Great quality canalphones that you can pick up for loose change.
Sub-$100 in-ear headphones are often of poor quality but SoundMAGIC bucks the trend with the PL30 "professional earphones": a pair of comfortable canalphones that provide excellent sound quality at a bargain price.
- Very cheap, bass response adjustment dial, replaceable earphone tips, good sound quality
- Hard to keep clean, bass isn't very punchy, noise isolation could be better
Despite the low price tag, the sound quality of these headphones will satisfy all but the most discerning of listeners. They are a bargain.
Price$ 39.90 (AUD)
SoundMAGIC provides a number of accessories with the headphones, including a cord clip, cord wrapper, zippered case and replaceable earphone tips. Seven pairs of tips are provided to provide optimal comfort for different ear shapes; there are six pairs of single flange tips of differing sizes, and a pair of bi-flange tips for better retention. The company doesn't supply any foam tips, which would have provided a better seal in the ear and consequently better noise isolation, but the range of choice offered to buyers is good.
If these headphones suffer anywhere as a result of their cheap price, it is in their design. There aren't many attractive canalphones on the market — this pair is no exception, and their matte white plastic will be hard to keep clean.
They are quite discreet when worn, though an unwieldy bass adjustment dial on each earphone is somewhat noticeable.
The biggest surprise is the level of comfort they provide. Finding comfortable canalphones can be an arduous task, but the PL30s provided a surprising level of comfort. They remain comfortable even when worn for extended periods.
Like any set of canalphones they provide a reasonable amount of passive noise cancellation. A greater amount ambient noise can be heard in comparison to more expensive canalphones such as Ultimate Ears' Super.Fi 5vi, however.
Users can choose between two different bass settings: clear bass and deep bass. The dials require some effort to turn — fingernails will be required — and cannot be shifted while the earphones are in use. The difference in sound is noticeable. Those who prefer dance music or r'n'b will appreciate the heavier bass setting, though it tends to drown out other frequencies.
Don't expect the same level of sound quality you would hear from premium canalphones, but these headphones are competitive with pairs in the $100+ range. They produce a soundstage that is surprisingly balanced, if a little light on bass. We found the sound to be very clear overall, slightly accentuated by a warm mid-range which complements classical and acoustic music very well. Higher frequencies are apparent without being too shrill but are slightly outweighed by the lower mid-range frequencies.
Bass frequencies are comparatively lacking when using the clear setting on the bass response adjustment dial. This particularly affects lower frequencies found in bass-heavy music like dance, but it can also have some effect on bass guitar in rock music. Bass frequencies are not totally lost, but they definitely take a back seat to mid-range and higher frequencies; this is uncommon for canalphones.
Though the SoundMAGIC PL30 in-ear headphones don't provide professional-level quality, they do offer excellent sound at a bargain price.
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