A funny thing happened on the way to writing this review. Actually it was a good thing. I wrote several reviews with the Brainwavz M2 In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) playing music from my iPhone at a low volume. The volume had to be low because if it was at a normal listening level, the music was too distracting to concentrate on writing the reviews. When the time came to write this review, I wanted to refresh my impressions that had already been saved in my listening notes and listened again to the M2 at normal levels. And again, because the music sounded so good, found it difficult to concentrate on writing this review.
From the Brainwavz web site:
“BRAINWAVZ M2 feature a more mature, detailed and refined sound. Above all, the sound signature is fun and exciting. With great, full and punchy bass and without sacrificing clarity and warmth, the M2 earphones are designed to sound good with any genre of music.
“The M2 also bring a new level of quality and detail to workmanship, the earphones are constructed in a metallic body and the cabling is of higher quality which helps to preserve the sound quality from your source gear.”
There is a single 10.7mm dynamic driver for each channel. The impedance is 20 Ohms and the sensitivity is 115 dB @ 1 mw. BE WARNED: the M2 is rated for 10 mw of input power which could result in a SPL (sound pressure level) that could exceed safe listening levels. The M2 includes a 1.3 meter kink-resistant cable with silver plated conductors. Comply foam tips and also 6 sets of silicone ear tips, of different sizes, are included. Also included is a very nice zippered carrying case. The metal housing construction gives the impression that these phones could survive some extreme abuse and still make music. The warranty is a generous 12 months. The list price is $79.50. Brainwavz offers the M2 at a discounted price on Amazon. Please search for Brainwavz M2.
The M2 web page lists three noteworthy characteristics of this model: intense bass, comfy fit, and stylish design. I did not find the bass to be intense or ever overbearing, too powerful, or otherwise demanding special attention. The level of bass in relation to the upper bass and midrange was always appropriate to the recording and music. Yes, the bass was noticeable and powerful and detailed, but if the advertising had not made special mention of the bass, I would have simply said “excellent bass”. Of course, the silicone ear tips increase the apparent bass by sealing the earphones in your ear canals which allows much less leakage and greater pressures of bass energy than you would have with porous foam ear tips or regular headphones, AKA “cans”. The bass was indeed “punchy” and dynamic, so the product description above is very accurate in this regard.
I also completely agree with “comfy fit”. I wore these IEMs for hours on airplanes and when writing reviews with complete comfort. The light weight and flexible cabling makes extended listening a pleasure.
There is something wonderful about the sound of good in-ear monitors, especially those with high performance single drivers in each ear. With no crossover to direct the incoming signal to a separate woofer and a tweeter, a very natural continuity – and freedom from the harmful phase shifts of typical crossovers – is heard that makes the distinction between bass, midrange, and treble almost meaningless. Separating music into these frequency ranges is good for discussion, but the M2s present a seamless listening experience and music flows naturally up and down the entire musical scale. The midrange is very natural and fully formed. The treble is clear and extended, with truly outstanding resolution and detail, regardless of the moderate price. I never felt that there was anything missing even with my own 24-bit 192 kHz very high-resolution recordings of LP albums. I know how the albums sound, so these comparisons have some value. In fact, the large ribbon tweeters in the Magnepan 3.7 speakers in my main stereo system offer very similar resolution as the M2s. For these tests, the Brainwavz IEMs were connected to the high quality headphone output of a recording studio-quality Lynx Hilo Reference A/D D/A converter.
Comparing the M2s to comparably priced Klipsch IEMs and also to the stock Apple phones shows the clear superiority of this Brainwavz product. They are much more refined and higher resolution than either the Klipsch or Apple. The bass is better quality and a bit less powerful than the Klipsch, which seem designed to recreate a disco dance experience: a bit overpowering and unnatural in the bass. The upper frequencies of the M2s are richer and more natural sounding than the Klipsch monitors.
I see a lot of folks using the ubiquitous white Apple ear buds. The Apple’s sound rarely actively offends with their musical presentation, at least for a short listen. However, for anyone who even briefly tries a more upscale monitor, the Apple product is quickly understood to be entry level. The M2’s bass is far superior, and the upper frequencies are much more natural sounding without the hard edge which is often heard with the ear buds from Apple. The M2s are also a huge improvement in comfort, which should be a big benefit for those of us who don’t like having foreign objects stuck in our ears. The M2s have a similar punchy, dynamic presentation as the Apple phones, but sound less cold and aggressive which lets you listen possibly louder and definitely for longer intervals without feeling tired or abused.
I have had the opportunity to briefly audition some expensive IEMs, some in the $500 range and even a couple that sell for over $1000. These models have custom molded ear pieces that can improve comfort and offer even better resolution than the very satisfying M2 does. But it is noteworthy that when I go back to listening to music with my now-standard M2, I rarely felt that the M2 is less satisfying or any less enjoyable. This is remarkable for IEMs in this price range.
The Brainwavz M2 In-Ear Monitors offer excellent sound which is natural, dynamic, and high resolution. The very low distortion makes extended listening a pleasure, and their robust construction inspires confidence that they will be making great music far into the future. The Brainwavz M2 offers excellent sound quality and are a very good value in today’s marketplace.
Overall Rating: 9 LPs
Link to manufacturer: Brainwavz