Pros: Sound Quality, Build Quality, Comfort
Me: I am a 21 year old Engineering student living in a small town in India. I would like to call myself a music enthusiast, rather than an audiophile. I was inspired by music since childhood, and as the time passed, the passion of music grew in me, and that subsequently led me to join Head-Fi. Eventually, I found the pleasure of listening to music mainly by the HD600 and recently, by the seductive LCD2 headphones, and realized the true components of recorded music. I usually like to listen to Indian Classical Music along with Bollywood songs. My main listening genres include classical, vocal, instrumental, jazz and sometimes pop.
Intro: Brainwavz, established in 2008, is a famous and renowned brand across the world. Speciality of Brainwavz is that, they always deliver quality products in an affordable price. The M3 is the flagship In Ear Monitor offering from M series of Brainwavz. The M3 took back seat for quite some time, owing to release of newer S series.
Specifications of M3 as per Brainwavz:
Drivers: Dynamic, 10.7mm
Rated Impedance: 20 Ω
Frequency Range: 20Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity: 115 dB@1 mW
Rated Input Power: 10 mW
Cable: 1.3m, Y-Cord, (Cu/Ag) PUR
Plug: 3.5mm Gold Plated 45°
Let us see what the M3 has got for us,
Packaging and Accessories: As usual, the M3 arrives packed inside a typical-Brainwavz-style colourful cardboard box, on which features, accessories and other information have been mentioned upon. The box is sealed by Brainwavz factory. Once the box is opened, The M3 housing shell is seen resting on a transparent plastic, the rest of cable and the accessories are packed inside the hard case. Nice step taken by Brainwavz, considering thousands of miles journey the M3 has to undergo before reaching its destination. The hard case can be unzipped off to reveal the storage compartment, in which all the included accessories are present.
Brainwavz has always been generous in case of accessories, by providing good amount of accessories. Over all the packaging and accessories is nicely done (as usual) by Brainwavz.
List of accessories in the box, which include the following:
Eartips: Plenty of good quality eartips are included to fit almost any kind of ears, a pair of comply foam tips are also included.
Shirt Clip: To reduce microphonics and to secure the hanging cable to the shirt.
Hard case: This case is supplied to store and protect the M3.
Warranty card: Contains warranty information.
Design and Build: The M3 has a very good overall build quality. Feels sophisticated and refined. The M3 has a very practical and ergonomic build.
Housing shells are made up of high quality fiber materials. Nozzle is made up of metal. Housing is painted in black gloss colour, Feels good in hand. The housings shell is actually tiny, light in weight.
One peculiar thing a person can see about M3 is that, there is a arm stretching out of the main driver housing. The function of this arm is to hold the M3’s steady while our head is moving (during jogging) and to not allow M3’s to slip deeper into the ear canal.
Cable is braided and has a very good build. It is very similar to the cables of SoundMAGIC E30 earphones. It is light, flexible and does not get tangled. Cables have almost zero microphonics. Plug is 45 degrees angled. This is again more convenient and easier to use than the 90 degree and 180 degree plugs.
My only concern is the absence of strain relief on housings and on Y splitter. Cable is most likely to wear at these two places. We can see here that a cable slider is too not present.
Comfort and Fit: M3 is quite comfortable to wear, its light in weight, ergonomically designed, and its cable is light in weight and not heavy, stiff like the S0’s. No worries about the stretching arm on the driver housings, as their presence is barely noticeable after sometime of wearing it.
My ears are quite large, and the M3’s fit me well. So I would also presume that M3 would fit almost all kind of ears. The presence of protruding arm does not hinder the comfort. Instead it makes sure there is better fit. The isolation provided by M3 is quite mediocre, owing to shallow fit and insertion.
Sound: As for the most important part, th sound. The M3 has a slightly 'V' shaped sound signature.
Lows: are fairly tight and strong; goes deep enough for a good impact.
Mids: are pushed back a little, not a strong point for vocals.
Highs: are sparky and are a touch artificial sounding. There are a few spikes audible in the highs,
Sound-stage width is a little bit congested. Depth is pretty decent. The overall presentation is warm, intimate and closed in. I also remember M3 sounded a touch processed and artificial. This may make one to feel fatigued even after a short listen. Also, the sound of M3 can be manipulated by using different eartips. Sonic results can vary greatly by different ear tips used. But, I found the default tip to be most balanced sounding amongst all included tips.
Comparing the M3 with S0, I feel the S0 definitely outperforms the M3 in terms of neutrality, soundstage. The S0’s are also more pleasant and relaxing to listen to. M3 is slightly warmer and feels congested sounding, whereas S0 is greatly transparent and neutral, with relaxed and natural soundstage. (Also, S0 costs half the price of M3). M3 clearly wins in terms of cable quality, and ergonomics. One cannot simply ignore the fact that, S0’s have tremendous value with them. I was fatigued by M3 in a short amount of time (Spacious sound of S0 spoilt me)
Amplification: The M3 is very easy to drive, and can be driven by almost any sources, smartphones and DAP’s. Although a dedicated low cost amp like a Topping NX100 does increases the sound output noticeably, the difference in quality is minimal. Amplification factor is not important here, but a clean and transparent source is sufficient to drive the M3 to their maximum potential.
Conclusion: M3 is a decent earphone, but I did not quite like its sound presentation. I would instead recommend an enthusiast to consider the popular S0 which costs half the price of M3, with a much more acclaimed and neutral sound quality. The M3 is also comparatively outdated when it comes to value prospect.
1) Build Quality: The M3’s have a very good build quality. Particularly the cables are well built.
2) Sound quality: Sound quality of M3 is relatively warm and intimate. For those who appreciate this kind of sound presentation, they would prefer the sound quality of M3.
3) Comfort: M3 is quite comfortable to wear for a few hours, owing to its light and ergonomic build.
1) Value: I think there are much better performing earphones available within the same price tag as of M3, thus making M3 of having a mediocre price/performance ratio.
2) Not for everybody: The sound quality presented by M3 may not be appreciated by every enthusiast.