As I said when I reviewed their $299 B400 Quad-Balanced Armature earphones, the $120 B200 Dual Balanced Armature IEM is part of Brainwavz plan to offer a more refined product with the same value/price proposition as their $20 earbuds. The B400 was a smashing success, offering rich holographic sound comparable with multi-driver IEMs several times its price.
So when I got a chance to review the little brother to the B400, the B200, I was curious to see if they could duplicate the positive results of the quad driver unit with a dual balanced armature product at a lower price point.
Like the B400, Brainwavz used liquid resin 3-D printing to make the shells for their IEMs, and again the result is a very clean looking translucent earpiece. The process also allows for a smooth finish and ergonomic shape which makes for a comfortable fit. Again, like the B400, the cables are detachable and use standard MMCX connectors. Because of this many upgrade cables are available, and Brainwavz offers a couple on their website.
Speaking of cables, the B200 has a decent one included. The black jacket is stiff enough not to get tangled easily, yet pliable enough not to be annoying. The pre-formed ear hooks at the end are also firm yet pliable, which makes them comfortable when wearing and allows for quick installation and removal of the earpieces.
Along with the cable, you get the usual zippered black and red hard case included with Brainwavz earphones, and I must say it is probably the best case any manufacturer gives away with their product. They offer an abundance of both room and protection. Brainwavz sells them for about $12 separately, and they are worth every penny. Also, as usual, the company includes a set of S,M,L silicone eartips, one pair of Comply foam tips, a cable tie, and shirt clip.
I wish there was also an additional cable with a mic and cell phone controls on it like the B400, but at the price, I think I’m getting a little greedy here. If I had to choose between one or the other, I would pick the straight one, so in the end, I think they did well.
As the name of the product says, these are dual balanced armature earphones, meaning they have 2 BA drivers per side, one used as a tweeter and the other tuned as a midbass/woofer. Balanced Armatures have the advantage of playing fast and providing lots of detail, but the trade off is they don’t offer the bottom end slam of dynamic drivers. This comes into play with the B200 sound which I will get into next.
I listened to the B200 using two sources, streaming Tidal from my LG V40 Android Phone with quad-driver ESS Sabre DAC engaged. I also used them with an iFi nano idsd LE DAC/Amp plugged into my HP Envy x360 laptop. I also streamed Tidal on the laptop.
The Brainwavz website claims “Balanced audiophile grade sound” and I agree with this proposition. The B200 doesn’t have boosted highs or bass, something very rare at this price point. Most earphones around $100 are tuned for the masses, meaning they have enhanced highs for an artificial patina of detail and boosted lows to produce maximum excitement. But these earphones are definitely tuned for those seeking refinement, meaning they want a certain level of smoothness along with the detail, something that places musicality over aggressiveness.
The B200 achieves this musicality via skillful tuning of the dual balanced armatures. The sound is nice and airy, with smooth highs, and natural mids. Bass is nice and articulate but similar to a mini monitor speaker they are missing some of the slam at the very bottom.
This is not super surprising since like I started earlier BA drivers are known for this. However, they did a great job of giving you enough bass extension that you don’t feel like you are missing anything except on the most bass heavy of music.
For example on Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA.”, which is a bass driven song, there was enough speed and bass articulation to drive the rhythm, but the slam was missing. But the clarity of the rest of the song including the vocals was impressive.
Where the B200 really shines is on acoustic and jazz material. On Muddy Waters “My Home Is In the Delta”, the sound of the acoustic guitars is so natural and fleshed out, same with Water’s vocals. There is also a nice sense of space, adding up to a very credible and engaging performance.
Once again, Brainwavz has put together a nice IEM with a refined sound, comfortable fit, and a nice accessory package. While they are a little thin in the very extremes of the bass, the overall sound is quite beautiful with sweet highs and a full natural midrange. If you listen to a lot of acoustic music like jazz, blues, folk or classic rock you will really love the airiness and detail on these. Definitely among the best earphones around $100