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Brainwavz BLU-100 Bluetooth IEMs

Rating:
3.70833/5,
  1. shotgunshane
    Brainwavz - Freedom From Wires
    Written by shotgunshane
    Published May 16, 2015
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Comfort, Minimal Cable, Pleasant Low Volume Listening
    Cons - Dropouts, Battery Life
    Brainwavz BLU-100 Bluetooth In Ears
     
    BLUmirrorimage.jpg
     
    Foreword
     
    When Brainwavz contacted me about reviewing a set bluetooth in-ears, I have to admit I was bit apprehensive. Having never used bluetooth in ears but having used plenty of portable bluetooth iPhone speakers and in car audio set ups, bluetooth, while convenient, to my ears has been clearly a step back from a wired connection. Could Brainwavz change my mixed bag of feelings towards bluetooth?
     
    Accessories
     
    MSRP pricing for the BLU-100 is $44.50 but mp4nation is currently running a pre-order special for $10 off. My review unit arrived without retail packaging. Everything came packed in the roomy and now standard black and red Brainwavz semi-hard carrying case. This case is great for when not only carrying iems but extra tips, cables, miniature daps like the shuffle, etc. Accessories include a usb charging cable, velcro tie for iem storage, 1pr ‘ear clips’, 3 sets of silicone tips and 1 set of medium S series 400 Comply tips. While not as robust a set of tips as previous Brainwavz offerings, it’s still well appointed considering the price point of the BLU-100.
     
    BLUaccessories.jpg
     
    Specifications
     
    1. 8mm dynamic driver
    2. 30 ohm impendance
    3. 110db at 1mW sensitivity
    4. Bluetooth 4.0 (CSRBC8645) with aptX
    5. 30ft max operating distance
    6. 60mAh battery - 4hrs playtime
    7. 2hrs charging / 100 hrs standby
    8. HFP, HSP and A2DP support
    9. 2 device simultaneous pairing
    10. 3 button remote works with iOS, Android and Windows phones
    11. 1 year warranty
     
    Usage
     
    Tips of choice where the stock large silicones and comfort is above average. While the metal housings are quite large, to accommodate the battery, they are fairly lightweight and are easy to wear both down or up without fatigue. The cable completely disappears when placed behind the neck. Microphone placement is spaced better for wearing down but isn’t too bad for over the ear wear. Isolation is slightly above average for a dynamic driver, due to its sealed design. Once the musics starts, the outside world is gone. The BLU-100 seems to work best when most items are removed from the phone pairing list or at least it seemed I had fewer dropouts when they were removed. Battery life seems to be spot on to the manufacturer rating.
     
    BLUusb.jpg
     
    Sound
     
    The review was conduced solely using an iPhone 5s at medium to lower listen volumes. 
     
    The overall signature of the BLU-100 is decidedly V shaped with prominent bass, relaxed mids and sparkly treble. While bass and treble can become somewhat overbearing at very loud listening levels, the V shaped signature works quite well at medium and lower volume levels. Best of all the midrange is very clear for a pleasant vocal performance in both music and phone calls.
     
    Bass levels are not quite as elevated as S5 and S0 levels, nor do they dig as deep as the S5 but you can definitely hear the family similarities. While the BLU-100 bass is more mid based focused, it does have nice depth and texture. The midrange sits nicely between the more recessed S5 and more forward S0. While midrange detail levels aren’t quite to the level of the S5 and S0, it’s certainly not very far behind. Vocals sound natural, full and well bodied. Treble, though, is a bit of a mixed bag. At louder levels its a bit splashy with some resonances, similar to the S5 but not quite as refined as the S5’s treble. This is where the S0 is clearly the winner in the family sound, for me, with a smoother, less resonant and more refined treble than its brethren. But at lower listening levels, the resonances of the BLU-100 tend to recede greatly in the background and you are left with a nice complimentary sparkle. If you are a fan of either the S5 or S0, you should find the BLU-100 very pleasing, especially at lower volumes where it really excels. 
     
    BLUrockets.jpg
     
    Conclusion
     
    Did the BLU-100 change my mind on bluetooth audio? Yes and no. It’s clearly better sound quality than some of the iPhone speakers I’ve used and car audio connections I have experience with. However the more than occasional dropouts were pretty annoying and happened much more often than from those same iPhone speakers and car audio connections, which really were a rarity. All that being said, there is definitely a strong argument to made for just having a super short cable resting behind your neck. Comfort was truly excellent! If Brainwavz can improve connectivity issues and give me a sound closer to their S0 model, which I personally prefer over their other models, I’d be completely sold. At the end of the day, the BLU-100 is a solid product of great value at MSRP and practically a no brainer at pre-order special for those wanting the ultimate in cable freedom.
     
      zzffnn likes this.
    1. zzffnn
  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. earfonia
    Very good sound quality but poor Bluetooth receiver sensitivity
    Written by earfonia
    Published Sep 21, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Very good sound quality, small and solid build quality.
    Cons - Poor Bluetooth receiver sensitivity
    Many thanks to Brainwavz for the BLU-100 review sample!
    http://brainwavzaudio.com/blu100.html
     
     
    01P1060495.jpg
     


    Brainwavz BLU-100 is a Bluetooth earphone compatible with Bluetooth version 4.0 with aptX for lower latency and better quality audio. Looking at the size of BLU-100 that is approximately about the same size as UE TripleFi 10, and knowing that it houses a rechargeable battery, Bluetooth receiver, DAC, headphone amplifier, and an 8mm dynamic driver, I didn't expect much of its performance. After fully charged the battery, paired it with my phone, wow! It sounds good! Better than what I expected from such a miniature battery powered system.

    02P1060507.jpg
     
     

    Before going into details, here is the summary of my observation when using Brainwavz BLU-100:

    Pros:
    Very good sound quality for the size and price category.
    Relatively small size with good fit and comfort.
    Decent battery life from such a small battery.

    Cons:
    Poor Bluetooth receiver sensitivity.
    Placement of charging LED indicator is obscured and difficult to see.

    Battery:
    Base on my observation:
    Continuous usage: approximately 3.5 - 4.0 hours
    Charging time: approximately 1 hour

    Suggestions for improvements:
    Bluetooth receiver sensitivity.
    Better placement of charging LED indicator.
    USB charging port to be moved to the remote control part. This way the earphone still can be used while charging, and doesn't look awkward.
     

    03P1060469.jpg
     


     
     

    Sound Quality
    BLU-100 surprised me with its sound quality. I didn't expect such a small battery and amplifier housed in relatively small earphone housing could sound quite powerful with pretty good dynamic. BLU-100 manages to produce pretty good and decent bass, with good bass punch and body, and decent sub bass extension. Bass is quite snappy and has good speed. I would say the bass power and quality is almost as good as connecting Xiaomi Piston 2 directly to my Galaxy S4 smartphone. In fact, BLU-100 is a little punchier than Xiaomi Piston 2. Quite impressive considering the size and price of the whole system.

     
    04P1020487.jpg  

    Overall tonality is quite balanced. No annoying peaks and dips in the frequency response. Sound signature is best described as balanced and fun. I love good quality bass, and BLU-100 bass is satisfying enough for me, enough punch and power from such a small amp and battery, and most important, bass doesn't sound bloated. Treble has good sparkle and clarity without touching sibilant, and in good balanced with the midrange. My regular test songs are mostly audiophile recordings, some pops, jazz, and classical, no sibilant issue so far. Midrange has good clarity, and never sounded muffled or muddy. Well, not the smooth and highly refined kind of midrange, but I would say the midrange is pretty good and enjoyable, without any annoying coloration. Overall tonality is quite natural, not warm nor analytical. I have no complaint on the tonality, in fact, I quite like it. Bass, midrange, and treble are in good balance. Purist might think it is a little bassy, but that's the level of bass that I consider natural and lively. To me flat sounding bass doesn't sound natural.

    Overall clarity is good, which is a must for phone call, but clarity is not over emphasized. Detail is pretty good, even with complex music BLU-100 manages to resolved decent level of detail. Overall sound quality is very good for an IEM at this price point, musical and engaging, with good balanced tonality. Considering the price, I would give 4.5 stars for the sound quality.

    Microphone quality on the other hand is just average. Not outstanding, but not bad either. Good enough to make phone call, but in many cases, in a not so quiet environment, we need to bring it closer to the mouth for clearer reception.

     
    05P1020444.jpg  
     

     

    Features & Operation
    Power On, Power Off, and Bluetooth pairing indicator is by voice announcement through the earphone. Bluetooth pairing is easy and straight forward, tested with Samsung Galaxy S4 and ASUS Zenfone 5. Battery life is decent at around 3.5 hours of continuous usage. Charging using 1A or 2A charger is pretty quick, only takes around 1 hour to fully charge the battery. But LED indicator for charging is very small and obscured in the remote control housing. This is something to be improved; it is rather difficult to see the charging LED.

     
    06P1060504.jpg  


    I suggest to move the USB charging port to the remote control part (control buttons and microphone part), rather than on the back side of the right earphone. When the battery flat, but we need to use the earphone while charging it using a portable battery, it looks awkward and uncomfortable to have USB charging cable sticking out from the earphone. But when the USB charging cable is connected to the remote control case, it is a much better and comfortable setup.

     
    07P1060493.jpg  


    My main concern is the Bluetooth receiver sensitivity which is quite poor in my experience. I got Bluetooth signal cut-off quite often in daily general scenarios. Even in simple scenario of placing my mobile phone in my jeans front pocket, then walk for about 500 meters (which I do daily), in average I experienced cut-off more than 5 times, which is quite annoying. Other scenario, when mobile phone is on a desk and I work around the desk, Bluetooth signal cut-off also happens once and a while. I don't have other similar size Bluetooth earphone to be compared with, only Creative Hitz WP380 Bluetooth headset which is a larger on-ear headset. Using Creative WP380 on similar scenarios, I seldom experienced any Bluetooth signal cut-off. Especially for walking, where the mobile phone is relatively close to the Bluetooth headphone, I never experienced any signal cut-off when using WP380.

    I like the balance and fun sound character of BLU-100, and would easily give it an overall rating of 4.5 stars for it, considering the size and price, but the poor Bluetooth receiver sensitivity in my opinion is quite annoying. Because of the poor Bluetooth sensitivity, I rate it 3.5 stars. I hope Brainwavz would improve it in the next model of Brainwavz Bluetooth earphone.
     

    08P1060498.jpg  

     
    Beside the suggestion to improve the Bluetooth receiver sensitivity for the new model, since the quality of the dynamic driver and the shell design is very good, I would like to suggest to Brainwavz to develop a regular wired IEM using the same 8mm dynamic driver and smaller metal shell. By removing the active components and batteries, probably Brainwavz could cut the cost by more than half, and priced the IEM at the budget IEM category. If the sound quality of the new budget IEM is similar than BLU-100, I believe it could hit the market and potentially become a giant killer IEM.
     
     
     
     
    Specifications:
    Drivers: Dynamic 8mm
    Rated Impedance: 30Ω closed Dynamic
    Frequency Range: 20Hz ~ 20kHz
    Sensitivity: 110 dB @ 1 mW
    Bluetooth: 4.0
    Codec: aptX™
    Max Distance: 10mt(30ft)
    Battery: 60mAh
    Playtime/Standby: 4hrs/100hrs
    Charge Time: 2hrs(USB)
    Noise Cancellation: CVC echo/noise
    Voice Prompt: Yes
    Profiles: HFP HSP A2DP
    Pairing: Dual Pairing
    In-Line: Remote/Mic

    Cable length from left driver to right driver: 60 cm
     
    Can be purchased from:
    Brainwavz BLU-100 Sport Bluetooth 4.0 APTX Headphones

     
     
    09P1020415.jpg  
    10P1020428.jpg  
    11P1020427.jpg  
    12P1020429.jpg  

      peter123 likes this.
  4. Baycode
    Brainwavz BLU-100 : A Good Sounding and Comfortable Bluetooth IEM!
    Written by Baycode
    Published Jun 23, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Good design, ease of use, build quality, relatively neutral sound signature, bluetooth techonology (BT 4.0 with aptX).
    Cons - Short range in closed spaces, relatively short battery life, led is very hard to see from many angles, needs tight fitting in order to get bass.
    About the review:
    In this review I have examined the Brainwavz BLU-100 Bluetooth iem for its sound and call quality, comfort, isolation, charge time, battery life, general usage and comfort.
     
    _DSC5762.jpg
     
    Introduction to The Brainwavz BLU-100 IEM:
    Brainwavz BLU-100 is a self powered (60mAh battery), rechargeable bluetooth iem (BT iem) that supports BT 4.0 and aptX codec for enhanced audio quality. It is compatible with many android, IOS and other devices that have BT 4.0 support. This is the first BT iem that Brainwavz ever manufactured. Brainwavz is a well known, Asian origin brand for its iem's, headphones and some other audio equipments.

     
    _DSC5721.jpg

     
    Why you should use a Bluetooth iem?:
    While using your car, while carrying your shopping bags, while taking care of your child, while riding your bike or making sports there are many many examples that you need both of your hands and move freely. At these times (a lot of activity during a typical work day and even after you reach your home) you will want to answer and hear a call handsfree. Without any cable getting on your way. Even if you're slightly away from the phone... You'll need a Bluetooth iem. BT iem not only gives you freedom to talk it allows you to enjoy your music as well.
     
     
    About the reviewer:
    My age is 42 (as of this writing). I have 24 years of background in listening to music with quality headphones (I don't count the crappy equipment period) and I am a member of head-fi since 2004. I prefer neutral, natural (organic) and detailed sound with a huge sound-stage and good imaging. I am not bass or treble head. I can never tolerate sibilance and/or fatiguing highs. For further, please check my profile.
     
     
    Phones used for the BLU-100 test:
     
    LG G3 (connected with BLU-100)
     
    Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini (Call receiving phone)
     
    iPhone6 (Used for both of the above purposes)
     
     
    Test Songs:

     
    “The Quiet Ambient” by All India Radio (FLAC)
     
    “On Every Street” by Dire Straits (FLAC)
     
    “Tunglia” by Olafur Arnalds (FLAC)
     
    “Stay Awake” by London Grammar (FLAC)
     
    “The Happiest Days of Our Lives” by Pink Floyd (FLAC)
     
    “Bicare” by Taksim Trio (mp3 320 kbps)
     
    “Hoscakal” by Emre Aydin (mp3 320 kbps)

     

    ...and some calls with the headset [​IMG]

     
     
    Volume matching before tests:

    In a quiet environment I have matched the volume of the each BT iem by the help of a calibrated and scientific grade Sound Pressure Level Meter (UNI-T UT352) each time I connect them to my source via BT. I always use the 1000 Hz seine wave test tones while volume matching.

     
    _DSC5729.jpg

    (BLU-100 is sitting inside the self-made adapter for noise isolating and secure SPL Meter connection)


     
     
    Specifications of BT-100 (from the product page):
    1. Transducers/Drivers: Dynamic drivers, 8mm
    2. Rated Impedance: 30 ohm 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
     
     
    _DSC5756.jpg
     
     
    Included 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
    6. 1 x Instruction manual
    7. 1 x Warranty card
       
    My BT-100 package:

    I have received everything on the above except the retail package (just because mine was a demo unit [​IMG]

     
    Genuine Comply Foam Tips (1 pair) were inside their sealed package. The case is the standard, high quality Brainwavz case which is also included with their iem's (like S1, S5, etc.)
     
    OK, in my opinion, only the included accessories are worth 15 USD. I have to add that I have never seen a better accessory package -included with a BT iem- before...
     
     
    Charging:
    You need to connect the included short microUSB cable between the BLU-100 and your computer USB port (or with any kind of USB charger). Specs says <2hr for charge...
     
    It takes about 2h-2h30min to fully charge (depending on your source) the BLU-100 on my tests. You need to remove a plastic covering on the back of the Right earpiece. This little cover wont get lost because it is connected to body with a small connection piece.
     
    _DSC5689.jpg
     
    While charging, the extremely small single led (white) starts to light constantly (check the below photo). This led light went off as the unit fully charges.
     
    Main problem with the led light is that is hidden and can only be seen from a special angle (I really couldn't see it at first). This led also flashes when you turn on the BLU-100.
     
    But anyone who doesn't like to see a led light "directly" can prefer this design...
     
    _DSC5690.jpg
     
    There are 3 buttons on the remote control an mic unit. Mic is on the back side of this buttons. There are controls for on/off, pairing mode, volume up/down, answer/end call, reject call, redial the last call, play/pause, skip to next/previous song, turn on/off voice dial. All are controlled via the special and easy to learn push commands to either one of these buttons. Pretty impressive number of  controls with only 3 buttons. Needs some getting used to...
     
    _DSC5691.jpg
     
    On the back of the Left earpiece there is the Brainwavz logo... Some people may find the BLU-100 body on the large side but IMO it is really good. Because this is not only an iem, there is a 60mAh Li-ion battery, a tiny DAC/AMP, a Bluetooth receiver and sender circuit and an iem driver are resting inside. I like the size, weight and form factor of BLU-100.
     
    _DSC5695.jpg
     
    The small dot on the below photo is the microphone opening.
     
    _DSC5696.jpg
     
    Although the model name is BLU-100 it is indicated as ......  on my LG G3 and my wife's iPhone 6. So don't get surprised when you couldn't see the BLU-100 name on the Bluetooth pairing list.
     
    Pairing:
    Pairing is fairly easy for BLU-100. You need to turn the Bluetooth on your phone first then press and hold the center button of the BLU-100 for approximately 5 seconds. This way you'll turn on your BT iem and can see the model number on the list. If not shown on the list you need to refresh the list (just push "search for the devices" button on your phone screen). But as you can see with the red arrow the model number is not BLU-100 on the phone but BD-121 !!!  So don't get confused, just select that one (I believe this is a software problem for the BT device itself, may be this problem is solved with new units). After this selection pairing is done! Very easy!
     
    After doing this pairing you don't need to pair your device again. They will find each other and pair automatically as you turn the BT for the ON position in each device consequently. 
     
    Screenshot_2015-06-19-11-22-42-Edit.jpg
     
    You'll see that the BT icon gets BOLD on the right and BT iem battery condition indicator on the left (marked with arrows).
     
    I especially find the BT iem battery condition indicator very very helpful!
     
    Screenshot_2015-06-19-14-42-49-Edit.jpg
     
    On a LG G3 phone you can continue to see the BT iem battery condition idicator even on your circle window
    if you double tap the circle (if you're using tge LG G3 with a circle window  flip case, notice the red arrow).
     
    Screenshot_2015-06-19-14-54-32-Edit.jpg
     
    Comfort:
    Let me start with the design. I really prefer the connected earpiece design with the single cord which can hang behind your neck. I have used all the BT designs (single or double earpieced). My conclusion for daily practical use is the design of the BLU-100's. I wish the cable were texture covered because it sometimes tries to stick on your skin (my back of the neck). For the fitting and general comfort I have to say BLU-100 is the best BT iem I have ever tried! No complaints there.
     
     
    Isolation:
    Isolation is average for an iem but high for a daily Bluetooth iem. If your BT iem isolation is high you need to lower your speaking volume while making calls because your brain may think that you're not speaking loud enough (as a result of blockage of your own voice). Also you may want to hear the surroundings (traffic, cars, signals, etc.). So therefore the isolation on this BT iem can be lowered in the future models. If the idea of the BLU-100 is for solely listening to the music or using it in secure places, then the isolation is OK.
     
     
    Battrey Life:
    It is stated that the battery life is 4 hours for continuous audio playback and 100 hours of standby. Generally I do agree with these numbers but if you intend to use theBLU-100 for making/receiving calls as well as some music listening (around 1 h of music listening and with 1-2 h of making calls) it lasts only for approximately 2 days. So the standby time is very very good for this kind of device but it would be better if the operating time were around 10 h.
     
     
    Reception Range:
    It is stated that the range is 30 ft (10 m). This is true if your BT iem is fully charged and if you're on a completely open field. Inside a building or in your house don't expect that the BLU-100 stays connected with your phone when you enter another room. Range is shortened under these circumstances (around 5-6 m). So you need to carry your phone in your pocket if you intend to move to the next room and if you (especially) shut the doors.
     
     
    Microphone Quality:
    Microphone quality is above average and certainly one of the best when compared to the other BT iems on my tests. Capable of sending clean and clear calls.
     
     
    Treble:

    Well defined and fairly detailed for a BT iem. The best treble response I have ever heard in a BT as well… Is it on an audiophile type of an iem treble? No. But extends well up to 15 kHz to my ears. Never gets sibilant or harsh for me. Overall I like the rtreble response.
     
     
    Mids:

    Mids presentation is slightly cool compared to the other BT iem's I have tested. Vocal stage is on the center and very well represented (depends on recording). Midrange is clear for a BT iem though I would like to hear slightly more details.

     
     

    Bass:

    Well defined bass section for a BT iem. Subbass depends on the insertion of the nozzle in the earcanal. A tight and deep insertion results in more bass and subbass. Subbass rolls off around 30Hz to m years. Midbass has more body and presence compared to the subbass. In general I found the bass section to be in line with high and mids.

     
     
    Overall Impressions on Sound:
    In contrast to many other reviewers I found the general sound signature to be relatively neutral. For music listening this is the only BT iem that I could get pleasure with. Stage is relatively wide and deep. Soundstage width is larger than its depth though… But anyone don’t expect a real out of head soundstage experience. I can say that the soundstage is average. Imaging is just OK. Background is not completely black. There are some hissing on the background. It is not possible to detect this hissing while playing music. IMO the main purpose for this BT iem should be for making and answering calls. But for urgent purposes it can serve as a wireless iem for a music listener as well.

     
     
    Comparisons:
    Comparisons made with BT iems: Samsung HS3000, DonScorpio sMushroom HD, DonScorpio sMushroom (please check the below link):
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/774206/comparison-of-4-different-bluetooth-iems-brainwavz-blu-100-don-scorpio-smushroom-hd-don-scorpio-smushroom-samsung-hs3000
     
     
    _DSC5757.jpg
     
    Conclusion:

    Well especially as being the first Bluetooth iem release of the Brainwavz, the BLU-100 iem delivers good sound quality with a good quality microphone and a good list of features with a great form factor. My 2 complaints were about the reception distance and battery life. Wish they were slightly better... Even with its con's, BLU-100 became my daily BT iem for making and receiving calls! This last "sentence" should tell you more than anything that I could put in words! Recommended by Baycode [​IMG] 
    1. peter123
      peter123, Jun 24, 2015
    2. Baycode
      Thanks @peter123 ! :)
       
      BTW, dear readers, I have no idea why the spaces between the lines are so large. Each time after editing and sending it the review appears like this... I couldn't solve the problem... Looks like a system issue...
      Baycode, Jun 24, 2015
  5. Cotnijoe
    Brainwavz Blu-100: A Solid Budget Bluetooth Earphone
    Written by Cotnijoe
    Published Jun 15, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Easy to Use, Portability, Price
    Cons - Battery Life, Bass, Treble Harshness
    Introduction:
    Brainwavz is a company that has been making some nice budget earphones for quite a few years now. Recently, Brainwavz released their first Bluetooth earphone, the Blu-100, and a couple review units were sent out for reviews. I received my unit from Brainwavz as a review unit. I’ve posted my objective impressions here to help those interested in the new Brainwavz Bluetooth headphone to decide whether it’s right for them or not, and as always, my review is in no way influenced by Brainwavz and I am not affiliated with Brainwavz in any way.
     
    Packaging and Accessories:
    When I first received the package from Brainwavz, I was a bit surprised. I’ve always liked the packaging that came with Brainwavz earphones, but the Blu-100 came in a significantly smaller package. The box the Blu-100 came with was also a bit beat up. I definitely prefer the packaging of the other models that has a sturdier plastic packaging, and I’m not sure why Brainwavz opted for the flimsy box for the Blu-100 – it’s not like the Blu-100 is a significantly cheaper model or anything.
     
    Regardless, everything got to me unharmed besides the box itself, so no real harm done. Upon opening the box, you find the typical Brainwavz carrying case with the Blu-100 themselves, a USB cable, and some ear tips. A rubbery device that’s supposed to help the Blu-100 fit into the ear more easily is also included. Overall, all the necessary accessories are present but it’s certainly not anything fancy.
     
    IMG_0074.jpg
    Packaging and Included Accessories
     
    Design, Build, and Comfort:
    As with most Brainwavz earphones, the housing is quite sturdy and made mostly of metal. The left and right earpieces are clearly labeled and don’t seem like they’ll be scratched off anytime soon. The housing is light-weight, but can feel somewhat heavy at times as they also tend to stick out of my ears quite a bit. But with the help of the extra rubber ear fit (thingy?) they included, the Blu-100 fits into my ears quite nicely. Isolation is fairly average for an in ear and it gets the job done, but isn’t anything spectacular.
     
    The cable is non-detachable and is a flat cable similar to some of the other portable earphones that Brainwavz offers. However, the cable is significantly thinner than the likes of the S5 and is significantly more manageable and with reduced cable noise.
     
    The included control-talk microphone has a plastic housing with responsive buttons that have a nice click to them and a microphone that has surprisingly good quality. People I’ve talked to on the other end of the line have told me that there is an improvement in clarity of my voice.
     
    Charging is easily done by opening the cap on the right earpiece, which reveals a micro USB port for charging. The battery life of the Blu-100 is very short, at only around 4 hours of music playing or calls. This is what really limits the Blu-100 and where it becomes a niche product. If you’re looking for something wireless to use at work that doesn’t clutter up the desk with extra cables, this product is not for you. The Blu-100 is truly for portable use – and portable use only. These are perfect for those that need something easy and simply to use for community to and from work or for something like going to the gym.
     
    In terms of Bluetooth, there have been many reports of the Blu-100 not functioning particularly well or cutting out.  I’m not sure if Brainwavz has resolve any issues with the Blu-100 since those review or not, but I had no trouble my unit. I was able to get about 20 feet away from my phone while still retaining connection when there was nothing obstruction the connection (walls for example). While out and about, I had absolutely no problems with the Bluetooth connection with my phone in my pocket (which seems to have been a problem for some). Now, I do admit that I’m no techy and not particularly well versed in terms of Bluetooth technology, so I can’t give much more than my experience with the Blu-100. All I can offer is that I had no issues with the Bluetooth and syncing was a breeze with both my HTC One M8 and my girlfriend’s iPhone 5C.
     
    One thing I did find disappointing is that the Blu-100 has a little bit of hiss that was noticeable for me. It’s not a big issue and won’t be for most people using a portable earphone anyways, but it was something I picked up.
     
    Overall, I found the design of the Blu-100 to be solid for the price and very easy to use.
     
    IMG_0075.jpg
    Blu-100 With Cap Open Revealing Micro USB Jack
     
    Sound Impressions:
    Bass
    The Blu-100 has an overall V-shape tuning so the bass is somewhat elevated (but not to the extent of something like Brainwavz’s S5). When I first listened to the Blu-100, I was in a car. I heard almost no bass from them, which confused me very much. Most of Brainwavz’s IEMs have had fairly prominent bass – had Brainwavz come out with a neutral IEM? Why in a portable Bluetooth IEM?
     
    It turns out that wasn’t the case. The Blu-100 has a bit of a midbass bump, but with quite an early bass roll off. The drivers don’t move much air past 30 Hz. What you end up with is not a whole lot of subbass punch, and a fairly prominent mid bass that is nonetheless really lacking in tightness of impact – which explains why I couldn’t hear the bass in a car (most of the lower frequencies tend to get drowned out and the lack off a tight impact meant that bass hits basically disappear as well). Overall, the bass lacks some texture and didn’t leave me particularly impressed.
     
    Midrange
    The midrange is honestly very impressive for a Bluetooth headphone that can be found for under 50 dollars. Vocals come out as being relatively natural sounding and clean sounding, although overall detail retrieval is nothing to be wowed over.
     
    Treble
    The treble is somewhat elevated on the Blu-100, which gives the IEM a nice crisp sound. The treble at times can be a bit harsh due to the extra sparkle and, at louder volumes, the treble can get quite hot and tend to distort a bit, causing a grainy and harsh sound.
     
    Soundstage/Imaging
    The Blu-100 offers a fairly in-your-head experience. As a relatively low cost Bluetooth IEM, it’s nothing to gripe over as I wouldn’t expect much out of it. Despite that, I found the overall sound to be pretty clean, meaning that the smaller soundstage doesn’t particularly smear the sound all that much.
     
    Summary on Sound
    Overall, I quite like the sound of the Blu-100. The Blu-100 has a fun tuning that is sort of an in-between of the Brainwavz S0 and S5. The Blu-100 doesn’t have the thickness in the lower midrange that the S0 can have, and it doesn’t have the overly hot treble that the S5 can have. Overall, I think sound-wise, the Blu-100 is a solid contender in the realm of lower cost Bluetooth earphones.
     
    Conclusion:
    Honestly, I think Brainwavz has a really solid product here. My experience with it has been very good and, besides a few complaints in terms of sound and battery life, there isn’t all that much to complain about with the Blu-100. However, I can’t help feeling a bit unsure about purchasing the Blu-100 for myself as there has been quite a bit of report with issues regarding the Bluetooth connection dropping out or being inconsistent. In  my experience, however, Brainwavz has had very good customer service and I’m sure you would be able to get a pair that has a consistent Bluetooth connection.
     
    The Brainwavz Blu-100 gets a thumbs up from me, and it’s actually one of the more enjoyable product I’ve gotten to try from Brainwavz, despite it not being superior in sound quality compared to the more expensive offerings from Brainwavz.
     
    Link to the Blu-100 on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YDVY34Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&keywords=bluetooth+earphones
      moedawg140 likes this.
  6. NA Blur
    Bainwavz Does It Again: A Low Cost Competitor
    Written by NA Blur
    Published Jun 7, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Good bassy sound, comfortable, easy to setup
    Cons - May be too bassy for some, only a 20 ft range, still has a cord
    Brainwavz BLU-100 Bluetooth IEM
     
    http://www.yourbrainwavz.com/blu100.html
     
    BLU-100_Box.jpg
     
    BLU-100_Back.jpg
     
    BLU-100_Items.jpg
     
    BLU-100_Ear.jpg
     
    SPECS:
     
    http://www.yourbrainwavz.com/blu100.html
     
     
    BLU-100_Specs.jpg
     
    BLU-100_Specs2.jpg
     
     
    WHERE TO BUY / COST:
     
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YDVY34Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&keywords=bluetooth+earphones
     
    $50 new
     
    TEST TRACKS
     
    1901 by Birdy – Tests high treble, clarity, and overall feel of a headphone’s fun factor.
     
    I Shall Not Be Moved by Damon Fowler – Used to test the punchiness of drums, coherence of the midrange, and vocals.
     
     
    OVERVIEW
     
    If, like me, you often exercise with IEMs the necessity for simplicity and total functionality is a must.  Brainwavz’s answer to this quest is the BLU-100 bluetooth IEM.  Acoustically a bit bass heavy for my tastes the BLU-100 attempts to satisfy our craving for such a headphone.  It is easy to setup, connected easily to my iPod, and has a range of approximately 6m (20ft) indoors.
     
    AESTHETICS
     
    The BLU-100 is designed well in that is is colorful, well labeled, and easy to look at.  Nothing pokes out as being poorly made or badly executed.  Both earpieces are joined with a 58cm (23in) cable including a three botton control installed near the right earpiece.
     
    The accessory package is much more complete than most any other IEM in its price point.  Brainwavz includes a pair of Comply foam tips and wing-flanges on top of their standard tip selection, a welcomed thought.
     
    ACOUSTICS
     
    I tested the BLU-100 using an iPod touch 5th Gen as I use it as my primary travel music companion.  The frequency response is definitely bass shifted, but not so much so that my standard set of test tracks were mismanaged.  When I exercise I am not really doing any critical listening a little more oomph on the low end is welcomed.
     
    1901 by Birdy was very enjoyable with noticeable emphasis on the low end and some roll off in the treble.  The midrange remained full, but at times the soundstage became congested end clustered.
     
    Now We Are Free reveals some of the limitations of the BLU-100.  The treble is obviously rolled off.  The sizzle and metallic snap of the cymbals is missing along with the hollow sound of the woodwind instruments.  A fun track, but a little treble shy.
     
    CONCLUSION
     
    With the boom in headphones these days it is very pleasant to see Brainwavz successfully competing in the market.  They keep price and performance in mind not trying to tip either scale, one of the primary reasons I like their products.  The BLU-100 is modeled after a ton of other higher end Bluetooth IEMs, but at almost half the price.  Take the Jaybird BlueBuds X for example.  If a Bluetooth IEM of this type is on your list I have no qualms recommending the BLU-100 from Brainwavz.
  7. thatBeatsguy
    BLU-Tooth on a Budget
    Written by thatBeatsguy
    Published May 31, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Excellent price-to-performance ratio. Includes features you'll usually see on more expensive sets.
    Cons - Too much midbass focus. 4-hour battery life.
     

    Intro

    SAM_0065.jpg
     
    Before I begin, I would like to thank Audrey at Brainwavz for providing a review sample of the BLU-100 in exchange for my honest opinion. Please note that I am neither an affiliate of Brainwavz nor any of its staff, nor am I being paid to write this review. Also, please take all following opinions with a grain of salt. All opinions expressed in the following review are strictly my own unless otherwise specified, and all pictures are taken and owned by me.
     
    Wow…okay, so it’s been quite a while since I last got a review up. I’ve been pretty busy the past weeks that I haven’t been able to write something up in so long. By now, however, things are finally getting back in full swing, and DB Headphones is back in business!
     
    Anyways, this week we’re yet gain taking a look at Brainwavz’ latest offering – a Bluetooth IEM. Now, to audiophiles like me, Bluetooth is by far the last thing we would take a look at if we’re looking for a new earphone or headphone by sound quality alone – the wireless audio transmission at this point just isn’t advanced enough to provide the same audio quality wired connections offer (just like how wired is better than wireless in gaming peripherals). But having already seen what Brainwavz is capable of doing, I was more than interested in taking up Audrey’s offer to review these new IEMs. Will they stand up to their wired counterparts? Read on and find out!
     
     

    == Aesthetics ==

    Packaging, Accessories

    SAM_0068.jpg
     
    The package I received was a pre-production package, so I didn’t get to receive the BLU-100 inside full retail packaging. However, all of the accessories which are to be found in the retail release are all here, which includes:
    1. 3 pairs of silicone eartips
    2. a pair of Comply S-400 foam eartips
    3. a pair of silicone fins (more on this later)
    4. a USB to Micro USB charging cable
    5. a nifty Velcro cable tie
    6. and their signature red-and-black hard zipper case
     
    As always, Brainwavz delivers with an impressive amount of accessories which are sure to prove useful even outside of the BLU-100’s main uses.
     
     

    Design, Build, Microphonics

    SAM_0085.jpg
     
    Brainwavz employed full-metal housings for their BLU-100 IEMs, which is particularly impressive especially at their retail price of just under $50. The cable, although a little thin, feels quite solid and is properly relieved at both ends. Its three-button remote is situated by the right earpiece, and the Micro USB charging port is situated in the right earpiece, protected by a plastic cap. Build-wise there’s little to complain about if at all.
     
    However, the BLU-100’s housings do leave me wanting. I don’t particularly like their barrel-shaped housings, not just because they look rather crude, but because they stick out of one’s ears quite a bit, which makes them very uncomfortable when laying on one’s side. A good example of what I’m looking for is the Plantronics Backbeat Go 2, which prevents that problem while still retaining a sleek, compact form factor. There’s also its flat cable, which, despite having little to no cable noise, is quite long and does trail around my back quite a bit – to make matters worse, there also isn’t any cable cinch to keep the excess cable at bay. Of course, these are all just personal gripes for me, but the bulky housings can translate into fit issues for some people (luckily I don’t happen to be one of those people).
     
     

    Fit, Comfort, Isolation

    The BLU-100, as I stated earlier, fits perfectly fine in my ears, staying secure while running or playing sports. The BLU-100 employs a shallow fit, which translates to somewhat below-average isolation. Then again, once the music starts playing, that doesn’t become much of an issue. They’re also quite comfortable in my ears with the Comply foam eartips, although I can’t really say the same for the silicone eartips as they don’t really create a proper seal in my ears. However, I found that I get headaches from the BLU-100 after only 15 minutes of listening. I still haven’t pinpointed what causes this, although at this point I’m guessing it’s the housings themselves, which seem to be completely unvented – and that’s a pretty big deal for a couple reasons (see side note below).
     
    (Side Note: Why is the BLU-100’s unvented design such a big deal? Well, the BLU-100 employs a dynamic driver, which is in layman’s terms your common IEM driver. However, dynamic drivers require at least some degree for ventilation for proper airflow as these drivers move air by design [just like speakers and headphones]. Without proper venting, the only air it moves is the one left inside your ear canals – and with the existing pressure inside the ears, it can cause undue pressure in them, which translates to the headaches I suffer while wearing them.)
     
     

    Specs

     
    Headphone Type
    Closed-back Bluetooth in-ear monitor (straight-down only)
    Bluetooth Features
    Bluetooth 4.0
    HFP, HSP, A2DP, and AptX support
    CSRBC8645 chipset
    Operating Range
    Up to 30 feet/10 metres
    (Note: this figure only applies to a perfectly open space with the BLU-100 having a direct line of sight to the source device. It does still reach a comfortable 20 feet inside a more closed-in area.)
    Battery
    60 mAh rechargeable battery (charged via Micro USB port)
    2 hours charging time
    Battery Life
    4 hours music play time
    4 hours talk time
    100 hours standby time
    Accessories
    Hard carry case
    3x set black single-flange silicone eartips (S/M/L)
    1x set black silicone fins (M)
    1x set Comply S-400 premium foam eartips (M)
    Features
    CVC echo and noise cancellation (microphone only)
    iPhone battery indicator (Preview)
    2-device memory
    Voice prompt user-interface:
    Power On/Off | Pairing | Connecting | Battery Low

     
    The BLU-100’s specs are mostly a hit for me – for one you’ve got Bluetooth 4.0 with AptX support, which is good, but on the other hand you’ve got a measly 4-hour battery life that makes the BLU-100 only end up being more of a burden than a convenience if you’re looking to use it all day. Outside of battery life, though, they do have pretty impressive features and specs that you only find in Bluetooth sets set at much higher price points than the BLU-100. Take the Backbeat GO 2 I mentioned earlier as an example – they’ve both got pretty similar specs, but the GO 2 is priced at $100 – over twice the price of the BLU-100. So when you take that into consideration, the BLU-100 is actually much better than it is at first glance.
     
     

    Connectivity

    The BLU-100’s pairing process is particularly straightforward. Hold the centre button until it powers on and continue pressing it for 1 or 2 seconds. A voice prompt will say “Pairing,” then will transmit a Bluetooth signal which your phone should be able to see. This is what it looks like on the Bluetooth selection screen on my iPod:
     
    [​IMG]
     
     
    I’ve highlighted the BLU-100 in red and as you can see, it’s named BD-121 (That could be because it’s a pre-production unit. I don’t really know why.). Just select it from the list of devices and you’re good to go!
     
    The signal of the BLU-100 has been choppy, from reading other reviewers’ opinions. However, I personally haven’t experienced those random drop-outs myself. Only the common phone-in-your-pocket drop-outs happen (which is a normal occurrence) but otherwise they perform without any major problems. (However, just to clarify, my Bluetooth setup is comprised of a 5th-generation iPod Touch or an iPad 3, with only the Bluetooth on (no Wi-Fi). Turning off WiFi and/or cellular data and leaving only the Bluetooth signal elimintaes a huge percentage of random drop-outs.)
     
     

    Microphone

    I found the BLU-100’s microphone to be pretty subpar in quality after testing the microphone over a Skype call. Disregarding the general call quality over my local internet, I found my voice sounded unnatural and distant. I found the latter to be caused by the actual positioning of the microphone, which actually points away from me instead of the other way around. Compared to the Plantronics Backbeat 903+ (an old Bluetooth headset I own) the 903+ sounds more like you’re talking over the actual phone than the BLU-100 – not that much clearer, but definitely closer, which does help to hear the other person better.
     
    Well, I guess that’s about it for the features and whatnot; now, let’s move on to the sonic part of things!
     
     

    == Sound ==

    Equipment, Burn-in

    The source equipment I used for this review is my iPad 3 and a 5th-generation iPod Touch. As the BLU-100 is a Bluetooth IEM, there are no amps or DACs in between. The eartips being used in this review are the included Comply S-400 foam eartips. The EQ software being used is TuneShell (a free app) running on the iPad 3. As always, my test tracks are available here, although I will link specific songs in the assessment for a more direct point of reference.
     
    The BLU-100 has been given at least 50 hours of burn-in prior to writing this review. So far, I haven’t noticed any differences in the sound, so without wasting any more time, let’s get right to it!
     
     

    Sound Quality

    SAM_0083.jpg
     
    The BLU-100 has a pretty generic sound signature, taking the form of a consumer-oriented V-shaped sound that you hear in at least 60% of all headphones and IEMs out there. Honestly there’s really nothing new from a general overview, but listen in closer and you’ll find some things that separate them from your usual fare.
     
    Bass:
    First off, let’s start with the bass. The BLU-100 delivers quite nicely in this regard, with an impactful punch which should satisfy most consumers’ bass criteria – however I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re basshead-friendly (Fox Stevenson – Manage). In any case, the low-end is pretty focused around the mid-to-upper bass (60-100+ Hz), which makes them sound overly full and warm (Daft Punk – Fragments of Time). Then again, they do still have quite a bit of detail down there, which really surprised me as the BLU-100 managed to reproduce the heavy bass notes on this next song (Daft Punk – Lose Yourself to Dance) fairly well.
     
     
    Midrange:
    I’ll be honest, I was quite surprised by the midrange performance of the BLU-100. Despite being a very consumer-sounding earphone, Brainwavz still managed to wring out some degree of clarity to the midrange, rendering vocals and instruments about as well as the wired and slightly more expensive Brainwavz S0 (Eagles – Desperado). To be honest, I would actually go as far as to say they sound slightly better than the S0 thanks to the BLU-100’s more pronounced treble.
     
     
    Treble:
    Speaking of treble, let’s talk about that. The BLU-100 has a nice, crisp treble that brings out just enough snap and sizzle for cymbals, claps, and high-energy synths, but also remains nice and smooth, never going to the point where they get irritating to the ears. The treble also adds a nice tactility to pianos, which otherwise would’ve turned them into a confused mess of notes (Yiruma - Reminiscent).
     
     
    Soundstage/Presentation:
    The BLU-100’s soundstage is what you would expect from an IEM at $50, but in a compact Bluetooth package. Here it again draws a parallel to the wired Brainwavz S0 in terms of soundstage and imaging capabilities, both of which perform very well. The BLU-100’s got an average soundstage and good separation, which helps with more complex recordings (Daft Punk – Touch). However, don’t expect too much out of it.

     
    Genre Proficiency:
    These Bluetooth IEMs actually sound pretty great with a wide variety of genres. From soft piano recordings to heavy dubstep and metal, they manage to sound just right for just about everything. Probably the only areas the BLU-100 fails to perform to expectations are recordings with a lot of instruments playing at the same time (Coeur de Pirate – Metal Gleamed in the Twilight), where the Bluetooth IEMs couldn’t really capture the dynamics and the emotion of the recordings.  
     

    Summary:
    Otherwise, though, you really can’t go wrong with the BLU-100, sound-wise. For a sub-$50 wireless IEM they provide a sound quality that one would find comparable to wired sets at the same price. Its V-shaped sound signature will most definitely appeal to the average consumer, and works well with just about any genre one would listen to. I’ll admit, Brainwavz made some pretty good calls in tuning the BLU-100’s sound, as honestly I have little to complain about despite the IEM being wireless.
     
     

    Other Media

    Games:
    Being a mobile-designed Bluetooth headset, it’s outright impossible to use these to game on a PC, unless you have a Bluetooth dongle that could pair and output to the IEMs. In any case, I wouldn’t say much here, other than that they could make a decent “beater” pair for gaming. It may not give you any edge over the competition, but hey, even the “competitive” mobile games (i.e. Clash of Clans and similar games) don’t even need positional audio to play – heck, you could even put the game on mute and still play just about as well as the next guy.
     
     
    Movies:
    The BLU-100, with its easy-going, consumer-friendly sound signature, should do fine with movies. They’re not the best, but they’re definitely not the worst, either. If anything, the bass reproduction is a little off-mark for me, as their focus on the midbass takes away emphasis on the rumble and more emphasis on the “boom,” which in my book is a definite ‘no.’ Otherwise, there’s nothing they do absolutely wrong so as to make them unlistenable.
     
     

    EQ Response

    I found the BLU-100 to be pretty responsive to EQ, settling down to a sweet balanced sound signature with a few quick tweaks. The curve kinda looks like this:
     
     
    …which, as you can see, looks rather similar to the “Spoken Word” preset in the iOS system equalizer. In any case, I found these tweaks worked out very nicely on the BLU-100, leaning the sound towards the balanced signature I look for. However, do note that using standalone EQ apps often drain your source battery life, and on top of the drain caused by the constant Bluetooth signal chain, you will want to watch your battery levels more closely.
     
     

    Value

    Now past the pre-order stage and now in full production and release, the BLU-100 is available on Brainwavz’ parent company MP4Nation for $44.50 (Link). I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this many times throughout the review, but with the BLU-100’s features and performance, they are an absolute steal at this price. That’s all I can say.
     
     

    Comparison

    Versus Brainwavz S0 ($50)
    As I’ve also stated earlier in this review, I thought of the BLU-100 as a parallel to the wired Brainwavz S0, and for good reason: they sound quite alike. However, they each make clear sonic distinctions which make them unique in their own ways. The S0 is smoother, darker, and more laid-back, while the BLU-100 is livelier and more energetic. Personally I find the BLU-100 to have a more enjoyable signature, as their treble offsets the IEM’s warmth and bass very nicely.
     
     
    Versus Plantronics 903+ ($100)
    The 903+ is an old, discontinued Bluetooth headset with a sport-oriented earhook design which has now been replaced by the current Backbeat Go 2. My dad would often use these earbud-type earphones on long cycling trips, which allowed him the convenience of hands-free conversations over the phone. The great microphone, as well as the 7-hour battery life (both of which I skimmed earlier) really edges the 903+ over the BLU-100, but for an earbud fit at twice the price? No thanks.
     
     

    == Conclusion ==

    SAM_0090.jpg
     
    I’m not a fan of Bluetooth technology, as “convenient” as going wireless is. There are just way too many caveats that pull me away from ever using it over a regular wired connection. But I’ll admit the Brainwavz BLU-100 changed my position on that slightly. The BLU-100 is a great example as to why I love Brainwavz as a company. They create products with features you need at prices that give the more expensive sets a run for their money. Sure, it may not blow competitors out of the water, but for a sub-$50 package, you will want to think again.
     
     
    Category
    Score
    Comment
    Packaging, Accessories
    7/10
    The BLU-100 is, again, showered with Brainwavz’ trademark accessories package. As I didn’t receive the full release version I can’t say anything about the packaging.
    Design, Build, Microphonics
    7/10
    The BLU-100 has pretty much everything going for it in the build department – housings, cable, and all. However, it does lose out a bit for me design-wise with a few mainly personal gripes.
    Fit, Comfort, Isolation
    7.5/10
    The BLU-100’s included Comply foam eartips provide a great, secure fit and excellent comfort. The isolation, however, is quite a bit below average, so you will want to use aftermarket eartips to block out more external noise.
    Microphone
    6/10
    The microphone falls below average in my book, with its sound coming out echo-y and distant on the other end. Then again, for a sub-$50 Bluetooth IEM, it’s nothing worth complaining about.
    Bass
    7/10
    The BLU-100’s bass is something I think most non-audiophiles will find satisfying to their tastes. Decent impact, okay extension, and a clear focus on the midbass show that this was designed for the consumer in mind. It’s definitely not “audiophile-grade”.
    Midrange
    7.5/10
    I’ll admit, the BLU-100 has a surprisingly good midrange, featuring a nice amount of clarity and a smooth, warm tone. It’s something that just works.
    Treble
    7.5/10
    The treble really rounds out the BLU-100’s sound signature, with a crisp response that wrings out the tactility in vocals and instruments. It also balances out the bass very nicely.
    Presentation
    7/10
    The BLU-100’s soundstage is about as average as it gets. Decent size, decent width, good separation. It’s good, but definitely not amazing.
    Gaming, Movies
    7/10
    I found they work pretty great with watching movies on the iPad, with its 4-hour battery life outlasting a good movie or two (unless you’re having an LotR or Sherlock marathon). Gaming-wise it’s something I wouldn’t recommend, but then again, who plays FPS on mobile?
    EQ Response
    8/10
    The BLU-100 is quite responsive to EQ and shows noticeable improvements with very slight tweaks. For iOS users, the “Spoken Word” preset is recommended.
    Value
    8/10
    I think it’s obvious that the BLU-100 shows excellent value for the money, with a complete package that goes up against wired sets at around the same price.
    Total
    7.2/10
    The Brainwavz BLU-100 is the definitive budget Bluetooth IEM, with features and accessories that go head-to-head against Bluetooth headsets at twice the price. Brainwavz did very well in creating the BLU-100, never cutting corners in providing you with great sound at a very reasonable price.

     

    Suggestions for Improvement

    Improve tuning next time around. However, I don’t have any gripes sound-wise other than the focus on the midbass. Less of that = a more balanced and more audiophile sound signature.
     
    Might want to improve the battery life as well. Maybe kick it up a couple hours or so on a more expensive model in the future.
     
     

    Shout-Outs, Gallery

    I would like to again thank Audrey at Brainwavz for providing me with the sample for the BLU-100. I had an absolute blast reviewing this IEM, and I really hope to see more awesome budget offerings from you guys. As always, all of the pictures taken during the review process can be viewed here.
     
    Also, thank you so much to all of our readers for your continued support! With summer coming our way, we’re looking to start getting more content done in the coming months. We’re striving to create more frequent and better quality content for all of you guys, and maybe soon we’ll start actual work on a Buyer’s Guide!
     
    This has been thatBeatsguy of DB Headphones; thanks for reading!
     
     

    About the Company

    At Brainwavz we have a simple mission, to produce innovative, high quality audio products with a dedicated focus on high-end sound at a realistic price. Our strength, success and product range is built on our unique relationship with our customers and users, a relationship that has produced a simple and obvious result. We give real-users real sound quality. 2014 will see Brainwavz pushing forward with an expanded product line, continuing with unique and innovative products, from earphones to headphones to audio accessories.
     
    Company website: www.yourbrainwavz.com
     
     

    Changelog

      Hisoundfi and hakushondaimao like this.
    1. kahaluu
      Nice review. I should have my pair in few days. I think they will satisfy my needs in the gym.
      kahaluu, Jun 1, 2015
  8. dragon2knight
    Good first bluetooth effort
    Written by dragon2knight
    Published May 14, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Build quality, Above average Eq-able sound signature
    Cons - Poor battery life
    Audrey over at Brainwavz asked me to do a review of their new BLU-100 bluetooth IEM headset and I jumped at the opportunity to do so. My thanks for the review unit [​IMG]
     
    As these are review units, not retail, I opted to not include any pictures as they might not be as the retail version is. There are plenty of reviews on here with pre-production pics, so look there if you want to see them. I will include pictures from the Brainwavz site, though, so at least you see something in this review. I'm also including the copied and pasted Specs and Content's and Accessories charts from their product page. They can be bought from here:: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YDVY34Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&keywords=bluetooth+earphones
     
    Specifications: 
     
    DriversDynamic: 8mm
    Rated Impedance: 30Ω closed Dynamic
    Frequency Range: 20 ~ 20000Hz
    Sensitivity: 110 dB @ 1 mW
    Bluetooth: 4.0
    CodecaptX™
    Max Distance: 10mt(30ft)
    Battery: 60mAh
    Playtime/Standby: 4hrs/100hrs
    Charge Time: 2hrs(USB)
    Noise Cancellation :CVC echo/noise
    Voice Prompt: Yes
    Profiles: HFP HSP A2DP
    Pairing: Dual Pairing
     
    Contents & Accessories: 

    Silicone Ear Tipsx3 Pairs
    Comply™ Foam Tips: S-400 Series
    Ear Clips x1 
    Hard Case x1
    USB Cablex1
    Manualx1
    Warrantyx1 (12 Months)
     
    blu100Large.jpg
    BLU100_01.jpg
     
    BLU100_02.jpg
     
     
    Now onto the review.
     
    First off, I have some real experience with cheap, no name brand bluetooth headphones. Re-branders like Arctic/Coby have been making these for a few years now. The Arctic version, the ones I'm using right now, are called the B235BT. They are an over the ear model with nearly 10 hour battery life, good build quality and decent sound, all for a price similar to the BLU-100's. I used these as my comparison units for this test. I used my bluetooth 4.0 enabled China based Android phones(a variety) for testing along with the app Poweramp (paid version) as my main playback app. I used a serious swath of music (FLAC only) for my testing from all genre's from Rock to Opera, I included it all. 
     
    I'll break my review into categories starting with:
     
    Build Quality:
     
    I like the build quality of the BLU-100's quite a lot. The case is made from metal, isn't too bulky, and fits well in my ear without sticking out too much thanks to short nozzle's. The cables are flat, fairly strong feeling, and not too long being just long enough to allow for a good fit either over the ear or hanging down. I personally found the included Comply 400S tips to work best, YMMV of course. It included an inline controller hanging down a few inches or so from the right earpiece. It's well designed with a green accent color that's easy to see even in low light and a satisfying click when the 3 (three) buttons are pressed. As the pic above shows, it has a good amount of features as explained better below.
     
    Ease Of Use:
     
    The BLU-100's are a straight forward, easy to figure out IEM as bluetooth headsets go. I got them paired ( press and hold the center button), figured out how to use all of the playback functions and simply used them effortlessly without even having a manual available. After Audrey sent us reviewer's a PDF with the instructions, I found no more uses other than being able to Dual Pair the BLU-100's (a nice feature) that I hadn't already figured out by myself. Using it daily only made the functions available easier to use and I found myself liking the ease of use more and more as time passed. Good job here, Brainwavz [​IMG]
    The functions available are as pictured above, quite a few for a budget bluetooth IEM. I especially like the ladies voice that greets you with many of the functions that you use, making the BLU-100's much easier to use without having to look at the controller. As a comparison, the Arctic's I compared them to use a rather flimsy button arrangement on the ear cup that took awhile to get used to and they have no voice function to boot. Score one for the BLU-100's here. They are easy to charge up using a micro usb port located on one of the ear buds and charging only took 2 (two) hours as well. This is a good thing as the battery life is, IMHO, abysmal with, in my testing, only around 3 1/2 or so hours available per charge. One of the main reasons for using a wireless IEM is the ability to use it at least 6-8 hours daily without having the battery go flat on you. The Arctic's by comparison have around 10 hours per charge, with the same 2 (two) hour charge time. This is acceptable while the low usage time of the BLU-100's almost kills them for my use here. I'm sure they will find their own niche, like for gym/workout usage where long battery life isn't important, but for all other uses it falls flat. The only other flaw here is a too dim, and way too small, white LED that I thought was a spec of lint when I first saw it. This needs to be either bigger or brighter or both. The voice notifications do tend to negate the use/need of it, though, so it's not a biggie here. Bluetooth range is good, with around 10-15 feet  line of sight, 5-10 feet obstructed. As most will probably be using the BLU-100's with a phone, distance really isn't an issue here. Voice quality while in phone mode is good, with no complaints from anyone I was talking to either speaking or listening.
     
    Sound:
     
    Here is where the BLU-100's either shine or not, depending on what source you are using. The sound is warm out of the box, with the mids having a noticeable muddy tinge to them. The low end is strong enough and pretty full, the highs are ok with no harshness noticed by me. To be honest, this is not quite what I thought they were going to sound like, I had a bit higher expectation of them being a Brainwavz headset. I found them to be a little bit flat sounding, no real pop or personality. That was, until I EQ'd them. Those of us who use Poweramp do so for it's great sound shaping ability via it's excellent EQ. With just the tiniest of movement on it's sliders, I found that the BLU-100's took to this very, very well, more so than most all of my other wired IEM's as a matter of fact. The muddy mids? Poof--gone with EQing. Bass? Much improved with the smallest amount of EQing. I actually got the BLU-100's to sound just the way I like with every genre I used simply by EQing them that way. Truly a very nice surprise to be able to do that. The Arctic's don't have nearly the same flexibility here. Score another one here for the BLU-100's.
     
    Conclusions:
     
    Wrapping up, despite the poor battery performance, I still like the BLU-100's. Every other aspect of them is just so good for the price paid(currently $44.00 retail, $34.00 on sale). Quality of build is good, sound can be shaped exactly how you like very easily, the fit in my ear is good....really this is a fine first effort from Brainwavz. Fix the battery issue and they will have a real winner here. My thanks again to Audrey for the review unit, it's nice to be able to keep on trying out Brainwavz latest and greatest [​IMG] 
  9. twister6
    Active lifestyle wireless headphones with a GREAT value!
    Written by twister6
    Published May 13, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - BT4.0 w/apt-X support, great accessories, lightweight and comfortable
    Cons - 4hrs battery life, depending on eartip selection mid-bass could get a bit overwhelming

    Before I start my review, I would like to Thank Audrey/Brainwavz for providing me with a review sample of BLU-100 in exchange for my honest opinion.

     
    This is a review of Brainwavz BLU-100 wireless BT4.0 headset with apt-X.  http://www.yourbrainwavz.com/blu100.html available from http://www.mp4nation.net/brainwavz-blu-100-bluetooth-4-0-aptx-earphones
     
    It’s always interesting to see when an established headphone manufacturer expands its product line to venture into a new territory.  Yes, Brainwavz new product has an intention to send “waves” of sounds into your “brain” without any wires between your audio source and their latest BLU-100 wireless headphones.  Ever since Jaybird Bluebuds X with two earbuds connected by a wire with in-line remote made a splash a few years ago, popularity of this wireless headphones style skyrocketed with multiple dozens of similar headsets flooding the market.  It went through evolution of Bluetooth 2.0/3.0 models, various clip-on charging cables, all sorts of rubber flaps and fins for a better fitment, and now I see a new wave of BT4.0 units with apt-X codec support. 
     
    I’m speaking from Android perspective since I have iDevice-free household, thus a reference to apt-X codec support.  I found it to have an improvement in encoding/decoding a wider bandwidth of a sound spectrum in comparison to older Bluetooth standards focusing mostly on a bandwidth of midrange to capture mostly the content of vocal range.  With Brainwavz stepping into the market, I was curious how a better known headphone company will adopt this technology utilizing their knowledge of sound design, in comparison to a dozen of other manufactures of phone accessories who released similar products.  Here is what I found.
     
    With this being pre-production review unit, I didn’t receive BLU-100 packed inside of a final manufacturing packaging, so there is not much to talk about it here.  On a side note, I do enjoy analyzing product packaging because I always imagine if it would capture my attention while walking down an aisle of my local brick-n-mortar electronics store (remember those?).  Considering a number of previous Brainwavz products I had a chance to review, I have no doubt it will have a colorful packaging with a lot of useful info about the design, features, and included accessories.
     
    And speaking of accessories, the headset arrived packed inside of Brainwavz popular hard shell zippered case with roomy pockets on each side.  Anybody who had any experience with their products will agree that Brainwavz earbud cases are among the best out there.  Inside of the case, in addition to BLU-100 wireless headphones, you can find a generous selection of accessories including 3 sets of S/M/L silicone eartips, a pair of genuine Comply foam S-400 tips, micro-usb charging cable, and a pair of silicone ear clip fins.  I'm glad to see a standard micro-usb cable is used for charging, since in the past I found proprietary charging clips to be a nightmare.  Surprised only a single pair of fins was included, since typically having M/L pair is a good idea to cover most of the ear anatomies.
     
    Accessories.
     
    brainwavz_blu100-01_zps0ao9npbm.jpg
     
    brainwavz_blu100-02_zps2acb0mxg.jpg
     
    brainwavz_blu100-03_zpsvlbra88t.jpg
     
    brainwavz_blu100-04_zps9dilrmjn.jpg
     
    brainwavz_blu100-05_zpswuwzaq8e.jpg
     
    brainwavz_blu100-06_zpshexshmtq.jpg
     
    A design of BLU-100 is straight forward for this type of headphones with a pair of earpiece shells being interconnected by a cable with a 3-button in-line remote.  Earpiece design is a common barrel style tapered down toward the nozzle, made out of a lightweight aluminum material.  The strain relief for the attached cable is cleverly integrated into a rubbery ring going through a middle of the earpiece barrel.  The back of right earpiece has a plastic flap covering micro-usb charging port, and both of the earpieces had a clear labeled R/L marking.
     
    I wasn’t too thrilled with a flat cable attached to the earpieces since I found it to be on a thinner side in comparison to other similar headsets.  These types of headsets are designed with active lifestyle users in mind, thus a durability of cable wrapped around your neck when you are exercising is rather important.  At the same time you don’t want to make it too stiff and heavy, so I would suggest to Brainwavz to make this cable a bit thicker in a future.
     
    Last, but not least, is an inline remote control with a typical 3-button layout on one side and mic on the other side.  There is also a very small LED located on the edge of the remote (easy to miss), different from other headsets where LED is usually on one of the earpieces.  You need a visual indicator when pairing up or charging, and this LED is an important design element.  Though microphone has an acceptable pinhole size, the clarity of my voice during calls was just OK.
     
    The top side of remote control has 3 separate buttons, dedicated to Play/Pause/Call (the one in the middle), and Volume +/- on each size of it with a multi functionality of short click to adjust the volume and long press to skip track next/prev.  The positioning of volume up/down and skip next/prev buttons functionality was logical relative to the middle button.  For some people it might not be a big deal but I actually found a few other headphones where logic was reversed with a flipped functionality - with BLU-100 they got it right!  The only concern here are buttons having a nice visibility thanks to neon green ring around them, but hard time being distinguished by feeling them with your finger.  Keep in mind, you will be operating them blindly behind your neck and it’s VERY important to be able to feel and to id these buttons.  My suggestion to Brainwavz is to raise them up a bit and maybe use some kind of an additional bump on the middle button so you can quickly ID it by sliding a finger.
     
    Design.
     
    brainwavz_blu100-07_zps3flphhxn.jpg
     
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    brainwavz_blu100-10_zpss3dijv0i.jpg
     
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    brainwavz_blu100-13_zpsumouqqi6.jpg
     
    In terms of functionality, it’s a very straight forward common design.  Multi-function Play/Pause/Call button in the middle is also a Power button where you need to hold it down for a few seconds to turn the power on and off.  To avoid any confusion, voice guidance will confirm that.  The first time you ready to pair it up, long press the power button until you enter pair-up mode and scan it on your phone in Bluetooth setting to connect.  Pair up was fast, and headset was connected to Phone and Media Audio, meaning you will be able to pickup phone calls and also listen and control the media audio streaming wirelessly from your phone.  Headset also supports dual pairing meaning you can connect it to two wireless devices at a time – very convenient to have it connected to your phone so you don't miss a call while you are connected to your tablet playing a game or watching a movie.
     
    Wireless range was close to 35feet in the open space, though I did experience a bit of very occasional stuttering beyond 20-25 feet if my Note 4 was not in a direct sight.  Also a bit of a surprise to me, BLU-100 supports only 4 hours of continuous play.  According to a spec it uses 60 mAh battery, and considering such a small capacity (and probably a small size), I wouldn’t mind seeing it being doubled to increase playback time.  I mean, 4hrs is plenty of time for a workout or a bike ride, but you have to remember to charge it after you are done.  In my opinion 6 hours battery life is more ideal because it gives you two full active listening sessions (while working out or running/biking) in case if you forget to charge it after the first use.  Also, unlike iPhone support where battery capacity shows up in your notification bar, with Android you don’t have such a clear indicator.
     
    When it comes to phone operation, BLU-100 supports a number of features such as Answer/End/Reject the call (middle button), Voice dial activate and deactivate (either up/down buttons), and even last number redial with two quick presses of middle button (always gets me since a wired headphone remote uses double click to skip a song and I often mix it up).  I mentioned before, during calls my voice wasn’t always crystal clear which is expected since mic on the remote is behind my neck, but I was able to hear the other side pretty good.
     
    (review unit shows up as BD-121, while a final production unit should be visible as BLU-100)
     
    brainwavz_blu100-14_zpsmxy8q7fm.jpg
     
     
    Now, the most important part – a sound test.  To be honest, I had a little higher expectations for BLU-100 thinking this is a wireless headset from an actual headphone company, but when I started testing I realized that I’m still dealing with Brainwavz that have a soft spot for enhanced bass tuning.  That brought my expectation level down to a more realistic ground.  But still, you have to be aware that tip selection will play a tremendous influence on a sound signature.  I typically use large eartips with all my IEMs for a better fitment/seal to guarantee good isolation and deeper bass response.  With these headphones, going between large and medium size eartips had a VERY SIGNIFICANT sound difference.
     
    A typical large size eartips with a good seal yielded a sound with a relatively balanced signature and enhanced bass response (a rather noticeable mid-bass slam), but switching to medium size eartips attenuated mid-bass hump significantly down to a flat level to yield a surprisingly neutral sound signature.  I’m talking about using silicone tips, but a Comply foam tip should be equivalent to the effect of a large size silicone tip with an enhanced bass.
     
    In a more detailed analysis with large eartips, a sound was definitely focused on a stronger mid-bass supported by a layer of rolled off sub-bass and some resonating spillage into lower mids.  Mids had a bit of uneven balance with a heavier lower mids and lighter upper mids which made sound to be a bit artificial, though not that bad.  Treble doesn't extend too far but still has a good clarity with some nice details coming through. 
     
    Going to a smaller eartips resolved mid-bass boom and actually turned headphones to sound rather neutral and brighter.  With bass being more on a neutral side, these actually became more suitable for a wider range of music styles with a more relaxed listening.  Now mids sounded more balanced but a bit on a thinner side since there is no longer a mid-bass support to add that extra body.  Treble was very similar in either case.  To my ears a soundstage also remained similar: just an average, being a little wider than deeper.
     
    brainwavz_blu100-15_zpsusueracs.jpg
     
    Summary.
     
    In conclusion, to be honest I didn’t find anything groundbreaking with this pair of BLU-100 Bluetooth headsets from Brainwavz.  I guess I'm a little spoiled with a number of other similar headsets I tested in the past, so a concept of small wireless headphones is not a news to me.  Also, some of the other re-branded cookie-cutter wireless headsets, even with BT4.0 and apt-X, had a similar performance with an exception of slightly different sound signature where Brainwavz clearly favors a more commercial tuning with an enhanced bass.  What I find absolutely outstanding with BLU-100 is their VALUE where at introductory price of only $34.50 you get a wireless headset with an excellent build quality, a selection of great accessories including a lot of eartips and one of the best hard shell cases, and also a performance of the latest BT4.0 with apt-X support (which is a plus for Android users).  At this price point it will be hard to find anything better to match what BLU-100 has to offer!
      Brooko likes this.
    1. dragon2knight
      Excellent review, seriously. Got the good points and bad down really well :)
      dragon2knight, May 14, 2015
    2. earfonia
      Thanks for your honest opinion :wink:
      earfonia, May 14, 2015
  10. shockdoc
    A decent budget friendly blu tooth IEM
    Written by shockdoc
    Published May 13, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Easy set up and pairing, good overall sound, simple controls
    Cons - Length of cable and control placement limits wearing options, harsh highs on some tracks, concern for durability of USB charging port cover
    This is a review of the Brainwavz BLU-100 blu tooth IEM headset.
     
    Thanks to Audrey for the opportunity to review theses headphones. I’m in no way affiliated with
    Brainwavz or any other audio company or entity.
     
    A little background. I’m a 58 year old audio enthusiast and audiophile (or wannabe) since I was a
    kid and first heard a really great system at a friend’s house. I was enthralled as it seemed like the performer was standing right in front of me singing directly to me. I’ve been actively seeking that same level of performance in the audio world since that time.
     
    I have an extensive musical background, play multiple instruments and sing. My family is also very musical as well and all sing and/or play at least one instrument. My musical tastes are quite eclectic but skew heavily towards acoustic music. In fact the main criteria, and my forte, is headphones and gear that faithfully reproduce accurately the sounds of acoustic instruments. I cannot and will not speak to how a headphone sounds with electronic music.
     
    These headphones did not come in a package or with any kind of instructions. I found out later that they had been sent in an e-mail. I have never owned and have only briefly listened to any blu tooth headsets or headphones so I will be reviewing these mostly on sound quality and ease of use for a relative blu tooth novice.
     
    They came in the usual Brainwavz red zippered case with some extra sized ear tips and a set of Complys (usual, and appreciated by Brainwavz) and some clips to apparently prevent rotation of the housings in the ears.. There was also a  micro USB charging cable.
     
    Since I didn’t see any instructions I simply plugged them in to see what would happen. They quickly paired with both my phone and my laptop and were quite intuitive to use even for a noob to blu tooth.
     
    I quickly loaded a few of the songs from my playlist and started to listen. My initial impression of the sound was fairly good. Nice mids, decent low end but the highs on some tracks were fairly harsh. I’m a pretty firm believer in burn in for dynamic drivers so I’m thinking that with more hours on them that particular characteristic will likely diminish. I knew with the stated battery life and charge times I would not have time to burn these in to any extent prior to writing this review.
     
    At this point I decided to loan them to my adult son for a few days as he DOES have plenty of experience with blu tooth earphones and headsets (using them on an almost daily basis for many years). The following are his brief observations:
     
    “1) Battery life seems fine, I haven't run out the battery yet but I haven't tried listening/talking for 4 hours straight.
     
    2) Controls are nice and intuitive. Even without glancing at the instructions I was able to use the headset to navigate my playlist comfortably.
     
    3) Call quality seems fine. Mic is sensitive.
     
    4) Bass seems a little weak, though I suspect that it might be on purpose to increase battery life. Other than that the audio quality sounds good to me.
     
    5) As we discussed before, I dislike looping them around the back of my ears because that makes the controls difficult to reach. Looping them around the back of the ears, however, seems to be the only easy way to keep the headset on when the earbuds are not in my ears. If I want to take the earbuds out and not have the headset fall to the ground I usually have to flip it around my head.”

     
    One thing I did notice is that with single instrument acoustic music the sound was quite lifelike and realistic. However, when multiple instruments were playing, an orchestra for example, it was somewhat difficult to distinguish instrument separation. This is often an issue with some of my budget ‘phones but lessoned somewhat with burn in on a few of them. I don’t know if it’s the headphone itself or something to do with how the blu tooth signal works (or doesn’t). I did notice better separation on tracks with multiple, but similar instruments. I have some guitar trio tracks that sounded quite nice but still didn’t have the very nice separation of the Brainwavz S5’s.
     
    I also concur with my son as to the cable. I prefer to wear, when possible, my IEM’s overear and the shortness of the cable makes it hard to reach the controls. This is not an issue at all when worn down with the cable in front. I also wonder about the longevity of the little cover for the USB charging port on the right housing.
     
    The housings are rather large but I can’t imagine how they could be made any smaller and still house the battery and necessary electronics. They are quite light and I had no problem getting a good seal and keeping them in play with normal movements.
     
    Overall, these are a decent little set of IEM’s with the added bonus of being able to answer your phone. At this price point they should be a no brainer for someone seeking a good inexpensive blu tooth IEM for daily use. They would likely only very rarely replace a regular set of IEM’s for me personally, however.