SoundMAGIC P23BT Review

SoundMAGIC P23BT Review

21 November 2021 0 By Petros Laskis

A budget Bluetooth headphone with great sound

Pros: + Neutral and balanced tuning with very good bass
+ Bluetooth with aptX HD and stable connection
+ Sounds even better with the included cable
+ Airy and not congested
+ Huge battery duration
+ Foldable, lightweight and comfortable
+ Good build quality
+ Carrying case included
+ Only $54.99

Cons: – Not the most refined listen
– A touch lean and forward

The P23BT was kindly provided by SoundMAGIC free of charge and I only covered import fees and tax.
This is my honest and subjective evaluation of it.
All links inside the text are not affiliated and I don’t get commission by clicking on them.
The MSR price is $54.99 and you can buy it from Amazon.

Introduction and technical specifications

The P23BT stereo Bluetooth headset is the latest addition to the growing SoundMAGIC catalogue.
It is powered by the latest Qualcomm QCC3034 chipset which doubles as a Bluetooth receiver and a DAC/amp to drive the 40mm high quality dynamic drivers.
The QCC3034 supports Bluetooth 5.0 and the high definition audio protocol aptX HD together with the usual aptX, AAC and SBC.
The P23BT can also be used wired with the supplied cable which also has a built- in microphone so it can be used for web conferences and gaming.

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Fit and build quality

The P23BT is an “ON” ear headphone with a medium clamping force to stay in place without exercising excessive pressure.
The overall experience is very good, the headphones feel comfortable and lightweight without exercising pressure, the appearance is classic minimalist with a modern twist, very friendly for commuting and traveling but not suitable for use during exercise.
Passive noise isolation is medium and the headphone gets a little hot after a while but this is common with all “ON” ear designs.

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The head-band is made from food-grade silicone with some extra padding inside and it is smooth, skin friendly, sweat proof, durable and easy to clean.
The ear pads are made from high quality protein leather with memory foam inside and they have a foldable design to fit inside the included carrying case for easy transportation and storage.

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Accessories

The accessory pack is surprisingly comprehensive despite the budget price and everything needed is included.
The extra cable with the embedded microphone, a splitter cable, a USB type C cable for charging and the neoprene carrying case.

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Operation and user experience

After powering ON, the headphone will automatically enter pairing mode and the only thing that you have to do is to select it on your phone.
For even more easy pairing you can use the supported NFC one touch connection.
Multipoint connection is not supported and the P23BT can be connected to only one transmitter each time.
After the first connection is established the headphone will automatically connect upon powering on, something that pretty much worked as intended but sometimes I had to do it manually from the phone menu.
The outer ear cover on the left side of the headset is the touch control area which can perform the various functions as described in the following picture.
You have to use your left finger and although the available area is not very extended I was able to successfully operate it, after a little practice.
The touch area is not very sensitive and that works better than being overly sensitive.

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If you connect the cable then the headphone will automatically power off and switch to the wired mode.
Call quality is very good and callers reported crystal clear voice both in wired and wireless mode.
The P23BT is a simple Bluetooth headphone without active noise cancellation and an accompanying application for adjusting the sound parameters.

Battery life

The P23BT charges through a type C USB port and it needs one hour to be fully charged from a 2A power adapter, to give 50 days of standby, 30-45 hours of continuous talk time and 50-60 hours of playing music.
To be honest I didn’t perform an endurance test but during my evaluation time I didn’t need to charge for more than fifteen days and that is with about two hours of music listening on a daily basis with the aptX HD codec engaged.
A pretty spectacular performance that seems to align with the manufacturer’s claims.
The P23BT in order to preserve the battery will automatically power off five minutes after the connection is lost.

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Sound performance

The headphone was run for about 80 hours prior to listening evaluation which besides the Bluetooth mode was also performed with the SoundMAGIC A30 and ddHiFi TC35B Pro.

Most of the entry level Bluetooth headphones I have reviewed so far featured a consumer friendly “V” shaped tuning with the only exception being the Sennheiser HD250BT.
The P23BT is my second encounter with a fairly neutral and reference-like tuning without severely boosting any given part of the frequency range.
The bass is neutral and quite extended without significantly rolling off and while it is not going to offer a thumping sub – bass performance it is not lacking with bass heavy material and that is without getting boomy.
It is surprisingly tight and well controlled with a clarity and layering that other competitors would envy and although it is not as full bodied the dynamic contrast is good and realistic.
Mids stay clear and unaffected from any mid – bass cloudiness, voices sound quite realistic with the right timbre and good articulation, vocalists seated somewhere in the middle of the stage , not too front nor stepped behind.
They blend quite well with the instruments in a very satisfying and cohesive way and the same goes for the higher pitched members of the orchestra that sound sparkling and agile.
There is a touch of brightness which is not annoying and piercing, this is a well thought implementation that adds clarity and helps with detail on noisy environments but back at home use you are going to discover that texture is a touch metallic and artificial.
The P23BT is not the most refined listen but it is not supposed to be and although there is some grain to the sound it is not too much as to spoil the otherwise excellent performance.
What is unexpectedly good for such a budget on-ear headphone is the clarity and the level of separation inside the soundstage which although it is boxy and limited between the ears, nonetheless sounds airy and not congested, making the P23BT suitable for listening to large scale symphonic works and gaming.
The latter is supported by the excellent microphone performance which also helps a lot during calls and web conferences.

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Bluetooth mode

All the above impressions apply to listening with the cable but the good part is that switching to Bluetooth with the aptX HD enabled is equally competitive.
The performance remains mostly unaffected and only the treble is losing in quality, becoming coarse, thinner and slightly more forward, otherwise this is one of the best sounding budget Bluetooth headphones I have used so far and it gets pretty loud too.
I would come as far as to suggest that is certainly on par with the Sennheiser HD250BT although less refined, and this is quite high of a praise since the latter is in my opinion the best budget Bluetooth headphone but slightly more expensive than the P23BT.

At the end

I have never tested a SoundMAGIC product till now that didn’t sound at least good for the asking price and the P23BT is no exception.
This is a simple and budget friendly on-ear headphone with great Bluetooth performance that becomes even better with the included cable.
No, it doesn’t have noise cancelling, a compatible Android application or other bells and whistles but in exchange it sounds really good with a fairly neutral and balanced tuning that is a rarity at this price point so it is not of a surprise that it gets highly recommended, at $54.99 it is a steal.

Test playlist

Copyright – Laskis Petros 2021