I would like to thank Brainwavz for the opportunity to review their brand new Brainwavz Beta. I've titled this with a (V2) marking to distinguish that these are vastly different than the original ones. If you are interested in where to purchase these head on over to MP4nation where they have the best price and world wide shipping!
Pros: Punchy bass, clarity, price, Comply tips, no microphonics
Cons: Slightly recessed mids, build quality
I'm not sure whether this is the final design or not but so far it looks clean and simple, which I like. I wonder whether it's the final design or not due to a black sticker covering up "45 Degree" in the cable termination description, which is actually straight. Perhaps Brainwavz changed the design and didn't want to be wasteful of the old packaging, I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that the small package catches the eye with it's simplistic design and color scheme.
On the front above the plastic window it says in white letters "Brianwavz" under that it says Beta with some notes about them. On either side there's simply a logo on the bottom and Beta on the top. On the back product information is given with information about the included Comply tips. Aside from the 45 Degree angle being changed, I think that Brainwavz originally meant to use the T400 tips, rather than the S400 as the Comply product information about the included tips fits the T400 description, not the S400. This is based off of the product information for the S/T400 on the Comply website. Either way it's kept simple on the back which I like.
Once opened it was a pain to get the IEMs out of their plastic housing and out of the blue cardboard box the cord was leading to. The included 2 spare S/L grey silicon tips were freely sitting in the container which could easily be lost if you're not careful when opening taking everything out. The Comply tips were sitting in a small plastic bag. No frills or other included accessories here, but really none are needed.
Overall the packaging seems like a rough version with the plug termination angle being wrong and the Comply product information fitting the description of the T400 rather than the S400. Getting the Beta's out of the box was also a bit of a hassle. While the complaints are minor they still are blemishes that can be easily fixed.
Design and Build Quality
The Beta's look weird to put it simple. The odd shape won't catch many eyes, but it surprisingly works well when worn over ear or down. While they look odd, the design makes sense. The outer part of the IEM which shows the logo is easily used to grip the Betas and position them easily in the ear.
The build quality certainly doesn't feel great though. The Beta's themselves are made of plastic with the outer edge showing a Brainwavs logo and a R or L near the tip of the Betas. The housing feels decent enough, but the long stress relief isn't connected very well to the housing, in-fact when I move the stress relief I can see the top of it near the housing pull away slightly on one side. The cable is very thin as well and where the cable meets at the y-split there's simply a small block of plastic that doesn't move. The rest of the cable is simply the two thin ones from each IEM held together. Think of the y-split as a zipper that was pulled up and then permanently stuck where it stopped, I hope that makes sense. The cable terminates to a rather flimsy feeling straight 3.5mm plug. The stress relief on the plug feels more flimsy than I would like.
Once in the ear they sit deep enough in the ear to feel very secure regardless of what tip. The included silicon tips unfortunately don't feel so great in the ear, but the included Comply tips do. The Betas feel secure whether worn over ear or worn down with little to no microphonics. The isolation is average here, blocking out about 60% of the outside noise with no music playing.
Overall the build quality could definitely use some work. A thicker cable and more secure stress reliefs would inspire more confidence, I wouldn't say no to a proper y-split either. The IEMs themselves feel solid though and sit firmly in my ear and the included Comply tips are a nice touch.
As always I burned these in for a minimum of 50 hours before making judgements on the sound.
After putting these in my ears it's easy to see where the budgeting of the money went. These have possibly the best overall sound I've heard of any IEM under $100. They are rather balanced, though a bit on the warm side. The sound is very musical and pleasing to the ears, I find myself enjoying music rather than analyzing it like with the RE272.
The lows are the most prominent of the frequencies and the Betas do them very well. Fantastic extension, punch and control on the lows make these fantastic for electronic music such as dubstep while still being fantastic for alternative rock. The lows are simply done right here, clean and well extended without being overbearing. They do bleed into the mids, but only slightly. The mids are very clear though slightly recessed. I found myself missing some very hard to hear details I heard much easier on my Ad900. Given the details were very minute, they were still missing or even harder to hear than normal. Don't let that deter you though the mids are still great on these and satisfy me even coming from my Ad900. The highs are slightly rolled off, slightly grainy and really don't impress me. They aren't bad, but the bass really takes the show here.
While these aren't the most detailed IEM, they definitely have fantastic clarity, more so than the SoundMAGIC E30, Meelectronic A151 or the DUNU Ares. I found myself missing some details in a few songs, but they were very hard to hear to begin with so I don't fault the Betas much. The soundstage impressed me very much though, it's rather wide for an IEM with excellent imaging. Yes, a $30 IEM with fantastic imaging.
Let's hear some tunes:
The Cure - Why Can't I Be You?
This is a very lively song with a fast pace and a lot going on in it. Despite everything going on in this song the Betas keep up and give each instrument it's space. The horns in particular sound wonderful, I can easily pick out where they each are in the sound as each horn has it's own area it's coming from. I don't think I've ever heard this song as good as this to be honest. As I said I can easily pick out each instrument from the keyboards to the horns to the guitar at any given point and it's as if they all have their own designated spot. Wonderful.
Curtis Mayfield - Pusherman
The silky smooth baseline and vocals in combination to the various percussion and overall funk to this song makes a good test. If this were a graded test the Betas would score an A for this song. the percussion sound phenomenal. The various percussionists are easily hear as if they were standing in a half circle. Curtis sounds as if he's front and center with the bass and it's just grooving along.
James Blake - Limit To Your Love
I like to use this song to test for bass since the bass in this song wobbles very fast with quick pitch changes and deep extension. The piano and vocal intro sound very nice, but what I'm after here is the bass. The bass comes in and it's absolutely fantastic. Very quick and deeply extended. The drums and vocals even sound very clear while the bass is doing its thing. The Betas were not only able to keep up with the intense bass, but it didn't muddle up the mids at all here.
Coheed and Cambria - Everything Evil
Some may be worried about the slightly recessed mids making these bad for alternative rock, I chose this song to dispel any worries. The guitars are crunchy, the bass punchy, the vocals are just smidge recessed and I mean that in only the smallest bit. The Betas give this song the energy it deserves in every way.
Sara Bareilles - Bottle It Up
This song is excellent for testing sibilance. As the song kicks in sounding absolutely wonderful I do notice a slight sibilance. It's nothing that's annoying me, but there's definitely a little bit of sibilance. Overall though the female vocals sound excellent on these.
Iron & Wine - 16 Maybe Less
This is a nice mellow alternate country/folk song with a few various instruments and nice ambience to it. The steel lap guitar sounds haunting and the drums sound perfectly hushed as the vocals come in. The song feels as intimate as when I saw him perform this live.
For $30 I don't think there is a better sounding IEM. These have completely enamored me with their slightly warm balanced sound with excellent imaging. The build quality leaves a lot to be desired though, but you get what you pay for. After listening to over 100 songs on these I can honestly say they handle any genre competently, I couldn't honestly find one song I didn't like through these. To my ears these are the best IEM under $50 and perhaps the best under $100 for sound alone.
Come check out more pictures of the Betas here!
Edited by keanex - 9/25/11 at 9:20am