Never heard of Soundmagic before? Don’t sweat it – neither had we until the sound-isolating PL11s from landed on our desk.

As a general rule we countenance spending disproportionately large amounts of money on headphones but the Soundmagic PL11s tip the scales at just £20 (or even less on Ebay). Surely you’re better off with the ones that come with your player?

Buddy good

Well, no – far from it, in fact. Straight out of the inauspicious cardboard box they impress with their array of accessories, including various ear fittings and a handy cable wrap.

The two-tone buds are nicely machined from aluminium and the soft touch cable feels as though it’s going to stay put.

They’re reasonably small and light, so should be comfortable for anyone willing happy to block their lugs with rubber, and they offer excellent noise blocking characteristics. The slim, straight-fit 3.5mm jack feels solidly fused, too.

Sounder than a pound

But what really impresses about the PL11s is sound. Up against the likes of Sony’s in-ears, the best of the bundled crop, they astound with their relative clarity and detail resolution. Compare them to a pair of Apple buds and it’s like you’ve discovered a whole new flavour of sound (most of us call it bass).

It’s fair to say that the PL11s give any pair of sub-£40 headphones a run for their money. At that price point they run into the excellent Sennheiser CX300-II which has a similar balance of talents – a weighty, warm, forthright delivery that resolves instruments and voices impressively well.

There are hiccups – some fine detail is lost to the exuberant bass – so if you can afford to spend extra on your headphones you will be able to find superior sound. However, at this crazily low price we’d be mad not to recommend the Soundmagic PL11s whole-heartedly.


Stuff says... 

Soundmagic PL11 review

If you have a few quid left over after buying your PMP and you want to know what it’s capable of, these will help you find out