Brainwavz HM9 Hi-Fi Noise Isolating Headphones


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Very warm (if you love mid-bass), fatigue free treble, well made, great accessories package
Cons: Very warm (if you are not a fan of tons of mid-bass), dark treble, no 1/4th adapter, weird airplane adapter included instead (??)
An expanded Pros & Cons regarding the HM9:
Pros: Very warm sound signature, so this is a pro if you're after something warm. The treble is subdued, nothing is overlly bright and there's no siblance, so if you're sensitive to treble this is something you'd appreciate. Fairly good sound stage, great set of detachable cabling, well made construction and really great fat ear pads that are thick and soft. The unit folds to a compact nature and again the cables are detachable. Great isolation (given it's compact and portable nature, this is great, as it means you can probably use it in public and it not be a waste of time).
Cons: Very warm sound signature, so this is a con if you're after something neutral or something more analytical. While it's not fair to really call this a con, I felt that it was too in between in terms of being on-ear and being over-ear, because you can certainly fit your whole ear in there unless you have wombat ears, but it's clearly meant to be smaller than over-ear cups generally are, so it's classed more in the size of on-ear (again, not fair maybe, but just had to point this out as it did bother me).
Brainwavz HM9 - Very warm, Compact and Sleek.
The vast sea of headphones these days (hey, it's not the 80's and 90's anymore for some of us, there's actually choices in headphones these days!) is nearly endless it seems, so it's hard for anyone to truly compete for attention when it comes to certain price points. When you clock in at the $100 tier of devices, you have to really have something special, or a great package, or really good marketing to get an audience. Brainwavz is really trying to do all three of these things, offering a very well made product, worth more than it's price suggests, with a very good overall package, again, making it much more attractive than some other items that just show up in a plastic wrapped thing that you have to cut open. And marketing wise, they're doing it right, they're asking the community to tell them what they think, instead of just putting them on easy-endorsement artists or sports celebrities and asking them to wear them on TV. Brainwavz is instead putting them on the heads of audiophiles, real people, and asking for their opinions. You have to respect that approach. But there is still a ton of competition in the $100 tier market. Even with their own other headphones! So it comes down to what you're looking for and if the check list ticks all the right boxes. The HM9 is a compact, portable-class headphone with all the right features: high isolation, very thick, soft ear pads and headband, folding design for compact storage, thick durable plastic so it's not heavy and won't break, detachable cables in three different lengths that are flat instead of round so they do not coil up or twist and lay flat when wearing so there's less movement and thus less sound translated from them, with a nice hard shell carry case. I've looked around, and I've yet to find very many other $100 offerings that supply you with something built as well, with excellent sound quality, that also offers meaningful accessories and features and not just a bunch of nothing, or a bunch of flash that you don't care about. Brainwavz seems to really be doing it right in this aspect.
Quick Reference for the TL;DR folks:
Thick plastic build, some metal
Entry price of $100 on average, which competes with too numerous to count options
Super warm sound signature, with very prominent bass
Relaxed, dark, fatigue-free treble
Very efficient, will run from a potato
Excellent isolation, I couldn't hear my mechanical keyboard while typing this
Flat wires, tangle free, and no transmission of noise from rubbing
Carry case, three cables, and all made very well
What Comes in the Box:
HM9 Headphone
Hard case (fits the headphone folded up, seals with zipper, has room for cables); not crush proof
Three cables: 1) 1.2m flat (portable hi-fi), 2) 1.2m round with microphone (cellphone), 3) 3.0m flat (home hi-fi)
Airplane adapter (why? A 1/4th adapter was not included, but this weird airplane adapter was)
Overall, a nice package if you want functional and useful stuff and only one minor "oops" in the airplane adapter which to me is totally not necessary and near pointless, and would have rather had a 1/4th adapter included to couple with the 3.0m cable for home use. Anyone who cares about audio will NOT be listening to an airplane's in-cabin audio, which is easily the worst audio source on the planet and mono to boot. Maybe in some other countries there is a competitive airline that wants to wow passengers with their higher quality in-cabin audio. But I've yet to be on that airline. Someone can fill me in via comments I hope. Otherwise, again, totally boggled by the inclusion of this airplane adapter. The cables are superb. The two lengths are excellent for their intended use. And the inclusion of the microphone is good for the phone-folk. The case is nice, and everything is well made. Nothing screams cheap. But hey, where's that 1/4th adapter?
Specifics (the minor numbers):
40ohm Impedance
104dB/mW Sensitivity
What does that mean? They're efficient. They will run from anything just fine. I was surprised they were even 40ohms actually as I expected something like 16ohm to 32ohm, but rather the 40ohm was odd to me, but it doesn't matter, it's just a number. The sensitivity tells you what's up, and they are efficient, so they will get loud from nearly any device. There's zero need for an amplifier here unless you're using a phone that has awful output. But this is expected from a compact-class headphone designed for portability.
Construction, Materials & Comfort:
The build of the headphone is good. It's sturdy, hard plastic, thick where it should be and doesn't creak or crumble. The headphone and ear pads are very thick and soft, like memory foam. They remind me of the old Sony XB pads, super thick and plush. The overall design is just a flat silver and matte black, nothing shiny which is good. No blaring logos either, it's rather subtle in general, which I really respect. Comfort is surprisingly good to me, as I normally cannot stand on-ear design headphones. While these are in-between that, with a size that could be over-ear for many people, but still on-ear for some others, it's a hybrid zone where it swings either way. It worked for me because I could squeeze in and get the over-ear feel and sound that I prefer, as I do not like on-ear in general for comfort purposes. The headband squeeze is not too tight, but it's not loose, just right to me. The pads really are comfortable. They are pleather, so if you're out in the sun, you will get sweaty. But just sitting inside some where, I found them to breath enough to not turn into little ovens, so that was nice.
Sound Characteristics:
I'm a fan of the warmer sound of headphones, as I'm not into the analytical approach for everything, though I like it sometimes, it's not my go-to for at-home-listening. The HM9 is definitely a warm headphone, nearly to a fault. So keep this in mind if you're someone who can't stand very warm headphones, the HM9 is not for you. But for those of you who want a very warm, very lush sound with fatigue-free treble, the HM9 might speak your language. When I first started listening, and then weeks later, the experience was the same for me: lots and lots of mid-bass, upper bass, lower mids. That translates to a lot of warmth. Everything is warm no matter what you do straight out of the box. The treble is fatigue free, which is very nice when you're turning it up, but I found it to be a little on the dark side compared to my tastes (takes that edge out of violin that is supposed to sting a bit, and some piano strikes), but at the same time, zero siblance or hissing so that's great for others. The mids are decent, but definitely a bit recessed, and a touch distant, it reminded me of a recording where the artist was coming through a cloth first, then the blocker in front of the microphone, which takes more of the tiny nuances away from consonant production, but I'm being picky. Vocals were clear, but let's just say I wanted more clarity. When I put on some tracks that were rich with mid-bass content I noticed the congestion built up quickly, which is common for very warm headphones.
The HM9 is fatigue free with treble, you will have no issues with siblance or hissing sounds. It's not quite as dark as something perhaps like the HD650 level of dark, but you get the idea. It's not going to scratch your ears out with treble spikes, like an Ultrasone. So this is a mellow listen from a treble stand point. This is good if you're particularly sensitive to treble. But it can be an issue if you're into certain detail retrieval and want that sting from certain sounds. For me, violin and piano really didn't have the edge that it normally would have, because the treble roll off was significant. This will make it seem like it's less detailed, but that's not the case, it's just less intense. When you couple subdued treble with increased bass, the end result is super warm sound which may or may not be your cup of tea.
Mids are pretty much the most important bulk of any range in audio for us, because that's the heart and soul of our natural vocal range, instrument range, etc in terms of the bulk of the average we can hear and while hearing bass & treble changes with our years on this planet, the mids don't change quite as significantly, so mids are critical to get right. The HM9 has ok mids. I was not truly impressed with the range or clarity. I found too much bass bleed, from the massive warmth, to the point where the mids were congested to me, and distant to a degree. I felt like I was being lulled through a cloth in many ways. Mids are a touch recessed, with the massive warmth from the mid-bass. I through on some very fast music with lots of electric guitar and blast beats to test the speed of the HM9 and found it very congested, as a lot of this is in the mid-range, or bleeds into it. So keep this in mind. If you're a mids-head and seek super clarity, the HM9 is not for you. If you're into gobs of warm bass, and fatigue free treble, this will work out for you likely.
These days, bass seems to be super important. I guess it's cultural. I say that as a reverend bass-head myself. I don't always want too much bass. That said, I appreciate quality bass that is well controlled and doesn't just roll off steeply. You'll find the HM9 has a lot of mid-bass and upper bass. It's very warm. No matter what you're listening to, there will be a lot of emphasis on the upper end of bass, to the point of it bleeding into the mids significantly. If you're all about the mid-bass, which there are genres for that, then this may just be what you're after. I found the sub-bass to not have received the attention that the mid-bass received, and the sub-bass is significantly rolled off. I tested some dub just to see if it could land a satisfying 25~30hz drop, and it was not intense and felt distant and loose compared to the mid-bass. Mid-bass can slam your face off though, so if you're into hardcore or other genres with gobs of mid-bass, this will shake your head sufficiently. If you're not into bass and warmth, and seek neutrality, this is not for you at all.
The HM9 delivers nicely with isolation. While it's passive isolation, I found it still did it quite well. While it will not block out a city buss next to you, nor an airliner, and it certainly won't stop the pulses inside an MRI machine, it will at least block out typical noise that would be distracting. I couldn't hear my mechanical keyboard clacking away while I typed this, while listening to music through the HM9 at normal listening volume. That's fantastic. So that means you won't hear non-yelling conversations out in public, or someone's phone conversation, or someone's loud earbuds buzzing in their ear next to you. On this note, the cable doesn't transmit audible noise to you, which is a big deal to me. I can rub the cable on my shirt and I don't hear the vibration or noise, so that's great. Helps you with the idea of isolation when the cable is moving as you walk around as these are portable headphones.
I don't expect a lot from closed headphones for soundstage, if you are reading it as a term of width or spaciousness. It's a closed stereo headphone, so it's not like an HD800. The soundstage is pretty normal to me, not too terribly closed in, but not as wide as something open air. I found it to be fine, and normal enough to where it didn't distract me. There are some that are so narrow in soundstage that it sounds like there's no distance between anything and gives it a flat feel. If you're reading it as soundstage as a term referring to separation of notes, then it has decent soundstage in that regard. Though I found it muddled in several places where the bass-bleed really slowed and congested the mids. I found the aggressive mid-bass hump really took the soundstage (read as separation) down significantly as the intensity of the complexity of a track increased. Translation: if you're listening to metal, you'll find it hard to hear clear separation of instruments. If you're listening to electronica, you probably won't notice as much.
Closing Thoughts:
Overall, I think the HM9 delivers in many ways, but it has some issues that to me are hallmark of today. I think the package is great, you get the right accessories and the headphone itself is well made and comfortable. My one packaging negative mark is the lack of the 1/4th adapter, but a weird airplane adapter was included (seriously who plugs into an airline in-cabin audio system these days?). The case and cables are very good. Pads are wonderful. The other issue that I consider common and hallmark of today's mainstream culture is that these headphones are too warm, too much mid-bass, and it bleeds significantly into the mids. I know there's a big market for this sound. Lots of bassheads will enjoy this headphone. But in the high fidelity crowd, this will be something that is not overlooked and will be a big negative. I'm a basshead, and even I wasn't keen on the mid-bass hump on the HM9. I much prefer sub-bass prominence, and the HM9 has rolled off sub-bass compared to it's very strong mid-bass. I prefer the opposite, as I prefer more sub-bass, and less mid-bass, to avoid bleeding it into the mids and congesting the overall separation and clarity. So take my opinion with that in mind. The treble is too tame for me, but for others it will work well, as I know many are sensitive to peircing treble. It's just a hair too dark for me.
I took a minute to equalize this headphone to something that sounded more neutral to me, and it instantly cleared up the congestion. It was definitely the mid-bass. Way too much prominence of mid-bass and it slowed down the driver recovery and goes muddy. I pulled it back about -6db and clarity came forward quite strikingly. Overall, I dropped 156hz through 440hz by any where from -2 to -6db to round down the mid & upper bass and into the lower mids to get rid of the bleed, and it was still a very warm bassy sound but with much improved mids and clarity. I spiked treble from 3.5khz to 10khz by +2 to +8db and found it having a bit more edge and gave life back to violin and other sounds like that which pierce and are meant to.
If you are after a portable, sleekly made bassy headphone, this may be right for you if you're sensitive to treble. It comes with a great package and is made very well.
Ultimately I think there's a lot of competition out there, and the HM9 has a very hard battle to fight. The HM5 to me is superior, and the S5 is superior. I think the HM9 speaks to a certain crowd and will speak well to them. But ultimately at this $100 price tier, there's just too much to compete with and the HM9 doesn't climb above the well-known ones with superior audio (but does have superior accessories and build).
Very best,
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Hi Mal - nice review :)
I'm assuming that the airline adaptor is one of those two prong ones similar to this ( I do a lot of long haul travel (10 hour plus - business class) - and they come in pretty handy if you're watching in flight movies, and want to use a decent set of headphones.  I often use an adaptor with my IEMs for this exact use.
And you're ok with the sound quality in-cabin? Would you not rather just have a high quality movie on a tablet outputting to some good phones with high quality audio, instead of that in-cabin stuff?

That's the adapter. But again, I just can't fathom how that adapter made the box, over a more useful and universal 1/4th adapter.
Most of my long hauls are done with Air NZ or Singapore Airlines - and in Business Class their gear is generally very decent. They also tend to have a wide selection of movies on demand - so yeah, I usually go through 5 or 6 movies in the two weeks I'm away (usually circle the globe so it is a lot of flying). The headphones they supply (while passable) aren't as good as I am used to using - so that is why the adaptor is handy.
I have thought about just using my own tablet - but the quality in the front of the cabin is actually pretty similar .....
Agree on the 3.5-6.3mm adaptor though - should have been included.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: good build quality; very smooth and non-fatiguing sound
Cons: slightly veiled sound; some layering issues
As usual I have to thank Audrey and Brainwavz for this unit.
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging is pretty standard. No embossing as with recent Brainwavz models. There is an image of the headphones on the front of the box. On the right side there is a list and description of the included accessories and some of the HM9’s features. On the left side of the box there is a bit more detailed description of the HM9. The back is reserved for the specs, compatibility and the design of the headphones.
When you open the box though you are surprised by the egg shaped hard case kinda reminiscent of opening a Kinder Surprise egg eager to see the toy inside.
The case itself is pretty good and obviously made out of the same materials as my favorite Brainwavz earphone cases - just oddly shaped. Once opened it reveals the HM9 and a small velcro pouch containing the accessories. There are 3 different cables inside – one 1.2m flat cable, which I personally use, one 3m flat cable if you need some length and one 1.2m cable with a mic. Also there is an airplane adapter and a strap for the case.
Overall, it’s a pretty complete package.
Build Quality, Design and Comfort
HM9 feels very solid with is mix of aluminum and hard plastic. It is creaking a bit though, which kinda diminishes the impressions of high quality.
The design is pretty contemporary and if you find yourself wearing the HM9 next to a person wearing Beats, for instance, you won’t feel a lesser man – if you care for stuff like that.
Despite its size and heavier frame and size the HM9 is a supra-aural headphone. The pads are thick and provide good comfort but they are still mostly resting on your ears and while the clamping force is not very strong they can get somewhat tiring for longer listening sessions. The padding of the headband is more than sufficient.
The MH9 has over 100 hours of burn-in at the time of writing this review.
For some reason I expected a lot more boosted lower end. The bass is still boosted but has more of a sub-bass tilt. It can get a touch boomy at times but overall is decently controlled and while I would have liked it a bit tighter and faster, it has good punch and depth.
The mids take a step back in comparison to the low end but still have good presence. The tonality is on the warm side but HM9 doesn’t sound particularly colored – its warmth is mainly presenting itself as warm air taking the space between the instruments.  The boosted bass does increase the note thickness but detail retrieval is still good. Overall, the mids are extremely smooth and inoffensive with some nice texture to boot. The area where the HM9 suffers though is clarity as all the warm air makes it sound a bit veiled. It’s a smooth, full and very inviting sound but the purists may find themselves overwhelmed.
The highs remain consistent with the overall smoothness of the presentation showing no signs of sibilance or harshness. There is a good amount of sparkle but shimmer is slightly lacking due to HM9’s slightly dark nature. And that dark nature is sort of an exaggeration because at certain times the upper treble extension and presence give the impression of  being insufficient and lacking while at other times the cymbal crashes you thought you wouldn’t hear are right there surprising you.
HM9 is full and relatively airy sounding despite being a bit on the dark side. Imaging is good but width is quite average even for a closed-back headphone. The depth and especially the height are very good though. Separation is good but overall HM9 is slightly leaning towards intimacy due to its narrower imaging and the warmth taking the space between the instruments. The layering is a bit lacking though and at busy passages there is some smearing.
The Brainwavz HM9 is a pretty solid performer both on the build and sound front. It has the type of sound that can seem not very impressive at first listen but can easily grow on you with its smoothness and warm and enveloping sound. Kinda reminds me of Brainwavz R3 covered by a warm blanket.
Pros: Adorable sound signature. Super non fatiguing. Comfy
Cons: Very coloured sound. So so detail retrieval.
Brainwavz HM9 Quick Review
Thanks to mp4nation for the sample.
Full review here
Brief:  Big squisy bassy fun time.
Price:  £85 or US$150
Specification:  Transducers/Drivers: Dynamic, 40mm, Rated Impedance: 40ohms Closed Dynamic, Sensitivity: 104dB at 1mW, Frequency range: 10Hz ~ 24KHz, Distortion: <= 0.3% @ 94dB, Channel balance: =< 2dB (at 1000Hz), Maximum input power: 1000mW, Cable length: Detachable 1.3 meters (2 pairs) & 3 meters, 1 year warranty
Accessories:  1 x 1.3m cable with remote & microphone for phones (TRRS plug, suitable for iPhone, iPad, iPod and some Android phones), 1 x 1.3m cable, 1 x 3m cable, 1 x Airplane, adapter, 1 x Hard carrying case, 1 x Instruction manual, 1 x Warranty card
Build Quality:  Great.  They feel big, bulky and substantive.
Isolation:  Not bad.  Fine for typical use and with music on it easy blocks out everything.  Still for a daily Tube commute I’d be looking at deep IEM’s.  Still plenty sufficient to make you a road stain, look where you walk people!
Comfort/Fit:  Good.  Not stunning as it’s an on rather than over ear, the pads though, soft and squishy so plenty gentle on the ear.  I’ve seen some comment they don’t love the comfort but as on ears go, the pads are particularly soft, so if these are a problem I’d wager all on ears are for you.
Aesthetics:  Nice.  Somewhat plain, understated and simple.  This quite appeals to my sense of the aesthetic, clean and non LOOK AT ME!!!  If you want all the bling bling, these aren’t it.                                                                                                                                                  
Sound:  Thick, warm, smooth, gooey, squishy loveliness.  The bass is grand and warm.  The mids are thick and smooth.  The highs are soft and gently glistening.  If you want neutral, all of detail, dry crystal clarity then you will be epically disappointed in these.  They are all about creating a cosy and enveloping aural environment.  The bass is expansive and weighty, I can see very many likening it a lot.  It’s not particularly agile or skilled but it’s not in the least trying to be, it’s about having a good time.  Poppy bouncy stuff goes grandly together with it.  Mids, well they are a bit over thick low down and faint subtleties are lost but again, its calling is poppy bouncy stuff where vocals are only ever so so at best anyway.  The highs continue the theme, genteel and gently glistening away which does obfuscate the fine detail.  So what?  Most pop is shoddily mastered and dynamically compressed within an inch of its life so you’re hardly losing a lot there.  The HM9 is all about the warmth and entertainment, at that it succeeds.  Big warm bass and is incredibly non fatiguing while doing it.
Value:  Sturdy, warm, gooey goodness.  It’ll make you smile.
Pro’s:   Adorable sound signature.  Super non fatiguing.   Comfy
Con’s:  Very coloured sound.  So so detail retrieval.
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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Build, Comfort, Cables, Hard Case, Mainstream Sound
Cons: Slightly Heavy, Ear pads are not quite full size.

Brainwavz HM9 Headphone​

Review by TrollDragon​

In the following review, I would like to present my impression of the Brainwavz HM9 headphone. The HM9's have a nice dual functionality where they work as a full sized headphone for home use and will convert to a folding portable for on the road. I would like to thank Audrey for providing me with the review sample of the HM9. Brainwavz is exceedingly generous to the Head-Fi community and it is greatly appreciated.


The HM9's arrived at the same time as the R3's I reviewed a while back. As with previous impressions of other Brainwavz products, the packaging on the HM9's is not as splashy as their IEM packaging. There is no flap to open or no window to display the product in all it's glory. Since I am a fan of great packaging, the HM9 box was nicely laid out with all the standard information that Brainwavz is known for, but it's just a box.

Box Front & Back​

hm9_box.jpg  hm9_box_back.jpg
There is a nice product picture on the front. Detailed specifications of the headphones, connector compatibility and inline microphone description are on the back.

Left and Right Side​

hm9_box_side2.jpg  hm9_box_side1.jpg
The left side of the box has a detailed description of the HM9 headphones with usage suggestions. The warranty information and package contents are found on the right side. I do like the consistency Brainwavz's puts into the packaging, it doesn't matter which of their products you pick up to look at. You know exactly what you are getting and what is included, there are no surprises. Until NOW...


When I opened the box all I found was this big egg shaped EVA dual zippered hard case in Brainwavz traditional red and black. I had to recheck the security stickers on the box as I thought I had possibly received a used product. No, both stickers were cut by me and there was nothing inside the box but this big case. I would have figured that the case might have been put inside a plastic bag at least so it doesn't take people by surprise, thinking they have a used or refurbished headphone. Anyway, this is a very well made large zippered case for storing the HM9's in with all the included accessories.
hm9_case1.jpg  hm9_case2.jpg
Unzipping the "Egg's" Velcro bottomed storage pouch reveals all the generous accessories that Brainwavz is known for. Inside you will find 3 cables, an airline adapter, warranty card and the shoulder strap for the case.
The three included cables are of a very nice quality with minimal mechanical noise when connected. The smartphone cable with the inline microphone is round, where the short 1.2m and 3m cables are flat. The only thing that I have issue with on these cables is that the headphone end has a custom TRS plug with a small shoulder. This shoulder snaps into the socket on the headphones to make sure the cable stays securely attached when plugged in. If anything were to happen to cause a cable to stop functioning, you would have to get a replacement from Brainwavz as a standard TRS removable headphone cable would not work.


The HM9's have an exceptionally high build quality that is mostly metal with thick sturdy plastic hinges and ear cups.
Aluminum yokes are made with metal sliders that have a definitive click for each position when adjusting their length. The earcups swivel up and down but not side to side. The HM9 can make a little bit of a clacking noise when taking them out of the case or when folding and unfolding them. Brainwavz has installed little rubber bumpers at the end of the yoke forks and at the top to lessen the noise these make when the cup swivels and hits the yoke. This clacking noise the first time your hear it makes the HM9's present as a cheaply manufactured product which they are not. A spring inside the cups to provide tension would have been a good solution to stop this noise. It is a very minor issue that I have with the HM9's and in no way does it affect the operation or sound of these headphones.
hm9_standing.jpg  hm9_folded.jpg
A very solid build, with headphones that have a hinge, I am always worried about that being the weak link in the chain as it is the thing that usually ends up breaking first. The hinge on the HM9's is quite thick and attached with a steel pins. I could not imagine them breaking even with the daily use of being thrown into a back pack with books, etc., instead of packed up back in their case. A heavy duty build does come at a cost though--the HM9's have a considerable bit of weight to them for a folding headphone.​
The attention to detail Brainwavz puts into their gear is quite impressive. I pulled one of the super thick, plush ear pads off to have a look at it and found out that they actually have a locking ring mechanism to hold the pads on.​
hm9_earpad_installed.jpg  hm9_earpad_ring.jpg
The ring fits inside of the lip on the back of the pad, you place the pad over the driver baffle and turn till the three little tabs lock in place. Which is a a nice feature for a headphone in this price range. It is too bad that Brainwavz does not offer a velour replacement pad, as pleather pads can get quite sweaty on warm days. If these had velours you could easily just pop them off and put them in a wash when required.
I was also impressed by the model number and driver size on a little plate attached to the baffle that you only see when the pads are taken off. Is there any other company that puts the same level of detail into a product of this price?

Performance and Sound

The Brainwavz HM9 are one of the most comfortable headphones I have worn in a while, considering their size and weight. The headband and ear pads are very thick, soft and plush. There is a light clamping force to the headband which does keep the HM9's in place during daily activities, I don't think they would stay on with a serious head banging session though... If you do have a large head the HM9's might bother the top of your ear/helix area after extended periods of use. This is due to the ear pads being halfway between Supra-aural and Circumaural in size. I didn't experience any of this during my testing or listening sessions but I understand how it could happen, as full sized pads would have brought the HM9's to an unsurpassed level of comfort.

Brainwavz HM9 Specifications

Drivers: Dynamic, 40mm
Rated Impedance: 40 Ω
Frequency Range: 10Hz - 24kHz
Sensitivity: 104 dB @ 1 mW
Max Input Power: 1000 mW
Detachable Cables: 1.2m & 3m Flat Cables
Detachable Cable: 1.2m Cables with Remote
Distortion: 0.3% @ 94dB
Channel balance: 2dB (@ 1000Hz)
Plug: 3.5mm Gold Plated
With a Sensitivity of 104dB @ 1mW these headphones are very easy to drive from just about any source you connect them to; an amplifier is not required to bring out the best in the HM9's. But if you do have an amplifier strapped onto your DAP like I always do, then the added feature of that amplifiers Bass Boost nicely kicks up the low end a notch or two for those that crave a little more Boom Boom.

Brainwavz HM9, Colorfly C3 and FiiO E11K​

The cable extensions are attached to the E11K as I usually have this setup in a case on my belt and FiiO decided the volume control should be on the opposite end of the I/O ports, which puts it at the bottom of the case.

Brainwavz HM9, FiiO X3 and E12​

Information on the X3's leather case can be found in my signature.
The sound from the HM9's is a perfectly mainstream oriented sound. This is a pair of headphones that any member of your family can just put on their head, plug into whichever device they have and hit play.​
The HM9's work with all genres of music, a really fun all around headphone that is very easy to listen to out of any device. There is a good quantity of Bass that is not boomy or muddy, these are not your typical Bass Head quantity headphones but they will respond to a little low end EQ quite nicely. The Mids are warm and very enjoyable, smooth clear vocals and guitar riffs that make you want to crank up the sound. The Treble is tuned just right in my opinion, I am really sensitive to harsh or bright headphones. Even though the treble might be a bit rolled-off for some, it still has a bit of sparkle to it and you will find no fatigue in listening to these for hours at a time. They have a great deal of musicality that is a step above most of the other consumer oriented headphones. And those headphones are available at a much higher cost.​


If you are looking for an excellent all round headphone for yourself, a family member or even a friend, and don't want to worry if they are going to like the look, fit or the sound, then don't hesitate to pick them up a pair of Brainwavz HM9's for a $120. ( price at the time of this writing.) You will not find a better sounding headphone that just about everyone will enjoy in this price range.
Thanks again to Brainwavz for creating another excellent personal audio product, and to Audrey for the sample used in this review.
Constructive criticism is always welcome,
Nice review :) I like the build quality just as much as the sound quality, it's just a great all around headphone that can go the long haul for sure. Calling these "built like a tank" is a pretty apt description :) Thanks for your impressions on them!


1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Stylish; Fairly Comfortable; Included Accessories; Enjoyable sound, though still not great; Most materials look and feel good, but...
Cons: Has stiff competition in this category and doesn't quite match up; Materials feel cheaper than they look; Cups don't swivel side-to-side
Disclaimer: I received the Brainwavz HM9 under the condition I would write a review for it. I set the purchase price at the current going rate on Amazon, which is roughly $120.
The Brainwavz HM9 was always a headphone I was curious to try, but my curiosity wasn't strong enough to warrant a purchase. Thanks to the review sample provided by Brainwavz, I was finally able to check them out! Sure, I always thought they looked stylish, but I had no idea how they would sound. Onto the review and analysis!
Looks, Presentation, Comfort, Build Quality, Misc.
I really like the look of the HM9. They're a bit more unwieldy on my head than I initially expected, but, eh, they look like fairly high quality and classy headphones with the black and silver scheme and overall design. I was surprised to find they're more on-ear headphones than over-ear. In fact, I can't get my ears in these at all! The cups and ear pads are smaller than I expected (the unwieldy aspect comes with how wide they are from cup to cup). Ah, well, no worries. The pads are quite plush, fairly comfortable, and still seal around the ears once you give the foam a few minutes to warm up and conform to your head and ears. The cushioning on the headband also seems plush enough to make these comfortable for a good while. They're not the most comfortable headphones ever, but they do well enough.
Going back to looks, I have to admit that the HM9 feels cheaper than it looks. The cups are clearly made of a thin plastic, and there is a bit of creaking in areas of the headband assembly. It feels sturdy enough, though, and I'm not worried about them breaking. And while the headphone does fold up, I wish the cups could swivel from side to side, as they are stuck sitting parallel to your head. This makes getting a good, comfortable fit a bit harder than I'd like.
I do like the accessories that came with the HM9. Removable cables are always a nice touch, and the HM9 comes with plenty of them! One cable even has an inline mic. The carrying case is nice and works well too! I'm always happy with the accessories Brainwavz includes with their products. It's a nice touch.
Based on the HM9 descriptions and some other impressions I had read, I expected a fairly warm and colored headphone. That turned out to be true (and then some), but I was still a bit underwhelmed with the HM9's overall sound quality. It's not that it isn't enjoyable, but it isn't very refined even for a colored headphone, and I know of at least one direct competitor with a similar sound signature that does better overall. Let me go into further details.
The first thing I noticed about the HM9 was the bass. There is lots of bass, and in particular lots of mid-bass. This gives the headphones a sort of thick, "wooly" quality that even bleeds into the midrange. In a sense, it's as though everything is going "woh" or "woof" even when it shouldn't be. I also thought the left channel had subjectively more bass than the right. My guess is it's caused by the single-entry cable in the left cup that is causing leakage and internal cup differences.
The midrange and treble seemed to be a bit better balanced than the bass, but some aspects were still off. Something in the low-to-mid treble was a bit rough sounding, whether it be some sort of peaky nature and/or extra resonance and ringing in that area. On the other hand, it sounded like the top bit of the treble was noticeably shelved, so the headphone sounded both rough, dark, and laid-back at the same time. And bassy.
Even with these issues and the bass clouding things up, you can still sometimes get a good sense of speed and detail. It depends on what you're listening to and listening for. There will be moments you are listening for something and are surprised by how well it comes through, and other times where you're listening for something and it doesn't manifest itself so well or at all. Interesting. I also found the soundstage to not be too bad and the sense of reverberation to be decent. This was surprising to me given the bass boost and treble veil in some areas, but I'll take it.
Aside from the boosted bass and rough treble area, there are still some promising signs. Bass can be a bit one-note sounding, but still has OK detail and never gets too boomy or rumbly. My guess is it has decent distortion and just a boosted bass response. The mids and some areas of the treble sound fairly detailed and clean, but they are easily clouded by the poor aspects on the headphone. Some genres do work better on this headphone than others due to its colored and rough characteristics.
In the end, I still found myself enjoying the sound of the HM9, but not so much that I could really recommend them. For the sound signature they were targeting, I think they went a bit too overboard in spots, and there are some rough aspects that make the HM9 sound much less refined than some similarly voiced headphones. For example, the Logitech UE6000 has a similar bass boost, but it is cleaner and better integrated with the rest of the spectrum. The mids and treble on the UE6000 are fairly balanced and clean as well. So, it's voiced in a similar way, but it just sounds so much more refined than the HM9. Given you can find that for less than $100, I find it difficult to consider the HM9 as a super viable purchasing option. (I have taken measurements of the UE6000 several months ago, but I will need to re-do them if I ever want to post them publicly. They did confirm what I hear subjectively.)
Frequency response measurements are not surprising. Large bass boost centered around 100Hz. At its peak, it is about 11dB higher than the 90dB point at 1KHz (left channel), which is where I calibrate my headphone on the left channel for measurements. Channel imbalances also match what I heard, but it's not too bad above the bass. Treble response is pretty rough and uneven overall. There's an emphasis around 3KHz, a peak around 7KHz, and a large treble recession around the 10KHz area. Even for a fun or colored headphone, much of this is fairly poor.
Harmonic distortion is generally fairly low relative to the frequency response. I do see some spots where it hits around 1% THD in the bass, and 3rd-order distortion starts to creep up a bit below 200Hz, but these results are not too bad overall.
CSD results are a bit skewed given how depressed the treble is relative to the bass. Still, it looks like the HM9 doesn't have too many resonance or ringing problems except for that ~7KHz peak area (don't worry so much below 1KHz). I've heard ringing that is more sustained over time than this on other headphones. Since this ringing spot decays before 3ms, you will hear some roughness and extra edge around that area, but it won't sound so much like it is continuously screeching at you at that point. (Pics are left and right channel, in that order.)
Raw measurements indicate a headphone that is fairly stable when it comes to bass performance, which is good given how these are basically on-ear headphones. Treble performance does show some variability with placement and fit, but nothing too wild. You might be able to find some positions on your ears that sound slightly better.
I like how the HM9 looks, and I like the accessories it comes with. It did feel cheaper in quality than I expected, but it doesn't feel like it will fall apart easily. I did find the sound enjoyable despite the issues I mentioned, but it still has too many rough patches and perhaps too exaggerated of a bass response for me to recommend it even if you are looking for a colored, bassy headphone. I don't hate or love it by any means, hence the middle of the road review score. The looks and accessories brought the score up a tiny notch. If you want a bass-heavy headphone around $100, the UE6000 will fit the bill with a much more balanced midrange and treble response (it comes with a carrying case and inline mic on the cable as well).
(I did try some damping mods on the HM9 and was able to get the bass response much lower, but the treble response is still quite uneven and difficult to improve. I thought they might have some modding potential, but I was left disappointed there. But, if you have an HM9 and are looking for some damping ideas on how to lower the bass response, feel free to PM me.)


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Looks, Design, Safe Tuning
Cons: Lacks Detail
First I would like to thank Salsera for sending me a HM9 for me to review. Having recently reviewed the rather interesting S5, I felt like I had a general idea which direction Brainwavz were heading in and upon listening to the HM9, I was met with exactly what I was expecting, but it did exceed my expectation a little on a whole. Brainwavz being one of the first brands I came across when I first joined Head-Fi a while back, has always been one of the brands that I have watched.
The HM9 is one headphone that I have kept my eye on from the time that it was first released. I remember saying to myself that it looked like a headphone that was going to compare with the likes of Beats headphones. Definitely don’t dismiss them because of this, because I can guarantee you that they sound much better than the Solos lol. Having heard the entire Beats lineup, I can say with confidence the HM9 smashes the Solo, Studio and is around the same level as the Pro.
In case you haven’t read any of the S5 review floating around, I will sum them up for you – they are a V-shaped, warm IEM that sounds rather good for its $100 price tag. Whereas the B2 was aimed at the Head-Fi community, the S5 and HM9 seems to be targeted towards a more mainstream audience and the sound definitely reflects this. However, it doesn’t mean that a product cannot be both successful to both “audiophiles” and the general public and IMO the S5 did very well there. Now, let’s move on to see how the HM9 did.
**Disclaimer** I was given the HM9s in exchange for an unbiased review.
Unboxing & Accessories
To be quite honest, the Brainwavz HM9 is perhaps the most simply packaged product in the >$100 range I have come across. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however. From the Brainwavz products that I have come across, their packaging is usually minimal and I suspect this is to cut costs so the end consumer will not have to pay as much, which is, IMO, a great idea. Anyway, it simply comes in a box and inside is the case and nothing else. Once you take out the case you are left with an empty box. The box itself is rather attractive and provides you with some information on the HM9.

Inside the case though, Brainwavz certainly doesn’t skimp on accessories. It comes with 3 cables, 2 of which are flat. The flat cables are 1.2 and 3 metres for portable and home use I suspect. The third cable is a regular circular cable that has a mic. That is the cable that I use; I am not a fan of flat cables but I can definitely see the appeal. They do not tangle as easily. They also come with an airplane adapter and a string for you to attach to your bag or something. There is no ¼ adapter, which is a little odd. The case is awesome, very solid and looks great and is very simple to use. On the accessories front, Brainwavz has certainly done very well.
Design, Isolation & Cable
The thing that hit me when I saw the HM9 was that it looks wonderful. I really love the colour scheme that Brainwavz chose. The silver and matte black go incredibly well together. I also love the fact that Brainwavz decided to make much of the headphone metal. The silver section is metal and feels incredibly sturdy and the headband is also reinforced with metal. Basically the entire frame has some metal in all the parts and I feel very confident that it will hold up over time. Now, the HM9 may seem like an over-ear headphone, but it isn’t. I have rather small ears and the pads lay on my ears and definitely not over them. The pads, however, are very soft and plush and the HM9 is the most comfortable on-ear headphone I have tried. The headphone itself is rather small though and I can see some people with larger heads maybe finding these too small. The only thing I wished Brainwavz had done was make the folding section harder to move or click into place. It moves very easily and often when I don’t intend it to and gets a little annoying sometimes. When it is on your head it is no problem obviously.

The HM9 has some decent isolation, but it doesn’t clam as much as some other on ear headphones such as the HD25 or the DT1350 so it doesn’t isolate as well. It doesn’t hurt your ears like the HD25 or DT1350 after a long period of time though. They should be fine for normal use on a street or something along those lines, but it you plan to use them on a busy train then these might not be the best.
The cables that these come with are all very good quality and I love how they decided to include three cables instead of just one or two. The mic cable is especially nice, being very flexible and just the right size for portable use. The strain reliefs on both ends are very well crafted. The flat cables are great too, but like I mentioned before, I do not like flat cables. Including a 1.2m and a 3m cable is a nice thought though.
Testing Gear
I usually put the items I review with higher end sources and while I could connect my HM9 to my NAD M51 and Violectric V200, I really doubt that people who buy this are going to be using it on that kind of equipment. I did try it on a lot of portable players and it did scale a little, but not enough to justify getting another source for them. If you have a Clip+, these pair rather well together. Just with my Nexus 5, these sounded great too. The Kogan player was probably the sweet spot and I heard some extra detail and separation that just wasn’t there with the Nexus 5. For this reason, I am going to be using the HM9 on the Kogan player for the sound section of the review. In case you are wondering, the Kogan player only costs $29 so it isn’t expensive.

Sound Quality
Like I mentioned before, Brainwavz sound signature of the S5 is tuned for a more consumer friendly sound but it was still very nice to listen to and rather strong technically. I was really expecting Brainwavz S5 sound on then HM9, but I was rather wrong. This is tuned to be a very safe, inoffensive headphone. You cannot possibly listen to it and say that you hate it, but at the same time it doesn’t blow you away when you first listen to it. For me, this a much more mainstream headphone than their HM5.

Coming from the HD800, many headphones seem bass heavy and the HM9 is definitely bass heavy. However, before these got to me, I had previously read a little about these and to be honest, I was really expecting these to have more bass than they did. The bass is not one that hits hard, but is one that is slow and rumbly. I have never really heard something quite like it and it is a rather interesting change. I’m not really sure whether I like it, but it is not as fatiguing as many other bass heavy headphones, I can tell you that. The bass texture is rather nice, especially in the sub-bass. I kind of just wished that it had a little more punch in the mid-bass, but the bass never seems bloated and is generally rather fast. Just to give you guys more of an idea of the mid-bass, it is definitely more than the HM5, but not up to where the S5 is. Perhaps I’m just nit-picking, but I do wish these just had a little more mid-bass.

I was actually almost expecting the midrange to be dark, but I found that the midrange was anything but dark. In fact, I wouldn’t even call them warm. I feel like there is a slight upper midrange spike there that makes vocals sound very clear. The midrange on a whole, however, is still on the warmer side of neutral, but I would not call it dark or veiled. Many headphones can sound terrible because they just can’t get vocals right and the HM9 gets it almost perfect for me. Instruments sound a little laid back and are a little warm. Pianos are a little off tune and sound a bit dark almost. However, for most mainstream music that these are probably going to be used for I did not find that these had any issues. I feel like this makes the HM9s not as detailed as they can be. When EQed, these have such potential and sound amazing.

By now you would have probably guessed that the treble is somewhat on then relaxed side and you’d be right. From what I hear, Brainwavz seems to want to make the treble as safe as they could without making it boring and dark. Well they have certainly achieved their goal here. By no means is the treble dark of veiled, but it is definitely on the warm side. The positive side is that it is actually quite detailed and has no sibilance whatsoever. Even people with sensitive ears should not be complaining about the HM9’s treble. Cymbals have just enough sparkle to make them no sound bland, but I really wished that they had made the treble on a whole brighter to achieve a more exciting and engaging sound. Overall the HM9 does not do badly here, but it will not stun anyone either. A very safe and relaxing treble.

Soundstage & Imaging
If you are looking for a portable headphone, they aren’t known for having huge soundstages and the HM9 is no different. It is, however, one of the best in this area for the price. The soundstage is rather impressive for a portable closed headphone. From memory, these do better than the HD25 and the DT1350, both of which are spoken very highly of. The plush and large pads possibly make a contribution to this. It is quite wide and high, but surprisingly, deep as well.

Imaging is, likewise, impressive. For a closed headphone of any kind, the imaging is rather good. Headphones such as the Denon AH-D5000 are better, but not in a way that I feel that the HM9 is lacking. Most instruments are very easy to pin-point, but obviously you can’t expect these to be like a HD800. Being closed as costing $150, these have some of the best imaging I have heard in its price range.
Details, Clarity & Separation
The HM9 is not a very detailed headphone and that has a lot to do with its tuning and not the driver. The drivers are completely capable of putting out a fair bit of detail, but the warm presentation is really restraining it. The warm treble especially dulls the entire presentation just a little and the little details sometimes seem lost and covered by its warmth.

The clarity of the vocals is one area that I am impressed in. They sound very clear and well articulated. Although the entire midrange is warmth, the upper mid spike helps the vocals a little and makes them very enjoyable to listen to. However, the same cannot be said to the rest of the sound. It sounds rather slow and at times even a bit smeared. These do not excel here at all.
Ah, the separation is something that I can praise here. It is rather good and very rarely does it struggle a lot with a track. It handles mainstream music especially well. On a lot of those popular top 40 songs, these did not have any problems with separation and very extremely clean. They started having a little bit of problems on the more complex passages on other songs though. The HM9 does very well in this area, especially for its price.

After reading through this review, I do feel like I have been a bit harsh on the HM9 and it seems like I don’t like it. Well as it turns out I really do like it. Even though it is not a great performer technically, when you actually listen to it, it sounds very relaxing and you can really enjoy the music and not analyse it at all. Most people who buy this will be people who just want a good pair of headphones rather than Head-Fiers and I highly recommend these for anyone who just wants to have a wonderful looking portable headphone that sounds good. After all, how many headphones are as stylish as the HM9 and sound as good? The HM9 will be my daily portable headphone for a while I suspect. 
A Lot of the photos are not mine and if anyone who owns them wants me to take them down I will gladly do so. 
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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Comfort, Build, Accessories, Design, Value, Pricing
Cons: Possibly a little heavy at first / slight mid-bass bleed
Brainwavz HM9 is a portable / foldable, super comfortable headphone priced at $150 USD ($119 at the time of writing on Amazon) that surely grabs attention including mine, with it's stylish almost futuristic appearance and 40mm drivers Its sure to please anyone out there looking to purchase something modern, up to date and different from the mainstream crowd. Let me start off by saying I've had an absolute ball reviewing this headphone it's been a real joy to use such is the case with every Brainwavz product I've tried to date. They make to impress, price sensibly and give it their all for the consumer..I'd like to thank Brainwavz and Audrey for the review sample.

Brainwavz Website:

Brainwavz HM9:


Design / Build:

If there's one thing giving HM9 a solid appearance it's the high grade light weight aluminum build quality as you can see the headphone arms are very secure, strong and ready to take a beating, it does come close to 'tank status' all over from  cups to the headband even down to those folding hinges. I've no problem throwing the headphone around in my bag without using the case. The down side to this however is the headphone needs to put all that metal somewhere and comes in at 345 grams.

Moving onto the pads those familiar with Sony's original XB series may see some resemblance here, HM9's pads are thick cushy and oh oh so comfortable, the saying "wearing pillows on my head" couldn't be more true, this also applies with its headband padding. All in all despite being a little on the heavy side the comfort levels are extremely high those thick soft pads on the cups and headband almost work like shock absorbers. It's simply a wonderful well thought out headphone to wear and looks really really cool! I don't know why but in person the headphone actually resembles something almost "Alien', that's just how I feel about it.





Like all Brainwazs products the package comes with an assortment of accessories, here's what you get:

1.2 meter flat cable (good for outdoor / portable use)
3 meter flat cable (for home amps or studio environments)
1.2 meter cable (with mic and controls for smartphones)
Hard storage case 
Airplane adapter
Storage case Strap (for attaching to the case)
Zip Velcro pocket (for placing inside the case / cable storage)

During my time with HM9 I used the detachable 1.2 meter non mic cable. I feel it does everything I need while not getting in the way, from listening at the computer to on the go 1.2 meters seems the perfect length for placing any MP3 player in my pocket. Each cable clicks in firmly tightly and secure to the left ear cup which I highly doubt will be coming out if unrequested. As you can see these cables have adopted a flat design so tangling and knotting is taken down to a minimum, they're also quite light weight.

Moving onto the hard capsule like storage case it's overly sturdy and could take a good throw around, there is even a little Velcro pocket included for storing your cables which can be stuck anywhere you please inside the case, I really think that's a great idea as you can tell some thought went into the overall package. Another thing I'm impressed with is not needing to detach your cable every time you want to store HM9, it just folds up neatly no problems and pops into the case with cable attached. No fuss simple, pick a cable and stick with it. Other headphones I own like Shure SRH940  you must remove the cable before it fits inside the storage case, I really don't see a point putting wear and tear on the cable entry just for a quick storage procedure and taking up more time, it could mean missing the bus! Good thinking to Brainwavz again!

Also included is an airplane adapter, and a nifty shoulder strap which connects to the storage case, I think this is a great idea as the case can be a little awkward to pick up / hold in one hand, with the added strap it just slides over the shoulder and you be in your way, I also think the capsule like storage case looks absolutely great in person, and when worn over ones shoulder has a certain designer / clothing appeal of it's own, gives a real appeal to the entire package too. When you add the headphones appearance, case and accessories everything combined makes me think "the future". HM9's total package really does have that appeal on me and maybe you too!






Comfort / isolation:

You may of read me mention in the introduction HM9 has excellent comfort levels, well I can't express anymore just how likable HM9 is to wear. the padded cushions are super super soft and extremely cushy, when placing the headphone on your head they simply wrap around your ears like an air pillow or sponge. Which brings me to one concern I was unable to test, there is a possibility in summer these overly thick pads may cause sweat and heat build up, being Winter in Australia I was unable to test for this issue. Though again when you wear HM9 it just feels really fun, cool and I just love the headphone for this aspect, the appeal to mainstream / fashion buyers is very high in this regard.

I think another thing that counts here is we've made quite clear HM9 is a very comfortable headphone and this all comes into play for the long term, I could wear it for many hours without any problems, I might need to just release the cups or readjust them on my ears occasionally though long term wearing was quite righteous. There's just something about this headphone that makes you keep reaching to wear them over and over again.

Due to the thick pads isolation is above average, I've no problems blocking out enough ambient noise around me whether in the house or walking down the road while traffic passes, of course you can still hear what's going on around you, though you may need to remove the headphone to have a conversation. All in all isolation is more than satisfactory. Almost every base is covered with HM9's design for on the go or home use.

Sound Quality:

After running several sources with HM9 I came to the conclusion it paired rather well with both my iPod touch 4G and iPod Video.

For the most of this sound impression will be based on an iPod Touch 4G running 256 AAC files (set flat no EQ)


Drivers : Dynamic 40mm

Rated Impedance: 40ohms

Frequency Range: 10Hz - 24Khz

Sensitivity : 104 db @ 1 mW

Max input Power: 1000 mW

Distortion: <=0.3% @ 94 db

Channel balance: =< 2db (@ 1000Hz) 



Being focused towards mainstream crowds (well I assume so) HM9's low end is indeed quite forward, there's a good chunk of sub-bass and mid-bass accompanying the presentation at most times, those who like their sub-bass rumble and well textured low ends will be pleased, I would lean to say while HM9's bass doesn't reach 'extreme' bass-head it certainly would classify as a bass-head headphone for my standards. the good side is while the bass is fairly prominent it does have good clarity and detail. The downside to this however is bass bleed can be a little obvious into the mid-range depending on volume levels, also  the headphone is dependent on your genres used. I think anyone looking to play acoustic music with HM9 it's simply not the right headphone for the job, however those who like their rap music, EDM and dub-step look no further at the bass emphasis.

As I've said I don't know for sure where Brainwavz were going with HM9 though it appears a good competitor for anyone looking at a beats alternative, so with that in mind the bassy signature will please mainstream consumers that come with it.  If I was going to call the low end out and spot a fault for my preferences there's a little too much mid-bass at times, with the thick deep pads of HM9 it can get a little boomy though again overall the low end is quite pleasing especially for those who enjoy some bass thump!


Moving onto the mids HM9 is basically tuned to down to be warm, smooth and forgiving, whilst it isn't the most detailed headphone I've heard at $150 it certainly does a good job of being non fatiguing in it's mid-range, a real plus side for those who like listening for hours, overall the mid-range may sound veiled to some on first listen though a 10 minute adjustment period will allow you to hear what it's trying to achieve and  absorb the ambiance and atmosphere this headphone is about at heart. A smooth, warm and to some extent relaxing presentation (minus the bass). Detail levels between the lower and upper-mids are rather balanced so you get a grasp at all mid frequency ranges, remembering the bass we spoke about is always there quite obviously forward over the mid-range most of the time but this also adds to the atmosphere and presentation.

If I was going to be picky I think not as much warmth would better for my preferences, I can understand why the headphone is tuned down to protect against fatigue and long term listening though lifting the veil just a fraction would make the headphone much clearer / cleaner allowing some of that restricted detail to come through. I think for a headphone focused towards a certain crowd it's fine, but be a little daring Brainwavz, lift the veil and show some more clarity allowing those 40mm drivers to show what they can really do.

When we talk about timbre and clarity HM9 is quite natural, but very cosy sounding, I quite enjoy the headphones while laying down with ambient tracks and giving my preference of analytical and bright balanced armatures based IEM's a rest. I can totally grasp where the headphone is coming from being warm and cosy around the mid-range.


As you could probably guess the highs are tuned down to be relaxed, they're a little behind the bass and mid-range in a safe manner though always present enough to give the presentation full appeal. Extension is about average but the detail and clarity is quite obvious so it gives the high end a sufficient amount of sparkle and air upstairs. For those looking at sticking to the 'safe side' treble is right on the money though not too absent to cause an issue for those who like their treble. When tuning a headphone I imagine the hardest part is getting the treble correct as it's quite a sensitive area with a mass of varying tolerance levels. What HM9's highs do is hit a sweet spot of safety and presence (not an easy task)

For me, who does admit being a little treble head I could use some more up stairs, increase the amount of air around the stage.

Soundstage / imaging:

Due to the deep pads there's a sufficient amount of soundstage width present, it's not going to sound overly out of the head though you get a good grasp of the left / right / center channels working in conjunction with one another, the width for a headphone of this design is more than adequate, keep in mind  I also push in saying soundstage width is often more so dependent on your source than the headphone, they must work together. For a closed design the stage does quite well especially in regards to depth on the center channel. Of course more width is usually the better scenario in most cases but sure, HM9 pleases without being over the top or too extreme.

Not closed in not miles apart, a satisfactory amount of staging.


With the likes of HM9 as a complete package I think Brainwavz hit the nail on the head in regards to comfort, design, outdoor appeal, I can tell you I would happily wear this headphone over any beats or celebrity consumer headphone in an instant, there's something about HM9 that just screams a "super appealing" piece of gear to me. as I've said in the flesh it almost has an Alien like styling which just sits with me so well. When you add the comfort levels on top it just becomes an awesome deal for anyone looking to be different in the outside world. The build is top notch at the cost of a little weight, but those soft soft pads on the cups and headband make up for it over and over again. I always reach for it just to enjoy them for this aspect.

As for the sound, I can understand where Brainwavz were going though to please a wider audience lifting some of the veil on their next product would be a welcome improvement for me. In a world of Head-fi and portable audio many of us are searching for detail, clarity and a vivid presentation, even if it means at the cost of early fatigue, I think they could have met that requirement half way by just lifting that mid-range a touch and lessening the mid-bass. Let's show the mainstream crowd a different signature and be daring, but in saying that I can totally understand where HM9 goes with it's smooth warm tone overall.

Once again, thanks to Brainwavz and Audrey for the sample, I absolutely love the headphone, it's my daily portable for months to come.


Absolutely superb as usual mate, very well written and enjoyable to read...
now i want to try them


Panda Man
Reviewer at Headphone.Guru
The Brainwavz HM9 is stylish, sleek, and intimidating. Can those three words even fit together? Notwithstanding this weird combination that embodies the HM9 – and believe me, it fits quite well – it is still passable as fashionable. At $130, the HM9 has some unique features in store. Read on to find out more!
Unit Build:
The only term I can think of to describe the HM9 would be ‘tank’. I’m not talking about the main-battle-tanks(MBT) of today, but of a tank somewhere off into the future. The HM9 is surrounded by metal and hard plastic. The side arms are raw and strong in that it’s flat, before bending into a much more ‘soft’ shape; just like the frontal armor of an Abrams. There isn’t any free-play or twisting in the metal – although the side arms is actually composed of two metal pieces – it is undoubtedly there to stay. This holds true for the headband and driver housing as well. These two sections are hard plastic bolstered to the edges of durability with intertwined metal. That’s not to say that the headband won’t snap, or that the driver housing won’t crack. The metal fortification however does help with day-to-day abuse and I can personally attest to this. The HM9 was shoved into backpacks and tight spaces through my everyday usage and testing; it has held up incredibly with no permanent scuffs or damage yet.
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