Great sound and truly incredible battery life. The SoundMagic E11BT set new standards for sub-£100 wireless earphones
- Well over 24-hour battery life
- Runner-ready design
- Very good sound quality
- Parts of the design are perfunctory
- Review Price: £69.99
- 20+ hour battery life
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 3-button remote
- Flexible neckband
- Aluminium earpieces
What are the SoundMagic E11BT?
The SoundMagic E11BT are fairly affordable wireless earphones. They’re the Bluetooth version of the SoundMagic E11C, one of our favourite budget sets.
You might expect this to be a fairly vanilla pair of earphones that, like other SoundMagic models, trades almost exclusively on its sound per pound cred to earn fans. However, in terms of battery life, the SoundMagic E11BT are also the longest-lasting neckband earphones I’ve ever used.
A quoted battery life of 20 hours, which can reach well over 30 hours in reality, makes the SoundMagic E11BT a truly fantastic pair of earphones. Until other brands catch up, forget the rest and buy a pair of these.
Related: SoundMagic E11C review
SoundMagic E11BT – Design
SoundMagic has a history of marking slightly odd-looking earphones. The original E10s sported colour-coded earpieces, as if to ensure we could determine left from right (granted, I often put earphones in the wrong way around).
More recently, SoundMagic’s first wireless earphones, the E10BT, included a chunky battery brick that would dangle down your front unless clipped to your shirt.
Related: SoundMagic E10BT review
That design awkwardness is nowhere to be seen here: the SoundMagic E11BT are very conventional-looking wireless earphones. They have a slim neckband, with a flexi section that runs around your neck. And while there’s a hint of two-tone style to the earpieces, it’s as simple as a bit of gloss black next to matte black.
Other SoundMagic hallmarks remain. Those who have used or owned a pair of E10 earphones will find these similar. Plus, they sport a fair amount of aluminium: it can be seen on the earpieces, on the end-pieces of the neckband and on the remote housing.
The SoundMagic E11BT don’t look as high-end as the similarly priced OnePlus Bullets Wireless, but this is largely down to the chunky, generic style of remote. Still, style has never really been a major SoundMagic appeal.
Related: OnePlus Bullets Wireless review
SoundMagic E11BT – Features and wireless
In practical terms, the SoundMagic E11BT are the very best neckband earphones you can buy. Their slender, light neckband proves comfortable whilst out on a run, for example. These earphones neither slip off your neck nor bounce around.
It’s battery life that’s the true highlight, however. I didn’t research the E11BT for reviewing them, but I’ve used pretty much every variant of the E10 and E11 to date, and so expected more of the same. That wasn’t the case, though. They easily exceed “standard” neckband earphone battery life territory.
Eight to ten hours is the norm for this style of earphone. Most UK retailers quote 20+ hours for the E11BT, to avoid disappointment.
Related: Best wireless headphones
Battery life is so good, in fact, that it’s difficult to test through anecdotal use alone. Since the “20+ hour” claim appears a little vague, I set the pair to play a Jazz Spotify playlist, monitoring the battery level using a third-party app.
After a full 24 hours of continuous playback, the SoundMagic E11BT still had 40% charge remaining. Even assuming the worst-case scenario, where this was about to drop to 30% charge (it didn’t), this still suggests stamina of 34 hours.
Related: Spotify review
These are the longest-lasting wireless earphones I’ve ever used. The benefits out in the real world are significant, similar to going from a phone you have to charge every day to one that needs a recharge only every 3-4 days.
Many will see the SoundMagic E11BT last a couple of weeks before they require a top-up. Although it isn’t possible to get these headphones to signify the battery level via voice prompt, with an Android smartphone you’ll be able to view the battery level in your notifications dropdown.
Such longevity is a pretty exciting development in earphone tech. However, it’s likely down to the E11BT’s use of the Bluetooth 5.0 standard, rather than something specific that SoundMagic has done. However, until other manufacturers jump onboard and release earphones that last this long, this doesn’t matter.
Related: Best headphones
SoundMagic E11BT – Sound quality
The SoundMagic E11BT are some of the best-sounding affordable wireless earphones around. They’re similar to, but not identical to, the SoundMagic E11C.
These earphones are smooth and accessible, but with less of a bass boost than some pairs in the same class.
If you’ve ever owned a pair of SoundMagic E10s, one of the most popular budget pairs of the past decade, the E11BT sound like a more grown-up take of these. They’re full and rich-sounding, but display better dynamics and separation than many other lower-cost options.
The E11BTs are adept genre-hoppers. There’s no upper-frequency hardness or distracting bass bloat to trip them up with specific kinds of music.
You most certainly won’t be disappointed by the SoundMagic E11BT sound. There’s very little to dislike here.
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Compared directly with the E11C, the SoundMagic E11BT have a slightly more prominent bass and slightly thicker lower-mids. As such, the E11C can seem to have a slightly clearer sound field, with marginally better spatial imaging. However, to an extent this a trick of the frequency balance.
Predictably, the rival OnePlus Bullets Wireless sound is more different. OnePlus injects far more energy into the upper-mids and treble, to give the sound “zing” and to encourage you to think of them as high-detail headphones.
However, the Bullets can also sound a little hard on the ear with some tracks, particularly at higher volumes. The SoundMagic E11BT are more accommodating, and only lose out in the promotion of higher frequencies, not the actual level of detail rendered.
Why buy the SoundMagic E11BT?
The SoundMagic E11BT are currently the most compelling pair of wireless earphones you can buy. Their design is plain, there are no extras such as active noise cancellation or aptX HD. However, the right price, enjoyable sound and the longest battery life ever seen in a pair of wireless earphones means these are the only pair I’ll be recommending to most people until the competition catches up.
Great sound and truly incredible battery life – the SoundMagic E11BT set new standards for sub-£100 wireless earphones.
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