Pros: Smooth, usually unobjectable sound, great build
Cons: Timbre is kind of weird, some may want more midrange, don't love the cable
Late last year, Brainwavz released a number of great IEM’s in the R3, Delta, and S1. The S1 seems to be Brainwavz’s attempt at making a sporty IEM, and pits it to compete against the very competitive $60 bracket. As with the Delta, I reviewed these last year, but since I can’t find it, I’m guessing I never uploaded it before my computer crashed, so this is another short rewritten review.
The packaging is a big step up from the Delta’s. The Brainwavz S1 comes with a plethora of accessories. Not only do they come with a nice ballistic nylon case, they come with five different kinds of tips. What’s interesting is that there are two different kinds of single flange tips. There is a grey one with a thinner material (which results in a more coherent sound) and a black one with a relatively thick material. They also come with Complys, double flange, and triple flange tips.
Their build is fantastic. The housings themselves are made of a very sturdy metal. There’s also a very nice strain relief on the housing. But, and I seem to be in the minority in this, I hate the flat cable. It just doesn’t really work with designs that force the cable to go above the ear. It was hard at time to get them to stay in my ear because of the way the cable was designed. The Y-splitter is, as with the Delta, comically large. I don’t really know why it’s so large, but I feel like I can blame the flat cable.
The S1’s treble seems to be a point of conflict with different reviewers. I liked to use the grey single flange with the S1 because it created the best balance for me. I’m especially sensitive to bright treble (though not the Grado treble, which is strange), which is sadly very common nowadays. Thankfully, the S1 doesn’t have any of that. While I would struggle to call the S1 rolled off, there is definitely a little dip in the upper range that makes the S1 sound smooth, which is something I’ve rarely heard in the S1’s price bracket. But this does result in a slight loss in detail, which I’m honestly fine with if it allows me to actually be able to use the S1 for more than half an hour. Though there is the occasional peak that really gets me in certain songs.
With the grey tips, the S1’s midrange follows suit with the treble, presenting a smooth, but not liquid midrange. It does take a bit of a back seat to the more pronounced bass, but they have a character that really works with pop music instead of destroying it like most higher end headphones. I can’t really describe it coherently, but it’s like these were made for popular music. There is a bit of a downside to that though. The midrange is definitely not as detailed as I’d like it to be, and timbre is off in almost all situations. Now, I don’t expect accuracy in this price range, but I do wish it sounded a little more realistic.
The bass is obviously the star of the show. It’s more elevated than the rest of the spectrum, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it muddy with anything but the bassiest music, in which the S1 gets a little overwhelmed. They have nice tactility and excellent depth. I wish they were better at separating individual notes, but despite that, I’ve recommended the S1 to countless people looking for a bassy IEM that won’t break the bank.
The S1 sounds rather wide, but they don’t have the best depth. Detail, as said earlier, isn’t the best, but it is acceptable and better than something like the Klipsch S4.
Despite their inaccurate sound, I really do like the S1 in situations that I don’t really care to analyze the music. I used it often for walking to class and working out (though their heavier cable makes them less suited for this than the Delta). For the $60 they’re going for, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to bassheads, but for those that want a balanced sound signature, you may want to look elsewhere.
Pros: Build quality, accesories, Deep and Fast Bass
Full review here:
Driver: 10mm Dynamic
Rated Impedance: 16 Ω
Frequency Range: 20Hz ˜ 20kHz
Sensitivity: 93 dB @ 1 mW
Max Input Power: 2 mW
Cable: 1.3m, Y-Cord OFC Copper
Plug: 3.5mm Gold Plated
Official product page:
The new Brainwavz feature a mix of a bassy and a (slight, not very balanced) V-shaped sound. Kinda tip dependant: the grey tips tend to strengthen the low frequencies and add some extra warmth, with smoother highs; the black ones offer a more pronounced V-shaped response, with deeper bass, sharper highs and more distant mids; and the bi-flanges give a bigger and more spacious and open sound.
The low-end is quite present and very powerful, and could be easily considered as a heavy bass earphone. Yet, it's relatively detailed and controlled. Sub bass has great extension, and is one of the deepest bass I've heard in this sub $60 range, almost competing with the AudioFly AF56's depth. Mid-bass is very full as well, and more forwarded than the sub-bass. While it is well bodied and layered, it can be too overwhelming for some and even a bit muddy at times. A great match for bassheads, but might be too much for those in search of a more balanced sound. What really is worth praising is the speed; it's one of the fastest bass I've came across lately. Not as the light-speed bass as my favorites ATH-CKN70 (that's a hard to beat CNT driver), but very impressive for a bassy IEM, indeed.
As expected, the strong bass tends to overshadow the whole midrange response. Even the upper mids are not safe from some bass bleed. In the best scenario they will not sound too recessed, but in the worst case they'd feel quite distant. They don't lack body, though, and do share a fair sense of richness and warmth, but still won't stand out for their midrange presentation alone. Surprisingly, they manage to show a very good level of clarity. At first, the details will be too hidden behind the thick bass, but will start to show up after some 'break-in' time. EQ might help even further in this regard, especially if you get to control some of that bass response.
The treble is probably the less favorite part here. While the highs are slightly more upfront than the midrange, they are also quite sharp and harsh, especially with the black tips (either the single or double ones). Sibilance is present even with the grey tips, but on a lesser degree, and there's a fair metallic resonance making them too unnatural, and not very extended either.
Similarly, vocals also suffer a lot, somewhat veiled due to the authoritative bass. Clarity is not really missing and it's possible to recognize the background voices, but need some extra effort from the listener side. The real issue is the lack smoothness as they can sound very rough and edgy, to the point of being unbearable even at moderate volumes.
The stage is rather big, as expected for this kind of signature. Instrument separation is average and the S1 could have a better sense of air.
All in all, I'd rank them between the AF45 and AF56, closer to the later when it comes to overall resolution and presentation. The AF56 wins hands down in stage, space and especially in treble smoothness, but the S1 show a warmer midrange tonality. Technically they're definitely a better sounding and more refined model than the last dynamic Brainwavz model, the M5, in practically every way, but to my surprise I could still like the older and lower model over this new S1.
Pros: Big Bass without sacrificing clarity; Extremely durable
Cons: Flat cable; Frankenbolts
The S1 is another new offering from Brainwavz, who seems to have unleashed an army of new iems recently, including the budget king, Delta. The S1 is a 10mm dynamic driver in a larger barrel style housing that vaguely resembles the UE TF10 frankenbolts (note: these are designed for over the ear wear). It also sports a heavy duty flat cable with generous stress reliefs at the housings and connector. Personally I can’t stand flat cables, as to me they are more bulky and heavy than normal round cables, but this one is pretty flexible and seemingly very durable. It comes with good selection of tips ranging from single flange to doubles and triples, plus a foam set. Also included is the Brainwavz semi-hard case, which is one of more practical and useful cases on the market. Not a bad offering at the $60 msrp, if the sound quality can deliver.
Right out of the box the sound was pretty murky and I had wondered what in the world was Brainwavz thinking?!? So I connected it to an old dap, plugged it into the wall and forgot about it for a couple of days. For all I know they could have started sounding better in 20 minutes but when I came back to them a few days later, they were no longer so dark and the murky veil over them was gone.
The S1 is a bass first iem that boast big bass punch and deep bass rumble. It’s large, rich and has plenty of decay; It lingers and warms up the lower mids for an overall warm and thick signature. However, even with the warmed up lower end and the general V shaped signature, the midrange still maintains good clarity for vocals and guitars to show through. The treble is slightly elevated but remains easy going and fatigue free, allowing for decent detail with cymbals, rides and hi-hats. There also seems to be some lingering decay in the upper regions, as treble detail isn’t as articulate as it could be but overall there’s really not much to complain about- big bass, good midrange clarity and nice treble sparkle add up to another quality offering from Brainwavz.
Offerings from other manufacturers with similar bass first signatures are the NuForce 650 and 700 models, both of which are in a similar price bracket. I prefer the S1 to these, as it offers greater clarity while still packing that big bass punch. The Future Sonics Atrio offers bigger sub bass rumble but also has less clarity, grainier treble and an overall darker, smaller sound. The S1 should please most bassheads and would make a great workout, yard work or commute iem.
Thanks to Brainwavz for the review sample.
Pros: Balanced sound, bassy but still clear, over ear design
Cons: upper mids are a bit sharp, highs are not that pronounced.
Pros: Solidly built, bass oriented, mildly V shaped signature that does not sacrifice the midrange.
Cons: Jack is bulky, may not accomodate all phone cases. Bass over bearing out of the box requiring some burnin to sound it's best, has a midbass hump.