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Brainwavz M4 In-Ear Headphones

75% Positive Reviews
Rated #112 in Universal Fit

Posted

Pros: Sound is not terrible, CTIA plug (on the microphone version)

Cons: Flimsy cable that tangles easily, overpriced compared to other earphones

I bought this in 2012-06, when my Brainwavz M2 broke. It was given a Sonic Diamond by ClieOS for the pre-order price and 4.2 / 5 for the sound quality, so I expected quite a bit.

 

Unfortunately, the cables are nowhere near as good as those used on the M2. The build quality of the speakers seems quite okay, though.

 

Compared to the M2, the bass is considerably weaker, but the higher frequencies are more detailed, albeit not much. It wasn’t the upgrade I had expected, more an eqivalent exchange where I sacrificed bass for clarity.

 

So why do I only give them 1.5 stars? Answer: Sony MH1. I received them today, and without any burn-in at all, they sound vastly superior to the M4 and have a better build quality. At the same time, they are also considerably less expensive – I paid 6.45€ and finding deals below 20€ is very easy. Even when you add the 4 USD for a CTIA-OMTP converter.

 

I just don’t see any reason to buy the Brainwavz M4 when the Sony MH1 can be had for a lot less. 

Posted

Pros: Punchy bass, full-bodies sound, comfortable, strong build quality

Cons: Somewhat harsh with in very specific instances, somewhat boring with instrumental music

 

Build Quality, Packaging And What Have You
The packaging is typical Brainwavs fair – a black box with a window that displays the IEM. As far as accessories go, there’s the three pairs of single flange eartips in small, medium and large and a pair of Comply S400 foam tips in black, which are my personal favorite.

I’m not a fan of Comply as a company, but that’s more due to practices and not product. The foam tips are excellent and I’d bet a majority of the people who actually experiment with changing the tips will find them to be to their liking. There is also a shirt clip and a hard case which is the perfect size if you wrap your earbuds up correctly.

As far as quality of the build is concerned, it’s definitely in-line with the $70 price tag. The housing is aluminum all the way through and it definitely feels sturdy to use. There’s a vent at the back of the housing that’s very noticeable, but I personally think it works well with the styling.  The only issue that I’ve come up with is the cable.

In that, there’s a ton of noise from it. If you don’t know what that means, put earbuds in and rattle the cable around. If you hear a deafening sound, that’s the noise I’m talking about. While the braided cable covered in rubber looks awesome and feels sturdy, don’t expect to leave these in passively without music playing or anything like that while you’re moving.

Comfort
I’m generally a big fan of all Brainwavz products in regards to comfort. Their full-size offerings are very comfortable and the Betas sit perfectly in my ear canal.

Happy to report that the M4 is more of the same. The small tips fit just fine with solid isolation, and the comply tips also fit very well. Don’t shove the whole thing in there, but insert them naturally at an angle and sit the tips inside the ear canal. I haven’t had any problem with looseness or anything of that nature.

Sound Quality
The M4 do a great job of sounding like everything Brainwavs has come out with thus far, but much better (with the exception of the top of the line B2). As noted, there’s a full bass sound with these earbuds that many will enjoy, but it’s not exaggerated and is actually set a ways back. The lows all-around have a strong presence without being overbearing. Hip-hop will sound appropriately strong.

When it comes to the treble and the highs in general, they can be a little too bright and over-produced. I get a definite harshness on some of the more intricate cymbal work, but it doesn’t seem prominent and consistent throughout my testing.

That being said, I also notice it a lot on the more shrill snare hits. One prominent example is “Stan” by Eminem – the snare hit is actually somewhat unbearable in that song – but that’s also something experienced to a lesser degree with other headphones. The highs perform admirably on other genres with a very neutral sound in that regard. Folk and indie music in general sounded very front-and-cetnter – the brightness lessened due to the lack of punch which generally dominated hip-hop.

What these IEMs are doing is masquerading as having a neutral signature while still appealing to the bass crowd. It’s not a neutral signature – it’s actually somewhat v-shaped, but it has a very wide soundstage for an IEM, especially in this price bracket.

In short, the sound is very wide and out there – the M4 were probably built to satisfy many hip-hop fans and instead they’ve managed to make a great all-around IEM that doesn’t offend them outright. I can’t recommend the sound enough at the $70 price point and you’d be hard-pressed to find something better at it.

Sounds Great: Hip-hop, folk, anything that is “active”
Sounds Bad: Extensively cymbal-driven music like freeform jazz and obnoxiously slow tracks

Notable Tracks Used In Review: Kendrick Lamar – “HiiiPOWER”, Eminem – “Stan”, Aloe Blacc – “I Need A Dollar”, mc chris – “mc chris is dead”, Larry and His Flask – “Ebb and Flow”, Feist – “Graveyard”, White Rabbits – “Hold It To The Fire”, Thrice – “Promises”, Regina Spektor – “All The Rowboats”

Verdict
I love the purchase when I got ‘em on sale for $28, but they’re back up to $60-plus at the moment. That being said, I consider them well-worth it and rank them among my favorite in-ear monitors, being surpassed only by buds in the $150-plus range.

They’re less-fun than the Ultimate Ears TripleFi but have more bass than the Brainwavz B2 – their flagship. I found myself outwardly bored when listening to slow jazz but was very happy with their presentation of folk and hip-hop music.

Will they rock your skull? No, and they probably won’t blow your mind, either. That being said, if someone took mine away from me today and said I had to buy a new pair at $60, I’d first try and bludgeon them with knees and elbows to get mine back. Failing that, I’d buy ‘em at retail again in a heartbeat.

Posted

Pros: Deep, impactful bass without sacrificing clarity

Cons: Driver flex, inferior cable on the mic version

Brief Backstory:

I ordered the mic'd version on a whim during the brief time MP4nation had them for $28.50 on Amazon. I figured they weren't too common, and it was almost 75% off MSRP, so it was worth a shot. 

 

On to the Review:

Out of the box, the first thing I noticed was that the cable didn't seem to be as advertised. In the promo pictures, it looks like a sturdier plastic-sheathed twisted cable, but the one I got had rubbery black ones almost reminiscent of iBud cables. After some more research, however, I found out that the mic'd version comes with a different cable, that seems less sturdy, and also lacks a cable cinch. Beyond that, though, the build looks pretty good, with functional, flexible strain reliefs at the both ends, and solid-feeling aluminum shells (though there are minor alignment issues).

 

Accessories are 3 sizes of (subpar) silicone tips that I had trouble getting a seal with in the beginning, and a pair of Comply's S400 foams. These are the newer, cheaper ones, that as far as I can tell use an inferior foam and lack the smooth coating of the T-Series. They got kind of itchy after a while, but sealed better than the silicones. After some fiddling around, I found that Sony hybrid tips gave me an excellent seal, though they had to stretch a bit to fit. Also included is a little molded semi-hard clamshell zip case, and a plastic shirt clip.

 

Fit is very comfortable and seal is very good with the aforementioned Sony hybrids, which also allows for fairly deep insertion, due to the smallish shells. However, the better seal also means quite a bit of driver flex, though only when fitting it in your ear. Isolation is as good as you can get when the housing has that massive hole in the back, which makes it ok for casual use, but not quite as suitable for long car or plane rides. Microphonics are pretty annoying cable-down, but they can easily be worn cable-up, and microphonics mostly go away.

 

Now for the sound. As a couple other reviewers have mentioned, the M4s have a "fun" sound signature, but don't really have a conventional v-curve. Though the bass is noticeably boosted, the treble is not, and the resulting sound is not as fatiguing. The bass extends quite low (pretty much to 20 Hz), and is pretty flat all the way, with only a bit of a midbass hump. As a result, the bass sounds very full and rich, which is nice for bass rumble, but can get in the way of some faster music, where tight bass is more desirable. The lower midrange is a tad boosted as well, and combined with the rich bass section, provides for a nice full tone that, as advertised, seems to work particularly well with acoustic music, and other genres where you want a bit of a resonant quality to the tone. There's a dip somewhere in the upper midrange somewhere, which can take the energy out of some distorted guitars, which, again, makes it a bit less suitable for fast or hard rock music. Up in the treble, it's not as emphasized as the bass, but there's a little hump in the lower treble that gives some energy to the music and prevents the M4 from sounding bloated and completely bottom-heavy. However, the treble does drop off fairly early (I can't tell you exactly where), which prevents sibilance and fatigue, but sacrifices some microdetail. Overall, the sound is centered on the bass and lower midrange, with only a few sacrifices elsewhere. If I were to ascribe it a shape, it would look something like a tilde (~), but rotated clockwise about 15 degrees, if that made any sense. 

 

Compared to the other IEMs I own in its price range (UE500 & A151), the M4 holds its own. Compared to the UE500s, the M4s give up a little of that speed and treble energy for deeper and smoother bass. Overall, I find the M4s a bit easier to listen to, but it can depend on your music preferences. Compared to the A151, the M4 gives up some detail in the treble and midrange, as well as isolation, again, in return for that nice, deep bass, which in the A151 actually drops off fairly early. 

 

Overall, the M4s offer an interesting twist on the "fun" sound signature, offering deep bass without sacrificing clarity. Build quality is adequate, though a little behind what you'd expect for $100, as are the accessories. Fit is good with aftermarket hybrid tips, and isolation is decent. For the going price on Amazon of $70 (for both models), the M4s are a good deal as far as sound goes, and the rest of the package isn't far behind. If you can get it at a discount, though, as I did, it's really a steal, offering solid mid-tier sound quality for the price of an entry-level IEM.

Posted

Pros: detailed, great design, cool little case

Cons: bass

Excellent iems, decent soundstage, quite detailed, comfortable although if you want bass you should look elsewhere. Perfect for rock and metal

Brainwavz M4 In-Ear Headphones
Description:

BRAINWAVZ M4 are a dynamic driver based earphones which will take your ears to rock n' roll nirvana. The M4 have a sound that provides detail, depth and bass, giving a sharp and pleasurable sound. The sound signature is well suited for many song genres but most notably Rock, your AC/DC, GNR, Bon Jovi, Zeppelin and other rock god bands will, simply put, rock on the M4 with guitars and vocals well represented. BRAINWAVZ M4 drivers are housed in a sleek barrel shaped housing made of metal and uses a high quality cabling that makes them durable and far more tangle resistant than a standard cable. Features: Clear & detailed sound. Vocals and guitars well reproduced. Sleek and stylish. Specifications: Transducers/Drivers: Dynamic, 10mm Rated Impedance: 16ohms Closed Dynamic Sensitivity: 101dB at 1mW Frequency range: 20 ~ 20000Hz Distortion:

Details:
DetailValue
BindingElectronics
EAN0728028152890
FeatureSleek and stylish.
LabelBrainwavz
List Price$89.50
ManufacturerBrainwavz
MPNBWAVZ-M4
Product GroupCE
Product Type NameHEADPHONES
PublisherBrainwavz
StudioBrainwavz
TitleBrainwavz M4 In-Ear Headphones
UPC728028152890
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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