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.
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".
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
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 a very good iem 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. The cable is terminated in a 45 degrees 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 MicroDS. Ufortunatery the Symbian music player cannot disable EQ
Selected tracks from the following artists chosen for the test run, most of the 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).
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. Theres 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 part of fast paced music and there is a 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 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 un 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 treble extension to make iit possible. The M1 sounstage is spheric and wider its depth but enjoyable all the same
In conclussion, if you are in a tight budget and cannot spend money in a Vsonic GR07 or a BA and pefer a mostly neutral sound signature you can't go wrong with the M1. These are versatile and very musical iems