Brainwavz is a company that should be well known by now to anyone who’s familiar with Head-Fi. Known for their excellent build quality and reasonable prices, Brainwavz should always be on your list of vendors to keep track of. Today I’ll be looking at their recently released B100 single Balanced Armature over ear earphones.
This product was sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions and observations here are my own, based on my experience with the product.
Note that this is the pre-release version of the B100. The sound tuning is final but the release version will have an upgraded cable, black ear-tips and more polished physical finish.
*Because this is the pre-production version the earphones did not come in retail packaging.
The Brainwavz carry cases are above average quality and I have always liked them a lot. This case is elongated and has ample room for the earphones and provided accessories. Brainwavz is one of the few manufacturers whose Large ear-tips are actually large enough for my ears and for that I’m eternally grateful. It’s just as well too because the B100 has very slender nozzles which could make tip rolling a bit tricky. Fortunately, the included tips are very good and give me a perfect seal. The tips on the production model will actually be black.
Build, comfort and isolation
The B100 IEMs is a small, lightweight plastic in the form of a conch type shape. At first glance, I thought it might be difficult regarding fit but I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is an extremely comfortable IEM that slips into my ears as though it was custom made just for me. The angle of the nozzle and cable connections are perfect (again for me) and I can easily forget I’m wearing earphones. This is by far the most comfortable over-ear IEM in my collection (along with the B150 which has the same housing).
The cable is rubberized, similar to previous Brainwavz models but this one is twisted below the Y-splitter which seems to have made it more supple/manageable and it feels of a higher quality too. There’s a chin-slider above the Y-splitter which can be used to get a more secure fit.
Strain reliefs are excellent from top to bottom, offering good protection against wear. The cable terminates in a 45 degree angled plug that has a convex curve on it and makes it very easy to grip when removing the plug. The top few inches of the cables have a plastic sheath and are preformed to fit over your ears and again Brainwavz seems to have nailed it with this aspect as it’s super secure and comfortable at the same time.
With a proper seal from the ear-tips and the shape of the IEMs the noise isolation is above average for my ears and blocks out a good deal of outside noise.
PC/MusicBee > Audinst HUD-MX2
Galaxy Note 5
This single BA sounded great from all the sources I tested and in my opinion, does not need amping. Even the Galaxy Note 5 pairs well with the B100 and was able to provide a clear and detailed sound at a good level where many other IEMs require near maximum volume and come out a little muddy from this device.
Bass is somewhat light but I wouldn’t say it’s thin as it has a great texture with a cheeky dose of punch. The quality of the bass is really very good. It’s fast and accurate and deceptively full-bodied for a single BA driver. I usually have a preference for elevated bass, particularly in the sub-bass regions but strangely I don’t feel that I miss it when listening to the B100.
There’s some kind of voodoo crafted into this IEM that brings life and fullness out of a bass that is presented at a rather mature and conservative level. Mid-bass is a little reduced in quantity which really brings out the edge in kick drums and then there’s a sub-bass that’s ever so slightly emphasized with good extension and capable of bringing a bit of subtle rumble into the mix.
The midrange of this B100 maintains the balanced approach that it does with its bass with a touch of added warmth. Detail and separation are impressive and don’t show any signs of congestion. There’s clarity aplenty with crisp, well-defined notes throughout. The B100 tackles all genres with ease from the energetic pace of NWA’s “100 Miles and Runnin'” to the velvety smooth “Your Love is King” by Sade, though in the latter the vocals are presented slightly behind the percussion instruments. Natural tones abound and is another area where this IEM excels.
Treble has a liveliness and sense of air about it but never gets strident or fatiguing. It’s energetic but smooth at the same time and I haven’t experienced any piercing highs during my time with the B100.
Soundstage is not the vastest out there but it’s not too shabby at all and never feels confined or too intimate. It can give the impression of an open space when called upon and can fairly accurately lay out the position of elements within the music.
B100 vs Brainwavz B150 ($109 USD)
Physically these two are identical and also very similar when it comes to their sound. The treble of the B100 has a little more extension giving it a hint more energy while the B150 has less treble and more body in the midrange. Bass on both is similar again, though the B150 has a little extra tilt towards the mid-bass giving it an overall impression of more fullness and darker sound (though both have excellent detail and separation). Given that these are so similar if I were to make a recommendation it would be for the B100 unless you absolutely want that extra bit of girth in the lower mids.
Brainwavz B100 Conclusion
The B100 really surprised me with its sound presentation as I was expecting something more analytical but in fact its very musical and welcoming. Another wonderment was how incredibly comfortable it is. Its easy to forget you’re wearing earphones and to get lost in the music. Its super light weight and preformed cable ends (not memory wire) work in harmony with the shape to practically disappear in your ears.
Unless you’re a basshead and “need” that extra weighted low end, for the asking price of $59.50 I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these to anyone after a detailed and engaging IEM. This should be on your wish list.