Soundmagic E10 review
We get sent a lot of fairly expensive headphones to review, but while expensive earphones are often excellent, not everyone who's fed up with the free set that came with their MP3 player or smartphone wants to spend most of their monthly disposable income on an upgrade. In fact there are many quality alternatives for much less than this, of which the Soundmagic E10 earphones are a great example.
The E10 is within the budget of most listeners, but it looks and sounds as good as many more expensive sets. It comes with a neat travel pouch, and a clip to keep the cable tidy. Our bullet-shaped review sample was finished in black and red, with distinctive red cabling, but you can also find pairs in silver and black, black and gold, and purple and black. Each enclosure made from metal - a welcome rarity in sub-£50 in-ears, which are almost universally made from plastic at this price. They fitted comfortably, regardless of whether we wrapped the cable round the back of our ears or left it hanging free.
The shells house dynamic drivers, and have a small opening to allow more natural reverberation of the sound and a better sense of space. This particularly lends itself to reproducing rich, vibrant bass tones with plenty of natural character, allowing us to really hear the reverberation of drum skins and bass strings. Despite the slightly open-backed design, the headphones barely leaked any sound – a bonus if you don't want to disturb others.
The treble and mid-range aren't compromised either – the E10 could sound very slightly harsh at high volumes, but were generally clear and well-balanced. There's plenty of volume all round, too; they're among the loudest earphones we've heard in quite some time, so you won't need to push your MP3 player or smartphone volume quite as high as you might with other pairs of in-ears.
The E10s are fantastic earphones for the money, particularly if you add a set of sound-isolating ear foams that would increase their ability to block noise; the E10s are compatible with the T-400 Comply fitting, although Soundmagic doesn't include any in the box. They ship with standard silicone tips, which generally do a good job, but for around £15 more you can turn them into superb isolating in-ears.
We originally gave the E10s a Best Buy, because they sound almost as good as the Shure SE215 in-ears but cost significantly less. Now that you can pick up a pair for less than £30, there's literally no reason to use the bundled earphones that came with your smartphone.