Brainwavs M2 Review
- Transducers/Drivers: Dynamic, 10.7mm
- Rated Impedance: 20ohms Closed Dynamic
- Sensitivity: 115dB at 1mW
- Frequency range: 20 ~ 20000Hz
- Distortion: <= 0.3% @ 94dB
- Channel balance: =< 2dB (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
This is a mid-range IEM from budget audio manufacture Brainwavs. The price of these is in a range that most people looking to get into the head-fi community and such and is consequently quite a competitive price range. These retail in the UK for about £40, which is the same price as the very good Vsonic GR06s now retail for.
The set-up I have used is a bit different to normal, as I have started using a new portable rig, which is the Hippo CriCri amplifier connected through a LOD to an iPod Nano 3G with Apple Lossless and MP3 on it.
I also used my old set-ups of my iPhone 4, Cowon J3 (with FLAC) and my iMac with my Objective 2 amplifier.
As for tips I have been using the Mediums stock silicone tips.
Their build is nothing out of the ordinary for the price an they share a lot in common, in terms of cable, jack and y-split, to many other choices roughly in the price range such as the Hisoundaudio Crystal and the Vsonic GR06.
The jack is angled at about 45 degrees, maybe a bit more, and I have found this to a really conventional angle that works well. It is terminated with a gold plated plug and the housing does not feel week and it has a flexible strain relief. The cable is very similar to the one on the Crystal due to the fact it is a braided cable with a very thin outer layer, which molds to the contours of the braid and this style of cable do seem very strong. The y-split is the same as all of the listed above earphones and is of the most solid I have seen.
The housings are done just great and that is because of the fact they are all metal other than a silicone strip. Because of this I have no worry about the housings having problems or the nozzle snapping. The only real quibble is the strain reliefs, which are fine in doing their job, do not seem very plush and the bottom of them is not as neat as I would expect.
For £40 you actually get a pretty nice little accessory pack that has all the essentials. First of you get a clamshell case which as is hard and small (will easily fit in your pockets). The only small downside to the case is that it does not have that small little mesh pocket inside that most clamshells do.
Tip-wise, you get 7 pairs of them in total and if anything this will prove good for the longevity of them. First of all you get one pair of Comply foam tips, which of course are of great quality. The last 6 pairs are all Sony Hybrid look a likes or clones, and you 2 pairs of small, medium and large tips. You also get a shirt clip.
Now finding a fit with these is effortless even if you are only using the stock tips. If you are someone who appreciates what Comply tips do to the sound then you can wack them on and more than likely get a beautiful and comfortable fit and if like me you don’t then the Sony Hybrid like (not as good as the originals though) you will find a pair that fits you. Getting the seal is not hard, as they do not require any special methods such as rotating the housing into you ear.
These are comfortable for most of the time but their weight and body shape after some longer listening can cause a bit of fatigue and then (if you do not re-adjust) can get painful. As long as you position them in your ear carefully with the strain relief not obstructing anything then it should be fine for most of the time.
They do not get the deepest seal but actually do a respectable job in the isolation department. Just listening at a moderate level everything around me goes and it is only when I say sit on a sit on lawn mower or wear headphones over the top on full volume when these falter so unless isolation is the main need in a pair of IEMs, then these will do fine.
Microphonics (Cable Noise)
My first experiences with any IEM that is worn cable down after using a over the ear IEM were very negative due to the microphonics being unbearable and it just made me think that no cable down earphones will master it but as time as gone on and I have heard more cable down IEMs my experiences have turned for the positive and this is one of the reasons why. Now I am not going to say that the microphonics on this are non-existent and you get a faint thud when something hits the cables but other than it is fine and it is completely bearable, so hopefully just one day a cable down earphone will master microphonics!
By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. These have had roughly 100 hours now of use and burn in combined. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so dint make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.
Soundstage and instrument separation
The soundstage is a tad compressed in my opinion and does not in any sense really extend out of the head. It is also completely two-dimensional with no depth to it but a true three-dimensional feel is fairly rare to come about and I have not found that at this price range.
The instrument separation really is dependent on the tempo of the song as in slower songs this actually does fine, especially in acoustic orientated passages, it just when the tempo speeds up the driver cannot really cope and everything can become close to a mess.
The bass on these is clearly the emphasis and the main focus of these. There is a slight hump in the mid-bass which causes everything else, especially the mids, to sink back a bit. The quantity is not the most by any means and is quite an average quantity with a rounded body it hits with. What is fairly impressive is its quick punches and overall bass speed for a dynamic driver of its price. The bass is fairly controlled and hardly ever boomy like the GR06 can be. The decay though does feel a tad on the short side but only a small niggle.
The sub-bass extension is not great and it is a rare but pleasant occasion when you here only the slightest rumble, but if you want sub-bass the only way you can go is the Hippo VB.
The mids do suffer from the bass in most aspects. First of all they are recessed to a point were in some songs you having to strain to hear the lyrics and they posses no energy at all. They are also very flat and vocals all sound of the same tone and therefore lack dynamics of the vocals. They are very warm and coloured which to me is not a bad thing really as it can sound fund and in some events even make the mids sound better, I do like my strings with a bit of warmth to the from time to time and that is how they sound here. However at times it can just feel so unnatural ad wrong it can be annoying. They are also veiled and do not feel open or free, like they are trapped from releasing their full potential which is a shame. One part of the mids that these do very well is the length of decay on the notes and lyrics linger for just the right amount of time before slowly fading out. I make it all sound like a drawn out process but it does all happen so quickly, I am just trying t describe it.
For these reasons I think that these will be a more off limit earphone in the price if you want to listen to rock music or even pop and therefore in the category of mids and the GR06s mid-centric signature blows the M2 mids away. Though I will say if you listen to EDM or Dubstep for example then these will be a better option.
The treble is present and not washed away by the bass, which is nice and is in good quantity, you will not be disappointed by the amount anyhow. There is not the most sparkle as it does roll of quite early but does so smoothly and pleasantly. The detail in it is not the best as it is fairly thick but very smooth, because of this I do not find it sibilant, harsh or sharp which is quite nice.
These are not by any means the best IEMs I have heard in the price range and will struggle to get me to recommend them as they are up against fierce rivals in the GR06 which I think blows it away and the Hippo VB which shares a similar signature but is far superior. However what we do have here is a nice package that does most psychical things rather well and also has an average sound. If you want a bass orientated earphone and do not mind some sacrifice in the mids then these may be for you and still do have positives over the GR06 such as smoother highs and tighter bass but is just not as good an earphone, but then the GR06 is known as a bang for buck king worth way more than its price. This is by no means bad and will handily beat any price competitors from brands such as Skullcandy and even a fair few from Sennheiser. I hope you enjoyed the review.
Edited by Swimsonny - 6/29/12 at 1:18pm