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Brainwavz R3 Revised Edition

  1. thatBeatsguy
    Brainwavz' Bogglingly Beautiful Bottles
    Written by thatBeatsguy
    Published Oct 19, 2014
    Pros - Smooth, balanced sound. Brainwavz' signature unique look. Brainwavz' signature build.
    Cons - Weird looks might deter some. Cable is pretty hefty and cumbersome.


    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.

    == Aesthetics ==


    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.


    == Sound ==


    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
    110 dB @ 1 mW
    32 Ω
    1.3 m (4.2’) Copper Y-Cord
    3.5 mm (1/8”) gold-plated 45-degree TRS
    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​



    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).




    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.




    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).




    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.




    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​



    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.




    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.




    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.




    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.
    Packaging, Accessories
    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
    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
    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.’
    No microphone means nothing to see here.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    The unique design of the Brainwavz R3 allows it to achieve a spacious, airy soundstage with great imaging to boot.
    Gaming, Movies
    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
    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.
    Despite some mostly aesthetic drawbacks, I feel the Brainwavz R3 is very worth their $130 price tag.
    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 and TrollDragon like this.
    1. Audiophile1811
      Audiophile1811, Oct 20, 2014
    2. shockdoc
      What about soundstage, imaging and separation?
      shockdoc, Oct 21, 2014
    3. thatBeatsguy

      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)."
      thatBeatsguy, Oct 28, 2014
  2. Audiophile1811
    A Pleasant Surprise
    Written by Audiophile1811
    Published Oct 2, 2014
    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. [​IMG]
    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.  
    _DSC3786.jpg Click to enlarge.
    Click to enlarge.

    - 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.

    Click to enlarge.
    Click to enlarge.

    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.
    Click to enlarge.
    Click to enlarge.
    Click to enlarge.
    Click to enlarge.

    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.  
    Click to enlarge.
    Click to enlarge.
    Click to enlarge.

    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.
    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.
    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! [​IMG] 
      TrollDragon, Wokei and thatBeatsguy like this.
    1. Wokei
      Nice review ..well done
      Wokei, Oct 6, 2014
    2. Audiophile1811
      Audiophile1811, Oct 8, 2014
  3. twister6
    IEM that sounds as unique as it looks
    Written by twister6
    Published Sep 30, 2014
    Pros - build quality, included accessories, great sound separation
    Cons - cable, would prefer memory wire back, fitment
      TrollDragon likes this.
  4. kova4a
    The IEM That Deserves a Chance
    Written by kova4a
    Published Sep 29, 2014
    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
    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.
    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.
    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
    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.
    The strain reliefs are substantial and again some people might call the Y-splitter over-engineered but it’s fine by me.
    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.
    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.
    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.
                                              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.
      TrollDragon and altrunox like this.
    1. BGRoberts
      Nice review. Thanks for the time spent.
      BGRoberts, Sep 29, 2014
    2. kova4a
      kova4a, Sep 30, 2014
    3. waynes world
      Great review kova4a :)
      waynes world, Oct 1, 2014
  5. DannyBai
    Brainwavz R3 V.2
    Written by DannyBai
    Published Sep 29, 2014
    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. 

      TrollDragon, vlenbo and fnkcow like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. ericp10
      Nice job as usual, DannyBai
      ericp10, Sep 29, 2014
    3. DannyBai
      Thanks fellas, didn't realize until now there's comments on here.  Appreciate the great feedback.
      DannyBai, Sep 29, 2014
    4. Dsnuts
      Can't ignore the bombs hanging out of the ears. Can't ignore em. Mini bombs.Shiny mini bombs.
      Dsnuts, Sep 29, 2014
  6. TrollDragon
    Brainwavz R3's - Strange Shape, Excellent Sound.
    Written by TrollDragon
    Published Sep 28, 2014
    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.
    R3_Nozzle.jpg R3_Slider.jpg
    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,
    1. BGRoberts
      Very nice review.
      I enjoyed it a lot.
      Who makes the leather case on your X3?
      Keep listenin'!
      BGRoberts, Oct 9, 2014
  7. Brooko
    Brainwavz R3 (version 2) – Vast Improvement – But Work Still To Be Done
    Written by Brooko
    Published Sep 23, 2014
    Pros - Clarity, reasonably natural sonic signature, soundstage, build quality, accessories
    Cons - Cable (still too bulky), slight recession in upper mids (for my taste), fit
    For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images


    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.


    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.

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


    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)

    R3-R201.jpg R3-R202.jpg

    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).

    R3-R203.jpg R3-R204.jpg

    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.

    R3-R205.jpg R3-R207.jpg

    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.


    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).

    R3-R210.jpg R3-R211.jpg

    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.


    (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 :
    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.



    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.


    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.


    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.


    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?


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.
      TrollDragon likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. egosumlux
      Great review I am happy to know the r3 was updated in a good way just like BW did with the R1
      egosumlux, Sep 24, 2014
    3. Lurker0
      Are you sure the measurements at Innerfidelity were done for V2, and not for the original model?
      Lurker0, Sep 29, 2014
    4. 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.
      Brooko, Sep 29, 2014
  8. mark2410
    Brainwavz R3 Revised Edition Quick Review
    Written by mark2410
    Published Aug 15, 2014
    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. 
      TrollDragon likes this.
    1. Za Warudo
      The large housing is still uncomfortable even if the memory wire is no longer there.
      Za Warudo, Aug 15, 2014
    2. 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?
      mark2410, Aug 15, 2014