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.