Among headphone manufacturers, SoundMagic is something of a plucky underdog. It’s one of the only Chinese brands you’ll find on the high street, where it competes with giants such as the Sonys and Sennheisers of this world.
Its killer appeal has always been high quality at a low price, but the SoundMagic Vento P55s are a little different.
Full-size over-ear headphones, they’re an alternative to the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 or B&O H6. At £150, they’re hardly cheap but, in typical SoundMagic style, that price tag is some £50-100 less than some rivals.
SoundMagic tends to pack a lot of aluminium into its headphones. In fact, almost all of the Vento P55’s parts you can touch are aluminium, including the outer headband, the cup caps and the parts that attach cup to headband.
It gives them the feel of a headphone that might cost over £200 – and should make the plastic Beats family feel a little sheepish.
The P55s look pretty good too, particularly for a SoundMagic pair.
While the design looks a little safe when compared to something like the B&O Play H6s, they don’t have any of the awkward traits of some cheaper SoundMagics, like clear signposting of left and right cups with bold bands of colour.
This pair looks a bit like a shrunken street-ready version of Beyerdynamic's studio headphones, such as the T1. The pads are round, the headband sticks close to your head and the smokey grey/black colour scheme is pleasantly reserved.
Initially, the Vento P55s feel great when you put them on too. The thick foam padding topped with high-quality synthetic leather on the cups and headband is suitably squishy, and the headband doesn’t apply too much pressure on your ears.
We have a few reservations about the pad shape, though. SoundMagic has kept the Vento’s pads reasonably small, and unless you’re buying them for a child, parts of the pads will rest on the pinna, rather than fully enclosing them.
After a while this can cause some discomfort. The first pair of Sennheiser Momentum headphones had a similar issue, which is why the Momentum 2.0s have significantly larger cups.
Despite being small for a full-size pair, the P55s don’t fold up. However, the cups do turn 90 degrees, making them much easier to stash in a bag.
In some respects they seem like a “gen 1” set, although this is the second time they have appeared. SoundMagic announced the Vento back in 2015, but they were whisked back into the lab almost immediately for sound retuning.
The P55s are well-made, and use a removable cable ending in a standard 3.5mm jack, making replacing it easy. SoundMagic includes two cables: one with a three-button remote, one without.
There are also airplane adapters and a little cable extender designed to tackle compatibility issues with phones that refuse to play nice with certain in-line remotes.
To finish off the unusually comprehensive package, the Vento P55s come with two bags. There’s a semi-rigid one for the headphones themselves and a fabric purse-like pouch for the cables.
All we’re missing is a 6.3mm adapter and 3m cable, and that’s because these are clearly meant for portable use.
The original P55s pursued detail retrieval aggressively, with an uncompromising mid-range that proved a bit too tiring, verging on the caustic.
The re-tuned version still attempts to max-out appreciable detail, but the mids have been tamed and the treble takes on more responsibility for creating the “wow, these are detailed” effect SoundMagic is after.
The result is a slightly bright sound with good clarity in the higher registers. However, the mid-range and treble have an affected, processed character that makes music sound less than natural. The sound is a little pinched.
Just as Beats headphones trade balance and natural delivery for bass impact, SoundMagic makes similar sacrifices for the perception of upper-mid and treble detail.
It’s different to a brighter-leaning headphone as the tonal skews are not as well-integrated.
Bass is plump without boominess, though it lacks a little solidity. Soundstage width and separation are both fair for a full-size headphone. The SoundMagic Vento P55 still stack up fairly well, but they lack the tonal neutrality we’re after.
The SoundMagic Vento P55 are quite different from the budget SoundMagic earphones we often recommend. This time they are competing with premium opposition, and on the whole do pretty well.
We’d like more attention to long-term comfort and some tweaks across the frequency range before these manage to challenge the class-leaders.
See all our SoundMagic reviews