I would like to thank Mr. Prithvi from Brainwavz for the sample of the M2, these are currently available on Amazon and Mp4nation which has free international worldwide shipping.
Pros: Cable durability
Cons: Overall sound clarity
Home: Laptop using MusicBee WASAPI output->O2 Amp->iBasso D4->M2
On-the-Go: iPod Classic->M2
What can I say about the packaging here? Well if you’ve seen one IEM from this price range you probably have an idea of what to expect. The M2 comes in cardboard packaging with a plastic window displaying the M2 through it. Brainwavz chose blue and black for the main colors on the box and it looks decent, but nothing about this stands out from the next IEM on the shelf. The front of the packaging doesn’t really draw me in to pick it up and buy it, nor does it draw my eyes to it. I don’t mean that it looks bad, it just blends in. The back carries information about the M2 from specs to accessories.
Inside of the box the M2 and accessories sit in a plastic housing that sits in a blue cardboard holder, typical of an IEM it’s held secure and safe. Included with the M2 is a semi-hardshell carrying case, a set of Comply S tips, 2 sets each of Sony Hybrid S/M/L single flanged tips, a shirt clip, and warranty card. Nothing out of the way here, aside from the Comply tips and the lack of double flanged and triple flanged tips is a strike against the accessories list. They should be considered standard by now due to their popularity.
There’s really nothing here that invokes excitement, even the Comply tips are the low-end version. It’s as if Brainwavz is telling its potential customers that inside is average headphones and they are okay with that. I know it’s a lot to ask for diversity in tips and some better looking packaging, but the IEM market is highly competitive and other brands have found ways to do it.
Design and Build Quality
When I first held the M2 I felt at ease with the build quality, the housings to the cable feels well made and I have no worries about using these day to day for exercise or home use. The housings are made of metal and plastic separated into what seems to be three sections, with a black plastic in the middle to contrast the silver. They feel sturdy and have a metal mesh filter to protect the drivers, which I much prefer to plastic or mesh. The stress relief is rather long and the rubber sits over a long metal extension from the housing. The rubber coating isn’t held on very well and has actually come off on the right side as indicated in this picture.
The cable is very durable feeling, it has a nice thickness and texture to it with its ridges that give better grip. The ruggedness of this is very nice, though some microponics are heard when worn down, it hasn’t been near enough to bother while doing light jogging and walking though. The cable has a y-split that also seems rugged, but no cinch. Ending the cable is a 45 degree angled plug with an adequate stress relief and seems built decently enough to hold up.
The M2 sit rather shallow in the ear, but securely. This reduces some microphonics and will feel more comfortable for those not comfortable with deep insertion IEMs. The M2 have moderate comfort when inserted, I can tell they are there but they never bother me. Since the M2 sit shallow in the ear, they don’t isolate too much without music playing, but I never felt the need to crank music beyond an acceptable level.
Despite the wonky glue holding the rubber coating the stress relief the M2 are built fairly well. In the month or two I’ve had these I’ve walked and lightly jogged approximately 20-30 miles with these with no durability concerns. The housing isn’t exactly beautiful, but it should hold up and the cable seems very durable.
I gave the Brainwavz M2 at least 50 hours of unworn burn-in time and at least 100 hours of use while at home or while doing light exercise. No noticeable changes were noted after burn-in and minimal changes when amped. These work fine through an iPod as well as my O2.
Oh boy, what to say about the M2? I honestly do not have much good to say about the M2 sound wise. The sound signature of the M2 is a warm, even leaning dark, bass focused sound that lacks hugely in detail, clarity, speed, and instrument separation. These have been some of the least enjoyable IEMs I’ve listened to in recent memory and I’ll explain in more detail why.
The bass of the M2 is the focus and unfortunately it’s not very enjoyable. The bass at times feels very loose, slow, and one-noted. When listening to James Blake’s Limit to Your Love for instance the bass fluctuations are there but the M2 feels like it’s trying to keep up, fortunately though the M2 do have the necessary sub-bass for bass heavy songs like this so that’s a plus. In songs like Alanis Morissette’s You Oughtta Know the funky bass line is very generic sounding, yeah I hear the bass, but good luck deciphering the notes. The bass line is lacking definition and sounds muddled. Fortunately though the M2 do shine somewhere and that is in the liquid drum and bass genre. Listening to Duo Infernale’s Feeling Blue which is a smooth liquid track I find the M2 to suit very well. The dark signature of the M2 give the bass the focus and it works for bass heavy genres like this. Genres that are bass heavy but don’t rely on quick bass will work well with these.
The mids are actually done rather well here with a slightly forward presentation and a touch of warmth. The slightly pushy and warm characteristics of the mids work rather well for female vocalists, especially those with a husky sultry voice, namely blues singers. Listening to Motorcycle’s As the Rush Comes (Gabriel and Dresden Chillout Mix) and the combination of the warm bass and the warm female vocals sounds great through these. To test sibilance I put one of the most sibilant heavy songs I have, Sara Bareilles’ Come Round Soon. The M2 show every bit of sibilance in this track, though I don’t necessarily fault the M2, this track is notoriously sibilant, it should be noted for readers who listen to sibilant prone music. Lastly I put on The Reign of Kindo’s song The Moments In Between to kill two birds with one stone. First to check how pianos sound and how male vocals sound. Pianos suffer much like acoustic guitars and any other acoustic instrument I’ve heard, they sound like they’re being filtered through a dirty window, very fuzzy and lacking detail. The vocals sound alright in this song, maybe even a tad recessed in this song as they are presented in the middle and the instruments on the right and left bury the vocals a tad. The mids are certainly a mixed bag with acoustic instruments sounding bad on these, but female vocals sounding good for the right genre.
Oh the highs, I forgot about these. The highs are the weakest aspect of the M2 and I don’t think anyone will disagree. The highs roll off early and are hard to hear in the mix in many rock songs I tested. The biggest lack of highs I noticed was in Coheed and Cambria’s Time Consumer, during the intro the M2 actually do a great job providing a strong kick for the kick drum, the snare drum has a good snap to it, but the cymbals and hi-hat are only heard on the initial hit, barely, with almost nothing after. There’s no ringing from the cymbals at all. Going a bit further into the song the vocals sound great, but the china cymbal during the chorus, well I hear it being hit but it sounds like it’s 2 rooms away with doors closed. Even the guitar during its high squeals and notes simply takes a back seat. The highs are shunned in every song I’ve heard through these, which accents the dark sound of these even further.
The M2 have a rather narrow presentation that is hurt even further by the poor instrument separation. The positioning isn’t terrible, but there’s no depth to add to the lack of width. Vocals are upfront, but the instruments seem to be fighting for space in a small room. The narrow soundstage presents music in a very muffled manner hurting instruments clarity and detail, which isn’t great to begin with even for solo instruments.
I’ve been waiting to finish this review for a week now so I could go back to listening to my Meelectronics A161p and Audio Technica Ad2000. I know it’s not fair to compare $50 headphones to those double and even 10 times the price, but these even lack compared to Brainwavz Betas I reviewed a while ago. I see no reason to buy these over the Beta and if you’re looking to spend more splurge for the M4.
Come see the rest of the pictures here!