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MP4Nation Brainwavz M1

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #29 in Universal Fit

Posted

Pros: Price, compact size, light weight, slightly warm, but generally neutral sound

Cons: None at the price

Introduction

 

Brainwavz M1Brainwavz are making another push on their M series earphones and that’s good news for those of us looking for a well-priced, high performance earphone. The M1s use a single dynamic driver in a compact plastic and metal shell to deliver a tiny, lightweight earphone with sound that’s reminiscent of their more expensive R3 model, but in a much more comfortable package. They're not as good as the R3s, but for their price they’re impressive nonetheless.

 

A big thanks to Audrey and the team at Brainwavz for sending me this pair to review!

 

Specifications

  • Drivers:  10.7mm dynamic (1 per earpiece)
  • Impedance:  32 ohms
  • Frequency range:  20 – 20,000Hz
  • Sensitivity:  110 dB (at 1mW)
  • Cable:  1.3m terminated in a 3.5mm plug

 

Design & Comfort

 

Brainwavz M1 nozzleThe most obvious thing about the M1’s design is how tiny they are. These are some of the smallest IEMs I’ve ever used alongside the Atomic Floyd Superdarts. Despite the diminutive size and price, Brainwavz have still crafted parts of the M1 from metal which is a really nice touch both aesthetically and in terms of how they feel to handle. The metal nozzle assembly makes the M1s look and feel much pricier than they are and although the plastic section of the housing does look a little cheap (in terms of the quality of the plastic) in comparison there is absolutely nothing to complain about in the overall design and build of the M1s.

 

They come with a solid cable that easily bests the cable on either the S5 or R3 in terms of look and feel. The cable is comfortable to wear and doesn’t seem to tangle. It can be a little loopy at times, but once straightened out it sits well and doesn’t seek to recoil like some braided cables can.

 

As for fit, the M1s’ tiny size makes them easy to fit, but like any earphones with 4mm nozzles (i.e. most IEMs other than Shure and Westone), those with small ear canals may feel a tiny bit of pressure where the nozzle sits in the ear canal. For the majority of people though, the M1s will fit perfectly with no problems at all and their lightweight and tiny frame will quickly have you forgetting that their in your ear.

 

Accessories

 

As with all Brainwavz IEMs, you receive a nice black semi-hard case, an excellent range of silicone and foam tips (including a pair of medium size Comply tips), and a clip for the cable to secure it to your collar if desired.

 

Sound

 

Brainwavz M1As mentioned earlier, the M1s are quite reminiscent of Brainwavz’ oddly shaped, but excellent sounding R3 earphones. Brainwavz market the M1 as an all-rounder that’s equally as good with hip-hop as it is with country and I do think they’ve achieved that brief. I haven’t heard a genre that the M1s struggle with. For the price they do an admirable job of presenting anything and everything with a good balance of all frequencies, detail, and soundstage.

 

Rather than breakdown the individual sound characteristics of these I’m going to discuss them as an overall picture because they present a nicely cohesive balance with no major flaws, especially when you consider the $50 price tag.

 

The sound is a little warmer than neutral with a little bit of roll-off in the treble, but nothing extreme. Treble detail is still present and clear, but it’s slightly smoothed over which makes the M1s very easy to listen to on any track. They’re not too warm like the Elements C-12 from Signature Acoustics, but they’re definitely warm and I like that in a budget earphone that’s likely going to be used with mobile phones and similar sources that aren’t designed for flagship IEMs that reveal every last detail, including the limitations of the source.

 

Other than the slightly rolled-off treble, the M1s present everything else on about the same level. Mids are nicely presented front and centre with no sense of distance or veil and the bass is solid and clean without being over-emphasised. Across a wide range of tracks I never found myself wanting anything more from the M1s – they sound natural, realistic and clean from any source and on any track.

OK, so you might be wondering by now why anyone would ever buy anything that costs more than $50 when the M1s are out there. The limitation in the M1s sound is its absolute fidelity. The sound is nicely balanced and sounds natural, but it is a touch closed in and lacking the transparency of a set like the R3s. Remembering that this is a $50 earphone that’s in no way a knock on the M1s – you get what you pay for and the M1s deliver outstanding bang for buck at the $50 price point, but they’re not going to outperform all higher-priced IEMs (just some of them).

 

The soundstage on the M1s sounds just a little congested compared to something like the R3. It’s not particularly well defined and fits into a space about as wide as your cheekbones and with limited height or depth. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the M1’s soundstage, but it’s also not going to blow you away. It’s adequate for a $50 earphone and is accurate and coherent so it never draws your attention away from the music which is excellent – better to create an average, but non-distracting presentation rather than swing for the fences with a huge, spacious stage that can become incoherent and distracting. No, despite not being special, I think the Brainwavz engineers got the soundstage just right for a $50 neutral, jack-of-all trades earphone.

 

Summary

 

It’s not a giant killer, but the M1 is an outstanding IEM for its $50 price tag. If you’re looking for a highly affordable upgrade from the stock earphones that came with your phone or if you want a solid sounding set of ‘phones for gym duty or similar then the M1s should be at the very top of your list. They’re combination of accessories, tiny size and lightweight comfort, with perfectly balanced smooth sound make them a great option that’s going to be very hard to beat for less than $100. Once again Brainwavz has shown how it’s done, producing an incredibly good value IEM that’s well made, well equipped and with great sound – bravo, Brainwavz!

Posted

Pros: Overall SQ, balance, clarity, build, fit, accessories, value, cable build

Cons: Cable noise & memory, no neck cinch, jack housing size, strain relief on IEM

For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images

INTRODUCTION

Brainwavz is a now well established manufacturer of headphones in the value for money category – offering many different options that suit almost anyone’s sonic preferences.  I’ve previously had both good and bad experiences with their headphones / IEMs.  I’ve previously reviewed and owned their B2 IEMs and HM5 headphones, and both were stellar performers.  I’ve also sampled their R1, R3, S0, S5 and R3 V2 IEMs – and whilst the R3 V2, S0 and S5 were also solid performers, the R1 and R3 originals weren’t quite as well aligned with my preferences.

 

I’ve had regular contact with Audrey from Brainwavz, and when she asked me to consider reviewing the M1, I was intrigued, especially as she hinted that these might be more aligned with my own sonic preferences.

I received the courier pack a couple of weeks ago – and have already spent as much time as I could getting to know the ins and out of these IEMs.  As Audrey has hinted, it’s actually been a very pleasant experience reviewing these. I’d estimate that so far I’ve logged around 20-25 hours with the Brainwavz M1.

 

I’ve listed price at USD $44.50 (current MP4Nation/Amazon price at time of writing) – however this is not what I paid for them (they are a review sample). 

 

DISCLAIMER

 

I was provided the Brainwavz M1 as a review sample.  I am in no way affiliated with Brainwavz - and this review is my honest opinion of the Brainwavz M1.  I would like to thank Audrey for making this opportunity available.

 

PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.   (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)

 

I'm a 47 year old music lover.  I don't say audiophile – I just love my music.  Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up.  I vary my listening from portable (Fiio X5, X1 and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP).  I also use a portable set-up at work – either X5/X1 > HP, or PC > Beyer A200p > HP.  My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1, Sennheiser HD600, and Brainwavz HM5.  Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs - and up till now it has mainly been with the Fidue A83 or A81, Dunu DN-1000 or Titan, and Altone200. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

 

I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock.   I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock.  I am particularly fond of female vocals.  I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences.  I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880.

 

I have extensively tested myself (abx) and I find aac256 or higher completely transparent.  I do use exclusively redbook 16/44.1 if space is not an issue.  All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line).

 

I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences.  I am not a ‘golden eared listener’.  I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 47, my hearing is less than perfect.

 

For the purposes of this review - I used the Brainwavz M1 straight from the headphone-out socket of my iPhone 5S, X5, and X1.  I also used my Beyer A200p and E11K amplifier, but IMO they do not benefit from additional amplification.  In the time I have spent with the M1, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (break-in), but am aware that my impression of their sonic footprint may have changed over time with use (brain burn-in).

 

This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience.  Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

 

THE REVIEW

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES

 

The Brainwavz M1 arrived in a bright and shiny orange and black retail box with a display window to see the M1 earpieces.  The box is definitely eye-catching with its bold colour scheme. On the front of the box are 3 descriptions – “balanced sound”, “comfortable fit”, and “silver OFC cable”.  IMO this is an honest and accurate representation of some of the attributes of the M1.

 

Front of M1 retail carton Rear of M1 retail carton

 

On the rear of the box is the sales blurb, list of specifications, contents and accessories.

 

As always with the sample Brainwavz sends me – they arrive completely sealed. I take this to mean that this particular sample has simply come straight from their warehouse – implying that they are very confident in their quality control (no need to hand pick samples).

 

Inside the retail carton is a plastic moulded tray, holding the M1 IEMs, and the by now well-known Brainwavz carry case – which holds the balance of the cable and accessories.

 
Inner sleeve - case and M1 IEMs M1s and accessory package

 

The accessory package is very typical Brainwavz – very comprehensive, and quite exceptional, especially at this price range.  It still amazes me that even in the sub $50 price bracket, they offer far more accessories than a lot of other manufacturers do with their pricier models.

 

First up you get the Brainwavz carry case – which is a hard fabric covered pouch – and easily carries all your tips and the M1.  The case is really good because it does offer a lot of protection to the IEMs – but it is definitely more suited to transport in a jacket pocket or bag rather than a trouser pocket – simply due to its height.  This is definitely a quality carry case though.

 
Tip selection + shirt clip Tip selection profile

 

Along with the case you also get a small combined instruction plus warranty information sheet (reverse side), a shirt clip, a generous selection of silicone tips, and a genuine set of Comply S400 medium tips.

 

The silicone tips include 6 sets of standard tips, and 1 set of bi flanges.

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

 

(From Brainwavz)

Drivers

Dynamic, 10.7mm

Shell

Plastic moulded body + metal nozzle

Rated Impedance

32 ohms

Frequency Range

20 Hz – 20 kHz

Sensitivity

110 dB @ 1mW

Cable

1.3m, silver plated OFC copper cable

Plug

3.5 mm gold plated, approx. 60 deg angle

Weight

14g (with comply tips fitted)

Fitting

Straight down or over ear

 

FREQUENCY GRAPH

 

Unfortunately I’ve been unable to find a frequency graph for the M1 so far but will add it later if I can find one.  For the record – I’m expecting a quite balanced overall frequency response with a relatively flat mid-bass (a bit of normal roll off in the sub bass though), flat lower mid-range, small peak in the upper-mids (centred around 5-6K) and clear and extended treble.

 

BUILD QUALITY

 

The Brainwavz M1 is a very diminutive IEM measuring just 4mm in diameter at its widest point and 21mm in length from the rear to the tip of the nozzle. The outer shell is smooth moulded plastic with no obvious sharp joins or corners. The front portion of the m1 consists of a metal “cap” with integrated nozzle. The fit to the plastic body is virtually seamless. The nozzle has a generous lip, and tips feel very secure once fitted.  For the foam tip lovers, my T400 and Tx400 are perfect fits. There is a large port on the side of the IEM and a smaller one in the bass of the aluminium cap.

 

The design of the M1 allows for the IEM to be either worn cable down or over ear.

 
M1 showing side bass port, minimal strain relief but robust build Nozzles and small port / vent

 

The M1 is extremely light weight – weighing in at a meagre 14g – including cable and tips.

 

The one real issue I have with the M1 housing is a complete lack of strain relief at the cable exit from the housing. This is mitigated somewhat by the strength of the cable (more on this below) – but something to note.            

L/R markings are printed in grey/silver on the black M1 shell and are not the easiest to read. But for me (and I guess most users) the markings become superfluous, as in my preferred over-ear fit, I know the body port always faces forward – so I can tell left earpiece from right even when not sighted.

 

The cable is a 1.3m silver plated copper cable (twisted pair) in an outer smooth plastic sheath. It is extremely solid and well put together, but is quite microphonic when worn down.  This can be negated through use of the supplied shirt clip, or wearing over ear.  There is no cable cinch which IMO is a real shame as this is a feature I always like to see for my preferred wearing method.

 

The cable is flexible but also has quite a bit of memory (assume this is because of the silver plating or the gauge of wire used).  It isn’t enough to be annoying though – it just could be better. The combination of twisted pair, outer sheath encasing, suggests this cable will last the test of time.  For the most part I like it.  It would be perfect if it retained less memory (wasn’t quite so stiff).

 
Generic Y-split - very sturdy cable Angled jack - doesn't fit smartphones with cases very well

 

The Y-split is generic with standard cable relief.  The jack is gold plated, and sturdy, set at sound 60-65 degrees (slightly angled above 90 degrees) and has good strain relief.  My one critique of the jack is that it is a little bulky (wide), and won’t fit my iPhone with the case on (so most fo the time when using the iPhone I’ve either had to remove the case of use the A200p).  Something for smartphone users to be aware of.

 

No strain relief but cable is extremely strong Very good build for a budget IEM

 

All in all though, an extremely well-constructed IEM, and especially if you consider it is only USD 45.00.

 

FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION

 

I have one ear canal slightly different to the other one (my right is very slightly smaller) - so I tend to find that usually single silicon flanges don't fit overly well.  I initially tried the large silicone tips included, and they wouldn’t seal for my ears, a pair of my own did fit very well though, and the included bi-flanges also provided a good seal. I did find that the Comply tips provide me the most comfort and seal – so for the review I’m using a pair of my own Tx-400s.

 

All tips stayed intact with the M1 during insertion and removal, so the design of the nozzle definitely gets thumbs up from me.  Isolation with the Comply tips is average for a ported dynamic IEM. They won’t get to Ety or Shure levels of isolation, but good enough for daily use (although maybe not for train/plane travel).

 

The comfort is very good though, and for me personally, they don’t protrude past my ears, and I can sleep with them in (I did last night actually).

 

So what does the Brainwavz M1 sound like? Did Audrey really find my ideal signature?

 

SOUND QUALITY

               

The following is what I hear from the Brainwavz M1.  YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline).  Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my Fiio X1 or Beyerdnamic A200p as source.

 

Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.

 

Thoughts on General Signature

 

I like these.  I really like these.  If I was on a limited budget, I could happily live with the M1 and a Fiio X1, and simply “get lost in the music”.

 

When I first heard the M1, my first reaction was “wow” – very clear, quite balanced, maybe slightly warm in the bottom end, but good balance overall. As I’ve grown more accustomed to them I’ve come to realise that the warmth I thought I heard is my brains way of compensating for a slight lack of transparency compared to other brighter IEMs I own (which have higher overall resolution).  What I think I’m hearing now with the M1 is a nicely balanced overall frequency with:

  • Soft roll-off in the sub bass (not steep)
  • Occasional bloom in the mid-bass, but otherwise nice speed, and not overly boomy.
  • Very good mid-range with a rise from about 3K peaking about 5-6K – which is really assisting the clarity of vocals.
  • Reasonably extended treble with not much roll-off, even going strong at 16-17K

 

Just in case you want to know how I got the above measurements – I used test tones and an SPL meter app to measure the entire frequency response.  Not exactly accurate due to the limitations of my measuring devices, but better than “by ear”.

 

Overall Detail / Clarity

 

For this I used both Steely Dan’s “Gaucho” and Dire Strait’s “Sultans of Swing” as there is a lot of micro detail in both tracks, and the recording quality for both is excellent.

 

The M1 is a joy to listen to on this track for me (Gaucho) with very clear vocals, bass sitting in the background (complimenting rather than dominating), and overall reasonable detail with nice clarity. Sax sounds brilliant, and the only thing missing is a small bit of upper end resolution. With my A83 or Altone200 the cymbal splashes are detailed enough to hear a normal slight decay after the cymbal hit.  With the M1 this is truncated ever so slightly – but not overly noticeable (unless critically listening).  The M1 beats the Altone 200 for tonality though – sounding much more natural and balanced – quite a feat for a budget IEM!

 

Switching to Sultans of Swing, and once more this is a fantastic rendition. Everything again is in balance with vocals and guitar being up front and focused. Snares and cymbals are easily heard. This track is crisp, clear and dynamic. The mid-range is just gorgeous.

 

Sound-stage & Imaging

 

For this I used Amber Rubarth’s binaural recording “Tundra”.  I used this because it’s a pretty simple way to get comparative data on sound-stage.

 

It’s usually difficult to get a reasonable stage size from an inner ear monitor.  The stage is often quite small / close – with an average impression of space.  The Brainwavs M1 for me is a typical IEM in this regard.  The sound – while extremely clear is just on the periphery of being “out of my head’ – but definitely enjoyable.  Directional cues are really good (positioning of all of the instruments was as good as my more expensive IEMs) – so for a value priced IEM its imaging is quite excellent really.

 

I also used Loreena McKennitt’s “Dante’s Prayer” and the M1 again delivered a detailed and tonally vibrant and captivating performance. Again the stage is intimate, not really having a large sense of width or depth, but it is a presentation you can close your eyes and lose yourself in (that tonality!)

 

In this track, the applause at the end is so well presented that with some headphones (HD600) I can actually close my eyes and imagine myself in the crowd.  With the M1, the clapping does not wash around me (most IEMs don’t achieve this anyway – so it wasn’t expected).

 

Curious on how Amanda Marshall’s “Let it Rain” would sound (the track is recorded with an almost holographic quality), and the M1 was very good. Not the wow factor of the A83, Altone or Titan – but a presentation I could listen to for hours none the less.

 

Specific Notes

 

Again for tracks, albums, artists – please refer to this list:  http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks

 

Bass Quality and Quantity

 

As you’ll guess from my earlier comments, the M1 has bass that is relatively flat, and a bit of roll-off through the sub-bass.  The bass is relatively quick and agile, but doesn’t quite have the sub-bass power or impact that I’m used to with the triple hybrids I use mostly.  Occasionally there is a little bloom through the mid-bass but the M1 exhibits this very seldom.

 

Amongst my test tracks is “Muddy Waters” by Mark Lanegan.  This blues rock track is quite dark and brooding – and is often a good test of bass bleed. The M1 was very good with this track – Mark’s vocals were presented wonderfully. I did notice that some of the raw power from the lower bass wasn’t there (at least it had less overall impact than I’m used to). Still a great presentation though. Switching to Amy Winehouse, and again – good beat, great vocals, very clear – but not as subteranneously deep as I would normally expect.

 

To get a further idea of quality this time, I next played Zoe Keating’s “Escape Artist”. The M1’s rendition of Zoe’s cello was wonderful.  Maybe not quite the overall depth – but it captured the timbre of Zoe’s cello pretty well.

 

Female Vocals

 

I have added this section simply because around 60-65% of my music revolves around female vocals – be it jazz, pop, rock, electronic, or even opera.  I’m an unabashed fan.  For me the sign of a successful IEM is how successfully it conveys emotion and timbre with my female vocalists. Other IEMs I’ve owned in the past had sometimes struggled with some of the artists I like – and this includes IEM’s like Shure’s SE535 LE (upper-mids on the SE535 LE are quite forward).

 

I expected the M1 to cope well with female vocals, and it didn’t disappoint. First up was the torture test : Agnes Obel (some of her recordings can become quite strident or shouty if the mids aren’t quite right).  I needn’t have worried – the M1 immediately handled the track with aplomb. The vocals were sweet, euphonic, captivating.

 

I then proceeded to play my normal medley of other tracks from artists including Christina Perri, Gabriella Cilmi, Florence and the Machine, Feist, and Norah Jones. The stand-out for me was Cilmi’s “Safer” – the emotion conveyed was wonderful, and it was as if she was in front of me in a small jazz venue. Wildlight’s “Dawn to Flight” was also exceptional, and the M1 also seemed a natural match with Adele.

 

Male Vocals

 

At the other end of the scale sits a lot of my rock tracks.

 

The M1 was not quite as energetic with a lot of my rock tracks – still a great listen, but once you’re used to a little more sub-bass, when it’s missing you notice it. Don’t get me wrong though – for a budget earphone its presentation is still extremely good. Very clean and clear in vocal presentation, and able to nicely portray the crunch and edge of lead guitar.  If I had my choice though – just a little more targeted sub bass would cap things off nicely.

 

I went through my usual track list and really had no issues with most tracks (even handling Diary of Jane reasonably well – and this can be a brutal track for overloading a driver. Acoustic rock in particular was sublime (Nil’s Lofgren’s Keith Don’t Go was brilliantly articulate).

 

My litmus test for male vocals though is Pearl Jam. Vedder’s vocals were handled easily. Great timbre, cymbal hits are clear, the background bass guitar is there (but quite a bit in the background). A little different to what I am used to – but perfectly happy to listen to this presentation for hours.  Winner.

 

Other Music / Genres

The M1 with its clear mid-range handled virtually all of my music with ease – from Jazz and Blues to Classical and Opera. It was particularly strong with my Alt.Rock tracks – handling Floyd and Porcupine Tree with great dynamism and contrast.

 

With Rap and EDM the M1 was competent, but lacking some of the low-end impact that these genres sometimes need.  Eminem’s Lose Yourself was catchy but didn’t have the visceral thump that it normally has. Lindsay Stirling’s Electric Daisy Violin was similar – but the violin was the star here, and still the track was catchy and enjoyable. Perhaps most telling was Lorde’s “Royals”. Beautiful vocals – but that very low bass guitar, and deep kick drum was just too far in the background.

 

AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

 

The M1 is very easily powered straight out of virtually any portable device, and I didn’t experience any issues with any of the DAPs or amp/dacs I tested.

 

RESPONSE TO EQ?

 

As you can guess from the above comments , the one area I wanted to see if I could get some more impact from was always going to be from about 100 Hz down. So using Foobar2000 together with the A200p, I dialled in about 8dB into the 55 and 77Hz sliders and about 6dB into 110 hz. Wow – the M1 handled it without breaking its stride (no distortion either), and suddenly EDM, Rap, Dub, Trance and Trip Hop were really shaking things up.  

 

REALLY QUICK COMPARISONS

 

At the time of writing, I’m lucky enough to have a few IEMs which whilst not exactly in the same price bracket, are close enough to quickly compare.

 

The M1 (at time of completing the review) is actually on Amazon at USD 40.00, so we’ll use Amazon where possible for pricing comparisons.  These comparisons are with no EQ, volume matched using an SPL meter at 3 kHz – and are based on my preferences.

 

Vs Rock Alfa Genus $45 – With gold filters the M1 and A-G are tonally very similar.  A-G has a little more bass, but both have good balance, very good detail and tonality.  These IEMs are probably more similar than different.  Alfa-Genus would win on overall versatility (filter system).

 

Vs Brainwavz S0 $45 – S0 is a lot bassier. Both have a forward and pleasing mid-range. M1 sounds cleaner and quite bass light comparatively, but also leaner – where the S0 is a lot fuller sounding. Both have pretty smooth treble. My preference would probably lean towards the M1.

 

Vs Rock Arcana2 $47 – Both are reasonably balanced with Arcana lending a lot more towards bass and warmth, while M1 is leaner and more purely mid-range oriented. M1 is brighter through mid-range where Arcana is more earthy. Both have nice sparkle in upper registers. Arcana has slightly more V overall where M1 has more balance.  My preference = Arcana, but could go either way.

 

Vs Ostry KC06 $58 – Similar tonality + bass / mid-range / treble balance.  Vocals on M1 are a little more forward.  M1 slightly thinner and clearer especially in the mid-range. KC06 slightly warmer. I’m on the fence here – would probably go with KC06 for slightly fuller overall tone.

 

Vs Havi B3 Pro1 $62 – M1 is a lot clearer and cleaner sounding.  Havi sounds thicker, vocals sound more distant, and there is both more bass impact, and slightly more upper end detail emphasis (cymbal). Overall M1 has more balance. My preference = M1

 

Vs HSA BA-100 $79 – M1 is similar tonally but has fuller mid-range and slightly more bass.  BA-100 has more sizzle in upper end. Both are very clear. My preference = M1

 

BRAINWAVZ M1 - SUMMARY

The Brainwavz M1 is like a breath of fresh air in a budget category often dominated by bass heavy or quite V shaped signatures.

 

It is (for the price) well built, easy to fit, comes with a very good accessory package, and sounds very detailed with a neutral and balanced signature (if a little bass light). Some may find the cable a little troublesome (unruly) but I could live with this simply for the build. A little more flexibility and the cable would be perfect.

 

The Brainwavz M1 will likely suit:

  • Fans of a balanced or neutral sonic presentation
  • People who value clarity
  • People who listen to a variety of genres, and do not tend toward mainly bass heavy music

 

The Brainwavz M1 may not suit anyone who:

  • Prefers a darker, warmer, bassier presentation
  • Prefers vocals more laid back / prefers a more V shaped presentation
  • Listens to a lot of bassier genres – rap, dub, trance, EDM etc

 

The litmus question again for me would be “would I buy these for myself”, and “would I recommend them to my family”.  The answer to this question is YES – and with EQ applied, the M1 even offers the additional bass that some may be missing at first listen.

 

At USD 40-45, they are an incredibly well priced IEM with few flaws. I do acknowledge though that many may not have my preferences. For those who do though, a Fiio X1 + the Brainwavz M1 make perfect partners for the budget conscious music lover.

 

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS TO BRAINWAVZ

 

I can’t really recommend a lot at this price point – as they are already great value.  But if I could change anything …..

  1. Add a neck cinch.  This should be standard on all models without an in-line mic!
  2. Change the jack to something more “smartphone + case friendly”
  3. Maybe raise the AWG on the cable for more flexibility (or lose the silver plate?).  Keep the twisted pair and sheath though!
  4. Add a simple strain relief to the M1 body.

 

Thanks once again Audrey – I’ve really enjoyed reviewing these.

Posted

Pros: Clean and clear sound quality; low volume listening

Cons: stiff and easily tangled cable; deep bass roll off

Brainwavz M1 – Clean and Clear

 

Optimized by JPEGmini 3.11.4.3 0x9f3bc0f2

 

Disclaimer: Brainwavz supplied the M1 for this review

 

Brainwavz markets the M1 as “having a wide sound stage, accurate sound reproduction, good separation. The M1 are designed to reproduce sound with clarity and cleanness…”. I’m impressed! This is pretty much a spot on description of what the M1 sonically has to offer, but before I add my two cents on its sonics, let’s explore the other aspects of the M1.

 

Specifications

 

- 10.7mm dynamic driver

- Impedance: 32 ohm

- Frequency Range: 20Hz-20kHz

- Sensitivity: 110 dB @ 1 mW

- Rated Input Power: 10 mW

- Street Price: $44.50

 

Build

 

The M1 housings are small and well made. They can accommodate wearing it down or over the ear without issue. The cable is a thin but seeming durable cable made of silver plated (SPC) wire. The cable is a mixed bag- while it looks good and feels good, it’s pretty stiff, full of memory and is a tangle prone monster. Surprisingly it does not have a slider after the Y-split. I’ve never understood why sliders are left off some earphones? The cable is terminated in a small 45 degree angled plug. I wear IEM’s exclusively over the ear, so microphonics are usually a non-factor for me and it’s not different for me with the M1.

 

Optimized by JPEGmini 3.11.4.3 0xbf9a1a1b

 

Accessories

 

The M1 I received came in the retail packaging. Included is the same great Brainwavz carrying case that seems to be included with every monitor in their line up now. Inside the carrying case were 6 pair of single flange silicone tips, 1 pair of dual flange tips and 1 pair of S series Comply. A shirt clip was also included. With all those tips, for this review, I ended up using some extra T series Comply I had on hand.

 

Sound

 

The M1 is very clean sounding with zero resonances, vibrations and reverbs often found in this price bracket. Treble is polite but extended and very clean. Midrange is prominent and plainly the focus of the presentation, yet clean and clear without aggressiveness or forwardness. Bass is underemphasized, yet punchy with deep bass roll off beginning around 100 hz. At first blush it seems rather neutral-ish but in reality I find it fairly mid-centric with less than neutral deep bass.

 

While sounding extremely clean and clear, notes are thinner and lack body overall compared to most in this price bracket. Stage lacks height with average depth but sounds absolutely and fantastically wide open. Even though the midrange is the focus of the signature, the stage placement still seems somewhat a bit away from the listener; mid-centric without the typical associated intimacy or feeling closed in. As long as one isn’t expecting to find elevated bass or typical consumer tunings, the M1 is extremely pleasing and easy to enjoy.

 

Optimized by JPEGmini 3.11.4.3 0x6392dbcd

 

Select Comparisons

 

Brainwavz S0

 

Upon first transition, the S0 almost sounds like a bass monster compared to the laidback and reserved M1. Once the mind adjust, the S0 just sounds more full bodied with richer and thicker overall notes. Staging seems closer with larger proportions. Next to the M1, the S0 doesn’t sound as clean and has some bass reverberations and lower treble resonance that are more easily noticeable against the super clean and clear M1. S0 bass extends much deeper but M1 treble seems to extend perhaps just a bit better, while both treble presentations are laid back and easy to listen to. The S0 is just much more powerful and dynamic sounding. The laid back but clear nature of the M1 makes it really good for low volume, background listening.

 

SoundMagic E30

 

This is a much easier transition to make, as the E30 is a more balanced signature and closer to the M1 than the S0’s bassier, thicker nature. The E30 also comes closer to the cleaner and clearer presentation of the M1 than does the S0. The E30 almost seems slightly V shaped in comparison upon transition. While notes are a little thicker and fuller with the E30, it’s not as drastic as with the S0. Also noticeable is the greater treble emphasis of the E30; extension isn’t really any better, just overall all presence is more elevated next to the more laidback M1. Staging on the E30 is obviously closer to the listener with just slightly larger proportions all the way around.

 

Of interesting note, the E30 cable is similar to the M1 cable, in that both having annoying memory and both being tangle prone. The M1 cable though certainly looks and feels more premium next to the rubbery E30 cable.

 

Conclusion

 

Bravo to Brainwavz for providing one of the more accurate and complete marketing descriptions I’ve read. The M1 is a perhaps a good introduction for those wanting to experience a more neutral presentation in a sea of offerings with bassier, more consumer oriented turnings. The M1 is also recommended for background and low volume listening while perhaps studying or sleeping.

Posted

Pros: Price/Performance Ratio, Comfort

Cons: Treble, Cable

Brainwavz has, again, kindly provided me with a review unit of yet another one of their products. The M1 is not a newcomer in their line of products, but instead, one in which they would like to make more known to the public (and for good reasons!). To sum things up quickly before getting into details about my opinions of the M1, I can say that the M1 is perhaps one of my favorite IEM from Brainwavz.

 

Accessories:

Brainwavz IEMs all come with a good variety of accessories. This has always been one of their strengths. The IEM comes with a small softshell case with a good variety of tips, including some comply tips, and a 3.5 to 6.3mm adaptor. For a 50 dollar IEM, you couldn't as for much more!

 

Design , Comfort, and Isolation:

The M1 is a simple but nice looking IEM. The housing is mostly plastic with the nozzle being made of metal (I believe). The housing, despite being mostly plastic, feels sturdy and well made. Best of all, it is VERY comfortable. I had no issues at all wearing them for long periods of time.

 

The cable, while fairly sturdy with a nice 45 degree angle jack, brings about a lot of questions regarding the design. First off, where is the neck slider? I find the lack of the freedom to adjust the neck slider to be a careless and obvious design flaw that could have very easily been avoided. Secondly, the cable is a bit on the stiff side. I don't find it to be to the point of being unusable, but the overall ergonomic of the cable took a hit due to its inflexibility. Last but not least, the cable transmit cable noise quite easily. They're a bit better than the flat cables from Brainwavz's S Series, but to me, its still not ideal, and the inflexibility of the cable is one of the reasons why the cable noise is present.

 

Isolation on the M1 is fair and isn't anything particularly impressive or worth complaining about. The M1 do have a small pore that presumably helps the dynamic driver. Thus, isolation isn't top notch. But it's more than enough for every day use walking around busy streets.

 

Sound:

While I wasn't too fond of the M1's cable, I did mention that it's one of my favorite IEM from Brainwavz. That's all thanks to the sound, as the M1 is quite a good sounding IEM with a fantastic price/performance ratio. All of my listening and comparisons were done using my trusty DX90 and with various files that are at least 320 kbps.

 

The M1 has a very pleasurable sound signature. While I wouldn't call it "neutral" as Brainwavz advertised it to be, I guess it's pretty close to neutral when you're comparing it to the majority of the IEMs in this price range, so we'll say its neutral enough. The sound has a bit of warmth to it but nonetheless keeping the sound well balanced and very natural.

 

The bass of the M1 is very good. The bass has good extension, though the M1 does struggle a little with detail retrieval with the very bottom end as there is still some roll off. Despite that, the bass of the M1 is very well textured, being better than most IEMs I've heard in the 50 dollar bracket. Overall, impact lacks a bit of focus and finesse, but I found the bass from the M1 to leave very little to be desired.

 

Vocals on the M1 is also quite a treat. Good vocal detail with great clarity makes the vocals clean and enjoyable. There isn't any occasion where I found the vocals to be veiled in any way or overly forward or aggressive sounding. The upper midrange has a good "bite" to them, giving instruments like the snare drum a nice edginess to them without sounding too aggressive.

 

The only significant complaint I have may be the treble, as it doesn't quite live up to the good midrange and bass detail of the M1. While not being recessed, the treble can cause the likes of high hats and cymbal crashes to sound very distant and somewhat blurry, as the treble is a little lacking in overall clarity, control and extension. 

 

I found the soundstage of the M1 to be passable, but not particularly impressive compared to its competition. Width fairs well against other IEMs in the price range, while still being on the smaller side, but the sound of the M1 sounds flat, as it's quite lacking in height.

 

Despite my criticism of the sound of the M1, there was a lot going on with sound of the M1 that I really felt makes it a worthy sounding IEM and of great value at its asking price.

 

Comparisons:

 

Vs. Zero Audio Tenores

The tenores have been a favorite of mine since a friend recommended them to me as a nice low budget IEM for everyday use. The tenores have a sweet and smooth sound that is just very easy to listen to. I found the sound of the tenores and the M1 to actually be quite similar. Overall, the tenores have a smoother and more laid back sound with a slightly more elevated bass (and i mean very slightly) and more treble energy while the M1 offers a more forward vocal with better vocal detail. However, with its incredibly soft, easy to use, and low noise cable, I still find the tenore to be a champion in the realm of budget portable IEMs. The M1 however, is really quite a good sounding headphone and is of great value. These two would both make my list of some of the best IEMs in the sub 50 USD IEMs.

 

Vs. Brainwavz S0

Being at the same price and from the same manufacturer, the S0 and M1 seemed like an obvious comparison. Listening to the two, what immediately pops up is the M1 has less of a bass bump and has more bass control than the S0. compared to the S0, the bass is more articulate and clean, although not quite as extended as the S0. Vocals and treble on the S0 are more forward than the M1. While I prefer the less aggressive vocals and the well controlled bass of the M1, I much prefer the nicely tuned sparkle of the S0 treble to the somewhat strange sounding treble of the M1. The M1 is more comfortable to wear while having less cable noise and a sturdier 3.5mm jack, and if I had to decide on choosing one over the other, the M1 is the clear winner to me.

 

Final Thoughts:

The M1 is a good IEM and one of my favorites from Brainwavz. At 50 dollars, it is price very competitively and is most certainly worth a consideration. The M1 works well with most genres thrown at it and sounds quite good playing most types of music. While sounding quite stellar, I found the cable to leave quite a bit to be desired. It seems like Brainwavz hasn't quite figured it out yet when it comes to cables, as I haven't found any of their IEM's cables to be what I would consider "good." Nonetheless, I found the M1 to be a very well made IEM and the first IEM from Brainwavz that I have heard that I believe deserves a 4.5/5 rating compared to the 4/5 that I have given to other Brainwavz products. Way to go Brainwavz!

Posted

Pros: Balanced SQ, value

Cons: Aesthetics

Here we go again. It seems like every other review I've done lately has been on some product from this up-and-coming company that is making a name for itself. Luckily for us, this IEM from Brainwavz is just like many of its brethren: a force to be reckoned with.

Sound

Bass: Just plain good. I've heard several of the sub $100 category from Brainwavz, including the Delta, S0, and S1. So far the low-end on the M1 is my favorite. The sub-bass is there (something not usually found in IEMs running under $100) and surprisingly capable. Macklemore's "A Wake" has some nice thump, but here's the kicker: no bleed! Would I classify these as basshead cans? Heck no. But, they reach deep enough for these ears and retain some excellent texture to boot. League's electric bass in "Lingus" is very clean and rich, and the low-end of Ma's cello in the fourth cello suite is surprisingly life like. I tip my imaginary cap the gentleman overseas who tuned the low-end on this little guy.

Mids Usually with single dynamic IEM's, especially in the lower price brackets, bass is easy enough to manufacture, and let's face it, a little extra juice in the upper end typically pleases the masses. The midrange however, is the coin toss. Either its way behind the frequency extremes, or so far forward that you can forget about any appreciable low end texture or upper end smoothness. I'm here to tell you gentlemen, that this simply isn't the case here. The Mids are very in line with their surroundings. Ed Sheerans vocals and amplified acoustic guitar on "Thinking Out Loud" sound just great. Very organic and easy to listen to. I will add however, that in busier jazz fusion and thickly-layered vocal tracks, the mids can be a little congested. At no point though, have I been offended by what the M1 had to offer with regards to the midrange.

Treble Once again: very easy to listen to. Don't let their price tag fool you. The upper end is as natural and clear as I've heard in the sub $100 range. Clean and natural with decent extension. Only on treble-heavy tracks did I hear any sort of sibilance and even then it was minimal. There are probably some hills and valleys in its upper end graph, but at times I've been pleasantly reminded of the RE400s treble response. Now, is the M1 going to win any awards for super-extension or instrumental separation? No. But when I put it through the gauntlet that is my 'New Cans' playlist, it played quite nicely with everything from classical to rock to jazz to hip hop to vocal-centric tracks.

Soundstage/Separation If I have to identify a weakness of this IEM, it's probably this one. That's not to say it's lacking or poor, but compared to the capabilities of the frequency range, the soundstage falls lowest on the proverbial totem pole. Because the upper end isn't exactly hyper-detailed, there isn't a lot of air or separation up top, so soundstage depth or width is pretty lackluster. Accuracy is just fine, but these guys certainly won't be tricking anyone into thinking that they're in a concert hall anytime soon.

Qualms in the interest of being thorough with and IEM that I've taken a liking to, I had to include a blurb about some things that I have found myself wanting. Before you read on, know that none of the following has to do with sound - just aesthetic and accessory preferences. From an aesthetic standpoint, the black plastic and faux silver housing feels cheap. Let's face it, no one enjoys something that performs well, but doesn't have the looks to match. Unfortunately, that's the case here. I understand of this sort of thing helps keep costs low, but a man's allowed to have opinions! (And while we're on the topic, why no cable slider?!) Also, the tip selection is pretty minimal. Including some of the red-core or foam tips that are standard with the newer Brainwavz fare would certainly make me a happier camper.

Conclusion: I've heard a lot of IEMs in the sub $100 category. From the SE215 to the RE400 and everything lesser known from the likes of Soundmagic, JVC, and Brainwavz, this price bracket is being overrun by offerings diesigned to bring the discerning listener more bang for his buck. I'll tell you straight up that the M1 from Brainwavz will be one of the first I recommend to anyone looking for great sound for less than a hundred. They're pleasantly detailed, natural, and very easy to listen to. Overall, an excellent IEM that deserves a look from anyone looking for an all-rounder in this price range.

***disclaimer: this review model was provided to me by Brainwavz via MP4nation. I'm in no way affiliated with Brainwavz or their distributors.***

Posted

Pros: One of the most balanced iems for a very low price

Cons: poor isolation, no moulded strain reliefs in the housing cable exit

Thanks to madiaplayer.cl the best audiophile-oriented shop available in Chile I got a M1 sample to test drive it and provide my opinion so you can give them a try if you like my description. This is my second review so please forgive any mistake here.

 

Packing

 

The M1 box is made of softened cardboard wich contains a transparent window that allows you to see the housings very similar in that respect to every single Brainwavz box and it is similar to the Pro Alpha package however, it is a more compact, a better designed one and its also easier to open. On its front Brainwavz tells you that M1 has a balanced sound , has a comfortable fit and that they come with a silver plated OFC cable. In the back of the box youl find technical details, information regarding the contents and accesories. It is also stated that the set has 1 year of warranty if bought from an authorized reseller of course. Inside the box you'll find another cardborad box that wraps a moulded plastic container wich displays the headphones themselves and a clamshell semi-hard case wich contains all the tips plus the warranty card. In the top of the outer box you will find the phrase "IN EAR MONITORS".

 

Accessories

 

The included accesories are: shirt clip, 1 set of Comply foam Series S tips, 6 silicon tips (S,M,L) . Most people can have good seal with the provided tips I personally used the mid silicon tips with acceptable fit

 

Build

 

Starting by the housing I can tell you that they feel solid but not abs kind-of strong but most people will not be able to damage them unless the yank the cable. Anyway they feel consistent and solid enough. the bore is about 4 mm. wide and is protected by a metal grille. The front porion of the housing is also made of metal and the rest is plastic but they dont look cheap. There are visible side vents and a tinny vent in front of each driver just beside the bore. the insertion level is moderate due to the housng design that resembles the rubber protected Pro Alpha except for the lack of rubber that is replaced by a plastic fender. Unfortunately M1 is missing rubber or moulded strain reliefs in the cable exit so they have a very obvious weak point.

 

The channel indicators are properly printed and are visible enough but there is no bump or Braille code marking to distinguish the housings after sunset.

Cablewise the M1 is a very good iem for the cable has memory but not at an annoying level. cable is shiny and not tangle prone but it is a little bit rigid though and it is terminated in a 45 degree angled plug which is a great decision in my book. While the ergonomics are good enough I would add a slightly deeper insertion to improve linearity and isolation.

 

Isolation and microphonics

 

Due to the side vents isolation is fair but not better than average. You may find improvements using the included Complys. The cable trasfers very little noise

 

My audio sources for the test

 

A 2006 Mac mini running VLC with a FLAC 24/96 playlist an no EQ

Ipod Nano 5G/8gb loaded with 320K mp3's without EQ

An Ibasso LOD plugged to my trusty FIIO E6 for amplification testing

A Nokia C7 with 16Gb of music in mp3 320K and 256K resolutions  inside a class 10 MicroSD. Ufortunatery the Symbian music player cannot disable EQ

 

 

 

Selected tracks from the following artists chosen for the test run, most of them 24/96 Flacs or Ape quality

 

Lali Puna (indie electronic pop), Massive Attack (triphop), Tool (progressive metal 24/96), Autechre (Exai (IDM 2013,32 bits 24/44) y Amber) , Pixies (Indie rock 24/96), Tricky (triphop), Cibo Matto (pop/hiphop), Crystal Castles (electrónica amd noise), Daft Punk ( House), Pulp (britpop), The Brooklyn Funk Band (Chesky,24/96),), The Roots (hip Hop), Guided By Voices (Rock/Lo-fi), Jaco Pastorius (Funk Jazz circa 1970) , Leftfield (EDM), Rihanna (pop), Digitalism (EDM), Rage Against The Machine (Rock,24/96), Muddy Waters (Blues), Pavement (rock ,alternative), Art Blakey (Jazz circa 1960) y Puscifer (Indigo Children (JLE Dub Mix), an excellent track to test sub bass and mid bass, triphop 16/48). Astor Piazolla y Kronos Quartet (Tango instrumental), Rebecca Pidgeon (Country, Chesky 24/96)*  KMFDM (Metal and EBM) Supersilent (Free Jazz, experimental).

 

 

Sound Quality

 

I liked the M1 Presentation. I find it cohesive in spite of the treble extension which is not better than the rest of the M series. Treble decay and extension is in fact very close to ideal but nowhere near B2 levels (I know it's not fair to mention B2 here). Anyway cymbal crashes sound much better in the M1 than the treble crippled Pro Alpha. There's a sense of warmth that makes Jazz recordings sound full but not dark. There is little to gripe about these. The clarity and detail resolution is impressive for the price as well as separation which may not be poinpoint accurate but leaves most of the competing sets on this price bracket to shame giving a good run for their money.

.

Distorted guitars are a problem for lo-fi and mid-fi iems, but the capable M1 driver can be very snappy and misses very few details in really intricate parts of fast paced music and there is  more than a hint of sparkle that does not prevent the M1 to lean to the warm side of analitycal. A commendable feature that put's the M1 in the neutral side of things amongst its M brethren. In fact the M1 makes it possible to distinguish between a 128K MP3 track and a Flac 24/96 file in a transparent fashion.

 

The M1 has a relatively high impedance and its neccesary to raise the volume a little more tan half way on an unamped IPod to reach listening levels in a bus or the tube.Even at insane volumes the M1 will not distort so its better to be careful and avoid raising the volume too much.

 

Voices and mids in general are only slightly below linear levels (nitpicking here) in the M1 soundstage. It would be exaggerated to call M1 mids recessed

they have an open flavor and are a little warm so they can image very rounded male and female voices. Lyrics are easy to understand.

 

The bass on the M1 is controlled and has good extension reaching sub bass levels but keeping a rounded tone althought not completely full: There is a good speed recovery that makes the Pro Alpha sound boomy and much less precise in comparison. The M1 single dynamic driver moves less air and its bass is more refined than Pro Alpha's and is probaly leaner than Soundmagic E10's. but it's more informative than the latter.

 

The M1 have certain qualities that makes them really close to a truly great monitor and I would use it for tracks mixing but it lacks some (very little, nitpicking here) treble extension to be used in professional situations. The M1 soundstage is spheric and wider than

its depth but enjoyable all the same

 

Final Words

 

In conclussion, if you are in a tight budget and cannot spend money in a Vsonic GR07 or a  Single BA and prefer a mostly neutral sound signature you can't go wrong with the M1. These are versatile and very musical iems.

Posted

Pros: Light, small, well made, good build quality overall, easy going sound, great value.

Cons: Cord is it's weakest link, a lot of newer competition in it's price class.

As my title suggests, the Brainwavz M1's are a recent push by Brainwavz to show the world what they might have missed a few years back when they were originally introduced. These were the only Brainwavz IEM's that I never had the pleasure of owning, my thanks to to the Brainwavz team for sending me a pair to review.

 

The review unit I received was not the retail packaged one you folks should get, so I'll not add any pics here because of that. The mp4nation site has plenty of good pics(as do earlier reviews on here) so that's all you need to go to to see 'em in all their glory. My unit arrived in the great Brainwavz IEM case that came with Comply tips as well as an assortment of regular tips. Getting any Brainwavz IEM pretty much guarantees a fine selection of said tips included all of the time, though, so no worries here. I settled on the Comply tips as best fit for my ears, YMMV of course. For my source, I used my rockboxed Sansa Clip+ and my FiiO X1 as well as my Colorfly C3. I split it up pretty much evenly throughout the review for over 150 hours before doing this review playing back mostly Rock and Metal with some Jazz and Country thrown in for good measure. 

 

Starting off, the M1's seem like a quality IEM on first inspection, with a good blend of materials used to make them seem more in line with much higher priced IEM's. The main case is comprised of both a metal nozzle and a plastic rear fitting(which is ported, nice). The cable is a braided silver cored affair, with a nice thickness to it, but it's also of the "memory" variety which makes it very stiff and not too pliable. If you tend to wind up your IEM's and place them in a case, this can cause the cables to kind of stick that way and be a pain to straighten out. This isn't the ideal cable for an IEM in my humble opinion. On the other hand, it is a strong cable, not likely to be easily broken over time, so at least it's got that going for it.

 

The sound quality, though, is the main reason for getting the M1's, especially if the sound your after is smooth and rich with no bad habits. There is no peakiness that I could hear, at either end of the spectrum, instead it's a full sounding IEM with a nice rounded sound to them. I especially like the high end, with no sibilance at all to be heard(yay!).The bass is good, with a strong presence without being too overbearing as many of it's like priced ilk tend to be. It does roll off a bit down low, but it doesn't ruin the effect one bit. The mids are strong, full and sweet, making the M1's a pleasure to listen to for long periods with little to no annoyance. I regularly use them for several hours at a time with no problems at all, very nice indeed.

 

The only other con I can think of besides the springy cable is the lack of stress relief for the buds, but so far they seem to be holding up well to my regular abuse I always subject my review units to(I'm here to see if they can take the abuse so you know what your getting into before you buy it, your welcome :wink_face: ). The non standard angled plug may also turn off some folks who like a straight or normal 90 degree angle, but it doesn't bother me too much after using it for awhile. 

 

Summing up, the new old Brainwavz M1's are a great IEM for the price asked. The sound signature is indeed pleasing and fun, with none of the pounding bass nonsense that usually accompanies IEM's in it's price bracket. I'm glad I finally got the chance to try 'em out at last. Highly recommended! 

Posted

Pros: Sound quality is wonderful. Neutral sound signature.

Cons: Bass light for some. Unforgiving treble. Wants power.

Brainwavz M1 Quick Review

 

Thanks to mp4nation back in the day for the sample.

 

Full length old review here http://www.head-fi.org/t/499583/brainwavz-m1-review

 

 

 

Brief:  Old but still at the top its field.

 

Price:  US$44.50 or about £29

 

Specification:  Transducers/Drivers: Dynamic, 10.7mm,Rated Impedance: 32ohms Closed Dynamic, Sensitivity: 110dB at 1mW, Frequency range: 20 ~ 20000Hz, Distortion: <= 0.3% @ 94dB, Channel balance: =< 3dB (at 1000Hz), Rated input power: 10mW, Maximum input power: 40mW, Plug: 3.5 mm 45-degree gold plated, Cable length: 1.3 meters Y cord (CU/Ag) PUR, 1 year warranty, Dimensions (Packaging): 160 x 135 x 38mm, Net Weight: 10g, Gross Weight: 132g

 

Accessories:  1 x Comply foam tips, 3 x Pairs of ear tips (S/M/L), 1 x Shirt clip, 1 x Hard carrying case, 1 x Instruction manual, 1 x Warranty card

 

Build Quality:  Pretty good.  Given its been out for ages I’ve not heard of mass deaths so clearly its got some longevity to it.  In fairness, I’ve hardly use up my set since I wrote my old review so I may not be the best judge.

 

Isolation:  Fair.  It’s a dynamic and so its fine for normal use, out or on a bus but if your regular flyer, not so much.  Still easily enough to get you run over if you aren’t looking though.

 

Comfort/Fit:  Excellent.  Shove in and that was that, up or down.

 

Aesthetics:  Meh.  They aren’t offensive but they aren’t pretty either.

 

Sound:  Excellent.  My original review was posted in July 2010.  Yes that’s four and a half years ago which is practically forever.  At the time they were just US$40 and so they have ever so slightly gone up, you do get a much better bundle today.  Sound wise they were pretty much as good as could be had for the money and that hasn’t changed.  Sure they are slightly more “neutral” than is common for the price, the bass is pretty tame and the mids too.  The treble is rather forthright.  However unless you are after heaps of bass there just really isn’t and thing as mature, grown up and clean as the M1.  The bass though is outrageously nimble when driven well.  Sophie Ellis-Bextors “China Heart” is so rip-roaringly agile and vigorous.  Its detail levels are killer and it resolves like a mofo.  Its mids are a bit over focused and dry but vastly detailed.  The treble is scintillating for the price, it’s quite abundant too so no bad bit rates or it will scratch your ears out.  It’s not forgiving.

 

Its only real flaw of any sort is it needs power to be its best.  Out of my weedy Nexus 5 it’s a little reticent and boring.  Bass goes a bit punchy and it lacks the greatest depth, same with upper end extension.  However feed it well and it’s just wonderfully good sounding.  They have stood up to the last 4 and half years incredibly well.  Still this is an IEM squarely aimed at Head-Fi, it pushes every audiophile button it can, normal consumers may find it bass lacking and a bit bright but if you want a bit of sonic purity, its truly first rate.

 

Value:  Probably the best audio quality US$45 can buy you today.

 

Pro’s:   Sound quality is wonderful.   Neutral sound signature.

 

Con’s:  Bass light for some.  Unforgiving treble.  Wants power.

Posted

Pros: Mids, sweet- easy going vocals, smooth sound, small footprint, great cable

Cons: small footprint (see below), lack of strain relief on the housing.

The Brainwavz M1 has been widely toted as a popular option at under $50 for the last few years. Why is that the case? Well, because at the time of their debut, they were one the few balanced sounding earphones under $100 amongst a sea of bassy or V shaped sounding earphones.

How do the M1s fare years later, especially with heavy favorites from Vsonic, Havi, TTPOD? Very well in fact, for a “budget earphone” they certainly have a very smooth and inviting sound that I’m very fond of.

 

hint- I nicknamed my M1s as “Mini- RE 400s (referencing to the Hifman RE 400, an absolute standout earphone at $99)- See the “sound section” for my comparison of the M1 with the $99 Giant, that is the RE- 400.

 

So let’s dive right in shall we?

I would like to thank Brainwavz for sending a pair of the M1s out for review. I am in no way affiliated with Brainwavz, and every sentence down the last word, is my honest opinion. The pictures below are all mine, unless otherwise stated

 

Below is a link to my video review of the M1 as well. Enjoy!

 

Accessories:  The Brainwavz M1 comes with:

6 pairs of single flanges (S,M,L)

1 pair of Biflange

1 S400 Comply Eartips

1 Shirt Clip

1 Hard shell Protective Carrying case

Overall: 8/10

 

 

Design

The M1s is a rather understated earphone, (that comes in 1 colour-black) with a very small footprint. It has a design that you would honestly not even notice on the streets. It has sort of a cone-like shape, with silver (metal band) to give the earphone a smooth finish, giving the aesthetics a nice lift.

Overall: 7/10

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build Quality

The earphones are lightweight with a mix of plastic and metal construction. The housing is made of plastic combined with a metal nozzle (allowing for greater durability). The y shape split is missing a cable cinch, this isn’t a big deal for me but its something the note (you are covered with shirt clip though) . The upper part of the cable is a bit thinner, but well made and braided underneath the “rubberized” sheath, similar to my Hifiman RE400 in appearance, but much more reinforced. The M1s terminate in a 45 degree angle jack, that’s very well relieved.  * Something to note the cable carries a bit of memory*

However, my single biggest gripe with the build quality is the lack of strain relief when the cable exits the earpieces (there is none).  This issue is magnified with the M1s, because of how small size, shape, smooth finish of the earpieces. They can be a bit hard to take out of the ear, and I often find myself pulling at the cable when taking off) ß obviously not a good thing for the long term durability of the cable.

Overall: 7/10

 

            

 

 

           

    

Comfort

Very comfortable in the ear, because of the small housing and the smooth housing (no edges that cause any irritation). These reasons make the M1s very easy to insert and stay into the ear, and I believe it will allow for a comfortable fit for everyone.  

Overall: 9/10

 

Isolation

There is quite a large vent at the back of the earpieces, and in combination with the short nozzle causes the isolation to suffer somewhat.  I would say the isolation is average at best.

Overall: 7/10

 

 

Cable noise is a mild when worn cable down, and is none existent when worn cable up.

Overall: 8.5/10

 

Sound

The sound of the M1s is the best aspect of this earphone by far.  Its balanced,  smooth, and slightly mid-centric. I would especially recommend this earphone especially for someone that wants to try a balanced sounding earphone for the first time but did not want to spend too much.

 

Bass: The M1s have a fairly linear bassline as in there is no particular emphasis anywhere. Some refer to the bass being a bit light, I can see that in a sense, but I won’t go that far. Bassheads will be disappointed with the quantity, but the bass here is well intergrated into the sound. The bass here has good control, and extension, and retains medium speed and decay throughout.  I felt the bass works more as a complementary piece to the midrange rather than steal the show, like on more bassier options.

 

Midrange:This is certainly the highlight for the M1s. So if you like basking in vocals, the M1s is one of the most affordable options that will get you great, smooth vocals, with good clarity throughout. The vocals here are slightly warm, but very natural sounding (with good note thickness (not thick, not thin) and its presentation is a bit laid back the midrange here is not pushing its detail “in your face” but conveys more of “sit back and enjoy the show” feeling.

 

Treble: The treble is a bit laidback from what I call neutral (see my comparison below with the Hifiman Re400). The treble is “smooth and polite” with a roll off up top,taking away the “airness” and the height of the soundstage.  However, it has have decent extension in the treble, with good clarity as well.

 

Soundstage: Surprisingly wider, than I thought considering how small the housing is, so slightly above avearage. Height and Depth is adequate and there is decent sense of space and separation as well.

 

Sound comparison with the Hifiman RE-400:

Pros for the RE400 ($99)

  • A drier, more up front, more transparent midrange.
  • A Smoother, more articulate treble, easier going sound
  • Tighter Bass, Punchier bass.
  • Greater level of separation and refinement overall.
  • Better vocals and instrument separation.

 

Pros of the Brainwavz M1 ($45)

  • Bass is more Linear
  • Fuller bodied vocals
  • Treble has more crispness
  • Wider soundstage

Overall: 8/10

 

All in all, I think the Brainwavz M1 are a spectacular value at ~around $45-50, I think it has a similar price to performance ratio as the Hifiman RE-400, which is certainly very high praise in my book. I will wholeheartedly recommend the M1s to anyone looking for a smooth, balanced sound signature, love their vocals looking to  unwind after a long day of work.

Overall: 54.5/60= 77.8%

Posted

Pros: Great price/performance ratio.

Cons: I don't like its sound signature.


Intro


                                      

     Before I begin, I would like to thank Audrey at Brainwavz for providing me with the review sample of the Brainwavz M1. Note that I am neither an affiliate of Brainwavz nor any of its staff, nor am I being compensated in any form for writing this review (aside from the provided review sample). All opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own, and all photos are taken and owned by me unless otherwise specified. YMMV.

 

     Just a couple weeks ago, Audrey contacted me, requesting to review one of their older IEMs. Of course, being a fan of their stuff, I was quick to reply. Sadly I didn’t give them much time because of my three other reviews the past couple of weeks, so now that I’m perfectly in the clear, let’s take a closer look at the Brainwavz M1.

 

 


~~ Aesthetics ~~


 

Packaging, Accessories

     The Brainwavz M1 comes in standard retail packaging, clad in black and orange. The M1 is displayed in a small window at the front of the housing, along with a drawing of sorts. Specifications, the accessories list, the description, and some marketing mumbo-jumbo is written on the back. Nothing much of note here that I haven’t already talked about in earlier Brainwavz reviews.

 

     Taking out the packaging, you are provided with six pairs of silicone eartips and a pair of Comply S-400 foam eartips, as well as a shirt clip. There is also a double-sided piece of paper which acts as the instruction manual and a warranty card, good for 12 months. Again, Brainwavz delivers with their very generous amount of accessories and eartips sure to allow you to get the perfect fit.

 

 

 

Design, Build, Microphonics

      The Brainwavz M1 is stated (according to ljokerl’s review on them) to borrow its composite housings of plastic and metal from an IEM known as the Cyclone PR1 Pro, and its cable from the Brainwavz M2, which, in turn, borrows from the ViSang R02 and R03 – nothing out of the ordinary here as Brainwavz did rebrand IEMs from OEMs in China and Taiwan. However, the silver-plated copper (SPC) cable of the M1 really caught my attention. For a $40 IEM, a build like this is way out of the ordinary and is something other companies could learn from.

 

     (As far as I know, most SPC cables are usually aftermarket cables for expensive IEMs or CIEMs sold at outrageously expensive prices, most often with crazy marketing BS. I guess that’s why the cable discussion is a hotly debated topic in the forums and they are practically the “snake oil” of the audiophile market.)

 

     Anyways, back on topic. Despite the M1s not having any strain reliefs on the housings, they make up for it in a very solid overall build with its sturdy Y-split and angled connector. My only complaint with the build is how the cable makes a lot of noise and is a pain to manage.

 

 

Fit, Comfort, Isolation

     The M1 is supposedly designed to be worn straight-down, although IMO wearing the M1 like this gives a pretty loose fit that makes me worry about them falling off. Wearing around-the-ear fixes that problem and more, dulling down the cable noise to zero and providing a very secure fit. They’re not the most comfortable earphones, though, but they are pretty much on par with other IEMs I’ve tried at this price. Isolation is also not the best, although that could be attributed to its ported design. Overall no complaints here.

 

 


~~ Sound ~~


 

Specs

 

Headphone Type

Closed-back vented in-ear monitor (straight-down, around-the-ear)

Driver Type

1x 10.7mm dynamic

Frequency Response

20 – 20,000 Hz

Rated Input Power

10 mW

Sensitivity

110 dB @ 1 mW

Impedance

32 Ω

Weight

N/A

Cable

1.3m (4.2’) SPC cable

Connector

3.5mm (1/8”) gold-plated 45-degree angled connector

Accessories

Hard carrying case

6 pairs black silicone single-flange eartips (S/M/L x2)

1 pair Comply S-400 premium foam eartips

Instruction Manual & Warranty Card (12 months)

 

 

Equipment, Burn-in

     The source equipment used in this review is my iPod Touch and my PC, both driving the Brainwavz M1 through headphone-out. The amp used in its respective test is a Yamaha RX-V359 speaker receiver through its headphone-out. The EQ software used in the test is EQu for the iPod and Electri-Q for the PC. As always, test tracks are available here for reference, although I will link to some specific songs in the review as a more specific reference point. The eartips used are the stock medium-size single-flange tips and the provided Comply S-400 foam eartips.

 

     The Brainwavz M1 has been burned in for at least 50 hours prior to writing this review. Over that period I didn’t notice any change in the sound of the M1. Anyways, that’s about it for this preamble; let’s get to the sound!

 

 

Sound Quality

     At first, I really wasn’t expecting much out of these IEMs – the first time, I expected them to have a consumer-oriented V-shaped sound with overemphasized bass and whatnot. Apparently, when I put these on, I realized this wasn’t the case. The Brainwavz M1 is a pretty balanced, all-rounder type of IEM, and I was very pleasantly surprised with their overall sound quality.

 

     The bass is surprisingly tight and fast, breezing through bass-muddled EDM passages with ease. It conveys great accuracy with bass guitars (Daft Punk – Lose Yourself to Dance) and has a nice amount of punch to play through EDM with a smile on my face. However, they do lack a little bit of extension, and doesn’t have enough punch to make them very suitable for EDM or dubstep (although electronica is perfectly fine).

                                       

     The midrange for me is a pretty mixed bag. They tend to be rather picky with songs, as at times they sound sweet, pleasant, and relaxing (Coldplay - Yellow). Other times, however, they tend to sound shouty, forward, and fatiguing (Noisestorm - Eclipse). It doesn’t show in many of my test tracks, but they show up here and there in certain songs, regardless of genre. And I am pretty sensitive to overly forward midrange, so yes, this is pretty annoying to me. Its treble isn’t much better, either, and is particularly bright, which really affects the whole signature. It’s got decent extension, and is very lively. However, it does tend to be fatiguing and sibilant, placing the most emphasis on “ss” sounds.

 

     The Brainwavz M1 has a decent soundstage – nothing too special about it. However, its instrument presentation tends to be a little bunched-in at times because of its forward midrange (Aphex Twin – produk 29). For most genres, though, this isn’t a problem as it’s decently sized and is pretty good for what you get at this price.

                                           

 

Gaming, Movies

     For non-music media the M1s sounded pretty good. I found them to be pretty useful for gaming purposes as a backup or otherwise secondary pair when you don’t have your main set on-hand. Their balanced, slightly bright signature really bumps up their capabilities for gaming, and their good imaging capabilities allows you to still have a bit of an edge over your opponents in a match. For movies, though, they are pretty much average compared to the rest of the IEMs I have at this price range, and overall I don’t have any complaints, but I don’t have much to rave about the M1 here, either.

 

 

EQ, Amping

     The M1 is pretty responsive to EQ and does benefit from a little tweaking with the settings. But despite its shortcomings that I pointed out earlier, I don’t see much of a reason to EQ an already good IEM. As the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Amping with my speaker receiver (Yamaha RX-V359) didn’t improve much, either, although pairing the M1 with Brainwavz’ own AP001 amp yielded particularly interesting results. The AP001’s hard-wired bass boost really gave more kick out of the M1, offsetting the rather bright treble and turning it into a much more fun, V-shaped IEM. At this point I’m now really starting to think the M1 is a cheaper version of the R3, since during my time with them I noticed some key similarities between the two. I didn’t mention it earlier, but now I find it noteworthy enough to be added.

 

 

Value

     The Brainwavz M1 retails for about $50, although many times the price goes down to $40. And honestly, for that price, I think these are a real bargain for what you get. You still get Brainwavz’ generous accessory package, coupled with a budget IEM with a tuning that is reminiscent of that of Brainwavz’ more expensive models. And though I did find faults with them, at this price all of that gets thrown out the window. These are a steal; I can say that hands-down.

 

Comparison

Versus Brainwavz S0 ($50)

     The Brainwavz S0 was a smooth, relaxing IEM, and was pretty good for its price – however, like the M1, there were a few notable shortcomings that kinda drew me away from them. But when I compared them directly, the differences between the two were practically night-and-day. The S0 is a particularly relaxed and laid-back IEM, to the point where you could safely say it sounds ‘dark.’ The M1, on the other hand, is a bright IEM with lively treble on top of an overall balanced signature. Probably the only things they have in common are how they are both made by Brainwavz, and how they give you too much of a good thing. But otherwise, both are equally good IEMs, and cater to perfectly opposite tastes in sound.

 

 

Versus HiFiMAN RE-300h ($50)

     This next $50 contender is honestly a really good IEM. I found them to be a pretty enjoyable listen with pretty much every genre I put them through, and excelled as a jack-of-all-trades type of IEM. And, well, I think the RE-300h is where the M1 meets its match for me. Yes, though both of them have different strengths for different purposes, I feel the RE-300h is simply the more enjoyable IEM to listen to. Like I said before, the M1 does tend to get too bright at times, without the low-end to offset that brightness, and its midrange gets noticeably shouty in certain recordings. And although the RE-300h doesn’t have that airy of a soundstage, I think I could do away with that and enjoy its more intimate presentation.

                                                                                                                     

 


~~ Conclusion ~~


                                        

     Now, as I kinda came late to the Brainwavz M1 resurgence party, I have seen many of the other reviewers before me praise them for their SQ and whatnot. And yes, I do admit they do have those qualities, I feel that the Brainwavz M1’s sound signature just isn’t for me. I know more than a few people will be more than willing to argue against me on that point, but I stand by my opinions. The Brainwavz M1 is great, but its sound is not for me.

 

 

Category

Score

Comment

Packaging, Accessories

7/10

As always, you get the typical Brainwavz shower of accessories at your disposal, with 7 sets of eartips, a hard carry case, and a 1-year warranty.

Design, Build, Microphonics

7/10

The M1’s semi-plastic, semi-metal build is pretty solid for what you get at this price, although the cable is a bit of a nuisance and the design is a little unorthodox for me.

Fit, Comfort, Isolation

6.5/10

The fit, the seal, and the isolation are definitely iffy when worn straight down, although they are fixed for the most part when worn around-the-ear.

Microphone

N/A

 

Bass

7.5/10

The M1’s low-end is tight, punchy, and tonally accurate, making them great for practically any genre.

Midrange

6.5/10

The midrange is very nice to listen to with its slightly warm tonality, but tends to be shouty and irritating.

Treble

7/10

The treble is noticeably bright…almost too bright for   my tastes. Its sibilance also adds up to the shouty midrange for extra effect.

Presentation

7.5/10

The M1 has a pretty average presentation, with a decently-sized soundstage and great imaging.

Gaming, Movies

7/10

Non-music media works okay with the Brainwavz M1; however, they don’t have any amazing qualities to them that would make them a better IEM in this category over others.

EQ, Amping

7/10

Amping up the bass a tad really brings out more of that fun factor and less of the shouty mids, which I hate. Actual amping, however, doesn’t really do much.

Value

7.5/10

For the retail price of $50, you really can’t go wrong with the M1 if you like its signature.

Total

7.1/10

I didn’t like the sound very much, but the Brainwavz M1 is a very worthy competitor in the $50 price bracket.

 

Shout-Outs, Gallery

     Again, I would like to sincerely thank Audrey at Brainwavz for giving me the opportunity to write this review for them. I realize this review came pretty late to the party, but I hope it will be of as much help as all the others. I would also like to thank my sister for letting me borrow her Brainwavz S0 for a comparison. As always, all of the pictures taken during the review can be seen here.

 

     This is thatBeatsguy signing off; thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Changelog

MP4Nation Brainwavz M1
Description:

As always, I put in about 50hrs on the IEM before the review though didn’t really notice any significant change in sound characteristic. One of the first things to notice on M1 is the ‘house sound’ carried over from M2. It is the same warm and musical presentation that makes the M series easy on the ear and appeals to people who are looking for musical experience as a whole but not a mixture of notes. The overall sound signature is warm, smooth, musical while a little laidback. Treble is decently extended but doesn’t have a lot sparkle, smoother than that of M2. Mid is full and vocal is quite sweet. Bass has good body and decent impact though just a tad slow and mellow out the general sound impression. Above average soundstage but limited by its inabilities to present good airiness and form a detail image.

Details:
DetailValue
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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