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quadpatch's picture
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SoundMAGIC HP200

I just got a test sample of the HP200, courtesy of hifi-headphones. I'll be working on a full review soon, but here's a couple of quick thoughts...

So far these things sound really great! Only tested them in a noisy office environment so far, not the best test condistions, I know. I will report back when I've had a bit more time with them. I need to test them with a proper amp, so far from my phone (Galaxy Note 2) they sound very good (20 Ohms), but surprisingly warm and with significant bass slam for an open back.

All the big cosmetic concerns I had with the HP100 seem addressed here. Ccheap,  finger print magnet, plastic cups replaced by gorgeous metal grills and pretty logo. Annoying coiled cable replaced with a straight 1.2m plus separate extention cable - win win!

 

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

Considering I have one on the way, I can sleep better tonight.

Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, Sennheiser HD-A280, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

I'm glad you could sleep better Dale, but come on, you must have been quite excited anyway as I know you like the HP100 also :). Any sign of yours yet? I'm not sure how long stuff takes to get to the States. I assume you don't have issues with stuff getting stuck in customs like we do with items coming the other way.

I couldn't resist jumping straight into some photography yesterday, so I will share the image that I'm thinking of using for the cover, but I will leave any more talk of sound for the full review...

HP200 cover image

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

It takes only a few days or a week. One day from London to New York, one more day from New York to the Southeast, then 4 or five days for the local postal workers to get it on their donkey carts and make the rounds. They have difficulty with the old hand-drawn maps, but they are such traditionalists here in the South and don't like to change.

The HP200 photo looks very nice - the grill is a nice touch. I wonder how much it would cost to get a Bentley-style grill? I've decided to order the IE800 also - hopefully they can get that to me right away.

Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, Sennheiser HD-A280, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

Did a Google search tonight for Soundmagic HP200 review, and 7 of the 10 hits on page 1 were someone named Dale. Imagine that. Anyway, going through the other pages, the only other user review I found was one 'Randomkid' from headfi (apparently the same entity from hifiheadphones), and he bought his HP200 in October, then after 20 hours of use he was so anxious to sell them he posted a slew of followups on the sale page, one right after the other. So I wonder how he was able to purchase the HP200 in October. Are we that late to the table on this item?

Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, Sennheiser HD-A280, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

 Yeah I'm very curious about that also. He was very desperate to sell them wasn't he? I see he reduced the price about 4 times! Yeah and where did he get them from? As far as I can tell they are still not available anywhere. 

 

Edit: I see that he got them directly from SoundMAGIC, from a guy called Tony. He must have annoyed the hell out of him by turning around and selling them straight away. It doesn't seem like that pair could even be a full production version. I doubt they would have wanted it being sold. The review is good too so doesn't it look really bad to sell them so quick?

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

A lot of strange things happen in this business. I hope that HP200 found a happy new owner. I never expected a large difference in the sound with a burn-in, but I'd say that my HP200 is probably a little less edgy now after nearly 4 days. I judged the lower bass to be significantly less than the DT770LE in direct comparison, but listened to on its own the HP200 bass is very good. I like the low end much better than the HP100. This headphone could end up being as good a value in its price class as the ATH M50 is in its class.

Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, Sennheiser HD-A280, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

Just to update you, and in spite of my recent flirtation with a pricy IEM, I'm doing most of my listening with the HP200. With the treble tamed some the overall sound is great for a wide variety of music. Comfort is very good and I don't have to worry about fragile cables. In spite of the impression of great detail due no doubt to the strong treble, I would not recommend the HP200 for large scale orchestral works etc. since it can get a bit congested on the crescendos. 

Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, Sennheiser HD-A280, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

Thanks for the update! I did some testing between the HP200 and HD650 tonight. The sound overall is very similar, the low end shares a lot in common, but the high end not so much. Highs are much better controlled on the Sennheiser, it's possible to listen for ages without getting fatigued there, but also it doesnt feel lacking in any way. My only problem with the HD650 is that bass is tiny bit over the top. Some amps fix it really well so I could probably just eq it away, but the more I think about it the more I'mcurious about after market cables.

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

I've been meaning to ask and keep forgetting. When buying the custom cable for a HD650, do you just pull the lugs and push the new ones in (that are attached to the new cable)? - Or is it recabling by taking the headphone apart?

Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, Sennheiser HD-A280, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

It's just a new removable cable afaik. 

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

With longer term listening, I'll pick up another headphone occasionally to check out any differences, but I always return to the HP200 now as the most satisfactory listen. The really interesting thing is (and not to name names), my most popular headphone from the various reviews is the one I go to least often, and it costs $100 more than the HP200 in the U.S. The biggest thing for me, at least in recent listening, has been the character of the bass response. I don't know if it's the hardest thing to get right, or if it's just a subtle thing that creeps up on me over time, but the HP200's bass is as perfect as I've heard. The Sennheiser HD800 and its sonic cousins the Shure 940/1440/1840 have a pleasant bass, but they're like a mate who's home only on weekends, and then mostly on the cellphone. You get close, but satisfaction is fleeting. The Grado PS500 has a fairly narrow hump in the upper bass which impressed me mainly as a coloration, and when that was EQ'd down somewhat the result was like an improved version of the Senn HD800 and the Shures. The Beyer DT770LE bass is quite seductive, having more power in the lower registers, it grabs you sonically and keeps you stimulated until finally something like the HP200 provides a bit of relief. I'd recommend the DT770LE for indirect listening, i.e. gaming, TV, or outdoor use. The v-moda M100's bass immerses you in a dark world, like swimming under the sea with giant squid and 30-foot sharks. Most impressive. The Senn HD800's tiny offspring, the IE800 IEM, offers the powerful deep bass of an M100 or DT770LE, but with much less upper bass emphasis, and that is very impressive, in sound as well as price. The Sennheiser Momentum has a fairly strong upper bass, but a more normal-strength lower bass that's often masked by the prominent uppers, contributing to a sense of recessed lowers. This is by no means a comprehensive look at bass response for any of these headphones, but it's the best explanation I have for what I hear with the HP200.

Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, Sennheiser HD-A280, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

This was a very interesting read Dale! Thanks for all that :). 

I agree, the HP200 is really spot on in the bass. The one I keep picking up at the moment is the HD650 because it's just so easy on the ears. The HD650 and the HP200 are really very close, but there is the odd moment where the HD650 seems to get a tiny but overcooked on the low end on some amps where the HP200 just never does. I am finding the upper ranges of the HD650 much more entertaining though and this why it's my favourite at the moment. I find the HP200 really great in the upper ranges for detail and air, but a little overpowering and possibly a tad thin. This is mostly comparing it to the HD650, which I'm finding it hard to pull myself away from. Perhaps this would change for me if I applied your EQ settings to the HP200. Can you explain what you've done to what frequencies please?

Now I'm looking around for EQ settings in Spotify and I can't find them... hmm

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

quadpatch wrote:
This was a very interesting read Dale! Thanks for all that :). I agree, the HP200 is really spot on in the bass. The one I keep picking up at the moment is the HD650 because it's just so easy on the ears. The HD650 and the HP200 are really very close, but there is the odd moment where the HD650 seems to get a tiny but overcooked on the low end on some amps where the HP200 just never does. I am finding the upper ranges of the HD650 much more entertaining though and this why it's my favourite at the moment. I find the HP200 really great in the upper ranges for detail and air, but a little overpowering and possibly a tad thin. This is mostly comparing it to the HD650, which I'm finding it hard to pull myself away from. Perhaps this would change for me if I applied your EQ settings to the HP200. Can you explain what you've done to what frequencies please? Now I'm looking around for EQ settings in Spotify and I can't find them... hmm

Uh-oh - now I'm in trouble. "Can I come up with settings that make sense?" Dale asks himself. Hmmm. The tricky part is recommending a setting that works fine in iTunes, then considering that iTunes itself usually has some bias of its own, I'm going to suggest the minimum settings I apply that just gets me from really bright to semi-bright. I use one db per slider (per octave), with -1 at 1k, -2 at 2k, -3 at 4k, -4 at 8k, and -5 at 16k.

A few notes about this kind of simple (or crude) EQ: We don't want to try reshaping the highs of any headphone without good parametric EQ, so in simple corrections I find that a gentle curve works best even if it isn't accurate, because equalizers such as are found in Foobar or iTunes will create large narrow peaks and dips to the sides of the sliders if you move them too far, or move them in other than a smooth up or down pattern related to each other.

This setting I described works well in iTunes (and Foobar) to take the edge off of the HP200's highs, but leaves the signature more or less intact. Using simple EQ on portable devices like iPods and iPhones applies a larger correction I've found in most cases, but for portable use that should be OK - if you need it. When I said that I found the HP200 to be too bright, part of that impression is created purely because of irritation with certain music tracks, and part of it is actual brightness, which is why the gentle correction works for me - once the irritation is cleared up, the remaining brightness is rarely a problem.

Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, Sennheiser HD-A280, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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RE: SoundMAGIC HP200

With the HP200, I was able to identify my first instance of iPhone overload distortion. Using the Abbado Beethoven 9th hi-res download from HDTracks, I made a 320k CBR MP3 and played it on the iPhone4s, and from 9:30 to 9:42 into the 5th segment (part 2 of the 4th movement), obvious distortion occurs in two places. This distortion does not occur with the same exact MP3 using desktop Foobar2000 at any volume. Once I heard this with the HP200, I was able to identify it better with the other headphones I have.

It's interesting that the HP200 had better detail retrieval in this case than the other headphones which cost more, even though the HP200 was playing with reduced treble and the others were played without EQ. The iPhone4s was being played through the LOD into the PA2V2 amp, as well as through the iPhone4s headphone jack. I tried this also with the latest iPod Touch, and the distortion there was a little worse than the iPhone.

Thinking that the treble reduction EQ with the HP200 could make it exacerbate the distortion, I switched the EQ off ('off', not 'flat') and repeated the tests, and it was worse! So the EQ on iPhone and iPod did not introduce or add to the distortion that apparently originates in the i-devices' internal DACs or amps. Using the LOD bypasses the i-device volume control, but that doesn't eliminate the distortion.

Edit: It turns out that the distortion in these MP3s (created by LAME v3.98) occurs with desktop iTunes and Apple i-devices, not with desktop Foobar on PCs. Apple apparently decodes MP3s using Fraunhofer and Thomson, not LAME.

Edit_2: I converted the MP3 back to WAV format (lossy of course), and added that WAV track plus the original WAV track to iTunes on the PC and Mac, and on both computers iTunes reproduced the distortion with the WAV-from-MP3 track, but not the original WAV track. This tells me that iTunes has a problem decoding certain content in any format, not just MP3s. If the original conversion to MP3 actually damaged the track, there was no indication of that when played with Foobar2000.

Beyer T1/T90 Jubilee/DT1350, Sennheiser HD-A280, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza/Microstreamer DAC/amps, Portaphile Micro/PA2V2 amps.

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