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Brainwavz XFIT XF-200 In-Ear Sport Monitors

  1. NA Blur
    An Affordable On The Go IEM
    Written by NA Blur
    Published Feb 1, 2016
    Pros - Great build quality, awesome seal, over the ear fit is comfortable
    Cons - Very bassy, poor mic sound quality
    Driver Type                     9mm Dynamic ( bass ported )
    Plug Type                       3.5mm
    Cord Length                   1.4m Y
    Frequency Response     20 Hz – 20 kHz
    Impedance                     16 Ohms
    Sensitivity                       95dB / mW @ 1kHz
    $25.00 new
    Brainwavz has quite a few IEMs on the market now and their products reach a wide audience because of the giant variety and cost. With the introduction of the XF200, their truly exercise friendly IEM, Brainwavz appeals to those on the move. This IEM aims for ”egonomics, a secure fit, and a crisp, clear, and bold sound.”
    The design on the XF200 is the first wrap around style IEM that Brainwavz has made. As seen in this photo you can see the IEM body is square, the driver nozzles angled, and stiff memory shielding placed in the first few inches from the earpieces to allow form-fitting around the ear placement. The cable feels robust and there is strain relief at the jack plug as well as each ear piece. In-line is a mic and 3-button remote. A cable cinch is also provided to help secure the IEMs and remove any microphonics heard in the cable during movement.
    Plenty of tip sizes are available including a set of Comply foam tips. The shirt clip is also a nice touch considering these are designed for active listeners.
    It took me a minute or two to get the correct fit due to the square driver body, but once in place I found them comfortable. Listeners might want to play around with different tip sizes to achieve the best seal as this really helped the sound. If one channel seems louder than the other change out the tip on the weak channel.
    The driver nozzles are just the right length allowing for an adequate seal as well as lasting comfort. The jack plug is angled at 45 degrees allowing easy insertion into a portable device like an iPod or phone. The cable is 1.4m long making it easy to tunnel under clothing during exercise. Overall the aesthetics are excellent for a $25 IEM and I found no shortfalls or immediate problems.
    Familiar with the Brainwavz house sound I was eager to see if the up-front and slightly bassy signature remained intact with the XF200. The great news is that the house sound is present and due to the great seal the soundstage appears to be expanded compared to other IEMs offered by Brainwavz such as the M1 and Omega.
    Unamped: Having a sensitivity of 95dB/mW one would think that the XF200 would be difficult to drive, but in my case I found the sensitivity to be more in the 105dB / mW range both amped and unamped. There are no worries for those wanting to use this unamped. The impedance is low reaching 16 Ohms so those who have an older tube-amp may want to try a higher impedance IEM, but the XF200 ran fine out of my solid state desktop rig.
    Unamped the XF200 has a wonderfully clear midrange, bass emphasis, and gently rolled off treble avoiding fatigue. I also found the bass to not deliver too much pressure during long listening sessions which was a relief. This IEM has a touch too much roll-off in the treble to be considered for critical listening, but it really wasn’t designed for that anyway. A few tracks like Aes Dana’s Memory Shell ( Lost Radio Ed-dit ) provided too much bass for my liking and caused the bass to drown out the midrange. Not so much so that the midrange was completely gone, but the focus moved to the bass rather than the midrange which is where I consider Brainwavz IEMs do fantastically well. Overall unamped listening proved enjoyable especially when I was working out or out for a run.
    Amped: I test all of my headphones amped and unamped because the performance is often quite different. Portables typically have cleaner power, but limited voltage. Desktop amps have plenty of voltage, but can have current issues. The Brainwavz XF200 sounds good unamped, but amped it starts to sound congested and uneven. Moving to medium gain adds a little color the sound signature bringing the bass more forward and pushing the mids back.
    Listening to John Mayer’s Vultures track from the Continuum album reveals the overly bassy presentation of the XF200. Focals become hidden behind the wall of bass. This is one reason that overly bassy IEMs are so hard to recommend.
    Other tracks like Buddy and Julie Miller’s One Part, Two Part from the Written in Chalk album shows how large the soundstage can sound with this IEM, but at times I did feel that the treble was bright and too sharp.
    Upon further investigation I noticed an open bass port on the inside of the earpieces. This looks like an open hole which is difficult to see on the all black body. I quickly placed a piece of tape over the hole and gave another listen. The bass bloat was greatly attenuated and the treble extended. The midrange developed a light tinny sound, but due to the much needed bass control I highly suggest closing the bass port on this IEM. A tiny piece of Kapton take or a small drop of fingernail polish does the trick.
    With the bass ports open I recommend the XF200 for only portable listening as desktop rigs will tend to reveal the flaws of the sound signature making it hard to critically listen to.
    As with all headphones that come with a mic I test them via phone call. Many have clarity issues by either sounding distant, muddy, or both. The XF200 mic does sound muddy and it would be wonderful if the mic from Brainwavz’s Omega was transplanted onto the XF200 brining its clarity on par with better sounding IEMs. The mic is usable, but certainly not the best for conferences or long critical conversations.
    Brainwavz brings the XF200 to the exercise market by making a very solid IEM. It is constructed and designed with abuse in mind. Due to the poor mic sound quality and uneven sound signature with the bass ports open, critical listening is just not enjoyable, but with the ports closed this $25 IEM is easily recommended. If you plan on using the mic a ton you may want to see if Brainwavz updates the mic before purchasing the XF200. Otherwise with the bass ports closed off I highly recommend trying the XF200 be it for exercise or general listening.
    There is an open bass port seen on the inside of each earpiece that can be plugged to attenuate the bass and extend the treble. I used some fingernail polish, but you could use something like Kapton tape. My only recommendation is you use something more on the super sticky side and not use basic tape because this could come loose inside your ear and cause infection. Plugging the bass ports moves this IEM to easily 4-stars.
    1. avitron142
      The accessories should be included in the pros, or at least be noted as something out of the ordinary. The amount of tips and quality of case in this $25 IEM can cost easily half the cost of the IEM itself. Many headphones 4x the price fail in that department.
      avitron142, Feb 1, 2016
    2. NA Blur
      I agree the accessories and case are awesome. I prefer a low profile case for travel like the case from the GranVela ATE, but Brainwavz makes a very durable case.
      NA Blur, Feb 2, 2016