Soundmagic HP1000 Dynamic Headphones – Brightest Ideas!
The brightest ideas come in the dark, or so the old saying goes. HP1000 is a really bright-sounding headphone at first, but it settles down after a long while, so it deserves a place here, and will get compared to other cans close to its price tag of 300 USD. The main competitors I picked are Meze 99 Classics, Ultrasone Signature DXP, Sivga P-II. The main pairings will be with iBasso DX160, FiiO M11 PRO, and Singxer SDA-2.
It’s kinda funny that this isn’t even my first review about a Soundmagic product. The first one came years ago, and it was about a headphone that was not very interesting nor very special, but which worked well for that price. HP1000 is really daring to go into the midrange price point, and they’re one of a kind in many ways, including in the tuning. Soundmagic is really responsive, they have a PR that speaks Eng well, and they’re really easy to work with. Totally recommended as a company for their warranty and overall service.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Soundmagic, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I’d like to thank Soundmagic for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Soundmagic HP1000 find their next music companion.
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
HP1000 has one of the best packages out there, with a really awesome carrying case, awesome cables, and nice overall presentation. Compared to Meze 99C, the most popular closed-back headphone in this price range, soundmagic makes a more professional impression, especially thanks to their cables.
I keep talking about the cables like they’re really awesome, but really they’re proprietary and not what I would generally recommend for all headphones out there. In fact, proprietary cables means that you’ll have to order a replacement from the original company, and if you don’t like that cable you’re short out of luck.
On the bright side, the cable of HP1000 is actually fairly good, and they have a nice overall ergonomic, with no microphonic noise, and the cable has the right amount of flexibility to be good. If I had any complaints, the earpads are not the deepest, but they are pretty soft and the stuffing feels substantial rather than cheapy-spongy.
HP1000 is actually rather hard to drive, not quite at the same level as Sundara, but still not easy. They have a somewhat high impedance of 68-75 OHM, and they have a high SPL of 120dB. This means that they prefer OTL Amplifiers like Feliks Echo, and that they have a preference for sources with a good clean voltage and don’t need a lot of power. The maximum rated power is 100mW, which is fairly low.
The weight is actually on the high side at 412 grams, because they are made from metal mostly. That weight is distributed nicely, they have an ok clamping force and sit considerably more comfortably on my head than Ultrasone Signature DXP. The earpads are also much larger than Ultrasone Signature DXP and most other closed-back headphones, and HP1000 can rival Meze 99 Classics in overall comfort and design / ergonomics.
HP1000 has an excellent passive noise isolation and leaks very little. They are also mainly intended to be listened very quiet, so this works well with their design.
The sound of HP-1000 is really really bright and sparkly, especially at first. I won’t argue whether burn-in is real or it is just me adjusting to the sound, or my hearing dying out and me not hearing the peaks anymore, but after a while it settled down and became pretty enjoyable, detailed and reminds me of a mini HD800S from Sennheiser.
At first, it is extremely bright, with a copious peak in the upper midrange that makes everything a bit shouty. As a consequence, the entire sound is extremely detailed, clear, clean and detailed. The bass is quick but has good substance, and the midrange is clear and has an enjoyable, slightly smooth and slightly wet / splashy texture. The treble tends to be strong and sparkly, with excellent extension and a good amount of air between instruments.
The bass is actually the best part of HP1000 despite them being fairly neutral in the bass quantity. It has a voluminous presentation, it is quick but has a very satisfying impact. The bass extension goes really well in the ~30 Hz range, but it ain’t made for bassheads, as this is a really bright or neutral at best headphone. I enjoy Drum N bass out of HP1000, and bands like Pendulum, and even Dubstep from Skrillex or Infected Mushroom.
The midrange is where things start to get tricky, because at first HP1000 has a peak in the midrange / lower treble that makes music really stand out in clarity, detail but also reveals any minor recording mistake too easily. The midrange is generally slightly wet in texture and slightly splashy, so the sound can get a bit sibilant, but it is never harsh or dry. The soundstage is actually quite large, and the presentation holographic, with good depth too. The dynamics of HP1000 are good, but you can’t really crank them up very loud, and if you’re a quiet listener they present a really crystalline midrange that emphasizes and romanticizes pianos, orchestral and classical music. I really love them at quiet levels, but if you want to listen loud I can call at least a dozen other headphones by their name for that.
The treble extends a lot in the highs, and it has a ton of energy. Since the peak will depend on your ear’s overall resonance, if the midrange / lower treble peak, you may be unable to hear the treble extension. At least for me, and after they settled they started sounding really airy, wide and detailed in the treble. The sound is still somewhat smooth in textures, and I’m happy to report that with Jazz, Classical, Piano songs, and especially female voices, they are awesome. I also enjoy Rock and slower ballads a lot out of them, but HP1000 is not a headphone for Rap or Metal.
Given their price, they’re actually competition for HIFIMAN Deva, Sundara, and even for Sennheiser Momentum series. I tried to stick with the ones most probable to be on your list when you’re thinking about getting HP1000.
Soundmagic HP1000 vs Ultrasone Signature DXP (300 USD vs 500 USD) – The package of DXP is better, and so is the overall aesthetic, but HP1000 is larger, heavier and more comfortable too. Especially at the cup size level, they sit better on my ears, heat less during usage, and I can wear HP1000 for far longer than DXP before wearing fatigue kicks in. The sound is more balanced and natural on DXP, where it is cleaner, more detailed, and a bit more open on HP1000. It is one of those times when you understand that having the best detail doesn’t really mean having the best overall listening experience, as with DXP I can enjoy metal, punk, rock, and aggressive music more, and I can crank them louder, which is my typical listening preference. HP1000 can be fatiguing by comparison, and it is too bright for aggressive music.
Soundmagic HP1000 vs Meze 99 Classic (300 USD vs 300 USD) – Meze 99 Classics is actually similar in overall comfort and package to HP1000. The sound is much much thicker, to the point where it is deaf in the treble on 99 Classics. Happily they have a huge headroom and can be EQ’ed easily to sound much more balanced, and after EQ, 99C sounds more natural, more even and more V-Shaped than HP1000. By comparison, HP1000 is more snappy, lighter, more detailed, cleaner, and wider in the soundstage. I would generally recommend 99C for a beginner, especially if you like to listen extremely loud.
Soundmagic HP1000 vs Sivga P-II (300 USD vs 400 USD) – P-II is a really good headphone for those who like a warm sound, and it is the only one on this list that I can say for sure has a better package and design than HP1000. Price is not always a good indicator of quality and performance, so I try to always stick with the actual impressions rather than assuming pricier equals better. HP1000 is much brighter, more open, with a more detailed and cleaner sound. P-II is thicker, has a meatier overall sound, a more satisfying presentation with more impact and more dynamics, especially if driven well.
Soundmagic HP1000 + iBasso DX160 (300 USD + 400 USD) – DX160 is one of the most natural sounding DAPs from the midrange price bracket, and it pairs beautifully with HP1000, where it gives them a really good midrange with a slightly lesser peak, lots of detail, but a more mellow character that combats their strong nature nicely.
Soundmagic HP1000 + FiiO M11 PRO (300 USD + 650 USD) – M11 PRO has less power on the SE output than it has on the balanced one, but it still is more than enough for HP1000. The sound is pretty holographic and edges on glassy given the enhanced treble of M11PRO. I would recommend M11 PRO much more than the original M11 for the HP1000, as the original was quite bright. The whole sound is clean, clear, natural-ish in the mids with a ton of detail. Dynamics are also good, and thanks to M11PRO’s quiet background, you can listen really quiet without being bothered by background noise.
Soundmagic HP1000 + Singxer SDA-2 (300 USD + 400 USD) – SDa-2 is a nice way to see how well HP1000 can handle a better DAC/AMP instead of a portable, and I was surprised by the improvement in control, dynamic and punch it presents. The whole sound is really holographic and the mids are a bit softer, characteristic for SDA-2’s single ended output.
Value and Conclusion
Soundmagic HP1000 has a really good value actually, they have a nice package, a lot of extras with the cables, and they are really well made. The sound also has plenty of detail and clarity for the price, so objectively they are a good value.
The package is presented really professionally, much better than that of Ollo S4X, which is actually a great mixing / mastering headphone.
The build quality is excellent, lots of metal combined with good earpads, and a good weight distribution with their geometric design. The sound does not leak to the outside, and they isolate nicely being closed back.
This all means that you can listen quietly, which is really recommended given their crystalline sound. The detail levels combined with the fluffed upper midrange / lower treble means that you’ll hear everything, and the rounded bass means that you also have substance to that sound.
At the end of today’s review, if you’re looking for a really detailed headphone, with a strong treble, a nice rounded bass, and if you want a closed-back one that’s airy and wide, you’ll totally love the HP1000 from Soundmagic.
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Full Playlist used for this review
We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature. PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality are all revealed by those songs. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music!
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