Bluetooth earphones are ten-a-penny, but the SoundMAGIC E10BT have more pedigree than most. They’re made by the company responsible for producing some of the best budget wired earphones in existence. Moving to a wireless with mic design ups the price somewhat, with the E10BT costing £60, but I’m okay with that if they’re as good as their wired stablemates.
Accessories and build quality
The E10BT comes with a good selection of accessories. In the box, you’ll find three pairs of domed silicone eartips (S/M/L), three pairs of bowl silicone eartips (S/M/L), four pairs of vented silicone eartips (XS/S/M/L), one pair of double flange silicone eartips (M), a microUSB to USB charging cable and a small semi-rigid carry case.
The selection of ear tips is better than average, and makes it easy to find the perfect fit, which is essential for any in-ear audio product. I would have liked to see ear-hook types included, but given the EB10BT aren’t aimed at athletes, I can’t really criticise this omission.
The E10BTs aren’t pretty. They come in gunmetal black and the only adornments are the left and right indicators on each housing. They are, however, functional. The right earbud cable has a three-button remote that is used to increase and decrease the volume, skip back and forth, play and pause music, answer/reject calls and it has a built-in microphone as well. A blue light on the remote indicates if the earphones are connected to your smartphone and both earbuds’ cables are terminated into a shirt-clip compartment that houses the battery. Battery life is a quoted at a reasonable 10-12hrs.
To me, the battery compartment makes the design a little awkward. If you don’t happen to be wearing something that’s easy to clip the battery compartment to, the E10BT’s aren’t comfortable to wear. On the plus side, if you do there’s no problem – in this situation, they’re very light on the ear, and there’s no sign of heavy microphonics (cable rubbing noise).
Lastly, the earphones connect through Bluetooth v4.2, they’ll playback 24-bit audio files and have a wireless range of 10m. Unfortunately, they do not support the aptX codec, which is a touch disappointing from an audio quality perspective.
The wired E10 and E10C both racked up a lot of praise for their fantastic sound quality, but how do the E10BT’s compare?
SoundMAGIC chose to keep the same drivers as the E10 and E10C; as the old saying goes, why fix something that’s not broken? With that said, at an increased price of £60 it goes from being a budget earphone to one that should be considered mid-range, be it wireless or not. This pushes the E10BT up into the sub-£100 price category, where it faces a lot stiffer competition.
The E10BT have a fun sound signature, with an emphasis on the bass and highs. The sub-bass extends relatively well, but is cut-off in the lower frequencies, which means you won’t get a full extension in bassier tunes. The mid-bass has a good impact, but I would have liked more control; I felt here the sound was somewhat flabby.
With an emphasis in the lows and a warm sound overall sound signature, the E10BT’s aren’t the most analytical of headphones. The mids are recessed, which means that vocals aren’t as present or enticing. For example, while listening to Alicia Keys’ – If I ain’t got you, her voice isn’t forward and present as I’d like.
At the other end, the highs add a decent level of sparkle, bringing life and excitement to music, but are rolled off at the very top end and that means high cymbals, for instance, don’t extend as quite as high as they should.
Finally, the soundstage is well represented, with a relatively good depth and width. However, I would have liked to hear better instrument separation. In comparison to the J&L-102, I feel the E10BT’s aren’t quite at the same level in this respect. It’s as if the E10BT’s sound congested.
The SoundMAGIC E10BT is a very good pair of wireless earphones. They keep the warm sound signature from the E10-line and combine that with the convenience of Bluetooth connection. Battery life is good for a pair of in-ear wireless headphones, too.
However at £60, they aren’t as cheap to buy as equally competent rivals and are far from perfect, both in terms of sound and build quality. I’d still recommend them over the J&L-102 for overall sound quality, despite the congested instrument separation. But, I wouldn’t go as far to say that I’d jump at them, as I did with the SoundMAGIC E10 and E10C.