What are the Brainwavz B400?
The Brainwavz B400 are the new flagship earphone from long-term budget audiophile favorites Brainwavz. They represent a big step up in both design and price from traditional Brainwavz products and look to challenge the highly competitive market at the 100-200 dollar price point.
The B400 is a multi-driver earphone. Quad driver to be more precise all of which are of the Balanced armature variety. There are a number of advantage to using multiple drivers in a single set of earphones as the workload is more evenly distributed amongst many armatures rather than overworking a single driver unit.
Many of the big name companies such as Shure and Westone make some killer Multi BA in-ear headphones but all of them have a significantly high $ per driver cost. However, as always an earphone cannot be judged simply on the sum of its parts and it's important that we take a deeper look and see how they stack up against some of the similarly priced earphones available today. With that said let's get on with the Brainwavz B400 review.
Packaging and Accessories
In the past Brainwavz packaging has always been underwhelming and while an improvement over previous outings it still lags behind the competition. Of course, that is befitting of their often ridiculously good value for money. I mean would you rather get a fancy box or better earphones for the same amount of money.
The packaging for the new B400 earphones is definitely a step forward. Materials seem nicer and while it is still quite a simple design of a presentation box with a sleeve on top it does vastly improve the unboxing experience over previous models.
Open the box up and you are greeted by the old familiar black and red Brainwavz carry case. The case is nothing special, its simply a generic style case branded up with Brainwavz colors and logos. It's not luxury by any means but it will keep your headphones safe when using them and that's all that matters.
Once you open the case then you get your first glimpse of the earphones. Included in the box is the following:
- Multiple Brainwavz Eatips in various sizes
- 1 set of Comply eartips (Red)
- 1 Shirt clip
- User Manual and warranty information (24 month warranty)
My set also came with some cleaning wipes and an extra cable although I am not sure if this is standard on all sets of Brainwavz B400 or was just a consideration for this review unit we were sent.
All in, the accessories are unspectacular but functional/ There is nothing you really need more than this and they are all of a good quality so while not going to the lengths that RHA or 1More do to impress you it is still perfectly adequate.
The build quality on the B400 is again good but not class leading. The earbuds themselves feel absolutely rock solid but they lack the attention to detail or refined finish that other earphone manufacturers offer.
They seem to be made out of some hard shell formed plastic and they do feel like they will be very hard wearing. Its something quite similar to feel as Shure SE215 in-ear monitors and I like that you can see the beastly driver that lurk inside/
Another good choice was to employ the use of detachable cables. This is done via the inclusion of the now industry standard MMCX connectors. We are big fans of detachable cables and MMCX in particular so its great to see such features used on the B400.
The cable is quite good. it feels strong and hard wearing but it did have some memory retention at first. Give it a couple of weeks use and it settles down and loses that initial spring.
Styling is excellent. They are a cool looking little set of earphones and in the ears, it would be hard for someone to tell hat you aren't using a set of custom in-ear monitors. The B400 follow a function first design of fitting to your ears curves as opposed to employing some out there spaceship like the styling for reasons of vanity. Brainwavz had made them in a way that the styling looks cool but is at the forefront an ergonomic pleasure to use for most ear shapes.
They are of course a stage monitor style headphone and that means you are going to be wearing them with the cable over the ear only. This makes them great for anyone who wants to wear the B400 on the go (Monitor style design works great with active use) but if you want to wear your earphones with the cable hanging straight down then its best to look elsewhere.
Top marks for comfort. Despite each of the earbuds housing 4 drivers Brainwavz has managed to keep the B400 remarkably small. When you combine that with the ergonomically sound housing design and medium insertion depth then you should be able to wear these for hours on end with little to no discomfort.
The earbuds fit in perfectly with the shape of my ears and slot in nicely against the antitragus without any rough edges or weird angles. On a whole, I think that most people will find the B400 to be very comfortable earphones but those with very small ears will be better off going with a straight design.
The B400 were noted to be very good isolators during the course of our review and they were notably quieter than most traditional designed barrel earphones at a similar price. This is due to the housings covering such a large portion of the outer ear stopping sound ingress long before it even gets into the ear canal.
So good was the isolating properties of the B400 that we would not hesitate to recommend them for use in commuting and they would even make an excellent set of stage monitors.
Sound quality is not what I had expected. I came in thinking the B400 was going to be a flat and sharp analytic headphone with flat anemic bass an overall washed out yet accurate sound. I don't know why I thought, that possibly a mix of balanced armature design, stage monitor aesthetics and Chinese origin (Chinese earphone manufacturers have a tendency to tune there earphones to local market tastes with more emphasized treble and tighter low-end response.)
What I actually found was a smooth and detailed presentation with a nice punch to its low end. Also of note was the instrument spacing and a sense of positional layering enabled through the use of multiple drivers.
Highs - The Brainwavz B400 display some very nice treble. It's the kind that gives lots of detail and a good sparkle but nothing in the way of a sibilant top note. They hold back more than enough from delving into the realms of becoming harsh yet display the top end notes like triangles and high hats with a crisp and clearly definable stroke. To be honest this sort of treble is very much what I like personally because of the balance of detail without the long-term fatigue found in long listening sessions.
Midrange - The mids are very good smooth and clear with lots of detail to be found. The upper notes of the midrange, another area able to set sibilance sensitive folks over the edge, is smoothed out and laid back off the true mids and lower midrange. This gives great emphasis on vocals and lowers weighted string instruments such as acoustic guitar. We found that male vocals, in particular, carried some very nice heft.
The layering throughout the midrange was another good thing as it allowed us to place those instruments without suffering from an overt thickness that stifles many dynamic-driver earphones. A sense of positioning in width buy also depth was observed leading to almost 3D presentation.
Lows - The Bass is fast, punchy and displays a solid amount of depth. Sub bass quantity is not massive but we really loved the speed of attack with the low end. It gets in there hits you and moves onto the next note with promptness. There is absolutely zero sense of the bass being slow, something we have seen in the past with dynamic and hybrid earphones and additionally, there was no detectable ingress of the upper lows into the lower mids.
The soundstage was good and for an in ear, they are a spacious-sounding set of monitors capable of competing with other earphones upwards of $300. The B400 are still definitely asset on in-ear headphones and as such produce a more in head experience than you can get with full-size headphones but they did impress within this category.
The B400 are a very good set of earphones in their own right but the price point they compete in is probably the most competitive in in-ear headphones. 100-200 dollars is right around that sweet spot of beautiful sonic performance and value for money.
So who is the main competition for the B400 at this price point? Well to choose just a few I am going to have to say the Simgot EN700 Pro, 1More Quad Driver, and Campfire Audio Comet. All of those have their own sonic merits and depending on your own preferences you could be happy with the sound from any of them. What really does stand out though is that the others are streaks ahead in every other department. Build, styling, accessories etc the others are just simply better but that doesn't tell the whole story.
Brainwavz knows how to make a stunning set of earphones. The B400 sound great, have a very unique presentation of the sound and are incredibly comfortable. I can see a lot of people falling in love with them.
So in conclusion the Brainwavz B400 impressed us in a lot of areas. The sound is excellent and the build and comfort is very good. They have certainly pulled them out from us considering them a purely budget headphone brand but they havent gone over the top an priced themselves out the market. The B400 is tremendous value for money right now and I reckon this is going to be one of the biggest selling new earphones of 2018.