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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MUSICALLY ENGAGING, 8 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: SoundMAGIC HP200 Open Back Headphones (Electronics)
SoundMAGIC HP200 Open Back Headphones

Well packaged but easy to unpack, this over-ear, open backed headphone is contained within a large, hard, shell looking storage/ carry case. Very protective, but will take up a lot of room in your travel bag. In any event the ear pieces are very flexible and fold and move around with ease, sometimes too much ease as they can flop around unnecessarily as you are holding them. The pads are a very comfortable artificial leather material similar to the HP100. The similarities with the HP 100, however, end here as the HP200 ear pieces are all metal grills and feel very robust and not prone to fingermarks, as with the HP100. The straight cord has a proprietary fit, which could be a nuisance if it breaks, but, mercifully, it is not a heavy coil, like on the HP100, though it's on the short side, at 1.2M.

I burned them in for about 120 hours, but there was little change after 60 hours.
I can best summarise the sound as quite bright and very well imaged, with a very well extended, minimally rolled off treble, clear, forward mids, and a strong, well defined bass, though, in common with many open backed headphones, with no more than a modest sub-bass. The sound stage is only moderately wide, and not deep. As you would expect with an open back design, there is little sound isolation in either direction.

The forward sound benefits vocals and instrumental music which are vivid and exciting-these are not headphones for sleeping to; rather, they are more likely to have you on the edge of your seat in excitement. The vocal tremulo at 0.24' in Alison Krauss' 'When You Say Nothing At All' is spine-tingling, and in the loud passages of Björk's 'So Broken', a challenge to any headphone, the HP200 retains control and clarity, without excessive thinning of the voice. Danielle de Niese's Handel Arias sound equally impressive, with every breath and sob clearly captured. Where there is sibilance on the recording it was picked up, but it never became obtrusive or annoying.
Male vocals are equally well produced-from Fischer-Dieskau to Patrick Wolf, immediacy and clarity prevail. Even complex, heavy mixes from Nick Cave and Rammstein are readily separated into their auditory components, giving the impression of a front row seat at a live performance.
Intimate Jazz sounds very good as well. Plenty atmosphere is generated, with a sense of a natural acoustic around the performers, whether it be a large stage or a nightclub.

Similarly, well recorded, complex choral singing is very well reproduced, with the different vocal lines readily distinguished. Chamber music also sounds impressive, with plenty space around each instrument-no difficulty differentiating the two violins and viola in string quartets with the HP200!

Piano is more variable: the lower notes benefit from the well defined bass, but the upper registers can become unrealistically hard and uncomfortable. Getting the volume/equaliser balance can be tricky, particularly where there is a simultaneous mix of high and low notes-the percussive opening of Prokofiev's Seventh Piano Sonata is a case in point. There is no denying, however, that where there is a predominance of rich low chords, such as the ethereal opening bars of the Second Movement of Schubert's 'Wanderer Fantasy', and the opening of his G Major Sonata, the sonorities are nothing short of breathtaking.

High notes of violins can also become over bright and edgy at anything above moderate volume. For instance, I had to equalise the treble on Nicola Bendetti's 'The Silver Violin' and Perlman's Bach Sonatas and Partitas for non-fatiguing listening. Several other solo violin discs were fine though.

As expected, larger scale orchestral works sound good where there is not too much treble energy and where a very large sound-stage is not required. They are unforgiving of poor recordings though- as an example, Solti's Mahler 8, which was perfectly balanced on the original LP, has, to my ears, been rather harshly remastered, and this is picked up by the HP200 with it's accurate reproduction, and tendency to a bright sound signature.

The HP200 has a relatively low impedance of 20 Ohms, and works very well with my Sansa ClipZip mp3 player, producing good volume, at a 75% setting. The easily adjustable, well padded headband is as comfortable as the ear pads on my average sized head, over my slightly larger than average ears.

The HP200 looks, feels and sounds a quality headphone. It may not suit very deep bass lovers or treble sensitive ears but it has many positive attributes and, compared with the competition in the price range, is well up to the mark.

KIT: Marantz CD6004, Cambridge Audio CD640Cv2, DAC3, Isomagic S700, Sansa ClipZip, Bravo Tube Ampv3, Fiio E5,11,12&17.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HD650 killer!, 22 July 2013
This review is from: SoundMAGIC HP200 Open Back Headphones (Electronics)
After owning the truly excellent SoundMAGIC E10 earphones I was more than a little intrigued to see SoundMAGIC release a range of full size headphones (closed back HP100, open back HP200 and wireless WP10). Honestly, I wasn't expecting much on their first attempt, but the result is astonishing - considering it's their first step into full size high end headphones.

SoundMAGIC have built a headphone that challenges the existing best of breed, e.g. Sennheiser HD650, AKG K701, Beyerdynamic DT880, etc, while keeping the price well below much of the competition. Impressive stuff! I own the HD650 and have spent quite a bit of time with the K701 and DT880 in various studios.

The HP200's sound is very nicely balanced. Vocals sound realistic and smooth, bass impact is impressive for an open back and the upper trebles are revealing. The HP200 handles anything I throw at it with poise and balance.

I've been running the HP200 through a mixing desk and also through portable setups (FiiO E17, Astel&Kern AK100, etc). It seems to be pretty flexible about the source equipment and is low impedance enough to work with portable equipment.

Build quality is equally impressive. The headband mechanism feels very sturdy and the finish is what you would expect with high end over ear headphone.

This headphone is a bit of a hidden gem. It really deserves to get a lot more coverage, as it's up there with the best headphones available at this price point.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 26 Nov. 2013
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Amazon Customer (Cranleigh, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: SoundMAGIC HP200 Open Back Headphones (Electronics)
Well, they are pretty expensive and you would expect them to be good - they are simply outstanding - a must for any serious music lover. I enjoy classical music and found them revealing with a good stereo image. Best headphones I ever had and I enjoy them more than my (expensive) Mission column speakers.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Quality, 10 April 2014
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This review is from: SoundMAGIC HP200 Open Back Headphones (Electronics)
These are very good quality earphones for Classical Music and I would recommend them just for that purpose and they are very nicely made.
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SoundMAGIC HP200 Open Back Headphones
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