Magaosi K3 Pro Review: Triple Threat
Magaosi is another Chinese IEM maker to burst onto the Chi-Fi scene. While its IEM portfolio is shallow, it is not without quality. Their new triple-driver IEM has been making waves in the audiophile community, and in some instances, has become a sub-community favorite. However, is the K3 Pro deserving of the praise or is this simply another instance of a hype-train going off the rails?
Find the Magaosi K3 Pro for sale here on Penon Audio for $135.
Disclaimer: This unit was provided to me free of charge for review purposes. I am not affiliated with Magaosi or Penon Audio beyond this review. These words reflect my true, unaltered, opinion about the product.
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 Pro was powered like so:
Nexus 6P -> earphones
Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones
HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones
PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones
All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.
The K3 Pro, like Magaosi claims, is well balanced. It takes on a roughly v-shaped signature with a reasonable emphasis on treble. It’s not quite at treble-cannon levels, but in the upper-treble it does approach it. The mids are clean and clear. The bass is noticeable and has a nice emphasis to it, and sits right next to the lower-mids.
Treble: Songs used: In One Ear, Midnight City, Outlands, Satisfy
Treble sounds very detailed, but the boosted treble has a cost, as it can sound slightly overblown. This is most noticeable in songs with a lot of cymbals and high-hats like In One Ear.
Electric synths perform really, really well. Midnight City sounded great, and I found essentially every audio cue I was looking for throughout the entire song. The K3 Pro is particularly cohesive, something I don’t generally expect from a triple-driver IEM. The mixing of decays of dynamic and balanced armature drivers isn’t easy, so kudos to Magaosi for pulling it off so well.
Satisfy was an interesting listen. While it didn’t quite hurt my ears, there was definitely a hint of sibilance. I’m not surprised, as I use this song a measuring stick due to its really poor production. The K3 Pro doesn’t ruin songs, but at the same time any poorly recorded ones will definitely sound as such.
Mids: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Dreams
Mids are pretty darned good. In Flagpole Sitta there’s a ton of detail and near perfect weighting. Drums are precise and well separated. Electric guitars have a great crunch, and acoustic guitars can be heard strumming gently in the background. No complaints here.
Jacked Up’s pianos also sounded good. They had good hardnesses, indicating that the K3 Pro has some very good attack and decay speeds. I was also able to hear the creak in the beginning of the song, meaning that the K3 Pro also has some very good detail retrieval in the mids.
Vocals sound good as well, and are always a pleasure to listen to through the K3 Pro. Intelligibility above average for this price point, but doesn’t exactly blow my socks off (not that I’m wearing any. Too hot where I live). Male vocals such as those from Audioslave and Harvey Danger are especially good-sounding. Female vocals also sound good, and have a certain sweetness to them.
What really gets me is the instrumental separation and sense of air the K3 brings to the table. I’m impressed really, as the K3 Pro is the first Chi-Fi IEM that really made me think “wow” in this category. While I don’t really comment too often about sound-stage, as it is incredibly difficult to accurately quantify and compare, I think that the K3 Pro does whatever “sound-stage” is very well.
Bass: Songs used: Moth, Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix), Leave Me
Bass guitars are well toned and well shaped. I had no trouble distinguishing them in Moth, nor any of the other songs that I listened to through the K3 Pro, though I do wish there was a little more hardness to them.
Bass wetness is good, though I wish that the mid-bass packed a little more of a punch. The calm nature of the bass was likely a tuning decision, as the K3 Pro has been marketed as a jack of all trades. Mid and sub-bass synergy is exceptional. The blending of the 50Hz-350Hz band gives the K3 Pro a satisfying bass signature.
While the K3 doesn’t have the sub-woofer tonality to it, it does sound good. Sub-bass emphasis and extension are both adequate, and will do right by anyone who has a couple bassy songs in their library. Bass-heads will find themselves craving more, however.
Packaging / Unboxing
The Magaosi K3 Pro (that’s a mouthful after a while) is built quite well. The driver housings are made from a smooth metal and are precisely-machined with no evidence of poor craftsmanship anywhere. The housings are made from two pieces of metal that appear to be sealed together by a mixture of friction and adhesive. Good luck getting this thing apart, it’s not budging at all to my probes.
Interestingly, there are two separate bass ports on the K3 Pro. While I can’t say I’m surprised given the thin nature of housings and the fact that somehow Magaosi got three drivers in there; it’s simply not something you see too often. I’m glad that they didn’t take the lazy way out and put the bass port on the inside face of the housing, as that usually tends to make it difficult for people like me to get consistent bass response due to our weird ear-shapes.
There are two included MMCX cables, each of which appears to be made of the same materials, though actual construction varies a bit. The first one is made from a four-core wire and is coated in a clear smooth plastic. Above the Y-splitter the cable takes on a slightly-textured feel due to the twined nature of the cable. It has plastic ear-guides and terminates in a rubber-housed, right-angled, 3.5mm jack.
The second cable is similar; it is made from a four-core wire as well, but is coated in a much more friction-prone plastic that is a translucent-gray color. It has no texture above the Y-splitter other than its frictiony-ness and also has plastic ear-guides. Unlike the first cable, this one’s Y-splitter and 3.5mm jack housings are made from a polished metal. It has a straight termination rather than a right-angled one.
The K3 Pro is quite comfortable, and the included tips are pretty good. Insertion depth is about average, which is fine for me. I could actually use the included silicones, which was a nice change. The ear-guides are pretty decent, and are not intrusive at all. I had no comfort issues during my extended listening sessions.
The K3 comes with a better set of accessories than I was anticipating.
Inside the box you will find:
- 2x pairs of foam eartips
- 1x extra pairs of foam eartips
- 1x alternate tuning filter (extra bass)
- 2x MMCX cables
- 1x carrying case
The tips are all pretty good, though none of them helped me mitigate the sibilance I was getting.
The carrying case is also very good, and is appropriately sized. I can store both cables, the tuning filters, the extra eartips, and the IEMs inside it with no trouble. It is well made and appears to be relatively protective, so it gets full marks from me.
The K3 Pro does, to a certain degree, live up to the hype. I found that while treble was pretty good, in sometimes resulted in a song becoming unpleasantly harsh and sibilant, regardless of the tips I used. Listeners looking for a slightly elevated bass will find great solace with the K3 Pro, but bass-heads will feel the K3 Pro is a little lacking. I can safely recommend this IEM to you if you want a relatively balanced sound signature and don’t mind the occasional sibilance.
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