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Reviews by: JoeDoe

Brainwavz M3: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It!

Posted

Pros: Clarity, Soundstage, Texture, Value

Cons: Shape, No chin slider

Here we go again. It seems like every other review I've done lately has been on some product from this up-and-coming company that is making a name for itself. This one is however, different than all the others. It's just... better.     The Breakdown    Test Songs (all ALAC either 16/44 or 24/96):   Whistle Past the Graveyard - Rolling Jazz Revue - rjr What About Me - Snarky Puppy - We Like It Here Hide and Seek - Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself Prelude from Cello Suite #4 - Yo Yo Ma   Source: Fiio X5  Bass: Full and textured. I've heard several of the sub $100 category from Brainwavz, including the Delta, S0, S1,and M3 and so far...
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M1: An (Excellent) Old Flame Rekindled

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Pros: Balanced SQ, value

Cons: Aesthetics

Here we go again. It seems like every other review I've done lately has been on some product from this up-and-coming company that is making a name for itself. Luckily for us, this IEM from Brainwavz is just like many of its brethren: a force to be reckoned with. Sound Bass: Just plain good. I've heard several of the sub $100 category from Brainwavz, including the Delta, S0, and S1. So far the low-end on the M1 is my favorite. The sub-bass is there (something not usually found in IEMs running under $100) and surprisingly capable. Macklemore's "A Wake" has some nice thump, but here's the kicker: no bleed! Would I classify these as basshead cans? Heck no. But, they reach deep enough for...
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Pound for Pound, the Best Grado Out There

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Pros: Value, Mod-ability, SQ

Cons: Comfort (maybe)

Well here's the long and the short of it: the new 'e' version of the Grado SR325 is the best one yet. And, IMHO it's the best Grado for the money. Here's why:   I've listened to a lot of headphones. A lot a lot. More than anyone should. And as such, I've developed some preferences. To keep this from dragging on... Grado is where it's at if you want lifelike reproduction. Back when I reviewed my RS1i, I mentioned that it was the first and only headphone (to that date) I'd heard that made me feel like I was listening to actual instruments. After further investigation (a few meets and lots of forum discussion) I've learned that a large number of Grado-heads are actual...
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Replacement Pads Everyone Should Consider

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Pros: Comfort, Appreciable SQ Change

Cons: Nope

The HM5 Velours are quite simply, an uber-comfortable pad for HM5/Shure/Beyer/ATH/(most large circumaural headphones). I was offered a review sample from Brainwavz and have the following to say regarding these and their stock counterparts:   1. Comfort: Both the pleather and velour pads are exceptionally comfortable. The memory foam is quite soft and pliable and distributes weight very well. Even though the Brainwavz HM5 is a bit of a clamper, the lightweight and soft design of the pads alleviates most of the discomfort making these great for long listening sessions.   2. Sound:  Velours: Compared to the pleathers, the sound is a touch more neutral. This may be a...
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For Newer iDevices, Best Bang-to-Buck Device Out There

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Pros: SQ, Aesthetics, Accessories, Power

Cons: Limited list of compatible devices

The iDA-1 from Geben is a portable amp/DAC that shakes hands with newer iDevices only - iPhones, Touches, and iPads. It offers plenty of power, two gain settings, analog and digital audio inputs and an anodized silver look that is just killer. In a world where products from Fostex, AlgoRhythm, and Sony cost upwards of $3-4-500 for the Apple "handshake" capability, this offering from small house company Geben is just what the rest of us need. Well, almost.   Some tech specs:   USB digital input device: iPhone5 & iPhone 3G, 4, and 5, iPad (all), iPod Touch Simulated audio input: ≤ 200mV Max output power: 150mW +150 mW Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz (±...
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A New Standard in Monitor-Style Value

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Pros: Reference-esque SQ, Accessories, Comfort

Cons: Clamp, Size

Brainwavz has done it again! While there are several audio companies offering a nice budget-king-FOTW IEM here, a feature-packed portable amp there, I can't think of many that have put together the streak of high-quality products at affordable prices in the short time the way that the people at Brainwavz have done. Delta: Low Cost Champion. S5: Sub $100 Contender. S0: Budget All-Rounder. Even though it's not their newest, the closed back offering from Brainwavz is yet another strong entry.   Enter: The HM5.   The HM5 is a full-sized, closed-back headphone that performs quite well, regardless of price. It does everything well. It'd be dishonest to fling praises from the...
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An Immersive Experience

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Pros: Fantastic sound, mod-able

Cons: Weight, cable connectors, stock cable, stock pads

The HE500 brings one word to my mind: Immersion. I've never felt closer to the music. Period.   It's the most organic, musical headphone I've heard to date. This implies a preference over the D2k, D5k, RS1i, GS1k, HE400i, ZMF Master, T90, HD600 and HD650. Just a home-run of an effort from Hifiman that, aside from a few aesthetic/comfort issues, makes these an end-game can.   The Breakdown    Test Songs (all ALAC either 16/44 or 24/96):   Someone Like You - Adele - Live from Royal Albert Hall Late in the Evening - Paul Simon - The Essential Paul Simon Mahler Symphony 5 - Georg Solti & CSO What About Me - Snarky Puppy - We Like It Here Hide and Seek...
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Budget All-Rounder That's Here to Stay

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Pros: Consumer-friendly SQ, Build Quality, Accessories

Cons: Not really any at this price range

[Disclaimer: Audrey from Brainwavz reached out to me for a review. I'm in no way affiliated with the company and frankly, I'm quite humbled that I was asked to post my thoughts!]   The S0 is yet another sub-$100 offering from Brainwavz that, like its siblings, punches about its price point. It boasts a fun yet detailed sound signature that will bring a smile to both the average Joe and to the audiophile who'd like to have a gym-ready IEM that won't cause tears if it needs to be replaced.   Here's the breakdown:   Packaging/Accessories/Build Quality   I'll give a few thoughts, but since this review is for the S0's sound (after all, that's why we're all here), I...
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Top-tier Sound for the Rest of Us

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Pros: Sound Quality, Looks, Price/Value, Storage, Versatility

Cons: UI, Wheel

The X5 from Fiio. Where to begin...   Perhaps I'll start with dual-CPU processing power... or maybe the dual TF card slots... or perhaps USB DAC functionality... then again how about the exceptionally black background...   So many options. You know what? I'll make your life easier. Since every other review is pretty dang thorough, I'll just include the highlights and then my personal impressions.   The Hits  Support for every lossless format under the Sun USB DAC capability Two TF-card slots (up to 256 GB!) Exceptional firmware/UI development that continues to improve   The Misses The click wheel implementation Non-removable battery   My...
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Desktop Tube Stack That Knows What's Up!

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Pros: Size, Construction, Power, Versatility

Cons: Discontinued, So-so DAC

So the Pan Am from ALO Audio. This little guy is pretty dang impressive. An excellently-built, functioning desktop solution that is pretty easy on the eyes too! For the record, I've got the whole stack - Pan Am, Passport, and Gateway. Haven't done much comparison between the two power supplies yet.   As for the sound, the presentation is not glaringly tilted towards the bright or dark end of the spectrum. In a word: neutral. Now of course the tubes you pick can change that, but it's nice to know that with a conservative tube like the Yugo 6HM5 or RTC, you're starting pretty close to neutral.   I think that DAC implementation is equal to the ODAC. Very capable and revealing...
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