SoundMAGIC HP151 Headphone Review
SoundMAGIC needs no introduction for many; this brand has had tremendous success in recent years, not least with its full size offerings such as the HP100, HP150 and the open-back HP200. The SoundMAGIC HP151 promises to be a new and improved version of the HP150, with a few changes here and there.
- Nice styling and low-key design
- 2.5m cable more suited to indoor listening
- Great sound
- Phones/handsets may struggle without amplification
Design and Appearance
Gone is the ‘tactile’ grey covering on the outside of the earcups, yokes and headband which the HP150 had; now it’s plain black plastic. Also the earcup ‘swivel’ feature of the HP150 is gone; the earcups are now fixed. Perhaps it was a bit tricky for those who aren’t DJs? The rest of us shouldn’t need to swivel too much anyway.
Another difference is the cable; it’s still a straight one but comes in at a longer 2.5m, as opposed to the original 1.5m (you can buy the shorter HP150 cables separately which will fit if needed). The extension lead which the HP150 had is no longer included.
Durability and Build Quality
Construction is from plastic and feels very solid, there are no squeezy or squeaky bits. The cable has decent strain reliefs and is rubber coated and slinky, not sticky.
The supplied case is a semi-rigid affair with a little pocket for keeping the supplied aircraft and 6.35mm adapters if needed, and will protect the headphones between uses. Just don’t sit on it.
The SoundMAGIC HP151 is a light and comfortable headphone, thanks to its light construction, generously upholstered headband and earpads.
Suitability for intended application
The HP151 can be used quite successfully when on the move, but many handsets will not have sufficient power so a separate headphone amp may be required, or a dedicated player with a little more power than the average phone.
Otherwise it’s one for at home or in the studio.
The SoundMAGIC HP151 is a bit of a crowd pleaser; the overall balance is tilted slightly towards the warm but details are quite appreciable, and tape hiss comes through from those old recordings so there’s little roll-off with the treble. Note: for those interested in a comparison with the HP150, there is no difference other than the earcup and headband design; it’s the same great sound.
The big 53mm drivers give a nice thump to the HP151’s low bass; it doesn’t steal the show but gives a nice foundation, bass frequencies are given a bit of heft and authority without giving the impression of a bass-heavy headphone. Control is fairly tight; it’s a breezy, carefree bass with fun on its mind, but always makes it home in time for tea.
The midrange is all there with a slight dip in the 1kHz -2KHz area; there’s no noticeable holes or gaps in the frequency response as there may be with other models. It’s a gentle lowering to shun any shrillness and makes for an inviting and clear presentation. With the detail here and the aforementioned bass quality, the harmonics here can really bring instruments to life.
Similarly, vocals are clear and rather enjoyable with subtle details giving a really good representation of any performer’s unique character.
There’s plenty of sparkle, shimmer and zing here; it’s certainly a clear triple! It’s not overbearing, and gives just the right amount of presence for full enjoyment of those high frequency details. It’s a great balance between brightness and mellowness.
- Soundstage & Separation
The width reaches out beyond the earcups a little way and gives a nice impression of space; both higher frequency detail and bass are able to jump out and give our ears a little tweak when the music dictates it; very nice. Separation is great too; classical pieces are rendered very nicely with clear harmonics preserving the character and positioning of everything, even with a lot going on.
Music genres good for and why
The HP151 works with everything. Many genres were tried and none failed; bass heavy rap, acoustic, classical, dance; it’s a clear pass for this one.
If you are looking for a general use headphone with good isolation, look no further. Any and every music type sounds excellent with plenty of space and the feeling that these headphones are enjoying themselves just as much as the listener is!