Brainwavz Beta Review

7

Brainwavz Beta
Reviewed Nov 2011


Details: half in-ear earphone with a good price/performance ratio
MSRP: $28.50 (manufacturer’s page); $33.50 for Beta+remote w/mic + 1-button remote (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $10 from amazon.com / $29 from mp4nation.net (3-pack) for Beta; $10 from amazon.com$34 from mp4nation.net for Beta+remote
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 110 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 3.9’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: stock Comply foams, generic bi-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down

Accessories (1.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes) and comply foam tips
Build Quality (2.5/5) – The construction of the Beta is similar to Sony IEMs of yesteryear, with plastic housings and long strain reliefs. The cable is thin and somewhat tangle-prone, similar to what is found on Fischer’s FA-788
Isolation (2.5/5) – Decent for a shallow-insertion design, especially with the included Comply eartips
Microphonics (3.5/5) – Surprisingly mild despite the earphones having to be worn cable-down
Comfort (4/5) – The half in-ear housings of the Beta are lightweight and sit well in the ear. The design mandates shallow insertion and the included Comply tips help comfort further, though replacing them can be a costly affair

Sound (6.7/10) – The Beta is an accurate earphone with fairly neutral tone and surprising range. For a half in-ear design, its bass has impressive depth and impact, both vastly superior to Fischer Audio’s similarly-priced FA-788. It is also punchier than the higher-end M1 model and the pricier Hippo 10EB. The bass is very clean and articulate and maintains impressive resolution for an earphone in the Beta’s price range – those not expecting a bass monster are sure to be pleased.

The mids of the Beta are recessed slightly compared to the bass and come across sounding a touch distant next to the M1 model. Clarity is excellent, however, and exaggerated further by the prominent treble. Detail resolution, too, is impressive for the price and the sound produced is clean, crisp, and edgy. The Beta is not something I would recommend for vocal-centric genres over the M1 but its reproduction of guitars has just the right amount of bite and texture. Whereas the M1 is refined and extremely smooth, the Beta is raw and full of energy.

There is a downside to the wild sound, however – at times the upper midrange and lower treble can come across wildly uncontrolled. The top end can be a touch splashy and sibilance ranges from mild to moderate depending on track, fit, and tips used. The included Complys do a good job of taming most of the treble but the Beta can still be fatiguing at higher volumes. Those who listen with the volume turned down, though, will find sparkly, clear, and moderately extended treble well worth the asking price.

In terms of presentation, the Beta is airy and open-sounding. Soundstage width is excellent and depth isn’t bad, either. Fischer’s FA-788 sounds much smaller and more congested in comparison and even the similarly open-sounding Hippo 10EB can’t match the soundstage size of the Beta. That said, the beta isn’t the most resolving earphone and doesn’t separate quite as well as the Brainwavz M1 does once things get busy. In addition, the space is not quite as cohesive and the imaging lags a little behind the M1. For its price, however, the Beta performs more than adequately and the sheer size of its soundstage is certain to impress.

Value (9/10) – While the old Beta Brainwavz Pro was a great value as an overall package, the new Beta gets by on sound quality alone. Like most entry-level half in-ear designs, it is not the best-built or most isolating set of earphones but for the asking price – and with sound quality this good – it is easy enough to forgive. Simply put, aside from a bit of sibilance the Beta may just be the best-sounding earphone in its price bracket. If that matters more than the functional nuances – as it should to many here at Head-Fi – there is no reason not to buy one.

Pros: comfortable half in-ear design; best-in-class sound quality
Cons: tangle-prone cabling; can be sibilant


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

7 Comments

  1. Harvey on

    Hi man, so I bought the MH1C as you recomended and I’m so glad I did so. I’ve been using them for 3 months and beside the annoying cable the sound is just amazing. But could be a little bit louder since I play them from a phone and laptop… I guess they need more power like better sound card or some sorf of DAC. Anyway .. Thank you again and keep very appreciated work.

    • ljokerl on

      Awesome, very glad you’re enjoying them! They are stellar earphones.

  2. Harvey on

    Thank you for such fast and informative reply. In this case Im gonna risk it and try those MH1C. One more thing… Would you recomend me to buy any foam tips? Apparently they affect the sound but I dont know in which way.

    • ljokerl on

      The MH1C has an odd nozzle size, you’ll have trouble finding foam tips that fit it well. I’d skip foam and just find silicones that work well for you.

  3. Harvey on

    Hello Joker!
    How are these compared to MH1C and RHA MA200 in terms of sound? Can’t decide… I listen to electro (kind of Bloody Beetroots), orchestral music (soundtracks) and trap. Im not a basshead but I look for shiver on my spine and relatively crisp clarity:-)

    PS: Is MH1C really that bad for anyting more dynamic than sitting because of microfonics and heavy cable? And do you think THESE are legit ?

    Thanks

    • Harvey on

      PS 2: Can you compare the Sennheiser CX3 to the mentioned ones?

      • ljokerl on

        MA200 is a lot bassier and not as clear. Very different from the Brainwavz in every way.

        MH1C is smoother and warmer but doesn’t lack in clarity, doesn’t have overwhelming bass, and is definitely on a higher performance overall. Its cable is annoying but as long as you don’t mind the J configuration (1 side longer than the other) I think it’s usable for normal everyday activities – walking, etc. Not ideal of course, but there are sets with worse microphonics, worse fit, etc. The ebay listing looks okay to me as well.

        Not familiar with the Sennheiser CX3, only the old CX300 which was more similar to the MA200 in sound quality.

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