being a standard 1.2m. The cable isn’t braided, nor does it have a slippery finish. It does have a tendency to get entangled quite easily, and emerged from the box fairly kinked already. But few earphones really manage to avoid this completely.
Thanks to HiFiHeadphones.co.uk for supplying the review sample.
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.
Score in detail
Design & Features 7
Sound Quality 7
|Number of Drivers (Times)||1x|
|Frequency Range||15Hz - 22kHz|