Tuesday, June 21, 2011

[REVIEW] SoundMAGIC E10, E30, EH11 and P30 – New Magic

First, I'll like to thank SoundMAGIC for the samples.

It has been quite some time since SoundMAGIC last major IEM release (of PL50 and PL21), but they have continue to make minor improvement over their older lineup, became OEM supplier to major Western headphone brand, and even released a portable headphone amp of their own. One thing that has not been lost for all these time is their principle of offering real bang for the bucks products for the lower end of the market. The four new SoundMAGIC headphones are perhaps the best proof of the company business model and again aim to push the standard of price / performance ratio to a new height.









SPEC




E10
Driver: 10mm Dynamic Transducer
Frequency Range: 15Hz – 22kHz
DC resistance: 16 +/- 10% ohm
Sensitivity: 100 +/- 2dB @ 1kHz/mW
Max Input: 20mW
Cable: 1.2m, Gold plated mini plug
Weight: 11g
MSRP is US$35








E30
Driver: 9mm Dynamic Transducer
Frequency Range: 15Hz – 22kHz
DC resistance: 12 +/- 10% ohm
Sensitivity: 94 +/- 2dB @ 1kHz/mW
Max Input: 20mW
Cable: 1.2m, Gold plated mini plug
Weight: 10g
MSRP is US$40






EH11
Driver: Dynamic Transducer
Frequency Range: 15Hz – 22kHz
DC resistance: 16 +/- 10% ohm
Sensitivity: 107 +/- 2dB @ 1kHz/mW
Cable: 1.2m, Gold plated mini plug
Weight: 19g
MSRP is US$50







P30
Driver: 40mm Dynamic Transducer
Frequency Range: 20Hz – 22kHz
DC resistance: 32 +/- 4.8 ohm
Sensitivity: 108 +/- 3dB @ 1kHz/mW
Max Input: 100mW
Cable: 1.2m, Gold plated mini plug
Weight: 85g
MSRP is US$75

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality
The last generation of SoundMAGIC (SM) all comes in a very decent looking dark metallic blue packaging and the new generation comes in an even better looking white box. It is almost as good as large brand offering of the same price range, and perhaps better than most of them. These are certainly very far from what we had seen on the original PL30 packaging and just show you how far the market has gone for the last few years. Even budget Chinese brands such as SM had evolved due to the growing market demand.

Accessories wise, E10 comes with three pair of single flange (S, M, L) and one pair of bi-flanges eartips, a shirt clip and a synthetic leather-like soft pouch. E30 and EH11 is about the same except EH11 with a bigger sound pouch and E30 has three more pair of foam eartips (S, M, L) and a pair of over-the-ear guide. For P30, only a large soft pouch since is it a portable cans. The eartips included are all fine but not top notch. I will recommend Sony Hybrid, especially for E30, see later paragraph for reasoning. [UPDATE] SoundMAGIC informed me that E30 will indeed has bi-flanges and not foam tips.


Anti-fake sticker with online checking now comes with all models

Build quality wise, all 4 models are very decent and show improvement over the last generation of SM IEM like PL50. The cable on E10, E30 and EH11 have metal sleeve on both the 3.5mm plug as well as the Y-splitter section for reinforcement. E10 earpieces are fully aluminum. E30 is two tones plastic. EH11 is mainly plastic as well but the adjustable shaft of the ear clip is aluminum. P30 is mostly plastic as well but the head band is reinforced with metal band and the side of the ear cup is a very well finished aluminum plate. Cable used on the 4 models seems a little different from the past. It has less memory effect compared to that of the PL50, though not totally memory-effect-free. Overall they still look pretty decent and not flimsy at all, at least not on their price range. The only real weakness I have seen is on P30 – there is a very mild driver flex when I deliberately push the ear cup very firmly to the ear but generally it is unnoticeable on normal use. Microphonics is decent on E10, but you can wear it over-the-ear or use the included shirt clip to improve it. It is a non-issue for E30 since it is design to be wore over-the-ear and there is already a pair of ear guide included. It is also quite low on P30 (which only on the left side where the cable goes into). Microphonics is slightly worst on EH11, not to a point of total annoyance but definitely can be an issue for those who are highly sensitive on this. Unfortunately the only thing that can be done is to use the included shirt clip. Not a 100% solution but it is better than none. Isolation wise, E10 and E30 (with bi-flange) both have average isolation, enough for daily use. EH11 doesn’t isolate quite as good (reason see below). P30 isolated quite well, actually better than E10 / E30 but not by a lot.


From left: PL30, E30, PL50.

A few things to note about the design: (1) E30 retains the same fit / design from the PL30 with a fairly shallow fit that can be a hit or miss. I’ll recommend either Sony Hybrid or bi-flange eartips as both provides better secured fit than the stock eartips. Unfortunately bi-flanges are only included with E10 but not E30. (2) The design of EH10 is definitely a little odd because it comes from SM’s previous EH10 model (which is not IEM, just earbud with ear clip). At first I thought I will have problem getting a good fit but it turns out to be surprisingly comfortable once I find the sweet spot. The only caution is probably for people with small ear which the E11 might not fit so well. The IEM is vented on both front and back and has very little bone conduction issue, which I assume is important since it is designed for active life-style. Of course the obvious downside is that it doesn’t provide quite as good isolation as E10 or E30. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on whether you are running on the street where you want to beware of traffic or on a noisy gym with TV on full blast. (3) P30’s fit is actually quite good for me. I have a fairly large head so portable cans often are too tight (i.e. AKG K81DJ) or can be a little loose (i.e. MEElec HT-21). The later is a good thing for comfort but it is not meant for a lot of head movement or isolation. P30 provides just enough clamping that it fits securely on my head with a decent level of isolation, but not enough to feel any discomfort, especially since the synthetic leather pad is actually quite soft and cushion very well. The robust construction is also a big plus.





Overall the four new SM are quite well made. There are minor issues like those mentioned above though they are not something unique to SoundMAGIC or bad enough that renders the headphone useless. For their price tag, I am more than satisfy with what I see.

Sound Quality
All headphones were given at least 50+ hours of burn-in before the review. No major change in sound was detected. Those who have older SoundMAGIC IEM might know that the company doesn’t have any particular house sound in the past. The old PL series contains everything from the more analytical sounding PL30, bass oriented PL11, warm and darkish PL21 to the mid focused PL50. The same continues to the new E series, but on a smaller extent.


The retail version will have color coded (red/blue) strain relief, which is not on the sample.

The sound signature of E10 is balanced with a mild U-shaped frequency response, forward but not rich, quick, energetic and dynamic with a fairly strong bass. Bass reaches down deep to sub-bass and hit with good impact, almost to a point of being bass dominant but lacks really good texture to be a monster of its own. Mid is only a tad recessed, still relatively sweet and clear but not a strong point in the overall presentation. Treble extends very well, not particular analytical but not lacking either. It has enough highlight to draw out the ‘sss’ in the vocal when called for, but not enough to sound bad with permanent sibilance. Soundstage is average due to the forwardness of presentation. In many ways the E10 shares a lot portion of its sound with ECCI PR300. While E10 has a deeper bass and slightly warmer tone, PR300 has more sparkle and hotter on the treble. This is quite different to that of PL50, which is smooth and mid focus though I still consider to be the same sound quality level as E10 and PR300.



The sound signature of E30 is more toward neutral, slightly laid back, smooth yet retains a high degree of clarity and end-to-end reach. Bass reaches down almost as deep as E10, but smaller in quantity. Not large by any means, but definitely much more than PL30 could have ever offered. Mid is not particular forwarded or recessed but feel like half step away, in the same room but not in-the-face. Treble is almost on the same pace as bass and mid in overall tonal balance, just a tad behinds but still retains good presence not to feel lacking. Soundstage is quite good. Not the best in positioning but still better than most in its price range. E30 reminds me of GR07 – not quite as bright or as out reaching from end-to-end, but certainly has the same flavor of tuning toward a neutral, monitor-like presentation but with a tiny bit of added warm. This is not to say E30 can compete on or close to GR07 level just yet – it still doesn’t have quite as good a resolution. But for $40, the overall tonal balance of E30 is hard to beat.



The sound signature of EH11 is warm, smooth, upper mid centric yet slightly laid back at low volume and sounds more lively when the volume is turned up. The amount of bass is about neutral. While it can render some deep note, the quantity is not enough to impress unless on a fairly loud volume. Mid is the strength of the IEM. Not particularly forward, but it does have a sense of thickness and warm to give texture and sweetness. Treble, like bass, is hiding behind the mid. It has the extension but not the presence to fully showcase micro detail. Soundstage is better than average due to vents on both sides of the transducer, but the mid centric sound limits the overall width. EH11 feels like the fraternal twin of PL50. PL50 is more laid back with a lower mid focus; EH11 is slight more aggressive with an upper mid focus. PL50 gives better micro detail; EH11 handles speed and impact better. Overall the two are not too far from each other quality wise. Like E10, they are more about difference than simply better/worst.


MEElec HT-21 (top) and P30.

The sound signature of P30 is warm to slightly mid and bass focus. Bass has good quantity and quality. It is not huge but the low end impact can still be felt easily. Mid is in pace with the bass, slightly thick and show good texture and sweetness. Treble, especially upper treble, feels a little behind the mid and bass. Not lacking but does give a slightly darkish feeling. Soundstage is quite good for a closed can, but nothing spectacular. Though not quite as bass strong and with a slightly more forwarded mid, the overall tuning of P30 reminds me a lot of TMA-1 with the same darkish flavor. I generally prefer a more detail and analytical sound on IEM which I listen more critically but tend to be on the opposite with portable cans as I usually go for a warm tone and more casual listening. I really like the TMA-1 for that and P30 also fits right into my taste. It is not a TMA-1 killer per se, but still very well rounded portable cans for the sub $100 category and a good alternative to other brighter selection such as the MEElec HT-21 or Fischer Audio oldskool70s. I think it is hard not to mention AKG K81DJ when it comes to sub$100 closed can as it has been a well recommended closed cans for Head-fi for quite some time till recent few years, not to mention that the current $50 price tags make it a good buy on its own right. The most obvious difference in sound between K81DJ and P30 is that the AKG offers a richer tone, crispier top and better dynamic while P30 has better soundstage, separation and sounds more laid back. Personally I prefer K81DJ’s sound by just a hair - but given that I can’t stand its clamping for more than half an hour, P30 is just a better choice that I can go to without the feeling of losing a lot ground.

Verdict
SoundMAGIC has always kept a good point on not disappointing the user with their new models and it still stands true for E10, E30, EH11 and P30. The new models revamp the sinking gap caused by the fast moving IEM market and the aging PL series and once again reaffirm SoundMAGIC’s strong presence over the budget market. Though they might not know how to walk through solid wall or make a tiger vanish into thin air, the stuffs SoundMAGIC pull out of their hat are just as impressive, if not more. For its tonal balance and outstanding price/performance ratio, E30 is recommended with a 4.85/5 Sonic Diamond.

For a numeric rating on IEM, please refer to The List.

109 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review - very informative. Hopefully we'll see some PL50 upgrades next!

Anonymous said...

great review. My earphone mx580 just broke yesterday and im planning to buy E10. Do you think E10 is better than mx580? they are about the same price.

Tai / ClieOS said...

I generally do not compare earbud to IEM, but in this case, I think they are comparable to each others. You will lose a little of the top-end sparkle and soundstage, but gain a sweeter vocal and much better bass response.

Sandro said...

Hello do the E30 have a similar signature of the BW M1?
Why did you give a higher sound rate to the E30?

thanks

Tai / ClieOS said...

They are both on the warm side, but M1 is more mid focus and fun to listen while E30 is more neutral and laid back.

Refer to the following thread @ Head-fi if you want to read more about different IEM's sound signature.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/541204/concise-multi-iem-comparison-fischer-audio-mightybug-fa977-ceramique-paradigm-v-3-consonance-tandem-sba-3-added-oct-27th-2011

Tai / ClieOS said...

Oh, forgot about the second part of the question - E30 is rated higher because it is technically better, more accurate with a better extensions.

Anonymous said...

nice reviews!
but i hate those plugs. on my clip+ with the slightest touch or move the sound goes off.
with have been better if SM went for those straight plugs that the yuin have

Anonymous said...

would* have been better...

Tai / ClieOS said...

You might also want to look after those Clip+ mini jack as they are known to fail a bit more than regularly.

Anonymous said...

so, i might be the clip+ jack. well, that could make sense. should i contact the sandisk service for that? or is it a very know regular expected issue?

Tai / ClieOS said...

I am not sure how serious a problem it is on your Clip+, but mini jack is often referred as the weakness of Clip series. My own Clip+ is starting to have issue on the mini jack as it is getting looser and looser.

Sandro said...

Hello,
I ordered the E30 coming from the Brainwavz M1. I'm scared about the low sensitivity, the M1 specs say 110dB while the E30 has 94dB.
Did you find the E30 so "silent"? I'm worried I'm gonna have a big difference and I hate when the volume is not enough.

Thank you

Tai / ClieOS said...

E30 might have a sightly low sensitivity but it also has a fairly low impedance, which means most decent source can drive it without any problem.

SennMann said...

Great job again! I've looked up so many of your reviews for deciding on my next purchase. And here I am again. :)
How would the E10 compare to the Brainwavz M1/ProAlpha for Pop/Rock music? Excessive sibilance is a no-no, and so is a huge midbass hump. Which one out of the three would you suggest? Or if you have any better recommendations in this price range, I'd welcome it!

Cheers,

Tai / ClieOS said...

Both E10 and M1 should fit your need (have not heard ProAlpha). E10 is more neutral in presentation while M1 is more fun and colored. For versatility, I'll recommend E10 first.

Oliver said...

Hi ClieOS, great review.. Urs is the only review to read when buying earphones.. :))
A question, how would u compare the e10 n e30 to the Sennhesiser cx400ii..? I read somewhere before that they were really good n they weren't that expensive so I got them.. I think theyre not bad, but these Soundmagics r really tempting me now.. Haha.. :)

Tai / ClieOS said...

Unfortunately I have not heard the CX400II myself, so I can't comment on how it compares to SoundMAGIC.

Oliver said...

Oh I see.. That's ok then thnk u very much.. R u aware of where to buy SoundMagic earphones in Malaysia..? U r from Malaysia rite..? :)

Tai / ClieOS said...

You might want to check out lowyat.net's forum for dealer. If none, you might have to order it online.

Olover said...

Will do.. :))
Thx!

Anonymous said...

I used to have the PL21 and i loved its warm and dark sound. After that i moved on to the Klipsch S4 which i think has a very similar sound signature but with better clarity and performance hence the difference in price. If i were to get the E10, would it satisfy me in terms of its sound signature compared to what i used before?

Tai / ClieOS said...

PL21 and S4 are actually quite different in sound signature. PL21 is warm and laid back, while S4 is more V-shaped with big bass and sharp treble. E10 is also V-shaped, but much milder than S4 and thus more refined. However, while I do consider E10 being better sounding, going from S4 to E10 isn't an big upgrade in term of SQ.

Anonymous said...

This wont be an upgrade for me..im downgrading instead so im looking for something thats a step down but similar in terms of sound signature..funny thing is i never found the S4's treble to be sharp at all especially in terms of sibilance compared to many other iems. PL21 was good for me but E10 sound like a suitable catch.

Tai / ClieOS said...

In that case, you might find E10 suitable for what you need.

tclm90 said...

Hi, great reviews, I was stumped between the E10 or the E30 , but having read your reviews I'm going for the E30. I have an iPhone 4 and listen to jazz, R&B .soul . So I'm really interested in the subtle tones and the clarity of the music.
1 question, Phonak Audeo PFE102 , would you choose these over the E30 . Your help would be appreciated.
Thanks Tony

Tai / ClieOS said...

I assume you mean PFE012? Between PFE012 and E30, the Phonak does sound better.

EV1 said...

I'm not sure if you still have either on hand but would you say the E10 is comparable to the old Nuforce NE-6/7m? Mainly in sound signature, bass quantity/rumble, and soundstage.

Tai / ClieOS said...

NE-7M is more bass orientated while E10 is warmer , lusher but more balanced. Not quite as bassy as NE-7M, but has better mid and treble. Soundstage wise, NE-7M is more open while E10 is more immersive. Technically, I'll say E10 is slightly ahead of NE-7M.

EV1 said...

Thank you for the help.

p.raju said...

Hi, really great reviews, and thanks for the performance comparison of all budget IEMs from SoundMagic !!
But I need your help in deciding between the E10 and M1. I presently own PL21 and really like the bass and sound signature of it, what I feel is that it lacks the detail/clarity and most importantly there's no sound-stage..So, given my taste and requirements which one would u suggest me to buy - E10 or Brainwavz M1 ?

Tai / ClieOS said...

As far as technical ability goes, I do consider E10 and M1 to be on the same level. But it seems E10 will be more fitting to what you are looking for.

p.raju said...

Thanks a lot for ur insight ! So it's SoundMagic again..I only hope E10 will satisfy my needs..:D

Anonymous said...

Due to the E30 being over ear design would you say that it offers worse isolation and a more shallow insertion than E10?

Tai / ClieOS said...

Over-the-ear has nothing much to do with isolation since some of the best isolating IEM has such design (Shure, Westone, etc). Isolation is usually a combined effect of eartips, earpiece material, venting, nozzle design, etc. The only reason I can think of E30 might have a weaker isolation will have to do with the insertion depth of the eartips since it should be easier for E10 to get deeper. However, I have no problem getting almost equal amount of isolation out of both IEM.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for above response, excellent review still stumped over E10 or E30 as concerned about shallow insertion of E30s and my big ears affecting sound quality, think E10 might be safer bet for me. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Great review..! Question: Do the E10 have enough for someone who likes bass.. Like if I listened to a club song would the bass feel inadequate?
I am undecided between E10 and E30.. I know you recommended the E30 the most but would you mind explaining the main differences between the 2..? And also what type of music would suit each IEM better..? Thank you very much.. :D

Tai / ClieOS said...

I'll say E10 has really good amount of bass, but not on the level of being called a bass monster. As for whether it will be adequate, I think that is more of a personal preference. It is actually a bit more than I like, but then again I am not a basshead at all.

The difference between E10 and E30 is that E30 has a more even and balance presentation across the whole frequency range, making it a more detail and refined sounding IEM than E10. I do prefer E30 more, but if bass is what you are looking for, then E10 should be more suitable.

Anonymous said...

Ok, thx a lot..! Think that means I'll go with the E10 then.. :D

Anonymous said...

i think e30 is not enough because db is low only 94. but the sound quality is good also the build but not enough db. how about audio technica cks55?

Tai / ClieOS said...

That's misconception. You need to look at both sensitivity and impedance to see how an headphone need to be driven, and E30 has a very low impedance so it should be very easy for most modern source (i.e. smartphone, iPod) to drive. Plus, even old CD player has 16mW output, that's enough to drive E30 to a volume that could deafen you in a few hours, or at least cause you to have severe hearing damage.

Anonymous said...

can i ask you what is your current earphone/headphone you use?
do you already heard about cx300 II? if yes what can u say about this earphone?
lastly can u recommend me much good/better earphone aside from e30 but not to expensive around 2,500 to 3,500 pesos.
thnxs i'm joanne philippines.

Tai / ClieOS said...

I have over 150 pairs of IEM (over 200 pair including non-IEM) so I don't listen to any one particular pair. Instead of rotate around 5~10 pairs at any given week. No, I have not heard CX300II.

2500~3500 peso are around US$60~$80, if I am not mistaken. That should be just enough for either a pair of Sunrise Xcited or Xcape Impressive Edition.

spr87 said...

Hi..Was planning to buy SM E10, but just when I was about to buy it, I came across some rave reviews of VSonic GR06 which has put me back in confusion...Since both these fall in the same price category, it would be very helpful if u could point out the main difference between the two ? Also given my requirement of decent bass, good sound-stage and clarity, which one do u recommend ??

Tai / ClieOS said...

Being in the same price range and having a sound signature that you are looking for are two different things. You should always opt for sound signature first if you know what kind of sound you are looking for. While I do think GR06 sounds better overall, your description of sound seems to match E10 better. GR06 is more of a mid centric sound, so do read my GR06 review and see if that is a sound you'll like (http://www.inearmatters.net/2012/04/review-vsonic-gr01-gr02-bass-edition.html).

Also, GR06 should be around $65 while E10 is around $35, last I checked. I really won't call them being in the same price range unless you have found some great bargain on GR06.

spr87 said...

Thanks for the response Tai / ClieOS..It sure does help..I think I will stick to SM E10 as it mostly suits my taste and is also well within my budget...just got a bit confused by those reviews...and yeah, my bad - E10 and GR06 do not fall in the same price category..I have made some mistake while converting GR06's price in US$ to INR since GR06 is not available in India :(

Anonymous said...

hello... i was planning to buy sunrise xcited/xcape impressive edition but it is not available here in the philippines if you dont mind can you pls recommend me other earphones again that is much better than e30's but not to expensive. the brand available here are sennheiser, superlux, audiotechnica, altec lansing, philips, pioneer, skullcandy, beats by dr. dre, AKG, brainwavz, sony, jays, marshal, hisound, mee, v moda, west stone, shure. by the way I'm joanne again from phil. thnxs! sorry for the inconvenience..

Tai / ClieOS said...

Most of the brands you listed are out of your budget. If you can push your budget up a bit more, Shure SE215 is a fairly good choice for all genre of music. Brainwavz has some good budget choice as well, but it is hard to recommend one specific model when I am not sure what kind of sound you are after.

Anonymous said...

thanxs for the reply well i want is a all rounder earphone good lows, mids, highs also the sound stage and the separation of instruments i like listening to rock, pop, acoustics, non voice all instruments. i try to search that you recommend to me the sunrise xcited/xcaped impressive but it is not available here. 3,500 pesos is my budget. how about the brainwavz m4 it sell here about 3.3k thnxs again sir!

Tai / ClieOS said...

There simply isn't an IEM I know of that will do everything at your budget while available in your country. M4 is good IEM for the price but it has a V-shaped sound (please refer back to my M4 review), and you might not find the mid to be enough if you like your vocal upfront.

Take a read at this and see if you can find something in your budget and available locally: http://www.head-fi.org/t/541204/

Anonymous said...

thank you very much.. after i read what you gave me i resulted to sound magic e30 sweet and warm plus high rating plus bang for the buck i think it will be more suitable for me not to bassy more on detail what do you think sir.?

Tai / ClieOS said...

I can assure you with all confidence, but you'll have to try it out to find out whether it is indeed what you like. At the end, you have to be the one who judge it for yourself. That's not something I can do for you.

Demon said...

Great review ClieOS!
Have you tried out the Soundmagic ES18?
People say that it sounds very similar to the e10 and provides great bang for buck. Maybe you should try them out too.
And regarding this current review,
I'm someone who comes from Brainwavz M2, which is now broken and I want to get a new pair of iems in a lower budget.
These options fit my bill, but which one would you recommend for someone who really enjoyed the M2?
I prefer an emphasis on bass and I could do with some better soundstage than the M2 which it was lacking. My main genres of music are hip hop, R&B, Trance and a bit of pop.
Thanks!

Tai / ClieOS said...

No, I haven't listened to ES18 yet.

M2 has a rather mid centric sound. Neither E10 or E30 is quite like it, but if I have to recommend one based on M2bass and soundstage, I'll say E10 is closer to what you are describing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tai

what would be some upgrade/better iems for the E30?

Tai / ClieOS said...

There are quite a few IEM better than E30, but it depends a lot on your budget. If money isn't too big of a problem, VSONIC GR07, TDK BA200 and Westone UM3X are both excellent candidates.

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry i forgot the budget. being the E30 on sub $50, i'm looking for $50-100

Tai / ClieOS said...

Though there are better sounding IEM than E30 under $100, none of them is what I think as a direct upgrade of the same monitor-like sound.

However, if you are only looking for an upgrade of the general sound, TDK EB950 and Phonak PFE022 Perfect Bass are both really good choices. TDK is more fun and dynamic while Phonak is closer in presentation to E30.

Anonymous said...

the 'problem' with both those models is as you pointed, un-availability

Tai / ClieOS said...

They are definitely available, just not quite as widespread and probably need some effort on tracking down a good deal.

Anonymous said...

very very nice review there!! what can you say about moshi audio vortex? if you know this iem and meelectronics is this a good iem what model (in ear)? thanxz

Tai / ClieOS said...

I have not heard any of the Moshi Audio models to tell you anything about them.

Anonymous said...

great review... is hisound audio popo a good iem? which is much better

HiSoundAudio Popo PAA-1 Bass HEAVY Earphones

HiSoundAudio Popo PAA-1 Bass LIGHT Earphones

thnxz

Anonymous said...

which is much better

soundmagic e30.
meelectronic a151.
meelectronic cc51.
hisound audio popo paa1.

i have read dozen of review sites but this review site is the best!!! not bias.. more power

Tai / ClieOS said...

Never heard the PAA-1 Bass Heavy/Light edition so I can't really comment on them. However, for a general comparison between different IEM, please refer to this: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/541204/

Also, it is not just about which is 'better'. You need to know what kind of sound signature you are most likely going to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

thnxs for the reply.. i already read head-fi.org forum.. soundmagic e30, meelectronics a151 and cc51 are all the same they all belong to warm and sweet side! well i do like well detail iem with good bass specially mids high soundstage isolation!! what can you prefer sir? pls help me.. roland here philippines. thank you

Tai / ClieOS said...

Well, CC51 is the best sounding of the three, but it has been discontinued as far as I know. If you can't find CC51, E30 is probably more suitable for your taste. Neither has great isolation though.

Anonymous said...

thank you very much sir your are the best!!!! very great help!!! the best there is...

Anonymous said...

sir i have to ask you is there a difference between meelectronics cc51 and cc51p?
i already search if this iem is available here
and i found out that there are 2 kinds cc51 and cc51p so which one should i choose/buy?
thank you

Tai / ClieOS said...

P version comes with mic for cellphone. Other wise they are the same IEM. They all are.

Anonymous said...

ahh i see thank you again sir Tai/ClieOS really the best

p.raju said...

Hi Tai/ClieOS..Based on various reviews and your recommendation, I finally bought the SM E10 IEM a few days back..

But, I am not really happy with the earphones, especially coz the sound quality doesn't look like a big upgrade compared to my previous IEM - SM PL21..The sound signature of both is almost same, except that E10's have a little better highs and of course a lot better instrument separation...But what's really disappointing is that the sound stage and imaging, is almost same as PL21..This is really bothering me as I was looking forward for a better sound-stage than in PL21..

As of today I have only burned in around 35-40 hours, do u think I need to give it more time to open it up ??

Tai / ClieOS said...

I really don't think burn-in will make any difference in soundstage.

As I have said in review of all three (PL21, E10 and M1), neither has a killer soundstage. However, given your choice was between E10 and M1, I still think E10 has slightly better soundstage (than M1) and better detail overall, thus make for a better choice.

p.raju said...

Hi Tai/ClieOS..Thanks for your quick reply :) Even I felt the same regarding burn-in and sound-stage, but thought will check it out with you once..

Btw, I am neither blaming you for my purchase nor am I regretting for buying the E10..it's just that I felt a bit deceived by some other reviews which mentioned E10 to be having some amazing sound-stage(although u had rightly mentioned otherwise in ur review ! )..Overall, I am quite happy with E10, esp given it's great clarity, decent instrument separation and excellent highs !!

Tai / ClieOS said...

Soundstage is often a weak spot for most IEM, and unfortunately it is the nature of the beast. If you want really good soundstage, you will have to look for an IEM with a deep V-shaped frequency response and they have weakness of their own as well (such as the lack of mid intimacy, texture and detail). Finding the right IEM is usually not about finding the perfect sounding IEM, but finding the right compromises that you can be happy about. Just give it more time, may be it will grow on you.

hzant6681 said...

"Finding the right IEM is usually not about finding the perfect sounding IEM, but finding the right compromises that you can be happy about. Just give it more time, may be it will grow on you" Wow!liked your simple way to put it :-)

saif said...

Hi, a really helpful review. I have one question, i am currently using PL21 and am happy with them. I was thinking of upgrading to a pair of IEMs with more sound clarity, instrument separation and a better sound-stage. The music i listen to ranges from Rock, to Jazz to hip hop. Is there something that i can go for under 150 $ ?

Tai / ClieOS said...

There is a host of IEM that can be considered as PL21 upgrade. For around $150, VSONIC GR07 will be something I will consider. If you are in the Far East (Singapre, HK, etc), the TDK BA200 is also a great choice as well since they can be found in many local store for under $150.

Anonymous said...

Hey ClieOS great review.
I had a PL11 which I liked very much but it is now broken and therefore I purchased ES18 which although has greater bass isn't refined and the bass is way too much. I like PL11 and its Sound quality and clarity. Which one should I get SM E30 or E10.

Anonymous said...

cont..
I am leaning towards E30 as its readily available but I am afraid whether it has less bass.
Please tell me bass quantity and quality difference between the two

Tai / ClieOS said...

Never listen to ES18 so I d=can't compare it. However, if you like bass than E30 will never have enough and you'll be better with E10 instead. E30 bass is much more neutral when compared to E10.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply.
Its not that I like over the top above everything bass. But I want it where the song demands not in each and every song.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Great reviews. I purchased the Soundmagic e30 because of your review and I don't regret them for a second.
So I've used the Soundmagic E30 for quite some time and I absolutely loved them. The only complain I had with them was their build quality, as the broke and I replaced them with Sony XBA-3s, which I don't really like.
So I want to purchase IEMs that are similar to the Soundmagic E30s, but an upgrade to them. I really want the airy soundstage that was in the soundmagic pl30 too. In my budget of rougly 120$, what should I get? They should be as similar to e30 as possible, but an upgrade to them.
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

cont.
Even though I said by budget is roughly 120$, I can stretch that by a little bit if theres something really worthwhile. Basically, the things I valued most in the Soundmagic were (in order) the comfort, the sound signature of the e30, and the soundstage/airiness of the pl30.
Thanks.

Tai / ClieOS said...

Since you can push your budget up, I really like to recommend the VSONIC GR07 (around $150 from eBay) to you as it has pretty much everything that you are looking for.

Jaan Kunman said...

hey, great reviews.

I wanted to ask how would u compare soundmagic e10 to beyerdybamic dtx101e or brainwavs m4/m5? How is the sound compared to these? Also would like to know if u have tried sony mh1c and tell hows the bass compared to soundmagic? Looking to earphone with great bass, but also with clear and good sound.

Tai / ClieOS said...

Most of the answer can be found here: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/541204/

All 4 IEM you mentioned are pretty bass heavy.

Rajat Mathur said...

Hey Tai/clieOS,
You're a genious in IEM's. Well..I've read this whole thread twice and still confused. I am looking for a IEM in range 0-80$ which emphasize on vocals, lows (the sound which Sennheiser MX170 & Panasonic RP-HJE120D were never able to deliver), and just enough base. I narrowed it down to SM E30, Klipsch Image S4i & BRAINWAVZ M2. I need your suggestion to help me selecting the best fit from these or of any choice you would like to recommend. Thanking you in anticipation !!

Rajat Mathur said...

(contd.)..

Well.. forgot to mention.. I'm looking for IEM's which can reproduce crisp & clear sound with good seperation in instruments.

Tai / ClieOS said...

You want low emphasis yet just enough bass, that doesn't make sense. Anyway, stay away from S4 as it is opposite of a vocal emphasis sound. M2 and E30 are close in SQ - M2 is much warmer with a really sweet vocal and well bodied bass. E30 will offers a more accurate and neutral sound but still have a sense of warmth. I'll say M2 is probably better for Pop and vocal centric music while E30 is more versatile and play decent well even with Instrumental and Classical.

Rajat Mathur said...

Beautifully described. Since E30 is more versatile, I'll go with this. ALso, just heard from someone saying that S3 is not that bassy and produces far more natural sound thant s4. Is that true ? How S3 compares with E30 ?

Jameson said...

Hi Tai/ClieOS

Im trying to choose between the dunu trident, the soundmagic e30, and the brainwavz M5. Do you have a personal preference? are there any other $30-$40 IEM's that are better than those three?
thanks.

Tai / ClieOS said...

As far as sound signature goes, I'll probably prefer E30 over the other because it is closest to be neutral. But as far as SQ, M5 will be better than the other two.

Check this out: http://www.inearmatters.net/2009/01/list_01.html

Jameson said...

thanks. the list helps alot.

Jameson said...

one more question. after going through your list, i am now considering buying the Astrotec Am-90's. I'm a bit wary of the Brainwavz M5's because a couple of reviews said that the bass could be overpowering. How would you compare the astrotec am90 and the brainwavz m5? they had a sound quality rating of 4 and 4.1 respectively on the list you made.
thanks again.
Jameson

Tai / ClieOS said...

If the rating is close than the SQ difference will be less important than the sound signature difference. That is, you want to pick a sound that is closer to what you will prefer. If you are looking for a non-offensive all-around, AM90 is actually quite a good choice.

Danny Lee (Admin) said...

Hello and thanks for such good review!
well as a matter of fact , im here to ask you a Question ( i read a lot of your reviews [before]) about buying a new in-ear phones ?! to say my first was a creative EP-660 and i did not like them that much but they where ok , then i bought Audio-Technica ATH-CKM55 [Gold Edition] which i love(ed!) [cause the clarity was good and bass was... taut somehow!] so much they where really good , but gone through a lot of abuse and now broken!!! well hence i need another pair of in-ears , which one you think i should buy i list some of my music genres that i listen to hope you can (i know you can! ;) guide to a better choice!
Music Genres : Progressive Metal - Heavy Metal - Hard Rock- Gothic Metal - Symphonic Metal - Pop - Classical Crossover - Vocal - Instrumental - Classical Symphonic - Easy Listening
Well Base on your reviews i thought that sound magic E30 is a good choice and BTW my budget is so limited around 50 bucks , AND.............thanks in advance ;) :D your the best!

Tai / ClieOS said...

You music preference does cross many genre so it is wise to stick to a good all-arounder, and E30 definitely fit the bill. However, do note that E30 is probably going to be more neutral. If you want more dynamic in your msuic, the E10 isn't a bad choice either.

Danny Lee (Admin) said...

(First of All thank you for your attention and answer ) well it does cross many music preferences (witch is good i think!!!) but with you saying E30 is neutral means it lacks in something or other kind of recess (its not good enough) , BTW im not a basshead but like Clarity [AND i listen to a lot of female Vocals Like Tarja , natasha marsh , kathrine jenkins , camilla kerslake , celtic women and so on...(hope it helps)!!!!!!!!] though all of my earbuds to date where warm (bassy) is it a well-worth upgrade from ckm55 (that i mentioned before?) , and i just found a Vsonic VSD1 have you tried it? what will you suggest other than sound magic E30 and PLZ keep that price tag limitation in toe , ;) Thanks tai/ClieOS... (and if you let me i'll ask 100+ more questions... but after reading so many reviews here and other places im pretty made up my mind that this (E30) is gonna be a worthy match , and what colour U think is more beautiful Black or White....?? OK i will Shut up now ;).........THANKS

Tai / ClieOS said...

Neutral means the quantity between bass, mid and treble is relatively similar.

Danny Lee (Admin) said...

Oh Thanks So very Much...though hence i listen to vocal and instrumental i like my phones to be a little forward in mid and treble and reach in bass (more clarity) .. Thanks again for you patience!...... :D :)........Ok ONE LAST Question (i swear :) i made up my mind and narrowed the list to these 2 - A.SoundMAGIC E30 and B.Vsonic GR04 (standard Edition) which one you think is more suitable for me (for my music preferences) now that both are around 40$ and in there is any alternatives superior to these? (i dont care about the looks or anything else but the most clear and best sounding overall)

Tai / ClieOS said...

GR04 has more of a mid centric sound. For your music, I would think E30 should work out better.

Whitty23 said...

Hi, great review. As the folks above I am also looking for some new earphones. I have (to my shame) been using the standard apple earphones but now that they have gone I want to upgrade. I listen to all sorts of music from Deep House, Rock, Classical, Soul & RnB. I have been looking around and reading many reviews but I'm still very confused as I can't physically listen and compare. As many of the house tracks I listen to have deep sub bass I need to be able to this however I do not want this to be overpowering when trying to hear a vocal and other instruments. As I make music I like to be able to pick a track apart and hear each part. Unfortunately I too am on a tight budget at this time and would like to know your thoughts between Sony XBA-2 and E10/30m. Thank you in advance.

Tai / ClieOS said...

I have not listened XBA-2 before so I really can't tell you whether it will fit your need or not. But I do own a pair of XBA-1 and find it to be noticeably better than E10 and E30, so the assumption is that XBA-2 could be even better. Anyway, between E10 and E30, E10 might be a better fit for you as it will have the bass that you are looking for. E30 might be a bit too neutral for your taste.

Whitty23 said...

Thanks for the reply, it's really helpful. Regarding the XBA-1's, the XBA-2's have an added woofer but no real enhancements on the mid or highs. From your experience with the XBA-1 do you think this would improve the sound or cause the lows to become a little overpowering? Also, am I right in thinking that you would recommend the XBA-1 over the E10 for my needs?

Tai / ClieOS said...

Individual model in XBA series doesn't use the same driver, so it is not as simple as 1+1=2. So I don't think you can assume XBA-2 will be XBA-1 with more bass.

On the other hand, XBA-1 is a pretty good IEM on its own but not quite fit the the sound signature you are looking for. XBA-3, which I did hear before, is actually a better fit.

Whitty23 said...

Thanks again. Unfortunately I can not afford the XBA-3. Is there a particular pair of earphones you would recommend for under £60 that would suit my needs. I may be able to push it slightly but not too much.

Barneyboi d said...

Hi im coming from e10. It got stolen so im picking up a new one. My choice is between brainwavz m2 and e30.i listen to a wide variety of musinc from 70's to present. Which do you think is better sound quality wise?

Tai / ClieOS said...

M2 and E30 is roughly the same SQ. Iike E30 better for its neutrality and monitor style tuning, which should go better with wider variety of music. M2's strength is more in vocal, mainstream Pop and Rock.

Barneyboi d said...

Thank you! You are very helpful!

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