Details: Latest budget offering from mp4nation’s house brand
MSRP: $40 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $45 from amazon.com; $45 from mp4nation.net
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 32 Ω | Sens: 110 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 4.2’ 45°-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Generic biflanges
Wear Style: Over-the-ear or straight down
Accessories (4/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes), shirt clip, and hard clamshell case
Build Quality (3.5/5) – Housings are identical to those used by the Cyclone PR1 Pro – light and sturdy but lacking strain relief. The cable is identical to that of the ViSang R02/R03 and Brainwavz M2– a twisted Cu-Ag alloy cord that is tough yet flexible. Unlike the ViSang earphones, however, the Brainwavz are terminated with a sturdy 45-degree plug
Isolation (3/5) – Very adequate for a ported dynamic IEM, especially with bi-flange tips
Microphonics (4/5) – Slightly noticeable when worn cord-down but wearing them over-the-ear is easy and a shirt clip is included
Comfort (4/5) – Lighter than the R03/M2 and very unobtrusive despite the slightly larger housings. Can easily be worn cord-up or cord-down. Work best with a relatively shallow fit
Sound (7/10) – The sound of the Brainwavz M1 builds on the sound signature of the Brainwavz M2, which I’ve already reviewed at length. The 32Ω impedance of the M1 seems to be the major change from the M2 specs. Aside from needing a bit of extra volume to achieve the same SPL as the M2, the most noticeable thing about the sound of the M1 is that the bass is rather underemphasized compared to the older Brainwavz earphones. They are by no means bass-light but the lack of as great of an artificial boost means that the M1 lacks the bass impact and extension of the M2. The nature of the low end is more punchy and less boomy than with the M2, though the difference is small. The M2 is simply a little more powerful and immediate when it comes to reproducing bass, especially hard bass on rap and D&B tracks. The M1 is more laid back, more balanced. Vocals are placed a bit farther back and so are the drums, which is good for overall balance. The treble is also slightly less sparkly despite the fact that the M2 is nearly devoid of sparkle to start with. Still, the more laid-back presentation at the bottom does make the M1 sound more balanced.
The midrange is similar between the Brainwavz earphones. Smooth and non-fatiguing, it allows for a mellow but engaging listening experience. The M2 sounds a bit thicker and warmer than the M1. In terms off presentation, the M1 has a wider left-right soundstage but a smaller range of depth (meaning it doesn’t convey intimacy quite as well as the M2).
Value (9.5/10) – The Brainwavz M1 is another very strong contender for the bang/buck crown. Like the Brainwavz M2, the M1 is a steal at the $40 mp4nation plans to ask for them. They are neither better nor worse than the similarly-priced ViSang R02 – simply different. The slightly more balanced signature is not as heavy-hitting as the ViSang earphones and Brainwavz M2 tend to be. The warmth of the earphones is reduced and some of the thickness is gone but the soundstage is more evenly spaced and distance is relayed quite well. The lack of a strain relief is slightly disheartening but the cable is extremely solid and the new 45-degree plug is excellent. Comfort, isolation, and microphonics are all what I’ve come to expect from earphones of this caliber. Listening to the M1 makes it perfectly clear to me that we are moving in the right direction – and any earphone that makes me feel this way is well-worth my hard-earned money.
Pros: Class-leading sound quality, great all-around usability
Cons: Cord has a bit of memory character, no strain reliefs on cable entry