The B400 is a 4 armature powered earphone that is 3D printed and assembled in house by Brainwavz.<br /> <a href="https://cdn.head-fi.org/a/10010773.jpg" target="_blank" class="LbTrigger" data-href="misc/lightbox"><img...

Brainwavz B400 - Quad Balanced Armature Earphones

Average User Rating:
4.5/5,
  • The B400 is a 4 armature powered earphone that is 3D printed and assembled in house by Brainwavz.
    BWAVZ_B400_Stay-Frosty_28-09-17_17_grande.jpg

    Specifications:
    • Drivers : Quad Balanced Armature
    • Rated Impedance : 30Ω
    • Frequency Range : 10 Hz - 40 kHz
    • Sensitivity : 115dB
    • Cable : Detachable MMCX
    • Plug : 3.5 mm, Gold plated
    Included Accessories:
    • 3.5mm Standard MMCX Stereo Cable
    • 2.5mm Standard MMCX Balanced Cable
    • Earphone Hard case
    • 1 Set earphone cleaning kit
    • 6 sets of Silicone Ear Tips (S M L)
    • 1 set of Comply™ Foam Tips T-100 Red
    • 2 Earphone sanitary wipes
    • 1 Shirt Clip
    • Velcro Cable Tie
    • Instruction Manual & Warranty Card (24 month warranty)

Recent User Reviews

  1. HiFiChris
    4.5/5,
    "Smooth. Analogue. Nice."
    Pros - •smoothness
    •good resolution
    •harmonious tuning
    •not the best but better than just average soundstage for a multi-BA IEM, especially for that price
    •price
    •value
    •ergonomic shell design
    •available in some really cool colours
    Cons - •soft treble response -> not the most direct/exciting presentation -> "analogue" presentation
    Preamble:

    Originally posted on my German audio review site, the "Kopfhörer-Lounge", here comes the re-post of my review of the Brainwavz B400 with the fantastic colour called "Green Rage". Definitely a worthy addition to Brainwavz' already great B series of Balanced Armature in-ears.


    Introduction:

    Some years ago, the well-known Asian audio company mainly known for their affordable but (in most cases) rather nice sounding in-ears, Brainwavz, had one product in their range – the B2. It was a dual-BA in-ear tuned for a quite flat, neutral sound, and was their only Balanced Armature-based in-ear at that time.
    After it got discontinued, years with only dynamic driver in-ears followed.

    It was not until late 2016 when Brainwavz revealed that they were about to release in-ears with Balanced Armature drivers again, starting with single-driver models, but some multi-BA models were also in the makes.
    The result was definitely a success, since their single-BA in-ear B100 as well as their dual-BA model B200 offer great sound and performance at very affordable prices.

    Now Brainwavz have released the B400, a quad-BA in-ear. Despite its amount of drivers and replaceable cables, its base price is set below $200 – yes, that’s right, below $200, which makes it probably the most affordable quad-BA in-ear monitor on the market (the ridiculously cheap clearance sale of the Logitech/Ultimate Ears UE900 doesn’t count since its original and MSRP were quite a bit higher).

    [​IMG]

    To those who are wondering why the B400’s price starts below $200 although the B200’s MSRP was $199: Brainwavz have now drastically reduced the B200’s price down to $119.50, which makes it even more of a great deal than it already was at its original price point.

    Anyway, back to the B400: Brainwavz originally intended to make injection-moulded metal shells for the housings, however things didn’t go as intended and the design they had in mind was not possible to accomplish with that technique. So they had two choices – either to re-design the shells, or to get large industrial 3D printers that would allow manufacturing the in-ears with the original shell design.
    They opted for the latter and invested in the 3D printer, with the underlying idea of long-term use, which should also enable more as well as more creative design options for future models.
    However, the best aspect about this move is that the originally calculated and announced retail price of the metal shell version of between $300 and $400 could be dropped to below $200. Oh boy, this is going to get really interesting.


    How does the B400 perform? And does it manage to continue the path of very good sound at affordable prices that the B100 and B200 have paved? Well, that’s what I find out and summarise in this very review.


    Full disclosure: Brainwavz contacted me and asked whether I would like to review their upcoming B400. Of course I did. So some time later, the in-ear was sent to me, free of charge. Nevertheless my review is, as always, honest, unbiased, unpaid, and last but not least not influenced by the manufacturer.



    Technical Specifications:

    Price: $189.50 (clear “Stay Frosty” shells, standard 3.5 mm cable + standard 2.5 mm balanced cable), +$30 for coloured shells, +$30 to $55 for twisted upgrade cables (3.5 mm single-ended and/or 2.5 mm TRRS balanced)
    Type: In-Ear
    Drivers: Balanced Armature
    Drivers per Side: 4x BA
    Cable: removable, MMCX
    Impedance: 30 Ohms
    Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 40 kHz
    Sensitivity: 115 dB


    Delivery Content:

    The visual appearance of the packaging the B400 arrives in differs somewhat from the familiar and typical Brainwavz packaging – black and red are no longer the dominating colours. Instead, a bold, black “B400” is present on a plain white background.

    Underneath it is a grey-brown cardboard box with a smooth, haptically very pleasantly coated surface and a magnetically closed lid.

    [​IMG]

    Inside, one can find the in-ears, Brainwavz’ typical storage case, three different sizes of single-flange silicone tips (with two pairs of each size), one pair of red Comply Foam tips, the usual paper stuff, the well-known Brainwavz-branded Velcro cable tie, some cleaning wipes, some cleaning brushes, and, depending on what combination was chosen, the cables.

    [​IMG]


    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    The shells are actually a bit larger and bulkier than I expected (somewhat larger than the Westone W4R’s shells) although still small enough to fit the majority of people. They take up upon the other B-series in-ears’ design as well as to some degree Shure’s and Westone’s shells, however with adding their own touches to the shells wherefore the B400 has got a rather unique design.

    There is a small hole on the inner side of ech shell. According to Brainwavz it is there because of how the 3D-printed shells are being finished.

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    As someone who likes in-ears with a non-boring colour scheme, I am very delighted to see Brainwavz offering a wide range of different colours, with many of them being rather unique and rare in the in-ear business.

    A colour called “Green Rage” is also offered, which was kindly sent to me on request instead of the transparent “Stay Frosty” shells that were originally intended to be sent to me. That colour could, in my opinion, also be described as “lime green” and looks very vibrant and beautiful.

    Build quality of the shells I received is unfortunately merely okay, however that might be because the review sample I received is a hand-finished in-ear, although with the final components and tuning, in contrast to the mass production models where the shells might be finished differently.

    - - -

    When one of the optional cable upgrades is selected, one will receive the more premium cable with twisted conductors compared to the stock cable with regular conductors and insulation.

    I was sent the 3.5 mm TRS “Frosty” cable along with the 2.5 mm TRRS “Candy Cane” cable wherefore I cannot comment on the stock cable’s quality. It is quite likely that it is not much different to the B200’s average-ish cable though.

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    The “Frosty” cable will look familiar to many people, which is because it is the popular, professional, very flexible and trustworthy Plastics One cable that is always a reliable and good cable that is commonly used for more expensive and professional in-ears.

    The “Candy Cane” balanced cable has got side-markers that are “naturally” integrated since the “hot” wires have got coloured insulation (red for the right side and blue for the left). Its four conductors are twisted as well, however they don’t really add much thickness (the Candy Cane cable is about comparable to my UERMs’ cable in terms of twisting and thickness). It is super flexible and feels premium, professional and trustworthy as well. In contrast to the “Frosty” Plastics One cable, it does not have any memory wire at the MMCX plugs and its audio plug is straight instead of angled.


    Comfort, Isolation:

    Due to the shell design, ergonomics should be really good for the vast majority of people and finding a good seal as well as fit should be easy, too – I certainly do, however that’s almost always the case in my large ears.

    The B400 has to be worn with the cables around the ears, which is the more professional way and can be found in about any in-ear in the medium and high price range with the exception of only very few models. This improves the fit and reduces microphonics (cable noise) that are pretty much not present at all with the Candy Cane and Frosty cable.

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    Noise isolation is relatively good, as expected, but doesn’t fully reach the level of the best-isolating multi-BA in-ears (the small hole in the shells might slightly contribute to that).


    Sound:

    It were mainly the iBasso DX200 (equipped with the AMP1 module), Cowon Plenue 2 and my iBasso DX90 that served as source devices for listening.

    The ear tips I used were the largest included single-flange silicone tips.

    By the way, my frequency response measurements can be found here: frequency-response.blogspot.com

    Tonality:

    The B400 picks up on where Brainwavz started with their Balanced Armature line and presents a very smooth, balanced, tendentially warm and just slightly dark tonality with a very coherent sound that lacks any sterility, sudden peaks or dips.

    A thin, mid-focussed and bass-light sound is definitely not what you get from the B400, however real bassheads, medium bassheads or people who want a whole lot of warmth won’t be satisfied either.

    Although I personally hate to use this reference, “analogue” is probably what some people would refer to the B400’s tuning and sound in general.

    Anyway: from the lower midrange down to the sub-bass the B400’s tuning is virtually identical to the B200’s.

    It has got a somewhat forward bottom-end that is a bit more on the stronger side if you are used to a strictly flat in-ear, coming in at around 8 dB north of what would be neutral based on the diffuse-field target (that for example the Etymotic ER-4S and ER-4SR are following in the lows), but is still quite balanced compared to other in-ears that are generally accepted as sounding quite neutral in the bass. Therefore it can address the “case of the missing 6 dB” (https://www.etymotic.com/media/publications/erl-0137-1982.pdf) plus a little extra quantity on top, meaning that the bass quantity and warmth are not too much north of a balanced sound at all.

    The upper bass can definitely kick and has some authority without ever becoming dominant, and the midbass carries the same amount of weight when the recording goes down the frequency ladder. The sub-bass doesn’t roll off and is present when called upon on the recording, with just very little less absolute quantity compared to the midbass.

    The midrange heads somewhat more into the warmer direction, with a full and rather warm root that does however not feel bloated or unnatural, but rather cosy, intimate and inviting.

    Some extra body is added to lower male vocals and instruments such as bass guitars and contrabasses that step more into the foreground, albeit without getting an unnatural timbre. Instruments gain a pleasant body due to this as well.

    Female vocals are a bit more on the fuller and warmer side, too, however without becoming dark which is because there is a clever tuning trick going on in the midrange – around 2 kHz is a slight drop that adds a little relaxation, while the slight but broad bump around 4 kHz (those things are only really audible using a sine generator though), which can still be counted to the presence range, doesn’t let them drown and doesn’t rob any overtones. Therefore vocals also have some nice closeness although without becoming obtrusive or playing fully “in your face”.

    Above that, the highs are just a little in the background compared to a neutral in-ear – the B400 is certainly no dark sounding in-ear and really just features a grain of darkness.

    What’s remarkable though is how smooth and even the treble is. No peaks, no dips. Just a harmonious, very even tuning that contributes a lot to the smooth, somewhat laid-back appearing, cosy and “analogue” sound. This is really marvellous for the price and often only achieved by multi-BA in-ears that retail for clearly above $200.

    While this is objectively really good, the only small subjective little gripe I have with this is that as a result, cymbals become a little softer sounding and don’t appear as focussed or snappy compared to the B200 that has a little more bite to it.

    Extension past 10 kHz is good and doesn’t lack at all which can also be heard using sine sweeps, although that area is a bit more in the background (for example, the B200 has got more subtle sparkle in the super highs).

    - - -

    [​IMG]

    Um, yeah, so I can definitely say that the tuning is really nicely done, super coherent and smooth, balanced, with a nice dose of warmth and great evenness that is quite remarkable for the price. Tuning-wise, I can definitely see why the initially planned metal shell version of the B400 was set to be priced at almost twice as much.

    Resolution:

    The B400, with the basic cable option, is priced below $200, which is a pretty good deal for the overall performance it delivers. The question is though: Would it have been a good performer close to the $400 mark in terms of pure technical capabilities? Honestly no, not fully when compared to models such as the UE900 and W4R. And it only sees comparatively little land compared to the NocturnaL Atlantis (to be fully fair though, the Atlantis costs a good bit more and has got a technical performance that is more worthy of a four-digit price tag). There are just things like note separation and instrument separation where the B400 is good but cannot fully compete with those models and appears less focused and blurrier, softer in comparison. But would it have been an adequately- to well-performing in-ear if its price was closer to the $300 mark? Yes, yes it would definitely be.

    Performance-wise, it sits right between the B200 and W4R with somewhat closer proximity to the B200, which means that is a really good performer although it does not belong to the technically most capable models – but its price point doesn’t suggest otherwise anyway, so there is absolutely nothing to complain about.

    The bass is well-controlled and tight, and only shows some really minor softness in terms of attack compared to some of the more expensive multi-BA offerings.
    Where it really shines are things like definition as well as control, layering and details where it can indeed compete with models such as the W4R.
    Fast single- and multi-bass-lines are rendered with ease, speed and good separation with well-controlled and -defined punches.

    When it comes to midrange resolution and speech intelligibility, the B400 once again shows that it is a good performer. Nonetheless it lacks a little behind the UE900 and W4R in this area while it puts out somewhat more micro details than the B200.

    High notes are rendered realistically and details are certainly there although the presentation and attack here appear a little soft, which however fits really nicely to the tuning and smoothness. As a little drawback, note separation takes a slight step back as well and feels a bit soft, too, while it doesn’t appear blurry or bad.

    [​IMG]

    To wrap it up, the B400 performs really well for an in-ear starting from less than $200 although it cannot fully compete with models in the $400 range when it purely comes to micro details and note separation.

    Soundstage:

    The B400’s imaginary soundstage is neither especially large nor any congested and a little more spacious than average when it comes to expansion to the sides wherefore it is able to already leave the base between my ears.

    Overall, the presentation feels a little more wide than deep although there is some spatial depth (albeit the B400 is not as three-dimensional or spacious as models such as the Pai Audio MR3).

    Separation of single instruments is plenty good for the price, and notes, single instruments or musicians don’t stick together but are separated rather nicely and cleanly, even when busier tracks with many musicians are played, although the presentation doesn’t appear as clean or well-done when compared to several more expensive models.

    A few layers can be perceived although they appear to rather blend into each other than to be precisely separated and distinguishable.

    ---------

    In Comparison with other In-Ears:

    Westone W4R:

    The W4R has got slightly more quantity in the upper root/lower midrange wherefore it is the somewhat fuller sounding in-ear out of the two, while midbass quantity is comparable. The Westone however rolls more off towards the sub-bass, leaving it with more of a midbass hump compared to the B400 that has got a more even bass distribution.

    The W4R has got the more relaxed appearing midrange and middle treble which is mainly due to its 5 kHz recession. In the upper highs and with cymbals though, it is the Brainwavz that appears softer and more reserved in comparison.

    When it comes to micro details in the mids and highs, the Westone reproduces the somewhat higher transparency and resolution and appears more focused in comparison.

    Bass definition is quite similarly good, which also goes for the control, while the W4R seems slightly faster.

    The Westone’s soundstage is even somewhat wider but lacks spatial depth whereas the B400 has got some. In terms of instrument separation, it is the W4R that somewhat outperforms the Brainwavz with the higher cleanness.

    NocturnaL Audio Atlantis (UIEM):

    To make it short, when it comes to detail retrieval, note separation, soundstage expansion as well as spatial precision, the Atlantis is a whole different beast that can compete with models costing a good bit more.

    The reason why I chose the more expensive and technically much more capable Atlantis for this comparison is because things like the smoothness, pleasant fullness, naturalness and balance are areas that it shares with the B400, just as it already did when compared to the B200.

    From the central mids down to the sub-bass, both in-ears are tuned almost identically. In the presence range, it is the Brainwavz that is a bit more pronounced. The B400 is somewhat darker and more relaxed in the following treble. Super treble extension past 10 kHz is somewhat better on the Brainwavz.

    Logitech/Ultimate Ears UE900:

    The Brainwavz has got the somewhat stronger bass elevation by ca. 3 dB.

    The UE’s (upper) midrange is a bit darker mainly due to the presence range showing a downslope.

    At 4 and 5 kHz it is the UE that is a bit more relaxed while it shows more energy around 6 and 8 kHz albeit without any real emphasis (the level doesn’t cross the ground line) wherefore it sounds more focused and “snappier”.

    Bass speed, bass control and tightness are where both in-ears are pretty much on the same level while the B400 appears to have got the somewhat higher low-end definition.

    In terms of midrange and treble details though, the UE900 sports the somewhat higher amount of micro details and cleaner note separation.

    When it comes to soundstage, both in-ears reproduce about the same amount of width whereas the B400 has got a bit more depth. However, the UE900 separates instruments a bit more precisely.

    Brainwavz B200:

    Both in-ears have got a similar bass response and central midrange while the B400 is more forward in the presence range, making vocals gain some proximity compared to the B200 that is more laid-back in the middle and lower highs.

    While the B200 is even a little more relaxed in the middle and upper treble, it sounds crisper and “snappier” than the B400 which is because the quadruple-driver in-ear has got the softer appearing treble attack while ultimately having somewhat more details.

    When it comes to super treble extension, both extend similarly well however the B200 showcases somewhat more subtle sparkle which is due to it being more forward in this range.

    Micro details are good and present on the B400 although presented rather subtly and smoothly – which fits perfectly to the entire presentation. Without direct comparison or switching between both in-ears, I honestly did not really think that there was much – if any – of a difference between the B400 and B200 when it comes to detail retrieval, but switching from one to the other made it clear: the B400 sounds somewhat more transparent and is cleaner when it comes to small details, which is especially noticeable with rather busy tracks were small things remain better separated from each other and where small nuances are rendered somewhat more cleanly on the quad-BA in-ear. It’s not like a totally different class upgrade though, but still that plus in details is what makes the difference – the B400 can “pull it off” more easily and has got more reserves/headroom.

    Bass definition, control and low-end details are slightly higher on the B400 as well.

    So yes, the B400 is playing somewhat above the already really good B200 when it comes to detail retrieval and bass definition, although I wouldn’t describe it as a large difference but rather a medium one.

    When it comes to soundstage, the B400 appears somewhat more open sounding with a bit more spatial width while there is no real difference in terms of spatial precision.


    Conclusion:

    The Brainwavz B400 is a smooth, balanced, (in a positive way) soft and inoffensive in-ear with a

    [​IMG]

    remarkably even and harmonious tuning (some people would refer to it as being “analogue”) that picks up on the B-series’ house sound while adding somewhat more micro details and definition compared to the already really good B200.

    While the originally planned price of up to 400$ might have been just a little too ambitious judged by the technical performance given other contenders in this area (although it might have probably been justifiable due to the super smooth, even and harmonious tonal tuning), in its current price range ($190 to $275 depending on colour and cable choices) there are only few in-ears that are playing in the same league as the B400 (and most of them are exotic).


    Once again, Brainwavz have shown that the introduction of the B-Series was a really good idea.
    svetlyo, Salsera and B9Scrambler like this.
  2. dweaver
    4.5/5,
    "Best Brainwavz IEM to date"
    Pros - Detailed full signature with fantastic vocals, super comfortable and isolating.
    Cons - Bass is missing a bit of slam and movement compared to the best hybrids. Upper mids/lower treble is missing a bit of energy for cymbal hits and similar percussion instruments.
    First off I would like to thank Brainwavz for allowing me to review the B400. The unit I have was sent to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review of the earphone.

    About a year ago I was asked if I would like to review Brainwavz re-entry into the BA arena in the form of the B100. I remember at the time I wasn't sure I was interested as I had found myself less and less interested in BA based IEM's focusing more on dynamic and hybrid designs. But I was curious enough I bit and was pleasantly surprised at how good the B100 sounded. It was slightly better than the Klipsch X7 in my opinion, and at a fraction of the cost was very easy to recommend for anyone wanting to try a BA based IEM.

    When I heard about the B400 I was very curious see what Brainwavz could accomplish with a 4 BA model. Could it be as good or better than the other BA based IEM's I have owned such as the Ultimate Ears UE900, Earsonic's SM3, Sony XBA3 and others? How would it compete with new hybrid model's like the 1More Quad or Sony XBA-Z5?

    So this time I actually reached out to Brainwavz to see if I could scratch my curiosity itch. Luckily things worked out in my favor and a pair was on it's way for me to put through it's paces.
    20171019_103744.jpg
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    When the package arrived I was impressed with the quality of the packaging and the thoroughness of the kit. I was genuinely surprised by little things like the cleaning wipes for hearing aids and the cleaning tools that went a bit above other BA based IEM's I have bought. As usual Brainwavz included an nice sturdy carrying case and a nice wide assortment of tips including 1 pair of Comply tips for the lovers of foamies.
    20171019_104000.jpg
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    Both stock cables looked and felt awesome. I have to admit I prefer a smartphone designed cable as I do the majority of listening from my phone for convenience sake. But the stock cable has really won me over even after trying some other smartphone enabled MMCX cables I had lying around. The stock cable may lack a mic and controls but offers one of the better memory wire designs I have tried and had no micro-phonics and it's cinch worked well in conjunction with the clip to help reduce distracting cable movement. I also like the strain reliefs on the jack and the hard plastic base of the MMCX connector which seems to give good stability while allowing for a comfortable spin of the IEM which aids in inserting the IEM.
    20171019_131527.jpg
    I played with all of the included tips in the kit that made sense for me including the Comply tips. In the end I stuck with the silicone tips as the Comply is slightly to small for my ears. But I can say the silicone tips offered the best treble response and almost as good a bass response as the comply tips. I also played with some other tips such as the Shure Olives and a pair of Sony hybrids. The Shure Olives offered the best bass response with the least effect on the treble for me while the Sony hybrid tips really didn't work as they subdued the treble even more than the foam tips. In the end I went back to the stock silicone tips and haven't felt the need to keep switching around with other tips.

    Before I get into the meat of this review I want to establish some things about my listening preferences and the equipment I used during the review. I have a very eclectic music taste ranging from Classical music, to select country, Celtic, classic rock, psychedelic rock, Jazz, and more. About the only thing I don't listen to is Club Music and modern genres like Dubstep and the even more modern variants of electronic music. I also do not listen to loud music preferring to keep the volume levels down to between 10-30% on most of my devices with 45% being on the extreme end for me unless using a headphone that needs higher volumes due to their design.

    All of my listening has been done from my LG V20 phone or my Pono in balanced or single ended mode. My music files are almost all FLAC based with about 25% of them being high resolution 192/24 bit based.

    So now that I have given the usual disclaimers and talked about the basics lets get down to the important aspect of any IEM. How doe they sound and how do they feel?

    Comfort and ergonomics - 5/5
    The B400 has a 3D printed shell that is perfectly designed fitting my ears more comfortably than any IEM I have owned including other bean shaped IEM's like the SE215. The shell is slightly bigger than the B100 but still fit my ear like a glove. I also appreciated the easy swivel of the IEM to help navigate around the memory wire which can be tricky. The fit was then aided by an easy effective cable clip and sufficiently tight cinch. Once everything was inserted I would find myself going for hours without thinking about the IEM or feeling the need to adjust it even when walking around.

    Isolation and micro-phonics - 5/5
    You really don't know how much good isolation can be until you have GOOD ISOLATION! The B400 is indeed GOOD! I have been amazed when using these on the train as I sometimes go for the entire trip and then realize I never heard anything around me even to the point of missing my stop once! So one of the usual downsides to this type of isolation is micro-phonic issues, especially foot falls and cable rubbing. The B400 suffers from ZERO cable rubbing and only very faint footfall noise that can only be heard when listening to very soft music with silent spaces.

    Bass - 4/5
    The B400 offers a nice full bass that reaches quite low into the sub bass regions. But while it goes low I felt myself missing a bit of slam and air movement from the bass. But I have to admit this is because I have grown used to dynamic based bass and overblown bass at that. But if I look past my preference in this area the bass is balanced and fully their when required and nicely detailed and textured.

    Midrange - 5/5
    If the bass isn't quite my cup of tea the midrange more than makes up for it! Vocals have plenty of detail and emotion without coming across as to forward or excessive. I find the B400 performs equally well for male and female vocals which is a rare feet in my experience. I also found myself really enjoying guitar riffs with the B400.

    Treble - 4/5
    The B400 offers a nicely detailed treble that is never strident or sibilant but unfortunately comes across as slightly too "safe" for me. If you have issues with fatigue this will be a blessing but some may find the treble just a bit to soft when it comes to cymbal crashes and other percussive hits that are like that.

    Sound Stage, 3D Imaging, and instrument separation - 4/5
    One of the downsides of such a good isolating IEM is a smaller sound stage and the B400 does suffer from this. The sound stage is still bigger than average but not on the same scale as some of the better dynamic and hybrid IEM's on the market with a more typical in-head feel to it. 3D imaging is similarly impacted requiring more effort hear it. Instrument separation while compact in distance is good though with no instruments bleeding together. I found myself easily drawn into genre's like Jazz, Orchestral music, and older rock music as they felt like the instruments were in the right place if not quite as widely spaced as I have grown accustomed to.

    So now that I have quantified the basic sections or areas of the IEM how does it all fit together? If I could use only one word to describe the sound it would be "immersive". So what this means is I found myself not having a whole lot of WOW moments when using the B400 but I would get caught up in the music for hours of time and having lots of moments where I realized I had not heard the outside world for an extended period of time.

    So how do these compare to other BA based IEM's?

    B400 vs UE900
    The UE900 offered a more mid/treble centric experience for me with slightly less bass extension. The B400 in comparison is more balanced sounding going slightly deeper while not suffering from the fatigue I found the UE900 caused. Sound stage is similar between the 2 IEM's. The B400 is more isolation and comfortable to wear.

    B400 vs Sony XBA3
    The XBA3 was a deeper harder hitting IEM with more sub bass extension and a stronger mid bass, a warm midrange, and sparkly treble giving it a strong V shaped signature as compared to the more balanced signature of the B400. Isolation was good but no where as complete as the B400 and fit was OK but not as stable as the B400.

    B400 vs Earsonics SM3
    The SM3 was very much a midrange centric IEM offering bass that was not very extended and treble that was also on the polite side. The B400 is similar in the regard but offers a deeper bass extension and slightly brighter treble as well. The SM3 had a very unique sound stage that place you in the position of the singer which was very unique, the B400 in comparison gives a more traditional sound stage. The SM3 was not as isolating and more finicky in fit and was a very fragile IEM.

    Comparison to hybrid IEM's offers an interesting swing in musical styling and signature preferences. Almost every hybrid offers more bass but not always in a positive way.

    B400 vs Sony XBA-Z5
    The Z5 is the most unfair comparison in this review as it is my favorite IEM I have ever owned. In comparison to the B400 it offers a massive deep bass that is still textured and detailed, a warmer midrange that is detailed and compelling, and extended treble that is actually very similar to the B400. The Z5 offered an uncanny outside of the head 3D sound stage that is unique among all of the IEM's I have owned. But while all that sounds good they come at a cost. The Z5 in comparison offers only 50% less in regards to isolation, and a Frankensteinian and finicky fit. Plus the Z5 only sounded it's best when played from a balanced device like a Pono Player and was closer to pedestrian in sound from my phone. Plus it was FRAGILE dying on me twice (once in warranty). Both failures being on the MMCX connections. The failures might have been livable if the IEM had a reasonable cost but at $700 you just expect more...

    B400 vs 1More Quad
    This comparison is more appropriate as this IEM is in the same price range as the B400. But aside from the obvious increase of bass I find the B400 slays the Quad in every way. The B400 has more texture and detail in all areas from bass to treble and is simply the more audiophile grade IEM. The Quad does offer slightly more 3D imaging though and has a slightly larger sound stage dues to it's shallower fit and ports on the IEM, but this is at the cost of isolation. The Quad offers a similar level of comfort but in a completely different fashion. Funnily enough the Quad is more micro-phonic than the B400 unless warn in an unconventional over ear fashion that it is not designed for even though it is a shallower less isolation IEM.

    So who should buy the B400?

    Anyone who is thinking about buying a BA based IEM should have this on their short list. It is as well made as anything I have owned and considering it's price to performance ratio it's simply a no brainer.

    If on the other hand your a bass lover some of the hybrid IEM's might be pretty compelling but only if you can afford the difference in cost and/or are willing to accept the compromises such an IEM offers. The Sony XBA-Z5 will cost you 3-4 times the B400 for example and will require an additional expense in regards to a balanced DAP to meet it's full potential as compared to the B400 needing nothing more than a good phone for a source. Personally I think a person should have both!






    Salsera likes this.
  3. DecentLevi
    3.5/5,
    "The pleasing B.A. 'that could'"
    Pros - lush mids, great voicing and neutrality, non-fatiguing
    Cons - details, instrument separation, dynamics, sub-bass
    Behold the newest development from Brainwavz, the B400 which by all regards would seem their best yet.

    PREFACE
    My style of review is more 'straight from the heart'. I believe in transparency in this hobby, as to encourage both innovation from the manufacturers, and to allow fellow hobbyists to get the most out of their quest for the perfect sound. With my 'no frills' style I try to be objective as possible, but many of my views are subjective, as I suppose is with anyone that by nature each of us tend to gravitate towards certain sonic preferences. I try to take into account not only scientific methods / concepts, but sometimes my impressions can be taken several ways, since I also put an emphasis on the personal experience with abstract emotional descriptors and adjectives.

    My star ranking is based almost solely on sound, which to me is the ultimate factor.

    Source
    For this review I used the highly acclaimed new DAP called Onkyo DP-X1A, which uses twin Sabre 9018K2M chips, isolated DAC / amp sections, and a true balanced output. My source test tracks were in lossless FLAC format, of a variety of electronic, pop and rock genres. I used the same test songs which I am deeply familiar with, having heard hundreds of times including with many top-tier desktop rigs with highly acclaimed DACs, SS and tube amps, and numerous flagship headphones. (so I can pinpoint exactly how these songs should sound or if any nuances are missing).

    SHIPPING
    My unit arrived with an almost supernatural speed, especially considering that I'm temporarily in a far flung Asian country (Laos) where they have never shipped to before. It took only 4 days to arrive at the local post office from Hong Kong, via HongKongPost, which I believe may be their preferred shipping partner. I've heard several others have received their unit surprisingly fast too, from New Zealand to the U.S. alike.

    BUILD QUALITY / LOOK

    Body
    The B400's have a very distinctive look with stunning, almost futuristic looking curves, and especially look distinctive with the Blue Knight color I ordered, which I would call a deep blue with a nice shiny polish, and an overall robust look. This color is non-transparent, leaving that for the Stay Frosty version.

    Cables
    I also ordered mine with the Candy Cane 2.5mm balanced cable + Frosty Premium standard 3.5mm cable. With the Candy Cane cable, you get a super pretty array of red, blue and silver colors in a very lightweight package. The Frosty cable is is equally radiant, perhaps enough to get a compliment from a fellow passenger. Both are ultra flexible and lightweight, and have virtually 0 microphonics, or at least not noticeable to cause any concern. Surprisingly, the balanced Candy Cane cable is about the same thickness as than the Frosty cable, if even possibly a nuance thinner.

    Eartips
    Included were what appears to be 2 pairs of 3 sizes of silicone eartips S / M / L, plus Comply T-100 red.

    Fit
    Being a very well designed universal-fit IEM, these should have no problem sliding into most people's ears. They feel very smooth and almost as if 'invisible', however after 2+ hours of consistent use my ears do start feeling somewhat sore - as is with many IEMs too.

    Now for what's really the most important part...
    SOUND IMPRESSIONS

    EXTERNAL VARIABLES

    Eartips
    (sound)
    The pre-installed eartips (small perhaps) worked best for me from the ones included, but after trying all sizes somehow none of them were getting an optimal seal for my ear-shape, indicative of my hearing a void where the bass should be. Tried on the Comply tips and got a fuller bass, yet as mentioned by others and as I have observed on numerous occasions - foam tips have a tendency to mess with or 'smear' the treble. Also as I've experienced with a variety of foam tips they also mess with the bass giving a somewhat overtly laid back / un-detailed sound - at the cost of more balanced isolation. Next I tried a pair of standard silicon round Spinfit eartips, and much to my surprise these did NOT gel well at all with the B400's. Somehow either the angle of the nozzle or somewhat shallow insertion depth of the B400's did not allow these to seal at all. Although it may be possible standard Spin fit tips could fit another's ear depending on their shape, or that another Spinfit model such as their dual-flange version which I would ascertain may be better. Luckily I also brought along a small collection of assorted generic eartips from other IEMs models, and was able to secure a very good seal and level of isolation (photo with preferred tips below).

    Considering the B400's already have a fairly thin nozzle, I recommend that using eartips with a slightly wider bore width would improve the sound somewhat. Indeed I was definitely hearing a somewhat fuller and overall more resolving sound with the chosen generic eartips from another brand, which may have been not only due to the wider bore, but also from what seems to be a perfect seal.

    Cables (sound)
    I didn't notice much of a difference in comparing the 3.5mm standard to the balanced cables. This was somewhat of a surprise to me, especially considering the staggering difference I heard previously when upgrading to a balanced cable on another IEM model using the same source; of which results were improved dynamics, realism, soundstage and texture on an unwavering and repeatable basis. Due to difficulty of removing the MMCX cables on this unit, I won't be comparing these two types since I will likely be leaving on my balanced cables.

    OVERALL SOUND IMPRESSIONS
    I would describe the sound of the B400's as laid back and non fatiguing. Slightly dark and mid-centric leaning with a nice seductive lushness. These are by no stretch of the imagination 'analytical' such as the Ultimate Ears 18 with 6 drivers per side nor the HD-800 full size 'cans, but rather mellow and pleasing for nice long listening sessions. The sound is moderately vivid, but with less realism and 'slam' than other IEMs I've heard. I would compare their sound with the full size Sennheier HD-650 headphones, but slightly more 'front row' sounding.

    Bass
    A main reason for my calling these laid back is because of their bass definition, which in my tests has shown to be quite boomy and boxy, or somewhat 'muddy' and quite lacking in texture. Hence also the reason I mention somewhat mid-centric, because to my ears at least, the sub-bass has a certain roll-off in the lower registers. Interestingly the FR graph below shows it to be very well extended, but no matter how perfect of a seal I was able to get or by EQ'ing the low frequencies, I seemed to be unable to get any 'subterranean rumble', as they call it; lower sounds that were evident to me on several of my comparison IEMs mentioned below.

    On the positive side however, its' bass has a certain quality that can be fairly pleasing to the ear, in a somewhat 'fun' way, and can still sound quite good especially for a semi-bright recording. After the multi-hour listening session above and coming back later in the day for a fresh listen, it becomes clear to me that the only reason I had noticed anything even slightly off about the bass is because I had been a little, well... spoiled (Lol) with other IEMs to compare it to. A casual listen may not reveal anything untoward with the bass, until after directly comparing it to other models which I noticed a more resolving / fast and well textured bass by contrast.

    Mids
    The mids seem to be their strength, giving a very pleasing, tonally correct reproduction and a nice 'voluptuous' lushness. These also make vocals sound very nice.

    Highs
    The highs are very organic and natural sounding, and linear meaning not boosted or recessed. They do however sound to be rolled off somewhat early in the higher regions, losing some of the upper shimmer and detail.

    Soundstage
    The soundstage is acceptable - definitely larger than almost any straight-form bullet-shape earphone I've tried, but about equal to the average IEM. I am however hearing a decent amount of depth as well as width.

    Dynamics
    To me, this is one of their weak points. The transient response seems somewhat slow, and I'm not hearing the same amount of 'snap / attack' as with other headphones and IEMs. Certain drum sounds are hard to discern in the mix, which are easy to pinpoint on other systems. Myself also a great fan of electronic music, the drums generally don't have enough 'kick' to sound correct, but can sound pleasing depending on the recording.

    Stereo width / realism
    While the actual stereo width is not an issue nor stereo imaging, in my tests I seemed to notice something a bit off kilter in it's reproduction of stereo sound, almost as if an artificial stereo expansion effect was applied, and sounds moderately congested. The other somewhat related factor is what I call 'realism', referring to how 'lifelike', realistic or natural of a sound; and otherwise how much 'energy' and 3D extrusion it has, as I call it. While I can provide no input on how to design an IEM these attributes differently, I can only say that this is one area where it's fairly lacking, contributing largely to the laidback sound. (more on comparisons below).

    Complexity
    The B400's have an outstanding ability to handle complex recordings, most likely in large part from their quad drivers. It handles the most complex recording I threw at it with great finesse.

    SELECT COMPARISONS
    (multiple separate critical listening sessions were done on volume matched looped sections of test tracks)

    RHA T20 (non-mic version) ($192)
    The RHA has a more liquid, sweet, detailed and organic sound, and overall brighter. Mids that are more vivid and textured, vs. lush mids of the B400. Dynamics are punchier and bass extends deeper. Treble however being more extended is at fault here, with a somewhat artificial quality, whereas the B400 has a more proper tonality.
    20171026_110037.jpg

    TFZ Exclusive 1 ($45)
    The TFZ has an unmistakably tighter transient response / dynamics, detail retrieval and imaging - all on the order of 2x more than the B400. The bass extends noticeably deeper into the sub-bass realm, and has an amazingly realistic 3D extrusion with layers that jump out at you. The simple, unassuming design of the Exclusive 1 packs a mighty punch with ultra realism, spot-on imaging, superb detail, transparency and buckets of sonic texture that can even invoke an emotional response. It is a completely different signature than the B400, being notably brighter / faster / more extended; the B400 sounds more pleasing for pure vocals, and for brighter recordings. Bearing the "HD resolution" label, this is a rare entry into its' price-point. Occasionally the highs can be moderately fatiguing, but that's more because of the balanced silver cable I'm using, whereas with the stock cable the sound is slightly warmer. I also tried the TFZ Exclusive 2 and 3 but found them quite unbalanced FR-wise. Size of soundstage is similar on both.
    20171026_105727.jpg

    Advanced M4 ($40)
    Comparable to the B400, but with a different overall presentation. Bass seems to extend to a similar depth as the B400, but with slightly less mid-bass hump. Detail and imaging are also similar to the B400. Treble is nice yet not extremely extended, and dynamics are punchier. Overall a more 'dry', flat and slightly anemic sound than the B400. The M4 sounds quite pleasant with rhythmic electronic music... so does the B400, in a more laid back, tonally correct and lush kind of way.
    These are quite similar in price, form and sound to the Zero Audio ZH DX240CI.
    20171026_110140.jpg

    INDIRECT COMPARISONS
    (by memory - take these with a grain of salt)

    Focal Sphear ($89)
    Compared to the B400, these had an artificial quality to the treble and mids, though modetly faster transient response, and possibly smaller soundstage. Very shallow insertion, making fit difficult.

    Ortofon e-Q5 ($210)
    These Ortofons were to me an absolute abomination to the hi-fi hobby with destructively non-detailed, muddy, congested nasal sound and major steps back in every aspect especially detail. The B400's are light years ahead of this one.

    JVC HA FW03 'woodies' ($220)
    Quite brighter and 'faster' than the B400's with a more vivid, colored almost 'euphonic' tone, with improved bass definition and overall texture, however perhaps too bright, and seal was near impossible due to very shallow insertion. I liked this one better than all the other JVC 'woodies'

    Radius NHR31 ($140)
    Rare find with sweet, fluidic, smooth mids & treble, well extended bass and very lifelike and punchy. Shallow insertion also made seal quite difficult, and may have had a slightly 'off' tonality. Further testing required, yet this one was to me the best of the entire Radius line including their higher models. B400 isolates much better.

    CONCLUSION
    The B400 is a remarkable entry into the mid-tier BA (balanced armature) market, yielding a nice heft to the mid-bass in a very non-fatiguing, soft and laid back manner, and by all accounts far better than most BA models I've heard. Voicing and mids are hard to beat.

    I've also recently had the rare chance to audition approximately 250 IEMs of all brands spanning several days at some of the world's largest earphone shops in both Osaka and Tokyo, so I can attest to the fact that the B400's compete quite well around the $200 range, with perhaps 1-2 extremely rare fluke exceptions that may surpass their performance. As with headphones, no IEM does everything absolutely perfect, even including the TFZ 1.
    Salsera likes this.
  4. B9Scrambler
    5.0/5,
    "Brainwavz B400: Aim High, Hit Hard"
    Pros - Imaging, layering, and separation - Cost vs. Performance ratio
    Cons - Treble could be more exciting
    Greetings!

    Today we're checking out one of Brainwavz's newest balanced armature (BA) only creation, the quad-driver B400.

    When I first heard last year that Brainwavz was jumping back into BA-based earphones, I was pretty excited. At that point I was lucky to have experienced and enjoyed a number of their products. Given their reputation for high quality, wallet-friendly gear and my relative inexperience with balanced armatures, I was hoping I'd have the chance to hear these new models. To my great appreciation they sent over the B100 and B150, both of which utilized a single full-ranged armature. While they certainly sounded similar, the B150 offered up a warmer, bassier signature. Deep into 2017 Brainwavz is back with the B400. After spending a month with it, I can safely say that Brainwavz is on their game. I had high expectations going in based on my experiences with the babies of the lineup, but I wasn't quite prepared for what the B400 brought to the table.

    The B400 earphone utilizes Knowles sourced BA drivers with one handling the low end, two covering the mid-range, and one pulling treble duty. The housings are fully 3D printed and assembled by the Brainwavz team in Hong Kong, though the printer and resin are sourced from the United States. The Litz wire used in the housings themselves is sourced from a premium cable manufacturer out of the Netherlands while the Kester solder used to tie it all together is made in the United States. The only components made in China are the case, which if you know Brainwavz is amazing, the tips, and the packaging materials. The entire process of printing and assembling, burn-in, quality checks, and finally packaging the B400 takes over 28 hours. It's not a simple and straightforward process making the B400's more than reasonable performance and price all that much more impressive to me.

    Enough preamble. Let's get this show on the road and check out the reason you're here; the B400.

    20171021_110423.jpg 20171021_110648.jpg 20171021_110731.jpg
    Disclaimer:

    A huge thanks to Raz for reaching out to see if I would be interested in reviewing the B400 in preparation for it's release. This unit was provided free of charge in exchange for a fair and impartial review. While the B400 does not need to be returned, all thoughts and opinions within are my own and do not represent Brainwavz or any other entity. There is no financial incentive for writing this review.

    At the time of this review the B400 retailed for 189.50 USD: https://www.brainwavzaudio.com/products/b400-quad-balanced-armature-earphones

    The Candy Cane cable retailed for 45.00 USD: https://www.brainwavzaudio.com/coll...-balaned-cable-with-mmcx-connector-2-5mm-jack

    The Frosty Silver cable retailed for 45 USD: https://www.brainwavzaudio.com/coll...arphone-cable-with-mmcx-connector-3-5-mm-jack

    The upgrade cables can be purchased alongside the B400 at a discounted rate, or separately at the above-mentioned prices.

    Source:

    For at home use the B400 was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp or straight out of an Asus FX53 gaming laptop. Since the B400 has low power requirements, I didn't feel there was any benefit in amping. Besides, when running the B400 through the Walnut F1 in balanced there was a lot of hissing. My LG G5 and the HiFi E.T. MA8 also produced readily apparent background noise. Through the HiFiMan MegaMini and Shanling M1 the B400 was silent and could easily be driven to ear-blistering volumes, if that's your thing.

    Personal Preferences:

    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 in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800 and thinksound On2 offer up a couple examples of signatures I enjoy.

    Specifications:
    • Drivers: Quad Balanced Armature
    • Rated Impedance: 30Ω
    • Frequency Range: 10 Hz - 40 kHz
    • Sensitivity: 115dB
    • Cable: Detachable MMCX in balanced 2.5mm or standard 3.5mm formats
    Accessories:

    Since the sample I was sent did not come with retail packaging or the standard accessory kit, here is a list of what you get, as pulled from the B400 product page linked above.
    • 3.5mm Standard MMCX Stereo Cable
    • 2.5mm Standard MMCX Balanced Cable
    • Earphone Hard case
    • 1 Set earphone cleaning kit
    • 6 sets of Silicone Ear Tips (S M L)
    • 1 set of Comply™ Foam Tips T-100 Red
    • 2 Earphone sanitary wipes
    • 1 Shirt Clip
    • Velcro Cable Tie
    • Instruction Manual & Warranty Card (24 month warranty)
    I was sent a set of upgraded cables in the form of Brainwavz's new silver-coated Candy Cane balanced 2.5mm cable and OFC copper Frosty Silver 3.5mm cable. Should you choose to upgrade your cables at the time of purchase, these are fantastic options.

    Both cables are very flexible, memory and tangle resistant. Since the Candy Cane cable does not use memory wire or ear guides the lack of strain relief at the plugs is a big oversight when considering long term use, especially given the B400 is for over-ear wear only. The memory wire on the Frosty Silver is very well implemented and holds the shape you set it to. I would have preferred Brainwavz carry over the formed ear guides from the B100 and B150 because they were essentially perfect, but the memory wire works well too. Strain relief is flawlessly implemented at the compact 90 degree angled jack and sturdy y-split. This is easily my preferred cable of the two and gets an easy recommendation, especially since I didn't notice any benefits I could clearly attribute to driving the B400 balanced.

    20171021_105913.jpg 20171021_105933.jpg 20171021_110000.jpg
    Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

    Since Brainwavz chose to roll with 3D printed housings on the B400, I wasn't expecting anything amazing from them in terms of build quality. They're pleasantly well-constructed though. With a couple exceptions at the rear of each housings, the seams between the two halves are clean and tight and can't be felt when running your finger over them. At the back I could feel a slight ridge on each ear piece, but the edge was minimal and faced outwards avoiding issues with discomfort. Since I was sent the 'Stay Frosty' version of the B400, it was nice to see the neatly laid out driver setup and printed channels for directing sound from the armatures to the nozzle. Looking down the nozzle you can see the dampers used; Knowles green and white. I'm sure modders will eventually figure out how to swap them around to adjust the tuning.

    Modders probably won't be interested in changing the housing geometry. That's pretty much spot on, just like it was with the B100 and B150. The gentle curvature of the housings conforms naturally to the outer ear. The slender and somewhat short nozzles keeps the tips from protruding too far into the ear canal, which for someone like me who can't use deep insertion iems was a relief. The balance of comfort and stability inherent to this design works exceptionally well and despite the relatively shallow insertion for an earphone of this style, isolation remains top notch.

    Even without music playing, I found external noise was nullified quite effectively. Not to the point of near silence, but significantly dulled. Typing was reduced to a light clatter, tire noise a smooth wispy hum, and voices a murmur. I could still carry on a conversation with music off and the B400 in place, but it wasn't easy. Start playing some music and external noise is all but gone, especially with the included foam tips in place. With those the B400's isolation is crazy good.

    Overall the B400 is durable feeling and put together well. The design is very ergonomic and as a result comfort levels are stellar. Isolation with the stock silicone tips is effective, made even more impressive with the Comply foam tips in place.

    20171021_111103.jpg 20171021_111216.jpg 20171021_113600.jpg
    Sound:

    Tips: This is one of the few earphones where I didn't hear a significant difference swapping between the silicone and foam tips. The foam tips are more comfortable and better isolating, so I guess those are the best set to use until they wear out and you need new ones. I also squeezed on some NuForce HEM tips but those did nothing but kill any semblance of treble. Advanced Model 3 tips had the same issue. Panasonic HJE-295 tips sounded virtually identical to the stock tips. They are made from a softer silicone and folded over if inserted too far, so they were no good. Lastly, I tried both silicone and foam tips from Shure. The silicone tips were too stiff making it tough to get a seal. The foams? They sounded very similar to Comply's set with maybe a touch less treble presence. Since the comfort and isolation were still there and they've got a built in wax guard, they're be a suitable replacement for when the stock Complys wear out.

    I hear the B400 as characterized by a fairly neutral signature with a smooth yet authoritative mid-range. It has amply bass for a BA-based earphone with a fairly reserved yet detailed treble presence. All that sounds well and good, but the signature isn't what makes the B400 a must-buy in my eyes. That honor goes to it's technical prowess which bests earphones that play in a much higher price bracket.

    The B400's soundstage is decent in size, giving you a good sense of space and air. What it does within this space gets my blood running and is unlike any other earphone I've tried, which as you'll see later includes some pretty respected company. Imaging is pinpoint accurate as I found out when using the B400 for gaming (PlayerUnknowns' Battlegrounds, Dity Rally, Wipeout Omega Collection, etc.).Sound transitions seamlessly between channels. Instruments and effects layer upon each other with no discernible clutter and prominent space between each. The way every aspect of a track is separated is inspiring. This is about as close to “3D” as I've heard from an in-ear. Detail retrieval overall is quite good too. Nothing sounds veiled or masked. The B400's excellent separation let's minute intricacies stand out clearly.

    Aesop Rock's 'Fish Tales' is a fairly low resolution track with lots of grimy textures, layered vocals, and sweeping effects. It doesn't take much for it to sound sloppy and congested. My go at this song with the B400 was eye opening. Bass notes would swoop in from the sides. Aesop's vocals would clearly show up in three places at once. It made for a good showing.

    The B400's bass is lightly boosted, especially above what I have come to expect from most BA only offerings. While it doesn't have the extension of an earphone sporting a dynamic driver, I was pleased with the amount of sub-bass they could output when the tracked called for it. It's actually quite reminiscent of my old XBA-2 in that regard. The bass output on that model is one of the reasons it still finds a place in my collection. While the B400's bass is quick as expected, but I found it's decay slower and more realistic than what I've come to expect from balanced armatures. This makes it especially pleasing with my usual EDM tracks.

    The mid-range of this earphone has guts, as would be expected from one that uses two armatures to cover those frequencies. Vocals are alive and rife with detail with both male and female vocals sounding truly fantastic. Listening to Paul Williams on Daft Punk's 'Touch' is intoxicating. Guitars are crunchy as heck with amazing texture and wind instruments sound impressively breathy. Pianos have an authoritative body and presence. When you place this mid-range within an earphone with the layering and separation qualities that B400 has, it leads to some truly involving experiences.

    The B400's treble extension is adequate with some early roll off that keeps them from fatiguing my ears over longer listening sessions. They are a little lacking in terms of sparkle and shimmer and could benefit from a small bump to both presence and brilliance regions, but then again, I like my earphones on the brighter side of which these are not. Despite the somewhat relaxed treble of the B400, it still feels airy.

    Overall the B400's performance is impressive. It's treble verges on dull at times and it's end to end extension could be improved upon (upper ranges in particular), but when you hear the way it moves sound those concerns dissipate. The way this earphones portrays depth and width and everything in between is simply intoxicating and will have you seeking out tracks that push it's limits.

    20171021_110756.jpg 20171021_110818.jpg 20171021_111516.jpg
    Select Comparisons:

    B100: The B100 is thinner sounding with significantly more emphasis in the treble regions. They both have prominent, clear mid-ranges with the B100 lacking the weight and thickness of the B400. The B100's bass extends quite well, however, it's missing the mid- and sub-bass balance of the B400. In terms of soundstage, the B100 sounds larger and more open, but the depth and the way they display sound isn't comparable. The B400's soundstage is much more dynamic.

    B150: The B150 and B400 share their general signature. The B400's sound stage is a slight upgrade while it's imaging, layering and separation are notably improved. They both have a warmer signature than the B100 with a more lush, natural mid-range and added mid-bass presence.

    Campfire Audio Polaris:The Polaris is notably v-shaped, especially in comparison to the B400. As expected, the Polaris' bass depth is well beyond what the B400 can output without any significant hindrance in speed and texture. The Polaris' mid-range is quite dry with a touch of graininess to it, lacking the forwardness of the B400. The B400's treble is much less sparkly and energetic and does not have the extension of the Polaris. While the Polaris has a larger soundstage and images very well with similar levels of detail retrieval, it doesn't layer or separate nearly to the same extent. The Polaris sounds quite flat in comparison, not what I was expecting when I first pit them against each other.

    FLC 8S: Since the 8S has 36 filter combinations, to keep this comparison straightforward I left it in my favorite layout; Gold/Red/Grey. The FLC 8S sounds thinner and less weighty than the B400 but with greater end-to-end extension. The B400 falls short in terms of soundstage size, but ups the FLC in terms of layering and separation. The FLC is better than most of the earphones in my collection but it still can't touch the B400 in this regard. I also found the B400 smoother and more refined with a more organic feel to it's mid-range. That's saying a lot because the FLC 8S has a gorgeous mid-range.

    HifiMan RE800: The B400 is more balanced but also lacks the end to end extension of the RE800. Whereas the B400's treble is quite mellow to my ears, the RE800's lower treble spike makes it much more energetic. The RE800's presentation is much thinner, especially in the mid-range, yet at the same time it's also a warmer, more organic sound. The B400 has greater mid-bass presence but less sub-bass, and lacks the extension and rumble the RE800 is capable of outputting. The RE800 seems better with micro details. Combined with it's leaner presentation, to me it has a more typical “Hi-Fi” sound it. Where the B400 has the upper hand is, unsurprisingly, is in it's sound stage presentation. The RE800 is no slouch but despite the smaller soundscape it feels like it does a better job a presenting depth using a greater number of layers.

    Final Thoughts:

    Back when the B400 was first announced, Brainwavz stated they were gunning to take on earphones in the 300 USD price range. From a company known mostly for their budget gear, such a step up and using BAs only no-less, they had set some lofty goals. Obviously, things changed between then and now as the B400 isn't a 300 USD product, at least not according to the price tag.

    Listen to them, however, and you'll understand why I say that you'd be hard pressed to find a better performing earphone for under 200 USD. I certainly haven't found one. Sure, other earphones may have a signature that is more exciting (Polaris) or more organic (RE800) but if you're one that values technical prowess in terms of layering, separation, and a dynamic soundstage, these are an absolute must-listen. Highly, highly recommended.

    Thanks for reading and thank you once again to Brainwavz and Raz for the review opportunity.

    - B9Scrambler

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

    Some Test Tunes:

    Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
    Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
    King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
    King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
    Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
    Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
    Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
    Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
    Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
    Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
    The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
    Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
    Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
    Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
    The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
    Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
    Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
    Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
    Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
    Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)
    thejoker13 and Salsera like this.
  5. Brooko
    5.0/5,
    "Brainwavz B400 - Setting a new standard"
    Pros - Sound quality, build quality, fit, comfort, value, choice of replaceable cables (great quality)
    Cons - May be limited with tip choices
    [​IMG]
    Picture are default 1200 x 800 resolution - click (photos in tables) to view larger images.

    INTRODUCTION

    I can still remember the headphones and the IEMs that got me into the hobby. The IEMs were the Shure SE420s (later to become the SE425's following some issues with the cable cracking). They were an IEM I still remember fondly, and I even remember the reason for eventually upgrading. They were nicely neutral, but simply didn't have the lower end or upper end extension.

    Since then I've been on a bit of a quest of discovery, not only about what is available, but also what moves me personally, and they type of IEM I really enjoy. As part of this journey I got a chance to have a pretty good relationship with a company called Brainwavz, which culminated in me buying their HM5 Headphones and B2 IEMs – both of which I still consider to be absolute value propositions. Since then I've reviewed a lot of samples for them, and some of them have been very good, but they've always had minor issues – whether it was cables, fit, frequency spikes etc. They've come close to achieving brilliance, but something has always been missing or wrong (in my eyes anyway). What they have also been willing to do is listen and adapt.

    I haven't been involved in their last few releases (TBH I was unsure if they would ever get it right – probably a little selfish of me). Then Razzer contacted me very recently, said they were working on a new quad – but it was something totally different to their previous releases. He also hinted at returning to the hey-days of the B2, and that is what really sold me. He arranged to send me a pair of prototypes (no packaging) and its these I've been playing with over the last 3-4 weeks.

    So has Brainwavz managed to achieve some of their potential with the B400? Read on for my thoughts.


    ABOUT BRAINWAVZ

    Brainwavz Audio was formed in 2008 as a subsidiary of GPGS Hong Kong. Their goal has always been to develop a full range of audio solutions (mostly earphones and headphones) that cater for a variety of different tastes, uses and price brackets. They originally started with predominantly OEM designs from other companies, and more recently have been working to develop their own stand-alone products.

    In their own words:
    At Brainwavz we have a simple mission, to produce innovative, high quality audio products with a dedicated focus on high-end sound. Our strength, success and product range is built on the unique relationship with our customers. A relationship that has produced a simple and obvious result, we give real users real sound quality.


    DISCLAIMER

    The Brainwavz B400 that I’m reviewing today was provided as a review sample (outside normal tours etc). Razzer has asked me for my subjective opinion and feedback, with no restrictions or caveats. Brainwavz have asked me to keep it for my personal use, or for follow up comparisons, and I thank them for this. I do not make any financial gain from this review – it is has been written simply as my way of providing feedback both to the Head-Fi community and also Brainwavz Audio.

    I have now had the Brainwavz B400 for almost 4 weeks. The retail price at time of review for the basic model is ~USD 190.

    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'. (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)

    I'm a 50 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (mostly now from the FiiO X5iii, X7ii and iPhone SE) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Sennheiser HD800S, Sennheiser HD600 & HD630VB, MS Pro and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and it has mainly been with my own personally owned IEMs - the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and LZ Big Dipper. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

    I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not overly treble sensitive, and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.


    I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be skeptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables (unless it was volume or impedance related), and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 50, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays). My usual listening level is around 65-75 dB.

    For the purposes of this review - I used the Brainwavz B400 from various sources at my disposal – both straight from the headphone-out socket, and also with further amplification. In the time I have spent with the B400, I have personally noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation.

    This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.


    THE REVIEW

    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES

    To cut down on postage, and because I live out in the wop-wops (New Zealand is after all just a group of 3 islands in the South Pacific), Razzer simply sent me the small carry case (including some tips) and the IEMs. So I haven't actually had a chance to review the full package. What I can do though is give you a run down on what will be included

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Brainwavz carry caseAll the accessoriesTip selection

    The total accessory package appears to include:
    • 1 pair B400 IEMs
    • 3.5mm upgraded MMCX stereo cable
    • 2.5mm upgraded MMCX balanced cable
    • Brainwavz carry case
    • 1 earphone cleaning kit
    • 6 sets of silicone ear tips (S M L)
    • 1 set of Comply™ foam tips T-100 Red
    • 2 x earphone sanitary wipes
    • 1 shirt clip
    • 1 x velcro cable tie
    • Instruction manual & warranty card (24 month warranty)
    I think the only thing I'd personally like to see is maybe an airline adapter (because the isolation on these is really excellent), and the inclusion of some more foam tips (preferably Comply, but even Crystal would be good – the medium were too small for my large canals). Otherwise, a good start.

    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
    ModelBrainwavz B400
    Approx price$190 - 275 USD (depends on colour and cable options)
    Type4 x BA drivers IEM
    Drivers4 x Knowles Balanced Armature
    Driver Config1 x low, 2 x mid, 1 x high
    Freq Range10Hz – 40kHz
    Impedance30Ω
    Sensitivity115 dB/mW
    Cable ConnectionStandard MMCX
    Cable Type (SE)~1.25m, SPC with malleable PVC sheath
    Cable Type (Bal)~1.2m, SPC with malleable PVC sheath
    Jack (SE)3.5mm gold plated single ended, right angled
    Jack (Bal)2.5mm gold plated single ended, straight
    Weight (B400 + cable + tips)~16g
    Casing materialHigh quality UV Resin (3D printing)


    FREQUENCY GRAPH

    The graph below is generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. Ken Ball (ALO/Campfire) graciously provided me with measurement data which I have used to recalibrate my Veritas so that it mimics an IEC 711 measurement standard (Ken uses two separate BK ear simulators, we measured the same set of IEMs, and I built my calibration curve from shared data). I do not claim that this data is 100% accurate, but it is very consistent, and is as close as I can get to the IEC 711 standard on my budget. I suspect it is slightly down at around 9-10 kHz, but seems reasonably accurate through the rest of the spectrum.

    I do not claim that the measurements are in any way more accurate than anyone else's, but they have been proven to be consistent and I think they should be enough to give a reasonable idea of response - especially if you've followed any of my other reviews. When measuring I usually always use crystal foam tips (so medium bore opening) - and the reason I use them is for very consistent seal and placement depth in the coupler. I use the same amp (E11K) for all my measurements - and output is under 1 ohm. For this measurement I had to use the included Comply tips because of the smaller nozzle.

    Any graphs are provided merely as a point of discussion, and later in the review I've included comparisons to other IEMs for similar reference.


    [​IMG]
    The B400 are what I would call a relatively natural, balanced, and well extended overall signature. The bass has very good extension and a natural bass hump (for impact) without ever getting too boomy or bass dominant. The mid-range has a very slight recession relative to both mid-bass and upper mid-range, but doesn't sound recessed because of the relative frequency peaks (it is still an extremely well balanced earphone).

    Upper mid-range has a slow rise to a natural peak between 3-4 kHz, and displays great cohesion between lower and upper mid-range with no dissonance or tonality issues. Lower treble shows good extension, but is dialed back a little bit compared to mid-range. If you are a treble lover, you may want to give it a little nudge with EQ at 7-8 kHz.

    A couple of things to not in particular with the frequency response graph:
    - the absolutely excellent channel matching. It really is superb!
    - the matching of peaks and valleys – note the mid-bass hump closely matches the upper-mid peak, and the sub-bass extension closely matches the 1 kHz valley.
    This is the sign of an incredibly well tuned IEM.


    BUILD AND DESIGN

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    External faceInternal face and nozzlesFrom the front

    The Brainwavz B400 has the very traditional peanut or jelly bean ergonomic shape adopted by most manufacturers when they really want a small and completely ergonomic in ear monitor. It reminds me a little of the MEE P1 or Shure standard housings. The model I have is the clear (or frosty) standard shell. It is 3D printed into two halves using the same type of resin usually used for Custom IEMs. These are then populated with the BA drivers, crossovers, filters, MMCX socket and joined to become the final earpiece.

    The shell is approx 23mm across, 12mm high and 14mm deep at its widest point. It is also incredibly light, but feels quite tough. The shell on the “frosty edition” is translucent, and you can clearly see the armatures inside. On the exterior of the shell the word “Brainwavz” is printed on both sides. Apart from that, there is no other adornments I can see.

    The shell join is pretty seamless over most of the IEM but at the very back of my right earpiece is a small ridge where they haven't quite joined properly. Given this pair is a prototype, and the care Brainwavz has taken with the entire package, I regard this as an exception rather than an issue/rule. Both the internal and external surface areas are well rounded with gentle ridges and valleys designed to perfectly fit with the main contours of your ear.


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    From the rearNozzle lip and socketsConnectors

    The nozzle protrudes slightly forward and slightly up from the front of the IEM and extends approx 5mm from the main body. It has an external diameter of approx 4mm, a generous lip, but is very small – and takes a Comply T100 tip. The lip really helps being able to use some larger tip sizes, but overall many of the larger tips I have simply won't fit (more on that later).

    At the top rear of the B400 shell is a recessed standard MMCX socket. The socket is brilliantly firm with both included cables and you need to use real force to remove them (a great sign of longevity IMO).


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    SE cable connectorsSE cable y-split and cinchSE cable 3.5mm jack

    There are 2 cables included, one single ended and one balanced. The single ended is high quality SPC and features formable ear-guides (which work really well), and a twisted pair of SPC wires (with soft PVC sheath) to the y-split. The Y-split is made of flexible clear rubber, with great strain relief and a clear piece of tubing for a cinch (nice touch). Below the Y-split, the two twisted pairs become a heavier twisted pair as the channels are wrapped around each other. The 2.5 mm stereo jack has a black hard plastic casing (with again very good strain relief), is straight, gold plated and again very smart-phone case friendly. The cable itself is made in the Taiwan, is again extremely flexible with no memory, and again is a perfect choice. With both cables there are virtually no microphonics, and any that are present can be eliminated by using the cinch.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Bal cable connectorsBal cable y-split and cinchBal cable 2.5mm jack

    Internally the B400 uses a 4 BA set-up, configured 1 low/sub, 2 mid and 1 high. They are Knowles BAs. Razz informs me that they use litz wire (manufactured in Netherlands) inside the earpieces and Kester solder on all joints. The resin for the 3D printing is sourced from the US and all manufacture and assembly is performed by in-house at Brainwavz in Hong Kong The overall quality and attention to detail is very high – and that shows in the graph I posted earlier (the driver matching is incredible). The entire process from printing the housing to final assembly, finishing, burn in, quality checking and packing per earphone takes ~28 hours.

    All in all, I would say that the design and build quality is excellent (absolutely no issues apart from the one join – and I don't think we can count that as it was a prototype), and looks very durable.


    FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION
    Isolation is extremely good with the B400 but ultimately will depend on the tips you use and how good the seal is. I've already used these on a flight, and can definitely say that with a pair of Shure Olives, they were brilliant – eliminating most cabin noise and achieving the same sort of isolation as well fitting Shure IEMs. Turning to fit and comfort, and these thoughts are more subjective, and will vary from person to person, my experience has been one of complete satisfaction. As I mentioned earlier, the B400 has been designed for a completely ergonomic fit. For me they are a perfect fit, sit flush with my outer ear, and basically disappear within a few minutes of wearing (I could forget they are in). I have slept with them intact, and woken hours later with them still there and no discomfort. The lack of hard edges and the smooth finish contribute to an extremely positive experience. The B400 is designed to only be used cable over ear.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Normal tip choices (left) won't stay onT100 Comply and Shure Olives fit wellPerfect fit and great comfort

    The B400 has an excellent lip on the nozzle, but has quite a skinny nozzle width (similar to Shures SE series). I've tried Spiral Dots, Spin-fits, Ostry tuning tips and Sony Isolation tips, and unfortunately while they fit, it was somewhat loose, and I'd leave tips in my ears. The included Comply 100 tips fit the nozzle well, but are too narrow for my big dumbo ear canals. The included silicones would not seal, but I did have plenty of options with a lot of generic small tips I've collected over the years.

    The one tip I do have and which tends to fit me extremely well with shallower fitting IEMs is the Shure Olives. They are perfectly sized for the nozzle, long lasting, provide a great seal – and because of their bore, tend to enhance the 7-8 kHz range by a few decibel. For my personal tastes, with the B400 they were made for each other.


    SOUND QUALITY

    The following is what I hear from the Brainwavz B400. YMMV – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my FiiO X7ii (single ended) no EQ, and large Shure Olive tips. I used the FiiO X7ii simply because it gives me a transparent window to the music with low impedance, and more than enough power. There was no DSP engaged.

    For the record – on most tracks, the volume on X7ii was around the 40/120 level which was giving me an average SPL around 65-75 dB. Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.17556


    Relativities

    • Sub-bass – has good extension and even at my lower listening levels the rumble is clearly audible, but is not really visceral or intense (I often find BA bass does not have the same impact as dynamic). Does not dominate at all with tracks like Lorde's Royals, but does give some thump to give a sense of impact without overshadowing vocals, and there is no bleed (or masking) into the lower mid-range. Balanced and quick rather than slamming.
    • Mid-bass – has a natural mid-bass hump – providing good impact, and sitting elevated over lower mids and sub-bass, and roughly equal with upper mids (so really good balance). Has good impact with tracks like Amy Winehouse's “You know I'm no good”, but never going to be confused for a basshead IEM. To me this is perfect (and natural) bass quantity.
    • Lower mid-range – there is a slight recession compared to sub and mid-bass, and also the upper mid-range, but does not sound recessed or distant at all. Male vocals do not quite have the same presence as female vocals (bit I don't have the urge to turn the volume up slightly – so I think the balance is pretty good), and they do have enough body to be thoroughly enjoyable.
    • Upper mid-range – elevated compared to lower mid-range, and there is a gentle rise from 1 kHz to a first peak at just over 3 kHz. The result is a clean and clear vocal range, with very good cohesion and some euphony for female vocals to sound sweet and elevated. There is also good sense of bite with guitars.
    • Lower treble has good extension, and really is quite even and sustained from about 4 khz through to 10 kHz with just some minor dips. It isn't over-emphasised, remaining at about the same amplitude as the lower mid-range. This presents a reasonable sense of clarity and detail, but without any sign of harshness.
    • My measuring equipment tends to struggle with accuracy over 10 kHz, and its a hit or miss whether I can actually hear it. Doesn't show any sign of deficiencies to me.

    Resolution / Detail / Clarity
    • Clarity is good – its something BA's tend to do extremely well, and the B400 is a competent performer in this area. Cymbals are clear and show really natural decay without over-doing things with too much upper harmonics in the 7 kHz area. Tracks like 10CC's “Art for art's sake” display really nice detail without any sign of smearing. If anything I would prefer a small bump at 7-8 kHz, but I acknowledge that is personal preference.
    • Breaking Benjamin's “Diary of Jayne” is a really good track because there is plenty of high-hat action, but over the top are the vocals and a lot of guitar. The B400 handles it all with aplomb, and there is no sign of smearing, confusion or missing / masked micro detail. These drivers are really quick and very well tuned.
    • Seether's live version of “Immortality” from their “One Cold Night” live album is a good track for checking the tonality of guitar, and the ability of cymbal decay to come through clearly despite the amount of acoustic guitar presence. The B400 managed this (the tonality overall just has tremendous cohesion and balance), but again I would prefer just a little bump in the 7-8 kHz region.
    • Overall I feel as though I'm hearing everything in the recordings – and this is even at my lower listening levels. Tonality is really nicely balanced through the frequency spectrum, and would be an ideal platform to add your own colouration requirements via EQ.
    Sound-stage and Imaging
    • Directional queues are very good – clean and clear, and presentation of stage is just on the periphery of my head space with binaural tracks. The B400 has reasonable sense of perceived head-stage for an IEM, but is not what I would call overly open sounding (nor should it be).
    • Separation of instruments and imaging is very good, again a benefit of a well tuned BA.
    • One of the more spherically presented sound-stages I've had with an IEM (is this the mix of balance and incredibly well matched drivers?) – with only a slight L/R dominance, and reasonable sense of depth as well as width.
    • The applause section of “Dante's Prayer” was extremely well presented with a realistic of flow around me. Does not quite come to the level of more expensive multi-drivers (Dipper/U10), but at a fraction of the price it is not embarrassed in their company. Impressive.
    • “Let it Rain” was simply fantastic. The track has a wonderfully three-dimensional sense of spatial presentation – it is the way the track was miked. There was virtually no hint of sibilance with Amanda's vocal – and I know its present in the recording – so the slightly subdued upper treble response is toning things down slightly. The track itself though – beautifully presented!
    Sonic Strengths
    • Overall tonal balance and clarity – while retaining a smoothness in the lower treble
    • Imaging, and separation, but Ina more intimate total perceived stage.
    • Both sub and mid-bass have enough impact to sound quite natural but do not dominate otherwise
    • Very good portrayal of both male and female vocals.
    • Nicely detailed at low listening levels, and not harsh or abrasive at louder levels
    • Extremely good transition between lower and upper mid-range
    Sonic Weaknesses
    • This is a hard one because it doesn't really have any sonic weaknesses as such, but personally I'd like just a little bump at around 7-8 kHz to bring cymbals a little more forward. I acknowledge this is personal preference only. Treble heads or lovers of a brighter signature might want to look elsewhere unless they are OK with EQ.
    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

    The B400 is not a hard IEM to drive with its 30 ohm impedance and 115 dB sensitivity. It was easily driven with all the sources I tried, and this included my iPhone SE and players like FiiO's X1ii (neither are power houses). My iPhone SE only needed about one third of its volume for a comfortable 65-75dB and going to 50% volume was simply to loud for me on most tracks (pushing into the 80-85dB range).

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    practically any DAP will drive the B400 wellNo real need for additional amplifiers

    I also went back and forth (volume matching with test tones and fixed volumes using a few different combos – iPhone SE & FiiO Q1ii, X3ii & E17K, and X7ii by itself, and did not notice any appreciable difference between amped and straight out of a DAP.

    BALANCED PERFORMANCE

    Fortunately I have a couple of balanced sources I can use to test the B400, and I also have a 2.5mm balanced to 3.5mm SE adapter – which makes rapid switching between the two really easy. I've graphed the outputs using both the X7ii, and also the Q1ii.

    The graphs may not quite line-up with the graph I used to show default frequency response – and that is because it was created using the Q1ii and X7ii – neither of which are calibrated properly for my main measuring rig. But they both can show relative frequency response – and any changes between the balanced and single-ended output.


    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Q1ii measurementsQ1ii volume matched
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    X7ii volume matched

    As you can see from the graphs – the difference between the two is purely volume / power related, and once you volume match (on my rig anyway) the frequency response is exactly the same. So for anyone comparing the two – I suggest volume matching very carefully. As for my own listening tests – after careful volume matching, I can't tell any difference in bal/SE on either source (Q1ii or X7ii). Both sound fantastic.

    If you see people making night and day claims between the two – my advice – take those comments with a rather large grain of salt (and also anything else they say).


    RESPONSE TO EQ

    I think most people will love these as they are. But for those like me who want perhaps a little tweak in that lower treble – I can definitely recommend it (for my preferences). Using the X7ii, I simply nudged up 8 kHz by about 4dB, then changed the gain to bring it back up to my normal listening level. The end result – cymbals are once again a little more forward in the mix (my preference). Anyway – the B400 responds well to EQ (a sub-bass boost was enough to implement quite a bit of rumble if you prefer that). The versatility of the B400 is impressive.

    COMPARISON WITH OTHER IEMS

    Its always a hard one to try and pick earphones to compare with – simply because some earphones just hit well above their price point (and the B400 definitely does). So I chose to compare with some very strong contenders in the $150-$500 range, concentrating mainly on multi-driver IEMs.

    For the source, I wanted something very neutral, but with a good digital control, to make sure I could volume match. So I chose to use my new work-horse – the FiiO X7ii. No DSP or EQ was used. Gain was low (I didn't need any more). I volume matched using a calibrated SPL meter and fixed 1kHz test tone first. My listening level was set to an average of 75dB.

    I chose to compare Simgot Audio's new EN700 Pro ($150), my favourite Alclair Curve ($250), Earsonic's ES2 ($299), and ES3 ($399), and Dunu's DK-3001 ($500).


    Brainwavz B400 (~USD 190) vs Simgot EN700 Pro (~USD 150)
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    Brainwavz B400 and Simgot En700 ProFrequency comparisons

    I reviewed the EN700 Pro a couple of weeks ago. It should have made the front page IMO – a 5 star IEM in every sense of the word, and especially at its very low price point. The EN700 Pro is a single DD IEM. Both earphones have excellent build, very good quality cables (1 SE in the case of the EN700 Pro), and outstanding comfort. The B400 does have a lot better isolation comparatively.

    Sonically the two earphones are quite differently tuned, even though they look somewhat similar on a frequency graph. For starters the EN700 Pro's bass is centered more toward the sub-bass, and the DD bass appears warmer with greater impact. Its also a little slower and not as clean as the much quicker and more agile B400 BA drivers. The B400 is also more balanced overall than the comparatively more V shaped and mid-centric EN700 Pro. The B400 simply appears cleaner overall. As far as mid-range goes, the EN700 Pro is quite a bit more coloured and forward (it is quite vividly tuned). Both have a “relaxed” and non-fatiguing lower treble.

    This one ultimately comes down to personal preference, and I highly recommend both at their respective price points. For me personally, I've always loved and preferred a well tuned BA based mid-range, and with these two my own personal preference would go with the B400 – but really you can't go wrong with either.


    Brainwavz B400 (~USD 190) vs Alclair Curve (~USD 250)
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    Brainwavz B400 and Alclair CurveFrequency comparisons

    The Curve from Alclair is my go-to IEM for the last couple of years. It is an exquisitely tuned dual BA IEM with one for the most ergonomic designs I've ever encountered. It is also an IEM which deserves far more recognition and one which I will never sell.

    Again both earphones have excellent build (resin vs polycarbonite), very good quality cables (again just 1 SE in the case of the Curve), and outstanding comfort (the Curve narrowly slips ahead in a head-to-head on fit and comfort). Both have a fantastic isolation.

    These two IEMs are actually very close sonically, sharing a very similar tonality. The B400 is very slightly thicker sounding, and definitely a little smoother. Both have very quick and clean bass, and both are exquisitely balanced. The big difference for me is in the lower treble extension, and this is where the Curve just has a little more emphasis – but it is in balance and not over extended. Picking a winner between these two is not easy, and I know I can simply EQ a little 7-8 kHz on the B400 and get the signature I like. This one is simply too close to call. If I was picking a trifecta or triple crown at 3 price points ($150 / $200 / $250) it would be the 3 IEMs I have so far compared.


    Brainwavz B400 (~USD 190) vs Earsonics ES2 (~USD 299)
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    Brainwavz B400 and Earsonics ES2Frequency comparisons

    The Earsonics ES2 is another dual BA IEM which impressed me from the outset by its overall all round ability. Again build quality is very good on both the ES2 and B400, and both are well designed with fit and comfort in mind – although this time it is the B400 which is the more comfortable of the two. Both have good quality removable cables – but with the B400 you get two, and the overall cable quality is better. Isolation is very good on both IEMs – but again the B400 does seem to have a slight edge.

    Sonically the two earphones are very similar with bass and lower mid-range, but quite different in their upper mid-range and lower treble. Its not until you compare the two side-by-side that you realise how forward and coloured/vivid the mid-range is on the ES2, and although I still really like it, I'm finding the B400 seems a lot more natural sounding in it's tuning. The ES2 flirts with the tiniest bit of dissonance in comparison, and although it really is crystal clear and very detailed, I am struck by how much more “real” the B400 sounds in comparison. For me personally this is an easy one – I'm more impressed with the B400 and at almost half the price it really is an easy choice.


    Brainwavz B400 (~USD 190) vs Earsonics ES3 (~USD 399)
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    Brainwavz B400 and Earsonics ES3Frequency comparisons

    The Earsonics ES3 is a triple BA IEM which in a way sounds reasonably similar to the great Andromeda from CA. Its an IEM which took a while to grow on me, but which has impressed me every time I've heard it. I'll skip past the physical attributes, because ultimately the ES3 has the same build quality and dimensions as the ES2 we've just compared.

    These two sound quite different. For starters the ES3 has more sub-bass warmth, but the B400 has more overall mid-bass and resulting fullness and richness of mid-range. The ES3 is comparatively quite flat in the mid-bass area so lacks a little bass impact overall, and because of this sounds very, very clear, and clean. Couple that with the lower treble having a pronounced spike at 7 kHz, and you have a monitor that treble heads will ultimately love. Overall clean, cool, and detailed. The B400 in comparison is just a little richer, more relaxed, and perhaps more natural sounding tonally.

    Again they are both really good IEMs, but I'm considering the overall tonality, and knowing what I can do with a bit of EQ in the 7-8 kHz area with the B400. So, I just can't get over the more realistic overall presentation the B400 delivers – at less than half the price. If I had to choose – it would be the B400.


    Brainwavz B400 (~USD 190) vs Dunu DK-3001 (~USD 499)
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    Brainwavz B400 and Dunu Dk-3001Frequency comparisons

    The Dunu DK-3001 is a quad hybrid IEM which was released by Dunu earlier this year, and captivated me from first listen. Its starting to get to the more expensive end of the range, and at close to to $500 is 2-3 times the price of the B400.

    Both IEMs have quality builds – sturdy, good material and a nice finish. Both come with good quality single-ended and balanced cables. The big difference in terms of design though is in the ergonomics. The B400 fits exquisitely and disappears when worn. The DK-3001 has hard internal angles, and for me personally becomes painful to wear after an hour (which is a real shame).

    The two IEMs are quite different yet both sound quite natural in their own way. With the DK-3001, the bass is tastefully executed, and while it looks close to the B400 on the graph, the DD of the hybrid does give it more overall impact. Switching to the B400 and the first thing you notice with the bass is the missing heft and dynamism. It still sounds great – but the DK-3001 is just in another league. Lower mid-range is very good on both, and both nail male vocals with excellence. The upper mid-range is quite different though, with the DK-3001 being very vivid and definitely more coloured (it is also glorious for a female vocal lover). The other major difference is in the lower treble, and where the B400 is more subdued, the DK-3001 has effortless extension and detail – yet never overdoes things. It is perfect treble for my tastes. The only other IEM which is close is the Big Dipper. If you were summarising in terms of painting, the DK-3001 is an oil based – bright colours, captivating, beautifully balanced and yet still very vivid. The B400 is the water colour – a little more natural in overall tonality, but when you put the two side-by-side your eyes are naturally drawn to the oil painting.

    If I could get the DK-3001's overall tonality (maybe a small cut to the first peak) and put it in the body of the B400, I'd simply stop reviewing. There would be no point – you'd have perfection, or very close to it. Unfortunately we can't, and when comparing the two, ultimately the superior comfort (yet still very good tonality) of the B400 beats out the brilliance of the DK-3001. The fact you an do so at less than half the price of the Dunu doesn't hurt either. If Dunu ever combines tonality with ergonomics though – watch out!


    VALUE

    So how do I see the overall value of the B400? Quite simply, it is unfathomable that you can buy this sort of quality at sub $200. if you'd told me a month ago that the Simgot EN700 Pro or the Alclair Curve would have serious competition in similar brackets I would have raised an eyebrow and said “yeah right” with some skepticism. The B400 from Brainwavz is not just competitive at its price level – its setting a new benchmark. It would be hard to think of any IEM I've tried (apart from the Curve) which not only breaks the old ideas of great value – it shatters it. The B400 can live comfortably with peers at least double its price point, and it does this with ease.

    BRAINWAVZ B400 – SUMMARY

    If you've got this far, you already know how this part goes, so I'll keep it short. The B400 from Brainwavz heralds anew era for them – one in which they finally have put together a complete package – build quality, fit, comfort, and sound quality – and done so at an incredible price point.

    The B400 is made from durable quality materials, and is a joy to wear (very comfortable). It comes with two high quality cables, and if you can get a good seal, you;'re in for a real treat sonically. It provides a very balanced, clean, clear and engaging window to the music, which is smooth and thoroughly enjoyable for long term listening.

    It wasn't that long ago that you'd expect to pay $4-500 for this sort of quality, and the fact that you can now get a B400 for less than $200 is really incredible value. With no real flaws there is only one ranking I can give this earphone. 5/5 from me. If you like a balanced and tonally natural signature with a relatively smooth top end, simply look no further.

    I just want to close with thanking Razzer for the chance to review the B400. I don't know how he'll follow this though. Brainwavz may have just made a rod for their own back :)


    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. jant71
    4.5/5,
    "The B400 - New Heights For Brainwavz!"
    Pros - Affordable price, solid accessory pack, plenty of color and cable options, wonderful fit, flagship sound quality with a nice speaker-like presentation.
    Cons - Stock silicone tips take a bit of quality from the bass articulation.
    Intro:
    Today I'd like to give a review of the new Brainwavz B400 quad armature earphones. Thanks to Raz from Brainwavz who contacted me to offer me the B400 in exchange for an objective review.

    I have heard plenty of Brainwavz earphones from the S series to the R3 to other B series models such as the B2, B150, and B200. I liked the previous lower models B150 and B200 for their fit and smooth, well behaved sound yet thought they were a bit overpriced for their lack of removable cables and overall technical ability at the original prices. You might have seen a post from me applauding Brainwavz for adjusting those models prices lower.

    This time around Brainwavz comes pretty strong with a current flagship product that is an evolution of the lower B models. They have upped the comfort/fit, added plenty of color choices, removable cables with options, high technical ability, and started with a very affordable price point!

    The B400 can be found here: https://www.brainwavzaudio.com/coll...-quad-balanced-armature-earphones-stay-frosty
    Features:
    • 4 Balanced armature drivers
    • 3D Printed housing
    • Ergonomic Design
    • Detachable MMCX Cables
    Specifications:
    • Drivers : Quad Balanced Armature
    • Rated Impedance : 30Ω
    • Frequency Range : 10 Hz - 40 kHz
    • Sensitivity : 115dB
    • Cable : Detachable MMCX
    • Plug : 3.5 mm, Gold plated
    Included Accessories:
    • 3.5mm Standard MMCX Stereo Cable
    • 2.5mm Standard MMCX Balanced Cable
    • Earphone Hard case
    • 1 Set earphone cleaning kit
    • 6 sets of Silicone Ear Tips (S M L)
    • 1 set of Comply™ Foam Tips T-100 Red
    • 2 Earphone sanitary wipes
    • 1 Shirt Clip
    • Velcro Cable Tie
    • Instruction Manual & Warranty Card (24 month warranty)
    I did receive the B400 w/o the retail packaging so not much of an unboxing experience. Still opening up the case found a very handsome earphone with nice accessories! Here is the B400 in pics:
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    upload_2017-10-6_15-32-0.png
    upload_2017-10-6_15-32-39.png
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    upload_2017-10-6_15-35-32.png
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    My B400 came with the Candy Cane 2.5mm balanced and Frosty 3.5mm cables:
    upload_2017-10-6_15-37-43.png
    upload_2017-10-6_15-41-4.png

    Design:
    Some info provided to me by Raz...
    - Drivers are produced by Knowles
    - 3D printer and resin are from/made in the US, printed & assembled in house at Brainwavz
    - The silver cable is made in USA by a very well know manufacturer within the IEM industry, high purity, OFC silver plated cable
    - The balanced cable is made in Taiwan, high purity, OFC silver plated cable
    - The standard cables will be made in Taiwan by the same manufacturer of the balanced cable using OFC copper cable
    - The litz wire used within the housing is from Netherlands by a premium litz cable manufacturer
    - We are using Kester Solder (made in USA) for soldering the wires within the housing, and soldering the balanced cable and standard cables.
    - Comply T-100 tips included (made in USA)
    - The only components that are made in China are the earphone case, silicone tips and packaging material.
    - The entire earphone is assembled and packed at our workshop in Hong Kong by our own team, so the quality control and attention to detail is very high.
    - The entire process from printing the housing to final assembly, finishing, burn in, quality checking and packing per earphone takes 28+ hours.

    The Frosty B400 design is excellent. A frost translucent textured finish with an excellent fitting ergonomic shape. The housing seems decently thick and sturdy. It has MMCX connectors that spin free with no locking mechanism for the cable. I have found the connection snaps in nicely and have had no connection issues in my time with them.

    The shape fits me wonderfully. Flush, very stable, and extremely comfortably. The Frosty cable has a metal wire memory portion you can shape to fit the ears. I went with more of the squared off bend style which I like.

    Looking straight into the B400 bore you don't find any screens or filters right away but further back you'll see two Knowles dampers one green and one white. Like a little speaker with woofer and tweeter then some room in between allowing things to mix and then out the bore/tip and into the ear canal.

    Sound Impressions:
    Coming off the speaker-like design description, I will describe the sound presentation.

    If you have read the B400 thread on Head-Fi you'll have seen that fellow member Brooko posted an early F.R. graph for the B400 and it agrees exactly with how I hear the B400. A bit of a low arched smooth bass hump that rolls slow into the sub 50Hz frequencies and gentle sloping treble with nice reach and a bit of a peak between 3-4K right before that keeping them from being too smooth like the B200 is to my ears. I also hear an excellently matched earphone that delivers wonderfully well edged notes that are sharp clean and super well focused helping the detail and resolution be top notch.

    Not a flat earphone nor boosted to really U or V but right at a sweet spot that many will love and others can push in either direction to suit either more neutral or more warm tastes without too much trouble.

    The "little speaker" look inside the bore seems to help give then a wonderfully well layered and blended image and soundscape. Like a more speaker presentation on a smaller scale. Stage is a good size and things inside can be placed pretty much anywhere the recording may call for it. Aided by the great channel matching and sharp edged notes from the Knowles drivers the particular set-up can seemingly place things anywhere in that little room/space in front of the dampers and the ears hear a realistic image that is further up the scale from earphone sounding to a more realistic speaker sound than most of the earphones I have heard. Only thing holding back here is the sealed design not being as open or 3D as an earbud or semi-open earphone can be.

    Still you are transported to a warm smooth but not dark musical place that really engages with great ability, great balance, and great character or personality. Not a monitor sound here stripping away towards the sterile but a real house sound. The Knowles flavor is there and familiar but a Brainwavz has instilled a house sound or flavor more like a dynamic earphone does and more well done than most any all armature earphone I have come across. Not all the dynamic bass reach or power but impact and some feel is there. In fact notes throughout the range have a good weight and tactile nature making them more 3D in and of themselves.

    As for the bass we have a high quality bass with some heft and a bit of warmth. Solid sub reach only bested by TOTL armature models and quality dynamics. I do feel when using the stock silicone tips the note get a little smudged and loss their sharpness and tightness. A bit easier to hear with the ability of the B400. Any loss of that sharp edge in any part of the spectrum is easy for me to pick out. Points to the resolving ability of the B400 and is fixed with tips if ones hears it. The bass mixes with the treble wonderfully for cymbals and drums to form a realistic drum kit that is integrated and positioned accurately. The bass is both very tight and quick enough to keep up with any type of music yet still has good punch and weight. Satisfying armature bass if you will :)

    Mids are airy, clean, wonderfully imaged, and to me the most 3D part of the spectrum. Imaged in front of the drum kit nicely they space out well, are super intelligible, and float wonderfully in thier own space. Revealing and the most well spaced or distinct part of the spectrum. Probably hearing all my familiar tracks the mids stood out most as far as a "hearing them like I haven't heard them before" kind of effect.

    The treble is a team player but still excellent. Accurate and clean tones. Just metallic enough, transparent with an accurate decay. Blends in well but still reaches quite high with the polite roll off. Plays well with the whole image popping up to highlight things when called for more than being a constant focus. Real treble detail and not forced, or boosted/exaggerated to give more detail or hear it easier. Lacks only the highest registers as far as reach.

    Overall:
    The new B400 is a quad done right plain and simple. All the technical ability you'd expect from 4 armatures blended together the right way to give weight, texture, personality, and a wonderfully coherent and immersive presentation. They designed a sturdy housing with one of the better fitting shapes, added an array of color choice and cable options. Then they gave it an extremely fair price and configuration options that don't make you pay for something you don't want or need. Brainwavz took what they started with the B100/150/200 and nearly perfected it! I recommend them heartily!!

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