Magaosi K3 HD Review: In Pursuit of the Perfect V

The K3 HD is Magaosi’s third entry into high-end audio, coming in after its older siblings the Magaosi K3 and K3 Pro. It features the same high-quality build and tuning filter system as the K3 Pro but makes use of a dual-hybrid driver setup. Is this formula enough to make the K3 HD as much of a hit as its predecessors? Spoiler alert, yes. It is.

You can find the K3 HD for sale here on Penon Audio for $120.

Disclaimer: This unit was provided to me free of charge for review purposes. I am not affiliated with Magaosi beyond this review. These words reflect my true, unaltered, opinion about the product.

I would like to thank Magaosi and Penon Audio for this opportunity.

Preference and Bias: Before reading a review, it is worth mentioning that there is no way for a reviewer to objectively pass judgment on the enjoy-ability of a product: such a thing is inherently subjective. Therefore, I find it necessary for you to read and understand what I take a natural liking to and how that might affect my rating of a product.

My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass. The mids should be slightly less pronounced than the treble, but still ahead of the bass. I prefer a more bright upper range.

Source: The K3 HD was powered like so:

Nexus 6P -> earphones

or

Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones

or

HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones

or

PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones

All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.

Running the K3 HD amped did not provide me with any noticeable advantages over running it unamped. In fact, the K3 HD sounded much better being run straight off my AP100 and SuperMini than it did through the FiiO A5.

Sound Signature

Initial Impressions:

The K3 HD has two tuning filter options: black and silver. The silver filters came pre-installed for me and, as such, were the ones I was exposed to first. They are traditionally V-shaped with a slightly-withdrawn upper-treble.

The black filters are treble-cannons with a very-boosted upper-treble. I find these filters to be tinny and unnatural-sounding with a slightly over-blown feeling, so I didn’t spend too much time using them.

Treble: Songs used: In One Ear, Midnight City, Outlands, Satisfy

Treble was my one sticking point with the K3 Pro, so I’m glad it’s not something I have to criticize the K3 HD on. It seems Magaosi took to heart the criticisms received by its customers and made changes accordingly. The K3 HD is not sibilant at all, and even Nero’s Satisfy, a poorly mastered song for sibilance, behaves nicely.

Treble extension is pretty great, even on the silver filters. Synths, guitars, and drums all have that air to them that accompanies a strong 15KHz-22KHz range.

Mids: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Dreams

Mids are well-fleshed out and, despite not being the center of attention most of the time, were represented evenly in the music. In fact I’d never felt like the mids were drowned out by overly aggressive treble or fat and bloated bass throughout my entire listening session.

Pianos and guitars are well toned with a pleasant timbre. Attack and decay are also well-tuned. The dynamic-balanced armature crossover Magaosi built for the K3 HD works quite well.

Instrumental separation is among the best in this price-range and is on par with many competitors in the next bracket up like the Echobox Finder X1.

Bass: Songs used: Moth, Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix), War Pigs (Celldweller Remix)

Bass was one of the selling-points of the K3 Pro, so how is the K3 HD in this area? Well, in the words of Austin Powers, the K3 HD has “got its mojo. Bass is present enough to solidly ground the K3 HD within the ranks of V-shaped IEMs and is well-enough controlled to raise it above many of its rather mediocre peers. Acoustic songs like Moth and Weezer’s Say It Ain’t So really do show how well the bass behaves when it is only needed in the background.

“But how is the bass signature” you ask? Well, calm yourself, I’m getting to it. Put simply, the K3 HD’s bass signature is like that of a bona-fide sub-woofer. (Please note that I’m only talking about the way it sounds, not feels. There’s no way a single dynamic-driver hybrid can push enough air to make you feel the same way a real speaker can).

However don’t let that description dissuade you. The K3 HD does actually have a pretty solid quantity of bass, quality aside. You can really get your head moving to bass-heavy genres like dubstep without resorting to EQs.

Bass extension is also pretty great, and lends electronic songs a pretty good rumble. In For The Kill also let’s the K3 HD’s dynamic driver stretch its legs and show off just how well it can manipulate the bass.

Packaging / Unboxing

Unfortunately the K3 HD unit that I was sent did not include any retail packaging, as it was a promotional unit sent out prior to launch.

Build

Construction Quality

The K3 HD is built in much the same way the K3 Pro was: two very solid metal plates sealed together around a metallic nozzle. This is some industry-standard stuff, but you’d be surprised at how many well-known companies (ahem, RHA?) can’t seem to seal their IEMs correctly.

Speaking of nozzles, the K3 HD’s nozzles is among my favorites. I’m personally a fan of deeper insertion, and the K3 HD pulls it off well. The nozzle has a smoother finish than the main body of the driver housings. This is likely in order to make it easier to move eartips on and off of it.

The K3 HD’s tuning filter system is also well-implemented. It appears as though Magaosi chose to make use of a dampening-type filter rather than a bass-port filter. I approve of this choice, as I find dampening-type filters generally have more character to them. The filters themselves are textured around the edges. This not only makes them easy to screw into the fine-threaded inner walls of the K3 HD’s nozzle, but helps keep eartips secured to the driver housing as well.

The K3 HD’s cables are removable and adhere to the MMCX standard. Two different cables are included with the K3 HD.

One appears to be a silver cable with a metal 3.5mm jack and Y-splitter:

and the other is likely a braided copper cable with a plastic right-angled 3.5mm jack and Y-splitter:

Both cable are well made and are sturdy in the hand. I didn’t notice any change in sound signature when switching between the two cables. The silver cables has a fair amount of body and microphonics while the braided cable is much more tame and has almost no microphonics. However, it is worth noting that due to its geometry, the braided cable will make noise if you rub an object across its length, though that’s not a fault of this cable alone.

Comfort

The K3 HD is quite comfortable. I really enjoyed using it with foam eartips, though I found the silicones to also be a nice option. The K3 HD has a deeper-than-average insertion depth and is worn over-the-ear style.

Accessories

The K3 HD has a decent stock of accessories. Inside the box you will find:

  • 1x extra pair of silicone eartips
  • 3x pairs of foam eartips
  • 1x extra pair of tuning filters
  • 2x MMCX cables
  • 1x semi-hard carrying case

The accessories are all of decent quality, though I do miss the carrying case from the K3 Pro. This one is deeper, but shorter, than the K3 Pro’s case but still has no problems holding the IEM, its extra eartips, and both cables comfortably. The eartips are all pretty good, and I actually enjoy using the silicones which is a rare experience for me.

While I do wish the black filters were implemented better, nothing’s perfect.

Summary

The K3 HD is a worthy addition to the Magaosi line-up. Coming in at $10 more and one balanced-armature less than the K3 Pro, the K3 HD is a surprise to me. It sounds far better than its predecessors to my ears and competes well in the general $100-$150 price bracket. Magaosi has been chasing the perfect V-shaped sound signature, and with the K3 HD, they are one step closer.

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