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Brainwavz BLU-100 Bluetooth IEMs

Rating:
3.70833/5,
  1. peter123
    Freedom on the move!
    Written by peter123
    Published May 31, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Fully functional remote, decent sound and freedom when out and about
    Cons - Ergonomics can be an issue
    First of all I'd like to thank Brainwavz and Audrey for giving me a chance to check out the Brainwavz BLU-100 Bluetooth IEM.
     
    Introduction:
    The Brainwavz BLU-100 is Brainwavz first attempt at a Bluetooth IEM. It’s also the first Bluetooth IEM (or headphone as well for that matter) that I try myself. Being so I was not quite sure what to expect so I was really excited to try them out.
     
    Built and accessories:
    The accessory pack is good as always with Brainwavz and includes four pairs of tips (one pair of Comply foam tips and three pairs of silicon tips), one pair of silicon wings to help make them stay in place in your ears as well as a charging cable and a zippered case to store them in.
     
    Built quality is top notch although the housing is pretty large and weight is over 8 gram which is pretty heavy for an IEM. The relatively heavy housing and wide short nozzle made it a challenge for me to get a good fit initially (I’ve got small ear canals) but eventually I was able to get a good seal and a fit that made them stay put in my ears. Isolation is about average for an IEM.
     
    In spite of being a Bluetooth IEM the BLU-100’s got a cable connecting the housings to each other. This is also where the remote and mic unit is located. The cable is about 60 cm long and I wouldn’t have complained if it had been 10 cm shorter.
     
    Battery time is stated to be 4 hours and I find that to be correct. The right housing hosts a micro USB port for charging.  
     
    I’ve really enjoyed the features that the BLU-100 offers. Not having to worry about the cable getting stuck or bringing my phone with me every time I get up from my desk has been great. It’s also been very nice to be able to listen to music while cooking at home.  
     
    The remote control also works fully with my Xperia Z3 phone (something that’s not often the case) and the mic seem to be of very good quality. To start with I had trouble telling if the headset was on or off but then I realized that it actually tells you if you put them in your ears before turning them on, very nice.
     
    My general impression is that the BLU-100 feels robust and well thought out and is a really convenient alternative when you’re moving around be so at the office, at home or while working out.
     
    The Specs:
     
    Type: Dynamic, 8mm
    Impedance: 30ohms Closed Dynamic
    Sensitivity: 110dB at 1mW
    Frequency range: 20 ~ 20000Hz
    Bluetooth version: 4.0 (CSRBC8645) with aptX
    Operation max distance: 30ft (10m)
    Battery: 60mAh - 4hrs playtime, 100hrs standby, 2hrs for full charge (Micro USB charging)
    CVC echo and noise cancellation
    Supports voice prompt for MMI: Power on - Paring - Connecting - Battery low - Power off
    Supports HFP, HSP and A2DP
    Supports pairing with two devices at the same time
    3 button remote, works with Apple iOS products, Android & Windows phones & PC
    1 year warranty
     
    IMG_2247.jpg
     
    IMG_2243.jpg
     
    IMG_2244.jpg
     
    IMG_2245.jpg
     
    IMG_2246.jpg
     
    Sound:
    I've let them play for over 50 hours and I've used them while working out, at the office and at home and I've not found any weaknesses to the way they're constructed. I've been using them exclusively with my Sony Xperia Z3 Compact phone.
     
    Demo list:
    Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
    Røyksopp (Feat.Susanne Sundfør) – Save Me
    Ane Brun – These Days
    Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
    Alice in Chains – Them Bones
    The Peter Malick Group – Immigrant
    Eva Cassidy – Songbird
    Thomas Dybdahl – A Lovestory
    Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
    Celldweller – Unshakeable
    Jack Johnson – Better Together
    Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo remix)
    Dire Straits- So Far Away
    Passenger – Let Her Go
    Morrissey – Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
     
    As I mentioned initially these are my first pair of Bluetooth IEM’s and being so I didn’t know what to expect from it regarding the sound quality.
     
    My first impression was that they perform better than I feared and that they'd probably be better for use outside.
     
    The overall sound signature of the BLU-100 is pretty balanced except for a mid-bass hump.
     
    To start from the lows the sub bass is present but far from overwhelming. Moving up to the lower mids they’re the most noticeable part of the presentation making the mid-bass pretty dominating. Still the higher mids doesn’t feel recessed and the treble is well present. Overall clarity is good and detail retrieval as well as soundstage is also decent. I would really have liked for the mid-bass to be more toned downed and for the sub bass to have some more impact but the BLU-100 still offers an enjoyable listening experience.
     
    To be honest the BLU-100 is not an IEM I’d use for critical listening in my home but for use out and about with top 40 kind of music they’re still a solid performer.
     
    Summary:
    As a total package the BLU-100 is a solid offering. The combination of a decent sound quality and very good usability on this first attempt on a Bluetooth IEM from Brainwavz makes me really looking forward to what they future Bluetooth offerings will be like. Meanwhile I’ll enjoy the BLU-100!
      twister6 and hakushondaimao like this.
    1. hakushondaimao
      Nicely done, Peter, and great music list.
      hakushondaimao, May 31, 2015
    2. peter123
      Thank you Eric!
      peter123, May 31, 2015
  2. Brooko
    Brainwavz BLU-100 - Bluetooth on a budget
    Written by Brooko
    Published May 7, 2015
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Easy to use, warm signature that improves with simple EQ, good mid-range, lightweight, in-line controls and mic, good build quality, value.
    Cons - Comfort (personal), relatively short battery life, warm (bordering on dark) default tuning, dropouts in high traffic areas, LED hard to see
    blu-10001.jpg
    For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images

    INTRODUCTION

    Brainwavz is a well-established manufacturer of headphones in the value for money category – offering many different options that suit almost anyone’s sonic preferences.  I’ve previously purchased their HM5 headphones and B2 earphones (both are IMO stellar performers and represent real value for money options).  I’ve also had the chance to review their M1, R1, R3, S0, S5 and R3 V2 IEMs, and the AP001 amplifier.
     
    I’ve had regular contact with Audrey from Brainwavz, and recently she asked me to consider being part of a review and launch of their first ever bluetooth earphones. This really did interest me, as I haven’t had the chance yet to try any actual Bluetooth wireless earphones, and I have seen this technology becoming more and more popular of late.
     
    So today we are looking at the Brainwavz BLU-100 headset. Audrey has told me to keep this pair as a loaner (which I’m very grateful for), and which I will use as a comparison earphone in any future reviews of similar products.
     
    I received the courier pack approximately one week ago – and have already spent as much time as I could with the BLU-100. I’d estimate that so far I’ve logged around 20 hours with it since it arrived.
     
    I’ve listed price at USD $44.50 (which is the intended RRP on release) – however this is not what I paid for them (they are a review sample).
     
    They can be found here : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YDVY34Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&keywords=bluetooth+earphones
     
    DISCLAIMER
     
    I was provided the BLU-100 by Brainwavz as part of a review program. I am not affiliated with Brainwavz in any way, nor do I make any financial gain from my contributions.  This is my honest opinion of the BLU-100.
     
    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.   (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)
     
    I'm a 48 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 portable (Fiio X5, X3ii, X1 and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP).  I also use a portable set-up at work – either X5/X3ii > HP, or PC > Beyer A200p > HP.  My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1, Sennheiser HD600, and Brainwavz HM5.  Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs - and up till now it has mainly been with the Fidue A83, Dunu Titan, Trinity Delta, and Altone200. 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 treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880.
     
    I have extensively tested myself (abx) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent.  I do use exclusively redbook 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 sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in audible burn-in (at least not the wild claims we all hear about massive changes), have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences.  I am not a ‘golden eared listener’.  I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 48, my hearing is less than perfect.
     
    For the purposes of this review - I only used the BLU-100 with my iPhone 5S as it is the only bluetooth device I use regularly for audio. In the short time I have spent with the BLU-100, I have noticed only slight changes in the overall sonic presentation, but am aware that this is simply that I am becoming more used to the signature of the BLU-100 as I use them more often (brain burn-in).
     
    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          
     
    The review sample I have did not come with packaging, so I can’t really tell you about the intended retail box. So what we’ll start with is what I received:
     
    blu-10002.jpg blu-10003.jpg
    Brainwavz case & sticker
    Inside the case

     
    1. The BLU-100 head-set
    2. One USB to USB-mini plug (for recharging)
    3. One velcro cable tie
    4. 3 sets (S/M/L) silicone ear tips
    5. 1 set genuine Comply S400 foam tips
    6. 2 removable ear fins
    7. 1 standard Brainwavz red and black carry case.
    8. 1 Brainwavz sticker
     
    blu-10004.jpg blu-10005.jpg
    BLU-100 + accessories
    Accessories


     
    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
     
    (From Brainwavz)
    Type
    8mm Dynamic Driver
    IEM Shell Material
    Aluminium
    Cable Outer Material
    TPE
    On Cable Controls
    3 button control + mic
    Bluetooth Spec
    Version 4.0
    Chipset
    CSRBC8645
    Codec support
    APTX, HFP, HSP, A2DP
    Operating Range
    Up to 30 feet (10 meters)
    Battery
    60 mAh rechargeable
    Weight
    12 grams
    Operating Time
    4 hours
    Stand-by Time
    100 hours
    Charge Time
    ~ 2 hours

     
    In addition to the above, the BLU-100 has the ability to connect to 2 devices at the same time, has integration with iPhones (battery life is displayed in the iPhone), has CVC echo and noise cancellation, and has voice prompts for power on, pairing, connecting, battery low, and power off.
     
    FREQUENCY GRAPH
     
    As the BLU-100 is only being released now, there are no frequency graphs available yet.  So I’ve used my calibrated SPL meter plus test tones to measure frequency response and tabulate it.
    Hz
    60 Hz
    80 Hz
    100 Hz
    150 Hz
    200 Hz
    250 Hz
    300 Hz
    400 Hz
    500 Hz
    600 Hz
    700 Hz
    800 Hz
    900 Hz
    dB
    67.3
    68.5
    69.5
    71.2
    72.5
    73.5
    74.4
    75.5
    76.6
    77.3
    77.8
    78.1
    79.0
    Hz
    1 kHz
    2 kHz
    3 kHz
    4 kHz
    5 kHz
    6 kHz
    7 kHz
    8 kHz
    10 kHz
    12 kHz
    14 kHz
    16 kHz
    20 kHz
    dB
    80.0
    81.1
    86.8
    83.2
    78.4
    76.1
    75.1
    74.7
    69.0
    57.6
    48.7
    44.2
    42.1

     
    BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN
     
    The Brainwavz BLU-100 consists of two earpieces connected by a ~ 60 cm cable with an integrated control switch (3 buttons and mic).  The earpieces are a fairly hefty size – measuring 25mm in length from base to tip of the nozzle, approx. 12mm diameter for the main part of the body, 9mm diameter for the section before the nozzle, and ~6mm diameter for the lip of the nozzle itself. The actual nozzle is pretty short – just 4mm from the center section to the nozzle tip, and has a built in fine mesh filter/wax guard.  For anyone wondering – the nozzle itself fits Comply 400 series tips perfectly. The BLU-100 is not ported or vented.
     
    blu-10006.jpg blu-10007.jpg
    BLU-100 - solid build
    BLU-100 nozzle and graduated tubular design

     
    The IEM casings actually look (and feel) like they’re made from a hard black plastic – but it’s actually a full aluminium housing – with the only plastic being the caps at the end.  The left earpiece has a fixed cap with the Brainwavz logo.  The right earpiece has a cap that lifts and rotates out to expose the charging USB port.

     
    The cable exits have good rubber strain reliefs.  Everything about this head-set so far seems pretty solid.
     
    blu-10008.jpg blu-10009.jpg
    Charging port
    The entire BLU-100 - lightweight

     
    The cable is flat, and encased in TPE.  It is nicely flexible with no memory.  It is also pretty non microphonic if worn over ear – however is quite microphonic if worn down.. The 3 button control and microphone hangs approximately 10 cm from the right earpiece.  The buttons are nicely labelled and feel solid.

     
    The microphone is pretty good quality – and I had no issues with making calls.  The comment I got back from the call recipient was that voice calls were very clear.
     
    blu-10010.jpg blu-10011.jpg
    3 button control
    Microphone

     

    My only real gripe on design so far is that there is a charging light built into the control module.  Unfortunately Brainwavz chose to use a small white LED, and you can’t really see it at all unless you are in an extremely low-light environment.  A small blue, red or green LED would have been far easier to see.
     
    FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION
     
    I have one ear canal slightly different to the other one (my right is very slightly smaller) - so I tend to find that usually single silicon flanges don't fit overly well.  I initially tried the included large silicones and I couldn’t get a consistently decent fit or seal. I also tried my Sony Isolation tips – and while they were perfect with my left ear, my right ear had the tendency to seal too well (create a vacuum), and this would cause a vacuum cut-out sometimes (a symptom of not enough ventilation of the driver).  There was also some mild driver flex. Spiral dots and Spinfits were next – but neither gave me consistent fit/seal (again my weird ears) – the Spinfits definitely sounded the best though. Finally I settled on a pair of large Comply T400S – and these gave me the perfect combination of comfort, seal and consistency (no flex).
     
    blu-10012.jpg blu-10013.jpg
    Large T400S sports tips fitted
    The BLU100 is a long IEM

     

    Insertion depth with the BLU-100 is medium depth (cable up), or slightly shallower (cable down) – depending on the cable orientation. Unfortunately with the width of the earphones themselves, these don’t “disappear” when worn – and at times I’ve found my ears uncomfortable after a couple of hours – usually where the housing has pushed against me ear canal openings. They also sit slightly outside my outer ears when worn, so sleeping on my side is not the most comfortable (pressure on the ear opening). Saying this though – I have been to sleep a couple of times with them in-situ.  The price I’ve paid is sore ears on waking.
     
    Isolation with the BLU-100 is pretty good for a dynamic driver.  With music playing you’re isolated pretty well. When walking I definitely need to be aware (visually) of what I’m doing – as I definitely wouldn’t hear something coming!
     
    blu-10014.jpg blu-10015.jpg
    Fin stabiliser system
    Fins are adjustable and removable

     

    The BLU-100 can be worn cable up or down.  If you use them cable down, the control unit does sit closer to where the mouth should be (for the mic), and to assist with stability, Brainwavz have included a couple of fins which are designed to sit inside the Anti-helix.  These work pretty well, and stabilise the BLU-100 quite nicely.  My issue with cable down still remains the microphonics though – and my preferred method remains over-ear, with the cable draped behind my neck
     
    CONTROLS AND OPERATION
     
    The control system on the BLU-100 is pretty easy to learn, and set-up for me was a breeze.
     
    Pairing / Initial Set-Up
    Initial pairing couldn’t have been easier.
     
    • Make sure Bluetooth is active on the iPhone
    • Turn on the BLU-100, by pressing and holding the middle button
    • This gives vocal feedback – firstly “power on” then “pairing”
    • Select the BLU-100 on the phone.  The next voice prompts you get is “connecting”, and then the phone shows the head-set as connected.
    • After that simply select your music app – and press play.
     
    After that – as soon as the head-set is turned on, the phone remembers the pairing automatically.
     
    Audio Playback Controls
    Again, these are very simple. We’ll call the buttons top center and bottom.  Center button turns the BLU-100 off and on (long hold).  When it’s on, press the center button once (assuming app on your bluetooth audio device is running) to play, or once to pause/stop. The top bottom raises the volume.  The bottom button lowers the volume.  Pressing and holding (for around 3s) the top button advances one track.  Pressing and holding the bottom button go back to the previous track.
     
    Again – really simple.
     
    Phone Interaction – Calls
    If your mobile supports voice dialing, this can be activated from the headset by pressing and holding either the top or bottom button for slightly longer than 3s.  This initially advances the track – but shortly after activates voice dialing. This does work on the iPhone (activates Siri).
     
    Other than that, the center button answers a call and also terminates after you’ve finished.  You can also choose to reject a call, choose between 2 paired mobiles, and activate redial.  I won’t go into all of this here – as full instructions are in the manual.
     
    Other – Battery Meter (iPhone)
    One of the things I really love is the connectivity with the iPhone.  In the top right corner or my phone – between the bluetooth icon and phone battery % meter is a new icon (a small battery).  This is the headset battery status indicator – and shows the status of the battery remaining on the head-set.  This has been really handy as the battery life is pretty limited (around 4 hours active) – so it makes it really easy to ensure I’m always charged up and ready to go.
     
    blu-10018.jpg
     
    Annoyances
    The biggest one for me (other than the cut-outs in the next section) is the default volume of the vocal feedback from the unit.  No matter what your volume setting – the default voice is loud.  Not deafening loud – just annoying loud.  I wish there was a way to turn her down.  The vocal feedback is good – the volume could be worked on.
     
    CONNECTIVITY AND BLUETOOTH PERFORMANCE
     
    Brainwavz lists the operating range as “up to 30 feet / 10 meters”, but in reality with the iPhone 5S (using the A2DP codec), reliable connection was around 5 meters.  After that, things got pretty flakey in a hurry.  Performance may be better on other phone models – but for me anyway, the ideal is having your phone in your pocket while you’re wearing the head-set.  This is not a deal-breaker, as I’d imagine this is how most of us will operate the BLU-100 anyway.
     
    Most of the time when I was out and about, the overall connectivity was actually pretty good.  Occasionally I’d get a bit of glitching (short drop out for a micro second), but nothing too annoying.  However when I went to my daughter’s netball tournament in the weekend, I took the BLU-100 and ended up turning them off.  The phone was in my pocket – so no issues with range.  But there was an issue with the number of people around, and (I’m guessing) the number of bluetooth enabled phones.  Drop-outs were frequent, and annoying.
     
    So mixed feeling on stability – hopefully as Bluetooth gets better these sort of incidents will get fewer.  What I have loved though is going for a walk (exercise) in the evenings.  No cable to contend with, not a lot of people around, and pretty good connectivity.
     
    SOUND QUALITY
     
    So we’ve covered a lot of the BLU-100. But how does it sound?
     
    The following is what I hear from the Brainwavz BLU-100.  YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline).
     
    I’m going to get pretty general with this section – but if you want to see some of the typical tracks I test with, I’ve listed a lot of them here : http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.
     
    Thoughts on Default Signature
     
    The BLU-100 is obviously tuned for today’s younger generation and has a typical warm, slightly bassy, slightly dark signature.  It does possess a nice mid-range – quite clear, and quite articulate – but the issue for me is that the mid bass and lack of treble extension just makes it an overly warm and lush listening experience. It’s simply not a default signature I like.
     
    Tracks like Gaucho and Sultans of Swing still have a lot of detail, but some of it is muted by the warmer and more present mid-bass, and Knopflers guitar misses its customary crunch.
     
    Staging and imaging also suffers with this warmish, darkish signature. Amber Rubarth’s “Tundra” is quite close, the drums are overstated and the violin is slightly understated.  General direction is there – but it is all somewhat diffuse.
     
    Mark Lanegan’s “Bleeding Muddy Water” is my usual go to for bass quality and quantity – and the BLU-100 definitely nails the quantity.  The bass is dark, broody and has good impact.  But it’s also slightly muddy, and has the tendency to want o leech into the lower mid-range.  All-in-all though, with this track it’s not too much of an issue.  Lorde’s “Royals” has become my test for sub-bass, and once again the BLU-100 hits the bass really well.  Sub-bass is present but it’s kind of diffuse, and not what I’m used to.  Quantity of bass is definitely nailed – unfortunately it comes at the cost of quality. The good thing though is that Ella’s vocals remain really good on this track, so the bass bleed is only really affecting the lower mid-range.
     
    Moving to female vocals, the BLU-100 has a really nice mid-range, and this is where the peak around 3kHz seems to be really helping.  The overall presentation is still far darker than I really like, but most of my female artists sound pretty good – and some tracks with a lot of bass impact (Feist / FaTM) do sound pretty dynamic.
     
    Moving to Rock – and whilst the bass is really good, sometimes the finer details, and guitar edge or crunch is simply muted. There are some tracks that still sound pretty good though – and my Pearl Jam tracks are amongst the good ones. So a bit hit and miss.
     
    I could cover all the genres I tried at this point – but the message will be the same throughout.  The default signature does sound good with some tracks (and this includes general Pop, EDM, Trance and Hip-hop), but on a lot of reference tracks the BLU-100 struggles.
     
    Equalisation (turning night into day)
     
    One of the great things about the iPhone (when I get dark IEMs) is the ability to use the Accudio Pro app, and download and apply corrections for other dark sounding earphones – to fix the imbalances that mar the enjoyment of the default signature.
     
    So to start with, I used a preset I’d already downloaded – the Senneheiser CX300 correction.  This takes a lot of the sub-bass out and allows the mid-range freedom to become the start of the show.  Unfortunately this preset also took out too much sub-bass, but it did show how beautiful the mid-range is. So I switched instead to the LCD-2 correction, and this was a lot closer to my ideal.  The mid-bass had lessened, but the sub-bass remained.
     
    The aim though was (now that I knew we could tame the default signature) to come up with something simple the average iPhone user could utilise. For me this was pretty simple – just use the default music app, and turn on either the bass reducer preset, or if this is too much (it was for me) – use the Acoustic preset (this was perfect). Both give the BLU-100 a reduction in the mid-bass, and allow the amended signature to shine.  For me this makes the BLU-100 a very enjoyable IEM to listen to – so much so that it could easily become my preferred option for regular exercise.  The other thing I’d like to mention at this point is how good the overall quality is over Bluetooth (once EQ’d).
     
    BATTERY PERFORMANCE
     
    The stated 4 hours (actual use) does seem to be pretty accurate – and although it sounds relatively short, for the times I’m using the BLU-100, it actually seems like a relatively long time. This is helped a lot by the 2 hour charge time. Would I like longer life – yes – I’m sure we all would.  Is it a deal breaker – not for me. For the low cost of the BLU-100, I can adapt.
     
    blu-10016.jpg

    BRAINWAVZ BLU-100 – SUMMARY

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into the world of bluetooth head-sets. It has opened my eyes to the future possibilities, and the freedom of going wireless.
     
    Giving the BLU-100 an end of review mark is an interesting exercise though.
     
    On the plus side – very good build quality, easy to use, pretty good value at around $45.00, and sounds really good after EQ.
     
    On the minus – the large shells can be uncomfortable, the default signature is too dark and warm (I readily agree though – I am not Brainwavz target audience), it suffers connectivity issues at relatively short distances, and has issues with interference and drop-outs in high traffic areas.
     
    So from me a solid 3/5 – good, but not great.
     
    My thanks once again to Brainwavz for having me as part of the reviewing team.
     
    RECOMMENDATIONS BLU-100
     
    The following would be my recommendations for changes in future models.
    • Change the default signature – please.  Just take out some of the mid-bass.  No part of the signature should mask another frequency IMO. The BLU-100 are simply too warm.
    • Change the shell to something more ergonomic. As an example – the shell of the S5 (even if you had to make it larger) would be perfect. An angled nozzle with most of the IEM sitting in the natural cavity of the ear – bliss on the comfort stakes.
    • Give the ability to change the default vocal feedback volume – or set the default lower.  It doesn’t need to be that loud.
    • Change your LED to a different colour than white.
     
    FOOTNOTE
     
    I wanted to make sure that anyone reading this review doesn't think I'm being too negative with the BLU-100.  I actually really like the EQ'd signature, and I'm using these quite a bit, even though I have a multitude of other IEM at my disposal. This has been my first foray into wireless earphones, and I've really enjoyed it, and will likely keep using these from time to time.  But I am interested now to see how Brainwavz can improve them.  If they could change the shell shape to an ergonomic comfortable one - they would be in my regular rotation.  I've even used these today at work for a few hours already [​IMG] 
     
    blu-10017.jpg
      zzffnn and djmuzi like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Hisoundfi
      I swear on everything I didn't read this before posting my review, but our comparisons are eerily similar. Great review Paul, you do a great job covering all aspects of a review.
      Hisoundfi, May 13, 2015
    3. Brooko
      Thanks Vince - I just read yours. Nice that there is a consensus forming.  Usually means we've read the sonics pretty well.
      Brooko, May 13, 2015
    4. zzffnn
  3. d marc0
    "Look Mum, No Wires!"
    Written by d marc0
    Published Jun 21, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Appropriate sound signature for outdoor use; good build quality; effective phone call and music controls; aptX!
    Cons - battery life could be better; lacks balance when worn around the neck; maximum distance for bluetooth needs improvement
     
    _DSC4246.jpg
     
    Brainwavz is one of my favourite brands when it comes to reasonably priced IEMs. They seem to always nail it when it in terms of build quality and I am impressed by the sturdiness of their products. Sound quality wise, the R3 is my no. 1 Brainwavz IEM. The R3 sounds mature, refined, and well tuned for a dual-dynamic driver earphones. With the release of their new bluetooth headset, I wondered if they will retain the quality in their work. Fortunately, I've been given the opportunity to review the BLU-100. So lets find out if Brainwavz' entry to the bluetooth headset category can impress me just as much as my last experience...
     
    SETUP:  Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and iPhone 5s
                   Spotify - extreme quality streaming (320 kbps)
                   Using Dunu 1000 stock tips.
     
    TEST TRACKS: SPOTIFY
                  Australia TOP 50 - charts
                  Workout Beats
                 
     
    _DSC4261.jpg
     
     
     
    The BLU-100 is a bluetooth headset and I will rate it based on my needs/uses from these types of earphones. The build quality is impressive just like any other Brainwavz product I've used. The cable connecting the two earphones is light, supple, and durable; perfect for the active lifestyle. I'm not saying its perfect because like any other product, there is always room for improvement. When not in use, one can conveniently hang the earphones around the neck. Unfortunately the weight of the in-line mic/remote causes imbalance and so the right earpiece always hangs lower than the left earpiece. Honestly it's not a serious problem but the OCD in me just bothers me to no end. This can be a easily improved hopefully in the next BLU model.
     
    The earphones are quite big and I understand this is inevitable because they need to fit a few added goodies comprising a bluetooth headset (drivers, bluetooth, micro usb port, battery). Inspite the size, they fit my ears comfortably and are surprisingly light! The barrel design IEMs were able to stay snug and secure in my tiny ears, another plus that I didn't expect from these types of earphones. Physical activities such as running, exercises, walks, and other day-to-day duties were no hindrance to music enjoyment that the BLU-100 delivers. There's a mild cable noise when running but that's about it. Wind noise can be an issue but it didn't annoy me much as long as I kept a perfect seal and set the volume at reasonably loud levels.
     
    Bluetooth connection between devices worked as expected. I didn't have any pairing issues with the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and iPhone 5s. As for the stability of the connection, it's been pretty solid 90% of the time. Just like any other small bluetooth devices, there are intermittent interferences depending on your environment and/or situation. I didn't find any serious connection issues that could affect my rating for this bluetooth headset. It definitely worked as expected and for that I'm thankful. I spent 5 hours at IKEA with the BLU-100 and rarely did I get interference. Music through Spotify sounded great! My only gripe is the maximum distance required to keep a stable connection - not as good as the specifications of 10 meters. Real world applications at least in my experience was limited to 3-5 meters, again depending on the environment/situation. Otherwise, keeping the phone/source in my pocket is the ideal scenario for the BLU-100.
     
    Phone call controls and mic are well implemented and I found them easy to use. Testing a phone call, voices are clear and quite loud. The person I talked to also confirmed that he can hear me clearly which is really good. There are added features as well such as multiple pairing, voice dial, and last number dial. As for Music controls, they are a breeze to use; well implemented for both Android and IOS phones.
     
    Battery duration is well above specifications (4 hrs); a couple of tests I ran reached durations of 4 hours 37 mins and 4 hours 25 mins. This is good as per declared specification but I'd be lying if I said it's enough for travelling. It's definitely enough for day-to-day use but if long travel is the itinerary, make sure to bring a battery pack.
     
     
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    The SOUND SIGNATURE of the BLU-100 is ideal for outdoor usage, bassy with great mids and smooth highs. Not necessarily the best but definitely a lot better than most IEMs in the $100 price range that I’ve heard. That even includes non-bluetooth IEMs!

    BASS has good slam and impact but can be a bit too emphasised in the mid-bass region for some genres such as rock. There’s a significant boost in the entire bass frequency which I feel is ideal when you're out in a noisy environment. Fortunately, it seldom bleeds too much in the mids and mostly just enough to be negligible when you're out and about. At certain times the bass texture is a bit thick which really benefits most popular music nowadays. Bass quality is actually good enough for the intended purpose of this headset. When you're out doing physical activities, accuracy is not the priority. Music enjoyment to set the mood is ideal and the BLU-100 has the bass kicks to keep you engaged to whatever music you listen to as long as it's not classical music. Decay/speed, detail, and texture are good enough; even better than the S5 if memory serves me right. As a result, other genres such as RnB, Hip-hop, Pop, and Ballads are excellent on the BLU-100.

    MIDRANGE is impressive with its clear and detailed presentation which I really appreciate considering the price. Vocals are upfront for both male and female singers; projecting the right emotion when listening to the songs. Guitar sounds natural and edgy… thanks to the slight emphasis in the upper midrange. Clarity is again worth mentioning because it is quite capable for a $100 IEM intended for on-the-go usage. 

    TREBLE is quite smooth with this bluetooth headset, this is achieved when using wide bore tips such as the Dunu 1000 silicone tips. Lower treble is quite detailed and transparent which is good for synthesizers in electronic music. There’s a recession in the upper treble which smoothens the entire presentation. This allows loud volume listening because there is no sibilance and it's not fatiguing. Unfortunately, this is not good for serious listening because it lacks the required airy presentation. Despite this limitation, I truly feel the smooth treble tuning was intended to allow listening at higher volumes in noisy environments. Please make sure that you're in a safe environment when doing this because you have to be aware of your surroundings if situated in busy environments where there are vehicles or other potential hazards.

    IMAGING AND SOUNDSTAGE: Soundstage width is only average but the presentation is not congested because of the well tuned midrange. It is a bit intimate in its overall projection but good imaging and instrument separation contribute in its cohesiveness. 

     
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    CONCLUSION: The BLU-100 is a capable bluetooth headset that is affordable and easy to use. It provides convenience to people who are active and in need of a companion that can deliver good quality music and effective handsfree phone controls. I could've given it 4.5 stars if not for the inconsistency in the maximum distance of its bluetooth connectivity. Other than that, truly an excellent entry for Brainwavz in the bluetooth headset category. Highly Recommended!
     
    Special thanks to Brainwavz for the BLU-100 review unit.
      H20Fidelity, getclikinagas and fnkcow like this.
    1. AlexF
      Apple handhelds don't support Apt-X and SBC isn't good enough. Brainwavz needed to include AAC codec into A2DP profile.
      AlexF, Jun 22, 2015
    2. d marc0
      @alexf let's hope Brainwavz includes that in the iteration of their bluetooth headset.
      d marc0, Jun 26, 2015
  4. Hisoundfi
    Bluetooth bang for your buck. The Brainwavs BLU-100 Bluetooth IEMs
    Written by Hisoundfi
    Published May 12, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Solid build and nice case, Functional and easy to use, Works great for phone calls and music, Better than expected sound quality
    Cons - Bulky housings, Mid bass boost
    At the time this review was written, the Brainwavz BLU-100 was on a pre-order sale for $34.50 USD on MP4Nation. Here is a link to a listing of their product at the time of the review.
     
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    http://www.mp4nation.net/brainwavz-blu-100-bluetooth-4-0-aptx-earphones
     
     
    Introduction
     
    The opportunity to review the Brainwavz SO IEM was a great experience. I ended the review by contacting their product rep, stating that I would like to work with them again and that if they were happy with my review to please contact me for future opportunities. Tonight I have the privilege of covering Brainwavz’ first bluetooth headphone, the BLU-100.
     
     
    Disclaimer
     
    I was given an opportunity to demo the Brainwavs BLU-100 in exchange for my honest review and opinion. I am in no way directly affiliated with their company or brand.
     
     
    My Background
     
    Please allow me to share a little bit about myself so you can better understand my observations. I AM NOT a numbers and graphs audiophile or sound engineer. Personal audio enthusiast? Absolutely. Headphone junkie? Possibly…
     
    There’s something about quality DAPs, DACs, amplifiers and earphones that intrigues me, ESPECIALLY if they can be had for low prices. I’m a fan of products that give the buyer their money’s worth and more. I will buy the $5 to $500 earphone that looks promising, hoping that I can discover models that can compete with the big names in this industry. If you look at my Head-Fi profile you will see that I have purchased MANY different headphones and earphones ranging from from dirt cheap, to hundreds of dollars. I’m on a mission to find gear with a great price to performance ratio, report these findings back to the Head-Fi community, and also help those looking for their next piece of audio gear.
     
    With this hobby we often times pay a lot of for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned is that price DOES NOT necessarily indicate good build and sound quality. While everyone’s tastes are different, I hope to share a depiction of what to expect.
     
    I can appreciate different builds and sound signatures as long as they have good ergonomics, and their sound is pleasing to the ear. It is my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based gear I have and use.
     
     
    The Package
     
    NOTE: Because this is a demo unit, the BLU-100 did not come in any retail packaging. I do not have any specific information on what to expect for packaging.
     
     
    The BLU-100 came in their customary black and red rectangular clamshell zipper case. The material is a firm molded mesh fabric. The case is exquisite. No complaints in this area.
     
     
    DSC04408.jpg
     
    Here are the official specs:
     
    1. Transducers/Drivers: Dynamic, 8mm
    2. Rated Impedance: 30ohms Closed Dynamic
    3. Sensitivity: 110dB at 1mW
    4. Frequency range: 20 ~ 20000Hz
    5. Bluetooth 4.0 (CSRBC8645) with aptX
    6. Operation max distance: 30ft (10m)
    7. Battery: 60mAh - 4hrs playtime, 100hrs standby, 2hrs for full charge (Micro USB charging)
    8. CVC echo and noise cancellation
    9. Supports voice prompt for MMI: Power on - Paring - Connecting - Battery low - Power off
    10. Supports HFP, HSP and A2DP
    11. Supports pairing with two devices at the same time
    12. 3 button remote, works with Apple iOS products, Android & Windows phones & PC
    13. 1 year warranty

     
     
    DSC04409.jpg
     
    The demo unit came with the following accessories:
     
    1. 1 x Comply foam tips
    2. 3 x Pairs of ear tips (S/M/L)
    3. 1 x Silicone ear clip
    4. 1 x Micro USB cable for charging
    5. 1 x Hard carrying case

     
    Housings
     
    The housings of the BLU-100 are made of a painted metal material and silicone/rubber. The housings are on the larger side, but not overly heavy, and I did get a good seal.
     
    DSC04419.jpg
     
     
     
    Cable & Strain Reliefs
     
    The cable is flat and approximately 18 inches long. On the right side about 5 inches down from the right channel is a three button remote. The cable is made of a smooth rubber coating and seems plenty durable. Strain reliefs seem adequate for daily use.
     
    DSC044201.jpg
     
     
     
    Ergonomics, Fit and Microphonics
     
    The fit on these are a mixed bag in my opinion. I had no problem getting them to fit initially, but due to the large housings I had trouble keeping a seal while moving around. The silicone fins helped secure the housing into place, but even then the silicone would get uncomfortable for me. I also found the cable to be a little bit too long for a wireless device.
     
    DSC04450.jpg
     
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    NOTE: I was able to get them fit securly by using aftermarket ear guides (not included in the package). Using these gave me a great seal and secure fit,  that allowed me to use them while moving around and exercising. The guides counterbalanced the size and clunkiness of the BLU-100 housing.
     
     
    Functionality
     
    This device works effectively and efficiently. There were no major hiccups or bugs to report while using it.
     
    The unit charges via USB. It has a tab on the right housing that opens up to the charging port. The provided USB charging cable plugs into any computer USB port, or be plugged into a USB wall charger. Normal charging time was around 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When testing, the battery on the BLU-100 died after a little over 4 hours of continuous streaming music. The charging indicator is a single white light that emits from the inline remote. It will shine while charging, and shut off when charging is complete.
     
    The device powers on when holding the center button on the inline remote. Continuing to hold the button after the device powers on will put the device in pairing mode. The connection is made by finding it in the settings menu of bluetooth device you are going to use as a source. Holding the center button after the power has been turned on will turn the power off. Double tapping the center button while connected to my LG-G3 phone, they would call the last number on my phone log. I wasn’t a fan of this and accidently called people a few times when I thought I was turning the earphones off. When using it with music applications I could play and pause tracks by single clicking the center button.
     
    The “+” and “-” buttons controlled volume in both phone and music mode. In music mode, I could skip tracks by holding the “+” button and restart a track by holding the “-” button. The buttons responded great and without any glitches.
     
    NOTE: All buttons and functions are acknowledged with audio that is either a spoken command or audio tone (beeping noise) that plays through the earphones themselves. Wearing them while using the remote makes the earphones easier and more enjoyable to
    use.
     
    The range on these for me were apporximately 25 feet from the souce. After that distance the headset began to break up. The microphone worked well, and people I asked in conversation said that they initially couldn’t tell I was on a headset when we were chatting, and on a scale from 1-5 in terms of how clear I sounded on the phone, most gave it a 4 rating. Pretty good for a bluetooth headset!
     
     
    Sound Review & Materials
     
    I primarily did my demo with my LG-G3 smartphone with the latest firmware. For desktop use I used my Toshiba chromebook. I used Google Music downloaded in its highest download quality (320 KBPS) and I also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I make sure that anything I demo I have had enough time with to feel confident in my impressions and opinions.
     
    I used my usual same songs for testing gear:
     
    “Limit to your love” by James Blake
    “Madness” by Muse
    “Get lucky” by Daft Punk
    “Some nights” by Fun
    “The soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela
    “Bassically” by Tei Shi
    “Skinny Love” performed by Birdie
    “One” by Ed Sheeran
    “Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack
    “Sultans of swing” by Dire Straits
    “Ten thousand fists” by Disturbed
     
    Note: Other tracks were used, but the listed songs were primarily used to asses and break down the gear’s response.
     
     
    Sound Signature
     
    The BLU-100 sounded very good to my ears for the most part. The sound would be neutral to my ear if not for what appeared to be a mid-bass hump that made things sound a bit unnatural in male vocals, bass guitars, and some electric and acoustic guitars. I really enjoy them with female vocals, pop, acoustic, hip-hop and EDM, Theu seem to struggle with rock and alternative music. I got a slight hiss when playing music, and the occasional digital hiccup also occurred.

     
    Bass
     
    Bass on these peaks at around 200Hz to my ears, and rolls off to around 20Hz. It does work well with the earphone’s overall signature. I would like a little more sub layer and less mid-bass, but with the tuning as it is, I find it tolerable and enjoyable.
     
     
    Midrange
     
    Lower midrange takes the center stage on the BLU-100. It has nice texture at this range, at the expense of things sounding slightly unnatural to my ears. The upper mids seem polite and I really like the air between sounds in upper midrange frequencies. This probably the part of the sound I like the best. They are really well done here, and has a lot to do with why I like them with female vocals.
     
     
    Treble
     
    Treble is not extended and what is there is crisp. During complex musical passages the driver did begin to smear sounds in treble frequencies. With acoustic music, hip hop, pop, and EDM the treble response was pretty spot on for these genres.
     
     
    Soundstage and Imaging
     
    The soundstage takes a hit from the mid-bump and rolled off sub-bass. It does display adequate depth with bassy tracks, but tracks without a large amount of bass sound like they could use a low end bump. I would say though for a bluetooth IEM they are really good on a whole! At the price they are selling for, this has got to be about as good of an IEM as you can get at the current asking price.
     
     
    Comparisons
     
    Meelectronics Sport-Fi X7 ($80 to $100 USD on many sites)
     
    The Sport-Fi X7 was one of the best fitting IEMs I have ever had, so they get an advantage over the BLU-100 in this aspect. I will say, the aftermarket ear guides application really improved initial fit issues I experienced. Please also note that the X7 is nearly twice as expensive.
     
    Both models had about the same battery life. Charge times were also similar. The mic on the BLU-100 seemed to work better based on my testing.
     
    Both models basically operated the same in terms of the remote.
     
    Sound wise, the bass response was the opposite on these. The X7 had a very boosted sub bass layer that could get “boomy” sounding with some tracks. However, vocals sounded more natural all around. Male vocals were better with the X7, while female vocals sounded better and more holographic on the BLU-100. Bass heavy tracks suffered from too much boom with the X7, and just the opposite the BLU-100 sounded slightly thin with bass light stuff. It really is a toss up with these in term of what one you would like more, and comes down to signature preference. I prefer the X7 in terms of ergonomics and sound signature, but when you weigh in the price into it you can’t go wrong with these. They are definitely a better deal in terms of price.
     
     
    Conclusion
     
    The BLU-100 is a great first bluetooth earphone from Brainwavs that offers a phenomenal amount of technology at an extraordinary price. Nobody who buys these will feel like they didn’t get their money’s worth that’s for sure! The BLU-100 takes the budget-fi world to another level with a package that will turn heads, and not empty your wallets.
     
    Thanks for reading and happy listening!
    1. View previous replies...
    2. MartianMonkey
      I'm considering getting some of these, I'm not a big fan of the BT wireless sets when it comes to performance vs price. But these seem like they would be good for a budget set. I was just wondering which ear-guides you used to get a good fit? 
      MartianMonkey, May 19, 2015
    3. romeo1990
      A really nice read and review!
      romeo1990, May 20, 2015
    4. Hisoundfi
      @MartianMonkey over the last few years of buying IEMs, I've obtained several pairs. They are pretty generic and almost triangular in shape and made of rubber. The cable snugs inside of them and holds them in place. You can find them on many audio gear websites. If you can't find them anywhere PM me. I'll either find a link, or send you a free pair if you cover shipping. 
      Hisoundfi, May 20, 2015