The third version of SoundMagic’s Vento P55 aims to build on the strengths of its forebears – a lively, open sound with good sonic detail – while also coming in at less than two-thirds of the price.
Version 2 of the on-ear cans cost £150 when they were launched a couple of years ago, and we gave them a positive three-star review at that level. It’s a crowded sector of the market, and they had some serious competition.
That extremely welcome £60 price drop means the P55s are fighting at a different weight now. Worryingly for them, it also means they are up against the titans of sub-£100 on-ear headphones, AKG’s multiple Award-winning Y50s, our current headphone Product of the Year.
The Vento P55 v3.0s look the same as version two – no bad thing. These are nicely put together on-ear headphones made from steel, aluminium and plastic, with leather covered earpads. They look every part a £100-plus headphone.
They come with a hard carry case and a number of cables – one regulation 3.5mm cable and one with a three-button remote control and mic attached for your iPhone or Android device. There is also an adaptor for a PC and a short phone adaptor.
The earcups twist so the headphones can lie flat in the case, but there is no folding of any sort, so they won’t fit in a pocket – it’s in your bag or round your neck as far as transporting and storing are concerned.
The Vento P55s are described, on their packaging, as ‘on-ear’ headphones; and, while the earcups seem fairly substantial on first viewing, we would go along with that description. They don’t quite have a large enough circumference to fit fully over our ears, although they certainly don’t perch precariously on top like some on-ears we could mention.
As far as comfort goes, the Vento P55s are reasonable – the fit is acceptable, but after longer listens of an hour or more, we start to feel some discomfort at the pressure on our ears. For most commutes, however, they will do a fine, cushioned job. As is often the case with such headphones, they can make our ears quite warm as well after some time in place.
The P55s are clearly intended for mainly portable use – the cables supplied are 1.2m long, so ideal for connecting to a phone in either hand or pocket, but not so useful for extended home listening from a system or PC perhaps.
We plug the cable into both our MacBook Pro laptop and a couple of smartphones during the course of our testing, and it soon becomes clear that we have a competent, easy-listening pair of headphones here.
Frequency range 15Hz - 22kHz
Cable length 1.2m
As with the previous version, the emphasis leans slightly towards the midrange and treble, with a bright, clear character coming through. That’s not intended as a criticism – it’s not an uncomfortable listen, and there’s certainly none of the stridency one can experience in less accomplished headphones. But the treble certainly assists in giving the overall impression of decent detail retrieval.
Bass isn’t lacking by any means, but it does teeter just a touch to the tubby. Again, nothing really to be overly concerned about, but it’s not as tight or snappy as the low registers we hear from AKG’s Y50s. That difference is highlighted when we torture both pairs of headphones with James Blake’s bass-fest Limit To Your Love. The track’s pulsing bass throb is cleaner and more snappy through the AKGs, where the P55s give just a hint towards adding a touch of smear and bloat to proceedings.
We switch to The Beatles, with Tomorrow Never Knows and, while the P55s are able to distinguish the various instruments and deconstruct the complex rhythms well, they can’t quite match the dynamic talents and superior timing of the AKG Y50s. No shame there, of course, against a five-time Award-winner.
After testing the P55s, the overriding feeling is of a competent, easy listen, with few downsides. They are fairly comfortable, as well, over a short to mid-length listening session and therefore potentially ideal for the daily commute.
They can’t quite live with the best in class here sonically – certainly in terms of timing, dynamics and outright musicality – but of course, not many can. If you’re looking for a good-looking, well-performing pair of headphones for your daily commute, the SoundMagic Vento P55 v3.0s are worth an audition.
- Sound 4
- Comfort 3
- Build 5
Read our AKG Y50 review