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Over-Ear item created by twister6, Aug 2, 2014
Pros - Comfortable, clear sound, good low and crystal highs
Cons - Can get hot after long periods of use, proprietary cable (solution!), circular ear pads
I have read a lot of reviews on these headphones and decided to try them out as one of my first good pair of closed back's. I currently also own the HD 598 SE.
The low end/sub bass on these are terrific for those who like a good bass but are not bassheads. They have a good umph in the sub bass, are tight well controlled and not bloated. I was very surprised about how good the low end on these were!
The mids are clear but you can tell some vocals are ever so slightly recessed. Very slight V shape but borderline neutral.
The highs are bright and found them too bright when first listened to them, but after hours of burning they have sounded more controlled. Though the brightness doesn't take away from the quality at all. Just those treble sensitive may want to give them a try before purchasing.
One of the problems I've research about this headphone was the propriety cable and how bad it was. I found an adapter that solves all problems! (link below). This adapter connects from male 3.5mm to female 3.5mm and is thin enough to fit through the proprietary locking mechanism! (woot). If you have these headphones and don't want to physically mod to mess with warranty, these are definitely a great option.
Amazing headphones for the price. Would highly recommend them to anyone looking for budget (<$150) headphones. I would personally say they sound better than the m40x because of the better low end (tested my brother's pair). If you do get these headphones I would also highly recommend getting the attachment cable for 5-10 bucks!
Pros - Sub-bass, attacking detailed mids, immense detail and control in highs, unbeatable soundstage in closed headphone, most energetic headphone I've heard
Cons - The cup holder WILL break on you in time. SOUNDMAGIC MUST REDESIGN HEADPHONE. (But they did give me a replacement, good customer service!)
These headphones sound so magical, that you don't want anything to be wrong with them. Sadly, these use a terrible material on the cup holders. I treated them like babies, dropped them once and there went my 200 euro investment. I ask Soundmagic to kindly update both the HP100 and HP150 ear cups material with the same aluminium material they used on their new Vento headphone. No one wants to buy expensive headphones and baby sit them like they could break at any moment.
I send mines in for replacement.
*Will keep updating in the interest of time
Pros - Almost flat frequency response, crisp without sibilance
Cons - Ear cups are not deep at all, gets a little hot, CABLE!
I'm going to keep it short and just add things I thing people either want of need to know about these headphones.
I've had these for nearly 6 months and have used them for about 35-40% of my total daily listening time (the other 60% is with my Grado SR325e).
Here are the things i want to mention:
1. They are generally built well. There are a few exceptions though. One of the hinges that let the ear cups rotate along your head(the circular thing on the side of the headphone) is much more difficult to swivel than the other one and makes a weird sound. They don't seem to be in any danger of breaking though, and I don't personally use that adjustment. I really can't see anybody using that adjustment at all except for one click to change the place the headband sits on your head. The actual "DJ style" 90 degree sort of positioning is uncomfortable because it puts all the pressure on a tiny corner of the ear cup.
2. The frequency response is flat except for the bass, which is boosted a bit. It's not so much that it makes the bass sound muddy, but it's just enough to make a lot of song sound way more fun. It also does't disrupt the sound of songs that aren't supposed to have a ton of bass, and they don't sound bloated in any way.
3. I have a couple of issues regarding the cable. First it is extremely stiff and often pushes other things out of the way, such as the iFi nano iCAN it was connected to. I've even had it knock a full sized plastic drinking glass off of my desk. Thankfully it was almost empty. The cable is way more noticeable than the Grado cable, which is one of the thickest things on the planet. The cable is also too short. I'd have liked it to be maybe another two or three feet longer. As it is, the cable is maybe 4 feet long (just my estimate) and the extension cable the HP150s come with is useless. It makes the sound totally crap. I've tried it in several applications including from my iCAN, from the back of my piano, from my receiver, from my iPhone... It just sounds like crap. The sound is similar to if you don't plug a jack in all the way and you only get half the sound.
4. One more smallish thing. The ear cups are not deep at all. I have a small head and ears and they touch the padded fabric at all times. It only bothers me after an hour or so or when I'm lying down.
Even though a really only mentioned bad things about the HP150s, I really do think they are better than their price would indicate and am very happy with them. Sound quality is what counts for me, and these things deliver in that department. Thats why I enjoy them.
Pros - Huge soundstage on HP150, Great sub bass extension on HP150, High resolution, Universally easy to drive
Cons - Hard to find replacement cables, Closed design on HP150 will make ears hot without taking occasional breaks
At the time this review was written, the Soundmagic HP150 and HP200 were on sale on Amazon.com. Here is the listing to the product at the time of this review:
If you’re reading this you probably already know about Soundmagic. If not I will round it up in a nutshell. There are a select number of companies I hope to continue to have opportunities to cover products for and Soundmagic is definitely one of them. They almost always bring it in terms of sound quality. They continuously offer products that are wallet friendly and audiophile approved.
I know guys who own summit-fi stuff that cost many hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, yet still some of them will ask me if anything new from Soundmagic has come out recently. This is because no matter where you are at in your quest for perfect audio, enthusiasts of all sorts can still appreciate the incredible price to performance ratio Soundmagic offers.
Tony Xiu is the founder of Soundmagic, and from what I gather he is a master at the art of shaping sound and saving our wallets and bank accounts. Today I have a great opportunity to cover two of their more premium headphones, the HP150 and HP200.
I was given an opportunity to sample and review the HP150 in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I currently own the HP200. I am in no way affiliated with Soundmagic.
HP150 & HP200 REVIEW
Since both headphones feature identical design/packaging/accessories I will combine this part of the review. Please note that this portion of the review pertains to both models.
The HP150/HP250 comes in a black and white box with similar design concepts to their in-ear monitor line. The front of the boxes feature a nice photo of the headphones along with some key features of the product.
The back of the boxes provide technical specifications along with schematics.
The sides of the boxes feature a useful graph and a list of the features in several languages.
- Driver: Dynamic 53mm Neodymium Drivers
- Frequency range: 10Hz～30KHz
- Impedance: 32Ω (±10%)
- Sensitivity: 95dB/mW @ 1KHz (±3dB)
- Maximum input power: 100mW
- Cable length: 1.2m (3.5ft) coiled
- Connection: 3.5mm gold plated plug
- Weight: 288g
- Driver: Dynamic 53mm Neodymium Drivers
- Frequency range: 15Hz～35KHz
- Impedance: 20Ω (±10%)
- Sensitivity: 95dB/mW @ 1KHz (±3dB)
- Maximum input power: 100mW
- Cable length: 1.2m (3.5ft) coiled
- Connection: 3.5mm gold plated plug
- Weight: 320g
Opening the box revealed very nice semi rigid mesh zippered carrying cases. The cases are fantastic! I really like the size and material use. This allows the HP150/HP200 to be great travel companions without fearing damage.
Opening up the case revealed the accessories packages.
Accessories (For both HP150 & HP200)
-SoundMAGIC HP150 Removable cable (1.2m)
-Extension cable (3m)
-6.35mm jack adaptor
-Carrying hard case
-SoundMAGIC VIP card
The HP150 is constructed of mostly rugged matte black plastic with metal and synthetic leather and foam padding. I find the build to be very solid for its price range and all materials are cleverly selected. Every part of the build is ergonomic and efficient. The HP150 headband is made of a flexible metal and plastic material and is coated with a synthetic leather material with padding
where the headphone makes contact with the user’s head. The Headphone adjusts to fit the user’s head with a metal tab slider similar to the Sennheiser HD600. The cups are attached to this band by a hinged piece of plastic. There is a adjustable hinge that clicks into place, allowing the user to adjust the headband angle. The cups attach on a hinge and allows the cups to swivel. The outside of the cups are a matte black with a subtle Soundmagic and HP150 logo printed on each side. There is left and right markings printed on the outside of each side of the headband. The pads of the HP150 are what appears to be a synthetic leather material that is soft and seals well. The pads are plenty wide enough but depending on your ear size, they might contact the foam lining outside of each driver.
Because of the hinged cups and hinged area where the Headphone meets the cups, the HP150 cups can be folded up into the headband. This makes for a space saving opportunity when packing or traveling with them.
The HP150 cable is detachable and connects at the bottom of the left ear piece. There is a special locking mechanism at the housing that makes the cable connection almost exclusive to the HP150 and the stock cable. The 1.2 meter cable makes the HP150 great for when you are on the go, and the three meter extension cable makes Them work great for home and studio use.
The fit of the HP150 is great, and I’m confident many will feel the same. The shape and adjustability will make this a universally good fit for just about everybody. Just like all closed headphones, the HP150 does get hot on the ears with extended use. Taking a couple minute break every once in awhile helps with this. While there is plenty of room for just about any size ears to fit easily inside the cup, but the depth of the pads could be an issue for someone with ears that stick outwards more than normal.
These cans are pretty easy to drive which I find to be a big plus. They sound great through a cell phone or desktop setup. Of course higher bit rates and sources will help improve the sound of the HP150, but you will still be able to enjoy the sound quality of them with a less powerful device like a smartphone.
The HP150 has very impressive extension on both ends. Depth and height on the HP150 is really good. There isn’t any frequency range that feels rolled off or lacking. I enjoyed the HP150 more with warmer sources. Colder sounding sources didn’t bring out the impressive bass response and keep the treble in check the way a warm source could.
The bass of the HP150 is extended with tremendous depth. Sub bass is rather impressive and prominent. Just about every genre of music benefits from the depth given to it by the HP150. While its ability to hit the lowest of low notes is rather impressive, it isn’t the fastest or tightest bass you will ever hear. Notes linger from time to time. I wouldn’t say it’s sluggish, but at the same time I won’t say it's the most resolving and responsive bass you will ever hear.
Midrange of the HP150 is just a hair behind the bass response, but with a very airy presence and plenty of detail. I really enjoy the HP150 midrange for what it accomplishes. Although it is just a hair sucked out from the rest of the mix, its resolution makes it very enjoyable. I do get some occasional lower midrange grain and distortion on some notes and music passages, but it’s only noticeable during critical listening. Upper midrange of the HP150 is slightly aggressive and energetic. I really like the upper mids. A key thing I would like you take from this review is that the HP150 offers a spacious feel with excellent bass extension and detailed and responsive midrange, creating a very enjoyable listening experience.
Treble on the HP150 is crisp and natural. It was borderline harsh out of the box, but it has settled nicely after using it for a while. I find the HP150 treble to be spot on at this point. I wouldn’t classify them as sibilant or harsh. Pronunciations of the letters S and T were crisp and bordering on being over the top but don’t cross the threshold into being sibilant. Cymbal crashes have a nice and smooth response and shimmer.
Soundstage and Imaging
This is where the HP150 shines. Soundstage is incredible for any headphone, let alone the fact that they are closed cans. The soundstage these provide for a closed can sets them apart, and why I feel they make many people’s top ten lists of headphones to buy. Because of the robust and extended sub bass, airy midrange and crisp treble there is a tremendous sense of space, allowing users to imagine a nice sense of soundstage and instrument placement.
Audio Technica ATH-M50 ($100 to $150 USD on many sites)
The ATH-M50 is a gateway drug to those who dabble in sound quality. I feel it sits somewhere between consumer friendly and audiophile. It carries a pretty solid bass punch, and is pretty flat through the rest of the spectrum. Many use it for their reference monitor, or when using it to edit audio.
I feel the HP150 is superior in just about every aspect in terms of sound. The HP150 bass has more of a sub bass focus, leaving room for the lower and upper midrange to be more resolving and less overshadowed than the ATH-M50. The ATH-M50 seems mid bass heavy and almost congested in comparison. The Soundmagic midrange is much airier and detailed, yielding a great sense of space and imaging Treble is a draw and will be a matter of preference. Treble sensitive ears might lean towards the M50, while those less sensitive will prefer the HP150’s detail and extension.
Build quality on each is very similar, but the detachable cable and awesome case makes the HP150 a clear cut winner as compared to the long attached cable and synthetic leather pouch of the M50.
Takstar Pro 80 ($50 to $75 USD on many sites)
The Pro 80 is a budget Chinese gem whose sound rivals the M50 and many closed back headphones in higher price ranges. From what I hear, the Pro 80 sits right between these two models, offering elements of both in it’s build and sound. Bass and midrange is very similar to the M50, and treble is very reminiscent of the HP150. I think the Pro 80 is a great performer, but I feel the HP150 outclasses the Pro80 sound because it is overall more refined and entertaining.
I give a slight edge to the HP150 for having a detachable cable, but the Pro 80 comes with a mini suitcase that is very cool. Build and accessories is a draw.
Note: The HP200 carries many very similar build characteristics, with the only physical difference being the semi open cups. I will copy and paste the beginning of this review and make edits to it where it is different than the HP150. You can save yourself some time by skipping through the first part and going straight to the sound impressions if you feel comfortable not learning about the subtle differences between the two headphones.
The HP200 is constructed of mostly rugged black plastic with metal cups and synthetic leather and foam padding. I find the build to be very solid for its price range and all materials are cleverly selected. Every part of the build is ergonomic and efficient. The HP200 headband is made of a flexible metal and plastic material and is coated with a synthetic leather material with padding underneath it where the headphone make contact with the user’s head. The Headphone adjusts to fit the user’s head with a metal tab slider similar to the Sennheiser HD600. The cups are attached to this band by a hinged piece of plastic. There is a adjustable hinge that clicks into place, allowing the user to adjust the headband angle. The cups attach on a hinge and allows the cups to swivel. The outside of the cups are a black metal with perforations and sport a subtle Soundmagic and HP200 logo printed on each side. There is left and right markings printed on the outside of each side of the headband. The pads of the HP200 are what appears to be a synthetic leather material that is soft and seals well. The pads are plenty wide enough but depending on your ear size, they might contact the foam lining outside of each driver.
Because of the hinged cups and hinged area where the Headphone meets the cups, the HP200 cups can be folded up into the headband. This makes for a space saving opportunity when packing or traveling with them.
The HP200 cable is detachable and connects at the bottom of the left ear piece. There is a special locking mechanism at the housing that makes the cable connection almost exclusive to the HP200 and the stock cable. The 1.2 meter cable makes the HP200 great for when you are on the go, and the three meter extension cable makes Them work great for home and studio use.
The fit of the HP200 is great, and I’m confident many will feel the same. The shape and adjustability will make this a universally good fit for just about everybody. The semi open design makes them very comfortable for long listening sessions. Although the cups are nice and big to accommodate the circumference of most ears, some people with ears that stick out farther than average might experience their ears touching the foam comfort padding that lays in front of the driver grills.
Because these are semi open headphones isolation could be an issue for some. Like all semi open designs, these will leak sound, and let outside sounds in. I think the HP200 does a better than average job at controlling the amount of sound that leaks from them as compared to other semi open cans. Just remember, these probably won’t work in a library, classroom, or any quiet environment for that matter. They might not be the best choice for commuting either, because noisy environments will be a factor when trying to enjoy the music.
These cans are pretty easy to drive which I find to be a big plus. They sound great through a cell phone or desktop setup. Of course higher bit rates and sources will help improve the sound of the HP150, but you will still be able to enjoy the sound quality of them with a less powerful device like a smartphone. I enjoyed the sound of the HP200 through warmer sounding sources like my Shanling H3 and Fiio E18.
The HP200 is the open back version of the HP150, and I would assume it is the same (or very similar driver) with differences in venting and sound damping. Upper midrange and treble are very much similar from what I can hear, but their bass and lower midrange are different because of their design. The HP200 offers a flatter and slightly more controlled and less extended bass that is punchy and more mid bass focused. They are less sub-bass focused than the HP150 due to their semi open design.
It's hard to explain without hearing them, but Soundmagic is very technical in how they present things. Seldom if ever is distortion an issue, and so much so that I don’t even need to bring it up in my review on either pair of headphones. A big testament for the full size headphone range is the fact that there are many factors that I don’t need to bring up and can focus more on how they sound rather than what I don’t like.
Bass on the HP200 is in nice balance with the rest of the spectrum with a tilt towards midbass tones. For a semi open headphone they do offer nice timbre that puts weight on lower midrange tones. Although this works great for some types of music, this also makes them more genre specific.
With modern genres of music I found the HP200 to get occasionally fatiguing at moderate to higher volumes do to the midbass tuning. While this frequency doesn’t bleed and has a high level of resolution, The forward nature of them isn’t ideal for bass forward music. However, with things like acoustic, live, jazz, and vocals the HP200 is superb.
The midrange of the HP200 is pretty hard to fault. Aside from being slightly unnatural sounding due to the forward midbass, the HP200 midrange is pretty linear and dissects and presents music excellently. You get plenty of detail and resolution. The tuning doesn’t make it sound open and airy, but leans more towards a intimate and accurate approach.
The HP200 treble response is snappy and extended without going over the top for my preference. People who are extremely treble sensitive or those who listen to their headphones at loud volumes might have a problem with the HP200 treble.
Soundstage and Imaging
I’m usually a big fan of semi open cans because they offer a very open and airy sound. With the HP200 it is a somewhat different case. I won’t say that the HP200 is congested, but it’s forward mid bass tuning prevents it from having that sense of openness that I’ve grown to love in semi open designs. This tuning not only impacts the soundstage, but also imaging as well. Long story short, the HP200 is slightly flatter sounding than I would hope for.
Takstar HI2050 ($40-$60 USD on many sites)
The HI2050 is one of my personal favorites, offering a very comfortable fit, velour pads, and a very entertaining tuning that I really enjoy with any genre of music.
As far as sound is concerned, it will come down to tuning preference. From what I hear, the HI2050 has a V-shaped signature in a semi open design. Their tuning is just a bit more extended in both directions, and a little more sucked out in midrange presence as compared to the Soundmagic offering. The HI2050 also has a little more grain in its sound as compared to the HP200. If you are going for a more “audiophile” tuning the HP200 will probably be the right choice. If you are looking for a sonic improvement over your consumer tuned bass forward headphones the HI2050 is a step in the right direction.
As far as accessories is concerned Soundmagic is a clear cut winner. The case and detachable cables are a big plus. The HI2050 offers an attached cable and next to nothing as far as accessories is concerned.
Sennheiser HD600 ($325-$400 USD on many sites)
What can I say about the HD600 that hasn’t already been said? It’s one of the most natural and neutral, yet entertaining headphones out there. They are my reference headphone, and for good reason. There isn’t necessarily anything I can fault with the HD600. They will remain in my collection for as long as I am in this hobby.
I could break it down into each criteria, but I’ll summarize it and say that the HD600 is a more natural and airy presentation as compared to the HP200. Their lower midrange and mid bass is more tolerable and enjoyable (but at $125-$175 USD higher price tag).
The HP200 does beat the mighty HD600 in some areas. I find the HP200 to be slightly more detailed. They are much more comfortable and easier to wear for long listening sessions. Their accessories package is far superior, and they offer a case that makes traveling with them a much better option. The HP200 has all around better ergonomics and build quality in my opinion.
HP150 and HP200 at the Chifi-Unite Head-Fi meet
I brought the HP150 and HP200 to a meet in August and had some fellow Head-Fiers give them a listen. Overall impressions were positive. While every pair of ears is different, making each impression different, the general consensus was that they were both solid pairs of headphones that performed very well for their asking price. Most of those who listened to them gave a slight edge to the HP150 because of its sub-bass response, soundstage, and overall solid performance for a closed back headphone.
I also really enjoyed my time with the HP150 and found their performance to be outstanding for a closed headphone at any price. Having both now for a couple months, I can confidently say that I know what to reach for depending on what application I’m going for. If I’m going to commute or listen to modern genres of music I’m reaching for the HP150. If I’m at home and want to soak up some great acoustic music or vocals, and still want to be able to hear what’s going on around me, I’m grabbing the HP200. Both Pairs are all around great Headphones that I enjoy thoroughly. My experience with just about every Soundmagic product has been very positive and continues with these two excellent pairs of headphones.
Thanks for reading and happy listening!
Pros - Soundstage, Built, Attractive
Cons - Bulky Case
So, I constantly hear of headphones being bragged about.
And as I always say, Headphones are like personalities, the most richest man could find the cheapest thing is best for him.
I've only Trial Tested these, I borrowed them from a buddy who works at a local guitar shop.
To say in the $150 range these are stellar is near close to an understatement. And frankly, they're definitely a Full Size I've finally heard the Bass done properly on.
At first, I'd no clue of Soundmagic, and their reputation. So, sure. I was very unsure.
But after seeing nearly every good comment on these, I forced myself to check them out after asking a buddy if he'd ever used headphones, or gotten into monitoring his guitar work, since he does play in a band.
I'd say I may a good mark.
Also, are you an M50 user who wants an upgrade finally? Here's your new cans, these are for sure M50 destroyers, and I now see why people say that this is perhaps one of the best upgrades you can delve into.
This is pretty close to what I'd make an attempt at calling 3D Soundstage.
They aren't super accurate, and I'd argue that they are perhaps colored?
Guitars are separated well, and give you the venture feeling of almost touching the guitar as it's played. Weird, right?!
Drums can fade in, and pop out. Almost nearing what I felt could be a problem for some percussion geeks. They pop out of the sound.
The cymbal sounds you get from these are great. Unique almost.
I'd argue that at some points these are headphones a Metalhead would love. They give a heavy, thunderous, crashy, slammy, & severe type of ting. Sometimes a bit ear piercing, but for the best.
Acoustic instruments sound good in these cans, but for some reason you get an immense bit of treble in the Highs, nothing that overrides the quality by anything.
One things, I see easy to explain is the guitars. And a defining reason I'd call them Metalhead cans.
Ever played Guitar Hero? Remember as you started a song up, you sorta heard that sound from the guitars as if they were being plugged into the amplifier? That's very revealing in these. The guitar play in these cans aren't held back, or relaxed by any means possible. They show so much appeal to these cans that it makes Electronic, Dubstep, Grime, or Rap hard to recommend in these.
Bass guitars... Bass Guitars, Bass Guitars, Bass Bass Bass.
Literally the Bass guitar sounds in these headphones sound like they were torn straight from a pair of Beyers, sat properly, and given more Amplification.
Bass Guitars, NOT BASS as in BOOM BOOM BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.
That's nothing like these cans, they sound okay with Electric genres. But it isn't their forte.
But the bass in these doesn't really mash into the treble like Beyers do, and give you some funky colored bass.
Honestly, I think the Mids are the bass point in this headphone, being nowhere near muddy.
I was honestly shocked, the lows contained everything with an Acoustic melody, but did an amazing job of keeping them hidden, yet able to hear, and still sounding amazing.
Acoustic guitars are one of the only Acoustic elements of their measure that really shine as an Acoustic instrument. They're over cumbering if you're looking for a headphone to jam out to Classical music with.
You just won't find it as pleasing, and I'd argue that you'd be better off with Open Back cans.
Better yet, wanna hear more? Violins were so pleasing, but almost a privilege to catch, yet when they were in queue, they sounded harmonic hidden in the background, very pleasing, and something you could almost learn to love. I think too many people focus too much on wanting to hear those instruments a lot, and it takes away focal value of a headphone.
My conclusion on the Lows? They're a treat you get with this headphone, a "hidden treat".
These are amazing if you want a headphone that's fun sounding, but surprises you with a treat.
They are durable as anything, and a sight to see in person. I'd argue that the almost plain look to these makes you want to try them, and that the sound will take your breath away if you feel it enough.
I also recommend anyone who wants to get away from the M50, and find a new headphone to try these, they are stunning beyond all limits in what they do.
Pros - detailed neutral/reference sound signature, solid build, very comfortable to wear
Cons - bulky case
This is a review of SoundMagic HP150 full size audiophile headphones. Since SoundMagic haven't updated their website in a long time and MICCA Store (their official US distributor) doesn't have it listed on their page yet, I'm providing Amazon link http://www.amazon.com/SoundMAGIC-HP150-Premium-Folding-Headphones/dp/B00LV8TR54/ . Also, I would like to mention this headphone unit was provided to me for a review purpose.
I have to start my review by admitting that I'm not a big fan of full size over-ear headphones. I'm constantly on the move and find IEMs to suite me better. Another reason, in the past I wasn't able to find full size headphones with a sound signature that I enjoy 100%. When it comes to in-ear monitors, you get so many choices to pick from and on top of that you have a selection of eartips to fine tune the sound further. With full size, you're kind of stuck unless if you are lucky to find a compatible replacement earpads to add a little more space between the driver and your ears. I have tested some over-/on-ear headphones in the past, but found those either too commercial v-shaped or too analytical with overbearing brightness and lack of low end. So I almost gave up on full size headphones until I discovered SoundMagic HP150, a refresh update to their popular HP100 closed back full size headphones. Here is a reason why HP150 changed my mind.
I found the box it arrived in to have a lot of useful info to help you discover these headphones even before taking them out. Beside the usual specification and accessories listing, it had a very detailed description of the design and Frequency Response curve. It takes a lot of confidence and pride to put that on the box cover. Inside of the packaging box I found the entire space occupied by a rectangular carrying hardcase box with headphones and all the accessories inside of it. Seeing pictures of the original HP100 case, I was a bit disappointed considering this is a straight forward case rather than V-moda like molded case used with HP100. I guess this case is more Beyer inspired and serves it's purpose with a roomy interior, foam shaped insert lining where headphones go in, and mesh pocket with a velcro on the opposite side to store the accessories.
The accessories include 1.2m removable cable (both 3.5mm sides with a twist lock on the side going into earcup), 3m extension cable, 1/4" twist on adapter plug, and airplane adapter. Unlike original HP100 coiled cable, this one is straight with a shorter length for a more convenient use with DAP or Smartphone. The cable shielding is durable, thicker, and still soft enough to wrap easily for storage. Both sides of the cable have a decent strain relief next to a jack and the housing of the plug itself is metal with gold plated connector. Extension cable is the same thickness with a same shielding, but I was a bit surprised that it's 3.5mm end didn't have a thread for 1/4" adapter, while original 1.2m cable did. In theory, if you want to use HP150 with a desktop equipment the extension cable is more convenient and might require an adapter in that case. But it's really a minor thing.
Headphone construction and design
Now, regarding headphones construction. The overall design is very solid and all the materials feel high quality down to metal screws. Starting with an oversized earcups housing 53mm dynamic neodymium drivers, these are attached to y-fork going to the main headband joint. There is a degree of vertical rotation, but they don't flip 180deg for a flat storage, though each earcup does rotates 180deg for dj-style listening. Also, there is a unique feature where the whole earcup could be rotated 90 degree up to open your ear without a need to shift headband. For a more compact storage they also fold inside of the headband to occupy a minimum footprint. Headband itself is metal reinforced with a perfect amount of clamping force. The adjustment is very smooth and precise and has a marking on the metal band to indicate the steps. Inside of the band you have a soft padding, and the whole headband is wrapped in a soft quality pleather. Another difference with the original HP100 is a soft touch uniform finish material used on earcup cover and also what seems to be a plushier deeper earpads which provide enough room between my ears and the drivers to avoid the contact. The combination of these earpads and perfect amount of clamping force provides a good sound isolation. Though being closed back design, each earcup also has a few millimeter wide air port opening which should contribute to soundstage improvement. While being a full size headphones with a rather large earcups, HP150 felt very comfortable and lightweight on my head during extended period of use and I noticed the earpads didn't get too hot on my ears.
So how do these sound? From the moment I put these on out of the box, my opinion changed from a balanced sound signature to a neutral-reference after low end settled down and upper frequencies got smoother. You don't need too much burn in time to hear the difference, and within first 10hrs I already heard a significant improvement. But to get the most out of these, they really benefit from external amping which improves the soundstage and adds more details across the entire spectrum range. As I mentioned before, the sound is neutral and perceived even across FR. It's very detailed and has a perfect amount of brightness to get close to analytical level without crossing a threshold of being too bright or sibilant. The amount of micro-details you will hear is amazing, and it especially revealing when it comes to vocals and little nuances of singer taking a breath or musicians strumming instruments, etc. The sound separation and layering is very transparent where you can zoom into every instrument and find it's precise positioning in space. For a closed back headphones these have a really good soundstage in 3D space. Of course they will not provide the same amount of air in comparison to open headphones, but in my opinion they came close to DT880 semi-open, and actually matched or exceeded most of the other full size I tested before (M50x, Momentum, P7, M100, DNA Pro).
More about the sound itself. My experience with full size headphones in the past was around those with a balanced sound signature and enhanced bass and different levels of v-shaped mids. I also auditioned DT990 and T70p in the past and found them to be too bright for my taste with not enough bass. HP150 really nails it for me in terms of a sound quality. Though I do enjoy the bass and my ears get adjusted to it, in comparison to HP150 most of the balanced headphones I tested before had too much of mid-bass bloat and overall warmth. For example, going between M50x and HP150 feels like a weight lifted off my ears lol! HP150 bass has a very detailed quality with an intelligent quantity to reach the level called by a particular instrument. While listening to a mellow tracks you get more of a deep sub-bass called by it's specific acoustic instruments, while with pop tracks you get more of a mid-bass punch to get the rhythm going, and when it comes to EDM music which is what I listen to most of the time - you get a fast attack of mid-bass slam with a deep extended textured sub-bass. There is no bleed into lower mids, bass is well contained and under control. Mids, and especially upper-mids since I focus a lot on vocals, are very detailed with a perfect amount of brightness without sounding too thin, and with a smooth full body without sounding too warm. Treble is crisp and very detailed, extends pretty far, also has enough brightness but it's smooth without a hint of sibilance. High frequencies are tuned just perfect to sound bright and clear without becoming too hot or peaky, and overall very easy on your ears for extended listening period without causing ear fatigue. With added amplifier, I was using E11k with a cable from HS6 kit, the sound becomes more dynamic, soundstage widens, and you get additional layer of details - the sound doesn't just get louder but scales up in every dimension!
Overall, I was VERY impressed with these headphones!!! I always craved to find a neutral reference sound cans and lost a hope that I will be able to find anything in a lower budget price range. If you think about it, for under $200 this SoundMagic HP150 model is a BARGAIN considering it's design, build quality, and amazing sound signature. Perhaps it's a little bit of new toy syndrome excitement, but I have a feeling HP150 should be added to a "Giant Killer" category since I have a feeling it can come close in performance to some of the more well known audiophile headphones from Senns, Beyer, AKG, and AT that cost a lot more. I'm being realistic and not suggesting they will stomp all over headphones that cost 5x as much, but in my personal opinion and by memory of when I had a chance to test T5p - I wasn't as excited about the sound of T5p ($1400) as I was now about HP150 ($199). Just my personal opinion, but if you are looking for that end-game audiophile quality pair of full size headphones and on a tight budget, I would HIGHLY recommend to consider HP150 and a small portable amp where together for under $300 you will have a KILLER audiophile quality sound like you never experienced before!
Here are the pictures (click to expand).