Brainwavz R3 Revised Edition

NymPHONOmaniac

Headphoneus Supremus
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.

Wokei

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Balanced ...Smooth ...Easy to Like Sound Signature...Generous Accessories
Cons: Super Thick Cable & Fit Issue






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.
Tom22
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! 
Wokei
Wokei
@twister6 and @Tom22 ...Thanks my friends...probably will snap some pics and update the review with pairing with amplifier later...Cheers
Hisoundfi
Hisoundfi
Nice review brother! The force is strong in this one...
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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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:
 
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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.
peter123
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.....
BGRoberts
BGRoberts
Nice review.  Thanks!
I like the R3's myself.  Just not crazy about the cord.
peter123
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:

vaziyetu

100+ Head-Fier
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
Gandasaputra
Gandasaputra
But hey i'm curious bout the Koss ruk30 and i'm all into wide deep soundstage. Will get that one day.
daveyostrow
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
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.

DigitalFreak

镇老鹰
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
 
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HK_sends

Headphoneus Supremus
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.
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  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:
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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.
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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.
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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. 
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  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
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Wire Channel and Upper Port
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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...).
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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.
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lecky

100+ Head-Fier
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.

Kamakahah

Headphoneus Supremus
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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Loquah

Headphoneus Supremus
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

 
View attachment 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.
 
View attachment
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

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

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

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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earfonia

Headphoneus Supremus
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
View attachment
 
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.
 
 

View attachment
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.

 
 
View attachment
 
 
 
The Build
 
View attachment
 
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:

View attachment
 
The preferred angle of the left and right cable for maximum fit & comfort:
View attachment  
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.
 
View attachment  
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.
 
View attachment  
View attachment  
View attachment  
The wires connecting the second driver are exposed; hopefully it won't reduce the durability of R3 from exposures to sweat and moisture.
 
View attachment  

The left and right marking are clear enough in a well-lit environment, but not clear enough in dimly lit environment.


View attachment  
 
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

 


wateryakcat
wateryakcat
I have had first model of R3 and they weren't any good. IM50 was lot better.
earfonia
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...

thatBeatsguy

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Smooth, balanced sound. Brainwavz' signature unique look. Brainwavz' signature build.
Cons: Weird looks might deter some. Cable is pretty hefty and cumbersome.

Intro​

 
TL;DR: Don't let its rather brutish looks fool you; the Brainwavz R3 is a smooth, gentle IEM that works especially well with acoustic genres, slow rock, and jazz.
 

Before I begin, I would like to thank Audrey at Brainwavz for providing the sample of the Brainwavz R3 in exchange for my honest opinion. Please note that I am neither affiliated with Brainwavz or any of its employees, nor am I being compensated for writing this review. All opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own unless otherwise specified, and all pictures are taken and owned by my sister. YMMV.

 

Well, it’s been a few weeks since my review of the S5s, and from that first impression of one of their IEMs, they’ve earned their place in my ‘Companies to Watch’ list. Though a lot of their IEMs, to my knowledge, lean towards a more consumer-friendly sound, they are no doubt of audiophile quality. Today, I’m going to be reviewing another of their high-end IEMs, and probably one of the most peculiar-looking IEMs I’ve ever seen, the dual-dynamic Brainwavz R3 Rev.2 (I’ll get to this later).


 


Anyhow, let’s get on to the IEMs. Shall we?
 



Author's Note
: This review is a little bit old, so expect some cringe-y parts if you're reading this in 2015 or later. I'm a little too lazy to edit the whole thing, and I want to keep the chronological flow in my reviews as I grow, so you can definitely see the improvements over time.
 

[size=x-large]== Aesthetics ==[/size]​

 ​

Packaging, Accessories​

 
 
At first glance of the packaging, it’s clear that Brainwavz is proud of their design of the R3, as the box features a clear window from the front all the way through to the back of the box, with the R3’s housings suspended in a clear plastic mold, showcased proudly and rather enthusiastically, like a brand-new breakthrough in design or something along those lines. On the front you also see BRAINWAVZ R3 written with a tagline and a few of its main features. On the left side, you’ll see its specifications, and on the right are its accessories, and on the back is a cross-section diagram of the R3s’ housing along with a description of sorts.
 






 
Upon opening the package, you’ll find Brainwavz’ semi-hard case hidden from the light of day, housing the rest of the R3s and all of its accessories. I’m still pretty impressed with the plethora of eartips included in the package, which consists of six pairs of single-flange tips (one set in grey, the other in black, in S/M/L), one pair of double-flanged tips, one pair of triple-flanged tips, and a pair of Comply T500 foam eartips. So there you have it - nine pairs of eartips, all at your disposal along with the Brainwavz R3 and S5. Still pretty damn impressive. But that’s not all - you also get a nifty 1/4-inch adapter. In the previous version, there used to be an airline adapter supposedly - but in my case, I don’t think I would need it anyway, so that can be ignored. Frequent flyers, though, might have to buy their own airline adapter off a local Best Buy or some other electronics store.



 

 

Design, Build, Microphonics​

 
You remember what I said about Brainwavz’ package being showcased like a design breakthrough? Well, I have got to hand it to Brainwavz, they have made one awesome breakthrough in design right here, and it’s sure to make anyone -- consumer or audiophile -- wonder how they manage to get these in their ears. (Not that it’s a bad thing, though -- they actually fit quite easily.)

 


Though the concept of dual dynamic drivers isn’t new (lately there have been a lot of popular options to choose from), how they’re implemented intrigued me.The two 10mm drivers are set up in a two-way configuration – one used for bass, the other for the rest of the audio spectrum. Again, this is not unusual, but then we move on to their placement. The two drivers are placed apart from and facing each other, pouring the sound into a ‘Sonic Chamber’ before it reaches your ears through a particularly long tube. At least, that’s what the diagram seems to tell me. It’s probably not as simple as it sounds, seeing as another dual dynamic IEM, the Audio-Technica ATH-CKR9 (and its older variant, the CKR10) shares a similarly-positioned pair of drivers…except for the fact that the CKRs’ drivers go for a ‘Push-Pull’ design in which one driver pushes the sound while the other pulls the sound to supposedly reduce distortion and improve sound quality (or something like that). Coming back to the R3s, it seems both drivers simply push sound into the sound chamber where the sound mixes to bring out the final product.
 
Moving on, we have the cable, which apparently consists of three sections: the main grey cable from the connector to the Y-split, a thinner grey cable from the Y-split to split (rather, splice), which transitions into a length of memory cable making the final stretch to the housings. This memory wire used to be a lot longer in the first version, but has been removed in the revision for better ergonomics and an easier fit.



 

 
Again, the team over at Brainwavz has impressed me with the excellent build quality of the R3s. From the solid machined aluminum housings to the strong extremely heavy-duty Y-split (see above), it’s clear Brainwavz made no compromises to the build quality of the R3 just as they did with the S5. The only gripe I have with the build is the cable. No, it’s not because of durability -- in fact, it’s probably one of the most solid cables I’ve had in my possession yet. My gripe with the cable is because it’s solid. It’s very thick -- reminding me of the cable on my old Beats Pro. Its thickness in turn makes them very difficult to manage. When they arrived, they were bound pretty tightly together by a wire, and when I undid the wire, I was greeted with an eyesore of a cable with folds and creases on every inch. Even as I write this, I’m still trying to straighten it out. Cable noise isn’t much different. Even with the over-ear design dulling it down, cable noise is still a bit of an issue due to the serious weight of the cable.




 

 

Fit, Comfort, Isolation​

 
Now, I’m sure you’re still wondering if the bottle-like housings with a tube on the side would actually fit your ears. Well, I’m happy to report that it actually does. It did take a few minutes of fiddling at first, but it only takes a few tries to get accustomed to it. They’re pretty comfortable once they’re in your ears, though at times the housing does touch -- more like press on -- part of my ear when I don’t get them in right, which again is a nuisance, but it’s mostly just on me. Due to the housings being little more than a bottle with a tube sticking out of the side which goes into your ear, isolation leans toward average, but is nonetheless good enough for a walk in the park or at home. Don’t expect it to drown out much in a bus or the subway, though.

 

Also, something of note: the Brainwavz R3 can be worn straight-down; however the cable causes too much microphonics to be tolerable. That, and the R3 is considerably heavy with its thick cable and solid aluminum housings. I don’t know if you guys will like it -- maybe you will, maybe you won’t, but I most definitely will not wear these straight-down.

 
I hope I didn’t bore you yet with my explanations, because we’re just about to get to the sound. Bored yet? No? Great, now let’s move on.


 
 

[size=x-large]== Sound ==[/size]​

Specs​

 
Headphone Type
Closed back, vented in-ear monitor (straight down, around-the-ear)
Driver Type
10 mm dynamic x2
Frequency Response
16 Hz – 22 kHz
Rated Input Power
30 mW
Sensitivity
110 dB @ 1 mW
Impedance
32 Ω
Weight
N/A
Cable
1.3 m (4.2’) Copper Y-Cord
Connector
3.5 mm (1/8”) gold-plated 45-degree TRS
Accessories
Hard carrying case 3 pairs single-flange silicone eartips (grey, S/M/L)
3 pairs single-flange silicone eartips (black, S/M/L)
1 pair double-flange silicone eartips
1 pair triple-flange silicone eartips
1 pair Comply™ T-500 foam eartips
6.3 mm (1/4”) adapter
 
 

Equipment, Burn-in​

 

The equipment used for this review consists of my iPod Touch, an iPad 3, and my PC through headphone-out as the sources, all running without an amp. The amp used in the test is a Yamaha RX-V359 through headphone-out. As for the EQ software being used, I use Viper4Windows on the PC and the default system EQ on the other sources. As always, my test tracks are available here, although I will link specific songs in the assessment for a more direct point of reference.

 
As per review “tradition,” the Brainwavz R3s have been burned in for at least 100 hours prior to the review, with occasional listening sessions in between for an average of an hour. So far, throughout the 100 hours of burn-in, there haven’t been any noticeable changes in sound. Also, the eartips I used are the L-sized grey single flanges throughout the review. So, without further ado, let’s get on to the sound!


 

 

Sound Quality​

 

 
Bass:

Okay, let’s start off with the bass. As an IEM designed for the audiophile crowd, don’t expect the R3 to have elevated bass, because it doesn’t have that. However, what it does have is a smooth, swift low-end that is clearly made for its target audience. Its accurate, slightly warm tone reproduces low tones without overdoing anything. It also has a strong enough punch to satisfy most listeners who aren’t craving bass. In short, it’s a very addicting listen that works amazingly with cool, laid-back songs (Daft Punk –The Game of Love, Something About Us).

 

 

Midrange:

The Brainwavz R3’s midrange is sweet and rich – basically, it sounds great. It has a great amount of clarity with a slight warmth to it. It reproduces the midrange very well, and despite its mid-centric signature (more on this later), isn’t as forward as I expected. One of my favourite characteristics about it, though, is how they manage to blend really well with the bass (Coldplay –Sparks) – making a very cohesive and united sound signature.

 

 

Treble:

Brainwavz purposely tuned the R3 to have a smooth, laid-back treble, topping off the sound signature like the smooth foam on a latte (more on this analogy later). This laid-back signature gives the R3 a very relaxing signature that you can simply listen to for hours, which is a huge plus in my book. (Note: Technical mode ON) Though most laid-back treble usually sounds veiled and lacking detail, Brainwavz managed to counter that by tuning in a treble spike around 10 kHz. This allows the R3 to still retain great detail retrieval even with its laid-back treble (technical mode OFF).

 

 

Soundstage/Presentation:

Apparently Brainwavz’ “Sound Chamber” technology actually does affect the R3’s sound signature – specifically, its soundstage. It’s very wide, airy, and expansive, which you usually don’t get to hear very often in an earphone, so that’s a huge plus. Live, acoustic, and classical recordings really come to life on the Brainwavz R3. However, I did notice instruments were projected (or “sound like” in layman’s terms) onto a narrow arc in front of you, instead of all around you. It’s a little quirk there that might not be as appealing to the more finicky listeners, but it’s not too much of a big deal.

 

 

Genre Proficiency:

The Brainwavz R3, as I’ve said earlier, works amazingly well with cool, laid-back genres, synergising well with its laid-back sound. Stuff like Coldplay, Daft Punk’s slower works, classical, anything that’s slow or has a relaxing vibe – the Brainwavz R3 performs spectacularly. However, it’s hardly finicky with genres and will play anything you throw at it very well.

 

 

Summary:

The Brainwavz R3’s sound is something I could liken to a nice latte – smooth, rich, creamy, sweet, and with just the right kick from the coffee. I’m sure from this, you can put two and two together, so there’s not much to say other than it’s great if the R3’s sound is what you’re looking for. Bassheads will have to look elsewhere, because the R3 is definitely an audiophile IEM.

 


 

Other Media​

 

Games:

The R3 isn’t bad with games. Sure, its detail retrieval is great for getting an edge over the competition, but its rather congested presentation takes a hit to their imaging capabilities. All in all, they’re not something I’d use for competitive gaming.

 

 

Movies:

The R3’s smooth, balanced signature allows it to play along with pretty much any type of movie, from epic action scenes to heart-wrenching drama moments. I find they perform better with quieter movies, just as they do well with laid-back music.


 
 

EQ Response, Amplification​

The R3, in my opinion, doesn’t really respond well to EQ (rather, basic EQ presets), though with a more advanced EQ like Electri-Q or Viper4Windows, you can EQ them to be completely flat, which, surprisingly, is very easy to do. But once I did that, man, oh man. The results were amazing. Probably the only downside to this is having to go through rather extensive tweaking and listening to get the sound just right, but otherwise they’re perfectly fine. At an impedance rating of about 32 ohms, they do need a bit more power to drive than, say, the S5 IEMs. At lower volumes, their midrange sounds rather muffled, and both ends of the spectrum also lose some detail. With extra power, though, the midrange comes forward, and with enough power, the bass suddenly begins to sound pretty damn impressive. You can really feel the sub-bass notes come alive and make the entire signature come together to no short of amazing. I don’t have a dedicated headphone amp as of yet, but now I begin to realize just how much I need one.



 

 

Value​

 
Retailing at a price of $130, the Brainwavz R3 falls into the $100-150 range, which is a very large battlefield dominated by legendary IEMs like the HiFiMAN RE-400 and the Yamaha EPH-100. And though this price range is a rather saturated market, I could very easily find myself recommending the Brainwavz R3 to anyone who prefers a laid-back sound with a focus on similarly laid-back genres. However, I most certainly won’t be recommending these for EDM and similar genres – after all, there is the S5 for that.

 

 

Comparison​

 
Honestly, with these being my first IEMs past the $100 mark, I could say comparing these to other IEMs is new ground for me. But I’ll see what I can do about it.

 

Versus Brainwavz S5 ($100):

What better comparison to make than the top-end IEM of the Brainwavz S-series? Comparing these two top-enders of their respective lines is very interesting, as both have been designed for completely different things. The R3, as I have described earlier, is a cool, laid-back, and more audiophile-oriented IEM. The S5, on the other hand, pulls no punches in bringing visceral bass power to your ears in a way that brings a smile to my face every time. Now, which do I think is better?
 


To be honest, I could only say it goes down to a matter of preference. Like I said, these two have very different signatures, and at the end of it all, it mostly comes down to the listener. I would take either at any time of day, depending on the music I’m listening to. I like to think of them as two friends you go with to a lounge – the S5 being the guy grooving the night away on the dance floor, the R3 being the one that kicks back and enjoying a nice drink once the music dies down.

 

== Conclusion ==​

 
 
At first, I really didn’t know what to expect from these dual dynamic IEMs, and to be honest, I was rather underwhelmed when I listened to them straight out of the box. But as I adjusted to this new sound, I eventually gained a feel for what it does and is capable of doing. The Brainwavz R3 is a very worthy competitor in its market if you’re looking for a relaxing, laid-back signature, and has deservedly earned its place in the Brainwavz lineup.
 
Category
Score
Comment
Packaging, Accessories
8/10​
Again, Brainwavz has blown me away with its generous amount of eartips at your disposal. The retail packaging is also a looker.
Design, Build, Microphonics
8.5/10​
Though the bottle-shaped housings might confuse potential buyers, the R3’s build is nothing to scoff at. Microphonics is mostly suppressed thanks to the over-ear design, although the weight of the cable might still cause some cable noise.
Fit, Comfort, Isolation
6/10​
Despite the oddly-shaped housings, the R3 is surprisingly easy to wear, after a couple minutes of fiddling. Comfort is great with most tips, although due to the design, isolation is ‘meh.’
Microphone
N/A​
No microphone means nothing to see here.
Bass
8/10​
Sweet, simple, and buttery smooth. It’s clear the R3’s bass driver was tuned for an audiophile’s taste, as it pulls back punches in favor of accuracy over power. Not that I’m complaining.
Midrange
8.5/10​
The R3’s midrange works amazingly well with acoustic instruments and vocals, with a smooth, natural presentation with a slightly warm tonality. It may not be as smooth as the bass, but it’s certainly sweet.
Treble
7/10​
The treble apparently seems to be the only pert lacking in the R3 in my opinion, as it is too soft and mellow for my tastes. Brainwavz attempted to fix this by tuning a 10 kHz spike into the signature, but they fell short to my ears. It’s still not pretty bad, though.
Presentation
8/10​
The unique design of the Brainwavz R3 allows it to achieve a spacious, airy soundstage with great imaging to boot.
Gaming, Movies
7/10​
I honestly don’t really like the R3’s performance in gaming, although it’s far above average. Movies, however, sound amazing on them.
EQ, Amping
7/10​
With a little fiddling of the EQ, it shouldn’t take long to be able to EQ the R3 into a flat signature. With a little extra juice, though, you can really unleash the R3’s full potential with a more forward midrange and hugely improved bass performance.
Value
8/10​
Despite some mostly aesthetic drawbacks, I feel the Brainwavz R3 is very worth their $130 price tag.
Total
7.9/10​
The Brainwavz R3 is a little expensive from a consumer standpoint, but if they just so happen to listen to acoustic-based genres, they will be rewarded. Those who could afford a headphone amp will be rewarded even further with a very well-rounded IEM.



 

 

Shout-Outs, Gallery

 
Again, I would like to give a huge thank-you to Audrey and the Brainwavz team for again giving me the opportunity to review another of their fine IEMs. It’s been great seeing these guys grow, and I’m eagerly looking forward to see what they will come up next. Also, thanks to my sister for again providing us with more of these beautiful pictures you see throughout the review and in the following Gallery section. To shorten loading times, I decided to just leave a link to all of the pictures taken during the photo-shoot of the R3 right here for convenience.
 
This is thatBeatsguy signing off; thanks for reading!
 
 

About Brainwavz

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

 

 
Company website: www.brainwavzaudio.com


Audiophile1811
Audiophile1811
shockdoc
shockdoc
What about soundstage, imaging and separation?
thatBeatsguy
thatBeatsguy
@shockdoc

Sorry if I didn't put much emphasis on that, but I did write a line on that:
"Soundstage and imaging ain’t no slouch, however, and has pretty good depth and width (akin to the size of a large, acoustically-treated studio)."

Audiophile1811

500+ Head-Fier
Introduction – As the top-of-the-line earphone of the young company Brainwavz, the R3 has a quite a lot on its shoulders. Utilizing a relatively new dual-dynamic driver configuration, uncommon with most headphones on the market, Brainwavz has chosen this design for its very best headphone. Bold as it is, this design has been successful in many budget-based sets such as the Havi B3 Pro-1 and TTPOD’s T1 series. The R3’s, then, promise a lot considering they cost twice and even three times as much as the aforementioned earphones. So do they deliver for the price? The answer is yes… and no. But this is best explained throughout my review so if you’re interested, simply read on and find out why. 
biggrin.gif

 
Disclaimer – This is a free review unit delivered to me for the purpose of this review. I am not affiliated with Brainwavz in any way and will stay objective as possible throughout this review. Huge thanks to Audrey at Brainwavz for sending these out to me, it’s quite a privilege. All photos were taken by me.  
 
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Specifications:
- 10mm Dual-Dynamic drivers (Passive Crossover)
- Impedance: 32 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 95dB
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Rated Input Power: 2mW
- Cable: OFC Copper, 1.3 meters/4.25 ft.

 
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Packaging & Accessories: The R3’s have slightly unconventional packaging that presents the headphones and its cable through clear plastic windows on either side of the box. Inside you’ll find a plethora of tips (9 pairs in total) which include 6 pairs of single-flange silicone tips (3 pairs gray, 3 pairs black), a single pair of bi-flange and triple-flange tips, and a pair of Comply T500 tips. Also included is a ¼ inch adapter, a hard zip-case, and a 1-year warranty card (box says 2 years, don’t know which to believe). Brainwavz has been very generous with their accessories and deserve credit for being thoughtful with their ear tips.
 
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Build & Design: Brainwavz has gone very out-of-the-box with the design of the R3. They’ve used a tubular housing for the drivers and a 90° angle nozzle that sticks straight out of the center. This means each driver faces each other within a divided enclosure and each band of frequencies meet inside the nozzle creating a uniform sound. Internal details aside, the aluminum housings feel extremely rugged throughout. However, cable quality is questionable. The 4-inch black portion of the cable is higher quality than the remaining grey section and is the only part that doesn’t suffer from kinks or memory. But since most of the cable does, it’s a wonder why Brainwavz didn’t just make the entire cable consistent (or thinner for that matter). But this is nitpicking because the R3’s seem very durable. The real problems come when wearing the R3’s.  
 
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Comfort & Fit: I have small ears, which means I also have problems with earphones, even the most comfortable. Brainwavz sought to remedy this dilemma for those like me but haven’t entirely succeeded. The R3’s are utilize an over-ear design but the housings are heavy and the nozzles are large. This causes them to fall out of place and need adjustment often. Strain reliefs are a bit stiff below the housings (fine on the Y-split & 3.5mm jack) and combined with their vertical position the cable very tricky to place behind the ear, as they were intended. But the worst part is the cable that is simply too thick and heavy for an IEM. The sheer weight and size of the cable can make it cumbersome and difficult to wear under clothing (also due to its rubbery texture). When worn with the right ear tips the R3’s are relatively comfortable but suffer from their awkward design and cable. With this in mind, the R3’s will suit some but definitely not others, so be cautious if your ears have given you trouble in the past.          
 
Microphonics: For such a large cable, microphonics were not as bad as I expected. Cable noise is well controlled when worn over-ear but is fairly distracting cable-down. The included cinch does a good job of keeping cable noise down in either configuration too. 
 
Isolation: There is a surprising level of noise attenuation when wearing the R3’s. They isolate very well outdoors and reduce environmental noise enough for non-distractive (but safe) listening. I consider this a strength of the R3’s overall.
 ​
----------Sound----------
 
Equipment & Background – For the sound portion of this review I will be using an Audinst HUD-MX1 amp/DAC combo as my primary “reference” source, a Topping NX-1 portable amplifier, and a Sansa Fuze as a portable source. All my impressions are done indoors with an over-ear headphone for added isolation resulting in almost silent listening with no audible distractions. My library consists of FLAC and high bit-rate MP3 files. The R3’s were also burned-in over 100hrs before review.
 
Bass: With a mid-forward sound signature the bass on the R3’s are not boosted or enhanced like many V-shaped sets on the market. Instead, lows are much mellower and have a pleasant musical warmth throughout. And while they don’t extend too far down there is enough sub-bass for an engaging listen. Bass is tight, controlled, and well-rounded and never once feels loose or bloated. However, it should be noted that the lows on the R3 are fairly soft in nature which means they won’t deliver the same visceral impact compared to sets with large mid-bass humps. That said, bass is always engaging and very punchy when required. Smoothness is another quality of the bass that becomes noticeable with fast, heavy music genres (those of which are not entirely suited for the R3). But those who prefer a mid-forward signature will appreciate the manner with which the R3’s handle bass notes. They are never distracting and don’t steal the attention of the listener; they provide enough energy to strike an excellent balance with the midrange and treble. Bass reproduction is one of the biggest strengths of the R3’s (in my opinion) due to their laid-back presence.
 
Mids: Moving upwards, the midrange holds a good few surprises. As mentioned before, the R3’s are mid forward overall. But this does not make them fatiguing or offensive to listen to as many other users have experienced with many other mid forward sets. Instead, the R3’s mids are not aggressive or rich, just forward enough to focus its sound on one particular part of the frequency spectrum. The primary advantage here are mids that are both clear and smooth. The balance between the two is obvious but the mids generally lean towards smoothness more than anything else. Vocalists demonstrate this best as they lack detail in parts of both the lower and upper-midrange; Both male and female vocalist suffer the effects of this coloration which was likely created by frequency dips in both regions. In terms of quality, the midrange is neither lifelike nor is it the most natural. Despite this there is no lack of finesse to the mids, just slightly lacking in accuracy. It will easily satisfy all but the extreme detail lover with its creamy, effortless nature but it won’t please anybody in sheer quality alone.     
 
Treble: The last piece of the (frequency) puzzle lies in the R3’s treble. Highs are, yet again, very smooth but also more revealing and detailed than any frequencies below it. While not bright, there is an unexpected level of clarity up top considering the soft, genial character of the bass and midrange. Details come through with percussive instruments with natural timbre and good sparkle but without harshness. This lack of harshness prevents any sibilance from occurring even with the most aggressive vocalists and the worst recordings. Extension is considerably impressive as well, with frequencies extending up to 15kHz and gently rolling-off afterwards. And although consistency is lacking in areas, the treble is still up to par with more expensive earphones in its price range. For what it does best (i.e. bass) and what its focus is (i.e. mids), the top end of the R3’s are surprisingly good; They can suit the needs of almost any listener and any genre.
 
Presentation: The R3’s present their sound in a way that’s both engaging and involving. Soundstage is a little predictable for a mid-centric IEM as it has a tendency to place vocals and most of the midrange very close to the listener. This gives the effect of having music performed directly in front of you, but not in a way that it becomes tiring over time. The result is a soundstage with only average depth overall. Height is improved over depth but width is where the R3’s begin to open up. Wide spatial cues are thrown out far on either side of the head while still maintaining easy localization. The result is an intimate presentation that is more spacious than their sound signature would suggest. Bass is centered, vocals are intimate, treble is airy, and music is simply a joy to experience. Most will find their unique presentation and signature very pleasant no matter what genre of music preferred.
 
Ear Tips & Insertion Sensitivity: The R3’s can be a little picky with ear tips as their nozzle is a slightly larger than average. Even the included tips require a little force to fit onto the nozzle. But this doesn’t inhibit tip-rolling with the R3’s as they are quite flexible. Sound can be adjusted to have either a thicker, warmer sound or a more neutral one depending on the tip fitted: Single flanges will achieve the former while the included double-flanges will achieve the latter. And since insertion is neither shallow nor deep some tips will stay in place and others will not. As mentioned in the Comfort & Fit section, this will depend on your ears more than anything else.  
 
Power, Sensitivity, and Source Performance: The R3’s are a very drivable earphone that respond well with most sources. Low output devices should have no trouble driving them although they may require a little more volume to acquire listenable levels. A more powerful source, such as a dedicated amplifier, will yield better results in terms of volume and quality.
 
Value: For $129 the Brainwavz R3 is a peculiar earphone that combines an unusual design with a consumer friendly sound. The R3 balances a mid-forward signature with a wide presentation but loses out in areas of detail and accuracy. But its main weakness is its design and fit. Their tubular housings are difficult to wear for long periods without adjustment and that’s if they’re comfortable to begin with. The cable’s large profile also causes issues as it prevents the R3’s from fitting inside a pant pocket, making them a little inconvenient to transport. Overall however, the R3 is still relatively good value if you can get past its flaws. And if you enjoy a smooth, musical sound you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.
 
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Brainwavz R3
 
I hope this review will be useful to those who read through it. Please leave any suggestions or advice you may have in the comments below.  Everyone’s input will help me improve my reviews and make it easier to adapt my reviews for as wide an audience as possible. Thanks for reading and happy listening! 
smile.gif
 

Wokei
Wokei
Nice review ..well done
Audiophile1811

twister6

twister6 Reviews
Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: build quality, included accessories, great sound separation
Cons: cable, would prefer memory wire back, fitment
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kova4a

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: solid build quality; balanced smooth and natural sound; 2-year warranty
Cons: rubbery cable prone to memory kinks; fit can be an issue for some people
First off, I have to thank again Brainwavz and Audrey for this R3 unit
 
Packaging and Accessories
 
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The packaging is quite straightforward. There are plastic windows both at the front and the back of the box showcasing the shiny metal housings of the R3. Below the front window is embossed Brainwavz R3 and a very basic description – Twin Driver Configuration, Bass & Clarity and Rugged Metal Housing Design. Can’t disagree with that but maybe Smooth & Balanced would have been a bit more accurate description but more on that later.
 
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On the back of the box there is a bit more detailed description of the R3 and its design.
On the sides of the package are listed its contents and R3’s specs.
It’s a fairly nice presentation overall.
 
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Inside the box reside the R3 and the Brainwavz case. I’ve mentioned multiple times that this is my favorite iem case. It’s quite tough and specious and can easily fit a pair of iems and a small DAP like a Sansa. Inside one of the red pockets there is a nice quarter inch adapter and small gray bag with the included tips. There are 2 different types of single flange tips. Black ones made of a touch thicker silicone and gray ones, which are softer and have a slightly wider bore. The single flange silicone tips come in 3 sizes. There is also a pair of bi-flange and a pair of tri-flange tips, which come in only one size. As usual with Brainwavz a pair of comply foam tips packaged separately is included to complete the package.
 
Build Quality, Design and Fit
 
View attachment
 
The R3 is a quite solid iem with robust metal housings and a thick rugged cable. The cable is a bit memory prone and rubbery though and while I don’t mind its thickness or weight I would have preferred if it had smoother sleeving and was more pliable and easier to keep straight.
 
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The strain reliefs are substantial and again some people might call the Y-splitter over-engineered but it’s fine by me.
 
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The j-plug is also on the bulky side but I’m a huge fan of j-plugs and it looks capable of withstanding quite a bit of abuse, so I can’t complain. If anything it completes the overall tough looks of the R3.
Design-wise it only takes a quick glance at the R3 to realize that it’s not your average iem. Its design is quite unique and I have to admit that when the R3 was first announced I wasn’t impressed and right away commented that people will have issue with the fit with such a design. It’s eye catching though and people often stare at the housing more than a couple of seconds.
 
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Surprisingly despite my initial reservations and worries about the fit it turned out fine. I haven’t tried the old R3 version with the long memory-wires but this revised one actually fits me quite well. The fit is secure and isolation is good. It did take me quite a bit of tip rolling but finally settled on the stock bi-flanges both for the comfort and the sound.
The R3 can also be worn straight but the fit will be less secure due to the weight of the cable pulling the housings down.
There is a very mild driver flex with certain tips particularly on the left earpiece. Microphonics are very low when worn cable up.
 
Sound
 
The R3 has over 100 hours of burn-in at the time of writing this review.
 
For a dual dynamic driver iem that has a separate driver to reproduce the low frequencies the R3 quite surprised me. Its bass is quite flat and balanced. It is well-rounded with good control but is a bit on the polite side – softer on the impact and lacking some depth. The lower extension is not bad but after 50hz the bass gradually rolls off. Overall I like R3’s bass although I would have liked if it was a bit tighter and harder hitting but given the overall smooth and non-fatiguing presentation of the R3 it fits well with the rest of the spectrum. In comparison the Brainwavz S5 has a lot bigger but also less controlled and muddier bass bleeding into the mids.
 
The mids are well balanced with the bass and also relatively flat. Both male and female vocals have very nice presence and sweet tone. The R3 actually sounds a bit mid-centric but I don’t mind that as this type of signature is harder and harder to find. The tonality is slightly on the warm side but still what I would call neutral-ish. Instruments have nice timbre and despite the slightly thick note presentation sound natural and realistic. Detail retrieval is actually pretty good but clarity is a bit behind in comparison to some of the competition. In comparison brainwavz’s own S5 is noticeably clearer due to its thinner note presentation and treble emphasis but is also a lot less natural sounding and more fatiguing. The R3 instead is smoother lusher sounding.
 
The highs are a bit laid back but very well extended and smooth. The lower treble has enough energy to keeps things exciting without getting harsh or fatiguing. There is plenty of shimmer but I wouldn’t have minded a bit more sparkle. The treble is not prone to pointing out sibilance. In comparison the S5 with its more emphasized and peaky highs is noticeably harsher and more artificial sounding.
 
The R3 is full and airy sounding. Imaging is very good with both width and depth above average. Positioning is quite good. Instrument separation is very good with plenty of space between the instruments. Overall, the R3 sounds pretty spacious, especially for a mid-centric iem, which usually tend to be more on the intimate side.
 
Summary
 
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                                          R3 and its little brother R1
 
Brainwavz R3 has quite the surprising sound for a dual dynamic driver iem. Owning the Brainwavz R1 I expected a lot different sound but it’s heads and shoulders above its smaller dual dynamic brother R1. I’m not going to lie, I would also pick it over the Brainwavz’s other higher-end iem the S5 any day of the week. While the S5 will most likely impress a lot more people at first listen with its big bass and clarity, the R3 with its more balanced, smoother and mature sound is the iem that really impresses.
 
The R3 is a very solid performer sound-wise with a very solid build quality to boot. If it wasn’t for Audrey I probably would have given it a pass worried about the fit and all the people complaining about it. Maybe the memory wires on the old version were really horrible – I can’t comment on that but they are gone now and what is left is an iem that deserves to be given a second chance.
BGRoberts
BGRoberts
Nice review. Thanks for the time spent.
kova4a
kova4a
Thanks.
waynes world
waynes world
Great review kova4a :)

DannyBai

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Even keeled sound, nice build, excellent bundle of accessories
Cons: Thick cable and large Y-split if it really is a con.

I was provide a review sample and would like to thank Salsera and Brainwavz/MP4Nation.  
 
The R3 V.2 is a dual dynamic barrel shaped iem from Brainwavz.  Probably the oddest looking earphone on the market but surprisingly, I had no problem with fit.  The shape actually works well with the looping over ear design and the earphones stay in place without much issue.  The housings look and feel of aluminum and are light in weight.  They are actually very comfortable while in use.  Cables are rather thick especially from Y-split down to the 3.5mm jack.  From the Y-split up to the housings have been redesigned and are much better than the original version.  Cables seem to stay in place quite well around the ears and the thickness wasn’t much of a bother for me.  The 3.5mm jack has a nice 45 degree angle in which I have come to appreciate in design.  Only gripe although minor is the overall thickness of the cable and bigger than average Y-split. 
 
Moving on to the sound, these have a nice balanced signature.  Bass doesn’t hit with great impact, won’t reach to the lowest of the lows or hit you with forceful mid-bass punch.  Bass has good presence but isn’t the tightest and sounds a bit soft from what I’m use to.  The S5 from Brainwavz reaches lower, has bigger impact and makes a much greater presence in the music.  For those who find the S5 to have too much bass, the R3 might be more appealing.  Overall, I find the bass to fit with the signature these earphones are going for.  These earphones have a wide and deep soundstage, some of the biggest I’ve heard.  This can be good or bad on the vocals, depending on preference.  The staging distances the vocals several rows back so it isn’t up front.  I find them a little recessed and I mean little because they can be clearly heard and is not hidden from the rest of the music.  I honestly couldn’t nitpick if male or female vocals sounded better since both sounded just fine for me.  But, vocal trance sounded quite nice.  Treble is very relaxed and there isn’t even a hint of fatigue, sibilance or the dreaded “sss” in the vocal region.  Treble is smooth and possibly could use a little more for added sparkle.  Somewhere between the R3 and S5 would be lovely.  The smooth and non-fatiguing treble still clearly presents the details in the music.  Instrument placement can be best pictured as if the listener is sitting in a large theatre compared to say a small intimate club.  This is more of a surround sound listening experience. 
 
In conclusion, I find the R3 V2 to be an even keeled sounding earphone that really doesn’t have much fault.  Nothing to really complain about, even with the thick cable and all.  I’m not too much of a nitpicker but I would think most would find this earphone to sound just fine.  No huge bass to complain about or peaky treble or too recessed vocals.  Fit’s fine if people can ignore the odd design and give it a try. 

ericp10
ericp10
Nice job as usual, DannyBai
DannyBai
DannyBai
Thanks fellas, didn't realize until now there's comments on here.  Appreciate the great feedback.
Dsnuts
Dsnuts
Can't ignore the bombs hanging out of the ears. Can't ignore em. Mini bombs.Shiny mini bombs.

TrollDragon

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Build Quality, Fit, Comfort, Neutral Sound
Cons: Rubbery Heavy Duty Cable.

Brainwavz R3 IEM​

Review by TrollDragon​

 
In the following review, I would like to present my impressions of the Brainwavz R3. A very odd shaped IEM compared to the majority available on the market today, but there is absolutely nothing odd about the sound or fit. This will be my second review of a Brainwavz product and I would like to take this moment to thank Audrey for providing me with a review sample of the R3. Brainwavz is exceedingly generous to the Head-Fi community and it is greatly appreciated.
 

First Impression

Upon unpacking the R3 from the FedEx bag, I was completely taken aback by the shape and size of these polished aluminum drivers that look like little bottles with an ear tip sticking out of the middle of them. I have seen the product and review pictures, but you really can't get a good estimate of their shape and size till they are actually sitting in front of you. My first thoughts were that no way are these things going to fit my ears or even be comfortable to wear for any amount of time, but more on that later.
 
 
 

Packaging and Contents

I really enjoy Brainwavz packaging; there is always a good quantity of information on each side of their boxes. From the brief product description on the front and the detailed information and cutaway view on the back, to the package contents, product specification, and warranty on the sides--all are presented in an easy to read and well laid out format.
There is a generous quantity of accessories included with the R3.
 

Tips Included:

6 pairs of Silicone in S/M/L.
1 pair of Bi-Flange.
1 pair of Tri-Flange.
1 pair of Comply Foam Premium T-500.
1/4" Adapter
EVA Hard Case
Warranty / Instruction Card
 
 
The included hard case is of excellent quality with dual zippers and web pouches inside to hold all the accessories out of the way when you want to pack up the R3 for travel or storage. There is no Airline Adapter included with these, so if you require one you will have to borrow it from another unit. I personally have never used the Airline Adapter since I am not required to fly anywhere.

 

Brainwavz R3 Specifications

Drivers: Dynamic,10mm x2
Crossover: Passive
Rated Impedance: 32 Ω
Frequency Range: 20Hz - 20kHz
Sensitivity: 95 dB @ 1 mW
Rated Input Power: 2 mW
Plug: 3.5mm Gold Plated
Cables: 1.3 m Y-Cord, Copper  
 
 

Build & Fit

After these are all unpacked and upon closer examination, you will quickly realize that they are extremely sturdy and well built. The aluminum body is very smooth with no rough edges, corners or excessive weight, as the drivers weigh less than 15g`s on my scale.
 
 ​
The cable is the real issue with the R3's--it might be a little long for some and it is very rubbery and rather heavy duty. The section before the Y splitter seems to keep its shape from being coiled up for packaging and does not want to lay flat or stay where you put it. The Right and Left sections after the Y splitter are a tiny bit more forgiving and only half as thick. This is the R3 version without the built in memory wire, so that short section of black cable coming from the drivers is a little different than the other sections of cable, but is still quite flexible.
 
I thought the fit on these would be an issue, but the first time I put them in my ears with the large silicone tips they sealed perfectly. I actually found this to be a pleasant surprise as I usually have to fiddle with IEM`s to get a good fit. I have also tried them in the down position but didn't care for it as they are really made to be worn up. With a little practice you will be able to put them in very quickly and easily. I wear them up and slightly angled forward for better cable routing around my ear. Since the cable does have a mind of its own and will pop out from behind your ear, depending on what you are doing, you really have to use the chin slider to keep the wires in place. I didn't experience any problem with them falling out of my ears or coming loose, just cable movement issues before I started using the slider.
 
 

Sound & Conclusion

After reviewing a few other IEM's recently and finding the Brainwavz S5 way too bright for my liking, I didn't quite know what to expect with the R3's. I was hoping they didn't follow the sound of the S5's or have the extreme bass of the Silver filters on the Rock Jaw Alfa Genus.
 
What I did discover was one of the most pleasant sounding IEM's I have listened to so far. The R3's have a very nice neutral sound that can be enjoyed with many different genres of music. Since these have dual opposed drivers, one for bass and one for midrange/treble ,with everything being mixed together in an acoustic chamber, I had half expected a great quantity of overwhelming bass, but there was none of that to be found. Same with the upper end--since there is a driver specifically tuned for that I half expected the R3's to be a touch aggressive as well. No, there was none of that either.
 
With a sensitivity of 95 dB @ 1 mW, the R3's work optimally with an amplifier driving them, if your source does not put out enough power. The Colorfly C3 will just drive them unamplified with the volume control at 38/40 on tracks that are quite loud, but the R3's really come alive when you put an amplifier in the chain.
 
 ​
 ​

They sound even better out of the slightly darker FiiO X3.​

 
I found an IEM that, to my ears, has a very smooth and spacious sound that I really enjoy listening to. It might not be as aggressive or as airy as some listeners like, but to me, the R3 is going to be hard to beat as my new daily IEM. I would recommend the Brainwavz R3 to someone looking for a great sounding neutral IEM that works very well with multiple genres. The heavy cable is easy to get used to, but it might be an annoying issue for some listeners.
 
Since there are many new IEM's on the market these days, the price/performance value of the R3's might not continue to be a feasible solution.
 
Constructive criticism is always welcome,
TrollDragon
BGRoberts
BGRoberts
Very nice review.
I enjoyed it a lot.
Who makes the leather case on your X3?
Keep listenin'!
BG
Pros: Clarity, reasonably natural sonic signature, soundstage, build quality, accessories
Cons: Cable (still too bulky), slight recession in upper mids (for my taste), fit
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For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images

INTRODUCTION

I first reviewed the original Brainwavz R3 back in December 2013, and unfortunately although I did (and still do) like the sonic qualities of the R3, at the time I pretty much slated them for their unwieldy cable and almost impossible fit issues due to the ridiculously long memory cable.

I have to give Brainwavz due praise here, as they listened to the comments from quite a few of us, and re-released an updated version which sought to address some of these issues. My original review of the R3-V1 can be found here : http://www.head-fi.org/products/brainwavz-r3-dual-dynamic-driver-earphones/reviews/10143. At the time I gave them 2.5 stars. Most of the deductions had to do with the cable issues.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Audrey at Brainwavz (and also Raz at MP4 Nation) for the initial chance to try the original R3, and also for remembering me, and giving me a chance to review their updated version.

DISCLAIMER

I was provided the R3 (V2) as a review sample. I am in no way affiliated with MP4 Nation or Brainwavz - and this review is my subjective opinion of the R3 (V2). I have listed price as $129.50 which is the current delivered price offered by MP4 Nation. I did not pay this – this pair of R3 were supplied as a free review sample.

PREAMBLE - 'about me'. (This is to give any readers a baseline for interpreting the review).

I'm a 47 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portable (Fiio X5, and iPhone4) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP). I also use a portable set-up at work – either X5 > HP, or PC > Beyer A200p > HP. My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1 and Sennheiser HD600. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs (I do also have the Beyer T51p, but IEMs command most of my portable time) - and up till now it has mainly been with the Fidue A83, Dunu DN-1000 and Altone200. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced. I am neither a bass nor treble head (you could argue that I do like clarity though). I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880.

For the purposes of this review - I used the Brainwavz R3 (V2) straight from the headphone-out socket of my Fiio X5, and iPhone 4. I did not further amp them, as IMO they do not benefit from additional amplification. In the time I have spent with the R3, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (I do not believe in 'night and day' burn-in). I will respect others choice if they believe in physical burn-in, but I am yet to experience it.

This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

THE REVIEW
(small note – I will be borrowing some parts of my former review as many of them still apply to the new R3)

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES

The R3's once again arrived in a simple retail box - consisting of an outer case over a clear plastic inner - which shows the R3, but hides the supplied carry/storage case, and accessories. The specific sales messages on the box are very much straight forward and to the point:


  1. twin driver configuration (tick, definitely true)
  2. bass and clarity (tick again, but not what I originally expected)
  3. rugged metal housing design (tick, definitely true)

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Original retail box left, new retail box right

Original retail box left, new retail box right

The box also has a list of specifications on the side, as well as a list of included accessories. On the rear of the box (which is a fantastic touch) is an image of the driver design (cut-away image of the shell). They also have a blurb regarding the design, and what they were aiming for.

A couple of things I noticed comparing the two boxes is that the new version has a slightly different (updated logo), some print differences (see photos), and some small changes to the printed specifications (more on that later).

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Original retail box bottom, new retail box top

Original retail box left, new retail box right

On opening the outer box, you're presented with the inner clear plastic 'tray' (which is pretty flimsy but functional) the (fantastic) Brainwavz carry case, and the very shiny and rugged R3's. On opening the Brainwavz carry/storage case you discover once again the extremely good accessory range shipped with the R3s – which I might add is typical of Brainwavz headphones, and something they are to be commended for.

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Inner packaging

R3 and accessories - once again excellent

For accessories, included is the excellent semi-rigid red and black case (dimensions approx 90 x 70 x 45mm). The case is strong enough to fully protect your IEM's, has twin pockets on the inside for tips etc, and is very roomy. One of my criticisms last time was that with all of the bulk of the cable, the coiled R3 would not fit properly inside the case. I’m pleased to advise that this has been rectified with version two – and although it is a reasonably snug fit – I’m not having to force the R3 inside the case to get the zip closed.

The R3 also comes with an excellent 3.5 to 6.3mm adaptor, warranty form, and a variety of tips. The design of the adaptor is slightly different from the original but still extremely well made. One noticeable omission from the accessory package this time is the airline adaptor.

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Old adaptor left, new adapter right

Old accessory package - similar except for missing airline adapter

The R3 warranty card is still the standard warranty/RMA form because it states 12 months on the form - but 24 months on the box.

The R3 also comes with an excellent range of different sized tips including triple flanges, dual flanges, single flange standard silicone (two types in S/M/L), and also some comply foam tips (which were originally in a sealed comply pouch).

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Very good tip range including genuine Comply T400s

Very good tip range including genuine Comply T400s

Once again, the accessories included are highly impressive. I applaud Brainwavz for this.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

(From the packaging – note I have listed original V1 and new V2 to show differences)


R3 Original
R3 Updated
Drivers :
Twin dynamic drivers (10mm x 2)
Twin dynamic drivers (10mm x 2)
Crossover :
Passive
Passive
Impedance :
32 ohm
32 ohm
Sensitivity :
95dB at 1 mW
110dB at 1 mW
Rated Input Power :
2 mW
30 mW
Frequency response :
20hz-20 khz
16hz-22 khz
Jack :
3.5mm angled gold-plated jack
3.5mm angled gold-plated jack
Cable :
1.3m, Y-cord, copper
1.3m, Y-cord, copper

Notes –

  • I have no way of measuring the frequency range, so I have to take Brainwavz at their word that either the frequency range was incorrectly stated on the original R3, or that they have somehow retuned the drivers to change it.
  • The sensitivity is also different. This intrigued me – so I attempted to measure the volume output from my X5 using a standard 3k Hz test tone and an SPL app from my iPhone. I know this is not the most accurate means of measurement – but it is the best I have currently. There was a very slight difference with the test tone with the original R3 measuring 79 dB and the new version at 81 dB. I repeated the test a couple of times, and it was consistent.
  • Rated input power also changed – but I have no desire to put this to the test.
  • Finally – I noticed that the cable on the original R3 appeared significantly longer, so I conducted a rough measurement. The original R3 cable measured 1.5m from IEM body to plug. The new version is significantly shorter at the correctly stated 1.3m.

FREQUENCY CHART

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The above chart was taken from Innerfidelity and my thanks to Tyll for the work he does in providing these measurements. I added this chart to the review after it was already written/complete. Interesting to note that Tyll's measurements - particularly on the upper mid-range (recession) - do agree with my comments later in the review.

BUILD / FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION

The R3 is still built like a tank. The shell is an aluminium alloy. It's approx 1.3cm in diameter and 2.7 cm in length, with a further 1.2cm for the nozzle. The IEMs are a little heavier than standard IEMs (because of the shell size), but so far I haven't found the weight obtrusive in any way. The casing is very shiny, and has the Brainwavz logo printed on one side of each casing, with the word "Brainwavz" on the opposite side. At the tip of the IEM shell is a port (bass port?), and there is another one at the taper toward the strain relief. There is an interesting seam above this port where you can see the connecting wires between the two drivers. This is intentional, and the wires are completely sealed. It all makes for a very interesting design. L&R markings have been moved to the top taper of the body (toward the cable), and are much easier to find.

View attachment

Solid 'industrial type' build. Top port shown.

Extremely robust build quality (Monster tips fitted)

The cable is where the biggest changes have been made with the R3, and this has improved on my some of my original issues with the R3 V1.

The formable wire from the body is now gone, and replaced by a flexible section measuring approximately 10cm (compared to the original 16cm forming wire). It does fit reasonably comfortably over my ears, and no longer causes the IEM’s seal to be broken by the slightest movement. This is a very welcome improvement.

View attachment

Cable improvement - old left, new right

Cable still kinks - too thick!

Onto the cable itself, and unfortunately not too many changes. It's still thick - very, very thick. Once again to give you an idea of how thick - it's still very close in diameter to the cable on my former Beyer DT880s. The problem still is that it's slightly rubbery, and it's still microphonic. Worn over ear (which is advisable with this IEM), the microphonics can be minimised by tucking the cable inside clothing and using the neck cinch. Again because of the cable width, it still has a lot of memory (ie it remains kinked).


R3 cable vs SE535, DN1000 and HSA Living

Examples (old review) of DN1000 vs SE535 vs R3 cable

I've repeated some photos from my initial review which show the cable difference between the R3, my SE535 (as wide as I'd want to go), the DN-1000 (excellent) and HiSound Audio's "Living" earbuds. The 535 and DN-1000, even after rolling reasonably tight, smooth out to a completely straight line again. The Living is very light but still very tough, and only shows light kinking. The R3 with it's 'industrial' design kinks all over the place and still will not straighten. I know that this is part of the overall “industrial design” of the R3 – but I have to admit, I’m still not a fan. Yes it’s very durable – but I really do think Brainwavz could have improved this one area a little better. Bravo on the changes they have made – IMO they still haven’t quite gone far enough.

Cable relief is very good at all points. The cable cinch and Y split is extremely similar to the design on my former SE535 and works well. It's at about the limit I’d go to on size though. The plug is angled. Some will like it, some will not. Most angled plugs I've come across have the angle closer to 90 degress (ie right angles). This one is around 45 degrees. I don't mind either way.


Robust Y split and cinch

45 degree 3.5mm plug

Unfortunately I have one ear canal slightly different to the other one (my right is very slightly smaller) - so I tend to find that single silicon flanges don't fit overly well. The included dual flanges and triple flanges weren't too bad - but still didn’t give me a perfect seal. The comply tips are almost a perfect fit (don't seal 100%), but are easy to insert, and the most comfortable of the included tips. I also tried my Monster super tips which give me the best combination of isolation, seal and comfort with the R3s. Very late in the review I switched to Sony hybrid tips – and these worked really well (seal and comfort).

Once the R3 are correctly inserted, I find them (despite the 'funky design') to be pretty comfortable. The change to the flexible cable (over my ears) has really helped. They still sit flush enough with my ears that I can easily lie down with them still in place - and I think I'd have no issues sleeping with the R3 still intact.

As far as isolation goes - these are quite good with both the Monster tips and Sony Hybrids – much better than the original R3 which was always being dislodged by the earlier cable issues. I think this is very much tip dependent though, and your mileage may vary dramatically. Without the Monster super tips or Sony Hybrids I’d be having some serious fit issues – and you need a good seal for these IEMs to shine.

So how are the sonics – and how do they compare with current offerings?

SOUND QUALITY

The following is what I hear from the R3. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my Fiio X5 as source.

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

Detail / Clarity

For this I’m using my normal tracks: Steely Dan’s “Gaucho” and Dire Strait’s “Sultans of Swing” as there is a lot of micro detail in both tracks, and the recording quality for both is excellent.
The R3 displays very good detail with a definite (but polite) crispness, and enough balance so that detail is present without having the treble overly highlighted. Cymbals are nicely present – but it's not overdone, and I'm not detecting sibilance. There is nice cohesion between vocals and instruments – but perhaps a touch of stridency in the upper mid-range.

Sound-stage & Imaging

For this I use a binaural recording – Amber Rubarth “Sessions From The 17th Ward” - “Tundra”. I use this because it’s a pretty simple way to get comparative data on sound-stage.
IMO it’s usually difficult to get a reasonable stage size from an inner ear monitor. The stage is usually quite small / close – with an average impression of space. The R3 impressed me last time with its ability to project slightly out of my head – and it still delivers here. I’m not sure how they do this (is it the use of the chamber?), but it remains one of the most impressive features of this IEM. Imaging is reasonably good within the soundstage – especially for an IEM at this value point.

I also used Loreena McKennitt’s “Dante’s Prayer” – and the R3 is very good with this type of music – slower, “ballady”, acoustic. This is an enjoyable presentation and sounds quite natural and tonally correct. In this track, the applause at the end is so well presented that with some headphones (HD600) I can actually close my eyes and imagine myself in the crowd. With the Brainwavz R3, I do get a nice sense of space and applause washing over me – so this is once again impressive.

Bass Quality

The original R3 was a surprise to me, and although I know now what to expect, I still find it interesting that with dual dynamic drivers, I’d expect more quantity than the R3 actually deliver. Don’t get me wrong though – bass here is not underdone. It’s just that it still reminds me more of a BA than a dynamic.

My new tests for bass start with Zoe Keating’s “Escape Artist”. Here I’m looking for control and texture, and with Zoe’s cello you can tell easily if a driver is not delivering the right timbre and decay. The R3 doesn’t disappoint – and the presentation is enjoyable.

Switching to something with bigger sub-bass impact like Lorde’s “Royals” and the impact goes up – but it is far more polite than I’m used to with my current hybrids. Sub-bass is there (just) but it’s rolling off quite quickly and not reaching as low as I’d normally expect. Again this reminds me more of a BA than dynamic. It still sounds Ok – just doesn’t have the visceral impact that this track normally delivers.

Change to Little Dragon’s “Little Man” and the bass line is definitely there. Everything is still very clear and well defined – it’s just a little more “polite” than I’m now used to. This is not necessarily a bad thing – but worth noting. Perhaps I’ve been spoilt with the hybrids I’ve been listening to lately.

Female Vocals

I add this section now simply because around 60-65% of my music revolves around female vocals – be it jazz, pop, rock, electronic, or even opera. I’m an unabashed fan. One thing I have noticed is that with some of the artists I listen to, it can be very easy for IEM’s in particular to become shouty or strident if their tuning is not in line with my tastes.

Starting with Agnes Obel’s “Aventine” and the stridency (almost a little hollowness) is the first thing I notice. It’s not unlistenable – it’s just doesn’t have the same sweet presentation that I’m used to now with this track. Immediate thoughts are that the upper mid-range may have a little recession or gap for this to occur.

I then proceeded to play a medley of different tracks from artists including Christina Perri, Gabriella Cilmi, Norah Jones, and even Dolores O’Riordan – and each time while the track was enjoyable (great clarity), tonally I have to admit I prefer alternative IEMs for female vocals. This is probably just my own preference at play – but the R3 would not be my pick for female vocals.

Male Vocals

It’s only fair that I contrast my comments above with the other end of the spectrum, and it’s here that the R3 begins to shine. Kicking off with pure rock (3 Doors Down “Away from the Sun”), and all is forgiven. The R3 nails male vocals for me – really able to convey texture, timbre and tonality. Once again I fire up a quick mini-medley including Alter Bridge, Joe Bonamassa, Mark Lanegan, Seether, and Pearl Jam. With Pearl Jam especially, the R3 are brilliant, and I could easily sit and listen to my PJ collection for quite a while with these.

AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

The R3 is easily powered out of my iPhone4, and on most tracks I am around 35-45% on the volume slider. With the X5 I’m around 30-35 on low gain.

RESPONSE TO EQ

IMO - the R3 don't need a lot of tweaking - for my tastes, just a slight lift in the 3-5K area. They responded extremely well to this slight bump, and even elevating the bass worked well.

VALUE / COMPARISON TO OTHER IEMS

In order to get an idea of how the Brainwavz R3 rates value wise against the competition, I’ve put it up against some similarly priced IEMs I have on hand and compared the main points I look for in an IEM – build, design, fit, clarity/detail, vocals, bass, cohesion (tonality). The IEM’s I’m comparing with are the RockJaw Alfa Genus ($80), Brainwavz S5 ($100), and Altone200 ($145 shipped). The Brainwavz R3 is $130 shipped.

In comparison I’ve used the same tracks each time – a bit of Pearl Jam, Agnes Obel, Dire Straits and Little Dragon.

  1. Build – as in sturdiness: R3 > S5 > A200 > RJ AG
  2. Design incl cable : S5 > A200 > RJ AG > R3
  3. Fit : A200 > S5 > RJAG > R3
  4. Clarity/Detail : A200 > RJ AG= R3 > S5 (all are actually pretty good)
  5. Vocal male : RJ AG > R3 > A200 > S5
  6. Vocal female : A200 > RJ AG > R3 > S5
  7. Bass quantity : A200 > S5 > RJ AG > R3
  8. Bass quality : A200 > R3 > RJ AG > S5
  9. Cohesion : RJ AG > A200 > R3 > S5
  10. Overall SQ : A200 > RJ AG > R3 > S5

Now the above is very subjective but based on SQ alone, my recommendation would always be to simply increase your budget by $15 and purchase the Altone200, or if budget limited, buy the RockJaw Alfa Genus (it is an incredibly well priced, versatile, and well designed IEM). The problem with the R3 is not that it sounds bad – it actually performs very well sonically. But combine the tricky fit with the cumbersome cable – and I simply can’t recommend it.

SUMMARY

The R3 has a very pleasant signature, very clear and detailed (almost more like a BA than a dynamic), with a much better than normal sound-stage presentation for an IEM. The odd shape is actually OK for comfort once you get the right tip - although that will be an issue for many.

Sonically I think there is a very slight mismatch between lower and upper mids (and after writing the review I found a frequency chart at Innerfidelity – thanks Tyll – which shows a dip in the upper mids) - leaving female vocals sounding slightly unnatural to me. This was easily fixed with EQ. Even without EQ though - the R3 is a very pleasant sounding IEM to listen to.

My main issue still lies with the cable design and fit. And I still can't really put a positive spin on it.

Sonically these are good for their price – but when compared to some other models close in range, and taking into account the design and fit issues, I’d find it hard to recommend the R3 over some other earphones I own. I still wouldn’t buy these myself – nor would I recommend them to my family. There are simply better options out there.

If I could take the sonic signature from the R3 and put it in the S5 housing – and pitch it around the $100 mark – it would be an IEM I could absolutely recommend.

Thanks once again to Audrey for allowing me the chance to try these again. Worth an increase from 2.5 to 3.5 stars – but simply not enough good to override the remaining issues.
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egosumlux
egosumlux
Great review I am happy to know the r3 was updated in a good way just like BW did with the R1
Lurker0
Lurker0
Are you sure the measurements at Innerfidelity were done for V2, and not for the original model?
Brooko
Brooko
I can't honestly tell you - but I had both side by side and they sounded the same to me.  I also understand that Brainwavz updated the cable on the R3 - but didn't touch the Chamber or drivers, so there should be no sonic change anyway.
Pros: Oh it’s so sumptuously and delicately beautiful. Soundstage and scale.
Cons: If you want a V shaped party beast this is not it.
Brainwavz R3 Revised Edition Quick Review
 
***Please note this is the Revised Edition, the one without the horrible memory wire.***
 
Full review here http://www.head-fi.org/t/730589/brainwavz-r3-revised-edition-review-by-mark2410
 
Thanks to mp4nation for the sample.
 
Brief:  Brainwavz do an epically scaled dual dynamic, now without that horrid memory wire.
 
Price:  £77 or US$130 or €97
 
Specification:  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, professional grade memory cable., Plug: 3.5mm gold plated, 45 degree., 24 month warranty.
 
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
 
Build Quality:  Metal and fairly hefty.  The cable too looks very substantial.
 
Isolation:  Fairly reasonable.  Enough to get you killed or for day to day use, but you know, it’s still a dynamic so not flight to New Zealand levels of isolation.
 
Comfort/Fit:  They look like monsters but seem to actually fit everyone rather well.  This one hasn't that horrid memory wire so getting a fit is much better but...... it still has a rubbery ear guide thing I could have done without.  On the whole it’s tolerable.  Comfort was absolutely fine.
 
Aesthetics:  These things look huge, and frankly, they look weird.  Not bad, just weird.
 
Sound:  Huuuuuuuggggggeeeeeeeeeeee. These have such a soft, delicate, airy wondrous quality to them.  The sound stage is vast; the distance these convey is just superb and remind me of the RE-252 and its weird endless sense of distance.  These do open and delicate just utterly superbly.  This sort of sound really, really is one I found grew on me.  At first it’s so incredibly unassuming.  It’s near flavourless, unexciting, mild and a tad boring.  Then you grow accustomed to its just playing what’s there, mellowing any abrasiveness and letting the most sweet and delicate details come into view.  The bass is a tad inflated, and its depth isn’t stellar but it’s so composed and refined.  The highs are for this price the most refined and delicately beautiful live heard in a long, long time. (Since the RE-0 was cut to US$100)   Then the mids, all that openness and air, the space, it’s all so very detailed and so very, very subtle about everything.  I find myself growing to adore the mids here. I very, VERY much like it.
 
The flip side of all this is, its not a thrill machine.  The bass isn’t thumping, the highs aren’t crispy, nor do they hurl detail at you.  The mid’s don’t leap out and scream party.  Horses for courses and all that.
 
Value:  If you like this sound style, superb.  It’s not an “all-rounder” though so some won’t love it the way I do.  Also there is lots of other great stuff at this price bracket.  However it is the one that would get my money, I like it exceedingly much.
 
Pro’s:   Oh it’s so sumptuously and delicately beautiful. Soundstage and scale.
 
Con’s:  If you want a V shaped party beast this is not it. 
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Za Warudo
Za Warudo
The large housing is still uncomfortable even if the memory wire is no longer there.
mark2410
mark2410
did you find it so?  i know it looks huge and youd think it would would be an issue but if you had a problem your the first ive seen say so.  or are you trying to wear it down?
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