It appears that the relative price of wireless gadgets such as Bluetooth headphones is coming down and quality is going ever up, now that manufacturers have spotted the potential of this technology and are implementing it so well. Among them is SoundMAGIC, who have experience making wireless headphones with the full-size WP10, but now have the BT20 Bluetooth on-ear headphone in their repertoire. Now we can block out the world and make calls just as if we were talking to ourselves too.
Design and appearance (e.g. attractiveness, feel)
The SoundMAGIC BT20 is a light and very portable headphone; not a million miles away from previous wired on-ears this company made, but given the technology and battery required to sit in this model and work its magic, there’s no noticeable increase in weight. Also, if your battery is getting a little low then you can use the supplied cable and carry enjoying your music, bypassing the Bluetooth features.
Durability & build quality (e.g. cabling, connectors, materials)
Build quality is what we’d expect for a portable headphone. Just as robust as it needs to be, without going overweight and giving us neck ache. Materials are typical for a decent quality headphone of this type; plastic with a slightly rubberised feel, metal elements in the headband, and a leatherette covering on the headband cushion and earpads.
The lightness of the SoundMAGIC BT20 combined with freedom from cable worries makes these headphones particularly fun to wear; there’s a bit of pressure on the ears but no more than is required to keep them in place.
Suitability for intended application
The BT20 boasts Bluetooth version 4.0 for greater battery life, there’s NFC for easy pairing, CVC for clearer calls. Also, the apt-x standard is present, so you’re all set should your handset have this. If not, then the headphones can still use the SBC standard, so will still work.
The mic-equipped arm pokes out along the cheekbone for clearer calls; in fact there are two mics which enable a noise cancelling process which gets rid of a lot of extraneous noise. Perfect – those personal words to your nearest and dearest need not be shouted!
Being wireless, these headphones are perfect for many activities and sporting pursuits; their light yet strong construction means they’ll avoid any loneliness for the long distance runner.
Isolation is fair; the SoundMAGIC BT20 is not the most isolating of headphones with nothing playing but most of the outside world is very well masked by any music playing. The relative lack of isolation is more than made up for by the comfort aspect; the clamping force applied by most portable headphones can lead to a little discomfort during longer sessions. For others around you however, any music you’re enjoying is reduced to a faint murmur so you needn’t feel self conscious about your more questionable favourites.
As hinted at above, they offer no trouble when worn on the head and also around the neck. They can be packed away in the semi-circular case they come with, along with a stereo audio cable for those longer trips. It won’t be possible to use the headphones for calls without battery power so the handset’s mic will have to come into play. The Bluetooth 4.0 standard ensures the battery will last longer but it won’t last indefinitely of course!
(Used with a Huawei Ascend handset)
The BT20 has a sound signature which SoundMAGIC is perhaps best known for. They are certainly tuned for a fun sound.
Bass (e.g. punch, low extension):
Bass reaches low and is voluminous when required; it stays put and provides a good solid foundation. It’s well controlled and fairly tight. With sub bass or with a double bass on older tracks it can certainly make its presence felt; quite surprising considering the BT20 is an on-ear model with 40mm drivers.
Mids (e.g. vocals, acoustic instruments):
There’s a great sense of space and despite the elevated levels of bass and treble, the mid-range stands up to be counted. Harmonics are enjoyable and there’s a good sense of balance with the bass level. The two complement each other very well.
Treble (e.g. high hats):
The top end is smooth but there’s plenty of detail to be enjoyed. The SoundMAGIC BT20 is a good time headphone and gives a nice level of representation here without getting fatiguing.
Soundstage & Separation
Soundstage is excellent for a little closed back such as this, and is very well enhanced by the separation of instruments and voices. It’s a very immersive experience.
Music genres good for and why
First of course, the BT20 is great with dance genres, hip-hop, R&B and pop; but that’s not all – older music types are not lost on these headphones. 60s pop, jazz and classical come across very nicely too.
Worry-free wireless connection
Cable to conserve power or for when battery is flat
Good no-nonsense styling
Track/Call answer controls on headphones
Good Bluetooth range
Noise cancelling microphone
Some may be put off by the mic arm