Pros: Excellent ergonomic. Small, light, and very comfortable.
Cons: Treble might be a bit too soft for some.
Big thanks to Brainwavz for the review sample of Brainwavz B200!
Brainwavz B200 is a new Dual Driver, Balanced Armature earphones from Brainwavz, the 3rd model of the Brainwavz Balance Armature series. Excellent ergonomic and pleasant sonic signature seems to be main goals of the design, and in my opinion, Brainwavz has achieved both with Brainwavz B200.
Here is the discussion thread for Brainwavz B200:
With 30 ohms impedance and 110 dB/mW sensitivity, B200 is smartphone friendly and also we don’t have to worry about hissing noise from some not so quiet sources / DAPs. I do prefer this level of sensitivity to avoid audible hissing noise. I often hear a hissing noise from my 1964 Ears V3 which has a high 119 dB/mW sensitivity and sometimes can be a bit annoying. My Samsung Galaxy S7 can drive B200 quite well, but volume setting most of the time very close to maximum. I do find that B200 benefits from more powerful sources like Chord Mojo and iFi micro iDSD. I especially like the matching of B200 with iFi micro iDSD and iFi micro iDSD Black-Label version that I reviewed a few weeks ago, those DACs really bring out the best of B200.
Excellent ergonomic. Small, light, and very comfortable.
Good build quality and seems to be quite durable.
Treble might be a bit too soft for some.
Suggestions for Improvements:
Better quality control on the bending direction of the ear hook.
Frequency extension for the bass and treble could be improved, especially the treble.
Brainwavz B200 is nicely tuned and leans towards smooth, warm, and pleasing sonic character. Tonality is rather midrange centric with pretty flat response around the midrange area. Overall it sounds pretty smooth without any annoying frequency peak or dip, and no obvious coloration besides the soft sounding treble. There is some roll-off around sub-bass and treble, but in a natural manner and overall tonality still can be considered quite natural. Obviously, B200 is not a bassy IEM, but bass level and quality are pretty good, especially considering that it is a dual BA drivers IEM. Bass is only slightly below the midrange, but coherency with midrange is excellent and the bass doesn’t sound anemic. I honestly have no issue with the bass level. Treble is smooth and soft, sufficient clarity and sparkle but not at the sparkling level of let say ATH-IM02 or Etymotic ER4XR. The rather soft treble might be suitable for those who are treble sensitive, but rather lacking for treble lovers. For me, the treble is a bit lacking as I usually prefer mildly V shape tonality. Therefore I prefer to pair B200 with a treble rich player or source like the iFi micro iDSD, to help to emphasize the treble a little bit. With foobar, I apply a shelf EQ to raise the treble starting +2 dB at 3.5kHz, ramping up to +6 dB at 7kHz onward.
As mentioned earlier, overall tonality is rather midrange centric, but in a good and musical way, and with good coherent tonality across the audio band. Midrange is clearly the strong character of B200. I don’t usually like midrange centric IEM, but B200 is exceptional as the midrange quality is quite special with very nice tonal density, good body, and midrange clarity. Vocal has good body and fullness to the sound. I’m quite sensitive to a muddy midrange, and usually not a great fan for warm sounding IEMs that sometimes sounds muddy. I’m glad to say that the nice full and dense sounding midrange of B200 has good clarity without any muddiness or fuzziness. The soft treble and dominant midrange might give the perception of warmness to the sound, but I prefer to call it mid-centric. Warm sound usually has a rather long decay around the midrange and bass, and I don’t hear that long decay characteristic on B200. There is a small degree of perceived warmness, so I think we can say that B200 is mildly warm.
As expected with midrange centric IEM, the presentation is more on the intimate style. Stereo imaging is around the average size, not congested but also not the wide and spacious type. I do wish the dynamic could be a little bit improved. Dynamic is a bit too polite for me, so sometimes it does feel a little lacking in excitement. Probably because I’m quite used with dynamic driver IEMs, the dual BA drivers of B200 don’t seem to move air as much as some of my dynamic driver IEMs. But actually for a dual BA, the dynamic is quite decent as I’ve heard other dual BA IEMs with less dynamic. Other than that, detail and clarity are pretty good, not emphasized but clearly not lacking. Coherency between the 2 BA drivers is excellent, they sound coherently like a single driver. In summary, smooth, polite and mildly warm sounding are probably the main characters of B200 sound signature. It is the type of IEM that will not easily cause ears fatigue even for a very long session.
Eartips & Frequency Response Graph
B200 comes with silicone ear tips (3 sizes) and medium size Comply T-100 foam ear tips. The B200 nozzle neck measured 3mm and the nozzle head is 4mm in diameter. The foam ear tips reduce the bass and giving the perception of slightly clearer midrange. I feel the bass is a bit lacking when using foam ear tips, although the mids is a little clearer. Tonality wise, I prefer to use the silicone ear tips in conjunction with a simple shelf equalizer to boost the treble by around 6dB. My impressions in this review are based on the silicone ear tips.
Before observing the measurement results, please take note of the following disclaimer:
- Frequency response measurement in this review was not done using standard measurement instrument for in-ear monitors. Therefore measurement result should not be considered as an absolute result, and should not be compared to other measurement result using different measurement instrument. The measurement was done using MiniDSP UMIK-1 USB measurement microphone with a DIY acoustic coupler.
- The program I use for measurement is the famous Room EQ Wizard, REW v5.16. I measured left and right channels a few times, take 2 most consistent measurements for each channel, apply 1/24 octave smoothing, and then average the result.
- From my own observation, measurement result beyond 10 kHz doesn’t seem to be reliable, therefore can be ignored.
Below are all measurement showing left and right channel measurement with both Comply foam ear tips and silicone ear tips. We can see that left and right channels have good balance and consistency.
Averaged frequency response of both Comply foam ear tips (Red) and silicone ear tips (White) with 1/24 octave smoothing:
Averaged frequency response of both Comply foam ear tips (Red) and silicone ear tips (White) with Psychoacoustic smoothing (closer to human perceived hearing):
I don’t have other 2 BA drivers IEM with me to be compared with the B200, so I will compare it with my reference IEM for tonality, the DUNU DN-2000, just to observe the sonic differences between them. DN-2000 sounds flat to my ears and measured flat on my measurement equipment, therefore it has been my reference IEM for flat tonality. I also had an opportunity to compare the B200 with Etymotic ER4XR. Only a short comparison, but I will share it here as well.
DN-2000 sounds more transparent, more extended treble and bass, and the stereo imaging is more spacious and holographic. Overall the DN-2000 sounds more neutral in tonality. DN-2000 also has higher perceived detail and speed. The DN-2000 mid bass and midrange sound leaner than the B2000. The fuller and thicker mid bass and midrange of B200 might be preferable for vocal, but for classical and instrumental that benefit from wide frequency response, DN-2000 sounds superior.
ER4-XR sounds more transparent and more resolving in detail, with more spacious perceived imaging. More extended and sparkling treble. I like the transparency, but bass is lacking for my preference. B200 has thicker and fuller mids. Vocal sounds fuller with more body. Smaller soundstage with a more intimate presentation. Fuller and more potent bass.
Both have actually quite different tonality, but both are enjoyable in their own way and don't have any audible annoying peaks and dips on their spectrum.
Build Quality and Comfort
Brainwavz has nailed down the design for excellent shape and size for their Bxxx series. B200 ergonomic, to me, is quite perfect to get a very good fit and comfort. 5 stars for the fit and comfort aspect. It is light and fits very nicely to my ears, and very comfortable even for many hours of use. The cable has a nice jacket that doesn’t feel sticky or rubbery. The thickness is just nice for the small and light drivers.
B200 is designed for over the ear wearing style. The ear hook is flexible without memory wire. It uses heat shrink tube to shape the cable near the driver housing. I prefer this type of flexible ear hook compared to memory wire. I had small problem initially with the left channel ear hook, where it was not bent to the right direction. It should have been bent inward like the right channel, instead it was bent outward as shown in the picture below.
I fixed it using a heat gun to bend it to the right direction as shown in the picture. Probably high power hair dryer can be used to fix it as well. Hopefully Brainwavz could give more attention to the quality control to avoid this problem.
Overall build quality of B200 is great and seems to be able to withstand rough usage. It is the type of IEM that I can just crumple and throw into my bag without worry. And the excellent fit is also great for Sport as it won’t get easily fall off from the ear. The 45-degree headphone jack also has very good cable strain relief. Sometimes I could hear some mild cable microphonic from the cable when used while doing lots of physical activities, but I consider the microphonic as mild and ignorable. Although the design might not be very stylish, but practically it is a very good design with durable build quality.
The small size and great fit should be among the deciding factors when considering the B200. IMHO, It would be nice if Brainwavz has a version of B200 with microphone for smartphone use. B200 is not for bass heads or treble heads, or those who prefer V shape tonality. But for the treble-sensitive that love a sweet and intimate sounding midrange, Brainwavz B200 is must try. Although basically I’m not a great fan of mid-centric tonality, but I would say the B200 is quite special. It's pleasing and friendly sonic character together with the excellent fit and comfort make it a very nice all-rounder daily IEM. Kudos to Brainwavz!
Drivers : Dual Balanced Armature
Rated Impedance : 30 Ω
Frequency Range : 12 Hz ~ 22 kHz
Sensitivity : 110 dB at 1 mW
Cable : 1.3 m Y-Cord, Over the ear, OFC Copper
Plug : 3.5 mm, Gold plated
Earphone Hard case
6 sets of Silicone Ear Tips (S M L)
1 set of Comply™ Foam Tips T-100
1 Shirt Clip
Velcro Cable Tie
Instruction Manual & Warranty Card (24 month warranty)
Equipment used in this review:
DAPs and DACs:
iFi micro iDSD Black-Label
iFi micro iDSD
Samsung Galaxy S7
Some recordings used in this review: