Current Price: $75 from mp4nation.net
Build Quality (7/10): After experimenting with unconventional folding mechanisms in the lower-end P10 and P20 models, Soundmagic have backtracked a bit and used a more common DJ-style form factor for the P30. The good news is that it works – the structure feels solid, the hinges are smooth, and the plastics are well-molded. The headband adjustment mechanism is notched and the metal surfaces of the earcups give the headphones some heft. The single-sided cord is rubberized and a touch thinner than the cable on MEElec’s HT-21. It is terminated with a slim L-plug similar to those found on Soundmagic’s PL50 and PL21 IEMs as well as newer Beyerdynamic models. Padding is very soft and sufficient in quantity all around. An (unfortunate) testament to the sealing ability of the earpads is the mild driver flex that can be coaxed from the P30.
Comfort (8.5/10): The headband and earcups of the P30 utilize very soft synthetic leather pads and the multi-axis folding structure of the headphones makes the fit highly adjustable. The pads, sealing as well as they do, can get slightly warm after a few hours but on the whole wearing comfort is excellent.
Isolation (7.5/10): Very impressive for a small supraaural headphone, no doubt helped along by the extremely soft pads and compliant fitting mechanism
Sound (6.75/10): The priciest portable headphone put out by Soundmagic to date, the P30 offers up a generally inoffensive sound signature with slightly laid-back treble and a bit of added punch. The low end is controlled but impactful. Consumer-friendly levels of bass emphasis a-la Klipsch Image One are missing but the bass of the P30 is still significantly fuller and more powerful than with the MEElectronics HT-21 and Beyerdynamic DTX 300 p. The overall signature is warmer and smoother and the note presentation is softer and rounder with the P30, foregoing the lean and crisp sound of the Beyers and MEElecs. The midrange is warm and pleasant. It is balanced well with the low end but sounds a touch distant next to the mid-forward HT-21 and DTX 300 p. Detail and texturing are quite good but the P30 lacks a bit of midrange clarity and crispness. Part of the issue may be the relatively power-hungry nature of the headphones – they really do come alive at moderate-to-high volumes, becoming more balanced and dynamic.
The top end is slightly laid-back and quite inoffensive. Neither sibilance nor harshness is an issue but the P30 still offers up better treble presence and a slightly airier sound than the Marshall Major. Still, its top end is no match for the bright and prominent treble of Sennheiser’s HD428 and there is a bit of extension missing at the upper limit. On the upside, the treble is smooth and polite all the way up and despite the warmer tone of the headphones, there is enough presence for the signature to sound reasonably balanced overall. The presentation, too, is spacious and well-measured. The P30 conveys distance quite a bit better than the Marshall Major but has an inner limit to its soundstage. On-ear portables in general don’t always give a very good on-center feel and the P30 is no exception to that rule. Overall, the presentation and signature work well together, providing a pleasant, non-fatiguing listening experience.
Value (7.5/10): The P30 commands a moderate price premium over Soundmagic’s older models but does so for a reason – it is built better, more isolating, more comfortable, and significantly better-sounding than either the P10 or P20. Minor driver flex aside, the P30 feels more like a higher-end portable product from a ‘premium’ brand and is tuned quite well for use outside with its slight bass emphasis, non-fatiguing treble, and thicker note presentation. The form factor has no real usability flaws, either, making the P30 one of the better small, on-ear portable sets I’ve come across.
Frequency Response: 20-22,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 108 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 3.94ft (1.2m), single-sided; Angled Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: Flat-folding, collapsible