SoundMAGIC E11C - Time for ElevensesIt's not often that we get to review a brand new SoundMAGIC model; given that the E10 versions are still popular after many years, we could be forgiven for thinking that SoundMAGIC has done it just to keep things interesting. However, the SoundMAGIC 11C is more than a just a simple refresh, so let's find out if there's any departure with the sound of the E11C.
Design and appearanceMaybe someone suggested to SoundMAGIC that the cable should be more lovely, and it came out 'more rubbery'. It feels good to the fingers and the colour matches very nicely with the rest of the design, but if you're fond of shoving your earphones straight in a pocket then this may result in some Gordion-style tangles. And it would serve you right too. Visually, the E11C is more mature looking than its E10 counterparts. The capsules and other cable-bound bits are finished with a pleasing and slightly textured gunmetal paint, which matches the cable nicely. Strangely, the E11C looks as if it has come from 1985; soft pastel shades and grey midtones were all the rage at around that time.
Durability & build qualityThis is usually a guessing game with other products, as we do not have the benefit of time travel. However the E11C is similar enough to the older designs to know that with care, an E11C should last far beyond its warranty period. Strain reliefs are present where they should be, but the slider on the cable (if you want the cable secure under the chin) can be a bit reluctant to move from time to time. With both the E11 and E11C, we have a silver plated cable which according to the packaging will suit high-res audio. The accessories have been reduced with the E11C; included are three pairs of tips and a case. More tips are available with the older models, but we like to think that this added value is instead present within the actual sound of the E11C.
ComfortAs with previous similar models, the SoundMAGIC E11C can be worn equally well with the cable going over the ears as well as straight down; although this will interfere with the position of the microphone. Other than that, there is nothing of concern here. Just put them in and forget.
Sound characteristics:To those who know, the E11C is similar in sound to the E50 models, but the E11C has a little more mid and upper-bass warmth to it. The frequency response can be described as 'U' shaped generally with only slight emphasis on bass and treble. It's a relaxed and pretty versatile tuning.
BassBass is very well controlled, with the lower subby bits filling in nicely without drawing too much attention to themselves. The upper bass is not as prominent as this reviewer would like (being a hopeless fan of old compressors and their effects on bass instruments) but this is a minor point. Where the E11C really shines is the midrange..
MidsThere is some excellent clarity here; with some well-produced vintage recordings, the E11C can put the listener in the middle of the music with seductive vocals and harmonics alike. It's a very cohesive, convincing midrange which leans towards the warm and succulent. This reviewer has a slight sensitivity to upper midrange frequencies, and the E11C is generally about right. Things can get a bit close to the edge with only a small minority of recordings. Clarity here is quite impressive for an earphone at this price, with a background against which reverbs and decays can tail off at their own pace. It feels quite spacious.
TrebleTreble carries on from the midrange quite smoothly with no obvious peaks. Finer details are nicely rendered and in sufficient quantity to complement the midrange, serving as an extension and not a distraction. There is a little glitter here, but the E50C can generally be regarded as an earphone which is easy on the ear.
Soundstage & SeparationThe clarity and black background on offer gives every opportunity for the recording to be spacious and immersive, with a nice width and depth. Imaging is also impressive.
Music genres good for and whyAs mentioned earlier, the E11C is good for anything but if you find yourself listening to dance, pop and rap a lot and want a greater bass presence then the E10C is probably better for you. The E11C's more present midrange excels at acoustic/spacious recordings, vocals and 'real' instruments as opposed to the purely electronic kind.
- Natty new look
- High end silver plated cable
- Excellent midrange clarity
- Cable can tangle
- Bass is lighter than the E10C
- Sparse accessories