Back To The Stage
- Spaced out, slightly ethereal scene.
- Development of a lot of midrange detail.
- Low end focused on the sub-bass, with a clean transition to the mids.
- Fast charging.
- Overall, the sound is clean, slightly warm, simple, musical, pleasant, even fun.
- Treble tuning, there is little initial sparkle and brilliance.
- The first half of the mids is backward.
- Dry and polarised mids.
- Battery life.
- Microphone sensitivity and placement could be better.
Link to the Store
Who doesn’t know SoundMAGIC? Clear, a brand that was founded in 2005 by acoustic design engineer Tony Xu and has won several awards and recommendations in multiple magazines and organisations, with its famous IEMS E10. No less recommended were the HP150s, which I own, one of the classic closed-back headphones best rated by enthusiasts. But what now? It’s true that the HP151 and the HP1000 have been released in headphones. And in IEMS they have followed the path of the E10, with several similarly shaped IEMS… But the market has become very tough in both directions and I think there are many brands that currently seem to have more models in their catalogue, as well as superior dynamism than SoundMAGIC. This does not imply that their products are better or worse. But, to give an example, it is not normal that they don’t have an IEMS model with a detachable cable. However, they do have many IEMS with volume control, microphone, even USB connection. And, of course, they also have wireless models. So it looks like SoundMAGIC’s path is clearing… towards TWS. As is currently the case, this time I’m going to review a product from this segment. This is the T60BT, a Bluetooth 5.2 IEMS, compatible with Apt-X, SBC, ACC, thanks to the Qualcomm QCC3040 chip. Inside, they use a 5.8mm Neodymium dynamic driver and a DC5V60mA battery. Of course, they come with a carrying and charging case, whose battery is DC5V500mA. The model can be chosen in two colours, black and white. And the rest of the considerations will be unfolded in the following review.
- Driver type: 5.8mm neodymium dynamic.
- Impedance: 14±10%Ω
- Bluetooth: v5.2
- Audio Codecs: Apt-X, SBC, ACC.
- Chip: Qualcomm QCC3040
- Microphone sensitivity: -42±3dB
- Battery life in continuous playback mode: 4-5 hours
- Battery life in continuous talk mode: 3-4 hours
- Battery life in standby mode: 240h.
- Transmission range: 12-15m
- Weight of the headphones: 10g
- Charging time 0.5h
- Battery of the earphones: DC5V60mA
- Charging box battery: DC5V500mA
- Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz.
The T60BTs come in a small, almost square box, almost completely white in colour, whose dimensions are 133x133x46mm. On the main side you can see a real picture of the product: the open box containing one capsule and the other one floating. In the upper left corner is the brand logo. At the bottom is the name of the model, a description and icons explaining the special features of the model. On the back side you can read the specifications, in Chinese and English. The contents of the package are also listed, along with the company’s contact details and the certifications it complies with. This outer part is a cardboard wrapper that can be slid up or down. What remains is an all-white box with the brand logo in black in the centre of the box. Inside you can find the following components and accessories:
- The 2 TWS SoundMAGIC T60BT capsules.
- Charging box.
- One charging cable.
- One set of white silicone tips, sizes SxMxL. The medium size comes with the TWS.
- Instruction manual.
There is little to comment on this section. It is a sober presentation, with a compact box and the minimum required content. As usual, the tips are just a set, and in many TWS these silicones are usually of a special shape and size for TWS, so they can be difficult to replace. Actually, this does not seem to be the case with this model, as the tips look quite normal.
Construction and Design
Almost the entire product has a pearly white colour and is made of plastic, except for the hinge of the charging box, the nozzles and the buttons. Starting with the case, it has a blue LED on the inside of its main face. Underneath this spot you can read SoundMAGIC. On the bottom is the brand logo, the model name, the voltage and power consumption of the box, the brand, where it was manufactured and some logos of the certifications it complies with. On the back is the USB Type-C charging port. After opening the lid, you can read the model name near the edge. This case has an extremely simple design, with a rectangular shape, rounded corners and edges. Nothing else.
The capsules have the same colour and seem to be made of the same plastic material. I must say that it does not look very robust, but it is very light. The shape of the capsules is oval, separated into two halves. The outer face is slightly recessed and on it is a circular, disc-like, metal button with concentric rings and indentations. In the centre of the oval is a hole. Underneath the buttons are two red and blue LEDs which serve to indicate the status of the TWS. The inner side is also oval and parallel to the outer side. At the opposite end to the buttons are the nozzles. The nozzles are located on an oblique cylinder and are made of metal. They are protected by a grid of the same material. In the centre of the inner face is the name of the brand and the letter marking the channel. On the edge there are two copper moles, these are the capsule charging connections.
The design doesn’t look anything special, as I say, the plastic construction doesn’t look very tough. But I think that a simple design like this has a number of advantages. In principle, I don’t find any ergonomic problems, the button, although not tactile, works perfectly. It’s clear that it won’t get a 10 for design, but it will get a good score for simplicity and more austere functionality. Sometimes it pays to be practical rather than pretty, and this is where the T60BTs excel.
Finally, it’s worth noting that they are IPX6.0 compliant and waterproof.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
When a design is simple and functional, the ergonomics are usually good. And this is the case with the T60BT. It seems incredible that a simple, oval shape, with slanted nozzles, without any special shape, could be so comfortable and fit so well. The nozzles are very similar to those of any traditional IEM, which makes changing tips very easy and ensures greater compatibility with any other nozzle, something that is not at all common in other TWS. The low weight of the tips means that they are hardly felt in the ears, and the smooth surface contributes to the comfort. The SoundMAGIC T60BTs are excellent in this respect.
Also worth mentioning is the passive isolation of these TWS, as the nozzles are quite similar to a wired IEMS, the combination of this shape with suitable tips achieves a remarkable level of occlusion. Hence, the level of sound insulation achieved is clearly noticeable.
Operation and Connection
The operation of the TWS is the traditional one, as soon as they are removed from the charging box, they enter pairing mode. And this operation is simple, fast, uncomplicated and effective. It uses Bluetooth version 5.2.
The T60BTs have several modes of operation. They can be used in the traditional binaural mode, also in monaural mode, and finally they can also be used in shared mode.
The large physical buttons make the task easier and their response is quick and precise, thanks to their distinguishable click.
The T60BTs feature the CVC8.0 call noise reduction system and have a low latency specially designed for gaming, with a particular mode for this type of situation, which can be entered by pressing any of the buttons 4 times.
The transmission range is extended to 13m, with a battery life in continuous music playback mode of 4 to 5h. In talk mode they reach up to 4h and in standby mode they reach 240h.
The operation of the buttons is as follows:
- 1 click L/R: play/pause music.
- 2 clicks L: next song.
- 2 clicks R: previous song.
- Long press (0.5s) L: volume up.
- Long press (0.5s) R: volume down.
- 1 click L/R: answer call.
- Long press (2s) L/R: reject call.
- 1 click L/R: end call.
- 3 clicks L/R: activate Siri.
- Reset headphones: Press both headphones 3 times simultaneously. The red and blue lights will flash 3 times. The reset will then be successful.
In actual operation, I found its remote use performance to be very good, as well as its pairing and re-pairing, which is very fast. The sound during calls is very good and natural. The microphone performance is average, it does not stand out from other TWS.
The profile of the T60BTs is a W with more emphasis on the sub-bass area, as usual. This time there is a gain in the mid-high and first highs, which then drops off in the mid-high and first highs transition. The clear accent in the sub-bass gives it depth and a clean transition into the mids. The pinna gain increases the point of clarity and closeness, but the roll-off in the first highs makes the sound a bit sparse and concrete. The following highlights provide some sparkle, though not in a very homogeneous way.
The bass tuning has a traditional point, in line with the TWS. It is a bass that starts very high from the sub-bass area, which has a rapid and deep descent towards 1kHz. It is clear that there is a strong, overt presence coming from the LFOs, which overlaps in intensity with vocals and other mid-bass elements. Although the transition into the adjacent range is relatively clean, as far as it can go, due to the slope it possesses. The speed of the TWS bass is usually not very fast and any complex bass line is often muddied by the rubberiness of its over-presence. In this case, the tuning helps, because it tries to avoid an emphasis on the mid-bass, something that would have resulted in superior muddiness. That’s why this rapid descent into the mids benefits the development of the lower range. It is still not an agile or fast decaying bass, but it tries to minimise the flooding effect of a zone that is always difficult to resolve in this range of TWS. The timbre feels slightly coloured, despite the depth. Less audible tones jump to higher frequencies, detracting from the sensory perception of the bass and making it more listenable. But, admittedly, this sensation is not too negative and its sonority still retains an acceptable, even pleasant, degree of naturalness.
Despite all the above, the T60BTs have been one of the TWSs that have stood up best to the reproduction of complex bass, with many flat, even distorted, sounds. They have achieved a realistic sonority to a more than acceptable degree, staying at the limit of control and drawing lines more or less adjusted to the difficulty of the passages. This is something I feel it is necessary to point out, as well as the fact that it is inevitable to have to control the volume, in order not to reach distortion.
The mids feel somewhat polarised. On the one hand, there is a clear roll-off, which forms a valley between 800Hz. On the other hand, the pinna gain is around 2.5kHz. Between these two points there is a good handful of dB difference. This means a first half with a relatively thin midrange, without much body. The second half, extended, feels a bit dry, parsimonious, even if emancipated. Fortunately, the tuning doesn’t feel as strange as the LZ A2 PROs I reviewed a few months ago. This time around, the treble has a punch of sparkle, whereas those possessed a much more nuanced high end tuning. This is an advantage that brings the T60BTs to life. However, I still find the mids to be concrete, simple, without much extension, overly defined in their exposure. This is the reason for the dryness. For conversations it is a very suitable tuning, because the voices sound strong and clear, as if isolated. For the music there is not a hint of sibilance, but a little more brightness would have given a more realistic, less concise timbre. Overall, the representation of the voices feels mid-distance, with an average size between width, depth and distance. The definition is adequate and there is no smearing or blurring of the instruments. Despite the lack of sparkle, the level of clarity is good, with an adequate level of transparency being observed, even though the background is not dark. As is usual in this range of TWS, the tuning tends to be musical rather than analytical. The T60BTs do not escape this issue and this characteristic influences the continuity of the musical flow, which motivates a sweeter and more pleasant sound, but also limits the level of resolution, texture and descriptiveness of the music. The result is coherent, without being too dark, despite being concrete. But it is neither too juicy nor too meaty, but rather, rather rather analogue, warm even. And that is due to the treble characteristics. Despite all this, it is easy to get used to the sound and to get used to it quickly, becoming pleasant and fun, without too many pretensions, but with a certain attractiveness.
The beginning of the range is distant. Normally, in V-headphones, there is usually an initial peak, more or less sustained. On this occasion, the curve is the other way around, which implies an over-control in the high end. The result is a nuanced, somewhat bland, almost insipid sound. This initial lack of sparkle narrows the middle notes and, even more so, the high notes, making them less perceptible. The high notes sound with little extension, somewhat unsettled, even flat, with a slightly off-kilter timbre. They do not sound unnatural, but it is clear that there is a brightness cut that is not very flattering, neither to the range, nor to the rest of the range. The next point is a somewhat sudden increase, an attempt to regain liveliness. It tends to work at times, and at other times it’s a little too loud. A more equal distribution would have been more beneficial. From here everything is more normal and similar to the performance of many dynamic drivers, with a fair representation of air.
Ultimately, the treble limits rather than helps. I think that with a more traditional tuning, the whole would have been better.
That the sound is concrete and concise, without stretching, gives a sense of greater distance between elements, something that provides space to detect hidden details between notes, something that is really surprising for a TWS. The musical exposition has a simple tendency, which does not stretch the ornaments. Thus, there is no overexposure of superfluous notes sounding at the same time. The dryness that is generated also favours that sense of air and distance, helping in the separation of these small elements. Not all nuances are revealed, due to its tuning, but in the mid-range there are little hidden surprises that jump out at the ears.
All of this benefits the recreation of a more spaced out scene, with greater width, even giving the music some welcome three-dimensionality, something that allows these TWS to be valued above others at their price point.
The scene is never unreal, with good depth, width and average height. But with the help of that level of separation, its presentation is more oval, with a distinctly clean and attractive ethereal feel. One of the best of the set.
Tronsmart Onyx Prime
The Onyx Prime have been one of the last TWS I have reviewed. With a very similar price, but with a very different shape and a construction that seems superior to me, even though they are bigger. The T60BTs are lighter and smaller, less bulky, with better ergonomics, at least for my personal taste.
In terms of operability, the Tronsmart are very efficient and have a very long battery life (40 hours compared to 4 hours for the T60BT), although they take 2 hours to charge. Actually, 40 hours is a long time and I have not been able to check if they really have that battery life. But in my tests with both, it turned out that the Onyx Prime lasts clearly longer, because while the T60BTs were reporting a battery drain, the Onyx Prime has barely decreased.
Conversationally, I think the Onyx Prime microphone performs better than the T60BT.
In terms of transmission distance, the T60BTs are slightly superior and more stable at far distances.
The Onyx Prime has a slightly higher volume performance and its drivers seem more robust against distortion when the volume is high.
In terms of sound, both start from a very similar profile up to the mids. The difference is in the upper mids and treble. There is a clear gain of upper bell in the T60BTs, which gives a clearer sense of clarity, as well as a hint of greater transparency. It is also noticeable that the T60BTs have an advantage in midrange detail, which is more perceptible than in the Onyx Prime, despite the BA driver. The result is the SoundMAGICs’ more complete and closer vocals. On the other hand, despite the similarity, the bass presence in the Onyx Prime is slightly more forceful, although their sonority and characteristics are very similar. Just that feeling of power and the greater performance capacity of its driver, makes the perception of bass superior, with more control, punch, and even seems to have a darker and more sensory tone, less coloured. Then, in terms of technical properties, the two are very much on a par, demonstrating similar behaviour in speed, agility and decay. Although, very subtly, the T60BTs seem faster.
Turning to the mids and vocals, there is a difference in the exposure of the vocals in the two TWSs. The Onyx Prime has a greater density and more nuance, as opposed to the dryness of the T60BT and its less ornamental, simpler exposure. But, as I said, there seems to be a greater exposure of minute detail in the T60BTs, with a slightly greater sense of clarity, separation and ethereal feel to them. Admittedly, there are other kinds of sharper nuances, as well as the harmonics that complete the sound, which provide a point of greater naturalness and realism to the Onyx Prime. Again, the key to the sound lies in the difference between the gain of the two TWSs. In some songs where clarity is needed because the music is centred in this midrange, the T60BTs excel in clarity, with the Onyx Prime sounding more opaque. In electronic styles and with more bass presence, the more robust and less distortion-sensitive driver of the Tronsmart prevails in punch and power, as opposed to the more delicate T60BTs in this regard. If less polarised, more linear and slightly more extended treble is desired, the Onyx Prime wins the day. The high end is more normalised to more standard canons. While the treble tuning of the T60BTs is a bit counter-current.
Scene-wise I have already commented that the greater sense of separation and three-dimensionality is enhanced in the T60BTs. Their greater perception of separation, clarity and transparency in the mids benefits in this general aspect, offering a larger, more oval, less congested and darker image than the Onyx Prime.
In conclusion, both TWS have superior aspects over the others, with the Tronsmart having an APP that allows EQ selection and is more versatile in the operational aspect. They also have much better battery life, a more robust construction and better microphone performance. In terms of sound, their bass is more powerful and deeper, thanks to their more resistant driver at high volume. Also their treble is more in line with more normal tuning, sounding more natural.
On the other hand, the SoundMAGICs are smaller, slightly more ergonomic, lighter and less bulky in the ears. The mid-range is clearer and its details stand out. The soundstage is also better, with more transparency, three-dimensionality, an ethereal feel and separation.
In short, it is difficult to decide between the two, but the differences are well explained for those who are clear about what they are looking for.
The SoundMAGIC T60BT is a TWS with a simple, straightforward appearance, very light and ergonomic, but with a remarkable sound quality. Their operation is efficient, thanks to their large, physical buttons. They have a long transmission range, free of dropouts. Their Bluetooth specification complies with the latest version 5.2 and uses the Apt-X Codec. They are easy to move and have a very clear conversational sound. Going into details about their musical quality, it is clear that they are not a model to be used only for calls, but have a clear Hi-Fi vocation. The stage, the separation, the level of detail in the mid-range and the three-dimensional feel are their strong points. But there are always some weaker aspects, such as battery life, a certain imbalance in the mid-range and a rather soft, not very extended high end. Admittedly, I’m being very critical of them, given the price level. And neither has the competition that I know of in this range, created superior models. So the T60BTs are obvious stiff competition in this segment.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
- HiBy R3 Pro
- JWD JWM-115
- Tempotec Variations V1-A