Most helpful positive review
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A sound that is pure, clean, and yes, MAGICal.
on November 30, 2012
Forgive the pun, but it was too convenient to ignore. It's been a while since I've been this excited about a pair of headphones. I've owned over sixty different pairs of headphones in the last several years, and I'm continually on the hunt for the next great thing in personal audio--with a relatively modest budget, due to income constraints. Right now, that means something to the tune of $200-$250. My path to the HP100s started, actually, with a friend asking me for advice on a good pair of headphones. I'm an active member of Head-Fi so I posted a thread asking about suggestions for the friend. A fellow member suggested these and I was instantly intrigued, and a little surprised that they had escaped my attention, since I spend too much time on Head-Fi. SoundMAGIC makes plenty of in-ear models, but I'm not too keen on those, so I hadn't paid much attention to the company. I'm not sure that I was of much help to my friend, but a couple weeks later I had these in my hand. I've only owned them for a little over a week, but I'm not much of a believer in burn-in, so we're going from there.
The first thing that hit me was the clarity. Rarely have I heard such a clean sound. Though they're closed, there's no sense of congestion whatsoever. They're extremely clean and uncluttered, and have a spacious and airy sound to them. Vocals are a bit forward, but not really aggressive. Despite the astonishing clarity and cleanness of the sound, there is no hint of harsh or edgy highs. I'm not sure how SoundMAGIC did it, but they were um, clearly successful. I'm coming from Philips Citiscape Uptowns, and for a long time (read: five months) they've been my go-to for doing a lot of things right. I thought they were pretty clean and clear, but there is a dramatic difference between them and the HP100s. The Uptowns have a warmer sound signature, which in some cases implies better bass impact, but I've found them to be similar in that regard. While we're on the subject, these are not for bassheads. They're pretty close to neutral in my estimation, and have a very linear and clean bass. Fans of Sony XB500s and Denon D1100s need not look into these. However, with my relatively modest budget, I think I'd be hard pressed to find what I deem to be the perfect sound in a pair of headphones. These come really close, though. The sound of the HP100s is simply seductive.
A word on comfort. Initial comfort of the HP100s is very good. The pads are large, definitely circumaural (these are large headphones), and pillowy soft. However, the pads are not extremely deep, and I do find that the drivers press against the outer parts of my ears. This becomes an issue for me after about an hour and a half to two hours. Some adjustment can alleviate the issue slightly, but I usually end up removing them after that time. I would like to note that comfort is also a very high priority for me; in some cases it's as important as sound quality. For many people the comfort may not be an issue, and indeed that appears to be the case, from reading all the reviews I could scrounge on the Internet. So, YMMV. And this wasn't enough of an issue for me to dock stars from the rating.
Regarding aesthetics, accessories, et cetera. The HP100s come in a very compact case. I was actually a bit surprised at how small the shipping box was. The semi-hard case does remind one of the V-Moda cases in many respects: the color scheme, setup, etc. But it works well and holds the adapters, detachable (nice!) cable, and cleaning cloth in an efficient manner. The zipper feels decent, too, which is a small but important detail, for those of you who will be transporting the headphones often. I've read a couple reviews about how the outer metal cups are prone to scratching and fingerprints, and that may be true, but I tend to baby the headphones I own, and I keep these and others suspended from a headphone stand, so I haven't run into any blemish issues. I've also read of issues with sound cutting out, since they cable is on a single path and it has to run through all the hinges which allow the headphone cups to fold and rotate. That has not been my experience, but it's been only a short time, and I will probably update this if events warrant.
In sum: if you're looking for an incredibly clean sound in a pretty package for engaging, lovely listening sessions at home or on the go (perhaps in quieter places; passive noise attenuation is not extreme), I recommend these strongly. The beautiful sound signature lends itself well to all but the most bass-heavy music genres. I find myself staying up late just to hear the next song. Some headphones are doors to the music, and others are windows. The HP100s tear down the whole wall.