Details: Soundmagic’s flagship IEM and first Armature-based design
MSRP: $55 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $51 from ebay.com / $55 from mp4nation.net / $79 from amazon.com
Specs: Driver: BA | Imp: 55.5 Ω | Sens: 109 dB | Freq: 15-22k Hz | Cable: 3.9’ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 4mm | Preferred tips: Sony Hybrids
Wear Style: Over-the-ear
Accessories (4.5/5) – Hard carrying case, a set of over-the-ear cable guides and a large selection of single-flange silicone and foam tips
Build Quality (4/5) – Housings are tiny and very, very light. The cables are fairly thick, rubberized, and feature articulated strain reliefs at the y-joint and an L-plug. An early batch had problems with removing the stock foam tips, which sometimes resulted in splitting, but this has been resolved.
Isolation (2.5/5) – Not bad at all but the design does not allow a very deep fit
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Pretty much nonexistent
Comfort (5/5) – With properly-fitting tips these are some of the most comfortable IEMs out there. The tiny size and low profile make it easy to forget about them
Sound (6.9/10) – The sound signature of these is a little different from most of the other IEMs I’ve tried in the price range. Instead of focusing specifically on the bass, the highs, or both, the PL50’s single balanced armature surprises with the smoothness and evenness of response across its entire frequency range. Extension on both ends is better than average, which is surprising for a single armature setup, especially at such a low price point. I can see some people finding them bass light, and truly they don’t have any significant humps in the low-end response, but it is very detailed and can be felt as well as heard. Same goes for the highs – just a tiny bit of sparkle, no emphasis. If I had to attribute a term to these, I would call them mid-centric just because nothing draws attention away from the silky-smooth, liquid midrange. Soundstage is above average, but not as airy as the lower-end PL30. Imaging, however, is superb – easily as good as it gets for the price. Overall, the sound they produce is very, very effortless. They are one of the least tiring earphones to listen to in my experience and also very forgiving of poor source material.
Amping: Good if it can be used as a hardware equalizer (i.e. a Fiio E5 with bass boost for those craving more bass), but these are quite efficient and don’t need one in general. They do respond very well to software equalization and can be molded to fit individual preferences quite well.
Value (8.5/10) – With their unbeatable comfort, excellent accessory set, low microphonics, good build quality, and smooth sound I find very hard to find any cons whatsoever in the Soundmagic PL50 for the price. The sound may not be for everyone, but for what they offer they are incredible. I do recommend using them with Sony Hybrid tips, which add about $10 on top of the price but color the sound less than stock foamies and seal better than stock silicone tips.
Pros: Astonishingly comfortable, useful accessory pack, very practical, excellent sound
Cons: Laid back, mid-centric sound signature may be boring to some