Luscious mids, expeditious bass, sweeping treble. The recipe for success? Well, these are all attribtes of the Brainwavz B2, so you be the judge!
The Brainwavz B2 is Brainwavz’s latest creation. It, like the name implies, is a dual balanced armature design. Yes, it is from the same OEM the Fischer Audio DBA-02 is from, presumably. Will you see a comparison here? Unfortunately not. Although I will be comparing it to the M1, the bottom of the Brainwavz collection, and the M3, the former top of the line, to present the question of if the B2 is truly worth your consideration. You can find the answer out if you read on!
When I first used the B2’s, I found them to be rather bright, have a slight unnatural tinge in the mids, and decent bass—fast and tight. Soundstage is rather small, but positioning was very good. Compared to my Turbine Pro’s, (Gold and Copper) these one-upped them in mids and treble, but fell short in bass, soundstage, and sheer listening pleasure. All in all though, it seemed like Brainwavz had a solid new flagship. I’d already rank them equal, maybe even slightly higher than my Turbine Pro’s.
To conduct this review, I’ll be using a NaNite N2, a warm sounding player, and all my music is 320kbps. Standard procedure. These are a loaner program pair, so they have likely been burned in a few hundred hours. Oh, and I’m using Comply tips for most of the review. I’ll say why later in the review.
Quite honestly, I think for the $140 presale price, Brainwavz/MP4Nation is offering downright robbery. Here’s why:
The B2’s bass, while not huge, is very, very impressive in a technical sense. There is not one track that I had that made the B2 sweat—be it a bass range test or a bass speed test. Although it occurred to me that to people that aren’t used to balanced armatures, the bass may be a little lacking. Coming from Turbines to the B2 takes a while to adjust. It sounds rather anemic in comparison. However, if you know what you are getting into, be in for a treat. Not surprisingly, the mids of the B2 are pretty good. I do still detect a tinge of unnaturalness, but all in all, the mids of the B2 are forward, yet accurate and don’t take control of the sound spectrum like I’ve experienced with other mid forward headphones. It’s bordering on liquid, and amazingly sublime. Vocals sound marvelous, strings are beautiful, and orchestra instruments sound sublime. The highs are a bit of an iffy subject though. It, is not veiled or recessed, and reaches wonderfully high, so technically, it is good treble. There is one caveat though. It can be harsh with bad recordings. Now, for those of you wondering why Comply tips are my preferred tips for the B2, here’s why. With silicon tips, the treble is accentuated a good deal. It can also get sibilant, depending on the track. Comply tips, however, attenuate a bit of treble, leading to a much more pleasing listen. The treble is never grating, and is decreased just about perfectly for my tastes. However, there are still a few albums the B2 has sibilance on, like A Fine Frenzy’s One Cell In the Sea.
The B2 lives for music like jazz, folk, acoustic/indie, and classical, but is right at home with any type of rock or metal. However, if you’re looking to get these to use with bass-driven tracks like most electronic or rap/hip hop, you may be disappointed. I like them for electronic, but that’s because I prefer speed to sheer bass impact. If you’re like me, the type that would take a Sony SA5000 over say an Ultrasone for electronic, the B2 would certainly work for you!
How does the B2 compare to the M1 and M3? Well, to put it bluntly, it embarrasses both. But if you’d like some specifics, direct your eyes down a line.
Well, for $100 less than the B2, the M1 holds its ground, not being allowed to be totally shunned. That is not to say they compare favorably. The most noticeable difference in the M1 is significantly muddier mids. The mids are hazy and lacking in comparison. The B2 has wonderful realism, something the M1 does not have nearly as much of. Although what the M1 does have more of is bass impact, albeit less clean bass. Treble is of much less quantity in the M1—dare I say veiled—in comparison to the B2, which has copious amounts of treble relative to the M1’s. Soundstage is actually in the M1’s favor for depth, but the B2 has more accurate placement.
I had higher expectations for the M3, considering it’s twice the price of the M1’s. Sadly, they disappointed me a bit. The M3’s were much less accurate than the B2’s. The treble, while not as recessed as the M1’s, sounded less coherent than the M1’s. The mids had a lack of absolute finesse that the B2’s have. Bass on the M3 is much heavier and hard hitting than the B2. There is a tradeoff though. It’s much slower and cannot even begin to keep up with the B2’s bass speed. Soundstage is the same deal as the M1.
All in all, the Brainwavz B2 is a marvelous product. It does very little wrong other than occasional sibilance and lack of bass for some. However, to those of you who don’t mind a little sibilance, or are accustomed to a somewhat bass-light sound, you will be rewarded. In exchange for what little flaws it has, the B2 has marvelous mids and very nice treble, along with wonderfully quick bass. Do I have any other qualms? Well, yes. There is the previously mentioned midrange tinge, but that’s a minor quibble. I do have a feeling that those who prefer a darker sound would abhor these, since their sound signature is an upward slope, but if I may make a prediction, those of you that buy these just to try them won’t lose much by selling them. The B2 is a top tier product at an upper-mid-fi price—who can complain about that?
The price of the B2 as of now (preorder) is $140, minus $10 if you are a loyal Brainwavz owner. After the presale, the regular price will be $170, which is still pretty dang good.