The Brainwavz B200 are the latest earphone in a revamped lineup for the Chinese headphone company in 2018. Last month we reviewed the Brainwavz B400, a model that sits one place higher up on the rung with its 4 driver setup and extremely competitive cost to entry. The B200 just like their big brothers are a multi-driver earphone with essentially the same housings and accessories. So considering the B200 cost just half of the B400 are the still worth it? especially considering how ruthlessly competitive the sub $100 earphone market is today.
Packaging and Accessories
The B200 share all the same accessories that come with the B400. All of them are very good quality but you can see where costs have been cut with the case and finish of the packaging.
The good thing is that whilst there may be no wow factor in the presentation everything you could want is included in the box including a carry case and multiple varieties and sizes of ear tips.
As we mention later in this article the direct competition for the B200 does provide a nicer overall package. Comparing the accessories of the Singot EN700, for example, makes the B200 feel a bit downmarket but the truth of the matter is whilst there is nothing fancy about the extras in the B200 box all parts do their job just fine.
The style of the Brainwavz B200 is of the traditional stage monitor variety. In person, they look like a kind of rough take on Shure's solid SE215 IEM's. They have a 3D printed housing that is shaped to make them work with as many different ear types as possible. In the ear, it would be hard to distinguish them from a set of custom in-ear monitors and with the cable worn over the ear they lock securely in place.
One thing I really did like was the translucent properties of the housing allow you to view the internal workings of the earphones. I don't know what it is but its always cool to see how the drivers are set and paired on the inside. A fashion item the B200 are not but they are certainly practical and I enjoy any company that prioritizes ergonomics over bling.
Build quality is very good and I am basing that off my 2 weeks use with the B200 and a further 4 weeks with the B400 which is essentially the same earphone with different internal configurations. The hard resin that makes up the shell is 3D printed and feels far more solid than something constructed of individual plastics. There is a lot of rigidity in this chassis which is something that I believe works well over the long term.
The injection molding has creates less seams and as such less potential points of failure. The tips are unprotected and I would prefer to see some filter over it. My only thinking is that somehow this did not work with the acoustics so was omitted from the final design by Brainwavz.
The B200 uses the ever more common MMCX connecti=or standard and the points for this are set tightly into the housing. There is no proprietary locking notch on the cables and they rotate freely. This has 2 advantages in that this design tends to be more comfortable and that it allows you use a wide range o compatible aftermarket cables.
Th B200 are an extremely comfortable set of earphones. On that can be worn for hours on end without any pain or discomfort. I put this down to the shape of the housing which I touched upon earlier. They have no sharp edges or weird angles and they have been molded to work well with the majority of peoples ears first and not designed as a fashion item.
The cables run over the ears so microphonics are nonexistent and because the cable is secured you don't get any of the pulling sensations you sometimes find with a cable down earphone design.
Insertion depth is medium shallow. which I think is what most people find easiest to live with and the included ear tips all seemed to seal nicely in our ears. I did have a preference towards the included set of comply foam tips both in terms of comfort and sound which I will discuss later in this review.
Isolation is good and during our review of the B200 we happily used them for our commutes as well as a 5-hour bus ride from Prague to Munich, I found that they did a great job of reducing ambient sound from the environment. They won't compete with something like the Etymotic ER-4s but they do perform very well in reducing ingress of external environmental noise.
The ability to provide good isolation again comes down to the design of the housing. Its fairly wide body covering much of the outer ear and the dense packing of electronics on the inside it combined with the inclusion of well-sealing ear tips combine to make an overall great performer for use in public.
Sound quality is actually very enjoyable and more than good enough to make them competitive at this price point on sound alone. They are a very realistic and natural sounding earphone and have far more of that Asian sound signature that we used to know and love from Brainwavz than the B400 had (IEM's focus on the Asian markets traditionally have an enhanced upper range).
The treble is very very nice, I will go as far as to say that it is the highlight of the earphones and what sets them apart from most of the competition which focus more on lows and midrange. You get a whole lot of detial out of the top end and a dynamic sounding sparkle to them that gives you the impression you are hearing more of the track than with a lesser earphone. Thats not to say the treble is in any way harsh it is present and forward but smooth enough that sibilance should never be an issue.
Th midrange sits just a little bit back from the treble. It isn't trying to be the star of the show and it is presented in a very clean and efficient manner. There is no added coloration or warmth displayed in this frequency band and if anything the upper midrange tends to lead nod towards peaking. This is most notable in female vocals and again gives off the impression of a highly detailed IEM. Male vocals also benefit in this range by way of the upper mid hump as it adds clarity to grainier voices but in doing so some gravitas is lost.
The low end is punchy and present but the B200 are in no way a basshead earphone. The don't seem to sit in the middle of the mids and treble in terms of aggressive position and are very smoothly blended into the lower midrange with no bass bleed detected throughout our review process. Quality is good but quantity is lacking over something like the Yamaha EPH-100 or 1-More quad driver but this may actually work to your benefit if you are more a fan of rock, acoustic, classical and jazz genres.
Soundstage is ok, nothing really to write home about they display equal amounts of width and depth but ultimately they do feel like a set of in-ear headphones. Imaging performance was more above average and we found it easy to separate notes and instruments throughout our listening tests.
At around $120 RRP the B200 sits in one of the most aggressively competitive earphone markets there is. At this price, you have a whole lot of options and to be fair I think they have enough going for them and are unique enough in their sound profile that they will be competitive and the right match for many people.
Stand out earphones that I would also consider at this price would be the Simgot EN700, Yamaha EPH-100, 1more Triple Driver, Vsonic GR07 BE. All of those though have a far warmer mid and low end focussed sound than the B200 so if you are looking for an earphone that is far more linear or one with a higher strung top end then really choosing the B200 will be a great option.
One thing to note is that the B200 doesn't feel anywhere near as premium as any of those headphones and in some cases like being compared against the EN700 and 1More they feel like a lower tier headphone in regards to both build, finish and accessories. Not a deal breaker but something you may want to take into consideration. At the end of the day, I think comfort and sound are the 2 main points you should be aiming for when buying a new set of earphones.
Conclusion - A Vast Improvement from Brainwavz of Old
If there is one thing I can take away from this Brainwavz B200 review it is that the company has finally started to move forward in its design. The B200 are a very good sounding set of earphones but I still feel like they could do better with the design, packaging, and accessories. There was a time where Brainwavz was one of the only players in the cheap audiophile earbud game but times have changed and a lot of hungry sharks have entered the pool.
Companies like 1More and Simgot are producing equally good sounding earphones but throwing the kitchen sink at the entire package. So in that regard whilst they are a massive step up the B200 do feel a step behind those other companies. Sound wise as always they are on point and will be a great match for people seeking a more tope note focussed earphone. So, in summary, a very good earphone with good sound but they still need to work harder on the total package to be competitive.