Forget Bluetooth, SoundMagic's budget wired in-ear headphones promise hi-res audio via USB-C

SoundMagic E80D wired headphones
(Image credit: SoundMagic)

Apple's EU-pressured move to USB-C from the company's favoured Lightning connector for the iPhone 15 was big news in tech circles, and while USB-C is generally considered to be a more effective and efficient aperture, it caused consternation among those more traditional users who weren't keen on making the switch. 

Perhaps SoundMagic's latest wired earphones will be enough to cause any lingering detractors to accept the rise of USB-C. Built to slot straight into most established Android devices and the most recent iPhone, the new E80D take influence from the brand's flagship model, the E90C, incorporating design elements from established SoundMagic IEMs with a focus on usability and compatibility.

With many phone manufacturers having ditched the traditional 3.5mm headphone port, the SoundMagic E80D allow you simply to connect directly to a given device's USB-C charging port.

SoundMagic E80D wired headphones

(Image credit: SoundMagic)

The new budget earphones feature a built-in DAC chip capable of supporting 24-bit/96kHz audio files to give access to high-resolution playback. SoundMagic promises a superb wired connection which aims to reduce latency and distortion, meaning you could also use the new E80D for watching videos or even gaming if you want the edge over your virtual rivals.  

While the new in-ear monitors take influence from established models, SoundMagic claims to have redesigned its 10mm neodymium magnetic moving coil drivers for the E80D, offering playback that is "engaging, dynamic, and enjoyable" regardless of the source or device being used.

The differences go beyond those moving coil drivers. The Chinese brand has used the same cable technology as found in the SoundMagic E11C earphones, with a similar silver-plated copper design that hopefully offers the same results as those excellent Award-winners. Like the E11C, the E80D come with a built-in microphone and three-button controls for easier access to music playback, voice-assistance activation and voice calls.

Daubed in a gunmetal finish, the SoundMagic E80D are available now for a price of £40 / $46, roughly £10 less than the original price of the E11C in-ear headphones (tested at £50).


Read our original SoundMagic E11C review 

These are the best in-ear headphones that we've tested 

Want to block out the world? Here's our best noise-cancelling headphones 

Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied law and history at university before working as a freelance journalist covering TV and gaming for numerous platforms both online and in print. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or forcing himself to go long-distance running.