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In-Ear item created by HiFiChris, Dec 14, 2016
Pros - Comfort, nice bass and treble, no amp needed.
Cons - Cable maybe
I´m a 38 year old father of 2 children who has a wife that is totally against anything that isn´t music out of the carstereo. I have been forced to sell my HIFI from Cerwin Vega, B&W and KEF speakers and move to portable audio and headphones to save my marriage.
I was given the chance to review the Brainwavz B150 and this review is based on my subjective listening experience and is not influenced by anything but the gear I have at my disposal and the music I´m listing too.
In this review, and all reviews I do, I use the same tracklist and listen for specific things in the tracks. I listen to different genres and try to keep a good mix of different types of music and sounds. All tracks are FLAC. The tracklist is as following;
⦁ Sun Kil Moon – Third and Seneca
⦁ In Flames – Ropes
⦁ Fleet Foxes – White winter hymnial
⦁ The Middle East – Blood
⦁ Niki and the Dove – Love to the test
⦁ Queen – Innuendo
⦁ A tribe called quest – Get a hold
⦁ Yanni – Adagio in C minor
⦁ Elvis Costello – Alison
⦁ Dave Matthews Band – Grey street
⦁ Etherwood – Cast away
⦁ Rage against the Machine - Vietnow
⦁ Drivers : Single Balanced Armature
⦁ Rated Impedance : 30 Ω
⦁ Frequency Range : 16 Hz ~ 22 kHz
⦁ Sensitivity : 105 dB at 1 mW
⦁ Cable : 1.3 m Y-Cord, Over the ear, OFC Copper
⦁ Plug : 3.5 mm, Gold plated
My review set of The Brainwavz B150 came in an ordinary white box so I don´t know how the retail one looks. What you do get on the inside is a lot of extra accessories and they are also very good for the price. You get;
3 x Pairs of Sony hybrid lookalike tips (S, M, L) (did not come with my review set)
3 x Pairs of Brainwavz own tips (S, M, L) (I received 5 pair red)
1 x Comply foam tips (these alone are like $13US in Sweden for the pair…)
1 x Shirtclip
1 x Velcro cable strap
1 x Branded Brainwavz earphone case
1 x User guide (did not come with my review set)
Build and Design
The Brainwavz B150 are made out of black lightweight plastic and are shaped to look like they are custom built to fit in the . They are not branded with “BRAINWAVZ” on the side like the S5 and they look a bit small at first. I´ll get back to this later in the review. They look a bit basic as they are all black. They look very elegant and “neat”. They do feel very solid and that is also how I would describe their looks.
Taking a look at the cable, it´s black, rather ordinary with a rubbery feel to it. I have learned that my review sample was from an early batch that has a different cable and a more transparent housing then the retail version. The retail will have a braided OFC cable much like the M100. Above the y-split the B150 comes with a basic rubber sheathed, thin strand of cable.
There is no remote on the cable, and to be honest, that´s not the end of the world for me. The cable also has excellent strain reliefs at all the danger areas so all in all I find the design ok. They are made to be worn over-ear and they can´t be worn cable down. The cable is not removable which otherwise seems to be a trend and I personally like.
Comfort and Isolation
I like iems and earbuds. I have about 30 in my possession at the moment and they range from small microdriver units to big bulky universals that cover your whole concha and will hurt your tragus badly. I haven´t tried customs and I´m not sure I ever will…
My main issue with iems are usually that I can´t get a good seal. I have BIG ears and well above average sized ear channels. Tip rolling is not something I do on occasion with new iems, I do it everytime and sometimes for hours to get that perfect seal and sound.
I don´t know what it is about Braniwavz iems but they really are easy for me to get an excellent seal with. I put on the standard large sized tips and they just loved me. We come together in perfect harmony. For me, the B150 are the one of the most comfortable earphones I have ever used. I honestly forget about them after wearing them for a while. They are smaller in size compared to my average iems but they are sooo comfortable. I wear them over-ear, of course, and the cable lays snug around the back of my ears. Isolation is also among the best I´ve ever tried. For me, they are very close to the isolation I get when using Comply and my Shure SE535.
I have to state this again. I find the Brainwavz B150, just like the B100, S5 and M100 to be extremely comfortable and a pleasure to wear.
I´ll be using a FiiO X7 with AM3 module as source and I´ll also hook up a VE Runabout 2.0 amp too. I also have an Oppo HA-2 dac/amp which I will pair with my Oneplus3 smartphone.
Straight out of the box I´m intrigued. Bass is fast with good punch. In my book just the right amount too. They sound fun which can be interpreted as “V”-shaped by many. I don´t think it´s fair to conclude anything out of the box so I had the B150 play music out my MacBook pro for about 50 hours. No special music just a random playlist and no “pink noise burn in”.
I find that the mids are very smooth and clear and that it brings out the vocals with detail and it´s much to my liking. They have warmth but not too much. I especially like how good it sounds with acoustic music from my tracklist above. Guitars and violins sound extremely good.
Fast and punchy! It doesn´t feel muddy or blur in with the mids. Bass has control and at no time do I feel it has any problems when playing faster and harder music like In Flames. It does not lack speed and has no some problem “keeping up”. Adding an external amp doesn´t really provide any benefit either. For both HipHop and EDM they sounded excellent.
I´m very sensitive to sibilance, I´ll just add that right away. The B150´s gave me no issues or problem whatsoever. I honestly even enjoyed the laid-back level of treble they provided, not fatiguing at all.
I´m a sucker for huge soundstage and airy atmosphere in music. The B150 are OK and average but they bring so much more to the table. I´d say it´s above average (like 5/10) and when I add the VE Runabout amp the B150 really does not benefit from it. They are easy to drive anyway both straight out of my phone and my FiiO X7.
A very pleasant surprise! I really think that Brainwavz have a gem here. The Brainwavz B150 is up to this date, my favourite iem from the company. They are well tuned, balanced and neutral and doesn´t add to much of its own signature to the music. I´d say these are an excellent buy for someone who wants a pair of iems that can play pretty much any type of music. There is no need for an amp so they should be interesting for a vast number of people. If you have large ears and feel fatigue wearing different iems these might just be the ones for you. I honestly think I´ll use these with my phone (Oneplus3 and Oppo HA-2 amp – used as DAC more than amp) and will keep them with me at all times in my pocket.
Pros - bass, extension at both ends, one of the most comfortable to wear.
Cons - Brainwavz!! are you listening!! We want detatable cables next..
After being tired of people, specially reviewers requesting Brainwavz to introduce new BA based earphones, (there was a rebranded dual BA we all loved!!) Brainwavz have introduced 3 BA based earphones, I reviewed the B100 recently and it was one of the best earphone one can buy for $60, you can have a look at it here is the link.
Spoiler alert :- If B100 is really really nice, believe me, B150 is better. And yes, you pay the premium.
Just like the 100, 150 too doesn’t have a MIC version, comes in black and looks exactly like the 100, priced 50 cents less than $110. Pandora even warned me to not to mix these two up but it's not that hard to tell them apart, how? I will tell you.
It's in a really busy segment for sure and will face competition from earphones like ETY HF-5, Vsonic GR-07, Dunu Titan-1, but the B150 has a place of its own and in my eyes I will pick this beauty over all of the above.
Before I tell you guys what this one doesn’t need to worry about competition and how it stands out let me first thank Pandora and Brainwavz for this beautiful earphone.
You can get one for yourself from these links:-
WHAT'S IN THE BOX, FITMENT AND MISCELLANEOUS:-
B150 comes with 7 pairs of tips out of which 6 are silicone single flanges and one comply T-100 tips, and "the all so familiar" carry case. There is a cable clip, cable tie and an instruction manual cum warranty card.
Now let me tell you how you can tell the B100 and B150 apart, B100 has a simple rubber coated cable, B150's cable is internally braided like the M1 & M-100.
I have to admit that this cable is really nice when it comes to microphonics, I loved it on the M100 and I am absolutely loving it here. Not bouncy, slightly rigid but still supple. Cable splitter is small and light weight and nicely stress relieved. There is Enough stress relievers at the 3.5mm jack to keep it safe. There are L/R markings on the front side of the earpieces but you don't really need that because wrong earpiece won't fit the wrong ear.
Ergonomically its one of the best earphones one can ever come across (in its price range at least, along with the B100). Sometimes I just forget that I am wearing this earphone, The least bothering earphone I have ever used. I can put it on, pull my upper ear, push the earphone in and it's done, no further adjustment required and its good for hours!! You can use it at your gym and still It won't give you problems, it’s the narrow and slightly longer nozzle which helps big time. Over the ear design with this awesome memory wire means it won't fall out easily. There is a cable slider too to make it even more tidy.
Isolation too is really nice. No complains here at all.
running the whole show is a single Balanced Armature driver. I am a fan of BA based earphones, they sound cleaner and clearer to me. B150 is better than most of the single BA earphones priced under $150, It might not be the most accurate earphone but its precise enough.
Most of the BA sound dry and lack the juiciness we find with dynamic drivers but B150 is not dry by any means. It has a potent bass with really nice and detailed mids with nicely balanced and equally energetic highs.
Sound signature is neutral with a hint of warmth. The best thing is its devoid of any type of coloration.
Even when specs suggest an impedance of 30ohm B150 doesn’t need any amplification to sound loud. Sounds fine out of my Vivo V3 and OnePlus 3T. I am using stock single flange tips for this review.
Just like its younger brother B100, B150 too has one of the best bass (quality and details wise) you can find in its price range, its juicy and meaty, slightly better than the B100 though. It has more than enough rumble and hits hard enough when required with good impact, moves good amount of air. B150 has slightly tighter bass, in other words it has slighter faster decay, now just to be clear, it still is not faster than other single BA earphones like Hisound HA2 or A151p 2nd gen or mostly any other single BA earphones.
Last BA earphone ( leaving the B100 out) I reviewed was Hisound HA2 which in my opinion is one of the best $100 earphones money can buy but the problem with it is that HA2 lacks the juiciness, body, the impact and the amount of air which the B150 is certainly not lacking.
B150 has awesome sub-bass presence, it goes really low for an single BA earphone and that too with sizeable impact, yes its size of sub-bass impact is slightly smaller than other sub-bass friendly earphones like meze-12 classic and 11 neo, but its far better than other earphones in its price range.
Mid bass and upper bass are tuned down slightly compared to the B100, maybe to give it a bit of cleaner presentation which we associate with BA earphones and it pays off. You are not going to miss any of the bass notes, it has more control and precision too.
Bass of B150 has plenty of details, its nicely rounded and wholesome when compared to other orthodox single BA earphones, and the best thing is it never fails to entertain.
(If I have to chose an earphone for its bass quantity, impact, extension, control and cohesion I don’t think I will chose any other earphone for under $150, its not huge but sizeable and more than that, satisfying)
One of the best quality bass I have experienced out of a single BA earphone. Double thumbs up from me.
theirs mid range is nicely balanced with the lower end, but where the B100 has a more for ward presentation, B150 has more balance to it. Unlike the HA2 or ETY HF5 who have an on your face kind of presentation when it comes to mid range clarity and details B150 has a softer and easy to swallow kind of presentation for an average listener. B150 is less harsh, it has good clarity and details with a slightly relaxed presentation, not like really relaxed, it still has the bite and sharpness that one expects from a BA earphone. Instruments like piano, trumpets, and other upper mid range instruments really shine and won't be so easy to overlook them.
There is good amount of details with vocals and are really really natural. Notes are nicely presented with awesome depth and sharpness. Male vocals sound thicker and shallower while female vocals are deeper and sharper. It has a livelier and more forward vocal presentation which makes things effortless. One just needs to sit back and enjoy the vocals.
This mid range has really nice clarity and transparency, its uncolored, ever so slightly on darker side but more like neutral. Compared to B150, HA2 is brighter.
It has better clarity, transparency and details compared to B100 but still not in the league of HA2 and HF5 when it comes to clarity. Those earphones use their drier and sharper notes presentation to sound clearer where B150's presentation is more rounded, less sharp and juicy.
The only problem I had with B100 has been addressed here, with the B150 instruments are well spaced, nicely layered giving it a bigger sound stage with awesome depth (better than most of the single BA earphones), good width and smaller than average height but still not small. Thanks to the increase in stage size everything sounds more intriguing. The best thing about this stage is that it doesn’t feel hollow at all like the Nebula one. ( which has a bigger stage but feels hollow).
For this price range I have to say.. With this sound stage.. It's one of the best earphone.
If the B100 was slightly on the energetic side, B150 is more balanced, not a single thing that pops over the line and it still has the required amount of sharpness, spark and energy intact making it one of the most detailed still inoffensive earphones. All the instruments let it be cymbals, trumpets, flutes, everything sounds clear and transparent and one won't miss a note for sure.
What really sets it apart is its extension which is awesome for an single BA earphone, better than the B100, A151p and even the HA2.
Layering and separation of instruments is really nice, thanks to the bigger than average sound stage, has plenty of details clarity and transparency making it one of the best earphones in its price range.
To be clear, it's one of the rare earphones which has no or rarely any shortcomings and kind of flawless. Yes its not as detailed as the HF5 or HA2 but it much more enjoyable and there is not a single thing one can point out and say " I am not really happy with this part or thing or the way it sounds" Nope, no, none. Its one of those earphones which has not done everything perfect, but its one of those which has everything going for it.
Testifying that is its awesome spectrum wide balance, bottom end with awesome sub-bass presence, Mids and Highs with plenty of details clarity and satisfyingly big sound stage, and you know that the best thing is the comfort and isolation which I don’t think I had ever experienced with an earphone before (bar the B100 which is the same thing when it comes to comfort, isolation and fitment).
one of the best earphones from Brainwavz till date (leave the B2 out here). Should be a no brainer for anyone who is looking for an earphone for about $100, and as far as I am concerned, one has to have it.
Finally.. Brainwavz "Catching fire.."
What I would like to change? Lesser bass quantity with faster decay, that’s all, for an average listener.. It's perfect. (maybe removable cables? Next time I think, let's not get too far ahead of us.)
For this price, you can't get an ETY ER-4XR can you? But you can buy this.
Cheers guys!! Have a Nice day.
Some more Pics!!
Pros - Lightweight and comfortable. Easy to drive. Balanced, mature sound. Bundled accessories.
Cons - Price compared to the B100
Brainwavz is a company that should be well known by now to anyone who's familiar with Head-Fi. Known for their excellent build quality and reasonable prices, Brainwavz should always be on your list of manufacturers to keep track of. Today I'll be looking at their recently released B150 single Balanced Armature over ear earphones.
This sample was sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions and observations here are my own, based on my experience with the product. I'd like to thank Brainwavz and Pandora for the opportunity to test the B150.
Also available on Amazon
Drivers : Single Balanced Armature
Rated Impedance : 30 Ω
Frequency Range : 16 Hz ~ 22 kHz
Sensitivity : 105 dB at 1 mW
Cable : 1.3 m Y-Cord, Over the ear, OFC Copper
Plug : 3.5 mm, Gold plated
Packaging and accessories:
Brainwavz have gone with a different kind of box compared to what I've seen from them in the past. It's a fairly minimalist design in black with red highlights. I quite like it although it might have been nice to see an image of the IEM somewhere for those who haven't had the opportunity to see pictures online.
Earphone Hard case
6 sets of Silicone Ear Tips (S M L)
1 set of Comply™ Foam Tips T-100
1 Shirt Clip
Velcro Cable Tie
Instruction Manual & Warranty Card (24 month warranty)
As always Brainwavz has an excellent accessories bundle full of useful items and devoid of any superfluous fluff. The Brainwavz carry cases are top quality and their elongated shape makes storing IEMs simple.
Build, comfort and isolation:
The B150 housings are made from a lightweight plastic and designed to be worn over-ear. They have a low profile making them unobtrusive and a wee bit stealthy to wear. The tops of the cable are preformed to fit over the ears and when done right I prefer this over memory wire. Oh and in case you're wondering - yes, these were done right. They hold the IEMs in position perfectly making insertion a breeze and providing a secure fit. Above the Y-splitter the cable is similar to the usual Brainwavz style of rubber coated OFC. The Y-splitter itself is well implemented and has excellent strain relief as well as a cable cinch/chin slider. Below the Y the cable is twisted and again rubber coated and it feels quite slick, sturdy and manageable. Where the cables connect to the housing there is good strain relief again, just as there is on the gold-plated, angled 3.5 mm plug. Unlike many of the Brainwavz IEMs the B150 does not have an inline control or microphone which doesn't bother me as I always use IEMs with a DAP anyway.
Are they comfortable? You bet they are. Just like the B100 the B150 give me a superb and excessively comfortable fit. The ergonomics are outstanding. Noise isolation is slightly above average due to the fit and shape of the IEMs and these are great for noisy environments or in transit.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
PC/MusicBee > Audinst HUD-MX2
The B150 is super easy to drive and doesn't require amping but of course will perform its best with a good DAP or DAC/Amp.
Soundstage isn't one of the B150's strengths, it being a little narrow but thankfully there's an airy lightness that gives you a sense of space and prevents things from feeling too intimate. Resolution and separation are really good and keep congestion at bay. The sound is sprightly and coherent with gobs of detail.
Bass is fast and tight as you would expect from a BA but it's also well rounded and has a fullness to it. There's enough impact present to make you take notice, even with EDM and bass driven music it doesn't feel lacking. Emphasis is more on mid-bass rather than the sub-bass but the B150 still has plenty of extension down below. In "2100" from the Rock The Jewels 3 album the bass drives the song along effortlessly and brings some rumble to boot.
The midrange is the standout feature of the B150, being forward and rich but still maintaining good separation and resolution. There's plenty of warmth throughout but the details remain intact allowing the listener to hear separate elements within the music easily. Vocals get the syrupy treatment here as well, both male and female voices come across smooth and lush with accurate tonality and realism.
Treble is well extended and clear, adding a lightness and sparkle to the presentation. It's very smooth and doesn't have any unwanted peaks or harsh roll-off. Even treble sensitive folks should be able to enjoy the highs here and at the same time hear the small details that come along with it. It's the icing on the cake, displaying real technical ability and refinement.
B150 vs Brainwavz B100 ($59.50 USD):
The two sound very similar with just a slight shift in frequency response between them and their construction, materials and accessories are identical. I'd say the B100 is a little more lively where the B150 is a little warmer with emphasis on mid-bass and lower midrange. Very difficult to pick a winner when it comes to sound as I find both shine in different genres (although both do well with all kinds of music). Yet the B100 is around half the price of the B150. Don't get me wrong, I still think the B150 is worth the asking price but you'd have to be looking for a very specific sound signature to make it seem practical to buy it over the B100. I think for the extra cost Brainwavz should give the B150 a detachable cable or metallic paint finish - something to justify the extra cost over it's direct in-house competition.
So does the B150 deserve a place in your collection? Let's see. Well comfort is ballstothewall, crazy good. The housings are lightweight and exquisitely shaped offering one of the best fits I've ever had with an IEM. Sound is balanced with smooth transients throughout the dynamic range, rich, warm and non-fatiguing. Build quality is good and there's the excellent standard set of Brainwavz accessories and their exemplary 24 month warranty. Regardless of that, the Brainwavz B150 is a stellar performer that along with the B100 has really made me a fan of single balanced armature IEMs and dispelled many of the myths I had associated with them in the past. You owe it to yourself to give these a listen.
Pros - All-rounder single BA sound; comfortable; good isolation
Cons - average build quality compared to other Brainwavz models; sub-bass
REVIEW: Brainwavz B150
Driver: Single Balanced Armature
Frequency: 16 Hz ~ 22 kHz
Sensitivity: 105 dB
Cable: 1.3 m Y-Cord, OFC Copper
Plug: 3.5 mm, Gold plated
Price: U$D 109.50 (MSRP)
Warranty: 24 months
6 sets of Silicone Ear Tips (S,M,L)
1 pair of Comply Foam Tips T-100 (red)
The B150 of the new Brainwavz Balanced Armature series arrives in a strictly over-ear design. The shells are rather compact as a single BA unit usually needs. The outer material is all plastic, decent, but about average for the current $100 standards; the own Brainwavz S series boosted a much impressive build quality and tougher design. The cable is quite standard, nothing impressive. The upper part is very soft and easy to handle but also thin and a proper strain relief is missing at the housings end. The half lower part of the cable is more solid, and despite carrying some of memory effect right out of the box, it tends to soften after some time. The plug is well covered and the angled shaped works well with every device.
The small design works pretty well with a low profile, lightweight and very comfortable over-ear fit. The thin nozzle means the earpieces should work well for even small ears, though the short length translates into a shallow fit. Being a single BA earphone, the isolation is quite good for daily commute and the fixed earguides helps a bit to keep the earpieces in place.
The BA~lanced Sound
Needless to remind you the ‘B’ on the B150 stands for Balanced Armature and definitely not for “bass” by any means. The B150, most probably using a common Knowles single BA driver, has the usual low end presentation. Both extension and impact are quite decent being a single BA, punchy, tight and very fast. There’s a little sense of warmth, but the main focus of the bass is towards the mid-bass, and still should be considered as linear and neutral or very (very) slightly north of neutral. Sub-bass is very limited, and to be honest practically non-existent; it’s audible, yes, but has no rumble or depth whatsoever. However, some EQ can help in this regard without distorting much the overall quality.
Like many single BA in-ear models, the midrange on the B150 is prominent and nicely tuned. It’s very forward, sweet and full from low to upper mids. The B150 still has an extra push towards the upper midrange giving vocals (mostly female) a very high priority over the rest of the presentation. Male voices are also full, but less dominant and more balanced with the rest of the sound. Accuracy and detail on the midrange is another strength on the B150, though instruments still don’t show the better timbre as dynamic drivers can offer. Clarity is good, though not up there with the old B2 from Brainwavz and there’s a slight hint of grain at the upper registers, mostly with brighter music genres.
Treble remains smooth and fairly extended, but lacks the endless reach and micro detail of more analytical sets as the R50, DBA02/B2 or Ety HF5. But then again, the B150 is not trying to challenge these upper sets, rather bring a richer and more friendly and forgiving presentation. Moreover, the B150 has enough treble energy, crispiness and sparkle for cymbals and string instruments.
The soundstage is very typical of low priced single BA driver, good width but just average depth and layering. Speed is very good but dynamics won’t win against a decent dynamic driver such as GR07 or MA750. Surprisingly enough, the B150 is not very source dependent, yet it shows better synergy with a warm sounding player and can even benefit from some extra bass boost.
Overall, the B150 is a good performer – well-balanced with decent bass presentation for a single BA at this price point. It’s obviously nothing that could be compared to a common dynamic driver, but has its own technical advantages in terms of speed and accuracy, smoothness and well-rounded gentle treble with a forward and detailed midrange. A more ‘Classic’ single BA type of sound that is warm and mid centric with a good vocal performance and resolution that you can expect from a balanced armature. The B series take a total different path from the old M series, and are also much more convincing than the S series in pure sound quality.
Pros - Mellow East going sound signature, Doesn't do too much wrong
Cons - Plastic Shell, Non Aggressive tuning?
I would like to give a special thanks to Pandora for having these sent out to me. I am not affiliated with Brainwavz in any way and this product was given in exchange for my honest opinion, whilst all of this will be subjective I try to give room to be able to write from an objective stand point.
Enough of the rambling I would like to start this review because it has been a while since I’ve been excited enough to not want to put an earphone down and the BA150 is one of those earphones that just does it for me.
Drivers : Single Balanced Armature
Rated Impedance : 30 Ω
Frequency Range : 16 Hz ~ 22 kHz
Sensitivity : 105 dB at 1 mW
Cable : 1.3 m Y-Cord, Over the ear, OFC Copper
Plug : 3.5 mm, Gold plated
Inside the Box
Earphone Hard case
6 sets of Silicone Ear Tips (S M L)
1 set of Comply™ Foam Tips T-100
1 Shirt Clip
Velcro Cable Tie
Instruction Manual & Warranty Card (24 month warranty)
This is just the one area where I felt the BA series was let down just a bit. Build Quality tends to be one thing Brainwavz does well from their typically beefy cables to their use of high grade metal, even in their lower tier earphones. Well maybe it was time for a change as the construction of the BA150, whilst solid, has been crafted out of a lightweight plastic with a thinner cable to boot.
Overall there isn’t anything special about these in terms of looks or build quality but I have a feeling all of this has been attributed towards the comfort the BA150 offers.
Speaking of ergonomics, the BA150 does a great job. They are tiny little earphones that have no problem melting away into your ear for extended listening pleasure. I haven’t found any need to rip open the Complys which are included in the box in fact I haven’t needed to change the stock silicon ear tips that came pre-installed. The overall comfort levels for me have been great, of course your mileage will vary.
If you are worried about these fitting snug I would write that concern off as they are very well designed. As for the build quality I wouldn’t recommend these for on the go listening or a hiking trip but for stationary commuting and home listening these should last the test of time if not Brainwavz have got you covered with 2 years warranty.
I can’t stop listening to Grime with these, something is telling me this isn’t natural for a single BA. Typically speaking you will get a significant lack of bass when a company opts for a single BA driver this is not what I am hearing. Praise where praise is due Brainwavz hasn’t always stood out to me as a lead competitor but I have always been fond of their tuning except for their attempt with the M100(Review found here). I am pleased to say Brainwavz went back to the drawing board with one and whilst I only have a vague memory of the original B2 I know it was a Marmite type earphone whilst still being a technical achievement it was a little too analytical for me.
Enter the BA150, this to me is a dream achieved if you ever wondered if a single BA could match a good single dynamic the answer is yes. To me there is so much the BA150 does well. Coherency, smooth, detailed, comfortable and enjoyable are just a few words that spring to mind. So, let us break this wonderful achievement down.
Insightful, delightful and full of meaning. It has been a while since I’ve heard such gentle detail presented in a BA more stunningly especially since a single BA is running the entire show. The treble and highs take a different approach to the conventional BA tuning so instead of hurling a ton of sharp information at your ears you get a gentle light touch of detailing caressing your ears as you listen in.
I am quite impressed, seeing as this is just a single BA driver the workload it’s carrying should surely mean it’s not as capable as it is. I very rarely find any passages in any song where I feel like the BA150 is seriously lacking. The treble isn’t particularly airy but it’s light on its toes. There is room for each instrument to breath and each detail spins and twirls as it envelopes you but as good as all of this is the cravat that comes in the form of that light touch.
Let me put it this way, you can watch a feather weight boxing match and be impressed with the speed and accuracy of each hit but on occasion you’ll miss the depth and thunderous hits only a true heavy hitter can provide. So as much as the BA150 is very capable it can lack some of the necessary weight needed to reproduce something that sounds full, dynamic and in some cases realistic.
This is a little more of a mixed bag because there isn’t anything that particularly stands out. The midrange is neither forward or recessed but with the airy and rich tone the BA150 conveys makes them sound a lot lusher than they are.
I am a fan of how Brainwavz typically tunes their midrange and this is no exception. The qualities that are attributed towards natural sounding earphones all fit in quiet nicely here. They aren’t quiet as forward or as inviting as the Primo 8 by Nuforce but they are heading in that direction if you’ve heard the Primo 8 this should give you a good idea at what I am getting at.
Due to the tuning and configuration of the bass and due to it being a BA setup I do sometimes find vocals coming across a little bit wispy but it’s not always a negative as some vocal tracks require a lighter touch and that really give the BA150 a time to shine. Not to exacerbate its flaws it’s just worth a mention, but with selected tracks you still get a bit of Brainwavz magic and something I am always delighted to hear.
I don’t call it little but I don’t call it big, the BA150 is the welterweight of bass. Quick snappy and nimble, but able to deliver a perceived impact when called upon. At first I was taken back by the bass thinking it was almost overly impressive considering its specs however with a bit more of an informative listen and with the honeymoon period over I can give a clearer impression of how the bass sounds.
That would be naughty but nice, the bass holds a good amount of depth and the sub bass and mid-bass really kicks it up a notch when needed. This is one of the cheekiest little BA earphones I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. Don’t get me wrong there a still a light nimble touch with the BA150 which can be missed but for the most part it handles the bass like a champ.
The sub bass is where I find the BA150 to stand out from a lot of its single BA competitors it just doesn’t shy away from this by trying to be natural or flat it is just flat out fun when you want it to be. There is a good amount of control there so don’t expect these to be bass canons but damn for anyone who enjoys a good rumble I can’t see how these wouldn’t satisfy your needs.
Spot on, a little narrow but considering how much else the BA150 does it’s expected to have at least one area where It does excel to the heavens and beyond. Fortunately, there is an ample amount of breathing room which give you a sense of space and the air between instruments really helps open things up.
Imaging isn’t the most coherent thing I’ve heard but it is accurate and you don’t need to strain to hear it, spatial cues are easily picked out from left to right and top to bottom, you get a good depth to the sound and imaging which makes them a real pleasure to listen to.
Despite it not being the tallest or deepest soundstage I’ve heard, the BA150 does a remarkable job or replicating and presented the information it’s being fed and stays away from sounding like a very ‘in your head’ kind of earphone.
So, for my final thoughts would I pick these up for myself and would I recommend them? Hell, yes, I would! Brainwavz have truly earned this, 5 stars and it’s been a long time coming! I truly love these little things everything to the light housing to the perfectly well balanced sound is just a sheer delight.
For the money, they are a steal and I can’t wait for them to bring out their two-driver model. In my opinion these are a hit, whether you just want a new pair of earphones or you are looking for an introduction to BA styled earphones, these are a great choice and I can’t recommend them highly enough. Great job to Brainwavz who have really accomplished something special with these and once again I would like to thank Pandora for sending these out to me.
If you feel like I’ve missed anything out or would like me to answer any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will do my best to get back to you. Thanks for reading.
Pros - Detailed but mellow signature makes for easy listening - Comfort
Cons - Perceived value, in particular vs. B100 - Thin cable above y-split
Today we are going to be looking at the second in Brainwavz's new balanced armature (BA) lineup; the B150. The B100 was great, and the B150 is too.
Brainwavz has been around for a while now and is well known on Head-fi for offering high quality earphones at low prices. The S5 is one of my personal favorite single dynamics and for just under 100 USD gives you amazing build quality, durable materials, a great accessory kit, and a very competent, reasonably balanced sound. This is an experience that for the most part bleeds down through the lineup, even to the entry level Omega. While Brainwavz has offered a number of competitive products at various price points for years now, there has been one notable omission since the discontinuation of their dual-BA earphone, the B2; they have all used dynamic drivers (DD).
All that changes with their new balanced armature lineup. First we have the single armature B100 which I reviewed here (http://www.head-fi.org/products/brainwavz-b100-balanced-armature-earphone/reviews/17800), next is another single armature in the form of the B150 which we're looking at today, and finally there is the B200 dual-BA model.
Let's take a closer look at the B150 to see what makes it's single BA so good.
I would like to thank Pandora and Brainwavz for sending over a pair of the B150 in exchange for a fair and impartial review. These is no financial incentive in place for writing this review, though I am not required to send the B150 back. All opinions and thoughts within this review are my own, and are not representative of Brainwavz or any other entity.
The B150 is now on sale and retails for 109.50 USD. You can check it out here: http://www.brainwavzaudio.com/products/b150-balanced-armature-in-ear-earphone
A Little About Me:
Over the last couple years I decided to dive head first into the world of portable audio. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI's multi-earphone review thread, reviews from other established reviewers, and thus being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own. Fast forward a couple years and I've had the opportunity to write about some great products for wonderful companies like RHA, Havi, FiiO, NarMoo, Brainwavz, Meze and many more. I don't do it for money or free stuff, but because I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to an earphone that makes them happy, I'll consider that a job well done and payment enough.
The gear used for testing was an HTC One M8, an XDuoo X3 (Rockbox update) , a Topping NX1 portable amplifier, and my aging Asus G73 gaming laptop paired with the NX1 or Plantronics Rig USB amp. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures, I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even mid-range response, and reduced mid-bass. My favorite in-ear, the Echobox Finder X1 with grey filters is a good example of this.
Packaging and Accessories:
The B150 shows off a new design language for Brainwavz's packaging, one in which I quite like but that isn't without a couple niggles worth mentioning.
The exterior box is a nicely textured black and red with Brainwavz on the front in all caps at the top left hand corner. B150 is printed in large, glossy red font dead centre. This appears both front and back. On the front in the bottom left corner you are provided a limited amount of information about the product inside; balanced armature, high fidelity audio, clarity and detail, and that it uses an over the ear design. Other than the 24 month warranty information and notification that Comply eartips are included, you are provided nothing more about the product.
Open the top flap you are greeted with plastic tray holding the case which contains all the goodies. Inside is;
- B150 earphone
- three pairs of silicone ear tips in small, medium, and large sizes
- A set of Comply foam tips (T-100)
- a shirt clip
- a Velcro cable tie
- instruction manual and warranty card
Given the slender nozzle, the B150 won't be compatible with a wide variety of tips. Therefore, it's a big plus that the included sets use a very high quality silicone, are comfortable, and seal well. I wish the tips were red like they are on the preproduction B100 unit I received, but that doesn't diminish from the B150 experience at all.
There are two qualms I have with this simplified unboxing experience. The first is that there is no viewing window for the B150. If buying online, not a problem. If the average consumer walks into a store to get the B150 they'll have no idea what it looks like unless they researched it beforehand. That could be an instant turnoff. Second, the plastic tray inside is actually a little too large for the exterior box. When it arrived it was literally bulging at the seams. When I cut the security seals the bottom flap burst open. This is definitely nitpick, but it was just something odd to run into.
At this price I would expect some additional gear, especially given the B100 comes with the same kit at nearly half the price. That said, the quality of what's included is excellent and works perfectly so I'm not taking anything away for this. I would like to see Brainwavz update the packaging with a viewing window or image of the B150 printed somewhere so they know what they're getting, and maybe shrink the inner plastic tray so it actually fits properly inside the package.
Build, Design, Isolation, and Comfort:
One aspect of nearly every Brainwavz product I've tried that has impressed is build quality. They generally use durable cables that are well-relieved and strong materials for the earpieces. While the B150 is certainly not poorly built, it uses the same materials as the B100 and comes across as one of the less rugged models in the Brainwavz stable.
Starting with the earpieces, you immediately notice that they are are tiny and composed of very light, glossy plastic. They remind me of a scaled down VSonic VSD3 with elements of Mazda's Nagare styling language tossed in. They're subtly attractive in that from a distance there doesn't seem to be much to their design, but up close you get to enjoy sweeping lines and subdued creases encompassing the length of the ear piece. The nozzles are also plastic and quite slender. I'm always optimistic that manufacturers will build in some extra strength when using such thin nozzles, but I'd still be careful not to sit on them or put undue pressure on it.
The braided OFC cable below the y-split is the same as the one used on the M100, which is to say it's excellent. Out of the box it's full of kinks but that quickly works itself out leaving you with excellent tangle resistance, next to no memory, and good flexibility. Above the y-split things are a little more traditional with a basic rubber sheathed, thin strand of cable. The sheath feels tough enough to provide some protection from tugs but I'm not planning on testing that anytime soon. Relief is excellent at the 45 degree angled jack, leading into the y-split, and heading into each ear piece.
Isolation was surprisingly poorer than expected. Not bad by any means, just not as good as a sealed housing, single BA unit could be. It was fine for around the house, but walking around downtown I had no issues hearing vehicle noise around me. Things definitely improved with the foam tips, so that would be the way to go if isolation is a priority.
Comfort is simply outstanding. The nozzle exits at a logical angle, the ear pieces weigh next to nothing, the cable is light, and the guides carry them smoothly around your ear and out of the way. As a wearer of glasses these built in guides can often be a pain, but Brainwavz did an excellent job in choosing the right material and shape for theirs. Top points for comfort!
I would have liked to see the noticeable improvements in quality over the B100 given the price difference, but overall the B150 is well built and extremely comfortable. Just try to avoid tugging the cable too much as it's a little thin above the y-split.
Pairing/Amping: I liked the B150 through everything I tried, though I did prefer them filtered through my NX1. It seemed to give their mid-bass presentation a bit more punch.
Tips: The included foams tips sounded good, as did those that came with my DIY SE215 Special Edition, though they took out a bit too treble for my preferences. There was no noticeable change in signature with the silicone tips from the DIY or those provided with the ADVANCED Model 3. In the end, I stuck with the pre-installed medium tips primarily for comfort, convenience, and because I like a bit of extra energy up top.
When I first listen to a single BA unit, past experiences and the wide variety of reviews I've read lead me to expect a treble heavy, mid-range focused sound. The B150 surprised with it's robust, punchy bass, and smooth, rolled off treble presentation. It earns it's keep with a fairly warm, mid-range and mid-bass focused signature that offers up solid detail top to bottom and an intimate soundstage. Their sound is a little thin up top but as you progress into the mid-range and bass it thickens and has more body.
The treble presentation is pretty laid back and to my ears does not stand out over the rest of the frequencies. It is tight and precise with good detail, though the relaxed nature does mean you have to listen for the more intimate details on some tracks. It also feels like it starts to roll off a touch early. I think this gives them a more natural and less fatiguing presentation than their less expensive sibling, the B100, but at the same time is less entertaining. They lack the toe-tapping quality that I loved so much on the B100.
The mid-range is where the B150 really stands out. Vocals are prominent and presented close to the listener. Both female and male vocalists are equally well-presented, benefiting greatly from the warmth that the B150 displays. Guitars and other instruments ring clear as day with lots of emotion and feeling. Something I wanted from the B100 was additional weightiness in the mid-range, and the B150 delivers.
I found bass on the B150 lacked balance and focused too much on mid-bass presence. As a result, it feels like it rolls off too early lacking the extension and occasional hint of rumble the B100 can produce. Still, it's presentation is quite punchy and quick though with an experience more akin to what you expect from a DD than a BA.
I found the soundstage to be decently open, but fairly intimate due to the forward nature of the mid-range. Sounds carry nicely around you but lack the distance and spaciousness of the B100. This was especially noticeable playing Dirt Rally where the cockpit felt a touch cramped. Engines backfiring and exhaust popping sounded magnificent though! Separation is still top notch however, and I never felt like effects were blending into each other. Everything remained distinct.
Overall the B150 came across as a pleasant earphone. Their smooth, warm signature makes for good long-term listening at the expense of the raw clarity and detail you find in the B100.
Brainwavz B100 (59.50 USD): When I first popped in the B150, I thought they sounded strikingly similar to the B100. While they undoubtedly share a general tonality and some characteristics, they are certainly not the same. To my ears the B150 is a touch more refined all-around with a more relaxed treble presentation. Focus is placed on a more lush mid-range and stronger mid-bass punch. This leads to a less open and more intimate soundstage and what comes across to me as reduced extension at either end, though this could just be those outlying frequencies being overshadowed. Detail and clarity on both seems nigh identical. Same with imaging and placement performance.
What I don't understand is why there is such a vast difference in price between these two models. The B150 doesn't really perform any better and sounds remarkably similar but with a light shift in frequency emphasis. It feels like choosing between the two would come down to signature preference. For my preferences, the B100 would be the one to get. I find it's upbeat presentation exciting and more musical; the price helps too. That said, I find the B150's slightly warmer, smoother presentation appealing for longer listening sessions and vocal-focused tunes. They're both so good! Argh!!!
Havi B3 Pro 1 (~59 USD): Havi's offering has been a budget audiophile staple for a while now, and for good reason. Paired with the right gear and enough power, you get a cavernous soundstage (though lacking depth I found), strong technical ability, and a slightly warm, neutral, balanced signature. The B150 provides a similar experience but is a little brighter, has more mid-bass presence, and a notably more intimate soundstage. I found it's technical abilities to exceed the Pro 1's while maintaining that same easy listening quality.
The B150 is much easier to drive and doesn't run into distortion when EQ'd like the Havi. I also feel the B150 sounds cleaner at higher volumes. Brainwavz's offering is also easier to seat for a comfortable, hassle-free fit. The Pro 1 is a somewhat odd shape which combined with a shallow fit can cause troubles for some.
Both are wonderful sounding and very capable earphones. While the B3 is the more neutral and balanced of the two, the B150 brings with it greater versatility and detail.
Blue Ever Blue 1200EX (130 USD): The 1200EX is a stellar single driver earphone. Compared to what I've heard, at 130 USD it doesn't have much competition. The B150 makes a strong case for saving yourself a few bucks, however.
The 1200EX is balanced more like the B100 with more prominent treble and dialed down mid-bass. As a result, the B150 is warmer, it's strong mid-range has more presence, and it's bass more impact. The B150's treble offers up nearly as much detail but is better controlled. Bass on both is snappy and precise, but the 1200EX's sub-bass extension is sorely missing from the B150. I personally prefer the B150's mid-range which is thicker and more weighty. The 1200EX's soundstage and imaging is a step above the B150's and is one of their greatest strengths.
In the end both are very capable and worthy purchases. I feel that choosing between the two would come down to signature preference and intended use. The B150 is easier to drive, more ergonomic, more comfortable, and as a result is better for mobile use. The 1200EX brings to the table slightly more detail and a significantly more open soundstage, but it also might also be a tad bright for those wanting something leaning towards a more neutral signature.
The B150 is a stellar earphone. When you take into account that it's using only a single BA, it's even more impressive. Their treble is mellow but still quite detailed and accurate. The mid-range is lush and weighty. It's bass is quick, punchy, and warm. They are extremely comfortable and are easy to drive from a cellphone, so they're great when on the move. I only have two concerns, one of which is the thin cable above the y-split. Time will tell if that's going to be just fine, or if it will be a failure point.
My second concern is price. While I think the B150 is priced fairly and in line with the quality of sound produced, I just can't tell what it is that justifies the extra 50 USD over the B100. Performance is on par, build is supposedly the same, and the accessory kit is identical. The B150 is a bit smoother, slightly more refined, and doesn't seem to be as sensitive to the chosen source, but it gives up soundstage and detail in the process. I generally consider those pretty valuable attributes in most cases. Since value is personal and what I look for might not be what you consider in a purchase, you can decide for yourself if those small differences are worth stepping up to the B150.
In the end, just as with the B100 I think Brainwavz nailed it with the B150. It's an awesome earphone with a lot going for it, and is quite competitive with with other products in it's price range. Great job Brainwavz!
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Aesop Rock - Saturn Missles
BT - The Antikythera Mechanism
Daft Punk - Touch
Gramatik - Bluestep (Album Version)
Incubus - 2nd/3rd/4th Movements of the Odyssey
Infected Mushroom - Converting Vegetarians
Infected Mushroom - Deeply Disturbed
Infected Mushroom - The Legend of the Black Shawarma
Jessie J - Bang Bang
Kiesza - Hideaway
King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black
Pink Floyd - Money
Run The Jewels - Oh My Darling (Don't Cry)
Skindred - Death to all Spies
Supertramp - Rudy
The Prodigy - Get Your Fight On
Pros - Great bass, up-front midrange, and the treble is extended
Cons - Durability might be a concern
Drivers Single Balanced Armature
Rated Impedance 30 Ω
Frequency Range 16 Hz ~ 22 kHz
Sensitivity 105 dB at 1 mW
Cable 1.3 m Y-Cord, Over the ear, OFC Copper
Plug 3.5 mm, Gold plated
Warranty (24 month warranty)
Happy New Year and welcome to 2017. This year brings some new gear among this the Brainwavz B150 which is a single-driver balanced armature IEM. The B150 delivers deep impactful bass, an enjoyable and up-front midrange, with enough extension into the treble to reproduce cymbals and chimes without hiding them or killing them off.
The B150 keeps the usual Brainwavz benefits. A cable cinch, a shirt clip, the 45-degree angled jackplug, and many tips including a pair of red Comply foam tips. Also included is a hard carrying case that can fit easily into a large pocket or a backpack. What I enjoy the most about the aesthetic design is the small driver body and narrow nozzles which make it one of the most comfortable IEMs I have reviewed. If you have large ears you may find the fit difficult because the housings are small.
The cable splits into a Y about 8 inches from the IEMs and this is where the cable cinch is hidden. Stemming out of each IEM is a 2-inch strip of memory cable which adds to the durability and makes wrapping the cable up and around the ear easy. I had no problems plugging the jack plug into any of my devices including an iPod Touch and various adapters. The cable is also minimally microphonic. This is quietest cable I have seen from Brainwavz.
I hesitated to review the B150 because the M100 sounded terrible and made me lose faith in Brainwavz. Quality Control should have easily prevented the M100 from reaching market. It was too bassy, no upper treble, and included a terrible mic. It was so bad that I felt obligated to review it and keep people from investing in such a poorly made / designed IEM. The B150 I can proudly report has none of the aforementioned issues.
Unamped: Oddly some IEMs sound better unamped. Perhaps this is because it allows the IEM’s sound signature to be over-emphasized which if done well is great when listening to a portable. Travel is rarely the ideal place to conduct critical listening so I prefer a little emphasis on the bass and treble without overbearingly messing with the midrange. The B150 does sound more fun unamped. The bass is more loose and impactful, but the midrange develops some uneveness unamped so it is a definite trade off. Luckily the treble extends enough to catch the metallic sound of a guitar string, cymbals, and chimes. The IEM does not lose that all important detail.
I grabbed my iPod Touch and immediately turned on Cateau Marmount by Masion Klaus from the Solar Apex –EP. Something did not sound right so I slowly crept up the volume and at about 50% volume this track came alive. It remained engaging and the detail of the guitar, the up-front midrange, and treble all delivered the emotional response that this track encompasses. The B150 is like the Sennheiser HD650 and D600 in that it needs a little more volume to sound its best so be sure to turn it up a bit to get the most out of it!
How low does the B150 rumble? Kick on Unearthly by Mahoroba on the Space Fly. Vol, 1 –A Magic Chill Trip ( by Frank Borell ) to find out. The low notes will give your ears a nice refreshing oscillation. Perhaps too up-front for some listeners the B150 may sound fatiguing at higher volumes with certain tracks, but nothing that cannot be attenuated with a click of the volume button.
Does it deliver a distortion-free midrange? For this I turn to Maroon’s Can’t Stop on the It Won’t Be Soon Before Long album. This track I always use to test midrange issues especially on multidriver IEMs. If there’s a crossover issues or there is excessive distortion this track will reveal it. I am happy to report that it sounds clear albeit a wall of sound, but no distortion detected!
Now, how about the treble? Lose the chimes? In Entry into the Great Hall / The Banquest from the Harry Potter Soundtrack the chimes are easily heard over the rest of orchestra. Even some of the reverb is picked up which is unusual for a bassy IEM like the B150. You are not going to be missing much on the high end with this IEM so be sure to throw any type of music at it.
Amped: I drove the B150 with the BUDA amp fed via a Schiit Bifrost DAC. This is my end game setup as I found it performs at extremely high levels. I first selected low gain mode because the impedance is only 30 Ohms and the sensitivity a healthy 105dB / mW. Strangely I found the volume knob creeping up almost to 50% with most reference tracks. I wonder if the sensitivity is not a little lower than Brainwavz is reporting because at 105dB / mW the volume should not need to be this high.
Listening to Damien Rice’s O (Deluxe Version) on the Older Chests album reveals harshness in the midrange not heard on a portable. Swapping to medium gain smooths out the midrange issues and adds some fun to the bass. I recommend playing with the gain settings on your amp to get the most out of the B150 especially if you prefer a more fun-sounding IEM over something more critical. Certainly there are times for either.
I do prefer the B150 from a portable, but it does sound good enough to be trusted through a good amp. I would not hesitate to listen to it in either instance, but if you are after a more fun sound go portable.
I find it relevant to mention possible durability issues with the B150. Although it does attempt to strain relieve the cable both at the jackplug and IEM body I feel that the there should be more reinforcement in these areas for a $100+ IEM. I fear that users on the move may snag the IEM a few times and ruin the cable which is sadly the fate of so many good sounding IEMs. The design is unlikely to change so I really would like to see the price fall to $75 where I find the B150 more suited due to the durability concerns, but the sound is well worth the $109 price tag.
If like me you were burned by the Brainwavz M100 and hesitate to give anything new a try the B150 should be on your “last try” list. With its wonderfully fun and balanced sound signature, although mildly bassy at times, it competes well against IEMs at twice its price like the Telos Acoustics Fujisan. The tip selection is excellent and accessories thought out. No mic is included so even though you cannot make calls with the B150 you also do not have to worry about trying to communicate with a bad mic. The B150 is a music lovers IEM. If you are extra hard on your gear you may want to shy away from the B150 as it does feel light in the durability department, but if you take care of them and keep them gently tucked away in the hard case when not in use I see no reason they will not last a few years.
Pros - Well thought out design, Great comfort and fit, Solid build quality, well balanced and mature sound.
Cons - Won't fit many tips you may have, Upper cable past the Y is a bit thin.
Brainwavz kindly offered me a B150 prototype for review. Thanks goes out to them! I have reviewed quite a few of the Brainwavz products in the past but it has been a long time since I have heard an armature model from them. I was very happy to get a chance to hear the B150. I didn't get any packaging and heard that the red silicone tips I received may be black for the production model. Not sure if they are identical except for color. Brainwavz always mentions that they may change the accessories at any time if they need or wish to.
The B150 can be found here...http://www.brainwavzaudio.com/products/b150-balanced-armature-in-ear-earphone
They are part of the new armature range that will consist of the lower B100, the B150, and the dual armature B200.
Drivers : Single Balanced Armature
Rated Impedance : 30 Ω
Frequency Range : 16 Hz ~ 22 kHz
Sensitivity : 105 dB at 1 mW
Cable : 1.3 m Y-Cord, Over the ear, OFC Copper
Plug : 3.5 mm, Gold plated
Earphone Hard Case
6 sets of Silicone Ear Tips (S/M/L)
1 set of Comply™ Foam Tips T-100
1 Shirt Clip
Velcro Cable Tie
Instruction Manual & Warranty Card (24 month warranty)
First I'll talk about the included accessories listed above. The usual solid Brainwavz set for the most part. A sturdy clip, tips, velcro cable tie and paperwork. I like the case. The first time I have had the newer skinny case. Still in the red/black color scheme it is slender and nicely ergonomic. Good to wrap your hand around and fit in pockets yet still carry all you need. Wish they would drop the extra zipper pull which can come in handy on a suitcase or large case but not really needed here. The tips I have are red and I would have liked them to be a bit firmer as they make the bass a bit softer/less tight than the Comply and others I tried on the B150. Still nice tips and if the same as the black they are good tips. I like the Comply on this earphone. They don't fit me that deep on the B150 but do give a clean, transparent, and extremely cohesive sound. A solid accessory set that includes more than some sets in the price range and less than some others but doesn't leave you lacking anything and all things, esp. the tips, work well with the B150.
DESIGN and BUILD QUALITY
The B150 design is quite well thought out. You still have the long slender oval Y which is low profile yet easy to handle. The forty-five degree plug is a good size and easy to grab with a good depression for the fingers and thumb to grip it. Might like it better as a RA though. The cable is nicely done. The bottom is braided then sheathed over in a rubber that is a bit smoother than the upper part. After the Y the cable is thinner and is more sticky, for lack of a better word, which is nice to hold both the chin slider and the over ear guide portion in place well. Nice thinking though the upper part is thin enough that I find it wedges itself in the teeth of open zippers of jackets and hoodies so keep an eye on it. The over ear guide portion is one of the better implementations I have seen. Pre-shaped, thin, a great length, and the more sticky sheathing make it work really well even with glasses. Better w/o a memory wire inside. Also better than other implementations like the Alpha & Delta D2 which is a bit long and doesn't have a real set shape nor sticks to the ear as well. I like the somewhat kidney shaped housings of the B150. Small and fits in the ear very well. Plastic is faceted a bit if you look close and the plastic feels sturdy with no give when pressed on firmly. Reliefs are small, stay out of the way and are quite stiff. Nozzles are thinner but seem strong enough. Thinner means many of the wider bore tips won't stay on but little adapters can be fashioned if you are so inclined! The overall build of the B150 is fairly sturdy outside of the thinner upper cabling.
FIT and COMFORT
As for fit and comfort, the B150 gets high marks. A great shape and small size should fit in most ears very nicely. The shortness of the strain reliefs means they won't touch many ears; just the pre-formed over ear portion will touch the skin. The B150 nozzles don't go very deep so they are less intrusive in the canal than some other thin straight barrel designs will. The B150 still can give well above average isolation. It will fall short of the best isolating models but enough for most to be happy with.
On to the sound. We do part from the Brainwavz dynamics here. Those usually have some area they falter in. Too much mid-bass or not enough mids or whatever. The B150 offer a complete, refined, and mature sound. They do everything you'd want and have no real flaws. There is the current hybrid craze so an $100-ish single armature may not excite at first glance but they get to be small and have no crossover worries and the B150 are nicely cohesive and there are zero worries about an inconsistent tone or bad F.R. overlap here. First thing to note, to my ears, is the Brainwavz house tone is in the B150. I think it imparts from the cabling they use. Unfortunately it is hard to describe and more something you recognize when you hear it. I recognize it from most of the other dynamic models. I also don't remember it back it the B2 which used a different cable. Just a distinctive trait and nothing negative.
I found the B150 to be good across multiple sources and quite easy to drive. They do not require amplification at all but will scale some being a bit more open/airy and quicker with transients. I found they take to EQ nicely. A bit sensitive with tips as far as bore size altering stage height and tip firmness helping bass tightness and impact.
Overall the B150 are about great balance in all things. Detail is evenly balanced across the range. The frequencies are well balanced across the range and nothing tries to take the focus for itself. The ends are evenly balanced as well with extension being very similar on either end. Roll-off is also similar on the highs and lows. The extension is nice for the price as is the overall technical ability. Again, the B150 is an earphone that does very little wrong and only doesn't do as much or do all things as well as pricier models may.
The overall presentation is again cohesive and about balance. Front to back, bottom to top is nicely even regarding width, height, and depth. The ear tips do affect the presentation the B150 give. Wider bore will sound bigger and I hear the Comply as bigger than the silicone tips. Stage is a good size with the right tips and can be more immersive with the good cohesion. You don't hear more width or height or lack of depth that sticks out and takes any focus from enjoying the presentation. Just a good rounded off stage with very accurate placement of voice and instruments. You put them in and they sound "right" and "correct" which is a nice trait to have.
The bass on the B150 is a solid thing. The armature bass conception is persistent but doesn't follow here. True the B150 is not a punchy dynamic driver but the bass has a nice balance of bass traits. There is solid extension, good detail, some speed, and even some impact with a good seal. A closer to neutral bass that is clean, clear, even, and nicely resolving so still armature but not lacking and has presence enough to be a solid foundation. So, I find the B150 will work with most devices regardless of signature. A leaner source need not be avoided. There will still be bass with good qualities. Of course the basshead crowd would need EQ to get close to what they want. The bass head crowd would more likely go for Brainwavz dynamic models. The B150 is some of what you would expect an armature based earphone to be but isn't one to be scared off due to lacking anything down low.
The mids on the B150 have a nice little bit of warmth and weight. Been liking radio and podcasts more than I first thought while using the B150. Again a balanced performance with male and female voices and good balance in being neither recessed or forward. vocals sit well in the mix and take their place nicely and perform well. Nice separation and placement of vocals that as again "correct" and "right". Good mid clarity and details in songs, podcasts, and radio broadcasts. I think they even present the room a bit better than many similarly priced earphones as far as mids/vocals. Accurate portrayal of voices, where they come from, and the distance between them when there are more than one. Just like the bass head might go elsewhere for big bass, if you want lush and syrupy sweet vocals you may want to look elsewhere but I still think most all vocal lovers will like what the B150 bring in the midrange.
The high end is a nice surprise. What to expect from the middle model?? I wasn't sure when I heard they had one more B150 lying around for me. The B150 again try for balance and are not trying to impress with treble reach and sparkle. The treble reaches enough to not be lacking at all but keep all the info and detail you'd like to hear for a hundred dollar earphone. They do it with a very smooth roll off that is well done. They do it with a smooth peak free response that makes them very well behaved. you can play with EQ and tips and still never encounter bad peaks and sibilance. It just tries to stay polite. Smooth and competent. Tone and timbre are nicely done. Natural sound on cymbals and other high notes. The treble probably won't wow you but you should come to appreciate it. Again something I had concern for as a podcast and radio listener. Something I had concern for if using my Cowon w/o an amp since it brighten as you crank the volume. The treble is a very good generalist that can sound satisfying on a minidisc Atrac compressed file(dulls the highs) or a badly recorded podcast that can be harsh. The treble has a solid amount of detail but again not trying to sparkle and throw detail in your face. You look for it and it is there kind of thing. The same good spacing and placement like the mids and bass is here as well. Again well done. Perhaps the treble head will want to EQ or perhaps have another couple armatures in their phone. Still a well done and problem free treble presentation striking a balance of good behavior and technical ability.
The release of a $110 single armature phone in the current climate of hybrid mania could be a tough sell. Of course those who know better understand it is more in the implementation and driver type or combination does not guarantee a well done earphone. The B150 doesn't have the cache hybrid seems to have atm. Only has one driver. Yet the execution is just where the B150 has succeeded. It is a well done earphone. Great size and good fitting with high comfort. Not out to wow you but will satisfy you with a competent and complete sounding performance that may surprise when comparing to quality earphones. Then they may just show you how good a little earphone they are.
Pros - Superb sound for a single driver BA, Very comfortable, No mic (a plus to me personally), Brainwavz great warranty
Cons - Cost compared to some recent multi-driver IEM's, Build materials compared to other IEM's in price range.
Disclaimer: Brainwavz sent me this pair for my review and honest feedback.
Caveat: I am a big fan of the Brainwavz house sound so bear that in mind when reading my review.
Starting my HeadFi journey a little late I wasn't privy to the Brainwavz B2 years and thus was extremely interested (based on everything I'd read about the B2) in hearing that Brainwavz was again venturing into new balanced armature waters. I've owned more than a couple of BA IEM's over the years but when dynamic drivers really started to come into their own I dumped most of them and didn't look back. So I was a little bit skeptical about how I would find the sound of a single BA driver earphone.
While I don't necessarily consider myself a basshead I DO like a full and robust lower end. My passion is live music and my continuing search in the headphone world is for the sound that gets me ever closer to the stage and to the musicians on the stage. Live music has plenty of bass and headphones that don't include that spectrum of music sound flat and lifeless to my ears.
Upon opening the box I found the usual Brainwavz case and accessories and was pleasantly surprised to find the B150 does not have a mic/control. I know I'm in the minority, but I use my earphones to listen to music exclusively and dislike anything that could potentially get in the way of that. Additionally. I find them hard to work around with cord sliders and shirt clips which I use often. I was a tiny bit disappointed that for the asking price the B150 seemed to be made of the usual (though apparently good quality) Brainwavz plastic and the cord wasn't really anything special in terms of design or materials.
I quickly tried them in my ears (they are over-ear only) and plugged them into my Chromebook. A quick stroll through several tracks of familiar tunes sounded pretty darn good. Then I switched to a file with a considerable amount of bass and my eyes widened with surprise. I was half tempted to take them out of my ears and attempt to crack the cases and see if there weren't dynamic drivers instead of BA's inside. I'd never heard a BA with this much bass. I quickly switched to my laptop with DAC and amp and cracked open some hi-res files from HD Tracks. Nirvana! I was amazed at the broad, full sound emanating from these little single driver 'phones. Definitely not the thin (if "accurate" sound I was used to with previous BA's. Vocals were surprisingly lush and intimate.
At this point, I should mention that, as usual, I base my impressions of any given headphone or speaker on how closely it resembles real world sound. I've been around live music my whole life and am proficient on the piano, guitar, and trumpet and have sung semi-professionally in college. I've played in bands and orchestras since grade school and know what the timbre of almost all instruments sound like and for that reason most of the music I use to review headphones is acoustic and orchestral. I do love rock as well but other than speaker dynamics don't find it all that useful in reviewing equipment since much of it is electronic. So I won't be throwing around poorly understood esoteric words meant to convey the nuances of musical sound but, instead, I'll be focusing, as much as possible, on how real or better yet "live" the music sounds through these IEM's.
So let's get to it. For the patience-impaired, I'll just say. These IEM's sound really really good. I've always been amazed by how much sound Brainwavz seems to be able to extract from a single driver. And I've never heard a BA with this much low end. Add the speed and dynamics inherent to BA's and this little 'phone checks most of the boxes I look for in an IEM. Additionally, many of the BA's I've owned or heard in the past at times seemed a little more congested than comparable dynamic drivers. These are NOT congested. In fact, compared to one of my current favorite Brainwavz offerings, the S5, they exceed it in width and depth of soundstage as well as instrument separation. They make orchestra music a joy compared to my dynamic driver headphones. At first, I thought I was just noticing the instrument separation and interpreting it as broader soundstage but the more I listened to more tracks, especially older recordings that I know extremely well, it quickly became apparent that they exceed the S5 in both aspects.
It's rare for me, these days, to hear a headphone and immediately want to go through as much of my music collection as possible to see what differences I can hear. Most IEM's are so competent that sonic differences are fairly small but with the BA150's I definitely wanted to listen to more and more of my files. Also, one of the big things I look for in a new 'phone is if it seems to remove any additional "layers" (for lack of a better term) between me and the artist. On many recordings, these do that as well. If I have any criticism of the general sound signature at all it might be that on some recordings the instrument separation and soundstage width almost sound a little artificial, especially some of my older stuff from the 60's and 70's. Kind of like hearing stereo for the first time with a heightened sense of the separation of left and right channels.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm a tad concerned about build quality since they're plastic but they seem fairly sturdy though they don't "feel" as substantial as the metal S5. I should mention at this juncture that they are pretty much the most comfortable IEM's I've had in my ears. They are massively more comfortable (I suspect the somewhat more rounded housings) that the similarly shaped XF200. Maybe it's just my ears, but I can wear these, literally, for hours with little fatigue or discomfort. Microphonics were non-existent when worn my preferred way with the cord behind my neck, cable cinched and the nice shirt clip attached to my collar.
After spending several hours a day for over a week with these earphones I can honestly say that they've easily bumped the S5 and my trusty twin driver TDK IE800 from the top of my listening tier. If this is what Brainwavz has in store for us the future is indeed bright. I can't WAIT to see if they come out with a new dual driver BA earphone and see how it compares to this little beauty.
So, the bottom line, this is a great little earphone. The sound is very impressive. Instrument separation is excellent as well as placement of each instrument on the soundstage. It definitely had me rolling through most of my music to hear things I hadn't really heard, or if I had it was mashed together with other sounds and instruments. The only real question in my mind is HOW impressive this is compared to many of the new multi-driver options in the same price range that are coming out these days. Personally, I'm glad I didn't discount these 'phones solely based on price, build or features because they certainly sound great to my ears and I heartily recommend you audition them if you get the chance.
I rate headphones almost entirely based on relative sound quality for the price range and these are very impressive for a solatary driver. So 4 and 1/2 stars. Also, I always edit my reviews if things such as durability issues pop up.
* I'll also be editing this review after I have a chance to seen how well they isolate (I use my rather noisy gym as my real world reference) and how well they stay in place doing things like running or other activities.
Pros - non-"sterile/boring" single-BA sound, smooth and musical, good tonal balance
Cons - not too many competitors but those that exist are also good
It is finally happening – a few years after Brainwavz stopped the production of their B2, a dual-BA in-ear, the Chinese company owned by the GPGSHK is back in the game and will be manufacturing Balanced Armature-based in-ears again. This has secretly been quite a big desire of mine, and I am very glad that Brainwavz’ new models are finally ready. Yes, that’s right, I said models: besides a successor of the B2 that I unfortunately never heard myself because it was out of production when I wanted to buy it as a backup for some of my more expensive multi-BA in-ears, Brainwavz is also releasing two single-BA in-ears, the B100 and B150.
When I got Pandora’s message that some prototypes of the new models with the final production tuning were ready to be shipped to some reviewers, including myself, I was very excited and looking forward to what the in-ear would sound like. Shortly after, I received the B150 and was told that the other one should be sent to me as soon as more quantity is available.
Disclaimer: I was offered a free sample of the B150 in exchange for feedback and an honest, unbiased review. Although I received a prototype, I was assured that this is the final production tuning and that the production version would only have a more refined build quality and slightly changed accessories.
Drivers: 1x BA per side
My review sample didn’t arrive with a cardboard or plastic box, however with all accessories that are: the in-ears, a Velcro cable tie, a Brainwavz carrying case with the typical black and red colour scheme, a shirt clip, one pair of medium Comply Foam tips, one pair of small silicone tips, one pair of medium silicone tips and lastly one pair of large silicone tips.
The production model’s ear tips will be black instead of red.
Looks, Feels, Build Quality:
The housings are made of semi-transparent black plastic that seems sturdy and well-made. The production version will have a twisted cable with memory-wire ear guides instead of the prototype’s cable.
The in-ears are intended to be worn around the ears instead of the more commonly found “cable-down” method that is mainly found on most cheaper in-ears. This guarantees for a more secure fit and less cable noise (microphonics).
The fit in my ears is good with the B150 and as the ear pieces are closed, outside noise is also blocked out pretty well.
My main source devices for listening were my iBasso DX90 as well as the DX80.
The largest included silicone tips were used for listening and testing.
Many people often associate a thin, mid-focussed and bass-light or bright sound from a single-BA in-ear. The B150 does certainly not fall into this category. Much rather, it has got a forward bottom-end that is strong, and while it will certainly not satisfy those who are craving for a strong impact and much quantity, it can address the “case of the missing 6 dB” (https://www.etymotic.com/media/publications/erl-0137-1982.pdf) plus a little extra, while it won’t convey the same amount of slam that other multi-BA in-ears do with the same bass emphasis (in fact, it could even be considered as more or less balanced sounding in the lows, as the Logitech/Ultimate Ears UE200 that had around the same quantity was also widely accepted as a quite balanced sounding in-ear because it didn’t reproduce the weight and impact in the lows despite not having little objectively measurable quantity).
The bass elevation is mainly found in the lower root and upper bass, starting to climb around 650 Hz, reaching its climax around 120, keeping this level down to 80 Hz and then slowly losing quantity towards the sub-bass. It is not a strong roll-off though, so the lower midbass and beginning sub-bass at 40 Hz are still audible with good quantity, however there is not much below 33 Hz anymore.
The midrange is somewhat more on the warmer side (lower mids) and also darker side (upper mids) without being too coloured, while it is indeed somewhat coloured and tuned for a more laid-back, smooth signature, caused by the area between around 1.3 and 3 kHz showing a moderate dip that is responsible here for the non-offensive midrange tuning.
The middle highs around 5 kHz and the rest until 12 kHz show more presence again but have just slightly less quantity than the midrange, adding slight darkness and relaxedness to the sound, and also making cymbals sound non-offensive and lacking aggressiveness.
Let’s make it short here – the B150 sounds nimble and quick, lightweight and detailed, coherent and well-rendered.
The bass, while it is not as tight and fast as with some multi-BA in-ears or the Etymotic ER-4S, definitely doesn’t lack speed and is only slightly (!) on the softer side and still a good bit better controlled and faster than most dynamic driver in-ears.
The midrange has got good speech intelligibility and minute detail retrieval, as it can also be expected from a (single-) BA in-ear.
The treble carries good details and good separation that is not elite-level but good for the price. I don’t really miss much.
The sound is, not really surprising, very coherent, wherefore I would also chose the B150 over the dual-BA Apple in-ears that, while they definitely show an advantage in the midrange and treble in terms of detail retrieval and are a bit more refined overall, don’t sound as coherent as most single-BA in-ears in the low three-digit/high two-digit price range, including the B150 where everything sounds harmonious.
One will neither get a huge nor a small soundstage with the B150. Who still expects single-BA in-ears to sound congested, which is definitely not the case for a good number of models, will probably be a little surprised that the B150 has got a soundstage that I would say is a little larger than average, with a good width-to-depth-ratio and a good presentation of spatial depth. The positioning of instruments is precise and the separation is good, too, while there is not as much air around single instruments as with higher-end multi-driver in-ears.
In Comparison with other Single-BA In-Ears:
MEE audio A151 (2[sup]nd[/sup] generation):
The A151, while it is definitely not among the thin sounding single-BA in-ears and carries some warmth and weight in the lows compared to a really flat monitor, has got ca. 3 dB less bass quantity than the B150 while treble quantity is about comparable.
The MEE has got the slightly tighter and minimally faster bass and also sounds slightly more refined in the treble, while I see the B150 slightly ahead when it comes to midrange details and speech intelligibility.
While it is not 100% flat either, the HA-2 has got less bass quantity and a little more treble quantity than the B150. It (the HA-2) is definitely the more neutral in-ear out of the two.
The HA-2 has got the slightly faster bass that is a slight bit tighter and is a little more detailed in the treble – it is not a large difference though.
While the B150 has got a good soundstage, the HiSoundAudio’s is larger and airier; it is one of the largest single-BA soundstages I know anyway.
Etymotic Research ER-4S:
The classic – the legend – the king. The Etymotic that is considered as coming closest to the diffuse-field neutrality target (except for its successor that is probably even minimally closer), is easily quite a bit different to the B150, i.e. it sounds more neutral with a very flat bass, a flat midrange with a slight boost in the presence range and a flat and extremely even treble that carries more quantity than the B150’s rather somewhat dark sounding upper end.
The (more expensive) ER-4S is definitely in a higher class when it comes to detail retrieval over the whole frequency range, and has also got the tighter and faster bass.
The Ety’s soundstage is only a little larger than the Brainwavz’ but especially more precise.
Brainwavz Audio is finally making in-ears with Balanced Armatures again.
The B150 is the right choice for all those who want to have the nimbleness, coherency and speech intelligibility of a single-BA in-ear but don’t want a thin and flat but weightier and richer sound that is still harmonious sounding and not really what could be considered really bassy. The B150’s performance is also good and it offers a good value, however it doesn’t outclass the single-BA class-leaders.
As I can only rate the sound on the B150 pre-production prototype with finalised tuning (the cable will be a totally different one in the production model), I come to a result of 3.82 out of 5 stars in the sound/value department.