Brainwavz has a long track record of building compelling IEMs in the Audiophile space, mostly on the budget end of things. However, this changed with the release of their B-series: a lineup of balanced-armature Hi-Fi IEMs. Today I’ll be taking a look at the middle-of-the-road option from it, the B150. It features a plastic build and a single BA driver.
You can find the B150 available here, on Brainwavz’s official web-store, for $70.
Disclaimer: This unit was provided to me free of charge for review purposes. These words reflect my true, unaltered, opinion about the product.
Preference and Bias: Before reading a review, it is worth mentioning that there is no way for a reviewer to objectively pass judgment on the enjoyability of a product: such a thing is inherently subjective. Therefore, I find it necessary for you to read and understand what I take a natural liking to and how that might affect my rating of a product.
My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass. The mids should be slightly less pronounced than the treble, but still ahead of the bass. I prefer a more bright upper range.
Source: The B150 was powered like so:
HTC U11 -> USB-C adapter -> earphones
Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones
HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones
PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones
All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.
The B150 just feels… natural. Its sound signature doesn’t have any standout features or “takes” on sound reproduction other than a mild warmth in the lower-mids. The B150’s overall tone is quite effortless and gives off a feeling of precision. Layering is also quite good, though there is some small amount of smudging in the low-middle midrange.
Treble: Songs used: In One Ear, Midnight City, Outlands, Satisfy
The B150’s treble is present, articulate, and decently extended. High-hats and cymbals layer very well into songs, sitting in the background but rarely ever losing definition.
Another impressive testament to the engineers who tuned the B150 is the complete lack of sharpness/sibilance. Its treble is even and quite detailed but never crosses that line into discomfort.
Treble emphasis from lower-treble to upper-treble is even and lacks any sort of weird peaks or valleys. This lends the treble a good level of cohesion, though modern IEMs rarely suffer from notable cohesion issues.
Mids: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Dreams
The midrange of the B150 will be the sticking point for most people: it isn’t completely even and has some warmth in the lower mids. This warmth can cause some veiling of guitars during busy choruses, but otherwise, does not affect the performance of the IEM detail-wise.
Vocals are quite good on the B150, though it is partial towards male vocals. Affinity aside, vocals played through the B150 have above-average intelligibility. This is a major component of the “precise” feeling the B150 maintains.
Drums can be pushed into the background though; it was tough to follow them in a multitude of songs in my library. This effect lessens significantly with better-mastered tracks, but never fully removes itself from the listening experience.
Drums aside I rarely found instrumentation that would “blur” in the midrange.
Bass: Songs used: Moth, Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix), War Pigs (Celldweller Remix)
The B150’s bass is surprisingly powerful given the single-BA configuration it makes use. It has a healthy mid-bass hump around the 300Hz range (about 2dB above neutral) and extends reasonably well.
The B150’s bass is perfectly acceptable for all genres I tested including rock, dubstep, house, jazz, and classical. While it doesn’t have the full impact I want on aggressive drops, it absolutely nails the ratio of mid-bass to sub-bass. As such, drops and bass-synths sound quite satisfying. Listening to Infected Mushrooms’s See Me Now perfectly captured the cohesive nature of the B150’s bass.
Rather than overwhelming the midrange, the bass complemented it. I really like the lower registers frequency response as a whole as it delivers the bass performance I want without reducing clarity significantly or creating a weird tonality.
Packaging / Unboxing
A point of contention I have with the cable is that is springy and maintains a lot of “memory”. This is a pet-peeve of mine. I tried my usual remedies for a cable holding onto a specific shape: counter tortioning and wrapping the cable around a hot mug. Disappointingly, neither worked.
The ergonomics of the B150 are top-notch and deliver a consistently comfortable listening experience. Finding a good seal was easy with the included eartips (I used Comply) and the shell didn’t press weirdly against my ears.
Inside the box you’ll find:
- 1x semi-hard carrying case
- 6x sets of silicone ear tips (S/M/L)
- 1x set of Comply T-100
- 1x shirt clip
- 1x Velcro cable tie
The carrying case is of standard Brainwavz stock and comfortably houses the IEM and its accessories.
The B150 is a pretty good deal for $70. While the build does admittedly leave something to be desired, I can’t fault it when you take into account its very good sonic performance. Listeners with an earn for a south-of-neutral sound signature will be satisfied with the B150’s take on music. All in all, I think the B150 is a very good foundational block for Brainwavz’s future BA IEMs. Nicely done Brainwavz!