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Old Jun 20, 2014, 05:52 AM   #1
Donka
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Brainwavz S1 earphones review

Brainwavz are a name that are new to me in the earphone market so I was keen to review this product to see how they fared. Founded in 2006, their aim are to produce affordable products ranging from entry level earphones up to professional ear and headphones. The S1 model are a step or two above entry level with regards to pricing but still a very affordable earphone. The packaging exudes an air of confidence and is something I am more accustomed to seeing with more expensive models. Quite frankly though, I was caught out by the contents there in. Alongside the earphones are a rigid carry case, a 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter, 2 pairs each of small, medium & large silicon tips, 1 pair of bi-flange tips, 1 pair of tri-flange tips and a pair of Comply foam tips. This is the kind of package that you would be expecting with a much more expensive purchase.
The earphones themselves are of the in ear monitor (IEM) variety and designed to be worn with the audio cables over and down the back of the ears instead of hanging straight down. This has the benefit of offering more support to keep the earphones in place as well as cutting down on cable phonics. The housings are fashioned from aluminium giving them good strength as well as remaining very light. The tip canal is angled to sit better in the ear and this helps make the S1 a very comfortable IEM. These are connected to your audio source of choice by a flat cable. This type of cable has no impact on audio performance but does make the cable easier to manage - they are much less likely to get tangled. Some people prefer round cables over flat cables but personally I am fine with either. What is more noticeable however are the connections and strain reliefs - they are something that I would describe as over sized. This is particularly noticeable with the moulded plug and the Y-split on the cable. I wouldn't consider this as a negative, it is just an obvious difference over other, more discreet cables. If this extra bulk translates to a more robust product then I'm all for it as I have seen many earphones in the past fail in this regard including many from well known brands. This is all finished in a dark grey and plum colour scheme that is muted in a classy way and thankfully doesn't suffer from any bling effect.

So how do they sound? Well the first thing to note is that these have dynamic drivers with a moving coil inside. This means they are likely to sound a little different after some use and is why 'burning in' for a good 10 hours or more is usually recommended. New out of the box, first impressions are favourable.
They have a strong bass without taking over the listening experience but this sounds a little woolly and not very precise. Highs, while present, are underrepresented and things in the middle are better defined but still have room for improvement. This is all academic though as my experience tells me that running these overnight with my iPod on shuffle will help to burn these in and give closer to the final sound that we would expect of the earphones.
After this over night run, the changes were obvious. The bass is still very strong with these earphones but in a relaxed way giving a nice smooth bottom end and real presence to the lower notes. Thankfully it doesn't over reach into the booming subwoofer style type of bass than will ruin the rest of the sound range. My only criticism of the lower tones is that it lacks a little bit of clarity around the kick and punch to the bass that an IEM with a flatter sound signature can deliver. The S1's don't sound just quite as tight in this area but we really are getting into person preferences now and truth be told the bass response of these earphones is very good indeed. The middle of the audio range is well represented and hold their own against the strong bass on offer, things tend to sound smooth yet remain engaging. Depending on the track, vocals can really stand out regardless of a busy backing score which was a pleasant surprise.
Along with the bass, the highs really improved after the burn in period. A lot of it comes down to the quality of the track but these earphones are capable of some detailed treble without sounding overly bright or harsh. There are definitely more detailed earphones out there but I haven't listened to anything in this price range that can match these for audio range and quality. What surprised me most about the S1's are how revealing they can be. You hear people talking about this with expensive, higher end earphones but I was taken aback when I listened to some tracks, even ones I had listened to with quality earphones in the past. The better the quality of the track, the more smaller details popped out that I had never heard before. The caveat to this though is that lower bit rate tracks can sometimes get shown up for the lesser quality that they are but thankfully the S1's are somewhat forgiving in this regard and even 128kb tracks can provide an enjoyable listen.
After using the S1's for around a week, I can see them easily being a single pair of do it all earphones for pretty much all types of music. At times they can sound very good indeed, orchestral tracks really shine with good instrument separation and bass and strings really coming to life. Faster tracks such as Editors 'Bones' are handled well too with everything keeping pace as expected. Listening to Damien Rice's 'The Blower's Daughter' is a very compelling experience with the stripped back production sounding glorious and at this price point, Evanescence tracks never sounded so haunting. These IEMs would also be a great choice for movie soundtracks and gaming too which just add to their flexibility.
As mentioned earlier, these are comfortable to wear but the selection of tips on offer contribute to this and also help isolate you from outside sounds. Not everything is blocked out but the vast majority is to make listening to quieter passages easy going and these are on a par with anything else I have tested.
I actually prefer to be able to hear louder external noises when wearing earphones for safety reasons so would consider these ideal for normal day to day use.
For the money, you are getting a great earphone with the S1. Brainwavz have put together a great package from the audio and build quality to the supplied case and selection of ear tips. I would love to see a pair of these designed with an inline remote/microphone for mobile phone use but otherwise have no real negatives of note. They are not the last word in audio quality but you couldn't expect that in such an affordable package. I consider these, very good all round earphones indeed and think Brainwavz are ones to watch in the earphone market.

Video review:
http://youtu.be/e9atTUmpMQA
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Old Jun 21, 2014, 05:17 PM   #2
Ronnoco
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Nice review, thanks.
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