Pros: Price, overall sound quality in relation to price, looks, comfort, lightweight design
Cons: Straight 3.5mm jack, cable cinch
Packaging & Accessories: 4/10
Build Quality: 8/10
Design & Look: 8/10
Microphonics (higher ratings means lower cable noise): 8.5/10
Sound Quality: 7/10
My final Rating: 9.5/10
Review Date: September 2015
Review Price: £20
First of all I would like to thank Mark from KS Distribution for sending me out the SoundMAGIC ES19S for review.
After the having reviewed both the SoundMAGIC E80 and SoundMAGIC E10, I was intrigued to see how the cheapest in-line SoundMAGIC earphone would compare, and more so if it would be able to provide good value for money, like the E10 did.
The ES19S can be bought on AmazonUK for around £20.
I was unable to find US pricing or availability of it, but if I do come across it in the future, I’ll add a link and price.
More information on the SoundMAGIC ES19S can be found on their website.
Here’s my video review of the earphones:
Let’s get on with the written review!
Packaging & Accessories
Within the standard looking box, the accessories included are quite disappointing. Despite knowing the earphones only cost £20, it would been great to have a few more accessories included. Within the package there are only the earphones and a set of S, M L silicone tips. You’ll be able to notice from my pictures that there’s no large set of tips included – this is simply because I received a review unit, that had previously been opened and tested.
Overall, there’s not much to say here about the accessories, as there’s a lack of them – I feel a simple case would have been fantastic. However, given its price I can’t complain too much.
The build quality of the ES19S is quite well built, however there are a few points I would like to draw out.
First of all, the straight 3.5mm gold-plated jack would have been better if it were right-angled. It might not seem like a big point to make, however over time this can prove to become a problem, as the jack is often the weakest point in an earphones’ life. At its given price, it’s not a big deal, but thought it’s worth mentioning.
Moving up the cable, which does get tangled pretty easily, there’s an A/B switch, which is amazing to see being utilised in a set of earphones. I had previously seen this A/B switch for the jack’s poles in the SoundMAGIC P21S headphones. I absolutely love this inclusion, not only in the headphones, but in any audio gear. It’s therefore amazing to see it included on a set of earphones, and more so a £20 set of earphones!
For those that don’t know what the switch is – it essentially switches the poles, which allows you to use the in-line mic with both Apple and Android devices – this also means it works on older devices, which also have different pole structures.
Speaking of the A/B switch, I did notice a somewhat odd issue with the ES19S. Sometimes when I plugged the earphones into my phone, it wouldn’t recognise an earphone being in the jack – despite being properly inserted. It’s not only after I flick the switch from B back to A, where the earphones would suddenly be picked up (despite not being unplugged). I’m not sure what the reasoning is, but it happened intermittently. Just thought to note this as a potential build quality flaw.
Now if it wasn’t clear already, the ES19S comes with an in-line mic, which works perfectly. However, I did find the one-button remote a little hard to press. The button can do play/pause, answer/drop calls and previous/next music.
Moving to the earphones themselves, there’s a R and L symbol on the side of the earphones which indicate the side of each earphone.
In terms of the build of the earphones themselves, they’re made out of plastic and have a nice silver ring around them, making them slightly elegant – I would have preferred these rings to be coloured, like they are on the E10s.
I should mention the microphonics too – I found them to be excellent, there was little cable noise and despite the earphones not really being designed to be used over-the-ear, the ES19S can be used both straight down and over-the-ear.
Overall the build quality is good, although going forward the A/B switch problem does cause some concern.
Design, looks, comfort and isolation
To me the looks aren’t that appealing, the earphones look pretty cheap, but that’s also because they are a set of £20 – so I can’t expect them to look amazing. However, with that said, the design of the A/B switch and the small touch of class by the silver ring around the earphones is definitely a huge plus!
The isolation of the earphones is good, however due to their relatively smaller profile, they don’t block out everything.
The earphones are quite comfortable, I felt that when worn both over-the-ear and straight down, they were comfortable. As the earphones are made out of plastic, they are very lightweight too, meaning long periods of use won’t cause discomfort.
The sound quality was something I was looking out for, as in comparison to the already good bang-for-buck E10s, I was really curious to se how the ES19S could really provide a better option for those that are even tighter on their budgets. Considering the E10s are around £35, it’s surprising that SoundMAGIC made an even cheaper £20 set of earphones.
I’m pleased to say that at the given price, they’re amazing value for money. Potentially one of the best value for money earphones I’ve come across. Sure their sound quality in comparison to other earphones isn’t going to be mind-blowing, but I really loved the overall sound presentation from SoundMAGIC.
The low end is decent – the mid-bass has a sufficient slam, however does lack some control. I would have preferred the mid-bass to have a little more control, whilst having the same amount of impact and presence (as it wasn’t overdone or too tamed down).
The sub-bass is actually present, however was cut off in the lower frequencies. I was expecting this with the price, but was surprised when I found there was sub-bass presence.
The mids are pushed back and in comparison to the E10s, I found them to be a little more recessed. It was at first hard to describe what was happening to the mids, but after a longer period of listening and A/Bing with other earphones, I noticed it was the decay and the soundstage that really held back the mids.
The highs on the other hand were actually very good. They did roll off, more than they did with the E10s, but did provide a decent extension and more so a great sparkle to them, which adds life and musicality to the ES19S.
The soundstage for me is what really held back the ES19S. It felt as if the soundstage was being squeezed, which meant the earphones couldn’t really express themselves. As noted above, it did affect the overall sound quality, such as how it affected the mid-range presence and decay. It’s a shame as if it wasn’t for the soundstage being pushed back and a little narrow, then the earphones would have sounded a lot better and put the E10s on a run for their money. With that said, it’s clear to head the differences both in overall sound and more specifically of the soundstage over the E10s. Despite this sounding quite negative, it’s more a testament that I’m having to compare these earphones with a more expensive set. The overall soundstage is actually above average, and considering its price is actually amazing.
Sound Quality Ratings
Conclusion & Closing Thoughts
Overall, the ES19S is a cheap-man’s E10s. They provide a like-for-like sound of the E10s, just have a little less refinement, both in sound and overall presentation of the earphones (such as accessories, design and build quality).
Throughout my review and whilst listening to the earphones I just always reminded myself that these earphones, brand-new are £20 delivered. They come with a set of silicone tips, an in-line mic and a clever A/B pole switch, which all leads to the earphones providing amazing value for money. Definitely gets a massive thumbs up from me – great job from SoundMAGIC, yet again for providing a well-rounded affordable earphone!
Hope you enjoyed my review!