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Brainwavz R3 Revised Edition

Brainwavz R3 Revised Edition

Rating:
3.80556/5,
  • Brainwavz R3 Revised Edition

Recent Reviews

  1. NymPHONOmaniac
    Sturdy Dual Dynamic earphones with Extra wide Soundstage and energic sound
    Written by NymPHONOmaniac
    Published Mar 29, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Over average wide soundstage, good instruments separation, detailed punchy energic sound
    Cons - Kind of big and complicated to keep in place, sound isn't the most transparent, eartips change drastically the sound
    The Brainwaz R3 are my second pair of dual dymamic earphones and when I bought them I have very high expectations. This gigantic earphones doesn't deceive me and i'm glad to have them in my ever growing IEM collection.
     
    First thing to know with this earphones is that the sealing is EXTREMELY important to taste their full capabilities, in all the tips that are included the memory foam was the only one to work perfectly with the sealing, other one was falling or making the sound distant and without bass impact.
     
    Once you seal them properly your are gratified with a very addictive sound that can be described as wide, detailed, energic and gently V shaped. The bass is punchy and well extended but not over emphased, the mids are neutral and warm and the treble is smooth but present. The more impressive particularity about the R3 is the immense soundstage and above average instruments separation, it make the sound flow around your head instead of feeling stock inside of it. This can be very enjoyable for feeling the complexity of musical composition as well as imaging stereo sound.
    Right now i'm listening 96-24bit Vulnicura by Bjork and it sound fantastic with the Brainwavz R3, the complexe instrumentation never interfer with the voice of bjork and texture are rendered fluidly, sub bass is present and mid bass is enough punchy to create a very energic whole, I can easily pick any details of the track and none of them feel congested or distorted, this album is a real treat with the R3!
     
    For sure, some basshead will not find enough bass in this earphones, still, as an ancient owner of the Shure se430, I can say that the R3 are among the best dual earphones in their price range, compared with the Shure se430, they sound a little more warm and less analytical but I find them more fun sounding and less congested when it come to soundstage.
     
    The construction is top notch and look like a tank, they are as big and subtle as a thank too tough, but for their size they are very confortable with the right tips (foam!).
    The cable are big too and can be complicate to wear properly around the ear. As with most Brainwavz product, their alot of useful accesories that came with it too.
     
    All in all, I'm really impress by the Brainwavz R3 and their good performance with all type of music I listen with them.
  2. Wokei
    Funky Milk Botle with Smoothie Goodness
    Written by Wokei
    Published Mar 7, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Balanced ...Smooth ...Easy to Like Sound Signature...Generous Accessories
    Cons - Super Thick Cable & Fit Issue
    IMG_20150121_120842-2-1.jpg

    IMG_20150121_120545-1-1.jpg

    IMG_20150121_140213-1-1.jpg

    IMG_20150121_140255-1-1.jpg

    IMG_20150121_140556-1-1.jpg


    Packaging & Accessories
     
    The R3’s box packaging comes with clear plastic window that showcase the IEM and its cable. Kudos to Brainwavz for the generous accessories where you will find :-
    - 1 x Comply T500 tips
    - 6 Single-flange silicone tips (3 pairs gray & black)
    - 1 x Single pair of bi-flange & Triple-flange tips
    - 1 x ¼ inch adapter
    - 1 x Hard Zip-Case(excellent and imho ...one of the best case)
    - 1-year warranty card
     
    Build & Design
     
    The Brainwavz R3 VII is a dual dynamic barrel shaped with each driver from each end shooting into the 90 degree angle nozzle that is situated in the center of the barrel. Imho this has to be one of the funkiest design for an IEM. The material used are aliminium and very light weight considering the size of these baby.The design of this IEM are meant to be over ear design but for me ....rather wear them down because the cable can't seem to stay secure for me ..ymmv. The cables are exceptionally "super thick" from the Y-split down to 3.5mm 45 degree jack cable with good strain relief.
    The cable from the Y-split up comes with cable cinch is slightly thinner but imho still thick and retain some memory kink though the quality is good .... my question is why the THICK cable ?
    The design of R3 is by far one most funkiest design in the market ....dare to be different and somehow the design do work in term of sound for me.
     
    Comfort & Fit
     
    Fit issue could be a problem for some users as the barrel are huge as well as the nozzle tip and over-ear design. Initially could not get a good fit and keep falling out until some tip rolling and finally settled with JVC Spiral Dots. The cable cinch is good as they keep the microphonic noise to a minimum level but the downfall is the thick and heavy cable is quite troublesome for on the go use ...also tried many times over the ear but the cable does not seem to want to stay put because of the sheer size n weight . But the worst part is the cable that is simply too thick and heavy for an IEM. Personally they are more suitable for home use ...ymmv.         
     
    Sound
     
    Equipment Used --- Fiio X5 and FLAC and high bit-rate MP3 files. The R3’s were also burned-in over 100hrs before review.
     
    Bass
    Very controlled, accurate and not over powering. The low fequency has fairly good extension with sub bass with the right amount of rumble to match with the overall sound. Also liking very much the texture and not too thin or thick sounding.
    Guess what I'm saying ...bass is not bloated though for fast paced music ..prat(bit slow) might not be its strong quality but the word "smooth" does come to mind ....laid back but still punchy and musical to match the overall sound of R3. Basshead need not apply here.
     
    Mids
    The shining star of R3 imho .....slightly mid forward but "smooth" and  really good for long listening session. The words that comes to mind are creamy and lush especially the vocal ie. not "in your face" and not fatiguing though the details retrieval and clarity do lack a bit.
     
    Treble
    Highs extends decently and very polite with right amount of crispness that will really appeal to people who are sensitive to sibbilant or sharp peaky treble. Overall the presentation is "smooth" with decent clarity and retrieval which goes well with even the most aggresive music or recording. Though for my taste ..the clarity could be better which to me makes the treble sounds a bit dull and lack the sparkle in overall sound.
        
     
    Summary

    Very easy to like .....balanced sound across the spectrum ....the bass, mid and treble don't stand out or over shadow but the cohesion of it all ......very smooth sound which will appeal to someone that is looking for all rounder IEM for variety of music genre. No pictures are in this review cuz for the life of me ....no skills in that department and previous review have ample photos to showcase this milk bottle.
    FYI....these R3 are bought and not given as free sample in exchange for my honest review.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Tom22
      @Wokei great review! i feel the exact same way! the r3s would easily survive a trip to the gym (those cables are tough!). it would probably work for lifting weights but will fall out when i do any sort of vigorous movement. I did think the bass was just a shade slow, but its smooth without sounding overly warm or bloated down there! 
      Tom22, Mar 8, 2015
    3. Wokei
      @twister6 and @Tom22 ...Thanks my friends...probably will snap some pics and update the review with pairing with amplifier later...Cheers
      Wokei, Mar 8, 2015
    4. Hisoundfi
      Nice review brother! The force is strong in this one...
      Hisoundfi, Mar 8, 2015
  3. peter123
    Magic mids and interesting design
    Written by peter123
    Published Jan 5, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Fantastic midrange, great built, lots of accessories
    Cons - Not for all kind of music, design not for everybody
    First of all I'd like to thank Brainwavz and Audrey for giving me a chance to check out the Brainwavz R3 IEM.
     
    The specs:
    Transducers/Drivers: Dual Dynamic, 10mm 
    Crossover: Passive 
    Rated Impedance: 32ohms 
    Sensitivity: 95dB at 1mW 
    Frequency range: 20Hz ~ 20KHz 
    Maximum input power: 2mW 
    Cable length: 1.4m, Y cord, OFC Copper. 
    Plug: 3.5mm gold plated, 45 degree. 
     
     
    Built and accessories:
    I’ve now reviewed and used quite a few of Brainwavz offerings and I’m spoiled with them having great built and accessories, the Brainwavz R3 are no exception. The accessory pack is very good with many tips and a great zippered case to store them when not in use.
     
    The retail package is also great as usual.
     
    IMG_1871.jpg
     
    IMG_1873.jpg
     
    IMG_1874.jpg
     
     
    Probably the most special about the R3’s is the design, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever tried or even seen before. Despite the design being unusual I find them to be very comfortable to wear. The aluminum housings also feel very well done and they really seem built like a tank. I also like the massive cable and y-slit and the R3’s as a total feel very well built and should hold up for a long time.
     
    IMG_2038.jpg
     
    IMG_2040.jpg
     
    IMG_2042.jpg
     
     
    The R3 is a bit more hard to drive than your average IEM but works fine out of portable devices although it scales very nicely with better sources (more so than the S0 and S5 that I’ve recently reviewed).
     
    I've let them play for over 100 hours and I've not found any weaknesses to the way they're constructed. I've been using them with my HTC One M7 phone, FiiO X3 dap and with my Geek Out720 playing music from my computer.
     
    Sound:
    For this review I've used them paired with my FiiO X3 feeding a Cayin C5 amp.
     
    IMG_2039.jpg
     
    The tips used for the review was a pair of medium sized JVC spiral dots. I've used these tips because I found them to present the sound from the R3's most to my liking among all the ones I've tried with them. As a matter of fact I was almost finished with this review when I tried the spiral dot on the R3 and the positive effect they had on the sound forced me to do some changes to it.
     
    To make the spiral dots fit properly I added an small rubberband on each stem so that the tips doesn't go too far down on the stem:
     
    IMG_2043.jpg
     
    The sound signature of the R3 is mid centric, warm, full and a bit laid back. The soundstage is above average in both width and depth. The highs are smooth without any sibilance. I could have wished for some more extension in the highs but with the spiral dot tips it’s really not much missing. The bass is well controlled with very little bleed into the midrange. The quality of the sub bass is also good although I wish that the deepest bass would have a bit more impact. With the right tips and a good seal it’s not much missing though and these are by no means bass light IEM’s. The midrange is the star on the R3’s, it makes me think of my modded Fostex T50RP’s with its full, warm and smooth nature. Voice reproduction is very good on both female and male voices and clarity is also good. Separation is only average and with music where there’s much going on things tend to get a bit unfocused and mixed up.
     
    Summary:
    The Brainwavz R3 is really good with some music but not so good with other. If you enjoy a mid centric sound and listen to  music like Sade, Annie Lennox, Lorde, Ben Howard, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Chohen (you get the picture) the R3’s are an excellent choice. If you listen to modern pop music, metal and alternative rock you might want to consider other alternatives.
     
    I happen to enoy a lot of the music with which the R3 works very well so for me this is an excellent IEM that I’ve got no problem recommending it to my friends with the same taste in music.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. peter123
      Thank you @Tom22! Yes I really like these and with the right kind of music I would rank them at least half a star higher. I'm sorry to hear that you've got fit issues with them. I'd guess with this kind of design there will always be people it doesn't fit well for.....
      peter123, Jan 6, 2015
    3. BGRoberts
      Nice review.  Thanks!
      I like the R3's myself.  Just not crazy about the cord.
      BGRoberts, Jan 7, 2015
    4. peter123
      Thank you @BGRoberts! I'm honestly not bothered much buy the cord and I prefer a solid one to one that feels fragile. That being said everything can be improved and the middle way is often the best :wink:
      peter123, Jan 7, 2015
  4. vaziyetu
    ExperiMentally Challenged
    Written by vaziyetu
    Published Dec 31, 2014
    1.0/5,
    Pros - Lifelike treble, oh yeah. But ostry kc06a still has more treble detail & seperation so it's not that good.
    Cons - No bass. Acoustics aren't bad but do not offer much too.
    this one made me feel very sorry for giving ostry kc06a two stars. i'm really sorry if i hurt ostry's feelings with calling them bassweak. you can rediscover some of your treble activated songs with r3. but that songs must contain parts that really includes a lot of treble attacks. otherwise you're going to get an ordinary sound. and hey, this is nothing like R1, except the amplifier requirement. 
     
    despite it's slightly more lifelike treble, it's overall treble performance still not aggressive/seperated enough to compete with Ostry KC06A. which means you can't hear the highs when other frequencies are stronger. i'll going to spend this kind of money and i'll get this ? no thanks. if you want to see something with interesting treble performance, you can give it a try but be ready to return it because it does not represents it's price level. i already returned to mp4nation and get my refund. i can only advice anyone to do that.
     
    by the way, i wonder why there writes "BASS" on yourbrainwavz.com ??? and why there writes "Performance Bass Transducer" on the package ? if you ask me, it's more like "Absolute No Bass Transducer" or "Zero Bass For Sure Transducer".
     
    visit my table for further comparisons and informations
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Gandasaputra
      But hey i'm curious bout the Koss ruk30 and i'm all into wide deep soundstage. Will get that one day.
      Gandasaputra, Jan 1, 2015
    3. daveyostrow
      I'm totally with you, many reviews are misleading precisely because everyone has their own taste of what is too much and too little. I too was not impressed with the pistons, they were just ok. I and others appreciate the contributions on headfi, but the reason you are getting some slack here is because a one star rating is just too harsh (not the review)... your ratings are more of a pass fail system.
       
      This is why i think it is very important to make comparisons (as you did) so people have some reference with others they may have experienced. The most objective reviewer, with many reviews under his belt, is ljokerl (who btw, gave the pistons a decent review): http://www.head-fi.org/t/478568/multi-iem-review-330-iems-compared-rock-jaw-alfa-genus-added-12-25-14-p-1021
      daveyostrow, Jan 1, 2015
    4. daveyostrow
      in other news, i would recommend the monster gratitudes. They are one of the best all arounders in my opinion. used they can be had for under $40, and they outclass most earphones i have heard in presentation and bass depth.
      daveyostrow, Jan 2, 2015
  5. DigitalFreak
    Review Brainwavz R3 ver 2
    Written by DigitalFreak
    Published Dec 1, 2014
    4.0/5,
    Pros - smooth, well balanced, rather funky looking design, great depth in the soundstage, accurate bass
    Cons - may cause fit issues for some people
    video review below
     
    [​IMG]
      TrollDragon likes this.
  6. HK_sends
    One more revision would do it...
    Written by HK_sends
    Published Nov 30, 2014
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Balanced sound; Extra-long memory wire gone; Reduced microphonics; Rugged driver housings
    Cons - No memory wire; No over-ear bracket; Hard to keep seated; Grey cable a bit stiff
    Disclaimer:  I would like to sincerely thank Salsera and Brainwavz for providing the sample R3 version 2.0 (R3v2) for this review.
     
    For most of my audio listening “career”, I was never a big fan of in-ear-monitors (IEMs) or earphone/earbuds, tending to prefer more traditionally designed portable and full sized headphones.  The major issues I had were trying to find the right positioning, fit, and seal to obtain the optimal sound quality.  I could never seem to find the right position for the housings to stay in so the tips could stay sealed so the music could sound good so I resigned myself to sticking to headphones.
     
    Then a while back I received a set of Brainwavz R3 earphones as a gift when I ordered an iBasso DX50.  Their design was a bit unconventional but I found them to be an enjoyable introduction to the newer styles and design philosophies of modern IEMs.  I managed to get them to fit in my ears without them wanting to fall out.  They came with more ear tips (of multiple designs and materials) than I had ever seen including some that actually fit!  Finally, along with the fit and seal came a sound was head and shoulders above what I experience before...approaching the level of quality headphones.  It was enough to open my eyes to the potential sound quality of in-ear phones being made today.
     
    The one thing the original R3s had that the other IEMs (I saw) didn’t have was memory wire.  It was mentioned on the forums but I had never seen it, not knowing what it was or what it could do for me.  When I got the original R3s, I noticed the driver housings were attached to a long stiff but formable wire that I could bend over and around my ears.  It kept its shape and allowed me to “lock” the driver housings into my ears, maintaining a good solid seal and allowing me to hear the music at its best.  The only downside was there was about six inches of it that stuck out, inflexible, below the ears like the guy from Episode I of a certain famous movie franchise that I dare not mention (for copyright’s sake) lest I start a war amongst the stars.[​IMG]  It was annoyingly long; if I brushed the wire, it could unseat the housings from my ears.  It was also pretty microphonic.  Most of the reviews of the R3 at the time seemed to agree the length of the memory wire was too long and just needed to be shortened (or removed) to significantly improve the product.  I was in the "shorten it" category.
     
    A few weeks ago, Salsera contacted me on Head-Fi and asked me if I would be willing to evaluate version 2 of the R3s.  Since I had (unfortunately I’ve passed them on) once owned the originals I was happy to see what (if any) improvements were made in the new version.
     
    Here we have the box looking (if I remember correctly) pretty much the same as the original:
    2014-11-08R3_00001.jpg 2014-11-08R3_00002.jpg 2014-11-08R3_00003.jpg
     
    It comes with the (standard?) little carrying case and accessories including a 1/4" adapter and a selection of ear tips to include Comply Foam tips.
    2014-11-08R3_00004.jpg 2014-11-08R3_00005.jpg 2014-11-08R3_00007.jpg
     
    Here we see the most obvious difference between the original and version 2…version two has a much shorter, black wire connecting the housings with the gray rubberized cable.
    2014-11-08R3_00008.jpg 2014-11-30MoreR3_00002.jpg 2014-11-30MoreR3_00003.jpg
     
    The black wire is extremely soft and flexible and does absolutely nothing to help hold the large metal housings in my ears which constitutes my major complaint...more on that later.
    The one thing the black wire does do is significantly reduce microphonics which is definitely a good thing. [​IMG]  The gray cable is the same rubberized cable as the earlier version which is stiff and hard to straighten out.  If these were sport IEMs (which they aren't for two very important reasons), the gray cable would be perfect.  As it is, the cable is heavy duty and should tolerate a good deal of daily use and abuse (be warned...the black wire near the housings does not appear to be as rugged so handle with care).
     
    The large metal housings are heavy and hold two tuned dynamic drivers (or transducers as Brainwavz labels them).  Each driver has a tuned port for airflow behind the driver and should not be blocked when worn or it will adversely affect the sound.  The housings also have channels cut into them for routing the wire leads to the lower set of drivers.  It is not a good idea to get water or sweat into the ports and channels which means these aren't ideal IEMs for working out.
     
    Lower Ports                                                                        Wire Channel
    2014-11-08R3_00010.jpg 2014-11-30MoreR3_00005.jpg
    Wire Channel and Upper Port
    2014-11-30MoreR3_00011.jpg
     
    Okay, my major issue with the "improved" version is Brainwavz completely did away with the memory wire and didn't provide a good means of keeping the housings in place in my ears.  The biggest benefit of the memory wire is it helped keep the housings in position in my ear openings.  I have to insert them at an angle and twist them to the vertical to get a seal.  The memory wire would let me "lock" the housings in place, but the black wire is too flimsy and provides no support so the housings tend to want to move around and unseat themselves.  I almost have to cinch the chin adjustment to the point of strangulation to get the housings to stay still.  If Brainwavz would just add a short length of memory wire back along with the black wire (to reduce microphonics) OR a pair of over-the-ear brackets to clip the wire to, then the R3s would have all its problems solved (okay, the gray cable too for people that think it's an issue...).[​IMG] 
     
    I've focused on the construction differences because the sound of the R3s is as good as I remembered.  Th R3s were the first IEMs I tried that sounded close to headphone quality (helped no doubt by the tips and seal with my ears).  Please note that all my opinions on sound are completely subjective and your mileage may vary.  My choices of music include pieces that I am extremely familiar with:
     
    - Red Wine from "Fresh Aire IV" (Mannheim Steamroller)
    - A Recurring Dream within a Dream from "A Valid Path" (Alan Parsons)
    - Blue World from "The Present" (The Moody Blues)
    - Take Me On and On from "Secret Messages" (ELO)
     
    My source was a FiiO X5 and my PC using Foobar2000 and a Soundblaster Z-Series audio card.  The IEMs I had for comparison were the Brainwavz S5 (single-driver dynamic IEM), Dunu DN-1000 (3-driver hybrid IEM), and RockJaw Alfa Genus (single-driver dynamic IEM).
     
    Soundstage: The soundstage is a bit narrow compared to the DN-1000 hybrid IEM but pretty much on par with the other dynamics.  The port behind the driver is for air movement but I'm not sure it has the same effect as an open-backed headphone...at least I didn't experiment with plugging the ports.
     
    Bass: The bass is better than the two single driver dynamics and almost as good as the hybrid.  That comes from having a dedicated bass driver (transducer).  I found that it didn't reach the sub-bass harmonics that the DN-1000 reached, but that could be due to a number of issues such as poor seal (oh memory wire, where art thou?), poor choice of ear tip (on my part), or not enough burn-in time.
     
    Mids: I love the mids.  I had to find just the right position for the mids to appear but when they did they were smooth and silky.  They are only trumped by the hybrid IEMs.  The Single Driver IEMs tend to suffer in the mids while trying to cover all the other frequencies.
     
    Treble: Smooth and not fatiguing.  The beauty of having the two transducers was one driver taking the lower frequency load off and letting the other excel in medium to high frequencies and it does.  I find the treble does not roll off like the single driver IEMs.
     
    Balance: As in balanced sound...this has been very difficult because of the housing fit and positioning issues.  But when I find that balance, the R3s shine for me.  Two drivers is an excellent way to achieve a balanced sound.  The hybrid DN-1000s use three drivers (of two different types).  I feel the R3's sound is balanced and enjoyable.
     
    So I am still impressed with their sound, but frankly the new R3s are let down by their "improvements".  The original R3 memory wire was too long and got in the way but it served to keep the housings sealed and positioned right where I needed them to be.  Brainwavz would do well to re-introduce it (just not so long) or provide over-the-ear brackets that would hold the black wire (and thus the housings) in place.  
     
    Then the R3 can be appreciated for what it is...a really good sounding IEM.
      TrollDragon likes this.
  7. lecky
    A beautifully euphonic sounding earphone, with some modest provisos.
    Written by lecky
    Published Nov 27, 2014
    4.0/5,
    Pros - That sound...
    Cons - Fit could be an issue for some, modest falloff of treble and bass could be an issue for some, although an advantage for others.
    The new iteration of the Brainwavz R3 is an intriguing earphone. They’re large earphones, each side containing two dynamic drivers in big pill shaped aluminium housings. They currently retail for about $115, or £80. They look like fit would be an issue in terms of the size of the housing, but in this respect they’re not a problem at all, they fit my ears but also my wife’s small ears. They are however a shallow fit earphone, and with limited play in terms of depth if insertion, which means the may be more difficult than most earphones to find the right tips for. They fit my wife with provided tips, but I had to go through quite a lot of my own tips before finding a double flange tip which provides a good seal for me, none of the provided tips fitted me except for . Choice is also limited in that you’ll want the widest bore tips you can get to work in order to complement and emphasise the spacious sound that they can produce. But once a fit was found, they’re effortlessly comfortable. Much more so than they appear. This iteration of the R3 differs from the first version in the design of the cable. This version has about three inches of memory cable to go over the ears, which then connect to a more regular rubber coated cable, which seems robust and works well enough, I wasn’t thinking about the cable much, so plainly this is an improvement on the earlier cable that led to consternation among some. The connectors seem tough, it seems like the cables will last. There’s not a great deal of noise transmitted through the cable, but adding a cable clip (not provided), makes the cable completely silent. The only minor niggle about the cable is that the connector between the memory cable and normal cable can touch my ears if I angle the earphones at 45 degrees rather than straight up, it’s not a problem for me, but if your ear shape dictated a different angle, it could be a minor issue. Isolation is moderate to good, there’s a limit to the isolation of any shallow insertion earphone, and considering this they’re good.
     
    The R3s are moderately sensitive, and easy to drive, they sound quite nice out of an iPod, and can be driven loudly enough, although they certainly do sound better from my iBasso DX90 - they are forgiving of less than great equipment, but allow better equipment along the chain to sound better. 
     
    What is really interesting though about these earphones is not the idiosyncratic design, but the sound they make. These are really very seductive sounding earphones. The sound can generally by considered very spacious and smooth. It’s been said before, and it’s true, that they have a kind of smoothness which is reminiscent of the orthodynamic sound. This alone is really loveable. tremendously loveable, albeit quite difficult to define in a precise way.
     
    Using this tool: http://www.audionotch.com/app/tune/, and this tool: http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/hearing.html, I was able to get a good sense of the frequency response. They’re generally quite flat - and this is borne out in that acoustic instruments and voices sound quite natural. Volume does gently roll off at top and bottom. A lot of people will find this very appealing, there is no semblance of treble harshness, and the bass is not intrusive. If you need big bass then these won’t be for you, but I’d be hard pressed to say that these aren’t good general purpose earphones, almost everything sounds very good, and nothing sounds bad. A few recordings of classical music give no great emphasis to treble in the mastering, and the slight roll off can leave them sounding a touch shy of ideal, and occasionally I realise that recordings don’t quite have a sense of energy that a more full treble and bass would provide, whilst still being enjoyable, but none the less. What is also lacking is anything remotely like an irritating spike in frequency which are so commonly heard in earphones of this price or less. The R3s don’t sound notably fast, but when I listen carefully, I’m not finding anything missing. It’s just not overemphatic in it’s presentation, this is a good thing.
     
    Most earphones I would think about predominantly in terms of a lack of flaws - an earphone which lacks flaws is good. Whilst these are not really flawed earphones, they can’t really be judged in terms of a lack of flaws in that they provide something which registers as a positive - that seductive smooth quality. Part of the sound, perhaps contributing to the smooth sense, is a notably open, spacious sound, really much more open and spacious than you might expect from an earphone. The soundstage is not etched with precision - it doesn’t impose a hyperreal sense of instrument placement or layering, but placement and layering are there in a laid back way. And this sense of subtlety, of a sound that is highly seductive but not at all pushy about it, is characteristic of these earphones. These are earphones you can enjoy listening to for hours, they’re completely non fatiguing. They don’t demand your attention up front, but I’ve had so many moments when they’ve crept up on me to display incredibly beautiful moments in the music in a way that is not so common.
     
    If you’re happy with nice but relatively modest treble and bass energy, if it’s OK to you that you may have to experiment with tips to get a good fit,  if you want a beautifully smooth and spacious sound which you can enjoy for ages at a time without fatigue, then these earphones may be just what you need in your life.
  8. Kamakahah
    The Not-So-Little Jetpack that could.
    Written by Kamakahah
    Published Nov 24, 2014
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Durable build quality. Clear and non-fatiguing. Good overall balance.
    Cons - Thick, rubbery cable. Two-faced bass. Long-term comfort
    Admittedly, I took far too long to post this review. I wanted to try a different approach that involved becoming accustomed to the signature followed by a period without them, and then a reintroduction. It's been about six weeks since I received the unit. I've done week long periods with and without them. 
    The reason for this decision was two fold:
    1. It's the first dual dynamic IEM that I've given significant head time. 
    2. There were/are some awkward inconsistencies with the sound signature that I was/am hearing. It was my hope at the time to be able to narrow the the reasons behind them. More on this later.
     
    After realizing that I had too many notes and they were harder for me to characterize than originally anticipated, I decided to write this review while listening to them after a short break and give my overall thoughts from this session. My previous notes will still be a factor in what I write, but hopefully this gives more clarity to my thoughts. 
     
    Again, I'd like to thank Brainwavz for the opportunity to review these. As others did, I received a review pair to keep similar to the S5. It's a nice gesture of confidence in the Head-Fi community.
    In similar fashion, I'll avoid adding pictures and statistics that a quick Google search can provide.
    All the usual qualifiers apply: IMO, YMMV, OMGWTFBBQ, ROFLCOPTER. This is just my experience. Yours might be different. 
     
    For those that don't like to wade through the paragraphs of information that most reviews provide, here is a succinct synopsis: 
     
    Bass: Can vary greatly. Overall lower-quantity with a softer impact. Occasionally comes out to play. See below for more details.
     
    Mids: Pretty clear. Non-fatiguing. Present and slightly forward. Much less , "life has been sucked out" than the S5 but with slightly dry presentation. A touch of warmth. Quite enjoyable.
     
    Treble: Nice lower treble energy. Non-fatiguing but hits of sibilance depending on the track. Smooth and laid back, maybe overly so for some. 
     
    Soundstage/Imaging: Good width, and back depth. Shallow forward depth. Can feel intimate as a result, but not cramped. 
     
    Separation/Clarity/Detail: Decent separation and good clarity if not a little thick sounding. Good detail in the mids. Lows are too fluffy for my taste. Highs lacking micro details from smoothing
     
    Tips: Find whatever is comfortable. Didn't lead to a ton of variation as it normally does for me. Used the stock, clear tips. 
     
    Source/Amping: Some noticeable scaling, specifically with additional power to add a bit more life and energy to the sound. A clear source with good texture seems best, IMO.
     
    Isolation: Slightly below average. Not great isolation, but doesn't leak. 
     
    Overall: Enjoyable. A stand out addition in a pack of "V's." Clunky build, but durable. A solid buy at $99. At $115+ you'll want to be sure it's what you're after. 
     

    Initial Impressions: 

    From my notes 6 weeks ago, I thought they sounded clear with a nice sense of balance. I found the bass to be soft and lacking texture. The mid range was enticing, forward, a little dry, but enjoyable. 
     

    Methodology: 

    I gave them 5 hours of listening the first day to become accustomed to the signature. They were then burned in for quite some time using set of burn-in tracks with mixed tracks, pink noise, and 5 minute breaks every hour on repeat. 
    They were burned in for over 300 hours in total throughout the process. I initially began my process after ~150 hours as per my usual.  I continued to listen to other headphones/earphones.
    Then, as mentioned above, I took week long breaks. I also spent full weeks only listening to the R3. My reasons for this will be further discussed in the following sections. 
     
    Listening was done casually at home and while out shopping. Detailed listening was done in a quiet office. A/B testing done as well with different gear and Fiio HS2 used occasionally for quick switching of sources or headphones.
     
    I avoided reading any other reviews before writing this one to avoid bias. 
     
    Chains used:
    1. PC USB/Optical>>>Audio GD NFB-15>>>R3
    2. Fiio X3>>>(Topping NX1/C&C BH)>>>R3
    3. Rockboxed Sansa Clip+>>>(Topping NX1/C&C BH)>>>R3
    4. HTC One M8>>>R3
     
    Tips used: Supplied tips, JVC spiral tips, Sony hybrids, Sennheiser double flange. 
     
    Test tracks: Many albums in my collection were listened to in full with a number of mixed in individual tracks, but here are a few specific tracks used.
                         Track formats included 256-320kbps mp3, FLAC, WAV files and a few youtube videos for variety.
     
    1. Jessica Lee Mayfield - Nervous Lonely Night : The first minute of this song can tell me a lot about a can. This will seem odd, but the pencil tapping at the start tells me a ton about timbre and a bit about depth. The generally forward vocals of the entire "Tell me" album help point out recessed mids quickly. The bass comes in strong with lots of quantity and impact to let me judge the low end presence and texture. I could go on. It's just a track that works for me. 
    2. Queen - Killer Queen  :  One of my sibilance test tracks, though it's much more than that. It's another track that can really let you individually identify a spectrum of specific quality attributes or flaws.
    3. Paramore - Hallelujah  : The recording/mastering, whatever, sounds just terrible on the deluxe mp3 version that I have. I use it to test how forgiving a can is. 
    4. Pantera - Cowboys from Hell; Cemetery Gates; Floods : It's Pantera. No more explanation needed. 
    5. Lisa Hannigan - Live from the Troubadour in W.Hollywood. :  This is a special recording that I have from a live concert I attended.  I'm frighteningly familiar with the venue/performance and how it should sound. I use this to judge soundstage, imaging, timbre and separation. 
    6. Rage Against The Machine - People of the Sun :  Bass. 
    7. Metallica - (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth / One/ etc - Lots of reasons
    8. Lana Del Rey - Lolita/National Anthem/Carmen : Lots of reasons but in general for her vocals that can sound like thick, warm syrup. 
    9. Geographer - Kites :  I like this for cohesion. Some cans make it sound disjointed or all jumbled up. 
    10. Filipe Melo · Ana Cláudia // Spiegel im spiegel (Arvo Pärt) : It's beautiful. Noise test. Timbre. Naturalness. 
    11. Girl Talk - Let it Out  : It's fun. 
    12. Dr. Chesky - The Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc - Soundstage, imaging, dynamics, etc. 
    13. Many, more. 
     
     

    Build Quality & Acessories:

    Oh Jetpack. It's awkward. The cable is a heavy, bouncy, rubbery monstrosity. Plenty of nice accessories included, solid 10/10 in my mind. The bulky shell may or may not affect your fit depending on ear shape. 

    Comfort/Fit:

    Average comfort. The rubbery cable was very noticeable over the ear and raises up at times until pulled tighter with a shirt clip. Long-term comfort has been poor. After about an hour, I found that the area where the cable meets the body rubbed my ear the wrong way. Tips didn't seem to have too significant of an effect for comfort, though I did favor some more than others. In particular, I liked the stock clear tips that weren't quite as firm. I found that they tend to start slipping from my ears. I'm not sure if it's a result of the cable or something else. I tried to wear larger tips to offset the pull, but found that I couldn't handle the loss of comfort. Occasionally, I' would double check their positioning to make sure they are still in place. This was more of an issue when out and about than in the office.  

    Isolation/Leak: 

    Average to below average. Noisy locations will be noticeable. I found their isolation to be slightly less effective compared to the S5. Leak wasn't an issue. 
     

    Bass: 

    The moment I listened to the opening kick drum and first few bass string plucks in  Jessica Lee Mayfield's - "Our Hearts Are Wrong", I knew that the bass and I were going to be at odds. That particular song is very bass heavy. The R3 does bring the quantity of bass in many tracks to manageable levels. This was one aspect that I appreciated for a number of bass heavy tracks; However, it was also the bane of bass light tracks. 
    As mentioned in the Cons, I found the bass to be two-faced or fractured. I tried my best to determine its cause, but wasn't able to pin it down in a way that I could explain in a clear fashion. In short, it seems certain frequencies are emphasized. It felt like there were peaks and valleys in the bass than had a very noticeable effect on impact and levels. It didn't seem like a clear line that is normally present where people can say, "Oh yeah, it has a mid bass hump and rolls off in the sub-bass which explains...blahblahblah." - Not the case here. Some songs had the low impact that they normally show, while it was next to non-existent in my other test tracks. I wish I could articulate it better. That said, there is a significant roll off in the sub-bass at about the 50 Hz mark. Below 30 is pretty much a black hole. 
    In this moment, as I listen to a number of tracks I find the duality. Some show nice, low impact. Others that should have the same feel like the kick drum or bass is hidden behind a glass panel or being hit by a pillow rather than a mallet. 
    One final beef was with the lack of texture. I found it really was missing that detail that comes with a more articulate bass. The overall tone felt smoothed over and pillowy. 
     
     

    Mids: 

    A nice forward presentation in the mids. It balances well still with the rest of the spectrum. A much desired addition following the soulless mids of the S5. As mentioned in the brief summary above, I find them slightly dry with a touch of warmth. It's a neutralish presentation of the mid range that in some ways reminds me of a less refined HE-560. One of my favorite signatures centers around the mids, so this was a nice change of pace from my generally bass oriented collection that includes the JVC FX-850, among others. 
     

    Treble: 

    Queen's song "Killer Queen" will pretty much violate my ears if a headphone/earphone is even a little hot, sibilant, etc. These do a pretty good job. Overall non-fatiguing but will undoubtedly be too lack-back for the treble lovers. Smooth, but still with a decent energy, particularly in the lower treble region. Not a whole lot of the sparkle. Hints of sibilance on already sibilant tracks, but that's normal. 
     

    Separation/Clarity/Detail:

    I would say that it is a notch above average in this category. Decent separation and clarity. A bit thicker sounding than the S5 that suffered from a thin/recessed mid range that killed baby seals. Enough detail to satisfy. Without a doubt some loss of detail and clarity in the bass with roll off and fluffy presentation that lacks in texture and articulation. 
     

    Soundstage/Imaging:

    The soundstage felt slightly more intimate than I've been used to but not in a cramped way. The positioning feels a intimate. This can be good and maybe a little bad for some live recordings. I'll explain way as it has to do with the way that I perceived the soundstage. The best way I can think to describe the shape is an taking a basketball and half way deflating just one hemisphere. The width sound above average, the behind depth the same. The forward depth, or the space in front of me seems as though its distance has been cut in half when compared to behind. 
     

    Source/Amping/Tips: 

    The R3 did seem to scale a bit. More important, for me,  was the added power that seems to add a bit more life to the overall sound. :
    • Audio-GD NFB-15 
    • Fiio X3 + Topping NX1 (Low gain, high was noisy and gave no play with the volume)
    • Fiio X3 + C&C BH (Line 2, switches off, gain 'High'). 
    • Rockboxed Sansa Clip+ (Forgot to experiment with attaching amps) 
     
    I didn't find a lot of difference when tip rolling. Insertion depth didn't change the sound enough so I ended up liking the stock, clear tips. They are comfortable and didn't negatively affect the sound. I thought a narrow bore might help the bass, but the effect was minor and inconsistent so I reverted. 
     

    Final Thoughts:

    I want to say that I enjoy this earphone. It's far from perfect, but it has qualities that are becoming harder to find in a V-shaped market. The mid-centric presentation is a welcome addition to my collection. The bass can be a bit of a letdown on some tracks, but it can also be a boon in taming overly bass heavy tracks into submission. It can help you see your much listened to tracks in a new light. It suffers from some inevitable design issues, but overall a durable and enjoyable earphone. As I look at the $115 asking price on Amazon right now I asked myself the question, "Is it worth that price tag?" To some, yes. I think it would fit nicely into the $99 category, but what's $15 anyway?
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  9. Loquah
    Brainwavz R3 - a beautifully neutral sounding budget IEM
    Written by Loquah
    Published Oct 29, 2014
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Great sound quality, smooth and natural sound with plenty of detail, but no fatigue
    Cons - Fit can be problematic and cable is a bit funky
    I recently had the pleasure to review the Brainwavz S5 IEM and the team at Brainwavz were obviously OK with my objective thoughts (I really liked the S5, but wasn't shy about its short-comings) and offered to send me their R3 model for my next experience. Thanks to Audrey and the Brainwavz team for providing this review unit at no charge.
     

    Overview

    The R3 is a dual driver IEM, but not a dual balanced armature as you might expect. No, the R3 is a dual dynamic driver IEM using two opposed dynamic drivers firing into a single sound chamber / nozzle. It's an unusual design, but one I had heard good things about so I was keen to check it out for myself.
     
    The R3 model retails for about $139 here in Australia so it's at the higher end of Brainwavz' range, but still very affordable in the IEM world and I have to say that it performs exceedingly well for its price - better even than the S5 in terms of price:performance ratio I think.
     

    Specifications

    1. Drivers:  2 x 10mm dynamic per side
    2. Impedance:  32 ohms
    3. Frequency response:  16 - 22,000 Hz
    4. Sensitivity:  110 dB at 1 mW
    5. Cable:  1.3m, copper
     

    Design & Comfort

    I can only assume that the R3 was designed around the engineers' desired driver placements because it's a strange-looking IEM and one that can be problematic for comfortable insertion and ongoing use, but that might also just be my ears - if you've read my other reviews you'll know that I often have trouble with universal IEMs due to the size and angle of my ear canals.
     

    Housings

     
    WP_20141029_15_13_24_Pro.jpg The R3's housings are best described as bottle-shaped with the cord coming out of the bottle top and the nozzle emerging from the side of the bottle. The nozzle is a normal diameter (I can use most of the same tips as the FIDUE A83s, HiFiMan RE272, Brainwavz S5, etc.) however it's quite long due to the need to extend out far enough from the non-ear shaped bottle housings of the R3s. I've got no problems with the long nozzle or look and feel of the housing - they're actually great and were it not for this next bit I'd be a huge fan, but...
     
    But the housings are completely impractical for creating a good comfortable fit that's secure in the ear for extended periods and during movement. The biggest issue is the fit's dependency on the angle of your ear canal. With apologies for the ear selfies I've had to use here, you might notice when you look at the first picture here that the way the cable exits the housing means that the angle of the IEM is important to ensure that the cable wraps comfortably up and around the ear. The natural angle created if I insert the R3 comfortably in my ear means that the cable points backwards towards the top fold of my ear and therefore cannot in any way be comfortably secured there.
     
    WP_20141029_15_23_56_Pro.jpg
    The good news is that the R3s can be successfully and comfortably worn cable-down and it allows much more angle flexibility. You can see in the second ear selfie that the R3s want to sit at a significant 15-20 degree angle in my ears so you can see why the over ear option is not really possibly with my anatomy. Perhaps others have more flexibility with this than I do.
     
    Now, before you click away to another page, let's discuss a few good things.
     
    Other than their slightly troublesome fit, the R3's housing is unique and really well put together. The R3s feel like they'll last for a very long time and will withstand almost anything you could throw at them. The chrome finish looks great and they feel good in the had and in the ear (once you get a good fit).
     

    Other Design Elements

    [​IMG]The R3s have a thick, round cable that's quite heavy to the touch, but surprisingly light to wear. It's a bit springy and not the most comfortable cable I've used, but it's OK and probably preferable to the S5's flat cable. The Y-split is solid and functional and the cable cinch is similarly suitable although I find that it doesn't slide easily along the cable, but that also means it stays where you put it which is a bonus.
     
    The final 10cm of each cable before it reaches the IEMs is a black rubber instead of grey with a secondary strain relief at the join. I'm not sure what purpose that serves because it's no stiffer than the grey cable so it's not memory wire for over-ear use and doesn't provide any benefits I can see. Still, it doesn't hurt and adds a nice touch of extra interest when looking at the R3s so no complaints.
     
    The 3.5mm plug at the other end of the cable is a rugged, molded plug at a 45 degree angle that I really like. Right angle plugs and straight plugs both have issues in different applications, but I generally find these angled plugs to provide the benefits of both without the challenges.
     

    Accessories

    Like the S5s, the R3 comes packed with plenty of tips (single, dual and triple flange silicone tips plus a set of Comply T-500 foam tips) plus a nice looking hard case (the same as the S5) and a 3.5mm-6.3mm adapter. This type of accessory set is becoming more common with all different IEMs at all different prices, but it's still worthy of applause because it makes getting a good fit much easier for new buyers who might not have a stash of all different tips from previous purchases and there's nothing worse than investing in a nice set of IEMs only to have them get destroyed in the bottom of your bag due to lack of an appropriate case.
     

    Compatibility

    With a 32 ohm load, the R3s are in the sweet spot for IEM impedance in my opinion. Really low impedance models like the FIDUE A83 or Shure SE846 can cause all kinds of issues with some devices whereas a 32 ohm load is really comfortable for cheap and expensive players alike so the R3s should play really nicely with your phone, budget MP3 player, or audiophile DAP / stack. I've tried the R3s with the Colorfly C4, Fiio X5, E12DIY portable amp, and even the Bottlehead Mainline desktop headphone amplifier and the R3s always sound great. They're easy to drive, but not too easy so they don't show up noise from basic devices while still having the sensitivity to make the most of highly detailed audiophile sources.
     

    Sound

    Bass

    I really like the bass from the R3s. It's smooth and full, but not enhanced - just naturally present. The bass sits in perfect alignment with the rest of the frequencies from the R3 and allows for a cohesive and realistic listening experience. Being a dynamic driver IEM, the bass is full and rich with a slightly slower feel than a balanced armature (BA) unit, but there is no mistaking the R3's bass for being slow in general terms. No, the R3 strikes the perfect balance of fullness and speed. Bass notes are crisply delivered on time and on target while leaving room for everything else in the spectrum to shine equally. Although not finely textured like the quickest of BA units, the bass is clean and detailed making faster basslines and deep percussion highly enjoyable. Listening to Muse's Absolution via the Colorfly C4, the bass and kick drums were deep and tight. Moving to Ozomatli's Embrace the Chaos album, the deepest rumble of the bass drum on "Pa Lante" was missing, but it takes an exceptional earphone / headphone to really get that right. The R3s certainly came close, but just didn't have that list tiny bit of power down at the lowest of frequencies. I'd much prefer that though to an excess of bass that can cloud the rest of the spectrum and disrupt the entire musical experience.
     

    Mid-range

    Thanks to the present, but controlled bass, the R3's mids are able to shine through and take centre stage. I wouldn't call the R3s a mid-centric earphone so much as a neutral earphone. You could perhaps argue that the mids on the R3 are slightly laid back, but they're certainly well-balanced with the bass and treble even if they're just a hair behind. It's certainly not enough to make the mids sound distant or veiled and I really like the overall presentation a lot - it's very easy to listen to without sacrificing detail or articulation in any way. Guitars and similar instruments sound crisp and clean and both male and female vocals have an excellent sense of texture and clarity while still keeping an easy smoothness.
     

    Treble

    [​IMG]The treble from the R3s is really interesting in that, up to this point in the review, I haven't really thought about the treble. I would say that's a good sign of perfectly balanced treble that's neither drawing attention to itself nor lacking in energy and leaving the presentation dark and muddy. The treble is lively enough to provide raspiness and air to vocals, percussive sounds and incidental textures like fingers on a fretboard, but it's not over-enhanced. There is zero fatigue from the R3, but there is also zero lost clarity - that's an extremely impressive feat.
     
    Listening to "Calling Elvis" by Dire Straits I can clearly hear the raspiness of Mark Knopfler's voice and the snare, high hat and cymbals have good energy and clarity so that I can feel them and notice them in the mix, but I've not once in all the time I've spent with the R3s felt like there was too much or too little treble. I'd actually go so far as suggesting that this is one of the best treble balances I've heard from an IEM in quite some time. I'll discuss some comparisons shortly to demonstrate this in further detail.
     
    Similar to the bass detail and speed, treble speed and resolution may be a tiny bit behind the sharpest of BA IEMs, but the R3s are no slouch. Not only do they not leave me wanting more from the treble, they actually leave me thoroughly enjoying the treble because it's fully detailed and energetic, but remains smooth enough to be enjoyable and actually worth exploring. I find sharper, faster treble renditions sometimes lead me to almost tuning out treble detail so as not to fatigue my ears, but the R3s let me focus on the individual textures of a cymbal or snare without feeling on edge as I do it.
     

    Staging and Imaging

    The stage from the R3s isn't exceptional, but for a $139 it's very good. It feels spacious despite being modest in size and it is evenly proportioned in each direction with good depth and width. Imaging is very similar - it's not exceptional, but it's definitely commendable. Instruments are well separated and clearly defined in their own virtual space. Thanks to the well-balanced presentation of each section of the frequency range from the R3s, the finished product is a well represented auditory image with good clarity and separation.
     

    Selected Comparisons

    FIDUE A83

    At the time of writing this there's quite a bit of hype around the A83 (triple hybrid IEM) on Head-Fi and deservedly so, but given its $300+ price tag and slightly troublesome fit I was keen to compare it with the R3.
     
    On direct comparison, the A83's balanced armatures revealed extra details and texture in the mix that the R3 couldn't show me, but that came at the cost of a drier tone and a less natural overall sound with the A83's treble sounding slightly forward and forced compared to the R3's outstanding balance. The staging and imaging is also better on the A83 as you'd expect with the greater availability of subtle details and auditory cues, but does that make the A83 a hands-down better earphone? I don't think so. If I were looking to hear every nuance then I'd reach for the A83 every time, but if I wanted to simply play and enjoy my music I'd probably reach for the R3s on each occasion due to their more natural treble presentation and more natural overall sound. Technically, the A83 is a better earphone, but practically the R3 might be better for some people.
     

    Brainwavz S5

    As much as I like the S5s for what they are, they just don't compare with their slightly more expensive siblings - or at least not for my tastes. Yes, the S5 offers an excellent bass punch that the R3s can't match and for some genres that's an instant trump card, but the R3's balance won me over permanently and left the S5s sounding peaky and occasionally unnatural to my ears. For wide-ranging musical tastes or those who listen to rock, blues or jazz I would recommend the R3 every time over the S5 despite it's funkier fit and higher price.
     

    HiFiMan RE272

    [​IMG]Unfortunately I sold my RE272s shortly prior to the R3s arriving, but at around half the price of the RE272's when they were new (if memory serves), the R3 is an excellent replacement. There's no doubt that the RE272 offered superior transparency and separation over the R3, but the R3 is a smoother listen and has much better bass presence than the RE272 so it's a fair trade in my mind. To be honest, if I had the 2 sitting side-by-side I would probably reach for the R3 on almost every occasion because of it's smoother presentation and fuller bass note.
     

    Summary

    The R3 is an outstanding earphone for the $139 price tag. I would definitely recommend trying a pair before you buy them if you tend to have fit issues like me, but when worn cable-down the R3s are easy to fit so that might solve any concerns if you're happy to wear them cable-down.
     
    I haven't heard a lot of budget IEMs and there are some awesome options out there, but of those I have tried, the R3s are among the most enjoyable of the lot and definitely might be the most neutrally voiced of the lot. If you're looking to spend <$150 on a pair of IEMs and you want an IEM that can handle wide-ranging genres while providing a smooth and natural presentation then the R3s are a must try!
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  10. earfonia
    Built like a tank!
    Written by earfonia
    Published Oct 22, 2014
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Rugged and durable
    Cons - The dual dynamic drivers architecture in R3 doesn't proof to be superior compared to a properly tuned single driver in the similar price category
    01_P1240062.jpg
     
    I would like to thank Brainwavz for the review sample of R3!
     
    Brainwavz R3 is a dual dynamic drivers IEM. It has 2 dynamic drivers in each housing, facing each other into a sound blending chamber. R3 maybe the only IEM I know to use dual dynamic drivers in this configuration. Frankly, when I saw this configuration at the first time for IEM, I'm quite skeptic. I believe best sound for IEM configuration is to place the driver to face eardrum directly, as close as possible, without any nozzle or sound chamber. I'm a huge fan of Front Mounted Micro Driver (FMMD) architecture, where micro driver is placed at the front of the IEM nozzle directly facing the eardrum, to eliminate any coloration and distortion caused by nozzle and chamber. But I'm open to any IEM configuration or architecture, as long as it sounds good.
     
     

    02_R3_4.jpg
    Picture from Brainwavz R3 product page.
     
    R3 uses passive crossover, so it is a two ways design. I would say the coherency between the low frequency and the high frequency drivers is pretty good, clearly much better coherency than my MEElectronics M-Duo. I don't hear any obvious incoherency from the 2 ways design, maybe only a little, but I would say the 2 drivers blends pretty well. But the issue here, I don't hear much wider frequency coverage expected from a two ways system, compared to a one way, single driver IEM such as the Brainwavz S5. I don't hear extra low bass and upper treble extension on R3, frequency coverage is not better than a good single driver IEM.
     
     
    Summary
    Smooth organic sound with rather mid centric tonality. Its unique tonality makes some less friendly recordings (bright / harsh) sound friendlier to the ears. R3 might not be the champion for sound quality in this price range, but with the very solid build quality, it is built to last. R3 would be the IEM of choice for those looking for lasting and durable IEM.
     
    Pros:
    Extremely rugged, build like a tank.
    Designed for both straight-down and over the ears wearing style.
    Very good, above average noise isolation.
    Various type and size of eartips are included, for flexible sound tuning and maximum comfort.
    The famous Brainwavz semi-hard earphone case is included.
     
    Cons:
    The dual dynamic drivers architecture in R3 doesn't proof to be superior compared to a regular properly tuned single driver in the similar price category.
    Over the ear cable of the review sample is found not to be properly angled for maximum fit and comfort.
    Large housing size might not suit small ears.
    Left and Right marking is not easily identified in dimly lit environment. There is no left dot / dimple near the left driver.

     
     
    03_P1240051.jpg
     
     
     
    The Build
     
    04_P1240020.jpg
     
    The earlier production batch of R3, before May 2014, has received a lot of criticism as having too long memory wire. As for the newer batch of R3, from May 2014 onward, so called R3 Revised Edition or R3 Ver.2, Brainwavz has removed the memory wire completely from R3, which is both good and bad. Good because there is no more ultra-long memory wire, and the plain cable jacket is generally more comfortable than memory wire. The bad, as some users have reported over the Internet, for over the ear wearing style the cable is not always properly angled to make the cable stays on the ear.  For the set I received, I found the left cable often dislodges from my left ear, but the right cable always stays in place. As you can see from the picture below, the left cable is angled outward therefore it is difficult to make the left cable to stays in place. The right cable is properly angled inward, therefore always stays in place. I'm not sure, for all R3, the angle of the left and right cable will always be the same like what I received, or it is different with every piece. If it is different, and you're buying R3, better check the angle of the cable before buying, for maximum comfort.  I think this is part of manufacturing fine-tuning that could have been overlooked by Brainwavz. I hope Brainwavz notices this issue and fix it for the newer production batch.
     
    The angle of left and right cable when I let them fall naturally:

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    The preferred angle of the left and right cable for maximum fit & comfort:
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    What I like most from R3 is the build. The full metal housing is really nice. It seems to be the most rugged and durable IEM I've ever seen and have. From the mini jack, to cable, to the earphone housings, all feel very rugged. It seems to be built with military standard, to withstand tough environment and application. I always have to treat with care, my favourite IEM, DUNU DN-1000 and DN-2000. Always have a slight fear that the tiny cable won't last very long to hold the solid and heavy metal housings of the DUNUs. But not with R3. R3 is the IEM for those who simply need a rugged and durable IEM that don't require much care. 
     
    The cable is relatively thick and a bit coiling, but the coiling memory effect is not very annoying. There are some IEMs with cable with much worse coiling memory effect.
     
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    R3 is a relatively large IEM. The dual dynamic drivers and the sound chamber do require space. Despite the large housing, I don't have any comfort issue with R3, even for long hours of usage. The large housing can still fit nicely in my ears concha. But please take note, that it might not be the case for everyone as we have large variety of ear shape and size. For my ears, R3 nozzle is long enough to give proper insertion. So for my ears, I don’t have issue with lacking of deep insertion. The nozzle has standard 4.5 mm neck diameter, compatible with many generic eartips. There is also very minimum driver flex when fitting R3 to the ears, so for those who easily irritated by driver flex, no need to worry about driver flex with R3.
     
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    The wires connecting the second driver are exposed; hopefully it won't reduce the durability of R3 from exposures to sweat and moisture.
     
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    The left and right marking are clear enough in a well-lit environment, but not clear enough in dimly lit environment.


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    Sound Quality
     
    As for the sound quality, after using it for more than a month and about 100 hours of burn-in, I would say it is around 'Average' to 'Good', depending on the type of recordings. IMHO R3 doesn't perform well for classical and orchestral works, due to the mid centric tonality, slightly lacking of air, and relatively average size imaging. However R3 sounds better for modern music, such as electronic, pop, and other modern genres with closed miked recordings. Tonality is quite natural, leaning towards mid centric. Beside the mild and wide midrange hump, generally the tonal balance is pretty smooth from bass to treble, without any annoying peaks and dips. R3 tonality won't cause ears fatigue for long period of music listening. Although sometime it does sound a bit boring due to slightly lacking of punch, low bass and upper treble extension. R3 sounds smooth and organic, and not for those who prefer analytical sound signature. Its smooth and rather mellow sound signature actually makes it a very good choice for bright / harsh sounding recordings. R3 is generally easy to drive, but it is better to be paired with a rather powerful and slightly analytical sounding player, to improve the dynamic and treble sparkle.
     
    Sound Signature: Natural warm, organic sound, & mildly mid-centric.
    Freq Irregularity: Smooth, no irregular peaks and dips.
    Bass Level & Quality: Average, slightly lacking of low bass extension and bass punch.
    Midrange Level & Quality: Average, smooth and warm, but level of midrange detail could be improved.
    Treble Level & Quality: Smooth & pleasing, but lacking upper treble extension. Not very good for classical music, slightly lacking of air.
    Clarity: Average, below the clarity of Brainwavz S5, but not muddy or veiled.
    Spaciousness: Average, doesn't sound very spacious.
    Imaging: Average, instruments placement and separation are as clear and focused as Brainwavz S5.
    Details & Separation: Average.
    Dynamic & Punch: Average, not as good as its single driver brother, the Brainwavz S5.
    Recording Recommendation: Modern genres (closed miked recording)
     
    I've tried R3 with all the supplied eartips. The Comply T-500 is pretty good for R3, for those who prefer smooth and relax sound. For me, I prefer the default gray eartips for best tonality and comfort. I found eartips selection on R3 is not as critical as on the Brainwavz S5, and it is more to get the best comfort.
     
     
    Comparison
     
    I mostly compared R3 with its own sibling, the single driver Brainwavz S5. To me, sound quality wise, Brainwavz S5 is clearly the winner. S5 has better dynamic, clarity, detail, bass and treble extension, with wider and more spacious imaging. What disappoint me most is the dynamic. The dual 10 mm drivers don't punch as hard as the single 10 mm driver in Brainwavz S5. Brainwavz S5 as single driver IEM, has better dynamic than R3. Also my old favorite JVC FXD-80, single driver FMMD (Front Mounted Micro Driver), also has better dynamic than R3. So I don't hear any advantage of dual drivers in R3 architecture over a single driver, both from frequency coverage and dynamic. Having said that, R3 doesn't sound bad, but as dual drivers IEM, its performance is not better than some decent single driver dynamic. So I don't hear the benefit of R3 dual drivers configuration.
     
    As I've reviewed other dual dynamic drivers IEMs before, and having some of those such as ATH-IM50 and ATH-IM70, TDK IE800, MEElec M-Duo, & Narmoo S1, in my opinion R3 only wins against MEElectronics M-Duo, but not better than the rest of the dual dynamic drivers IEMs in my collection.
     
     
    Tonality wise, when paired with good source and amp such my ifi micro iDSD, R3 sounds pretty good. It does need some steroid from powerful amp like the one in micro iDSD to makes it produce some punch.
     
    I did read some very good reviews about R3. Some even prefer it over the S5. Here are some links:
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/brainwavz-r3-revised-edition
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/701034/brainwavz-r3-review
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/688928/brainwavz-r3-review
    And not to mentioned many 5 stars reviews on Amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/Brainwavz-Dual-Dynamic-Driver-Earphones/dp/B00G4V0QSK#
     
    Having read those reviews, it makes me thing that the R3 I received probably doesn't sound as good as theirs. Some reviewers said R3 has clear detailed audio with a clean bass. Which is not what I hear from the set I received, at least compared to Brainwavz S5. Another possibility could be some variation of sound quality from different production batch. Or it could be simply a matter of individual preferences and different preference of recordings. Though sound quality wise R3 is not in the top list of my preferred IEM, Brainwavz R3 has proven itself to attract its own fans from the number of positive reviews.




     
     
    Specifications:
    Transducers/Drivers: Dual Dynamic, 10mm
    Crossover: Passive
    Rated Impedance: 32ohms
    Sensitivity: 95dB at 1mW
    Frequency range: 20Hz ~ 20KHz
    Maximum input power:  2mW
    Cable length: 1.4m, Y cord, OFC Copper.
    Plug: 3.5mm gold plated, 45 degree.
    24 months warranty.
     
    Included Accessories:
    1 x Comply foam T-series tip
    6 x Silicone tips
    1 x Bi-Flage tip
    1 x Tri-Flange tip
    1 x 6.3mm to 3.5mm audio adapter
    1 x Airplane adapter
    1 x Earphone carrying case
    1 x Instruction manual

     
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    Equipment used in this review
    ifi micro iDSD: Powerful and excellent sounding DAC + HeadAmp combo. Transparent, detailed, and powerful. Slightly lean to analytical sounding.
    Audioquest Dragonfly v1.0c: DAC + HeadAmp combo. Marvelous little DAC. Transparent, airy, and powerful. Slightly lean to analytical sounding.
    iBasso DX90: Portable player. Natural sounding, not warm and not analytical. Good dynamic, detail and resolution.
    Fiio X5: Portable player. Natural warm, very smooth & musical. Sounds a tad warmer than DX90. Good dynamic, detail and resolution.
    Fiio X3: Portable player. Powerful, balanced sounding with good bass and sparkling treble.
     
     
    Recordings used for this review

     


      Audiophile1811 and H20Fidelity like this.
    1. wateryakcat
      I have had first model of R3 and they weren't any good. IM50 was lot better.
      wateryakcat, Oct 22, 2014
    2. earfonia
      Well, I agree, generally ATH-IM50 is better than R3. But I'm curious for so many 4-5 stars reviews for R3. Could it be their R3 sounds better than mine? Different sound quality from different batch? Well, who knows...
      earfonia, Oct 23, 2014

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