1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

Brainwavz HM2

Rating:
3.64286/5,
  1. 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.
  2. 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
    20160109_145429.jpg
    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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.