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Universal Fit item created by dweaver, May 18, 2010
Pros - Nice build, excellent included tips, great sound
Cons - small selection of tips, included case is a bit fiddly to get the headphones into
I've had the Brainwavz M2 for a few days now, I haven't stopped listening to them, for me the sound is very pleasing before I ordered I worried that they might not suit me, but after many hours of listening I decided that they suit me very well and I like the sound they produce.
Before I carry on my main music genres are; heavy metal, indie/electro pop, punk, trance, house
The bass on these headphones is great, I like the amount of bass there is, there isn't LOTS of bass but i'd say the bass that is there is prominent and of good quality, it can extend quite low, lower than the SoundMagic PL21, in my opinion.
The midrage is very smooth, there's not much to say about the midrange it works very well, isn't hidden or too pronounced just right.
The highs are good, i'd say they're definately more prominent than my SoundMagic PL21; the PL21 has a very dark tone and the highs aren't that clear incomparison to the M2 which leave me with enough and they please me well..
Included Accessories: pretty barebone, 3 sets of tips, small medium large the tips seem to be of good quality, they fit really well for me and i can wear them for a long amount of time without them annoying me, the case thats included has a logo on top of it, this is just stuck on and it has already partially come off for me, so if the case is a reason you're buying this, don't bother as it's not the best I dont think, it doesn't affect the sound ofcourse.
These so far are my favorite IEMs and I like them alot, i'll probably get the upgrade bug when I find more money though, there's always something else round the corner.
(sources are a PC and a HTC Wildfire, most music 320k mp3 or some VBR, all sources we're adequate for me, I also listened with my Clip+ some, the sound was great and using the rockbox bass increase a few decibels made the bass much more prominent without any noticeable distortion maybe a plus if you're looking for more bass)
Pros - Relatively cheap, good bass
Cons - Veiled, soundstage a bit lacking
Brainwavz M2 is the repackaged version of ViSang R03 with identical IEM component. These are quite comfortable, but they are not light per se. I also decided to (carefully) cut off one-fifth of the length of the long strain-reliefs. The accessories include three sizes of hybrid tips and three sizes or foam tips (they are similar to olive tips). I am happy with the medium size for both; however, the small foam tips are so small that I can’t think of any adult would find them fit. It would have been better with a spare pair of either the medium or big. I never found plastic tips to be comfortable compared to foam ones, but this time I actually prefer the hybrid tips than the foams. Unlike the cords of PL-30 which tangle quit easily such that I had to separate them almost every time, the cords of the M2 has memory of its own which retains the shape for a long time. I didn’t think it would annoy me this time. Although they are strong and similar to those of full-size headphones, I much prefer the cords of the Meelectronics products. The plug looks better than the usual 45-degree ones, and don’t stick out as much. The overall build is sturdy as heck. Isolation is along the lines of PL-30, but with wind noise susceptibility due to the holes on the phones.
Before burn-in, these are really relaxed and the bass was quit strange. After enough burn-in, they opened up somehow and the sound signature stabilised. I have done more than 80 hours of burn-in now, I am very satisfied with their strong suits – bass and midrange. The bass is sufficient in quantity, and the decay is perfect for Hip Hop and R&B music. The bass is there when needed, and since the signature of this IEM is towards warmth, a veil is inevitable, which is not a problem at all for me. A friend of mine tried them out, and thought they are not as good for classical as the ones he’s got (not sure what IEMs, but I assume brighter than M2). The vocals are very sexy and enjoyable. On the other hand, treble may be tamed and may lack a sense of sparkle, yet it is decent nonetheless to my liking. I personally hate fatiguing phones, so I’m a bit biased. The roll-off of treble is later than I expected at around 14-15 kHz, so the M2 is extended both ways with deep bass and high frequency harmonics.
Apart from the veil that I talked about, there is however room for improvement on the soundstage. Although the soundstage is better than average, I still crave for some full-size cans’ or speakers’ experience in IEMs which I will probably never get. I will address these in my next upgrade. The distance is about first couple rows, yet not as distant as the PL-30.
Most people would agree that M2 is one of the best sub-$100 IEMs you can get. For the price I paid, I am more than satisfied with these bad boys. I only got it on Tuesday last week due to the problems with the Australian postal service where they got sent back to mp4nation without any reasons from AusPost, and I’m glad to receive them eventually. Mp4nation is good enough not to ask me to pay extra for the postage for the second shipping. For the low price tag, and given the right sound signature for you, M2 is what I recommend to someone who is very conscious of value like me.
Pros - warm, fun and spacious sounding
Cons - slightly boosted bass that could use more control
I've had the Brainwavz M2 here for several weeks, and I'm sorry that I haven't had the time to post my thoughts on them sooner, but I'm doing so now after enjoying them the whole time. My Star rating is against other IEM in the $100 and under range. I received these as a free review sample, but they did not buy any special favors.
The build quality is not bad for a budget IEM. The cable feels nice and is fairly tangle free, as well as having only a small amount of microphonics. I did have an issue where the strain relief on the right earphone came loose and would slide up and down the cable, and for a while I left it that way as it helped me identify the right and left by feel in the dark. Eventually I glued the strain relief back in place. While doing that I discovered that the metal rod that the cable runs through could be unscrewed too easily from the earpiece.
Isolation with single flange silicone tips is decent like my Nuforce IEM with Shure tips, and more than my RE252, but less than my W1 with triple flange tips. They isolate enough to enjoy the music while sitting 3 feet way from a window air conditioner unit. They also came with a variety of tips and a nice case, but the medium silicone tips worked right away for me and I didn't bother with the rest.
GEAR USED: MAcbook Pro lossless music > Pico DAC > ALO Amphora, Macbook Pro > uDAC, uDAC-2 or DACport, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4.
EARPHONES COMPARED: Brainwavz M2 vs Brainwavz Beta, HiFiMan RE-2, Nuforce NE-6/7M, Maximo iMetal iP-HS-5, Denon C700, Westone 1, Westone 2, Westone 3, Monster Turbine Pro Gold, UE11Pro.
MUSIC USED: (24/96 only where noted, otherwise 16/44 lossless):
* Diana Krall - Live in Paris
* Peter Asplund - As Knights Concur
* John H. Clarke - Acoustic Guitar (bought off CDBaby.com)
* Nils Lofgren - Acoustic Live
* Tord Gustavsen Trio - "Restored, Returned"
* Esbjorn Svensen Trio - From Gagarin's Point of View
* Jimmy Cobb Quartet - Jazz in the Key of Blues 24/96
* Shelby Lynn - Just a Little Lovin
* Nancy Bryan - Neon Angel 24/96
* Wendy Sutter - Songs & Poems For Solo Cello
* Eva Cassidy - Live at Blues Alley
* Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra - Up Close 24/96
* Bill Evans - Waltz for Debby
* Carla Lother - 100 Lovers 24/96
* Infected Mushroom - B.P. Empire
* Bella Sonus - Enamoured
* Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams, On and On, and Sleep Through the Static
* Pink Floyd - Animals
* Orianthi - Violet Journey
* Black Eyed peas - The E.N.D.
* Katy Perry - One of the Boys
* Sade - Soldier of Love
* A variety of low bit-rate rock music downloads for my kids to look for issues
SOUND: I felt that they sound pretty nice right out of the box. They seem to have raised the bar for what I consider to be budget earphones. After just an hour of listening I was ready to say that these could easily sell for twice the asking price, and are a lot of fun to listen to. They made small improvements in refinement and bass control over the first 100 hours, but one could start enjoying them right away.
If I'm trying to describe the sound, it helps to compare them other earphones or headphones. I might call them the Denon D2000 or D5000 of the IEM world, but that may not be a perfect match as I'm working from memory of the Denon. The M2 frequency response was almost a perfect match for my UE11pro customs, minus the UE11pro's superior detail, air and extension in the highs, refinement and speed. But even the soundstage size seems to be of similar proportions. I actually went back and forth between my UE11Pro and M2 out of several amps after I heard this, and the biggest difference in the frequency response of the two is that the M2 are slightly darker or recessed in the highs than the UE11Pro. No, I'm not saying the M2 are as good as an over $1100 custom IEM, but if someone wanted to have an idea of the UE11Pro "flavor" I would tell them to try the M2 to hear the tone and balance.
In comparison to my Denon AH-C700 which I paid $199 for in 2007, the Denon sound thin and hollow in the mids with a brighter or even "tizzy-sounding" treble, only redeemed by their nice bass presence which isn't as well controlled as the M2. The Denon lack the rich vibrant mids and refinement of the M2, and are also not as efficient. However, comparing the M2 vs the Denon or Nuforce earphones does seem to make the M2 sound a little dark in the highs; maybe more from the sudden contrast, and having acclimated to the other IEM than a fault of the M2. But if I listen to the M2 first, then switching earphones makes the Denon and Nuforce sound bright and the M2 more normal instead. The Denon improve noticeably with Complys T400 foam tips, but not enough. The M2 are more fun and enjoyable with better bass control, cleaner richer mids, and smoother more refined treble than the Denon. Impressive for the low price.
In previous comparisons my Nuforce NE-6 and NE-7M also topped the Denon C700, so I also compared those to the M2. The NE-6/7M are a little more neutral and forward sounding than the M2. Although they may be slightly more accurate in frequency balance than the M2, they are not as much fun and don't disappear behind the music as well as the M2 do. The M2 seems to be more transparent in the sense of not calling too much attention to the mids or highs, although the bass is certainly tipped up in a fun kinda way and the overall sound is warmer (like the UE11Pro). The more forward upper-mids of the NE-6 and NE-7M bring some of the details of the background instruments out, but not necessarily in a way that allows the earphones to disappear when listening. This improved in the Nuforce earphones by switching from the stock tips to some Shure E2c tips, but not enough to overcome this.
Similarly, the Maximo iMetal iP-HS-5 (aka i590 for iPhone) and HiFiMan RE-2 were a bit colored in comparison, with a tilt toward the highs and details rather than the warm mids and bass of the M2. Although I have rated the Maximo on par with the Nuforce or HiFiMan RE2 (just with a different sound), and above the JVC Marshmallows and Aircushions or Brainwavz beta, they still fall below the new M2 for me when it comes to enjoying the music instead of listening to the earphones' sound. The area where the good budget IEM like Maximo or Nuforce surpass the M2 is in their bass detail and speed, but I prefer the additional impact of the M2 and less attention to detail when I want to have some fun with them. This was especially appreciated with low bit-rate downloaded music that my kids listen to.
I decided to compare the M2 to my Westone 1, since I hadn't listened to them in a while. They cost several times more than the M2, but I was running out of budget IEM to compare them to. I found the W1 to be better in neutrality, transparency and speed, but they were not as extended in the deep bass or treble as the M2. The M2's bass quantity is a bit higher and more impactful than the bass of the W1, but the W1 bass speed and definition is still noticeably better. Despite less bass presence than the M2, the W1 are a fairly warm sounding IEM and not out of character when comparing them to the M2. Their mids and highs were somewhat similar in volume, up to the limits of the W1's balanced armature. But the M2 have a little more sparkle/air/extension and a larger more spacious soundstage, while the W1 are more forward/intimate sounding and slightly muted in the ambience department.
The W1 are pretty good for single BA IEM, and they disappear better than the M2 or others when I listen to jazz and acoustic or string music, but the M2 were more fun for rock music or for listening loudly. For critical listening the W1 are a better choice, and more accurate most of the time. I wouldn't call the W1 a "fun" phone like the M2, and some listeners have described them as flat or boring at times. But the W1 also sound best when amped, while the M2 are less picky about that, and with a good amp the W1 shine better. Certainly the M2 can be more exciting and dynamic to listen to than the W1, especially unamped, but a similar thing could be said about the D2000/5000 vs the HD600/650. Being more fun with less power doesn't always make it a better choice for critical listening.
When bringing out the Westone 2 and 3, or even the Monster Turbine Pro Gold, the M2 began to sound more like a budget IEM. The M2 bass is more like the W3 or MTPG in quantity, but not in quality. And they just don't have the speed, detail or realism of the more costly IEMs that I tried.
SUMMARY: The Brainwavz M2 (aka Visang R03) are a nice sounding budget IEM which have a pleasing tone, fun bass impact, and good soundstage/image. They are a very clear upgrade to the wwww.MP4nation.com Brainwavz Beta that I reviewed previously, as well as more enjoyable than several other $40-$150 earphones that I own. They are not as accurate, fast or detailed as my balanced armature IEM or some of my dynamic IEM, but I also would not call them slow or veiled. Their biggest problem is with the slightly boosted bass that is somewhat less well controlled than I would like. They're not a giant killer and the sound is not perfect, but they don't do many things wrong - there are no big irritating peaks or troughs that would bother even the more discerning listeners. For those on a budget it would be well worth giving these consideration.
Pros - Bassy warm sound with nice forward midrange
Cons - Treble is a bit rolled off.
Well after a good lengthy burn in (100hrs or so) I feel I am ready to write my full review of the Brainwavz M2. I would like to thank MP4Nation for sending me a pair of the M2 to review. To make it clear, I received this IEM for free, in exchange for a review by me. I was clear with MP4Nation that I would be completely honest in my review, good or bad. To which they responded they would want it no other way.
Build wise I am very impressed with the M2. The aluminum housing is light and yet sturdy. The lip just past the tip nozzle makes proper insertion of this IEM very easy to achieve. This lip also makes this a bit of a shallow insertion IEM a design I prefer. The port hole on the IEM can cause wind noise if you happen to walk outside in an environment with lots of wind but this issue is not excessive. The cable is very sturdy and appears to be braided under its covering, I would say it’s one of the nicest cables I have seen in an IEM in this price point. My only complaint about the build of this IEM is the stem coming from the IEM housing, I find it sticks out at a bit of a weird angle whether wearing straight down or over ear. The stem issue makes this IEM less comfortable if you have anything being worn near the ear or if laying down in bed as the stem can be nudged, but this issue is only minor in my opinion.
The included tip selection with the M2 is nice. I do like the hybrid tips and feel they will work for most people. The added foam tip will work for those who like that tip style. My only issue with the tips stems more from what I have grown accustomed to with my other IEM’s. I have grown to prefer a more open nozzle tip as they seem to allow more treble, tame the bass down a bit, and open the sound stage as well as make the IEM slightly less congested. If anyone buys this IEM and has any of the issues I just mentioned, I suggest trying a wide nozzle tip before giving up on this IEM.
The included accessories with this IEM are also very good. I love the included semi-hard case, the shirt clip (excellent for cable management and reducing micro phonics) plus the included ear hooks (these hooks are soft and very comfortable and also reduce micro phonics putting Sennheiser’s offering to shame).
Speaking of micro phonics, the only time this really comes in to play is if you wear the IEM down versus over the ear. This includes the thumping micro phonics other IEM’s have from a person’s foot steps.
So OK enough about the cover of the book... WHATS THE STORY LIKE!
In some forum threads I have alluded to this IEM possibly being a nice budget conscious alternative to the Sennheiser IE8. After extensive listening and burn in, I would like to reiterate this position. If you’re looking for an IEM that is sonically similar to the IE8 and are on a tight sub $100 budget, then this IEM should be on your short list especially at the current $50 pre-order price. Does this mean it’s as good as the IE8? No, not really. I would say it does not quite have the same bass texture or treble detail and extension, or quite the same sound stage. But I do feel these areas while not as good as the IE8 are not too far behind the IE8 and at an eighth of the cost offer an excellent value. I also actually think the midrange of the M2 is more forward than the IE8 which in that one regard makes them better in my opinion.
Bass – I feel the bass of the M2 is nice and deep with plenty of impact. I did find the bass settled down a lot after the pink and white noise burn in, losing some of its impact. In my mind this change is positive as the bass no longer over whelms the music. I think the bass of this IEM is not the most accurate I have heard but do find it incredibly enjoyable. I also would say this IEM has a definite mid-bass hump making it a warm sounding IEM.
Midrange – I feel the midrange of the M2 is one (if not the) strongest aspect of the M2's sound. I love its forward, warm, and smooth nature. It adds a very nice touch to male vocals and guitars. The midrange simply places me in the music.
Treble – This is the one area the M2 is weak on. But I will say this is a matter of preference as well. I personally have been using a pair of Monster Turbine Pro Copper IEM’s as my main IEM for the past month, and they are what I would call a very neutral / bright IEM. So I do notice the lack of the treble sparkle and detail. Having said that I also own a pair of AT CKS70 and have owned several other sub-$100 IEM’s and have to say the M2’s treble is better than the CKS70, NE-7M, and every Brick and Mortar IEM I have tried that was under $100. So while it does not compare to a $500 IEM it’s not terrible by any stretch of the imagination.
Sound stage – The M2 is very strong in this area, while it is no IE8 beater, it holds its own very well. I find the sound stage to be quite wide and deep and I like that it fits the rest of the sound signature nicely in that no area of the sound signature feels out of proportion.
While I have my considerably more expensive MTPC’s that I use more often, I find I like wearing the M2 as it gives me a more laid back listening experience where I stop focusing on the detail and just get swept up in the music. I also like the fact I never feel fatigued after listening to this IEM.
Some of the genre’s I have been listening to are:
Classic Mid-late 70’s early 80’s rock (Eagles, Super Tramp, Meatloaf, Led Zeppelin, ACDC, Kansas) – The softer sounding groups like the Eagles benefit from the bass and warm sound signature, the grittier bands like ACDC and Led Zeppelin benefit from the more forward midrange for the guitars, Meatloaf and Super Tramp that feature quite a bit piano are a bit of a mixed bag as the lack of detail for piano is a bit more noticeable, Kansas features a fairly bright sound with a lot more synthesized music so I found this music to be not as detailed as I like due to the lack of treble. All vocals sounded awesome with this genre.
Celtic Music - (Loreena McKennit, Enya, various male artists). I found the warm nature of the M2 to fit with this genre fairly well making it sound OK but not quite as nice as more sparly IEM’s. The sound stage of the M2 also worked very well with this genre. Overall though, I prefer my MTPC ultimately for this genre. I suspect the RE0 may fit this genre better in the sub $100 range though unless you really like warmth over detail.
Jazz – (new to this genre so only have Patricia Barber to base my experience on). I found Patricia Barber’s “Modern Cool” to be a bit to bassy at times with the M2 but really enjoyed “The Cole Porter Mix”, from what I can tell the first album is a bit more “modern” or mainstream as compared to the second album which is more classical jazz. If you listen to jazz for detail I think you would want to move on from the M2, if you listen to be swept away the M2 may be just the ticket for you.
Classical – (Stringed Instrument and Choral) This is an area I am not conversant enough in to be able to point to specific pieces, musicians, or composers to be able to offer a lot of detailed information on. BUT I do like this both of these types of music. The M2 gives a decent portrayal of this music but does lose enough detail that I prefer my MTPC for these genres. But like Jazz I do find it easy to get swept away in the music.
Classical Full Orchestra – This music can get congested and again loses more detail than I like. But again is easy to just be swept up in the music.
If you have higher end IEM's that are neutral in nature and want a fun warm bassy IEM and are not concerned with some detail loss the M2 will fit the bill well for you. If your new to the IEM market and want a warm sounding IEM with good bass and midrange along with a fairly decent treble, the M2 should be on your shortlist as it offers alot of quality for the price.