SoundMagic E80D review: sleek, sonically pleasing USB-C wired earbuds at a bargain price

 SoundMagic E80D inserted into FiiO M11S music player.
Credit: Future

SoundMagic E80D: Review

With the SoundMagic E80D, the headphone manufacturer has released yet another budget pair of earbuds capable of serving up hi-res audio. That’s partly because the new E80D come with a built-in digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) – a common inclusion for SoundMagic products, and something that sets its products apart from a lot of other budget wired earbud creators. So, just how good do the E80D buds sound, and are they worth their asking price? Let’s find out…

The E80D’s built-in DAC is capable of handling audio up to 24bit / 96kHz, and was a key difference-maker on quality when I compared them to the DAC-less (and admittedly cheaper) Skullcandy Set USB-C. Added quality was apparent when listening to Adagio Per Archi E Organo In Sol Minore by the London Philharmonic Orchestra; the track’s organ and string elements were easily distinguishable, something that other budget buds can struggle with. When I listened to the same track on the Set USB-C, they melded the instruments together more, restricting the expressive nature of the composition.

Similarly, when I listened to Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes by Paul Simon, vocals in the mid-range felt more natural on the E80D to me. Percussion also felt a bit more weighty and impactful in the transition out from the intro than it did with the Skullcandy model.

SoundMagic claims that the E80D have a “defined bass” – and I’d agree. With Black Eye by Allie X, I was pleased by the level of depth the E80D could achieve. And although the kicks didn’t have the same sharpness that you’d expect from a more premium pair of wired headphones, they still packed a punch.

The biggest drawback when it comes to sound is the fact that the E80D just don’t get loud enough. At first, I wondered if all the years of high-volume listening were catching up on me, but after checking my experience against that of others online, I realized I wasn’t alone here. I checked loudness across a Windows laptop, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fiio M11S music player, but couldn’t always quite get the power I craved. I found myself typically playing songs at the 80-90% volume mark, which is significantly higher than when using the SoundMagic E11D, for instance.

Still, most people will likely be satisfied with the E80D’s sound levels if they keep them cranked high enough – it might just take a bit of getting used to. All in all, this is a bit of a shame though, given one of the reasons that their sibling, the SoundMagic E11C, got onto our list of the best wired headphones, was due to their impressive power.

Beyond sound, the E80D listening experience is relatively free of discomfort thanks to a comfortable fit – I gladly kept these in for hours across multiple days in the office and when walking home. They’re also pretty lightweight at 0.56oz / 16g, which adds a touch of elegance.

Additionally, they offer passive noise isolation, which helps to reduce the rumble of passing traffic, surrounding chatter and similar. In all honesty, I was surprised at how good the E80D’s noise isolation was given their price tag of $44 / £39.98 / AU$66. When I was playing music in the office, I could barely make out the sound of typing or colleagues speaking. Of course, you’re not going to get the near-silence that you may get from active noise canceling, but for what they set out to do in the isolation department, the E80D deliver.

One area of minor frustration during listening sessions was with cable noise, which, although not severe, is still a slight distraction. This was more prominent when I was on the move, although this is pretty common for earbuds that hang down, rather than wrap around the ear. If you want to tune in to music or podcasts while on the go and you’re not hellbent on purchasing wired buds specifically, it might be a better move to select a pair of the best wireless earbuds instead.

If you need to find the perfect fit or get the most out of the E80D’s noise isolation, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are additional ear gels included in small and large sizes, as well as a double-layered option (the default ear tips are standard, medium-sized gels). On the topic of extras, the E80D also come with a hard carry case for transporting your buds around.

The SoundMagic E80D look pretty similar to their predecessor, the SoundMagic E11D. They aren’t particularly stunning, although their silver-colored wire has a twisted look, which I’m a fan of. However, it’s worth noting that I also tested an older version of the E11D in Black, which had a much chunkier USB-C connector and didn’t have the coiled visual effect of the Silver model, so the E80D make for a significant improvement over this variant appearance-wise. My largest gripe with the E80D’s build is that the remote – which includes controls for volume and play/pause – is similar to that of the E11D, and still has buttons that are too small and close together. However, the controller’s inbuilt mic performs well, and recorded relatively clear audio when I created a voice recording – though I could make out a little static in the background.

Overall, you get a lot for your money with the SoundMagic E80D without having to sacrifice on quality across audio, design, or comfort – as a result, I would recommend these.

SoundMagic E80D and carry case resting on top of orange-colored amp
SoundMagic E80D and carry case resting on top of orange-colored amp

SoundMagic E80D review: Price and release date

  • $44 / £39.98 / AU$66

  • Launched on April 17, 2024

The SoundMagic E80D are still quite fresh, having only been released in April 2024, around six years after the E11D. One of the most attractive aspects of the E80D is their affordability, with the model holding a list price of $44 / £39.98 / AU$66.

If you’re working with a slightly smaller budget though, you can still find quality options, such as the stylish Skullcandy Set USB-C, which come in at $31.99 / £29.99 (about AU$50). You will, however, miss out on the inbuilt DAC, with the Skullcandy supplying decent audio, but not to the same standard you get with the E80D.

SoundMagic E80D review: Specs

Person holding SoundMagic E80D's controller
Person holding SoundMagic E80D's controller

Should you buy the SoundMagic E80D?

Buy them if…

Don't buy them if...

SoundMagic E80D: Also consider

SoundMagic E80D review: How I tested

SoundMagic E80D resting on top of orange-colored amp
SoundMagic E80D resting on top of orange-colored amp
  • Tested across the span of multiple weeks

  • Used in the office and whilst on walks

  • Predominantly tested using Tidal on FiiO M11S music player

When judging the SoundMagic E80D’s audio quality, I usually connected them to the FiiO M11S hi-res music player and listened to music via Tidal. However, I also tried tuning into some tracks on Spotify using my Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and watched some YouTube videos with them on my Windows laptop.

As always, I selected tunes from the TechRadar testing playlist when conducting this review, which includes records from a whole host of different genres. I used the E80D in the office, on walks, and at home over the course of multiple weeks.

Read more about how we test.

  • First reviewed: June 2024