About Brainwavz and its S0…
Brainwavz is a Hong Kong-based audio company that manufactures portable audio including IEMs, DAPs, Headphones and even DACs since 2008. I have heard their products way back in 2009 (I think) and I quite liked what I heard. They don’t make very high-end equipment but more budget and VFM offerings.
The earphone on review today is the Brainwavz S0 which is one of their newer IEMs. I say newer because some IEMs in their lineup have been there for many years like the M2 which has been around for almost 6 years now. Unlike the Brainwavz Xfit 200 that we reviewed earlier, these aren’t fitness earphones and such don’t isolate or stay in the ear as easily. However, they are still pretty comfortable and come with a built-in volume control which works just fine with the few phones I tried it with.
The following specs are from its website
- Clear and Balanced sound
- Accurate Sound reproduction
- Durable Metal Housing
Microphone & Remote:
- Supports Apple iOS Products
- Phone Call Control
- Audio Player Control
- Volume Control
- MEMS (Micro-Electrical-Mechanical System
- Drivers: Dynamic, 9 mm
- Rated Impedance: 16 Ω
- Frequency Range: 18 Hz ~ 18 kHz
- Sensitivity: 100 dB at 1 mW
- Rated Input Power: 10 mW
- Cable: 1.2 m Y-Cord, Copper
- Plug: 3.5 mm, Gold Plated
- Earphone Hardcase
- 6 sets of Silicone Ear Tips (S M L)
- 1 set of Comply™ Foam Tips S-400
- 1 Shirt Clip
- 1 set of Silicone Bi-Flange Eartips
- 1 set of Silicone Tri-Flange Eartips
- Velcro Cable Tie
- Instruction Manual
The specs sheet claims that its microphone and volume controls work with iOS products only. But they work with my Samsung and my dad’s Lenovo phone just fine. The volume control worked fine as did the microphone button but some functionality like fast forward and rewind didn’t work on any of my Android phones.
The housings of the Brainwavz S0 IEM are metal which is very nice and sturdy. The cables are of the flat type which is both good and bad. The good is that flat cables are pretty sturdy and don’t break easily. The bad news is that flat cables aren’t good if you loop the wire over your ear to prevent the earphones from falling down.
The built-in volume control is multi-function. Pressing the middle button will pause or unpause the currently played song. Pressing it twice and you will skip to the next song. Pressing it thrice and you will go to the previous song. However, I don’t know if I messed up or it is not supported on my device but I couldn’t get it to the previous song. Only the next song worked.
One thing I point out in almost every Brainwavz review and one I have no qualms about pointing out time and time again is the beautiful and sturdy case Brainwavz provides with their earphones.
The case is both practical as its very hard and protects your earphone easily. And it looks great to boot! Honestly, I haven’t seen a better case in the budget arena ever! Some of the more expensive earphones provide more beautiful cases but most of those aren’t terribly practical. This one is both beauty and brains!
Lastly, Brainwavz also provides Comply foam tips. Now while Comply tips are very comfortable and give excellent isolation. They also don’t last more than a month or two. More than that its a hygiene issue and they should be discarded. And replacement foam tips are pretty prohibitive. However, it is still commendable to get one pair with these budget earphones.
All in all the Brainwavz S0 comes with a pretty impressive accessories bundle. I really don’t have any sort of feedback to Brainwavz regarding any improvement in their bundle. They are top of the charts when it comes to accessories!
The Brainwavz S0 has a rather warm sound. The overall tonality is pretty smooth and warm. Warm sound is a function of a slightly boosted lower mid range.
There is a bit of sub-bass but it is not very prominent. The midbass since its boosted portrays a bit of ‘boom’ which isn’t truly base. The Brainwavz S0 can’t portray thumping bass too well as the artificially boosted lower midrange tries to compensate for the lack of lower sub bass. The lower mid boost does ensure the S0 doesn’t sound bass anemic however which ensures the Brainwavz S0 doesn’t sound ‘off’ in bass heavy tracks.
The Brainwavz S0 has the main focus of the midrange which is very warm and very smooth. The vocal performance is very very good and a real highlight of the earphone. The midrange is not very intimate but has pretty good separation which some people love. The rather wide soundstage is responsible for the slightly distant mids. Most IEMs have a very close or narrow soundstage which makes music in your face. The Brainwavz S0 manages to portray a reasonably wide soundstage. This is all the more noticeable when I was comparing this earphone to the Brainwavz Xfit 200 that we reviewed earlier. The Xfit 200 has much greater bass in quality and quantity but the mid-range just can’t compete with the Brainwavz S0 and the soundstage is much more believable on the S0 than on the Xfit 200.
The treble is slightly rolled off which again goes well with its warm smooth sound. Some songs lack the crispness which you expect but a large percentage of tracks sound just fine as the detailing is above average for an earphone in its price range.
I would say that one of the main highlights of this Brainwavz S0 is the wide soundstage. Comparing to its brethren the Xfit-200 which has a better bass you can tell how much narrower the soundstage is. Now while some people may prefer a more intimate sound state, a wider soundstage allows for better instrument separation and you can pick out details in the music much easier. Its like there is a band playing around you and with the Brianwavz S0 they take two steps back and continue playing.
The Brainwavz S0 has a lot going for it. A brilliant accessories bundle, a decent affordable price, solid metal housing, sturdy cable and a lovely warm sound.
A lot of earphone manufacturers try for a neutral or flat response. This allows you to EQ the music to your taste. However, it is not totally out of place for a company with many earphones in its portfolio to make a few earphones cater to a certain genre of music. The Brainwavz S0 is able to portray vocals beautifully. It does do a good job of other genres but it would not be earphone of choice for genres like ‘house’ or heavy metal.
The negative is the sub-par bass response. A few years earlier I didn’t care much for bass but with today’s modern tracks featuring a lot of artificially boosted bass, the Brainwavz S0 can sound a bit out of place.
So I would recommend the Brainwavz S0. They are a very decent buy but do keep in mind the mid-range focus.
- Very smooth sound
- Excellent build quality
- External controls (Though may not work on all devices)
- Lack of sub-bass can be a bit off-putting with today’s music with artificially boosted bass.