Soundmagic E10 / E10M Review

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Soundmagic E10
Reviewed Jul 2011

Details: Straight-barrel Soundmagic IEM slotted just below the E30 in the lineup
MSRP: $34.99 (manufacturer’s page); $44.99 for E10M model w/mic & 3-button remote (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $35 from amazon.com / $35 from mp4nation.net for E10; $44 from amazon.com / $48 from mp4nation.net for E10M
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 100 dB | Freq: 15-22k Hz | Cable: 3.9’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Generic bi-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (3.5/5) – Single-flange (3 sizes) and bi-flange silicone tips, shirt clip, and soft carrying bag
Build Quality (3.5/5) – The E10 is available in a variety of color options and features two-tone metal shells with metal nozzle filters and Soundmagic’s usual color-coded strain reliefs. The materials of the strain reliefs and cable look a bit cheap but do the job. The rubbery cabling and well-relieved y-split and I-plug are similar to those on the E30 model
Isolation (2.5/5) – Being a more conventional straight-barrel design, the E10 isolates slightly more than the E30 does
Microphonics (4/5) – Surprisingly low when worn cable-down considering how rubbery the cord is. Nearly nonexistent when worn cord-up
Comfort (3.5/5) – The E10 uses a conventional straight-barrel design. The housings are a bit wide at the front and have short nozzles, preventing deep insertion. The stock tips aren’t particularly great, either, but switching to softer single-flanges allowed for good long-term wearing comfort

Sound (7/10) – If Soundmagic’s new E30 is the long-awaited upgrade to the balanced and neutral PL30 model, the E10 is a spiritual successor to Soundmagic’s bass-heavy entry-level sets of old. More forward and aggressive than the E30 on the whole, the E10 offers up gobs of bass power and impact on cue. The low end of the E10 is well-extended, reaching deep and hitting hard. It stops just short of the impact offered up by the MEElec M9 but boasts greater clarity, control, and resolution. The nature of the bass is slightly soft and the punch is diminished by the rounded note presentation but, as with the E30, the notes have good weight. The low end of the pricier E30 is a bit leaner and bleeds a touch less but on the whole the E10 does a good job of preserving the quality despite much greater bass quantity.

The midrange of the E10 is slightly less prominent than the low end but it is still more forward than that of the E30. The bassier nature of the E10 brings on a slightly warmer tonality but on the whole the two earphones share more similarities than differences in the mids and treble. Despite the bass emphasis, midrange clarity of the E10 is good and resolution nearly matches that of the E30. Treble extension is again highly reminiscent of the higher-end model, as is the nature of the treble – clean and clear but not hard or edgy. The top end is not entirely smooth but nothing offends which, with rare exceptions, seems to be the norm for the better earphones in the price range.

The E10 is a fairly forward earphone but that doesn’t stop it from possessing a surprisingly spacious soundstage. Compared to the E30, it sounds a touch narrower and less airy but still manages to impress, retaining the ability to throw sonic cues a good distance and sounding more convincing than almost all of my other reasonably-priced bass-heavy IEMs. The Blue Ever Blue 866B, for example, seems very small and congested compared to the E10. Lastly, it is worth noting that the E10 is more sensitive than the higher-end E30 and will reach louder output volumes. At extreme listening levels the bass does begin to distort very slightly, but one would have to either be deaf or highly interested in becoming deaf to turn them up that loud. Background hiss is slightly more noticeable than with the E30 but still nowhere near as much of an issue as it was with the old PL30.

THL Recommended Badge 2014Value (8.5/10) – Soundmagic has been in the business long enough to know what works and what doesn’t. It is no surprise, then, that the E10 complements the pricier E30 model perfectly, pairing a more consumer-friendly form factor with a more consumer-friendly sound signature. The bass grunt of the E10 is impressive and yet has little negative effect on the overall performance. Likewise the aggressive presentation does not completely sacrifice the spaciousness that has made certain Soundmagic IEMs so popular in the past. There are earphones that offer a bit more for your money in the way of accessories, build quality, and isolation but few can compete with the E10 when it comes to providing impactful and enjoyable sound at a very reasonable price.

Pros: Low cable noise; pleasant, bass-heavy sound
Cons: Tubby housings may be difficult to fit for some; stock eartips could be better


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

39 Comments

  1. Grant S. on

    You may have answered this question ad nauseam, but I’ll try your patience once more: I use, daily, the Vsonicgr02 BE, and my brother (unfortunately not in testing distance) loves his E10s..so I’m tempted. Are they too close to be worth as a second pair? I find the vsonics slightly sibilant, so would like something similar, but smoother with a little less ssssing. 😉 $50 budget.
    Cheers!

    • Grant S. on

      Oh. Dear. Ah.
      I bought a new set of E10, and either I have a duff pair, or these are nowhere in the same league as the GR02BE. I need 15% more volume to match, they are not close on bass depth, and seem muddy and low-powered in the extreme. In fact, sound about as good as free Fiio earbuds. Quite put me off.. 🙁

      • ljokerl on

        Assuming that the E10 is fine, as you said, it sounds like you simply prefer the more dynamic presentation of a highly “v-shaped” IEM and the boosted clarity that often brings with it.

  2. Dj on

    my soundmagic e10s just retired after 1 year of use and abuse hehe. I’m looking for a replacement and my budget is 40 dollars below. Although you’ve got a tremendous list and reviews of different IEM’s , their availability here in the Philippines is my problem. Any recommendations? My budget is roughly under 40 dollars.

    • ljokerl on

      It would probably be easier if you listed what decent options you have available to you and within budget, and also what you’re looking to be different in your new set than the E10 – otherwise it’s too likely for whatever I recommend to either be unavailable, out of reach, or not better than the E10 for what you’re after.

      • Dj on

        I’m picking between Fidue a31s, Xiaomi Pistons v3/hybrid, another Soundmagic e10s, kz ate s. I prefer earphones with inline microphone for calls. What’s your stand on skullcandy earphones? Are they good? I’ve seen some skullcandy earphones here and there for a while now.

        • Dj on

          Additional earphones on the list is vsonic vsd1s and dunu trident 12.

        • Dj on

          Other earphones i would like to add are vsonic vsd1s and dunu trident 12.

          • Dj on

            SO i contacted the seller and he said that only vsd3 is available which is out of my budget already. So I won’t include vsd1s in my list anymore. bummer. sorry if I kinda get confusing haha.

            • Dj on

              Oh i’ll add another one sorry haha. Urbanears Sumpan. Have you heard this earphones?

              • ljokerl on

                I am not familiar with the sumpan but I’ve tried various Skullcandy and Urbanears earphones in the past and none of them have impressed me so far.

                Fidue A31s is a step down from the E10 in clarity, there’s a good chance you won’t like it. Dunu Trident is similar.

                Xiaomi Piston 3 and Hybrid would be better E10 replacements – at least they keep up in clarity. I tend to prefer the more balanced (and less expensive) Piston 3 to the Hybrid, so that’s the one I’d go with.

                • Dj on

                  Thanks for your quick replies 🙂 I really appreciate it. I’d go with the Xiaomi v3 then. I do prefer balanced Earphones than with enhanced bass.

  3. Iwa on

    A very helpful website, Joker. Thank you very much. I was wondering i got the piston 2, piston 3 YE and brainwavz delta, how do E 10 compare to them soundwise?. If i want to make it a to-go iem directly driven from my mobile (iphone 4s) which one do the best?.

    • ljokerl on

      Not sure about the Delta but the E10 fits in closer to the Piston3 YE, with a bit of a more balanced/less “v-shaped” sound. I tend to prefer the Pistons because they give you a bit more clarity thanks to the brighter treble, but if you’d rather have a smoother, more spacious sound then the E10 is a fine alternative. The Piston 2 is quite a bit bassier/warmer than both of these so it’s not really as good of a comparison with the E10.

      • Iwa on

        Thanks for the reply. If i want to have the pistonish (YE) V Shape and the delta-ish middle/clarity what iem should i get (under $60 preferable) for an upgrade?.

        Also do you have any review on the Shure SE315 black version?. I owned this baby for couple yrs now but I still failed manage it’s best potential (uses E17 and Alo the International).

        Thank you again.

        • ljokerl on

          Better balance is typically better for midrange quality than a v-shape but the Pistons are pretty mild in the regard. For me the answer would be an Ostry KC06 (great midrange clarity) but it’s hard to call a v-shaped earphone because it’s even milder than a Piston 3.

          No experience with the SE315.

          • Iwa on

            Hi, just an update, bought this iem and i loved it. No sibilance nor harsh (as i really sensitive to it) and the low freq is rounded and full bodied (burn in for 20hrs). Mids are clear with crisp highs. Its really a steal for it’s price, thanks for your review and keep this good work, Joker.

            • ljokerl on

              Awesome, very glad you’re enjoying them! Great earphone, despite its age.

  4. Vanil on

    Hi! I just recently discovered this website and it’s fantastic. Please let which tips are good for E10 and how to buy them. But only silicone tips, not foam.

    • ljokerl on

      The stock eartips aren’t bad at all. I just ended up using some double-flanges I had sitting around. I believe they were from an older Soundmagic PL30 or from a MEElectronics M9. You can get them on ebay pretty inexpensively (just search meelectronics m9 double flange tips or soundmagic pl30 double-flange tips), or from meelec themselves.

      • Vanil on

        Thanks for the reply 🙂
        I find bi-flange a bit uncomfortable. Is there a difference in sound b/w tri/bi-flange or single flange tips? And what’s the difference in sound b/w wide aperture and narrow aperture tips?
        And can you tell better quality tips you used for yourself?
        That’s a lot of questions, but I’ll appreciate your help.

        • ljokerl on

          With these earphones shouldn’t be much of a difference. With some others narrow-aperture tips can affect the presentation and bass quality/quantity balance.

          I didn’t use any other tips on these earphones – didn’t need to. But if you have any others laying around just try them all – that’s what I always recommend.

          • Vanil on

            Thank you so much for your effort 🙂

  5. Arin on

    I have been using e10m for Past 2 years and i love them. Now their cord started to break, its a matter of time before they die. I want to upgrade, what would you suggest me? Budget is around $150. I have looked into ma750 eph100. My ears are little for eph for to fit in. So i left with ma750. Please suggest me any other alternative if any. I am not basshead but i do like punchier bass and crystality with wide soundstage. Please help me.

    • ljokerl on

      MA750 is quite a bit warmer and bassier than the E10. It’s a good way to go if that’s what you are looking for from your upgrade, but it is a bit of a departure from the E10 sound. Does have very impactful bass and a nice soundstage, with good clarity considering the bass enhancement.

      I have been hearing good things about the new Soundmagic E50 and liked the E80 when I tried it briefly at a show (but not sure how it stacks up to other ~$100 IEMs – show conditions aren’t ideal for that kind of evaluation). Might be worth looking into these as well.

      • Arin on

        I read some reviews and it seems like e50 doesnot have any fun signature and is rather balanced. E80 is wonderful as per reviews but I am too convinced towards MA750.

        Sorry to bother you but some quick questions

        1) You said MA750 has nice soundstage by that you mean more than e10 right ?
        2) How does RHA MA750 sounds with x1 or x3 (2nd gen)? Planning to buy one too.
        3) I would like to have my upgrade a little extra bass then e10s, considering that, is moving from V-shaped to warmer and bassier, a really bad move ?
        4) I have small ears. Will ma750 be uncomfortable to wear. Please consider I have never tried over the ear design.

        Please help me one last time and I promise not to bother you again dude. And many thanks for such wonderful reviews. I learned a lot about IEMs. I was a noob but now I can really understand some audio terms that you guys use. LOL :D.

        • ljokerl on

          1) I mean not worse. The E10’s soundstage is well above average in size/airiness for an IEM – a lot of sets sound more congested, especially those that have more bass like the MA750.

          2) Not sure – I don’t have those. It sounds fine with generic/mainstream DAPs like your iPhones/iPods and whatnot, as well as Sandisk stuff. Not a very difficult earphone to drive.

          3) It’s all down to personal preference – there’s nothing wrong with wanting more bass than the E10, and the MA750 will do that for you without going overboard in bass boost/bloat. Warmer tone comes with the territory, but the MA750 still has some good presence in the upper midrange/lower treble. For me it’s bordeline between a warm/smooth sound signature and a v-shaped one (same as the Xiaomi Piston 2).

          4) Depends. Small ear canals shouldn’t be a problem – just a matter of finding the right eartip size (the MA750 comes with quite a few) and angle of insertion. Small outer ears would be a concern if you think the housing of the MA750 may not fit within your ears at all. It’s not a small earphone.

  6. Michael on

    Are these better the the rha 350?

    • ljokerl on

      They sound very different. The E10s have less bass and warmth than the RHA but are clearer and have a larger soundstage.

  7. Finn H on

    Do you recommend comply tips for these? does it improve the bass or sound quality? Thanks

  8. Mark on

    Hey Joker,
    I was about to buy Soundmagic E10’s but then I found out that this model (http://www.amazon.de/SoundMAGIC-In-Ear-Kopfh%C3%B6rer-100%C2%B12dB-Klinkenstecker-schwarz-Silber/dp/B005HP3OB0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420498669&sr=8-1&keywords=soundmagic+e10) is not the same as the one you reviewed. It seems to be an updated model with a different cord like on the new Soundmagic E10S, which is the updated E10M w/o the volume rocker as far as I can tell( http://www.amazon.de/SoundMAGIC-E10S-Isolierende-Kopfh%C3%B6rer-S-Schalter-schwarz-silber/dp/B00LBZSV7W/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1420498669&sr=8-4&keywords=soundmagic+e10). So I would like to ask you if you got your hands on the “new” model of these and if so how do they compare with the ones you reviewed. How does this updated cord feel like and how is with microphonics on the newer model. And lastly is the sound signature any different is it better/worse compared to the old ones.
    Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      I haven’t tried this version but the cord looks like the internally-twisted coated cord that’s pretty popular with manufacturers like ViSang, HiSound, Brainwavz, and Fidue (on the A63 model: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/fidue-a63/). I’ve had positive experiences with this cord material. I does tend to harden a little over time but other than that I can’t think of any cons. Microphonics depends on the implementation but shouldn’t be bad – the Fidue is fine, for instance. Sound should also be the same as the original E10 unless something there have been changes other than the cable.

      • Mark on

        Thanks for your answer its greatly appreciated.
        Well Im just going to ask straight away because you are way more experienced than I am. I mainly listen to EDM and I found out that you prefer EPH-100 for this genre but its way over what Im willing to spend and I would love to get away with it for 30/40 €=$ absolute max would be 50. Was my amateur pick ok (E10) or can I get something better for my money? Oh what about Soundmagic ES18 I have heard that its basically the same as the E10 sound signature wise but I guess its plastic. Have you had a chance to try those?
        Thanks!

        • ljokerl on

          The E10 is fine. It’s not as bassy as the EPH-100 but it’s god pretty good punch. If you like bassier earphones, the Xiaomi Piston 2 can be had around the same price as the E10 and is also very good.

          Not sure about the ES18 – never tried it.

  9. Gus on

    Hey Joker, how would you compare these to the Dunu Tridents and the Phillips SHE3590?
    Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      The E10 would be the brightest and least bassy of the three. The Trident tends to be fairly warm with very smooth treble and pretty powerful bass. The E10 is more v-shaped, more spacious, but not as warm or bassy. The SHE3580 has more controlled bass and more v-shaped sound than the Trident so it’s more similar to the E10 in theory, but it still has more bass (especially deep bass) than the E10, as well as a less smooth, more aggressive sound, thinner note presentation, and less treble sparkle.

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