Pros: Bassy warm sound with nice forward midrange
Cons: Treble is a bit rolled off.
Well after a good lengthy burn in (100hrs or so) I feel I am ready to write my full review of the Brainwavz M2. I would like to thank MP4Nation for sending me a pair of the M2 to review. To make it clear, I received this IEM for free, in exchange for a review by me. I was clear with MP4Nation that I would be completely honest in my review, good or bad. To which they responded they would want it no other way.
Build wise I am very impressed with the M2. The aluminum housing is light and yet sturdy. The lip just past the tip nozzle makes proper insertion of this IEM very easy to achieve. This lip also makes this a bit of a shallow insertion IEM a design I prefer. The port hole on the IEM can cause wind noise if you happen to walk outside in an environment with lots of wind but this issue is not excessive. The cable is very sturdy and appears to be braided under its covering, I would say it’s one of the nicest cables I have seen in an IEM in this price point. My only complaint about the build of this IEM is the stem coming from the IEM housing, I find it sticks out at a bit of a weird angle whether wearing straight down or over ear. The stem issue makes this IEM less comfortable if you have anything being worn near the ear or if laying down in bed as the stem can be nudged, but this issue is only minor in my opinion.
The included tip selection with the M2 is nice. I do like the hybrid tips and feel they will work for most people. The added foam tip will work for those who like that tip style. My only issue with the tips stems more from what I have grown accustomed to with my other IEM’s. I have grown to prefer a more open nozzle tip as they seem to allow more treble, tame the bass down a bit, and open the sound stage as well as make the IEM slightly less congested. If anyone buys this IEM and has any of the issues I just mentioned, I suggest trying a wide nozzle tip before giving up on this IEM.
The included accessories with this IEM are also very good. I love the included semi-hard case, the shirt clip (excellent for cable management and reducing micro phonics) plus the included ear hooks (these hooks are soft and very comfortable and also reduce micro phonics putting Sennheiser’s offering to shame).
Speaking of micro phonics, the only time this really comes in to play is if you wear the IEM down versus over the ear. This includes the thumping micro phonics other IEM’s have from a person’s foot steps.
So OK enough about the cover of the book... WHATS THE STORY LIKE!
In some forum threads I have alluded to this IEM possibly being a nice budget conscious alternative to the Sennheiser IE8. After extensive listening and burn in, I would like to reiterate this position. If you’re looking for an IEM that is sonically similar to the IE8 and are on a tight sub $100 budget, then this IEM should be on your short list especially at the current $50 pre-order price. Does this mean it’s as good as the IE8? No, not really. I would say it does not quite have the same bass texture or treble detail and extension, or quite the same sound stage. But I do feel these areas while not as good as the IE8 are not too far behind the IE8 and at an eighth of the cost offer an excellent value. I also actually think the midrange of the M2 is more forward than the IE8 which in that one regard makes them better in my opinion.
Bass – I feel the bass of the M2 is nice and deep with plenty of impact. I did find the bass settled down a lot after the pink and white noise burn in, losing some of its impact. In my mind this change is positive as the bass no longer over whelms the music. I think the bass of this IEM is not the most accurate I have heard but do find it incredibly enjoyable. I also would say this IEM has a definite mid-bass hump making it a warm sounding IEM.
Midrange – I feel the midrange of the M2 is one (if not the) strongest aspect of the M2's sound. I love its forward, warm, and smooth nature. It adds a very nice touch to male vocals and guitars. The midrange simply places me in the music.
Treble – This is the one area the M2 is weak on. But I will say this is a matter of preference as well. I personally have been using a pair of Monster Turbine Pro Copper IEM’s as my main IEM for the past month, and they are what I would call a very neutral / bright IEM. So I do notice the lack of the treble sparkle and detail. Having said that I also own a pair of AT CKS70 and have owned several other sub-$100 IEM’s and have to say the M2’s treble is better than the CKS70, NE-7M, and every Brick and Mortar IEM I have tried that was under $100. So while it does not compare to a $500 IEM it’s not terrible by any stretch of the imagination.
Sound stage – The M2 is very strong in this area, while it is no IE8 beater, it holds its own very well. I find the sound stage to be quite wide and deep and I like that it fits the rest of the sound signature nicely in that no area of the sound signature feels out of proportion.
While I have my considerably more expensive MTPC’s that I use more often, I find I like wearing the M2 as it gives me a more laid back listening experience where I stop focusing on the detail and just get swept up in the music. I also like the fact I never feel fatigued after listening to this IEM.
Some of the genre’s I have been listening to are:
Classic Mid-late 70’s early 80’s rock (Eagles, Super Tramp, Meatloaf, Led Zeppelin, ACDC, Kansas) – The softer sounding groups like the Eagles benefit from the bass and warm sound signature, the grittier bands like ACDC and Led Zeppelin benefit from the more forward midrange for the guitars, Meatloaf and Super Tramp that feature quite a bit piano are a bit of a mixed bag as the lack of detail for piano is a bit more noticeable, Kansas features a fairly bright sound with a lot more synthesized music so I found this music to be not as detailed as I like due to the lack of treble. All vocals sounded awesome with this genre.
Celtic Music - (Loreena McKennit, Enya, various male artists). I found the warm nature of the M2 to fit with this genre fairly well making it sound OK but not quite as nice as more sparly IEM’s. The sound stage of the M2 also worked very well with this genre. Overall though, I prefer my MTPC ultimately for this genre. I suspect the RE0 may fit this genre better in the sub $100 range though unless you really like warmth over detail.
Jazz – (new to this genre so only have Patricia Barber to base my experience on). I found Patricia Barber’s “Modern Cool” to be a bit to bassy at times with the M2 but really enjoyed “The Cole Porter Mix”, from what I can tell the first album is a bit more “modern” or mainstream as compared to the second album which is more classical jazz. If you listen to jazz for detail I think you would want to move on from the M2, if you listen to be swept away the M2 may be just the ticket for you.
Classical – (Stringed Instrument and Choral) This is an area I am not conversant enough in to be able to point to specific pieces, musicians, or composers to be able to offer a lot of detailed information on. BUT I do like this both of these types of music. The M2 gives a decent portrayal of this music but does lose enough detail that I prefer my MTPC for these genres. But like Jazz I do find it easy to get swept away in the music.
Classical Full Orchestra – This music can get congested and again loses more detail than I like. But again is easy to just be swept up in the music.
If you have higher end IEM's that are neutral in nature and want a fun warm bassy IEM and are not concerned with some detail loss the M2 will fit the bill well for you. If your new to the IEM market and want a warm sounding IEM with good bass and midrange along with a fairly decent treble, the M2 should be on your shortlist as it offers alot of quality for the price.