Disclaimer: The UBSOUND Magister was sent to us in exchange for our honest opinion in this review and does not have to be returned.
Many thanks to UBSOUND for giving us this opportunity.
UBSOUND is a rare bird indeed in the audio business. I believe they are the only Italian company making IEMs at the time of writing. If you know of another feel free to leave a comment below this review.
What’s more, with the Magister, they are boldly taking on the recent wave of “Chi-fi” IEMs by going after the budget audiophile or casual listener market. This has been their stock in trade since they started back in 2014.
This is not the first time we have reviewed their products. I reviewed the Orchestra IEM back in 2016 and thought it was sort of ok but could do with some improvements in sound quality to really attract beyond the consumer market.
The Magister, I am told, is a more ambitious and bolder attempt to do just that with a sound they describe as being more reference and neutral than before.
It is priced at just $49 which means it is competing with a heck of a lot of budget offerings out there of varying quality. This is now a very stiff and competitive entry-level market.
UBSOUND are pitching the Magister as their first neutral acoustic signature IEM and a break from their past V-Shaped offerings such as the Orchestra and Fighter. To be precise the Pr sheet quoted the Magister as having an ‘honest natural sound and rich in acoustic detail’.
The Magister is also being positioned as having a much higher build quality than previous offerings with a sturdier aluminum build. They believe will make it their more robust offering to date in the market and yet still retain a competitive price point.
Easy To Drive
The final pitch sees ‘s UBSOUND stay true to their roots with the Magister by developing a single dynamic driver IEM with an output impedance of 16Ω. This keeps the Magister within range of smartphone users as well as moderate DAP sources.
The Magister uses a single 6mm micro dynamic driver encased in relatively elegant bullet type aluminum form factor. It is reasonably light with clean lines and a much better standard of polished finish than before. Certainly, the Magister is UBSOUND’s best build quality to date and I can see no durability issues in day to day handling.
The bullet form factor comprises of three parts. A fairly short nozzle with a well-defined tip lip, a slightly wider main chamber and a circular contoured backplate which also acts as a resting point for the rubbery wire guide that goes around it. The bass vent, as is obligatory on DD IEMs is just underneath the main chamber right beside the stem and is fairly discreet.
The Magister is not detachable which is a shame because I would have loved to have seen how it performs with upgraded cables. The rubber stem itself acts as a strain relief for the cable so it does have some flexibility.
Cable & Connections
The Magister uses a 1.2m OFC 4-wire cable with a rubber jacket. It is very microphonic free, particularly if worn over the ear. Memory retention is also very low and it does feel fairly durable. The cable is terminated with a fairly long 3.5mm 4-pole gold plated TRSS jack with decent strain relief and an attractive gold banding finish at the top.
Remote playback & Mic
The cable is terminated with one of the nicer looking in-line remote mic and playback modules. It is finished in a matching aluminum shell with a single multi-click button for playback, pause, and track forwarding. A long press will bring up ‘OK Google’ Services also (Android 7.0 upwards). The mic is fairly high up the right side so no issues on voice clarity using an LG G6 and my older Blackberry Passport.
Comfort & Fit
Given that the Magister has no memory hooks it can be worn straight down or over the ear. If you want a microphonic free experience my suggestion is to go over the ear.
The bullet type form factor means you will have no issues on levels of comfort but the seal will be dependent on how secure the Magister is in your ear. Running the cable over your ear will provide a more secure fit though it will bring the remote module very close to your right ear. Some users may prefer the module a bit lower down.
The level of the seal, as with all bullet type form factor IEMs, is heavily depending on the supplied tips. The Magister only comes with small, medium and large single narrow bore silicone tips. I would have loved to have seen the inclusion of some foam tips or dual flange as they tend to increase the levels of isolation.
That being said the supplied tips actually do a very good job of keeping out the background noise and are also fairly comfortable. If you do decide to go with foams I believe the 400 range of Comply fitting foams, (TS, Sx, and T), will work just fine based on the perfect fit of Campfire Audio foam tips on the Magister. My own personal favorite was a set of medium Spinfits. Compared to the stock tips I felt the superior seal of the Spinfits produced a more defined and snappier low-end and more depth to the staging as a result.
Accessories & Packaging
You get only the basics with the Magister but then apart from notable exceptions such as the FiiO F5 I never really expected a wide range at this price point. You do get a soft velvet feel black pouch with the UBSOUND logo and a bag of single silicone bore tips in small, medium and large.
All of this is tucked into a small professionally finished black cardboard retail box with plenty of branding and imagery front and rear. I personally would have preferred a small pill zip case and an additional set of foam or dual flange tips though I am not sure if the cost would go up as a result.
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