Soundmagic PL21 / MP21 Review

5

 
Reviewed Nov 2009

Details: The latest budget earphone from Soundmagic
MSRP: est. $23 for PL21; $26 for MP21 w/mic + 1-button remote
Current Price: $22 from amazon.com/ $20 from mp4nation.net for PL21; $23 from mp4nation.net for MP-21
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16 Ω | Sens: N/A | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cord: 4’ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: VSonic foamies, stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (4.5/5) – Silicone single-flange (4 sizes) and foam (3 sets) tips, pleather carrying pouch, set of rubber cable guides, and shirt clip
Build Quality (3.5/5) – The shells are aluminum and feel well-machined. Cables are rubberized and feature articulated strain reliefs. Not as thick as the PL50 cabling or Meelctronics’ cables, but still very functional
Isolation (2.5/5) – Isolation is about average; foam tips help
Microphonics (4/5) – present when worn straight-down. Can be eliminated entirely by wearing them over-the-ear. Shirt clip and gable guides are included.
Comfort (4/5) – They are extremely light and the driver bulge is smaller and farther from the nozzle than on the Meelec R1 or Skullcandy Titans so they are far more comfortable

Sound (4.8/10) – The sound produced by the PL21s is massively different from their PL30 and PL50 brethren. While the latter two are the more neutral and accurate earphones, the PL21 is a lot more fun. It produces a dark, bassy, and aggressive sound. The bass is impactful but occasionally lacking restraint (i.e. boomy). The midrange is recessed compared to the lows but still plenty lively. The treble is okay but high-end extension could be better. Soundstage is good but not as wide and airy as the older PL30s. They also lose out to the Meelec Ai-M9 in treble quality, quantity, and detail. Still, the entire signature is coherent and very enjoyable for a budget IEM and they are still one of my favorites in their class

Value (8/10) – The Soundmagic PL21 offers a much more mainstream sound than the PL30 and PL50 at a bargain price. They are not perfect by any means, but they offer a very lively signature as part of a complete entry-level package and have no glaring faults – the build quality is good, the accessories are good, the comfort is good. There is really very little fault I can find with these for $21.

Pros: Rich sound, decent soundstage, comfortable
Cons: Bass is a sometimes boomy, not as airy or detailed as the PL30 or Ai-M9


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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.

5 Comments

  1. Kumar on

    Sorry, I forgot to mention. My budget limit is 40$

  2. Kumar on

    Also, which in-ear earphones do you suggest as an upgrade to the old creative ep 630 with the same bass signature or bass quality and quantity of the ep630? Thanks in advance 🙂

  3. Kumar on

    Hello sir. How do the soundmagic pl21 sound compared to the old creative ep630? especially with regard to the bass quality and also quantity.

    • ljokerl on

      I don’t really have any experience with the EP630 – it was never really that popular in the US. From what I’ve been told, it is pretty bassy, so I would maybe recommend the Nuforce NE-600X as an inexpensive way to go from there. I really like the NE-600X for what it costs.

      • Kumar on

        Ok. I’ll try those then. Thank you so much.

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