The number of people who say they simply can’t abide using earphones that fit snugly in the ear often surprises me. For some people, even the less-intrusive design of Apple’s classic earbuds that sit at the entrance of the ear canal is simply too much. Some people just can’t tolerate earbuds of any type. So, for those people, the only solution is a proper pair of over-the-ear headphones that can block out ambient sounds and provide a high-quality audio experience, without touching the ear canal.
However, the main drawback with this design of headphone is that it can be a bit large and unwieldy, especially for commuters with limited space in their work bag. So, with this in mind, I’ve been on the lookout for a pair of headphones that can deliver great audiophile sound in a package that’s not too unwieldy and yet is really affordable.
Having spent time looking around for something that could fit the bill, I think I’ve finally found just the thing in the form of the Vento P55 v3.0 headphones from SoundMagic. Regular readers may recall that I’ve reviewed a couple of products from SoundMagic recently, and I was mightily impressed with their performance and design. I was hoping for the same with these compact closed-back headphones that are ideal for portable use.
I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed. The SoundMagic Vento P55 v3.0 are a beautifully made pair of compact headphones featuring plenty of padding on the headband and ear cushions. These headphones are comfortable as well as being stylish.
The original Vento P55 headphones were released back in 2015 and were aimed at discerning music lovers who didn’t want to compromise on sound but who wanted lightweight headphones for portable use. Now the Vento P55 has reached the third iteration of the design, which involved SoundMagic’s engineers going back to the drawing board in order to incorporate brand new drivers in the headphones without altering the original shape of the Vento.
New and completely redesigned 40mm Neodymium dynamic drivers were created with an improved inner structure and made from new materials in order to create a more coherent sound delivering a greater depth and a sense of space on a well-focused soundstage. The Vento P55 headphones produce a stronger bass than you’d expect when first looking at them. It isn’t a bass that’s thick and syrupy, such as you might find on a cheaper pair of headphones with deliberate bass boost; this is a controlled and well-articulated bass that has weight and punch, shaping the lower registers with definition, and doing so without bleeding across the midrange or distorting the upper frequencies.
The midrange has excellent clarity and a forward presentation that works well with almost any genre of music. I tried them out on everything from early music by Jordi Savall – probably one the finest exponents of early music recording today. Savall’s music is a great test for a pair of headphones as his recordings are some of the best recorded and most exquisitely defined that you’ll ever hear. With jazz, the Vento P55s really managed to capture the rhythm and nuance on Miles Davis’s classic ‘Kind Of Blue’ album. The treble positively shone, opening up a wider soundstage more usually heard with more expensive open-back headphones. The SoundMagic Vento P55 partner well with all genres of music and really pulled out all the detail and musicality from the range of recordings I listened to during this review.
The design of the Vento P55 headphones looks incredibly classy with the matt bronze finish on the aluminum ear cups; and thanks to the slender yet robust steel headband, the Vento headphones look understated and really rather classy. SoundMagic’s designers have included plenty of soft padding to relieve pressure on the listener’s head. These headphones can be worn for fairly long periods without discomfort. The compact ear cushions are made of memory foam and covered in buttery soft leatherette that creates a good acoustic seal, isolating the listener from extraneous noises. Because of the compact size of the ear cups, anyone with large ears should check first to make sure the ear cups are large enough to form a seal.
SoundMagic’s engineers have clearly worked hard to make the Vento P55 v3.0 headphones ideal for portable use. The sound isolation is good, cutting out a lot of external noise. This means there’s not too much sound leakage from these headphones, so the person sat next to you on the train won’t be annoyed even if you do rack up the volume a bit.
One essential feature on a pair of headphones for portable use is a remote control and a microphone for taking or making phone calls. Fortunately, SoundMagic has this covered thanks to the use of interchangeable cables. The Vento P55 v3.0 headphones are supplied with a 1.2m cable with an in-line microphone and a three-button remote control that can control the music and volume, both on Android and iOS devices. There’s also a standard 1.2m cable included for when there’s no need for a microphone or remote control, and because the cables are interchangeable it’s possible to buy a longer cable for use at home with a static hi-fi. The cable fitting is a standard 3.5mm stereo jack plug so almost any replacement cable will work.
Finally, the SoundMagic Vento P55 v3.0 headphones are supplied with a slim and zippered hard case that includes a small pouch to store the cables in. There’s even room in the pouch for a 6.3mm adaptor although there isn’t one included. The case is small enough to slip neatly into a messenger bag, and it really won’t take up too much room thanks to how the headphones lie flat in their case.
Verdict: The keenly priced SoundMagic Vento P55 v3.0 headphones offer great value for money and both look and feel expensive. I particularly like their balanced tone and how they can make almost any genre of music shine, while bringing out the whole spectrum of sound, from the beautifully warm bass to the forward and super-clear mid-range. The top end is well defined and focuses the soundstage nicely. If you don’t need Bluetooth or active noise canceling, these headphones are great value for money and are a good alternative to using earbuds.
Driver: Neodymium Dynamic
Driver Size: 40mm
Frequency Response: 15Hz - 22kHz
Connectors: Gold Plated 3.5mm
Cable: 1.2m plus 1.2m with in-line mic and remote control