The Brainwavz B200 is the new flagship earphone from a Chinese company that built its name off of being great value for money. They are one of the original Chi-Fi manufacturers that focused on price to performance through either OEM sourcing/rebranding or their own efforts at in-house development. Brainwavz is definitely a friend of budget audiophiles, allowing them to enjoy some great sound but without the painful price tag that comes with high-end headphones.
The B200 is a dual balanced armature, monitor style earphone (IEM) and it is on the pricier end of offerings from Brainwavz. Usually, they occupy a space well under the $100 mark and with the B200 being offered in the region of $120 USD that it means they are now in direct competition with some exceptionally good earphones from both new and established brands. The marketplace is not as open as it once was and standards are significantly higher than the once were so how well do the B200 perform in the review?
The Packaging and Accessories
The B200 comes with the incredibly basic packaging. The box is thin cheap cardboard and some cheap thin plastic is used as a bumper on the inside. When you look at the way 1More is able to package their cheaper triple driver you are definitely left wanting with the Brainwavz B200. It feels cheap and tacky.
Accessories are nothing fancy but they do contain everything you need to get going. You get plenty of tips (dual, silicone and Comply) so you should have no problem getting a good seal in the ear. You get a carry case, it's a generic rebrand but it's of good quality and big enough to house a small DAP as well as the earbuds. You also get a shirt clip and a neat little cable tie.
So I think its best to describe the packaging as pretty bad but the accessories themselves are a pretty comprehensive set. Not better, still basic, but you get everything you need to get started.
The Build and Style
Build quality and style are definitely now below the standards we have come to expect at this price point. I must admit I am kind of surprised Brainwavz went ahead and relead something like this as a premium offering as their past earphones such as the S5 and B3 are miles ahead in terms of build quality compared to the B200. The B200 feel like a backwards step in terms of design.
The B200 feel somewhat cheap and brittle. They are made out of lightweight plastic right across the driver housing and the nozzle is of particular concern with it being so long and thin. Angles are kind or jagged looking and they aren't what many would consider an attractive set of headphones. Being totally honest the B200 has a similar build quality that we are seeing on sub $20 earphones like those from KZ.
The cable is not detachable which is disappointing as this is now fast becoming the norm even on cheap earbuds. It is a decent quality cable, however, with good strain reliefs at all critical junctions and the memory wire is excellent and unobtrusive. As the B200 are worn over ear they do not suffer from microphonics. Brainwavz stuck a 45-degree jack on the earphones, something that is less and less common nowadays.
As you probably gathered I wasn't blown away by the build or styling of the B200. It doesn't offend and it is adequate enough to get the job done but again we cannot ignore the strength of the competition in this regard. For cheaper, you are able to pick up the 1 More Triple Driver, RHA MA750, LZ A3, Shure SE215 all of which are miles ahead and offer far superior build and style.
Comfort and Isolation
While the style & build might not be so great the B200 do earn top marks for comfort. The lightweight plastic is actually an asset here. In combination with the over-ear design, the B200 just disappear in your ears.
Another plus is that the nozzle extends a fair distance into the ear canal and combined with the included tips they create a perfect seal.
Size-wise all but the smallest ears should find these new Brainwavz very comfortable to wear over long listening sessions. I would go as far as to say they are one of the most comfortable IEM's I have tried this year.
Isolation is average, they block out some but not all ambient environmental noise. Again the depth of insertion works well but the thin plastic housing is not thick enough to make them into superb isolators. Fine for commuting but not the best in class.
Here is where things pick up for the Brainwavz B200 because they actually sound very nice. They are smooth sounding mid, focussed earphones with good detail and energy. A lot of the traits of a BA driver setup are found here and they have been executed well.
The Highs - Highs are clear and fairly spacious and its very easy to define them from the rest of the spectrum. Detail is very good and that is matched by the clarity of the top end notes.
The Mids - I have expected the mids to be quite dry and flat but the B200 has some lovely smooth and detailed mids. The detail that they reveal throughout the midrange is a most welcome addition. Unlike other earphones that rely on a mid-bass hump or warmth to convey smoothness, the B200 tame the peaks and retain that clarity in the rest of the range. It's a very pleasant experience when listening to rock and acoustic music on these IEM's.
The Bass - The low end of these earphones is more punchy and fast than weighty and violent. It matches the rest of the earphone well and whilst I have become accustomed to hybrid earphones over the past few years this is a welcome change. They added just enough depth to keep the energy in the music when other budget BA earphones often sound a bit too thin.
The soundstage is OK there is neither great width or depth conveyed and it is definitely an in the head experience. The detail I would say is above average. Going back and forth with the SE215 made Shure's offering sound veiled and they were far more on a par with the 1 More Triple driver
The B200 are a mixed bag of an earphone and for that reason, it's hard to recommend them when the competition at this price is so good.
On one hand, you have some good quality sound that can put it right in the mix with earphones selling between $100-$150 but the problem seems to lie with almost everything else.
The build quality and styling feel really dated here. They have essentially stuck good drivers inside a budget orientated and dated housing. A few years ago this would have been a recommended earphone but it really is hard to see any advantages it offers over teh current competition.