SoundMAGIC Vento P55 Headphone Review by mark2410
Thanks to Hifiheadphones for the sample.
TLDR? Try here http://www.head-fi.org/t/819804/soundmagic-vento-p55-headphone-review-by-mark2410#post_12853613
First Impressions: So for me this is a new move from SoundMAGIC, these being on ears rather than in. So opening the box up and first of all we see the case thing, its oddly square but feels very nice, very premium quality. Is this an expensive item, hmm mush check. Ah £190, so yeah they are reasonably costly. Opening up the carry case, the premium continues, you have a little triangle-ish bag thing for the cables and then the headphones, oooh they feel nice. The arms are all metal and there is a metal band running round the outer of the head band, ooooh much pretty. These are very, very pleasant to the touch and on the eye, subtle with that dark gun metal, err metal. Its very pleasing yet so visually restrained it feels its saying I am quality but I don’t feel the need to broadcast the fact like some Burberry wearing chav.
The cables are interesting too, they have a two socketed adapter and a mic cable, is this for a computer set up with separate output and input sockets? If so how come I’ve never seen this before?
On the ears and the first thing acoustically I notice is that there is quite a bit of treble going on for a SoundMAGIC, plus a bit of a shortage of mids. I get why they would do this but I’d be lying if I wasn’t lightly disappointed inside. However that treble, while there maybe a little more than I hoped for its detail level is pretty damn good. If you’re going to have lots it had better be excellent and that it is. It seems rather extended too, it is really pushing up there. Burn in time.
Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Lumia 735, Nexus 5 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.
Bass: A strangely mixed bag I think. You see the inclination in a closed headphone is that the bass ramps up and given the populist nature of more bass, like more sugar, is an easy crowd pleaser. The bass though doesn’t do that, I’m not too surprised as no SoundMAGIC has ever been a bass monster. It here is polite, very polite, very high quality too. It strikes me as very unusually linear, there is a fraction of a hump but compared with most things this feels stupid linear, hmm would like to a measurement curve for this. The quality is superb, really it is flawless. Even on one of my favourite bass tracks, “Your Father And I” the bass, the quality is just so exemplary it feels almost too perfect. The rigidity and articulation it’s all just so faultless. Its grip and its linearity in its depth is, faultless.
Quality wise its bang on but in terms of quantity, well, it’s kinda also sorta perfect but….. I’d rather prefer more. It’s not so much about the bass being lacking in quantity per say. You see that the bass, well it’s really rather perfect but human acoustic perception wants a bit of a boost and while this is a hair boosted it’s so polite and controlled. You know I would like it if it was a little less so, dial it up a notch, loosen it up a little. It’s so clean and rigidly accurate I’d like more to help counter the treble. This isn’t a headphone for bass heads, I could see some wanting to hit that bass boost button.
This bass, its text book bass. Lithe, lightningly quick and impactful.
Mids: Quality wise they are great, though for a SoundMAGIC they a more dry than I expected. They normally have a proclivity towards a buttery goodness and these are more openly explicit in their presentation. They are of course still quite beautiful, firing up Barbara and Michael Crawford’s rendition of “The Music Of The Night” and its most excellent. It’s a song made for these, the sweeping grandeur and delicacy is superb. That faint lingering in the timing of it, it is really quite exquisite. Vocals flow with a superfluid like level of fluidity, like the lowest of viscosities it flows. Its not quite dry but so close to it, playing more with the album “Tell Him” with Barbara and Celine Dion sounds just so perfect, it could have been the song these were made for. The vocals are quite fantastic, not to mention the bass is also perfect. These are textbook good.
So again I find myself calling these textbook like. That is sort of a good thing right? Yet in audio it is as much an art as it is a science and while these really absolutely nail that science part, the are achingly flawless. Should you playback equally flawless music they will reward you in bounds and heaps of goodness. Yeah, the but however is that lots of music isn’t flawless. While I find myself delving into Barbara’s albums, “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” and “Send In The Clowns” are just so perfect, sooooo perfect, too perfect. There is such emotiveness and intonation that they don’t so much as stir the soul they plunge you into a river and are simply swept along.
Highs: Wow. The highs on this are very highly refined and seem very well extended. It fact there is a real dash of energy very high up there that makes them feel super clear. It also makes them for my ears a bit of a dazzler. In the short term that dazzle, detail and clarity is superb but it’s a little too so. I’ve quite treble sensitive ears and gosh these are so extended and needle sharp. So very, very sharp like when nurses stick you with one of those super sharp needles to steal your blood. Its cutting but so sharp, point like that it isn’t all that bothersome. That’s what the treble goes like when the P55 gets its groove on. Wow, spectacular, dazzle, such razor sharp, cutting clarity. Again I find myself thinking wow. Seriously for a dynamic this driver can move like lightning.
Quantity wise there isn’t a wild abundance in the lower treble but as it rises it just clings on and if anything rises. When you get very high up it still churns it out and while in a technical sense I am super impressed. I mean my mental comparator is the Oppo PM-3 and while the PM-3 does best the P55 is resolving power the P55 has the more energetic upper. This is bordering on hurling the detail at you in energy terms yet its level of quality and refinement are just so excellent. One thing to make note of is that these don’t want to be paired to a hard source and certainly don’t suit bad bit rates or mastering.
Soundstage: All that super high up treble gives them a certain open quality and thus these, even in the bass response, feel rather sizeable. Their power levels too give a rather convincing scale to proceedings. Instrument separation and integration are both more than middling. Nether particularly have any dominance in presence in presentation style. Instrument placement is a bit so so, well separated acoustically but no distinct placement.
Cable: It is removable and you get two in the box. As is typical one is non mic’d and one has a mic for phone use. What is different is that you get what they call a VOIP adapter. You see computers usually have audio out and the mic in a two separate sockets and this adapter allows you to turn those two sockets into the typical phone, 4 part 3.5mm jack. I can’t say this is ever something I’d wished for and I suspect must exist already somewhere. On seeing it before me I did think, omg why have I never seen this before? Quality wise the cables seem nice, a little thin but seems pleasant and the jacks are metal so I’d like to think should survive a good long while.
Comfort: These are on ears, a bit big for an on ear but not big enough to be over. The pads are very soft and squishy. Comfort for me was alright, a couple hours in and my ears did want a break. My ears were getting that tired, pressured feeling. Additionally I found their acoustic energy up top to be rather tiring too.
Isolation: While they in theory should block out some level of sound its dependant on the seal you get. It seems I didn’t get that much of a seal and thus they didn’t isolate a great deal. These would be okay for walking out and about and maybe in the office if you don’t listen loud but for noisy environments, nope. Even things on a bus use I would be comfortable I don’t think with these. So no Tube or flight use. Of course with music playing you could still get yourself run over if you aren’t paying attention.
Build Quality: These are just lovely. They are awash with metal and while it’s completely not necessary, the outer side of the headband is metal, very visually grown up metal but up close to the eyes and to the touch, its rather lovely. SoundMAGIC may be more of a lower cost / high value company but these are very much a premium product. You don’t really get in photos how much so as it’s so visually understated. Very, very nice.
Aesthetics: Like the build, you don’t really quite get in a photo how nice they are in person. They are very understated though, their visual tone is in no way attention seeking bling bling. Of course I’m a sucker for bare metal and I have always especially like the sort of darkened gun metal colour found here.
Amped/Unamped: These are super easy to drive. You can slap these into your phone and they will sound great. They of course do better out of a good amp and most noticeable for me was the variation in their treble outputs. Reaching for my Nexus 5 as it’s my daily driver and is a pretty good example of a crappy phone audio output, the treble response took a nosedive. In quantity. Speed and intensity up top. The treble could be actually harder on the ear though as they don’t have that ultra-super sharp clarity, the edge is a still somewhat cutting but more like a dulled blade, it hurts more. The bass however got a bit of a kick in the direction of a little relative increase and a bit of an expansion. The bass isn’t so hard hitting, it softens a bit and gives more a weighty impression than the lightningly nimble well amped bass.
These are of a quality level where you will if buying a pair want to start thinking about amping. You do not “need” to by any means but if you do, you will hear a difference.
Accessories: A rather nice bunch. Of course there are the cables I mentioned and the rather clever VOIP adapter thing. You also get a carry case thing and you get a little baggy thing for keeping the cables tidy in the case. It is a very nice set up and compared with say the case things the Senn Momentums come in, this is a far more pleasing bunch of bits.
Value: Excellent. I feel like I say that too often but SoundMAGIC has always made nice sounding things ate very reasonable prices. While this may be a push into the more “premium” end, as in more expensive, they have produce a consummate leap in both the performance and the build. This is a very high quality item, very high performing item. Particularly when you give it a good amping it really does offer superb quality and refinement in a deceptively beautiful package.
Conclusion: So these are pretty damn good. I would love them rather more if they were to hammer down that treble as good lordy its well extended. I mean waaaaaay up there with such a flighty, fast elegance that seriously good for a dynamic. Dynamics are supposed to be a bit fat, bit slow right? That’s why you need planars or electrostatics for that super clean, uber fast treble right? While this isn’t the fastest I’ve ever heard it offers gobs of refinement up top. Now it does need amping to be its best, you don’t amp it and I could see it being a little abrasive. Its quantity levels are such that the treble is the star of the show but it’s also the potential killer. Seriously though its wow, blow your socks off impressively, wow.
Skimming through my musical collection I constantly find myself being drawn to fast paced, explosively epic stuff. That bass, that treble, good god they move so fast. Even while my ears are feeling warn out there is just that something where you can’t stop. While I think I couldn’t cope with this as my every day headphone and my ears would fall off and die but…… wow it is an epic spectacular extravaganza of brilliance. Bass punching with such a finesse and dancing on a pin head then that treble, like somewhat firing a laser through a crystal decanter. Sheer undeniable brilliance for sure, without question its massively talented but…… it is just all so much. This couldn’t be my only headphone. This would be great for getting the blood pumping in a crisp winter’s morn. In that same days evening however I’d need something more soft and relaxed.
So would I / should you buy one. I think I would, this is just soooo impressive in its abilities and refinement level up top. It really is a spectacular sound, maybe too spectacular but spectacular nevertheless. You? Well do you want this sort of superfast, ever so cleanly cutting dazzle fest, oh most certainly. If your treble sensitive though like me, you may find it too much of a cacophonous assault / extravaganza on your senses. I really love it, I really do but like the most tempestuous relationships, it has such an intensity that while I do love it I simply couldn’t love it every day.