- Excellent sound quality
- Generous accessories bundle
- Super value
- So-so looks
- Review Price: £39.99
- 9.3mm neodymium driver
- 15Hz - 22,000Hz frequency response
- 12Ohm impedance
The initial impression the SoundMagic E30 earphones make isn’t so great, though. They are carefully-designed in some respects, but they aren’t exactly pretty.
A mix of curved shapes and much sharper angles, all relayed in cheap-looking glossy plastic and similarly-plastic silver trim elements, they have a dose of that SoundMagic special sauce. Unfortunately, the SoundMagic sauce tastes a bit… funky, and not in the Bootsy Collins sense. We’re also not fans of the company’s tendency to advertise loudly whether a bud is the left or right channel using red and blue markers – at the cable join here. Put simply, it just doesn’t look good.
Of course, being small earphones, these design quirks are completely innocuous once they’re jammed in your ears. The earpieces are petite, and did not stick out beyond the ears at all.
Unlike the SoundMagic E10, the E30 are designed to be worn over your ears, and along with a generous selection of tips you get a pair of rubber ear hooks. These house the cable and track around you earlobes, helping to keep them in place and getting rid of cable noise caused when then the wire makes contact with your clothing. As such, hooked earphones like these are good gym buddies, providing noise isolation from whatever trance-hiphop guff is being pumped out of the place’s sound system.
However, some people hate wearing earphones this way, and the E30 cable can be left hanging down straight from your ears if you prefer.
Worn this way, they don’t feel the most secure IEMs we’ve ever tried, but the small, light earpieces stayed in happily enough while walking. This is helped by the decent selection of rubber tips included. The standard array of single-flange silicone tips is here, in three sizes, and you also get a pair of dual-flange tips, not included with the E10.
Aside from these basics, a carry case and cable clip come in the box too. All that’s missing here is a pair of Comply foamies, but that’s a bit too much to expect of a £40 set.
The SoundMagic E30 cable has a bog-standard lightly-rubberised finish, avoiding the slightly gimmicky feel of braided or flat cabling. It does use two bits of armour to increase strength, though. At the jack end and where the two earphone cables meet are two little tubes of silvery metal, there to reinforce the cable material. Also of note, the shorter cables coming out of the earpieces come mostly fused out of the box, letting you choose how separated they are – and we thought no one did that any more…
Using a ported design, the SoundMagic E30 don’t offer ultimate noise isolation, but can handle public transport with ease. And although the sound port also stops them from attaining a suction-like grip in your ear canal, it makes them easier to fit. We found that we could simply shove the things in and go.
SoundMagic promises “balanced, accurate sound” with these earphones, and – for the most part – it comes up with the goods. These are perhaps the very best-sounding earphones you can get for under £40.
They boast smooth, well-integrated sound that – as long as you get along with its sonic leanings – just sounds right. There is a slight emphasis on bass and warmth, but low-end handling is tremendous at the price. Sound is full and rich, but they steer clear from any boominess or bloating.
A slightly warm signature means the SoundMagic E30 don’t have the sparkliest of treble, but top-end detail is nevertheless excellent within its class. It’s also significantly more energetic than that of the also-great E10. While the styles of the two earphones are comparable, treble is more clearly prominent in the E30, with bass a little more reserved.
The result? Greater overall clarity and a more high-end sonic personality. And while you may assume reducing the bass would make them less fun, added dynamism make them all the more punchy and musical-sounding. It’s an upgrade all-round, aside from a slightly reduced stereo image – although this isn’t a clear deficiency of the SoundMagic E30, rather something that comes out in a direct comparison.
A well-balanced signature lets the E30 skip between genres easily. The only real criticism we unearthed is that the warm sound can make complicated arrangements sound a little more congested than the detailed top-end might suggest. However, if it sorted this out, it would comfortably be able to compete with the best sub-£100 earphones. And that would be plain dangerous.
The SoundMagic E30 are class-leading performers, improving-upon the E10s and the similarly-priced CX 300 from Sennheiser, with greater top-end detail. To get significantly better sound, you need to spend at least £25 more. And to reach that “next level” of fidelity with a similar signature, you’re looking at spending £80 on the Phonak Audeo PFE 012. Like the geeky kid at school who doesn’t really know how to dress, the E30 earphones may not look as cool as they hope to, but they’re brimming with genius.
SoundMagic has done it again. The SoundMagic E30 are some of the best earphones you can get for under £50 – and probably the very best at their price. With a well-balanced and detailed sound that leans just the right amount towards warmth and bassiness, they comfortably one-up the E10. We weren’t entirely convinced by their look, but we soon forgot about that once the tunes started playing.
Score in detail
Design & Features 7
Sound Quality 9
|Number of Drivers (Times)||1x|