The market for headphones is booming with new products every day, with newer models pushing the limits and finding new avenues for improvement.
In this race for supremacy and perfection, there have been many contenders that have brought excellent ideas to the table which has altered the way both over-ear and in-ear headphones are designed and structured.
There are basically two types of headphones- Over-the-ear headphones and in-ear headphones. Over-the-ear headphones have ear cups which are worn over the ear for the sound to be heard whereas in-ear headphones have small speakers spaces which have earbuds made of silicone and can be inserted in the ear canal to seal it off and listen to music and other sounds.
Both have distinguishing advantages. Today we will look into in-ear headphones and in particular the Soundmagic PL11 and critique if it is a buy that is worth it or not.
We will firstly analyze it based on certain standards that in-ear headphones are expected to do well on and provide with certain specifications, then we will compare it with another product by the same organization- the Soundmagic E10 and see how well do the 2 pairs of in-ear headphones fare up against each other.
The Soundmagic PL11 comes in 5 variants in terms of the color of the earpieces – Silver, Golden, Red, Blue, and Black. Its current market price is Rs. 1399. There is a small bag of extra silicone earbuds with the earphones.
There is also a small leather pouch that has been provided by the company so that the earphones are safe when traveling or generally when not in use.
The outer body of the earphones seems like gunmetal and the mesh in front of the speakers is made of metal, which is very good considering that many in-ear headphone makers make mistakes like having uneven meshes or hanging ends or loose parts.
There is an L shaped 3.5mm jack that is quite good as well. In some models, you could see a bit of excess glue from the mold or marks from the wire connector, but at this price, that little detail is easily overlooked.
The body is quite lightweight, though the wire doesn’t seem to be of the best quality for sound. Let’s discuss how the Earphones fare based on some parameters.
As mentioned earlier, the body of the earphones feel like they are made of gunmetal, which makes it pretty durable. There is a wire mesh in the front and the earbuds are of decent quality.
The wire is lightweight and though it not of a quality that is usually recommended for good quality earphones, it is understandable given the price that it costs to get a pair of these very good looking and solid earphones.
There is one major thing where the Soundmagic PL11 lacks which is that it does not have a microphone. So it is not possible to have mobile phone conversations while wearing these earphones. This makes it a listening-exclusively pair of earphones.
This is where the quality of the wire comes into the picture. Microphonics is the conversion of some mechanical disturbance in the audio device that gets converted to unwanted electrical signals which is also known as noise.
This was a downside that was noticed in the Soundmagic pl11 because when the clip given with the wire was not used, the wires were dangling freely and the dangling created a bit of disturbance. And though when the clip was used and this disturbance was reduced, another problem arose.
The two wires-L and R came in contact with each other and there was more disturbance that was noticed. This is not a very big problem and goes unnoticed by users at times. It is an issue only for people who have to listen to detailed sounds because the noise can be disturbing for them.
There are a lot of Earphones that tend to start hurting the ear canal when used for a while. We cannot say that it is an avoidable issue, but Soundmagic PL11 does try quite successfully to increase the time before one has to stop and take rest.
The earbuds are or good quality and don’t hurt the ear canal for a long while. They are easy to put on and don’t come out on their own after some time because of losing the ability to seal the ear canal for a prolonged time like some of the other earphones do.
That is a very important thing and a good property to have because that is one of the major problems that earphone makers face and let’s be honest about it, it is very annoying.
Isolation is a very important criterion when judging a good set of earphones. Isolation depends upon the user because everyone has a slightly different shape of the ear and ear canal, but the product which works best despite all those issues is known for its quality and ability to deliver.
Soundmagic PL11 has a pretty decent isolation quotient. There are different sizes of earbud tips available inside the packaging when you buy Soundmagic PL11, and they are capable of blocking most sounds in moderately crowded places.
It is not total, but the amount of isolation provided is good enough for a person going about their daily routines. The noise leakage is minimal to zero depending upon the volume that is set, but it is quite impressive.
Upon initial use, it was noticed that the vocals lacked a bit in clarity and the bass was uncontrolled, but with repeated usage, that issue was worn down. The bass is now more controlled- not too loud, but also not too genteel.
As the packaging brags about Soundmagic’s PL11’s bass, a bit more was expected. The vocals also got a bit more clear, but the sound was still a bit processed and lacked a certain clarity. At times though, this may be forgotten because the overall performance is pretty striking.
Soundstage means the ability of a speaker device to create a realistic three-dimensional sound space and position individual sounds within that space. In this aspect, the Soundmagic PL11 did a good job.
Though it was understandable that Soundmagic PL11 was lagging behind in soundstaging music, there was almost an unnatural coverup by the Soundmagic PL11 earbuds to make the soundstaging a little bit more profound.
As mentioned earlier, the vocals in the sound are muddy which also does not work well when you combine the fact that the bass is just overpowering.
In the beginning, the bass is just boomy which makes the music unclear, but even later on, when the bass becomes controlled, it still has a very overpowering effect that does not go too well with rest of the music.
Overall, the distortion in Soundmagic PL11 is a bit disappointing.
All in all, Soundmagic PL11 is an interesting choice when it comes to in-ear headphones. It has some sweet characteristics when it comes to hardware, but is lacking in certain aspects when it actually comes down to the sound.
But still, it is a very good option to for when considering the price to worth ratio.
Soundmagic PL11 vs Soundmagic E10
We will now go ahead and compare two of Soundmagic’s products, the Soundmagic PL11, and the Soundmagic E10.
The Soundmagic E10 comes with 7 pairs of silicone tips in many sizes to fits all ear types and sizes, along with a shirt clip and a hard case travel pouch so that the earphones are not damaged in transit. It is available in India in five colors.
Looking at the current comparison, there is not much difference between Soundmagic PL11 and E10 except that PL11 comes with a simple travel pouch and E10 comes with a hard case travel pouch. E10 also comes with 7 pairs of ear tips including a pair of double flange silicone eartips.
E10 also has a bigger 3.5mm jack which is adjustable so that it is compatible with more devices than just the ones that use a normal 3.5mm jack.
When it comes to the quality, Soundmagic PL11 is beaten by the E10. Both of the products have an all-metal body, but the E10 has a better quality wire than the PL11 model. The quality aspect is understandable, given that the current market price for Soundmagic PL11 is Rs. 1399 whereas it is around Rs. 2699 for Soundmagic E10.
But leaving a few details, Soundmagic PL11 gives a tough fight to E10.
Performance wise E10 has very clear audio with vocals that are crisp and separable. whereas Soundmagic PL11 had a little muddy set of vocals.
It was not as bad as it sounds, and for the price range that it comes in, PL11 has a pretty good audio quality, but E10 is superior in that aspect. Soundmagic E10 has a very powerful bass which comes as a surprise to the users even if they are expecting to encounter it.
So these were some key comparisons between Soundmagic PL11 and Soundmagic E10. Both are amazing products in their price category with some selectively game-changing properties.It is a bit boomy in the beginning but seems to balance out fine and settle down to the powerful bass that the company has promised its customers. The vocals sound very real with no artificial touch and the soundstaging effect is amazing.
The effect is very three dimensional and every instrument sounds clear and provides a very collective feeling as a whole. It is considered one of the best earphones in the market in that aspect.
When compared to that, Soundmagic PL11 has a powerful bass as well, but just like E10, here too, the bass is a bit boomy in the beginning. But unlike in the E10, the bass in PL11 does not settle down as much as the customer might hope.
It can go unnoticed by some users, but for experienced earphone users, that difference will be quite evident.
Soundmagic E10 has a very comforting in-ear feel, just like the PL11. It doesn’t feel like slipping.
The company has asserted the fact that ear tips are comforting to the point where you could listen to music with the earphones for hours without any need to remove them due to pain.
The PL11 is similar to that in that aspect as well. One major point of difference between the otherwise similar earphones is that Soundmagic PL11 does not have a microphone whereas E10 does.
Soundmagic E10 has a very clear microphone where the sound distortion is minimal and the quality is also maintained. It is also very perceptive.
When we talk about sound isolation, as we have already mentioned, Soundmagic PL11 is very effective. It can block out sounds from medium level crowds. But to some extent, E10 lacks that property.
It is also quite effective in sound isolation, but somehow, there has been some issue about sound isolation because the ear canals weren’t sealed effectively, hence the depleted sound isolation. Same goes in the case of sound leakage.
There are some views that E10 leaks more sound when compared to PL11.
So these were some key comparisons between Soundmagic PL11 and Soundmagic E10. Both are amazing products in their price category with some selectively game-changing properties.
Soundmagic E10 is one of the most famous in-ear headphones in India right now with a very good set of features and fine sound quality. Soundmagic PL11 also has very few flaws, with most of them being understandable due to the price range that it belongs to.
It is a very alternative to Soundmagic E10 if someone wishes to opt for a very nice looking set of earphones that sound just as good like the Soundmagic E10 but a relatively lesser price.