The Brainwavz R3 are unique earphones which place two meticulously tuned drivers facing into a sound blending chamber. Their sound is characterized by detailed highs and mids, clear bass and a wide soundstage. The over-the-ear design combined with professional grade memory cables allow the R3 to sit comfortably and firmly, providing good noise isolation. The R3 housing is built from high grade, light weight aluminum. Due to its unique shape it optimizes the performance of the twin drivers to deliver audiophile grade sound.
Twin drivers with passive crossover configuration.
Clear detailed audio with a clean bass.
All metal housing in a over the ear design.
Comply foam tips included.
Transducers/Drivers: Dual Dynamic, 10mm
Rated Impedance: 32ohms
Sensitivity: 95dB at 1mW
Frequency range: 20Hz ~ 20KHz
Maximum input power: 2mW
Cable length: 1.4m, Y cord, OFC Copper, professional grade memory cable.
Plug: 3.5mm gold plated, 45 degree.
24 month warranty.
1 x Comply foam T-series tip
6 x Silicone tips
1 x Bi-Flage tip
1 x Tri-Flange tip
1 x 6.3mm to 3.5mm audio adapter
1 x Airplane adapter
1 x Earphone carrying case
1 x Instruction manual
|Brainwavz R3 Dual Dynamic Driver Earphones|
Brainwavz R3 Dual Dynamic Driver Earphones
- Average User Rating:
Recent User Reviews
"Tough Build, Gentle Sound"
Pros - great balanced but slightly warm sound, wide soundstage, build
Cons - overbuilt, wide & long nozzle, large "unique" design
Quick Summary: While these earphones have a really “unique” design to them, once you get over this, you will be rewarded with a beautifully balanced sound. I would put them on a similar tier as the very popular, and head-fi favorites Hifiman re400 and the Vsonic GR07. This is very high praise, let’s find out below!
I want to thank Brainwavz for their patience and for sending a pair of these R3 for review:
Click on the link below to see the video review:
The R3s come with a multiple ear tips of different sizes, shapes and even “bore/nozzle width”
- 3 pairs of Grey (medium bore) (in S,M,L)
- 3 pairs of black (narrower bore) (in S,M,L)
- 1 pair of Triple flange
- 1 pair of Double Flange
- 1 Pair of Medium Comply T400 eartips
- 1 ¼ adapter
- 1 hard carrying case (this is probably the nicest case I’ve ever seen, I’ll probably getting a few for my other earphones)
These earphones look very interesting to say the least. They have almost a big water bottle shape to them. While they won’t win any beauty contests, but in this case its more substance (sound) >style. The size of the housing is conducive to how big and spacious this earphone sounds.
Overall: 5/10 (I did get a few weird looks when walking around the mall, and around town with them, they are quite big as well)
These guys I feel have set the bar for build quality for even many full size headphones out there. It’s certainly, the “Hummer” for earphones. The earpieces are fully made of metal, which makes me feel that they would win a war even against a hammer. The cables is very thick and rugged, I think its on par or even exceeds some full size headphones in this category. Lastly, it has an big and overbuilt 45 degree jack, one that looks like the ones you see with TV cables. I feel headphone manufactures should really take a look at the Brainwavz R3 when building their cables. These earphones will definitely last a while.
Overall: 10/10 (I feel the cable is a bit too thick and heavy at times for an earphone, however in this case I would say its better being overbuilt >underbuilt).
These edges of the R3s are all rounded, but bottom line is that their still very large for earphones, affecting fit (I struggled at times to get a good fit). Brainwavz attempts compensated the size by having long nozzles, which would allow for better, deeper fit. However, the nozzle used are also very wide. My ear canals did feel a bit sore after about an hour or so, however the Comply’s did help with the comfort. As a result, the issues listed above may affect those with small outer ears and smaller ear canals.
Overall: 6.5/10 (If the nozzles were narrower it would help improve the comfort)
There are a number of vents (I count 2). As a result the isolation is just about average. Good enough for day to day use, though not my first recommendation for hardcore commuting.
These were intended to be worn cable up, as a result, almost no cable noise.
Overall: 9/10 (when using these for physical exercises, the physical weight of the cable will cause some cable noise to come through)
I think Brainwavz have a done a fantastic job. It’s a sound that is a “jack of all trades” it has the right balance of bass, midrange and treble. No single part of the sound spectrum screams out for your attention, instead it opts for a more neutral balanced presentation with some added warmth to prevent them from sounding cold or lean. I think in terms of musical preferences, I think these faired better for more acoustic and live pieces, I loved listening to OSTs, and ballads with them, because of its delicate nature and its wide soundstage. I felt it delivered the atmosphere and the emotions from those specific genres of music.
the bass here is rather linear from the midbass with a mild subbass roll off. But the bass here is just a slightly emphasized (providing a soft impact) to allow for some added warmth. Its not anemic, but the bass may not have the impact some are seeking. The bass here is very well integrated with good control with a smooth texture.
I think the midrange, is rather neutral and natural sounding balancing male and female vocals very well. I feel that the midrange has enough richness, that give vocals a bit more body or thickness, though a bit diffuse. The tradeoff for the extra richness in the vocals, is a bit of clarity but it allow for both male and female vocals to have a smoother quality to them. However, as a whole its still a very clear earphone and I would put it just behind the Re400 and GR07BEs.
I think the treble as a whole is relatively clean, smooth, avoiding any siblance. I feel the treble hits a plateau in the mid treble and rolls off shortly after which makes the treble sound a bit just a bit “blunted” which makes the treble have bit of dullness, and a more laid back feel. Thus, the treble lacks a bit of the excitement and a bit air in treble, that I think would allow them to sound more open, and more engaging. The complaints I listed above are very minor, I think the treble as whole executed very well.
Quite big, it’s an out of the head experience with great placement and separation. It’s a bit diffuse sounding and I felt it had better width than depth, making the presentation more flat
Quick comparison :
I think in comparison the Brainwavz R3 is warmer and smoother sounding (and less dry sounding) than the Hifiman RE400 and it has a much bigger soundstage. The bass is smoother sounding and both have that roll off in the subbass but its less noticeable on the R3s. The midrange has more thickness and more weight than the transparent and lean RE400s. The treble is more crisp on the RE400s, and more detailed and clearer as a result. But its so much better built, there is no contest, but the housing is bigger so it be challenge to get a fit for some.
Compared to the VSONIC Gr07 BE, its has a similar width size of the soundstage with a similar sort of diffuse characteristic (so more 2 dimensional). The subbass on the Gr07BE is definitely more emphasized than it is on the R3, as well as the midbass, making it punchier as a whole. Its more midcentric and richer with male vocals. In terms of the treble but its much smoother so those that felt GR07 was edgy and siblant in the treble would just love the smoothness of R3, while still sounding very balanced and detailed as a whole. Those looking for a more v shaped and more exciting sound should look towards the GR07BE.
*added note* I think the Brainwavz R3 is a good alternative (sonically speaking) to the Vsonic GR07(whichever version, i have the BE) and the Hifiman re400. Especially if you need something very rugged, i mean like strong enough to survive a war in your backpack and more.
Sound: 9/10 (the treble was just a bit blunt for me) but aside from that it was a very great take on a neutral, balanced sound signature with a bit of warmth.
In conclusion, while the R3s have this ridiculously robust build and the great sound of the R3s, I feel that the design and the long, wide nozzles would be an issue for others. It’s a good and durable option at this price range as long as you can get past the design and the potential comfort issues.
Below are some pictures of the R3:
"Very Nice Sounding IEM But Has A Terrible Cable"
Pros - Sounds Good, Relaxing, No Sibilance, Build Quality
Cons - Physical Design
First I’d like to thank Audrey from Brainwavz for sending me the R3 to review. Brainwavz was one of the very first companies I encountered when I joined Head-Fi; their legendary B3 was one of my first higher end IEMs. Since then, I have heard many other Brainwavz offerings and I have enjoyed each of them and none have struck me as off sounding. I had quite high expectations about how the R3 would sound.
The Brainwavz R3 has been an IEM that has received a lot of attention on Head-Fi lately and I have heard quite a few things about it, but I have also read a lot of criticism about its cable. When I first saw the IEM, I immediately thought that the design was very awkward and odd, TBH I wasn’t really sure how it would fit. The cable was also something that I wasn’t really looking forward to, but it didn’t as bad as some people were saying.
The R3 is a dual dynamic driver IEM, which is rather interesting. You don’t see a lot of dual dynamic driver IEMs. There are certainly a lot of multi BA IEMs, but I was very interested in hearing what Brainwavz could do with two dynamic drivers.
**Disclaimer** These were given to me in exchange for an honest review.
Unboxing & Accessories
The R3 keeps with the trend of all Brainwavz products I have tried in terms of the packaging. It is very simple and easy to deal with, but not special in any way as can be expected for its price tag. The box opens on the side and a compartment slides out to reveal the R3, the case and the tips.
It is very nice to see that Brainwavz did not skimp on accessories though. It comes with a very nice hard, rectangular clamshell case which is one of the best cases that I have come across. It is very tough and it is hard to image you damaging the IEMs while they are in the case under normal use. It shouldn’t be a problem even if you sit on them or something like that. It also comes with a very nice and perhaps a little overly large ¼ adapter and a wide range of tips including a pair of complys. Personally I did not really like any of the tips that were in the box and I actually use Meelec dual flanges with these.
Design, Cable & Isolation
Boy, was I let down in this department. I thought that it couldn’t possibly be as bad as some were making it out to be, but it was. Surprisingly, the first set that Brainwavz sent me just did not fit on one side for some reason, I have absolutely no idea why. The second pair fit fine, but came of incredibly easily and the thick and rigid cable did not help at all. The housing is very well built though, with a full metal construction. The cable is well built, but like I mentioned before, terrible to use. The ear guides are also still very annoying despite the revision.
The cable is possibly the worst cable that I have ever encountered. I honestly never thought that something would be worse that the ridiculous cable of the Klipsch Custom 3 that I tried at a meet, but I do feel like the R3 cable accomplishes this feat. The cable is stiff, heavy and mine actually twists in the wrong was from the housing so it is either constantly slipping off my ear or pushing the IEM out of my ear. Either way, I am really not a fan of the cable of the R3.
The isolation is around average, it isn’t great but it should be fine for day to day use. The odd fit and vent makes the isolation a little lacking.
I felt like the R3 scaled surprisingly well for an IEM of its price tag. It performed very well with just my Nexus 5 and Sansa Clip+, but it really improved with my budget Kogan/SAP combo. Adding an amp really lifted the sound and made everything sound clearer and improved the soundstage. I then tried it with my DX90 and I was quite surprised that it scaled so much. The clarity was very good with the DX90 and every area just seemed better. Then I tried them with my Geek Out 1000 and man, these pair well. The review was done with the GO1000.
So far I feel like I have been harsh on the R3, but the sound is actually very good. Despite all the negative things on the design and dreadful fit, the sound is extremely impressive and easily on of the best in its price range. Those who know me will know that I tend to lean towards a neutral sound with slightly bumped up bass for my IEMs and the R3 was actually very enjoyable.
When I first heard this, I was rather shocked at just how controlled and punchy the bass was. I was expecting crazy bass with the dual dynamic drivers that were boomy and muddy, but instead I was asking myself whether Brainwavz had made a mistake and these were really dual BA IEMs. In the $100 price range, the bass from the R3 is simply the best that I have heard, easily surpassing the RE-400 and S5. It is not light by any means, but actually a little heavy, but not too much. The bass is extremely textured for something of this price range. The mid-bass is very fast and the sub-bass has just the right amount of rumble to it. The bass is rather detailed and is much more satisfying than the RE-400’s somewhat lacking bass response.
For some reason I was expecting a dark and recessed midrange, but this was not the case with the R3 despite its dynamic drivers. If anything, I actually find the R3’s midrange to be a little on the forward side and not in the least recessed. It is a little on the warmer side of things, but at no time did I feel like there was any sort of veil that plagues many IEMs. Vocals are excellent, they actually remind me a little of the addictive HE-500 midrange, which was interesting. The vocals are lush and rich, boasting good clarity, but not as good as some other offerings in the price range. There is no sibilance whatsoever with vocals and is much less fatiguing than something like the S5. Instruments are also quite realistic, but a bit too warm for my liking.
The treble is perhaps the weakest part of the R3, and the section that matched my expectations the most. I was expecting it to be dark, very dark, but luckily, it is not. The treble is a bit more subdued than what I prefer, but on the positive side it is very smooth and I don’t see anybody having any troubles with the R3’s treble even if you are sensitive to treble. From memory, the R3’s treble tonality reminds me a bit of the SE215, but crisper, more detailed and just better overall. The clarity is actually notably better than other IEMs I have heard with this sort of treble tonality. Cymbals do not have any sibilance whatsoever, which will be a big plus for long listening periods.
Soundstage & Imaging
Let me start off this section by saying that I have been truly spoiled by the HD800’s soundstage and imaging so this may come off as a little harsh. After making the transition to headphones, I have found that IEMs really just can’t produce soundstage nor image well. The soundstage of the R3 is actually not bad for an IEM of its price. It is quite wide, but doesn’t have too much height or depth to it. It is better than the RE-400 hands down though.
The imaging was just alright, wasn’t particularly impressive or bad. It was a bit blurry for some reason and not compared to the HD800 lol. It seems to have a little bit of trouble focusing on something, a comparison that comes to mind is when a camera doesn’t focus. This is actually consistent, and not just with some tracks. It actually sounds a bit smeared. It is not a huge issue though, and the overall imaging is around average for the price.
Separation, Detail & Clarity
The separation is actually very good and I felt like it was actually a bit better than the RE-400. On most tracks it handled the multiple instruments very well and really impressed me with how well it did with vocals especially. On the track “Some Nights” by Fun, it really sounded terrific. On many of the popular songs it had no issues whatsoever and sounded great. I didn’t feel like anything was lacking here.
The R3 is not the most detailed earphone out there and many other IEMs in its price range beat it, but what the R3 does do is present details very naturally and doesn’t feel like it is forced like some other IEMs. The Alfa Genus and RE-400 are bother better than then R3 in this regard and where I do feel like the R3 is lacking in this area, I do feel like it would lose some of its relaxing texture if the sound was tuned to be more detailed.
Clarity is something that is quite odd with the R3. From the sound signature, it doesn’t seem like the clarity is very good, but when you actually listen, the clarity is rather crisp and much better than it seems from first impressions. The clarity is not something that is highlighted, but presented in a very polite and modest manner.
RE-400 or R3?
I suspect that many people who are reading this will be interested to see how these compare to the RE-400 which has become a benchmark for an IEM under $100 for many people. The RE-400 truly is a spectacular IEM for the price, but the R3 is a worthy competitor. The R3 is better in some areas to my ears. The bass is clearly better IMO, being more solid, detailed and textured. Both IEMs are a bit mid-forward and there is no clear answer as to which one is better. Both are very good for the price but personally I like the RE-400’s midrange a bit more because it is brighter, but many people will prefer the R3’s midrange. The treble is also the same, I prefer the RE-400, but I see a lot of people liking the R3 more. Soundstage and imaging is better on the R3, it simply outclasses the RE-400. If I had to choose one purely on sound, I would probably choose the R3, which is not what I would have expected upon first listening to it. This is just my opinion, keep in mind that it was extremely close though.
The sound is one of the best in its price range, but the question is whether the sound is enough to make up for the dreadful cable and fit. Well, the fit is bearable, but it is really the cable that is causing all the issues. I really wished that Brainwavz would use the B2 cable or something supple like that and just drop the memory wire. It is really a shame that Brainwavz did not put more thought into the design because it really is a very nice IEM, but the entire package is a very flawed one because of the physical design. If Brainwavz can fix the cable issues while keeping the same sound, the R3 will be a winner for sure and I will recommend in a heartbeat.
All these photos were not taken by me so if you ow them and want me to take them down, just tell me.
"Interesting and Odd Design with Fairly Good, Pleasing Sound"
Pros - Sound quality is pleasing, though not perfectly balanced or refined; Build quality; Accessories and tips; Fits better than expected
Cons - Odd design might not be comfortable for some, but most shouldn't have issues; Cable can be a bit unwieldy and annoying
Disclaimer: I received my R3s for free under the condition I would write a review for them. Purchase price reflects their going rate on a popular online retailer at the time of the review.
The Brainwavz R3 is certainly an interesting IEM in a few ways, but it's the overall design, shape, and style of fit that immediately stand out. I was a little unsure what to expect from a sound perspective, but I was definitely worried these would be impossible to wear comfortably, assuming I could fit them in my ears properly at all. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised in most areas.
Design, Fit, Comfort, Etc.
Admittedly, I had no clue how to wear these at first. I spent a good part of half an hour trying to put them in my ear horizontally, which led to them continuously falling out, a lack of proper fit and seal with the tips, and the cable would just not stay behind my ear. I was almost about to write them off until I discovered they were meant to be worn in a vertical style, if that makes sense. Feeling sufficiently stupid, I put them in the right way. Ah, much better!
Assuming one doesn't make the same mistake I did, the R3s are...surprisingly comfortable. They are definitely on the large and heavy side, so I can't give them high marks on comfort. This also made them a bit more prone to wanting to fall out of my ears. I also can't say they really gave me too many issues, though. It's at the "good enough" level where it doesn't get in the way of how I feel about them overall. However, I do suspect some individuals might have issues getting them to fit comfortably in their ears.
The cable is a bit thick and unwieldy, and even after putting them in the right way, the cable would sometimes give me fits and want to jump out from behind my ears. The cables also had some sort of plastic piece on them that tended to exacerbate this issue and/or produce very mild irritation against the back of my ears. Once you get the cables where they need to be, and assuming you aren't doing anything too physically crazy, it's not too bad.
I thought the R3s did a fairly good job with sound quality. They are not perfect in every way, nor are they perhaps the most balanced sounding IEMs in this price range, but they were certainly pleasing to listen to.
The R3s don't have particularly exaggerated bass. I actually found the bass to be rather balanced and nicely extended. They did seem to have a bit of mid-bass warmth and bloom, but this is something I often find subjectively pleasing if mild and done tastefully.
The R3s have a fairly good balance up through most of the midrange. I did notice a bit of depression in the very upper mids and lower treble, though not to the point where this caused an odd sound. If anything, it gave them a bit of a laid-back nature. Whether or not one finds that tasteful will come down to personal tastes.
Treble response is probably where the R3s are weakest. While overall fairly smooth and detailed, I did seem to notice a bit of glare and bite in a couple narrow band areas. I did not find these troublesome, as they were relatively in line with the rest of the spectrum. Out of curiosity, and after I had spent time listening, I was able to find two measurements of the R3, and it would appear these slight peaks, relative to the surrounding areas, sit around 4-5KHz and 9KHz. I believe it might be the latter that ever so slightly stood out. That said, I am generally pretty sensitive to midrange and treble issues. Since the R3 didn't give me subjective problems or sound displeasing, I suspect very few, if any, will find the treble to present any sort of problem.
In terms of soundstage, I thought the R3s did a fairly good job giving a sense of room space and reverberation, if not a bit on the small side. Perhaps better than what other IEMs I have tested. Clarity and detail was also pretty good across the spectrum, though they're not super resolving or detail monsters.
If I had to summarize the R3's sound, I'd call them decently balanced, a bit warm and laid-back, and ever so slightly bitey in the treble depending on what sort of music you're listening to. I am tempted to say they somewhat remind me of my Oppo PM-2. Similar in some characteristics, but not entirely. Overall, I'd give them fairly high marks in terms of sound quality. Definitely quite enjoyable, in my mind.
I wouldn't have any issues recommending the R3s with some caveats. The thick and unwieldy cable is my biggest annoyance, but with some patience, you can make it work. The design of the IEM itself is unorthodox and might lead to some fit and comfort issues on some individuals, but I will say they weren't too bad in this area and did much better than I expected (once I figured them out!). From a sound quality perspective, I thought the R3s were decently balanced and quite enjoyable to listen to, though not perfect. It is only because of the cable and unorthodox design that I give the R3 a 3.5/5. Otherwise, I'd easily give them a 4/5, which means I'd recommend them (BTW, anything higher than 4/5 for me is very rare).
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