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

With an inbuilt DAC and solid noise isolation, you could do much worse than the SoundMagic E80D

SoundMagic E80D inserted into FiiO M11S music player
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

When it comes to value for money, it doesn’t get much better than the SoundMagic E80D. Thanks to an inbuilt digital-to-analogue converter (DAC), these wired earbuds deliver hi-res audio that paint sonic details a lot more clearly than the average pair of budget buds. The E80D can’t get very loud, and the small buttons on the controller can be a bit frustrating, but this is balanced out by great comfort and noise isolation.


  • +

    Affordable hi-res audio

  • +

    Impressive noise isolation

  • +

    Comfortable and lightweight


  • -

    Volume levels a bit quiet

  • -

    Button controls too small

  • -

    Cable noise impacts your enjoyment

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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

(Image credit: Future)

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

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Drivers10mm dynamic
Weight0.56oz / 16g
Frequency range20Hz-16kHz
Waterproof ratingNot stated
Other featuresController with mic, additional ear tips, carry case

Person holding SoundMagic E80D's controller

(Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the SoundMagic E80D?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
FeaturesImpressive noise isolation, imperfect but functional three-button controller4/5
Sound qualityClear, defined audio, but volume levels a little low4/5
DesignDecent look, lightweight, offer a comfortable fit4/5
ValueBuilt-in DAC, included case, strong overall design5/5

Buy them if…

You don’t want to sacrifice your life’s savings for hi-res audio
High-quality in-ear monitors can get expensive – very expensive. But the truth is you really don’t have to splash mountains of cash to access hi-res audio, and the SoundMagic E80D prove that. Alright, you’re not getting top-drawer sound with these, but what you do get is impressive for the price, making the E80D a great option if you’re on a budget.

You need wired buds that can dull external noise Although you won’t experience the wonders of ANC, the E80D still keep surrounding noise pretty low. The odd sound may creep through with these, but by-and-large, you’ll find it easy to stay in the zone when listening to music and podcasts or watching videos.

Don't buy them if...

You like to really crank up the volume
One of the only real downsides of the E80D is that their volume levels can’t climb very high, no matter what device you use them with. The vast majority of users will likely be satisfied with the loudness available at 80-100%, but those who like to blast tunes at peak volumes might be disappointed.

You’re in need of earbuds for runs or workouts
Unfortunately, a lot of wired earbuds suffer from the same practical issue – cable noise. If you’re an active person, looking for some earbuds for workouts, it’s typically better to go for a wireless option in my view, as you’ll be able to experience your favorite tracks without disruption. If you’re all about that wired life, though, a good tip is to wrap the wire behind your ear, which can help to reduce that pesky cable noise.

SoundMagic E80D: Also consider

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 SoundMagic E80DSkullcandy Set USB-CEarfun Air 2
Price$44 / £39.98 / AU$66$31.99 / £29.99 (about AU$50)$49.99 / £49.99 (about AU$75)
Drivers10mm dynamic9mm dynamic10mm dynamic
Weight0.56oz / 16g0.53oz / 15g0.16oz / 4.5g (per bud)
Frequency range20Hz-16kHz20Hz-20kHzNot stated
Waterproof ratingNot statedIPX4IPX7
Other featuresController with mic, additional ear tips, carry caseMic, additional ear tipsEarfun audio app support, mic, additional ear tips

Skullcandy Set USB-C
The Skullcandy Set USB-C are a slightly cheaper option than the SoundMagic E80D, coming in at $31.99 / £29.99 (about AU$50). The Set earbuds have a stylish look, with a curved, slim appearance making them a stand-out wired pick. Sound-wise, these aren’t going to give you the same degree of definition as the E80D, but they certainly plate up decent all-round audio. You’ll also have to go without built-in volume controls, but you do get fantastic comfort levels, so if you’re searching for a slightly cheaper option, these are a worthy choice. Read our full Skullcandy Set USB-C review.

Earfun Air 2
Like the SoundMagic E80D, the Earfun Air 2 are able to provide impressive sound for the price tag. These are wireless buds, so you won’t have to worry about pesky cable noise if you’re planning on getting active. On top of that, you’re able to adjust EQ settings via the Earfun audio app, something you don’t get with a wired option like the E80D. Read our full Earfun Air 2 review.

SoundMagic E80D review: How I tested

SoundMagic E80D resting on top of orange-colored amp

(Image credit: Future)
  • 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
Harry Padoan
Staff Writer

Harry is a Reviews Staff Writer for TechRadar. He reviews everything from party speakers to portable battery packs, but has a particular interest in the worlds of gaming and smartphones. Harry has a background in business tech journalism, particularly around the telecoms industry.