Details: heavyweight bang/buck contender from one of VSonic’s daughter companies, rebranded also as the Brainwavz M2
MSRP: $79.50 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $55 from amazon.com; $60 from mp4nation.net
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 20 Ω | Sens: 115 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 4.2’ I-plug (note: latest version carries 45°-plug)
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Sony Hybrids
Wear Style: Over-the-ear or straight down
Note: The mp4nation Brainwavz M2 is identical to the R03 in every way except the 3.5mm plug (45-degree plug identical to that on the Beta Brainwavz is used on the M2) and the accessory pack (M2 does not include foamhybrid tips).
Accessories (4/5) – Silicone single-flange tips (3 sizes), shirt clip, and clamshell carrying case (foamhybrid tips no longer included with mp4nation version)
Build Quality (4/5) – Sturdy aluminum housings, metal filters, and tough yet flexible cables. Strain reliefs are not molded but do the job and the cords lack a cable cinch and have some long-term memory character. Left/Right markings are a bit hard to see in direct sunlight
Isolation (3/5) – Typical of a ported dynamic-driver earphone
Microphonics (4/5) – Present when worn cord-down but wearing them over-the-ear is possible and a shirt clip is included
Comfort (4/5) – The housings are light but wearing them over-the-ear can initially be a bit tricky because of the long strain reliefs and resistive cable. The sizable driver bulge on the housing prevents particularly deep insertion
Sound (7.2/10) – Though I wouldn’t quite call them bass-heavy, the R03 certainly boast added low-end emphasis. Despite the boost, the bass is very smooth and calm. It stays completely out of the way when uncalled for and steps up in bass-heavy tracks. The bass also has a softness and delicacy to it that is rather rare and reminds me of my Monster Turbine Pro Gold as opposed to the hard-hitting low end of earphones such as the Klipsch S4 and Panasonic HJE900. The overall tonality of the R03 leans slightly towards darkness. The mids are front and center right where they should be. Soundstage depth is one of the few areas in which the R03 could stand improvement before they take down some of the big players in the mid-range segment. Soundstage width is about average, around the level of the RE0, and imaging is rather good for what they cost. Midrange clarity is superb and detail is equally impressive. The treble is smooth and moderately extended. It is not the focus of the presentation but instead a compliment. It is neither harsh nor bright nor sibilant. The R03 are also quite fast, at least on-par with the original Monster Turbines, and surprisingly transparent.
Value (8.5/10) – The Brainwavz M2/ViSang R03 is an incredible performer – a wholesome combination of build quality, comfort, and sound at a price well south of $100. The combination of impactful bass, clear mids, and crisp treble give the M2/R03 a very agreeable sound that can be enjoyed by both the audiophile and the casual listener in equal measure. And that fact alone makes them highly recommended earphones with a sound signature geared slightly towards the mainstream market. Do I personally still prefer a more analytical sound? Yes. But that does not prevent me from enjoying these earphones in the least. They are not perfect, but they are unreasonably good for what they cost.
Pros: Great build and sound quality
Cons: Mediocre isolation, L/R markings hard to see, cords have some memory character