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Brainwavz HM2

Rating:
3.64286/5,
  1. BloodyPenguin
    The Lightest Touch
    Written by BloodyPenguin
    Published Dec 1, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Super Light Weight, Folds Well, Nice Hard Carrying Case, Easy Going Sound Signature
    Cons - Too Big for My Small Head, Slight Sound Veil/Echo
    P1050621.jpg
     
    **Disclaimer, I would like to thank Brainwavz for providing me an early sample of the HM2 for review*



    *Specifications*

    Drivers: Dynamic, 40 mm Rated
    Impedance: 32 Ω
    Frequency Range: 10 Hz ~ 20 kHz
    Sensitivity: 104 dB at 1 mW
    Maximum Input Power: 100 mW
    Plug: 3.5 mm, gold-plated
     
    P1050718.jpg
     


    *Contents*

    - HM2 Headphones
    - Hard Carrying Case
    - 1.2 m Flat Cable
    - 1.2 m Cable with In-Line Microphone

    The carrying case is quite nice; it is clearly a safe spot to store the HM2.  The case is designed well and has a premium feel that has plenty of room for the included cables as well.

    I love detachable cables, it does a few things. First, it is a safety net when/if you snag the headphone cord on something.  Instead of breaking the earphone, the cable will just pop out and you can just put it back in again.  Second, it is great option for those looking to change up the cable to something else.  Either be a longer or higher quality or be designed for a specific purpose.
     
    P1050717.jpg
     
     
     
    *Build*

    I noticed right away how amazingly light weight they feel in the hand.  I don’t think I have ever held a headphone of this size that weighed this little.  The Headphone itself is mostly covered in a soft, black plastic that is nice to the touch.  The HM2 feels solid enough to take a drop or two, while not fretting about breaking it, though for this review I did not test my theory.  The folding hinges are solidly built and show no signs of weakness. 
     
    P1050711.jpg
     


    *Fit*

    Let’s just get this out of the way.  I am short, I actually wanted the username “Stumpy”, but it was already taken.  I am 5’4” on my tippy toes, so the rest of me am proportionally small, like my head.  So when putting on the HM2, even at the lowest setting, I found that they were just a tad too big for my head.  So the ear cups end up resting on the tips of my ears.  Luckily, like I mentioned, these are SUPER light, so the pressure on my ears is still very small.  I feel if there was some padding added to the underside of the headband, that it would help create a better fit/comfort for me.  The headband itself does not flex too much, instead relying on the rotating ear cups to help with the fitment.  The ear cups are on the firmer side, they allow the ears to breath, so they never become overly warm.
     
    P1050712.jpg
     


    *Function*

    These are designed for on the go and for that they do VERY well.  The lightweight build and their feature to fold up make them easy for on the move.

    Normally I would also test the microphone at this point, but unfortunately my sample unit had the cable with the mic mysteriously disappear.  Though knowing Brainwavz quality, I am sure it works extremely well without issue.  I will say that the standard cable hooks up and works perfect though.
     
    P1050722.jpg
     
     
     
    *Sound*

    Bass – I like the lows, I like them because they are not bloated, muddy or otherwise unnecessary exaggerated. There is a touch of sub-bass in the distance and a tad of mid-bass, but both are nicely tame.

    Mids – Vocals have a laid-back approach, while not recessed, there does not seem to be much urgency.   The rest of mids continue to follow the easy going approach that started in the lows.

    Highs – The highs do not offend and roll off early, instead focusing on preserving enough detail without becoming fatiguing. 

    Soundstage – There is a slight narrowing feeling, I would not use the word congested, but there is not a lot of separation between the vocals and instruments. Also there is a slight echo that can faintly be noticed.

    Isolation – The HM2 will block a little bit of outside noise and does not seem to leak outwards. I feel if the ear pads were just a tad softer that it would help create a better seal and better overall isolation.

    P1050715.jpg
     


    *Overall Thoughts*

    The HM2 has an MSRP of $50 and for that price it has a lot to offer for value: Lightweight design, detachable cables, solid build, great carrying case and a smaller footprint due to their ability to fold.

    Sound wise, there is musical clarity that does come through, giving the HM2 a clear overall tone. Bass is mild, but still very much accounted for. Overall presentation is right on target for this price range.

    The HM2 is a good overall headphone that does a lot of things right.
     
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      twister6 likes this.
  2. Brooko
    Brainwavz HM2 – Street Style & Smooth Sound
    Written by Brooko
    Published Dec 2, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Build quality, lightweight and portable, stylish, good consumer signature (warm and smooth), response to EQ, value
    Cons - No headband padding, default size might be too large for smaller heads
    HM213.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 (especially for IEMs) that suit almost anyone’s sonic preferences. I’ve previously had both good and bad experiences with their headphones / IEMs – I previously reviewed and owned their B2 IEMs and HM5 headphones, and I have fond memories of both as stellar performers when they were introduced. I’ve also sampled and reviewed their R1, R3, S5, S0, M1, R3, V2, Jive, and S3 IEMs – and whilst some have been (IMO) solid performers, others haven’t been quite as well aligned with my preferences.

    A few weeks ago Pandora contacted me to ask whether I’d be keen on listening to a new release they were making. The difference this time was that they were just going to a small number of reviewers first. Naturally I was flattered that she’d approached me, and so I definitely said yes. Pandora also warned me in advance that they may not suit my particular sonic preferences – but I couldn’t see that being an issue (if we’re reviewing properly – we should be able to see past that). So two weeks ago, a courier pack arrived, and I got my introduction to the Brainwavz HM2 – a full sized portable headphone. In the last couple of weeks I’ve tried to use the HM2 as much as possible – and I’ve also had my 12yo daughter and 14yo son put them through their paces.

    I’ve listed price at their RRP of USD $49.50 – however this is not what I paid for them (they are a review sample).

    DISCLAIMER

    I was provided the Brainwavz HM2 as a review unit from Brainwavz. I am in no way affiliated with Brainwavz - and this review is my subjective opinion of the HM2.

    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 portables (Fiio X5ii, X3ii, LP5 and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). I also use a portable set-up at work – either X5ii/X3ii > HP, or PC > E17K > HP. My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1, Sennheiser HD600, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and lately it has been with the Adel U6, Dunu DN-2000J, Jays q-Jays and Alclair Curve2. 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 burn-in, 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 used the HM2 straight from the headphone-out socket of my iPhone 5S, X3ii, and M3.

    In the time I have spent with the HM2, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (break-in), but am aware that I am becoming more used to the signature of the HM2 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 HM2 arrived in a quite nicely coloured two-tone grey retail box with red accents, measuring 150 x 206 x 95mm. It has a picture of the HM2 on the front, specifications on the rear, a list of accessories, and a descriptive blurb of the HM2 on either side.

    HM201.jpg HM202.jpg HM203.jpg

    Front of the retail box

    Rear of the retail box

    Side of the retail box


    Opening the box discloses the traditionally red and black Brainwavz carry case – which is oval, and unsurprisingly very close in measurements to the retail packaging (200 x 145 x 85mm). The case is similar in material to their IEM cases, has a mesh outer surface, and gives reasonable protection while also being reasonably portable (I say reasonably – because it is still quite a deep case).

    HM205.jpg HM204.jpg

    HM2 inside the carry case

    Interior of the carry case


    Undoing the zip exposes a mesh pocket, the HM2 nicely folded inside, a warranty card and two cables.

    HM206.jpg HM207.jpg HM208.jpg

    The exterior of the carry case

    Flat cable

    Standard cable with in-line controls



    So from a value point of view – things look pretty good, as most headphones at this price point would not have either the case or the extra cable.

    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

    (From Brainwavz)
    Type
    Sealed circumaural portable full sized headphone
    Drivers
    Dynamic 40mm
    Frequency Range
    10 Hz – 20 Khz
    Impedance
    32 ohm
    Sensitivity
    104 dB at 1 mW
    Max Input Power
    100 mW
    Jack
    Straight 3.5mm gold plated
    Cables
    1.2m flat and 1.2m standard (with inline microphone & controls)
    Weight
    196g (no cable), 216g (with standard cable with inline controls)


    FREQUENCY GRAPH

    The graph below is generated by a new measuring system I’m trialling – using the Vibro Veritas and ARTA software. I don’t have the calibration 100% correct yet – and the graphs are definitely raw data only. I don’t have a dummy-head to allow for measurements at the ear – so it is just taken from a straight microphone. I use the graphs to help me understand what I’m hearing, and also to compare with other headphones.

    Graph1HM2.png Graph5HM2CSD.png

    Frequency response

    CSD plot


    So the graphs below should not be taken as anything other than raw data – no HRTF is taken into account.

    What I’m hearing is an elevated bass response, but good vocal presence, and a little more upper mid-range emphasis than lower mid-range. There is also enough lower treble energy to show reasonable detail on cymbals, but without being over etched or approaching sibilance (the treble is actually relatively smooth).

    BUILD QUALITY

    The HM2 is primarily made of toughened plastic, with metal reinforcing at the hinges and arm extenders. This is why the HM2 is so light, but as time has progressed, I’ve come to notice that the HM2 is also both really flexible, and reasonably strong.

    HM218.jpg HM219.jpg HM216.jpg

    Headband

    Exterior of the cups

    Side view of the cups



    The headband measures 215mm in its top section (from extender to extender), and each extender will give another 28mm in length. The funny thing about this is that the HM2 actually fits me perfectly without extending the arms at all. This does pose the question of fitting for someone with smaller head dimensions than I have. The inner part of the headband has no padding, and although this has not been an issue at all for me, I do think this is perhaps an opportunity that Brainwavz has missed – as even a little p-leather and foam cushioning would have added a little extra comfort.

    HM214.jpg HM215.jpg HM212.jpg

    Metal and plastic extenders

    Internal hinge

    Metallic accent on the outside of the cups



    The actual earpieces themselves are clearly marked (L/R) internally above the cups, and the cups are quite a cleaver design which rotates freely on all axis to allow a perfect fit/seal. The ear pieces are well cushioned and covered with a nice grey p-leather which appears to be soft enough for comfort, but hardy enough for long life. The covers are able to be replaced. The internal dimensions are approximately 60 x 34 mm and the depth is approximately 14mm. I’m a reasonably big guy, and my ears actually fit inside the cups (there is not a lot of room though – and they are touching the inner walls). But they do fit both my teenage kids perfectly.

    HM217.jpg HM220.jpg HM211.jpg

    Closer look at the internal pad dimensions

    Hinged and ready for storage

    Standard cable jacks



    The cables connect on one side only (left cup), appear to be well built with good strain relief, and the standard cable has very low microphonics. The jacks are 3.5mm at both ends. On the standard cable (with in-line remote) it is a standard 3 pole stereo jack at the headphone connector, and 4 pole for plugging into your source. Although Brainwavz lists both cables as being 1.2m, the standard cable with remote is actually almost 1.3m.

    The HM2 has hinged arms, and the cups and lower arms are able to fold in on themselves for portability. The hinges seem reassuringly firm – although only time will tell as to their ultimate durability.

    All in all a solid build and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the HM2 should be in a more expensive price bracket.

    INLINE CONTROLS / MIC

    The standard cable comes with an in-line microphone and remote control unit which features a single button but also a sliding volume control. The single button has the usual functions:

    1. One push = play / pause
    2. Two pushes = next track
    3. Three pushes = previous track
    4. Push and hold (on Apple device) = activate Siri

    HM209.jpg HM210.jpg

    Microphone port

    Control unit - single button plus slider control


    But the interesting thing with the HM2 is the volume control. Rather than activating the source volume controls, it instead uses a variable resistor to attenuate volume – so it will work on any device (including Fiio’s DAPs). It isn’t the easiest to apply really precise volume adjustments, but it actually works pretty well, and is quite handy if you need to quickly cut the volume (just slide the control down). Anyway – it is a quite innovative solution, so kudos to Brainwavz for the inclusion.

    I did use the HM2 for a call last week (to clients in the US), and they told me that they had no problems with hearing me clearly – and this was reciprocated on my end. Because they are closed, there will always be a little of that hollow (bone conduction) sound – but generally they were pretty good for making a call.

    STYLE

    I have to admit, I’m probably not their intended audience (at 48 I’m not exactly a fashionista). But what surprised me was when I wore them at work last week, and my colleague (who has a great sense of fashion) was intrigued when she saw the HM2, and commented that they looked really stylish. She was also really surprised when I told her the cost, and when she got a closer look at them. From where she was sitting, she said they “don’t look like plastic”, and she thought that their styling hinted at a much higher price point.

    HM223.jpg HM224.jpg

    Front view of the HM2 (thanks Emma)

    Side view of the HM2


    My 12 yo daughter and 14 yo son both love the HM2, and I’ve shown a couple of pics with Emma wearing the HM2 so you can see fitting, and how they look when worn.

    COMFORT / ISOLATION

    As I alluded to earlier, the earcups are circumaural for me, and despite the lack of passing on the headband, I find the HM2 to be really comfortable. There is also enough clamp for me to move about without dislodging the headphones – and this is true even if I shake my head around. The clamp isn’t excessive though.

    Isolation is dependent on getting a good seal from the pads, so YMMV – but I find for a closed headphone the isolation is about average. With no music playing, you can hear what is happening in the world around you (diminished but still there). With music playing the isolation is quite decent.

    SOUND QUALITY

    The following is what I hear from the HM2. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my Fiio X3ii and E17K (I use the E17K primarily to extend the battery life of the X3ii – and also for some rudimentary EQ at a later stage.)

    HM226.jpg

    Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.

    Thoughts on General Signature
    If I was to describe the signature in a few words – I’d choose the words “warm”, “smooth”, and “relatively clear”.

    I should make note first up that the overall signature of the HM2 is not one that I would normally gravitate to. Usually I like a headphone that is reasonably flat, but very clear, and quite linear bass. The HM2 is quite bassy and a bit warm because of it, but because it has good vocal presence, it still comes across as quite clear and also pretty smooth.

    Overall Detail / Clarity
    Tracks used: Gaucho, Sultans of Swing

    The HM2 renders both tracks reasonably well with a good level of overall detail, nut which is masked slightly by the bass. Cymbals in Gaucho are there but subdued. The sax is quite prominent, as is the bass guitar and the vocals (while clear) do seem to take a very slight step back compared to them. With Sultans, the detail is a little easier to pick-up, and although the bass guitar in this track is more prominent than I’d like, I can see a lot of people really liking this signature. Clear vocals, good bass back-beat, nice guitar crunch, and still some high level detail coming though (though once again subdued). Overall – they capture detail nicely, but they won’t be described as “detail monsters”.

    Sound-stage & Imaging
    Tracks used: Tundra, Dante’s Prayer, Let it Rain

    I started with Amber Rubarth’s binaural track, and the HM2 was quite intimate in its presentation. Directional cues were pretty consistent, but the HM2 are not expansive in depth or width (definitely “in-head” with this track). Enjoyable but did not showcase the full capability of the track.

    McKennitt’s “Dante’s Prayer” was next to play, and although the staging again was very intimate, I really liked the cohesion between piano and cello, and loved the presentation of McKennitt’s vocal performance. In this track, the applause at the end is so well presented that with some headphones (HD600) I can actually close my eyes and imagine myself in the crowd. With the HM2, the immersion factor wasn’t there - I was definitely listening to a recording rather than being there.

    Last was Amanda Marshall’s “Let It Rain” – and I use this track because it has a naturally holographic feel about it (the way it was recorded), and can convey an amazing sense of space with the right headphones. It can also be sibilant at times – so a good test for that. The HM2 had no issues, and this was a really good presentation of this track. No signs of sibilance at all, and the presentation of Amanda’s vocals was really good.

    Bass Quantity and Quality
    Tracks used: Bleeding Muddy Waters, Royals, This is What it Feels Like

    I use Lannegan’s Bleeding Muddy Waters primarily as an indicator for impact and bass bleed. It is a naturally dark and broody blues rock track, and with the HM2 this was conveyed really well. There is a little mid-bass bleed evident, but not enough to concern me too much. Bass is visceral in its intensity and Mark’s vocals are really good with nice texture.

    Lorde’s Royals was up next to test sub-bass, and like the previous track, bass impact was really good. When the sub-bass kicked in, the rumble was there, so the HM2 definitely reaches low enough, and Ella’s vocals were again crystal clear.

    Last up was AVB’s trance track, and once again the HM2 showed is strength – really good bass line coupled with clarity of the vocals. This is the sort of track where I’m tempted to crank the volume up past my normal safe listening levels and the HM2 responds marvellously.

    Female Vocals
    Track used: Aventine, Strong, The Bad in Each other, Howl, Safer, Light as a Feather, Chelsea

    I’d already suggested previously that the HM2 is pretty good with female vocals, and after I’d heard Obel’s Aventine with them, I knew that the little bump in the upper-mids made them perfect for my preferences. The track was euphonically presented, and a joy to listen to. Next up was Strong (I’m a big fan of London Grammar), and the HM2 was wonderful with the presentation of Hannah’s vocals. The whole track was very enjoyable and mainstream listeners are going to love the HM2 I think.

    With Feist and FaTM, both tracks were perfect with the HM2. Great bass slam and really dynamic contrasts with the sweetness of the vocals. Moving next to slower tracks with more emphasis on vocals (Cilmi / Jones) the HM2 once again continues to “hit it out of the park”. The presentation is full, rich, and lush. And Norah in particular is magical to listen to on the HM2. That deep, almost huskiness of her voice is captured perfectly.

    I finished with Phoebe Bridger’s track Chelsea, because the track is had a great bass, and I adore her vocals. The HM2 did not disappoint and once again I’ve found myself turning up the volume a little and simply rocking out. The HM2 are easy (with the right music) to just lose yourself in the music.

    Male Vocals
    Tracks used: Away From the Sun, Art for Art’s Sake, Broken Wings, Diary of Jayne, Hotel California, , EWBTCIAST

    I expected the HM2 to cope reasonably well with my male vocalists as most of them are Rock or Classic Rock artists. I started with 3 Doors Down, and the HM2 was really enjoyable – good bass presentation, a slightly warmish tilt overall, but vocals were clear and clean. Moving to some older classic rock (10CC), and whilst the track overall was pretty good, some of the bass felt slightly one-dimensional, although everything else was pretty good. From there to some Alter Bridge and again not too much to complain about. Myles vocals were great, the overall presentation was dynamic, and my only nit-pick was that with more complex multiple guitar passages there was the tendency for some of the detail to be lost. So I next played Breaking Benjamin’s Diary of Jayne, and this confirmed what I’d initially suspected – when you get a lot of complex guitar, the HM2 can tend to present a “wall of sound” rather than the individual guitars. To be fair though – this track will bring a lot of headphones to their knees.

    Time for something a little lighter and more delicate – to see how well the HM2 coped with acoustic music. Hotel California was really good – great presentation of finger picking in the opening – and very good presentation of vocals with good command of timbre and tone.

    My ultimate test for male vocals though has always been Pearl Jam. The HM2 was really good with its rendering of Vedder’s vocals, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My personal preference would be for a little less warmth – but this is a presentation that is ultimately easy to listen to.

    Genre Specific Notes
    Again for tracks, albums, artists – please refer to this list: http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks

    Rock – Vocals and clarity are generally good, and the bass is generally fairly dynamic.

    Alt Rock – With Pink Floyd’s “Money” the HM2 unfortunately had a little too much mid-bass and it tended to overshadow some of the finer detail that I know is in the track. Still ultimately enjoyable though – and once again the vocals are really clean and clear. Likewise PT’s Trains was very good – but again my personal preference would be to cut some of the mid-bass to allow the upper end detail to shine a little more.

    Jazz / Blues – Portico Quartet’s “Ruins” is always a first stop for me when testing a new headphone with Jazz, and the HM2 falls just short of the mark for me. For a track where I expect to hear the brushing of cymbals, some of the detail is being slightly masked – it’s still there, but not as clear as I’d personally prefer. Sax is good though, and this sentiment is repeated when I switch to Miles and his trumpet. Double Bass – very good. Trumpet – very good. Cymbals – just lacking that little bit of extension.

    Time for some blues so I first tried Beth Hart’s “Live at Paradiso” album – which is mastered very hot (bright). With the HM2 the presentation was smooth, warm, and quite enjoyable – so I guess this showcases how warm the HM2 is (definitely coloured). Next was a little Bonamassa and boy does the HM2 handle single guitar really well. Couple that with Joe’s vocals – great conveyance of tone and emotion – and you have a really well presented track.

    Hip-hop / EDM / Pop – Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” was really good and I can see bass lovers quite enjoying the HM2. Good impact without losing vocal clarity. Similar story with Little Dragon, although some of the mid-bass was at times becoming a little monotonous (my personal preferences showing again I’m afraid). Both Adele and Coldplay were very good on the HM2 – full, rich, and warm. Again I can see a slightly younger generation absolutely loving this presentation.

    Classical / Opera – Probably not the genre that would be the target for most people likely to buy the HM2, but the review wouldn’t be complete without trying it. For my tastes, the HM2 is just a little too warm, and string ensembles just don’t sound quite right – there isn’t quite enough air with the performance. Kempff’s solo piano and Zoe Keating’s cello were both very good though – nice timbre and tone. Moving to Opera and listening to Netrebko and Garanca performing the Flower Duet was very pleasant, but again that “air” and full top-end was slightly missing. Enjoyable – yes, masterful – not quite.

    Indie – a lot of my music lately has been Indie related, so I thought I’d separate this genre out in case anyone shares my appreciation of it. Band of Horses was brilliant – the slightly bright presentation mixed with the natural warmth of the HM2 is a pretty good mix. And Wildlight was equally as good with Ayla’s vocals being almost ethereal.

    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

    The HM2 is very easily powered straight out of the portable devices I have (from M3 to Fiio’s X series or my iPhone), and don’t really need any other amplification.

    Using my X3ii with no EQ, and the volume on the HM2 set to max, only needed around 35-40/120 for a comfortable listening threshold. With my iPhone 5S this equated to 5-6 click or around 30-40%, so the HM2 really is quite a benign load.

    I did compare back and forth with the X3ii solo and with the E17K in the mix, and noticed no obvious signs of improvement with the E17K included.

    RESPONSE TO EQ?

    This was an interesting one because if you’ve noticed so far, I’ve hinted that I’d like to cut some of the mid-bass a little and maybe add just a little more air to the upper end. So I used the E17K’s built in tone controls, and applied a -4 bass cut and +2 treble addition. The HM2 was suitably transformed, and this is now a presentation which I would really personally enjoy. This showcases two things – how versatile the HM2 is, and also what a great little amp the E17K is (especially for someone who wants a quick fix but is not comfortable using EQ).

    COMPARISONS

    HM227.jpg

    Fortunately I have a couple of headphones in the house which are roughly comparable to the HM2 in that they are reasonably portable, although at quite different price points. Once again I have provided graphs for raw response, and these should only be used for comparative date as I am unable to apply HRTF or any other calibration for a proper measurement system. They are simply shown to give a comparative idea of how the HM2 might sound compared to some other well-known headphones

    Graph3HM2UE6000.png

    HM2 $49.50 vs UE6000 $150 (discontinued)
    One of the big differences here is that the UE6000 has active noise cancellation, but my daughter never uses it and in fact we think the UE6000 sound better with it turned off, so I feel it is a fair comparison. The HM2 is bassier, thicker, and darker. The UE6000 is leaner, has more upper end detail, and in direct comparison is probably closer to my preferred signature. The UE6000 is also slightly more comfortable. As far as overall build quality goes, although the HM2 are a lot lighter, I wouldn’t call them substandard in build comparatively. If I was to choose on default signature alone, I’d probably go with the UE6000 for my own preferences. But knowing how good the HM2 responds to EQ, for a third of the price, I’d quickly switch to the HM2.

    Graph2HM2MOE.png

    HM2 $49.50 vs Momentum On Ear $110-150
    This one is a lot more straight-forward. My son has had his pair for almost two years so far, and they are starting to show a bit wear and tear – but he loves them. Sonically the HM2 and MOE are very similar, with the HM2 having a little more bass quantity, but the mid-range presentation of both being surprisingly similar. If anything the HM2 sounds slightly smoother and slightly warmer – while the MOE is a little sharper. Both are clearly V shaped signatures though. Build on both is comparable, but the HM2 wins out on comfort. I’ve never really been a fan of the MOE, so I’d take the HM2 as personal preference and doubly so after EQ.

    HM2 – VALUE & SUMMARY

    When Pandora contacted me to review the HM2, and especially when she told me I would be one of only two people with an early preview unit, I was naturally intrigued. And although the default signature of the HM2 is not to my normal taste, I do recognise what they are bringing to the table with this release.

    The HM2 is a well-built portable headphone which folds to a reasonably compact size, and is comfortable to wear (headband could use some padding though). It is also stylish, and according to some of the comments I’ve received so far, looks good for everyday wear if out and about.

    HM222.jpg HM225.jpg HM221.jpg

    Side view HM2 in natural light

    HM2 in natural light - headband and top profile

    Side view of the HM2 in natural light



    Sonically the HM2 is a well-tuned “consumer” signature with above neutral bass which extends reasonably well. It has a good clear mid-range, and slightly rolled off and smooth highs. It delivers a reasonable amount of detail which can suffer slightly depending on the bass quantity present in the track. It does not need amplification (easily driven out of most portable devices), and responds really well to EQ.

    I guess the natural question is would I recommend this to family and friends, and to answer that question I’ll simply state what my daughter and son have already told me. They’d both like a pair. That in my mind is recommendation enough – even if they aren’t to my own personal taste.

    A solid 4 star rating – really good value proposition.

    RECOMMENDATIONS TO BRAINWAVZ

    First – thanks again to Pandora and Brainwavz for this opportunity:

    1. Consider next time having some padding on the underside of the headband
    2. Re-measure the overall size and have shorter default length with slightly longer extenders to cater for more head sizes

    FINAL NOTE

    I thought I'd add a little addendum as it shows the true versatility of the HM2. As I've been doing the final posting of the review (it usually takes me at least 40 minutes to an hour with formatting etc), I've been using the HM2 with the EQ applied. I'm thoroughly enjoying them. Definitely looks like I'm going to need to buy more than one pair - as I can see me using these more with the EQ applied.
  3. NA Blur
    Brainwavz HM2: A Sleek Bassy Headphone
    Written by NA Blur
    Published Dec 6, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Great design, deep impactful bass, very portable
    Cons - Large headband, no headband pad, cables feel cheap
    Brainwavz HM2: A Sleek Bass Headphone
     
    HM2_Box.jpg
     
    SPECS
    http://www.brainwavzaudio.com/collections/headphones/products/hm2-headphones?variant=6644195525
    Driver Type                     Dynamic ( 40 mm )
    Plug Type                       3.5 mm TRRS
    Cord Length                   1.2 m Flat and 1.2 m with in-line remote
    Frequency Response     10 Hz – 20 kHz
    Impedance                      32 Ohms
    Sensitivity                       104 dB / mW @ 1kHz

    HM2_Case.jpg
     
    WHERE TO BUY / COST:
    http://www.brainwavzaudio.com/collections/headphones/products/hm2-headphones
    $49.50 new
     
    OVERVIEW
    I have been working with Brainwavz for a while now reviewing a ton of their IEMs and a few of their headphones. I must say this is the first headphone they have produced that caught my eye right out of the box. The HM2 is a wonderfully compact, sleek-looking, simply designed headphone. Brainwavz claims to have captured a “smooth sound with punchy bass” as well as producing a very comfortable headphone. Let’s take a look if they meet these goals.
     
    AESTHETICS
    HM2_Earcup.jpg
    I really appreciate how Brainwavz is not shy of improvement and innovation. So many companies design a headphone and call it good. Brainwavz appears to be listening to their customers and trying to make gear designed for its listeners. The HM2 is no exception in that it is a very clean-looking headphone that keeps comfort at the forefront. The earcups go completely around my ears making the HM2 more comfortable than my more expensive go to portable, the noontec ZORO II HD. The headband easily adjusts and the left/right indicators are easily visible. Thanks! The earcups swivel and contour nicely to the shape the head. The cables are detachable making them easily replaced. My one immediate gripe is the lack of a headband pad. The curve is great, but because our heads vary in shape and size, the lack of pad causes some discomfort. Hopefully we will see a version with a pad that spans the width and length of the headband…at least down to the hinges.
    HM2_Headband.jpg
    The exterior of the headphone looks and feels well made with no obvious signs of cost cutting. The earcups can be replaced and simply pull off. I will note that these are closed headphones and tend to seal around the ears such that they can become very warm. The heat from your head will not easily escape the seal. It is not like they are sweat magnets, but they tend to keep my ears very warm.
    HM2_Cables.jpg
    Provided are two cables. One is flat terminated at both ends with the TRRS 3.5 mm jack plugs. The other is a round cable that holds the remote. The remote is simple. It only has a slider for volume control and a single stop/play button. The flac cable comes with a mic. The remote itself feels cheaply made making me wonder how long it will last in particular the slider, but I had no issues with it during my time with the HM2. The flat cable also feels cheaply made and long-term reliability is a concern, but neither cord posed any problems, save some tangling issues with the flat cable, during testing.
     
    ACOUSTICS
    Sonically the HM2 meets the goals of having punchy bass as well as a kind sound that is not harsh or fatiguing. I tested the HM2 both amped an unamped.
     
    Unamped: With a sensitivity of 104 dB SPL / mW the HM2 is easily driven by portable devices and my iPod touch remained at the 50% volume level for most of my listening. The HM2 is detailed enough unamped to reveal the echoes in Peter Murphy’s My Last Two Weeks on the Love Hysteria album. The bass rumbles, treble is clear, and the midrange stays in check most of the time. I did find that the HM2 sounds tinny from the sub-bass to 1 kHz making the midrange sound unnatural at times. In Chick Corea’s Three Ghouls, Part 1 from the Ultimate Adventure album, is enjoyable and fun, but the woodwind instruments sound flat and lack the detail to bring out the sound of the air flowing through them. On other tracks like Kate Havnerik’s So:Lo on the So:Lo – Single, the HM2 sounds enjoyably. The bass is deep and impactful without drowning out vocals and the treble. I would say that the HM2 sounds better with clean and bassy tracks like jazz and electronic.
     
    Amped: Playing pink noise immediately reveals how bassy the HM2 is. The lower registries are definitely emphasized with obvious bass boost and midrange unevenness. Musically the HM2 becomes more alive amped. The bass tightens up and the soundstage moves up making this headphone much more up-front sounding than in the portable case. The kind nature remains intact and the HM2 is not fatiguing amped, but perhaps too bassy for some. Listening to Quentin Durardin’s 1977 track from the Putumayo Presents World Yoga album, the tinny midrange is easily discernible. The lack of reverberation and abundance of coloration in the midrange makes guitar tracks like this hard to listen to. They sound unnatural. Not to say one could not listen to tracks like this, but if the HM2 is compared to more neutral headphones obvious signs of the colored sound signature become apparent. This is one reason amping a headphone is important even if it can easily be driven by a portable device. Doing so often reveals the true sound signature while portable listening tends to hide some of the more delicate and hidden features of the sound signature. Surprisingly this headphone sounds great listening to The City of Prague Philharmonic’s Sute for Orchestra No. 1 in C Major, BWV 1066: on the Sunday Morning Classics: Sunday Morning With Bach album. The bass is definite and clear. The midrange is fun and engaging with clarity on the violins and harpsichord.
     
    The HM2 did work with my XBOX ONE stereo adapter so it can be used as a gaming headset. The sound during gaming was rendered full with the bass emphasis. The mic volume both via phone and XBOX was very faint. The resting position of the mic locates it too far away from the mouth leading to the poor mic volume. I think the mic is decent, but due to its location, is not ideal for conversing. I would like to see the mic functionality reviewed by Brainwavz and enhanced so it sounds more clear and louder during calls or gaming.
     
    It should be noted that the HM2 is sensitive to earcup position and the sound signature changes as the earcups are moved. The seal is also very important for clean bass reproduction. If the sound signature is not to your liking move them around a little and see if that clears things up.
     
    CONCLUSION
    Brainwavz meets their goals of producing a very listenable headphone with thought out bass emphasis. The around the ear seal is excellent making them one of the most comfortable headphones I have worn, but it should be noted that my ears are small and larger ears may find the earcups tight. Aesthetically the HM2 is clean and well-built although a headband pad would be awesome! The remote is easy to use and functions perfectly. At $49.50 the HM2 is a great headphone especially for bass lovers and people that want something that is portable without major compromises.
    1. NA Blur
      December 7th 2015
      Looks like Brainwavz is going to look into making the size average rather than large.
      NA Blur, Dec 7, 2015
  4. fleasbaby
    Sexy Portable Workhorse
    Written by fleasbaby
    Published Dec 7, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Sturdy build, comfortable pads, easy sound signature
    Cons - Minimum size on headband too large for some, cheap
    Brainwavz have just released a new headphone, the HM2. I was offered the opportunity to review a pair, and accepted. In case you couldn’t tell from my ramblings below, I have received no financial compensation for my thoughts, they are entirely my own.
     
    I am neither old, nor young, and am on the cusp of being or not being a millennial. I have been a lifelong music-listener, with interests that range far and wide, from African Jazz all the way through to EDM, with plenty of stops in between (Tuvan Throat Singing anyone?).
     
    I use a variety of sources. My employer saw fit to equip me with a MacBook Air that sometimes acts as a source for me. I also use a Pono player, iPod Touch (1st gen), Sansa Clip+ and my iPhone 5. At the time I did this review I was also testing the Shanling M2. All of my files are FLAC at 16/44, with a few small exceptions in FLAC again but at higher resolutions, or in MP3 at CBR 320.
     
    The headphones arrived in a nice box, designed and branded for the HM2, nothing generic, but nothing special about it. Inside, in a clear plastic bag, was the hardcase that comes with the headphones. In the hardcase was the headphones, and two cables, one a simple, flat ribbon affair, the other a round one with an analogue volume slider and control button (for taking calls I assume). The case has enough room in it to hold a DAP and/or an amp if they are modestly sized. Nothing mind-bendingly different here, just perfectly adequate. I have not included pictures as Brooko has done a wonderful job of that on his review, and the Brainwavz site has plenty of eye-candy.
     
    I was a little dubious about the ribbon cable. It seemed awfully fragile. I plugged it in though, and it works well. I was a naughty fellow and gave it a few yanks to see if it would snap. Nothing happened though, its rather solid, despite the way it looks and feels. I questioned the logic behind a flat cable for listening until I realized how light, unobtrusive and un-microphonic it was. Nice move Brainwavz design team.
     
    The round cable with the slider and button was nice. I expected the slider to be noisy and difficult to use accurately, but its not. Perhaps with age it might become a little cantankerous, but then again, won’t we all?
     
    The headphones themselves are rather nice looking. Smooth, no sudden angles, and sleek, made from a nice, solid, matte plastic. They have no headband pad, but are so light they don’t need one. The adjusting sliders are solid feeling, and the folding hinges don’t feel like I’ll be snapping them with my clumsy hands any time soon.
     
    Clamping force is in the Goldilocks zone….neither too hard nor too soft, and Brainwavz, being Brainwavz, have equipped these headphones with very comfortable pads. I usually battle a little with supra-aural headphones, these are nicely designed to simply slip on with almost no fidgeting and fiddling required to get a good seat (even on my slightly larger than necessary ears). I was able to wear them for extended periods without significant discomfort.
     
    Soundwise, Brainwavz is pretty open about the signature. It’s smooth and easy going. This means a noticeable tilt towards warm and bassy. The HM2 do really well with EDM. When I listen to EDM, I tend to listen to odd-ball stuff like the Orb, Flying Lotus, Future Sound of London, Four Tet, Boards of Canada and Caribou. The bass doesn’t reach as low as some considerably more expensive headphones, but it has a very comforting presentation, one that bleeds just a tiny bit into the midrange. This was only noticeable on a track that called Flag, off the album Nana by Xavier Rudd and the United Nations. It starts off with vocals only, and then has a rather deep and heavy beat drop in.
     
    I also listen to a lot of Jazz, and some Blues and Folk. Again, that mellow sound signature means these all sound very nice. I don’t hear as much detail as I do on my vintage pink driver SR60 Grados, Sennheiser HD600, or my Yamaha YH-1, but again, these are not made for the same purpose as those, and do not sit in the same price range.
     
    Isolation is so-so. They are closed, but aren’t an anechoic chamber.
     
    Overall the HM2 is a great headphone to buy simply to fling into your backpack for work, or give to your kids to abuse on a daily basis. They are sturdy, easy on the eyes, and made to be worn for extended periods with their excellent pads and easy-going sound. If you’re looking for a nice portable that won’t break the bank (or your heart if you lose it), the HM2 fit the bill nicely.
    1. nmatheis
      Love your reviews. They always make me chuckle. Nice blend of no-nonsense review with an easy-going writing style. And... you listen to A LOT of the same electronic music as I do, dude! BoC, Caribou, Four Tet, FSOL = Awesomesauce! If you really wanna go off the wall, try some Raster Noton stuff like Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto, Kangding Ray, and Mika Vaino. Mindblowigly awesome IMHO!!!
      nmatheis, Dec 8, 2015
    2. fleasbaby
      Thanks :). I always feel like we have a lot of serious reviewers. There's room for a little of a more informal voice.
       
      Thanks for the suggestions...will have a look at them. Am listening to Mbongwana Star's "From Kinshasa" album right now. Great stuff...think Thundercat from Brainfeeder raised in the Congo...
      fleasbaby, Dec 9, 2015
  5. HiFiChris
    A smooth and inexpensive companion with good value
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published Dec 8, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - replaceable cables, solid sound quality, natural ambient noise isolation, price, case
    Cons - no headband padding -> might barely fit on small heads, some subjective veil due to the sound signature, small soundstage, could be more refined
    Preamble:

    Just recently, Brainwavz announced their latest model, the portable, closed-back, wired over-ear headphone called HM2 (http://www.brainwavzaudio.com/products/hm2-headphones?variant=6644195525).
    Just short time after, Brainwavz’ (/GPGSHK’s) Pandora sent me an invitation if I was interested in reviewing their latest model. A couple of days later, the package arrived at my doorstep, and I was really interested in checking out their newest portable full-sized headphone.


    Technical Specifications:

    MSRP: $49.50
    Drivers: Dynamic, 40 mm
    Rated Impedance: 32 Ω
    Frequency Range: 10 Hz ~ 20 kHz
    Sensitivity: 104 dB at 1 mW
    Maximum Input Power: 100 mW
    Plug: 3.5 mm, gold-plated


    Delivery Content:

    On the front of the compact-sized package is a large picture of the headphone; the sides show a (very fitting) description of the sound signature as well as pictographic illustrations of the delivery content including brief descriptions. The back states the technical specifications.
    Breaking the three seals on the top and opening the lid, one can find a valuable carrying case designed in the typical Brainwavz style, which contains the headphone, the two cables as well as a warranty card.
     

    IMG_0807.jpg   IMG_0809.jpg
    IMG_0810.jpg   IMG_0812.jpg
    IMG_0815.jpg   IMG_0816.jpg

     
     

    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    The headphone is made of plastic and has got a matte-black soft-touch surface on the outside and matte-grey insides with side-markers. The ear-cups have each got a decorative chrome-like plastic ring on the outside as well as little grey Brainwavz lettering, the headband features large grey Brainwavz lettering. Surprisingly, there is no padding on the headband, but more about that in the “comfort” section.
    The adjustment mechanism features “tactile” as well as audible clicks/steps, the hinge above for folding the HM2 is metal-reinforced.
    The grey pleather pads are soft, evenly sewed and are rotatable by 360°.
    The cable is plugged into the left side and snaps in tightly as well as securely.

    The headphone appears quite sturdy, but also typically looks a little cheap from very close distance due to the matte soft-touch surface, but looks not cheap anymore from little further distance.

    The carrying case is valuable, convenient and has got enough space for the folded headphone as well as both cables and other accessories like audio gear (there is a lid pocket inside). Although the headphone with attached cable fits in, the cable close to the connector gets bent, which is not that good for durability, wherefore it should be removed before putting the HM2 in.
    This is no criticism, but probably something that could be considered for future Brainwavz cases: a snap hook or small loop on the outside would be handy.

    The microphone cable with in-line remote has got a nice pressure point of the easily tactile button and also features an analogue volume slider – although this one offers the benefit that attenuating the volume is possible with all devices, it may wear with time and I am not the biggest fan of analogue sliding potentiometers. The strain relief is very good on all transitions and the cable (like the other one as well) has got a good length with 1.2 m.
    The flat non-mic cable is unfortunately not as convincing, as it has no strain relief at all.
     

    IMG_0818.jpg   IMG_0822.jpg
    IMG_08212.jpg   IMG_0824.jpg
    IMG_0826.jpg   IMG_0832.jpg

     

     
    Comfort, Isolation:

    I have got quite large ears, wherefore they don’t fit entirely into the ear-pads, so the HM2 is some sort of hybrid between on-ear and over-ear headphone for me (people with small or medium-sized ears shouldn’t have any problems with the size). I am able to get a really good seal (the ear cushions are very soft and adjustable), but after a certain time (~ > 60 minutes), I get some pressure from the sides, but it is not hurting yet due to the softness.
    To my surprise, the headband is not bolstered, but to my even bigger surprise, it does not appear negative – why? Well, first, the headphone is very lightweight, and second, the clamping force from the sides is somewhat higher than average (less than the Sennheiser HD 600, but also (fortunately) more than the Shure SRH440), wherefore the headphone sits securely and almost no pressure is coming from the top. Though, there might be one disadvantage due to the lack of headband bolstering, especially for adults with a rather small head (such as me) or children: the headband might not be short enough (though in my case, it fits perfectly with the first or with 0 notches – but people with even smaller heads might need to DIY-add bolstering to make the headband fit).
    Except for the (as a result of my rather large ears) pressure from the sides, comfort is excellent; the headphones sit on my head without getting out of place and the cable transports no microphonics.

    Isolation is rather average (less than the Shure SRH440, but clearly more than the MEElectronics Air-Fi Matrix²). Though, ambient noise are naturally damped and do not appear coloured.
     

    IMG_0835.jpg   IMG_0837.jpg
    IMG_0839.jpg   IMG_0841.jpg

     
     

    Remote Control, Microphone:

    I’ve written about the cable and the in-line remote further above, so I will solely concentrate on the microphone in this paragraph: its transmitted sound appears natural, but speech could be clearer – though, overall microphone quality is quite good and belongs to the better.
     

    IMG_0828.jpg   IMG_0831.jpg

     

     
    Sound:

    Sound was mainly evaluated with the iBasso DX80, DX90 as well as iPhone 4. Music files were mostly stored in FLAC format, but I also used some MP3s and WAVs.
    Just in case, the HM2 was burnt in before listening, although I am not really a burn-in guy.

    Tonality:

    Brainwavz’ stated tonality is pretty correct: the HM2 heads into the smooth, bassy, dark and also somewhat warm direction – a sound signature many will like for portable listening.

    The ground-tone emphasis gently starts at 700 Hz and reaches down to ca. 45. The main elevation concentrates on the lower ground-tone, upper bass as well as mid-bass, where the level is around 9 dB north of neutral (Etymotic ER-4S). The headphone is also able to produce sub-bass with enough pressure at 30 Hz.
    The midrange is on the darker as well as warmer side; at 1 kHz is a small, rather broad-banded dip in my ears until level increases again at 1.7 kHz.
    Above 2.5 kHz, treble is clearly pushed into the background and is very even, without any peaks or dips (personally, I’d have probably preferred some small emphasis around/before 10 kHz). Treble extension above 10 kHz is good.

    Resolution:

    For the price, the amount of details is really decent and in some parts slightly above to MEElectronics Air-Fi Matrix². The HM2’s bass is a bit more arid and controlled, but the MEE has the quicker sub-bass.
    What I personally kind of dislike about the Brainwavz is the slight veil that is a side-effect of the tonal tuning. This moderate veil makes voices and instruments/the whole sound appear a bit like being behind a curtain, although the HM2 is actually more refined and unveils slightly more details than the Matrix².

    Just like the MEE as well, the HM2 is, regarding resolution, about half a class below the (twice as expensive) Shure SRH440 which unveils more details, sound more natural and has got the faster bass.

    Soundstage:

    As with most closed-back headphones, the imaginary soundstage of the HM2 is rather small, but does have some spatiality (and spans a larger room than the Sennheiser Amperior, however the Senn has got the better spatial precision/locatability). The width/depth ratio (despite the small stage) is balanced and the HM2 does not feel too congested.


    Conclusion:
     
    For the price, the durable Brainwavz HM2 offers a really good value for the money. The sound signature is well made for portable use, smooth, bassy and is fun to listen. The soundstage is, typically for many closed-back headphones, quite small, but balanced and not too congested. For the price, detail retrieval is good and the included accessories also contain a nice protective carrying case. However, sound appears a bit veiled due to the tonality.
    At the end of the year, Brainwavz has come out with another overall good product again.
    3.65 out of 5 stars.
      Brooko, Hisoundfi and Salsera like this.
  6. nmatheis
    Brainwavz HM2: Good-looking. Inexpensive. Needs EQ.
    Written by nmatheis
    Published Dec 9, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Lightweight. Comfortable. Compact. Inexpensive. Deep, powerful bass. 2 year warranty.
    Cons - Needs EQ. Deeper ear cups would be nice. Headband a bit on the big side. Volume slider could be smoother.
    BrainwavzHM2-5.jpg

     
     

    INTRODUCTION

    Brainwavz is a company well-known on Head-Fi for budget-fi IEM with good sound, great accessories, and some quite unusual designs. I was introduced to Brainwavz when I purchased my FiiO X3 Classic from MP4Nation. The original S-series IEM, the S1, was included as a bonus with my X3 pre-order. With their unusual color scheme, flat cable, chunky strain reliefs and y-splitter, and all-metal housing, the S1 were quite different from most of the IEM I'd owned up to that point. I enjoyed them for a fun, v-shaped sound, although they were a bit ragged up top. Then along came the S5. I read pretty good things about those, so I picked them up. With big bass and a warm low end and plenty of sparkle up top, I enjoyed the S5 even more than the S1 as a fun, party-time IEM. Next came S0, which I also heard good things about. I picked it up, as well, knowing that they were taking the S-series in a new, darker direction. These weren't IEM I'd choose for fun, they're what I'd choose for relaxing in front of the fire - warm, dark, and smooth. Finally along came the S3, the most neutral (and seemingly controversial) member of the S-series. I mention all this as a prelude to my review of the HM2 just to give you a feel for my history with Brainwavz.
     
    Of course, Brainwavz also makes headphones. The HM2 is the first headphone from Brainwavz I've had the opportunity to listen to. I'll just let you know right now that it isn't something I'd typically choose for myself, but when the review opportunity came up for a street style headphone with a smooth sound signature and good aesthetics came along. Well, I thought to myself, "Hmm, Nikolaus. You've been enjoying IEM with a smooth signature lately. You like headphones even though street style phones aren't typically your thing. Maybe Brainwavz made them more comfortable and sound better than other street style phones you've tried. And they do look good..." So, the deal was sealed, and I said yes.
     
    If you're one of those types who can't sit trough a full review, let me just tell you some of the answers right now. The smooth sound signature was a little too bassy for my taste, and I found cutting a wide swath across the bass helped tremendously in enjoying these. Comfort level was good, allowing me to wear them for long periods even while wearing glasses. Isolation is okay. Aesthetics are pleasing, especially for street style phones in this price range, which can look pretty gaudy. This means I don't look like a goof wearing them out and about, which the sound signature is best suited for. Build quality is better than average, so they're not going to fall apart on you quickly. And finally, they fold up quite small and are well-protected in their hard case. So, if you're looking for a pair of street style phones to keep in your go-bag and don't mind a quite bassy sound signature, these might just be a good choice for you
     
    Before we really dig into the review, here's a bit about Brainwavz from their About Us page:
     
    Established in 2008 with a goal to bring real earphones to real users at realistic prices -A SMALL START WITH BIG RETURNS

    Today the range spans across earphones and headphones, a new accessories line and the addition of inline controls for the booming smartphone markets

    The future sees the BRAINWAVZ team expanding to more new products, from new designers with fresh ideas - WE ARE HERE TO STAY, so keep listening out for us!

    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.



     
    Brainwavz Website: LINK.
     
    Dedicated Brainwavz HM2 thread: LINK.
     
     

    DISCLAIMER

    There is no financial incentive from Brainwavz for writing this review. I am in no way affiliated with Brainwavz, and this is my honest opinion of the HM2  I would like to thank Brainwavz for giving me a chance to test drive the HM2, and I hope my feedback proves useful for my fellow Head-Fi members as well as for Brainwavz.
     
     

    ABOUT ME

    I'm a 43 year old father who loves music. While I listen mostly to electronic and metal these days, I do listen to a wide variety of music - from electronic (Autechre, Boards of Canada) to modern/minimalist composition (John Cage, Philip Glass) to alternative rock (Flaming Lips, Radiohead) to jazz (John Coltrane and Miles Davis) to metal (Behemoth, King Diamond) to classic rock (Eagles, Rush).  
     
    I'm primarily a portable audio enthusiast. My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders (still have my Sharp DR7), and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-1xx, iPod 5.5, iPhones, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso. Being a portable audio enthusiast, I typically listen with IEMs but am enjoying listening with full-size headphones and desktop gear more and more.
     
    As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues.  I've got mild tinnitus and suffer from allergies, which can affect hearing in my right ear. I'll admit it, I'm not blessed with a pair of golden eas.  That said, I've been listening to portable gear for a long time and feel confident in assessing audio gear - just wanted to be transparent up front.



     
     

    SPECIFICATIONS

    1. Drivers: Dynamic, 40 mm
    2. Rated Impedance: 32 Ω
    3. Frequency Range: 10 Hz ~ 20 kHz
    4. Sensitivity: 104 dB at 1 mW
    5. Maximum Input Power: 100 mW
    6. Plug: 3.5 mm, gold-plated
    7. MSRP: $49.50


     

     

    PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES



    Typical Brainwavz packaging and accessories. 
     
    Front
    BrainwavzHM2-1.jpg
     
    Rear
    BrainwavzHM2-2.jpg
     
    Hard Case Slips Out
    BrainwavzHM2-3.jpg
     
    Containing the HM2 & Accessories
    BrainwavzHM2-4.jpg

    Cables

    BrainwavzHM2-12.jpg
     
    In all, you get
    1. HM2 Headphones
    2. Hard Carrying Case
    3. 1.2 m Flat Cable
    4. 1.2 m Cable with In-Line Microphone

    Some general thoughts on the accessories package. The hard case is nice and fairly compact, so you can throw it in your go-bag without taking up too much precious space. One nitpick is that the mesh pocket isn't very good at containing the cables. After carrying the case around, I typically find that the cables have made their way out of the mesh pocket and are floating around in the main compartment. Having two cables is nice. The round cable is my preference because I don't like anything in between my cans and source but wire. If you're into a remote, the flat cable is for you. It's one of those one-button remotes, so you'll be clicking it a lot to pause/play, ffwd/rew, and accept/end calls. An interesting choice was the inclusion of a builit-in volume attenuator. This means you can control volume from any source, since it doesn't rely on any communication with your source. The downside is that unlike the HM2 themselves, the volume slider isn't a smooth operator. It sticks a bit, making volume adjustment a bit jumpy. If you're anything like me, you'd probably rather just use the volume buttons on your source anyway. 
     
     

    BUILD & ERGONOMICS

    As usual, I'll walk through the various design and ergonomic features of the HM2 in pictorial format below, pointing out what I like and where I see room for improvement.
     
    Folded, the HM2 are nice and compact, and I like the subtle chrome accent.
    BrainwavzHM2-6.jpg
     
    Unfolded, the HM2 are still a quite compact headphone.
    BrainwavzHM2-13.jpg
     
    So the main nitpick to point out in this photo is that the HM2 lacks any kind of headband padding. This isn't as big of a deal as it would normally be because the HM2 are mainly held in force by clamping force, allowing the headband to rest very lightly on your head. A little padding would be nice, though. And despite relying pretty much solely on clamping force for stability, they don't actually clamp hard enough to be bothersome. Besides the sound signature, I don't usually like street style phones very much because I wear glasses, and they usually put too much pressure on the arms of my glasses and cause discomfort. Not so with the HM2. They were surprisingly comfortable. My second quite minor nitpick is that I wish the jack for the cable were set just a bit higher up, as the connector tends to rub against my shoulder when I turn my head. This causes some microphonics of a sort that I find unpleasant (kind of like nails on chalkboard for me), so I'e learned to tilt my head up just a bit to avoid this when looking over my left shoulder. This is probably just a weird Nikolaus thing, so I'm not going to ding the HM2 for it.
     
    So what do I like? As mentioned above, I find them quite comfortable especially when tooling about in a baseball cap. Even without a cap, they're comfortable enough for me to wear for extended periods despite the lack of padding. I also like the nicely toned-down street style aesthetics.
     
     
    Close up of the hinge mechanism and the headband adjustment mechanism.
    BrainwavzHM2-14.jpg
     
    My one nitpick here is that I wish there were some markings on the headband to allow me to quickly get back to just the right size. Other than that, no complaints here.
     
     
    Earcups
    BrainwavzHM2-15.jpg
     
    The cups fit my smallish ears okay. I prefer a larger cup, but these are pretty comfortable and thankfully don't heat up too much. My ears do touch the drivers, though. I'm sensitive to that, so this does start to bother me after listening for awhile. Deeper cups would be appreciated. The cups are secured to the headband with a ball and socket type joint, allowing them to swivel a bit in all directions. This allows them to automatically find the right fit for your head. 
     
    All in all, these are a pretty darn good design for inexpensive street style phones. 
     
     
    SOUND
    FYI: I mainly listen to experimental electronic and metal and mainly used those genres to evaluate the HM2, along with a bit of classic rock thrown in for good measure. Since these are street style phones designed primarily for on the go listening, I just used my iPhone 5s for this review . No fancy-schmancy DAPs this time. 
     
    Okay, the only sound descriptor Brainwavz provides for the HM2 is "smooth". That could mean different things to different people. Since they're street style phones, I was expecting a bass-enhanced sound with a smooth upper end and Brainwavz didn't disappoint there. These are definitely bass-enhanced. A bit too bass-enhanced, in my opinion. Bass-enhanced to the point where the bass starts to mask the upper end, preventing me from hearing as much as I'd like up top. I tried for several days to reconcile with this sound signature before deciding it just wasn't for me. Not only was the upper end masked, the bass was too slow and plodding. So, I eventually broke down and broke out the excellent Equalizer iPhone app and applied a very simple EQ adjustment that helped me enjoy the HM2 much more. For those of you who don't know the Equalizer app, it's basically a 7-point parametric EQ. My starting point for making these a clearer sounding headphone is to apply -5dB at 20Hz with Q=0.375. With this setting, the HM2 are still bass-emphasized but the upper end comes out to play making them sound more balanced and lively to my ears. If you want more bass but still not as much as the default sound, set the EQ to -2.dB. If you're more of a purist or are listening in quiet environment, you might want set the EQ a few dB lower. If you purchase the HM2, I highly recommend playing with the EQ to either knock down the low end or bump up the upper end or both, depending on your preference for a flatter or more v-shaped sound signature.
     
    ​So now that I've got the basic EQ applied, I've got a nice bass-enhanced sound signature with a clearer upper end. Soundstage is also opened up compared to the default sound signature, which felt a bit claustrophobic to my ears. It's a nice on the go sound signature, which is exactly what the HM2 are intended for.
     

    ISOLATION: Average. It's horribly rainy right now in Portland, OR. I know, surprise, surprise, right? Anyway, it's not a good time to go out and walk around the neighborhood, so I tested out isolation by washing the dishes while my wife was wrangling my two wee yet surprisingly loud boys. If they were in the other room, they were nicely dulled. If they came in the room with me, I could hear they were talking to me but couldn't understand them until I paused the music.
     
    POWER REQUIREMENTS: With the stock Music app on my iPhone, 50% volume was pretty darn loud.
     
     
    SUMMARY
    So what do I think of the HM2? My initial reaction was a mixed bag. I liked the design and aesthetics but wasn't enamored with the sound, which took the bass-enhanced sound signature just a wee bit far for my taste. After reigning that in with a bit of EQ, the HM2 became much more enjoyable for me. For those of you who like a lot of boom-boom, I can see you enjoying the HM2 for an inexpensive pair of on the go phones. For those of you who enjoy a little boom-boom, you'll need to break out the EQ. If you're after a reference signature, walk away now...
     
    What would make these better? Throw at least a thin layer of memory foam on the headband, make the headband just a bit smaller, make the cups a bit deeper, and reign in the bass a bit. Make those changes, and I'll tack on another 1/2 to 1 star depending on the implementation.
     
    I hope you found this useful and would like to give a hearty thanks to @Salsera at Brainwavz for giving several members of the Head-Fi community a chance to review the HM2. I'm a Brainwavz fan and look forward to seeing what they cook up for us in the future. Did someone say budget-fi planars? That would be awesome, Brainwavz. C'mon, just do it!
      Brooko likes this.
  7. avitron142
    A solid portable headphone with a few caveats
    Written by avitron142
    Published Dec 28, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Build Quality (overall), Hard case and accessories, inline mic control, Design, Comfort, Smooth Sound, Compact.
    Cons - Lack of headband padding, default size still large, SQ should be shooting a bit higher.
    I was provided the HM2 as a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion. I am in no way affiliated with Brainwavz, nor do I work for them. I would like to thank Pandora from Brainwavz for allowing me the opportunity to review this headphone; I truly enjoyed it.
     
    Packaging:
     
    The HM2's packaging is standard for Brainwavz - which is to say, very good. It comes in a stylish box, which has information and specifications on the side and back of the box. It also includes a summary on the other side, giving insight as to the mission Brainwavz set out for this headphone. Inside you have a first look at the case, which sports the headphone and its accessories.
     
    P1020216.jpg P1020219.jpg P1020222.jpg P1020223.jpg P1020225.jpg P1020221.jpg  
     
    Accessories:
     
    The HM2’s accessories are actually one of its strong points. Ever since their S0 model, I understood how much effort Brainwavz puts not only into the product but also into the “side things” like cables and tips.
     
    Although the HM2 doesn’t need any ear tips as an over-ear headphone, it does come with 2 cables, a regular one with an inline mic (that has a volume lever and talk/end button), and a flat, tangle free cable. This is something I really admire – and extra cable really doesn’t cost that much extra, and very much enhances the overall package. The inline cable mic is much appreciated as well – many headphones I have I can’t use in certain scenarios where a mic is a must. The second accessory is a small warranty card (with a 1 year warranty), in case something happens to the HM2. I am a bit disappointed with the warranty though; 1 year is definitely not short, but I was kind of hoping for more, to boost customer’s confidence in the build quality, among other things. Other than that, I’m happy.
     
    That’s not the half of it though. Ever since the S0, I’ve become a really big fan of their mesh exterior, zipper operated cases. Many times I’ve used the S0’s case as a perfect example of a perfectly solid, easy to use case that works better (in my opinion) than most clasp-operated ones. I actually use the S0’s case almost wherever I go, regardless of the IEM I’m using.
     
    …Then I saw the HM2 case. Boy, was I in for a surprise. It’s the exact same type of case as the S0’s – on a much larger scale. I thought there was no possible way that Brainwavz would actually implement the S0 case for an over-ear headphone – the cost would be ridiculous, given the sturdiness and overall quality of the case. Yet, here it is. An extremely solid, zipper case that gets points for being stylish too. If every headphone company started making cases like Brainwavz, I would definitely be a case collector by now. Overall, a big, enthusiastic thumbs up from me in this department.
     
    P1020227.jpg P1020228.jpg P1020229.jpg P1020230.jpg P1020232.jpg P1020233.jpg P1020251.jpg P1020252.jpg P1020253.jpg
     
    Build Quality & Design:
     
    Right away, it’s easy to see that the HM2 is a stylish headphone, not something I would be embarrassed to walk around in public. This gets easily overlooked in a place such as Head-fi, where style and looks get scoffed at, or at the least considered unimportant. However, and a “regular” headphone under $100, I’d say such things are pretty important to the typical user, so yes, it does get points for that in my book.
     
    The outside of the HM2 is colored black, and made of some sort of plastic, although it has a rubber-like feel (i.e., unscratchable). The headphone expands via metal extenders, which are of very nice quality, I’m happy to see, and there’s a nicely typed Brainwavz logo on the top of the headband. Moving on to the inner side of the headphone, there are clear L/R markings against the light grey background. The headphone cups are unique in the sense that they move around semi-independent of the headphone itself – which is great, except that I’m afraid for the longevity of the hinges of the ear cups. As they’re holding fine up till now, I’m okay with them, but I’m afraid to see what would happen if I put a decent amount of pressure between the cups and the headphone itself. They are by no means flimsy though, so it could be I’m overly paranoid about that.
     
    One thing basically all the reviewers mentioned was the lack of headband padding. I would like to say this isn’t as bad as it seems, since the HM2’s weight is wonderfully distributed onto the ear pads, and there is virtually no pressure from the top of the headband – due to its incredibly light weight. This does cause another problem in terms of sizing though, which I’ll mention later on.
     
    The ear pads are simply fantastic – they are super comfortable, soft yet sturdy, and don’t produce earache even for long periods of listening (at least for me). As a portable headphone, the walls of the ear pads will probably touch your ears, although they’re still quite comfortable and cozy. The build quality of the pads are excellent, and seem like they will stay intact for longer than other pads I’ve had. The ear pads are removable and replaceable too, so in the unlikely event that you have to replace them, it’s hassle-free.
     
    There’s a small hole on the left ear cup for the detachable cable. This might not seem like a lot, but I have seen quite a few headphones in this price range without detachable cables. The fact that the cable can be separated makes it much easier to replace the cable if you want, and it’s much easier to troubleshoot the headphone if something breaks – usually, it’s the cable.
     
    So all in all, design is fabulous, barring the lack of headband padding and possibly the rotating earcup design, and most of the HM2’s build quality are superb as well.
     
    P1020234.jpg P1020236.jpg P1020239.jpg P1020241.jpg P1020242.jpg P1020244.jpg P1020246.jpg P1020247.jpg P1020248.jpg P1020249.jpg
     
    Fit & Comfort:
     
    The fit of the HM2 is pretty good, with the pads enveloping my ears completely. Like I said before though, my ears do touch the sides of the pads, like most portable headphones do. Even so, the quality of the pads ensure that I can wear the HM2 for large amounts of time comfortably.
     
    The only potential problem I see is for people with smaller than average heads, in which case the HM2 could be too big altogether. My head is about average, and the HM2 fits just right without any extension. So I could only imagine that for smaller heads, even the default size could be too big. Some padding would actually fix this problem, lessening the space between the user’s head and the headband, thus giving a good fit even to smaller heads. I hope (preferably thick) padding can be implemented, so that Brainwavz can solve two birds with one stone here.
     
    Besides for that, fit and comfort are spot on – thanks to the great quality ear pads.
     
    Sound:
     
    At approximately $50, the HM2 is in a tough spot when it comes to sound quality. On one hand, it’s not as cheap as some $20 headphone, so it can’t get away with cheap sound. It’s also not in the same price range as the Audio Technica ATH-M40 though, so it would be tough for it to go with a clearer, analytical sound.
     
    To me, the HM2 is closer to the lower end in regards to its sound profile, I’m afraid. Most consumers looking to buy this will probably prefer the type of sound it provides though, namely a warm, full-bodied sound with a prominent bass.
     
    This type of sound signature probably won’t satisfy the audiophiles out there, but it should be fine for most regular people looking for a $50 headphone.
     
    Highs are tame, but not lacking. The product of this is a smooth, relatively clear high end that can be listened to for hours with very little sibilance or fatigue from brightness.
     
    Vocals (male and female) are smooth too, but might be considered a bit ‘muddy’ even for this price range. However, they are full-bodied, which is better than a LOT of headphones I’ve tried. To put it simply, they disappoint in very little, and are fun to listen to. They don’t sound ‘thin’ or anything of that sort. They also get a nice helping hand from the bass, which is welcome and a nice mix.
     
    Bass is strong here, and more geared to a typical consumer’s tastes. It’s great for popular music, but not so much for mastered recordings. It doesn’t bleed into the mids though, and rarely takes over the whole spectrum. Still, it lacks texture and quality to me, and I feel that the cheaper Monoprice 8323 does it just as well, if not better.
     
    So overall, the sound profile of the HM2 seems to have been done from a consumer-oriented perspective, which is understandable considering the price range. However, I would have liked the HM2 to try to match the sound type of the category above it, rather than the one below it.
     
    Conclusion:
     
    The HM2 is a solid headphone (literally), and has a great sense of style as well. The headphone case is absolutely fantastic, and it conveniently comes with two cables. The sound signature isn’t its strongest point in my opinion, but it does deliver a decent tonality. While the HM2 can be worn comfortably without headband padding, I would like to see that added in the future, if possible. I’m sure Brainwavz will do everything they can to improve on what they know for their next model, so I hope this great headphone can be revamped to something even better. As it stands, if you have a decent sized head and are looking for a smooth, consumer oriented sound, this headphone is straight up your alley.
      Brooko and peter123 like this.
  8. Hisoundfi
    Brainwavz put the fun in functionality. The Brainwavz HM2 portable on-ear headphone with two detachable cables (mic/remote and volume control)
    Written by Hisoundfi
    Published Jan 9, 2016
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Decent build quality for the price, Nice case, Detachable cables, Functionality, Nice design, Smooth sound
    Cons - Uncomfortable headband and pads, Sound is lacking extension and clarity
    20160109_145241.jpg
     
     
    At the time of the review, the Brainwavz HM2 Headphones were on sale at MP4Nation and Amazon’s website. Here is links to their listing of the product:
     
    http://www.mp4nation.net/brainwavz-hm2-headphones
     
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016Q2QJRI?keywords=hm2&qid=1452358964&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2
     
    Introduction
    The design of Headphones are changing to meet the needs of the people who use them. Having a pair of headphones that are lightweight, slim profile with microphones and remotes are becoming popular.  Good sound with ease of transport are things that also matter. As is with most purchases, the biggest factor is how much we are willing and able to spend when in the market for  a pair of phone friendly on-the-go cans.
     
    Remote function, cup and pad designs, storage cases, materials, cable length, and on and on… It all factors into what makes a good template to work off of. What Brainwavz has accomplished with the HM2 is a really solid design that appeals to the market I’m describing, and at a price that makes it a budget friendly option. Let’s go over each aspect of them in this review.
     
    Disclaimer
    I was given an opportunity to review the Brainwavz HM2 in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I am in no way affiliated with Brainwavz. I would like to take this time to personally thank Pandora for the opportunity. Awesome name by the way!
     
    My Background
    I AM NOT a numbers and graphs audiophile or sound engineer. Personal audio enthusiast? Absolutely! Headphone junkie? Possibly…
     
    There’s something about quality DAPs, DACs, Amplifiers and Earphones that intrigues me, especially if they can be had for low prices. I will buy the $5 to $500 earphone that looks promising, in hopes that I will discover that one new gem that can compete with the big names in this industry. If you look at my Head-Fi profile you will see that I have purchased MANY different headphones and earphones, ranging from from dirt cheap to higher end products. For me, this hobby is more about getting great price to performance ratio from a product, and have a variety of different gears with varying builds and sound to mix and match. With personal audio gear, we tend to pay a lot of money for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that just because a headphone has a higher price tag, it doesn’t mean that it has superior build and sound quality.
     
    I’m always looking for great audio at a great price. I’m after headphones and IEMs that give me the “WOW” factor. I can appreciate different builds and sound signatures as long as they are ergonomic, and the sound is pleasing to the ear. It is my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based gear I have owned and used.
     
    REVIEW
    20160109_145042.jpg
    The HM2 Came in a gray box with red accents and white lettering. The front of the package has a nice close up picture of the HM2 with the Brainwavz name and model written on it.
     
    20160109_145052.jpg
    The back of the box displays Specifications, and functionality. There is also a drawing of the headphones with key features that are good selling points of the HM2.
     
    20160109_145119.jpg 20160109_145100.jpg
    The left side of the box features a mini description and review of the product. The right  side of the box has more schematics, along with a list and explanation of the accessories included.
     
    Specifications and Accessories
     
    Specifications:

    1. Drivers: Dynamic, 40 mm
    2. Rated Impedance: 32 Ohm
    3. Frequency Range: 10 Hz ~ 20 kHz
    4. Sensitivity: 104 dB at 1 mW
    5. Maximum Input Power: 100 mW
    6. Plug: 3.5 mm, Gold Plated
    7. Detachable Cables: 1.2 m Flat Cable & 1.2 m Cable with In-Line Microphone

    Included Accessories:

    1. Headphone Hardcase
    2. 1.2 m Flat Cable
    3. 1.2 m Cable with In-Line Microphone
    4. Instruction Manual & Warranty Card (24 month warranty)

    20160109_150631.jpg
    As always, brainwavz brings it in terms of providing a case for storage. They offer an oversized clamshell case that holds the HM2 securely when not in use.
     
    Overall Build
    The first impression I got from them is that the build seemed a bit on the cheap side. However, after spending some time with them, I was quite pleased at how they held up. Although the majority of the HM2 design is plastic, it is metal at the slides and hinges (where it really counts). The plastic headband, arms and cups are durable enough to be handled without any worry about breaking them with normal daily use, I would not like to see what would happen to them if they were sat or stepped on though. If you use them with a reasonable amount of care and don’t chuck them at the wall everyday or crush them, you should get a substantial amount of time to enjoy the HM2.
     
    20160109_145241.jpg
    Starting at the headband, we have a pretty straightforward designed flexible plastic band in two tones. There is no padding on the band. The Brainwavz logo is located on top.
     
    20160109_145310.jpg
    The Headband connects to the slides via a metal hinge that allows the HM2 to be folded for storage and packing away when not in use. This hinge is attached to some metal slides. Unlike most headphones, the slide arms are adjusted by pushing and pulling them from the arms that lead to the cups rather than the headband. The unique design works well and I had no issues with them.
     
    20160109_154121.jpg
     
    The arms of the HM2 are a solid plastic design that keeps sleek lines that lead from the headband and are made of similar two tone plastic. This plastic leads into a ovular plastic plate in place of where the arms would usually connect to the cups. Upon visual inspection This plastic appears to operate more as a visual effect and shield for the actual cups. on this piece there is a mirrored shiny oval along with a white brainwavz logo printed on each side.
     
    20160109_145537.jpg
    The cups are a plastic design that swivels on a ball and socket They are a very slim profile cup just big enough to hold the driver in place and hold a pair of pads. This allows the cups to be moved around and conform to any shaped head that’s using them.
     
    Cable, Cable Jack, Strain Reliefs
    20160109_145839.jpg
    The Cable is a 1.2 meter black rubber jacketed cable with a single button microphone and remote, along with a manual volume slider. The HM2 cable attaches at the bottom of the left cup via a 3.5 mm socket. The Cable jack is a straight plastic jacketed plug. Strain reliefs are rubber and seem well built for daily use. There is also a flat noodle style cable.
     
    Functionality
    20160109_154208.jpg
    A universal single button remote/microphone is located about six inches down from the left cup. It works for both Android and IOS, and can be used to play/pause/skip music, answer/hang up calls and also to activate voice commands of each type of device. The manual volume slider is universal as well. Simply set the volume up about seventy five percent of the way up on your phone, and use the slider to control volume. I think this is really smartly done and prevents buyers from running into a situation of their phone not being able to control volume due to compatibility issues. When using the HM2 for phones calls, friends and family for the most part reported my voice coming through at a three on a scale from one to five. I could hear their voices with good clarity as well.
     
    Comfort
    Despite having sleek lines and a good design concept, I personally feel that too many shortcuts were taken when considering user’s comfort.. The HM2 has some cheap materials used where the headphone makes contact with the customer’s head. The headband is plastic with no padding, and the pads combination of shape and materials along with the clamping force of the headphone didn’t work well. I often times found myself readjusting the headphones because of the pressure on my ears. The pads would hermetically seal to certain parts of my ear making them very uncomfortable. The headphones need either some bigger pads or less clamping force to improve the wearability from what I’ve experienced.
     
    Sound Review
    I did my demo with my usual gear. I used an LG-G3 with the latest firmware for portable and smartphone use, and either my Shanling H3 or Sony Walkman F806/Cayin C5 amplifier for a high fidelity portable use. For desktop use I used my Toshiba Satellite Laptop in combination with a HIFIMEDIY Sabre ES9023 USB DAC/Bravo Audio Ocean Tube amplifier with a Mullard 12AU7 tube for higher impedance, and a Fiio E18 USB DAC & Amplifier in both high and low gain. Both were run at 24 bit, 96000 Hz. I also tested them with other DAPs and amplifiers as well. I used Google Music downloaded in its highest download quality (320 KBPS) and I also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I also used purchased and downloaded tracks in MP3, FLAC, WAV and DSD. I make sure that any gear I test has sufficient playtime before writing a review.
     
    I used my usual same songs for testing gear:
    “Limit to your love” by James Blake (bass speed, punch, response)
    “Doin’ it Right” by Daft Punk (sub bass)
    “Get lucky” by Daft Punk (bass to midrange transition resolution, male vocals)
    “Madness” by Muse (soundstage, separation)
    “Some nights” by Fun (soundstage and male vocals)
    “The soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela (texture and imaging)
    “Bassically” by Tei Shi (bass to midrange resolution, female vocals)
    “Skinny Love” performed by Birdie (female vocals, acoustic playback)
    “One” by Ed Sheeran (male vocals, acoustic playback)
    “Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack (symphonic presentation, imaging)
    “Sultans of swing” by Dire Straits (detail, separation, balance)
    “And Justic for All” by Metallica (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
    “Ten thousand fists” by Disturbed (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
     
    Note: Other tracks were used, but the listed songs were primarily used to asses and break down the gear’s response.
     
    Source Selection
    The HM2 is 32 ohms and designed to be used with a smart phone. Their warm midrange, mid bass punch and lack of treble extension makes their sound very forgiving with poorly recorded music. They don’t really upscale very well. Use the HM2 for what it’s good at and the functionality and portability will give you the best listening experience.
     
    Sound Signature
    The sound of the HM2 is not what I would consider elite. They offer a relatively warm/neutral signature with a forward mid bass punch. The HM5 will make your music sound decent, but don’t expect to be blown away with a high fidelity experience. Brainwavz has taken a safe approach to the sound of the HM2 with a smooth sound that will work well with many genres.
     
    Bass
    There is a solid bass presence in terms of forwardness, but what is there is somewhat monotone to my ears. During bassy music the bass extends through mid bass to around sub-bass levels but loses its dynamic range. The bass will hit but it will be without distinction between sub bass frequencies. Bass is a bit wooly and boomy with modern genres. Moving to mid bass regions, the HM2 seems to regain control of the music and is more defined.
     
    Midrange
    Midrange is warm tilted and polite, offering a very smooth presentation. There is a slight haze in combination with the slow decay of bass notes that causes the music to seem somewhat disjointed and lacking clarity at times. The midrange sounds really decent with acoustic music, but when the bass hits or complex passages of music are playing the HM2 sound gets a bit congested.
     
    Treble
    The HM2 treble is somewhat relaxed and doesn’t extend very far. I didn’t hear much for treble beyond the upper midrange. This makes for a fatigue free and non sibilant listening. This keeps the overall feel of the HM2 smooth. There is an upper midrange bump from what I hear, but it’s not an abundant one. This tuning also keep the HM2 sounding very musical and rich as well.
     
    Soundstage and Imaging
    The hazy midrange and lack of extension makes the HM2 soundstage and imaging somewhat average/mediocre.
     
    Comparisons
     
    Koss Porta Pro ($30 to $50 USD on many sites)
    The Porta Pro is a hall of famer offering a warm and bassy sound signature and the same design as when they first came out in the 1980s. They have a very flimsy and quirky design but there’s no denying their fatigue free and engaging sound. They also offer a unique lifetime warranty as well.
     
    Comparing the two, they both offer similar tunings. The Porta Pro seems to retain control of lower frequencies, packing a more responsive and resolving bass and sub bass. Midrange and treble are actually very similar, with the semi open foam pads of the Porta Pro being just a touch airier.
     
    In terms of build, the HM2 is a lot more solid. The Porta Pro is all around flimsy in comparison. If not for the lifetime warranty of the Porta Pro, they probably would have lost their following. I have ripped the cords on two pairs myself.
     
    Accessories goes to the HM2 as well, they offer an oversized clamshell case that allows a folded up HM2 to be tucked away and stored. The detachable cable and mic/remote/volume control gives the HM2 a huge advantage.

     
    Ubsound Fighter ($65 to $100 USD on many sites)
    The fighter is a headphone I reviewed last month, and the first full size headphone made by Ubsound. While packing a universally decent sound signature and mic/remote, the build quality of the Fighter is mediocre at best.
     
    LIstening to each the Fighter and HM2 are both slightly lacking in terms of extension. Despite being monotone at sub bass levels, The HM2 offers more in terms of low end rumble. The sound of the Fighter is slightly tighter and more responsive, but suffers from the same haziness and lack of clarity that the HM2 has.
     
    Build quality and functionality goes to the HM2. Their build is slightly more solid from what I see. The removable cable, collapsible design and storage options are things that the fighter simply doesn’t have.

     
    Conclusion
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    Having gone through the gambit of just about every aspect of this headphone, and from a consumer standpoint I can say that functionality is this headphone’s strong point. Things like a collapsible design with folding arms and a storage case, and the removable cable makes this a respectable package. Although the sound is decent, it is by no means a HiFi experience that will leave you on the edge of your seat.   
     
    If you buy the HM2, what you’re getting is a very versatile portable headphone with some really cool bells and whistles that make them a nice value. They will be a great pick for anyone who holds functionality in high regard.
     
    Thanks for reading and happy listening!
      Brooko, peter123 and twister6 like this.
  9. lin0003
    Smooth, Stylish Budget Headphone
    Written by lin0003
    Published Jan 24, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Bass Heavy, Aethetic Design, Case & Cable
    Cons - Comfort, Clarity

    Brainwavz HM2 Review

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    Brainwavz is a brand that I have had quite a lot of experience with, having reviewed quite a few of their products. When they came out with the HM2, I was rather intrigued and curious as to what they could do with a budget headphone for just a mere $50. With many excellent choices in the $50 range, the HM2 would have to be a great product to stand out from the crowd. A quick visit to the Brainwavz page for the HM2 reveals a nice looking headphone which looks rather well, but let’s get on to see just how well the HM2 really did. Since the target audience for the HM2 is likely the average person, I will refrain from using fancy terms and make this quite a simple review. 
     
    **Disclaimer** The Brainwavz S2 was provided to me free of charge by Brainwavz in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
     
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    Packaging & Accessories

    The HM2 comes in a rather plain and standard Brainwavz box that their HM5 came in as well. Inside the box is a case and a warranty card. Upon opening the case, you will be greeted with the HM2 and 2 cables, one with an inline remote and one without. Both are 1.2m long and one is flat and tangle resistant while the other (the one with the remote) is your standard round cable. Both are rather high in quality. The one with the remote comes with a sliding volume control, which means that you can control the volume on whatever device you use, not just Apple. The case is one of the better ones that I have used, very sturdy, but easy to use.
     
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    Specifications & Design

    Here are the specifications, I personally don’t pay much attention to this, but you can use it as a point of reference if you want.
     
    Specifications:
    ·         Drivers: Dynamic, 40 mm
    ·         Rated Impedance: 32 Ω
    ·         Frequency Range: 10 Hz ~ 20 kHz
    ·         Sensitivity: 104 dB at 1 mW
    ·         Maximum Input Power: 100 mW
    ·         Plug: 3.5 mm, gold-plated
    Contents:
    ·         HM2 Headphones
    ·         Hard Carrying Case
    ·         1.2 m Flat Cable
    ·         1.2 m Cable with In-Line Microphone
     
    As you can see, the drivers on each side of the HM2 are 40mm dynamic ones. The HM2 is rather light and feels relatively well built. The plastic didn’t feel cheap and tacky but actually quite sturdy. The headband has quite a bit of flexibility and overall, the headphone should be able to take a few knocks and still survive. The headphone is foldable and able to fit into the case, which makes it a lot easier to take to places.
     
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    Comfort is just ok, not great but not too bad either. They get a little stiff on the ears after a little while. Despite the earpads looking relatively large, they are not big enough to go over my smaller than average ears. The headband also has no pad, so that feels a little uncomfortable as well. They sit a little on my ears and as a result, they start to hurt after around an hour.
     
    Isolation is decent, they block out some exterior noise, but not enough for you to take them on a plane or busy public transport. I’m wearing these while typing this review on a mechanical keyboard and the sound from the keyboard is very easily audible even though the HM2 is on at volumes slightly above my normal listening volume.  
     
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    Sound Quality

    I will split the sound quality section into a couple of sections, the bass, midrange and treble.
     
     

    Bass

    The bass is probably what most people will be interested in given that its target audience is the general public. It is definitely bass heavy, if you like Beats headphones, this is quite a good Beats Solo replacement at a much lower price point. They may not be as blingy as Beats, but the bass from these sound just as good. The bass is very strong, both the mid bass and sub bass. It does sound a little bit muffled however. The bass is a little bloated and bleeds a little into the midrange.
     
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    Midrange

    The midrange is undeniably warm, but not overly so to many people. Those who come from Apple Earpods will find these slightly warmer and that it has a better mower end performance. Vocals sound quite warm, but the clarity is still acceptable. Instruments sound a little too warm. There was no vocal sibilance at all, which is good to see. The main issue I found was that on bass heavy music the midrange tended to be a little bit overpowered by the somewhat boomy bass.
     
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    Treble

    The treble is smooth and very relaxed, it will be excellent for people who are sensitive to treble or just prefer a more relaxed sound signature. The treble extension is ok, it rolls off a little earlier than I would have liked, but it is not too bad. Those who like to blast music at high volumes will enjoy the complete lack of sibilance in this headphone. Even when I pushed it to very high volumes, I did not detect any harshness in the top end.
     
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    Soundstage & Imaging

    The soundstage and imaging on the HM2 is nothing special, probably just around the level of the standard Earpods that you get with an Apple device. Stage is quite small and imaging is decent, but not that great.
     
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    Detail & Clarity

    In case you haven’t grasped it yet, the HM2 is not a detail or clarity oriented headphone, it sounds very warm and loses quite a lot of detail and is quite boomy. The clarity is not very good, both instrumental and vocal.
     
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    Conclusion

    After reading this review you may be lead to believe that the HM2 is not a good choice, but this is not true at all. Despite it being behind other choices that are good in this price range, it is a fun and bass heavy headphone that will appeal to many people who just want a stylish, decent sounding headphone for a reasonable price. I would recommend the HM2 if your price range can’t be stretched to over $50 and you are looking for something that is simply fun and looks nice. 
      Brooko likes this.
  10. shockdoc
    Nice sounding "street" headphone for those who don't like to use IEM's or want the style of a full headphone.
    Written by shockdoc
    Published Jan 24, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Style (subjective), decent sound, flexible design including removable cable.
    Cons - Clamps a little too tightly for my head
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    I was quite curious to hear this headphone since other than a blu tooth 'phone designed for kids I hadn't really had the opportunity to listen to a full size Brainwavz offering. Unpacking the box I was pleased to find a removable single sided cable (and an extra, with mic/controls) as well as Brainwavz' very nice memory foam earpads. A nice, sturdy zippered case was also included. I'm not a super style conscious person but I see a lot of Beats and other popular street headphones worn by the younger people at my gym and, to my eye at least, think that the HM2 stands up well in looks and function to what I see the younger crowd wearing. I was a little surprised when I put them on my head that they covered my (average sized?) ears completely and were not, at least for me, 'on ear' headphones. That's a big plus in my book as the main reason I use headphones and IEM's is to block out external noise, hopefully without cranking the volume to a level that could eventually damage my hearing. It may be, however, that someone with larger ears won't quite clear the edges of the foam pads and they might indeed end up as 'on ear' types. 
     
    The headband has no padding, a bit of a disappointment for me, but I suspect it's mostly a style choice by Brainwavz. It didn't seem to affect comfort that much to me. They also seemed to clamp a little too tightly on my average to large sized head but I assume they'll loosen up with time. I did a small amount of listening to a number of tracks before placing them on my burn in rig (yes I believe in burn in, especially for dynamic drivers). Initially I was pleasantly surprised by their rather rich, full sound. Of course being closed they didn't have as much space and soundstage as I like but it wasn't bad at all and exceeded somewhat my reference on ear JVC HA S400 slightly. I used those to compare as they are in the same general price range and are closed as well. The biggest problem with my old JVC's was that they were on ear and were EXTREMELY uncomfortable to me even after just a few minutes. I actually modded them with Brainwavz accessory memory foam pads (placed over the OEM pads) to make them over ear and more comfortable. This mod made the JVC's the equal, or slightly better than the HM2's for soundstage. If you don't have a could of sets of Brainwavz memory foam pads to play with, I recommend you get some. They work with a number of headphones and are quite a bargain IMHO.
     
    I listened to the HM2 briefly after about 50 hours and stopped burn in after 100 hours not noticing anywhere near as much sonic change as I usually do with the brand's IEMs. Overall the sound is pleasing with no particular part of the sound standing out too much. In a word I'd call the sound mellow. There is plenty of bass, the midrange is nice, not too forward like the JVC's can be at times and the top end is there if not a bit subdued for my taste. I wouldn't really call the sound signature bland, but I wouldn't necessarily call it exciting either. I did notice, after listening to a number of different genres, that unlike some 'phones in my collection, they held up pretty well to just about any type and style of music. I usually term this characteristic as "forgiving" as it can be somewhat disconcerting with certain headphones when you run across the odd track that for some reason just sounds terrible, or at least "off". Haven't found a track yet, with these, that doesn't sound at least okay. 
     
    Finally I did extensive A/B comparisons with the JVC's on many many tracks, leaning heavily on acoustic and orchestral music, since to me this is the true measure of a headphone, how it recreates the natural harmonics and nuances of acoustic instruments and the human voice. I have to admit, that after at least a hundred hours of listening I prefer the overall sound signature of the old JVC's for detail and resolution. But the HM2 surpasses them in bass and more than anything in design, build and COMFORT. I kind of wish I could stick those old carbon nanotube drivers in the HM2 and this 'phone could easily become a daily driver for me at the gym and commuting on a bus or train. Of course with any kind of constant external noise like in the aforementioned, any big differences in detail and resolution become mostly moot and the added bass gives the music more balance and weight. For short bouts of critical listening I'd still grab the JVC's but after 30 minutes my head and ears would be screaming for the HM2's. What I'd really like to know is how these hold up to the ubiquitous Beats that many kids wear. From my best memory the older Beats I've listened to were not even in the same ballpark. They were bloated and boomy and more than anything simply not anywhere near close these especially for the asking price. Hopefully they've gotten better but I'm skeptical and almost certain that when you consider the huge price discrepancy the HM2's would blow the Beats out of the water. The HM2 is, I think, a definite consideration for a daily driver "street" style headphone.
     
    Finally I took them for a mini "torture" test to the gym. While they didn't block noise like my better IEM's they did a decent job and if, like many younger people, I preferred this style I wouldn't hesitate to wear them for workouts. The single sided cord stays out of the way nicely and, aside from some heat buildup, they were comfy for the entire 2 hours of my weightlifting and aerobics workout. My next step will be to see if I can persuade a few of the guys at my gym to listen to the HM2's and, in turn, let me listen to their Beats and Sonys to see what differences I can discern. Look for updates later on to this review. My overall review 'ratings' are based on my determination of sound, build and quality as a function of MSRP compared to other similar headphones. I welcome any and all feedback.
     
    Thanks to Pandora for allowing me to review the HM2's.