February 17, 2017

There’s a slew of in-ear headphonesin thesub Rs. 2000 price category.Evenrenowned brands are now offering a wide array of good quality earphones to budget-conscious music enthusiasts.While they're definitely not what a purist is looking for, they can definitely blow the pants off those annoying stock headphones that one gets on purchasing a smartphone. That is the name of the game and these budget in-ears are winning big time.

Chinese brandSoundMAGIChas been quite the impressive performer in the entry level. No surprises then that theSoundMAGIC E10C is it's chosen champion for the faceoff at hand. Who's the opponent you say? It's Smokin' Buds 2 w/Mic from the USA based, hugely popular brand -Skullcandy.Both these in-ears come with their own set of highs and lows. Fret not for we are here to help you choose an in-ear that will suit your particular music preference andmaybe even compliment it.


CUTTING THE LONG STORY SHORT

"The SoundMAGIC E10C is an in-ear earphone that is a leader in its class with its detailed sound and build quality.

If you prioritize Skullcandy's signature design and style over sound, then the Smokin' Buds 2 w/Mic will appeal to you ."

-Raghav Somani

SoundMAGIC - E10C


Headphone-Zone-SoundMAGIC-E10C
BALANCED AUDIO WITH A UNIQUE METAL DESIGN 
Skullcandy- Smokin Buds 2 w/Mic


Headphone-Zone-Smokin-Buds-2-w/Mic
Attractive Colourful Build. Heavy Bass

 


DESIGN: SOUNDMAGIC E10C VS SKULLCANDY SMOKIN' BUDS 2 W/MIC

Headphone-Zone-SoundMAGIC-E10C
Headphone-Zone-Scullcandy-Smokin-Buds-2-w/Mic


A noticeable upgrade to the older and very popular E10S,the E10C employs a nice and sturdy metal build (make this part bold. unbold the E10S part). Another admirable and useful feature - a 3 button, in-line controller in a striking metallic body - makes handling calls a breeze. The slick housing makes for an astoundingly sturdy build while being lightweight. body and surprisingly, nowhere does this affect its lightweight feature. This in-turn makes for a comfortable while also conveniently portable listening sessions.

 

The SoundMAGIC E10C is available in 4 different coloursthat will suit everyone's preference-the simple black, gold for those who wish to make a style statement, bright red and a vibrant violet. With overall humble design and details,SoundMAGIC punches where it matters: the audio.

SLICK METAL HOUSING VS AN VIBRANT PLASTIC BUILD
One glance at the Skullcandy Smokin Buds 2 w/mic and you will realize that it has been targeted towards the urban youth.Visibly vibrant, these in-ears reekof style and a cool vibe.Where Whilethe SoundMagic E10C features a more sophisticated look, the Smokin Buds 2 w/mic is loudand peppy in design.

Skullcandy knows its audience well and aims to entice them with its striking design. A semi-transparent housing that gives you a peek at the drivers and internals at work, is the first thing you notice about these earphones. Although it does not add to the functionality, it looksprettystunning.

What particularly pulls the Smokin' Buds 2 w/Mic down is its build quality. Thefragile body is a big disappointment, especially for an earphone that focuses merely on designand is meant to support listening on-the-go. Unlike the SoundMAGIC E10C that comes in a metal build, these in-ears are made entirely from plastic.This does make one wonder about the lifespan of these in-ears. We are not quite sure how long these would last. Investing in a simplecarry case ought to be a sensible option to be considered here.

Skullcandy does not limit itself in terms of colour, thereby letting you choose from a myriad of colour options.


USABILITY: SOUNDMAGIC E10C VS SKULLCANDY SMOKIN' BUDS 2 W/MIC

Headphone-Zone-SoundMAGIC-E10C
Headphone-Zone-Skullcandy-Smokin'-Buds-2-w/Mic

A great feature at this price point, the SoundMAGIC E10C sports a super functional microphone and 3-buttons controller that carries a solid action. Fed up of having to fetch you phone after every while, answer calls and control your music on the go with the E10C. Given the price range, not many earphones come with the above add-on. 

The E10C packs along with it seven pairs of siliconeear-tips of varying sizes, including a double-flanged pair. There's also a smallcarry case, a shirt clip, and a double-pin adapter to use the headset with a laptop or computer.Attention to detail is whatSoundMAGICaims at and it shows. Good quality and a commendable output make for a fun and fulfilling listening experience

The E10C features a cable thatlooks and feels extremely sturdy and durable. For someone who uses in-ears for their daily commute to and from work, these cables seem capable enough to take the onslaught of local trains, metros and crowded places. Wrapped in a braided sheath these are fairly tangled free. However, you may find that the outer plastic sheath does look cheap and shoddy. Not a big turn off, especially if you aren't overly obsessed with aesthetics.

SOUNDMAGIC'S PLETHORA OF ACCESSORIES VS SKULLCANDY'S FLAT-TYPE CABLE
So what does the Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 w/mic bring to the table? The earphones come with just two pairs of earbuds and angular designed housing, lending a fair amount of comfortability.  Noise isolation is decent, nothing to rave about. 

Unlike the E10C that comes with a 3-button controller, the Smokin' Buds 2 w/mic features a 1-button microphone and remote. If you are looking to control your volume without fetching your phone, you won't be able to. And although touted to have a universal remote, these in-ears may not be compatible with older Smartphone devices.

A nice feature of the Smokin' Buds 2 w/Mic it that it sports a flat-type cable, thus these avoid annoying tangles. The cord, however, may not be the most durable, especially when compared to that of the E10C. 

 

As far as usability and functionality are concerned, the Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 w/Mic are clearly smoked by the E10C from Soundmagic. The plethora of accessories and in-built features of the later blow it’s competition out of the water, no questions asked.


SOUND: SOUNDMAGIC E10C VS SKULLCANDY SMOKIN' BUDS 2 W/MIC

Headphone-Zone-SoundMAGIC-E10c
Headphone-Zone-Skullcandy-Smokin'-Buds-2-w/Mic


Here, we come to the E10C's biggest strength: its sonic performance. The impressive three-dimensional soundstage is clearly wide, ensuring that you enjoy a more natural sound experience. What about the bass? The bass is heavy, without compromising on the mids and highs. For the price, there’s good separation with very low distortion. The E10C is not bothered by genres and performs amicably throughout. Overall, the audio is clear, smooth and precise.

Noise cancellation is passive and not up to mark with the stock eartipsHowever, noise isolation and fit is greatlyimproved with a pair of noise-isolatingComply ear tips.

A small complaint would be the noise isolation. You will find that these in-ears do not do a great job of effectively attenuating environmental sound. This is especially an issue if you will be using the in-ears outside the home. However, this does not deprecate the value as this a very small issue. Furthermore, noise isolation and fit can be improved with a pair of Noise-isolating Comply ear tips.

IMPRESSIVE THREE DIMENSIONAL SOUNDSTAGE VS PUNCHY BASS

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 w/Mic is not the best performer on the sonic front. The earphones have been tuned to produce boomy audio but lack analytical detail. The thumpy sound signature goes well with tracks that process frequencies that lean primarily towards the lower end.  

The Smokin' Buds 2 w/mic lacks detail and crispness. The tones are muffled and sound harsh, making your music sound distorted. The mids and highs are maintained to some extent but do sound inarticulate at high volumes. 
Wish for more detail in your audio? Look elsewhere.


On the bright side, the soundstage is noteworthy and definitely better than expected. 
You might have trouble skipping genres with this one but if you like a coloured output, this might cheer you up.

Overall, the Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 w/Mic is pretty average as far as audio prowess is concerned. Even if you enjoy dominating low-ends, there are others that’ll do more justice to your bass-heavy genres and music. Audiophile? Do not venture here.


Summary


SOUNDMAGIC - E10C

  • Balanced Audio Signature
  • Strong Metal Build
  • Universally Compatible Three-button Remote & Mic
  • Hard Carrying Case
  • 7 Pairs of Eartips for Comfort
  • Sturdy Braided Cable
SKULLCANDY - SMOKIN' BUDS 2 W/MIC

  • Heavily Bass Biased
  • Plastic Build
  • Universally Compatible One-button Remote & Mic
  • No Carry Pouch
  • 3 Pairs of Eartips
  • Flat-type Tangle-Resistant Cable

CONCLUSION

The SoundMAGIC E10C has a comparatively balanced sound signature and comes with a 3-button universal remote, so if you prefer clarity and are looking for convenient smartphone compatibility, then go for these. 

For those who love bass with vibrant looking earpieces, the Skullcandy Smokin' Bud 2 w/Mic is a good buy.


If you'd like to learn more, #AskHeadphoneZone!

 

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