Wednesday, April 18, 2012

[REVIEW] Brainwavz M4

First, I’ll like to thank MP4 Nation for the sample. M4 is born in the search of a bassier version of Brainwavz’s flagship B2 at a more affordable price, yet still required to outperform or at least match the sound quality of the rest of the M series – which is not as easy as it seems, since the M series has always been very well received by the users. While M4 is certainly different from the warm, more mid centric sound of the M series, it is by no mean a total departure. While M4’s more V-shaped frequency response still keeps the strong bass intact, it also offers really good quality treble detail that has been missing from the M series. In a sense, M4 is the hybrid for those who are looking for something in between the M series and B2.

M4-01.jpg


Spec
Transducers: 10mm Dynamic
Impedance: 16 ohm
Sensitivity: 101dB at 1mW
Frequency range: 20 ~ 20000Hz
Distortion: <= 0.3% @ 94dB
Channel balance: =< 3dB (at 1000Hz)
Rated input power: 4mW
Maximum input power: 20mW
Plug: 3.5 mm gold plated, L Shape
Cable length: 1.2 meters Y cord

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality
Since I didn’t receive the full retail packaging, I won’t be comment much on both the packaging and accessories. However, having reviewed a few of Brainwavz’s IEM in the past, I am pretty sure Brainwavz won’t go cheap on both ends. As far as I know, there will be three pairs of single flange eartips (S, M, L), a pair of Comply S400 foam tips, shirt clip, and a hard case – this is fairly consistent to what have been included with B2, which is certainly a good thing since M4 is almost half the price of B2.

M4-02.jpg

Build quality wise, M4 is quite decent. The housing is full aluminum and look to be similar in design as those used by HifiMan and Sunrise, except M4 has a fairly large vent hole at the back of the housing. The cable on the other hand looks more similar to that of MEElectronics, with the transparent rubber outer sleeve and braided cable inside. Unfortunately the good looking cable does have a bit more cable noise / microphonics than the regular cable, so the use of the included shirt clip is a must. There are also some minor driver flex detected on both left and right transducer, slightly annoying but nothing as bad as Monster Turbine Pro Copper that I have reviewed a while ago. As long as the housing is pushed into the ear canal on an angle (so the air escapes more freely) instead of straight in, driver flex should be close to minimum.

All in all, I’ll say M4 doesn’t excess or worsen in build quality when compared of its elder siblings in the M series. It is mostly just different in pros and cons - not bad for IEM in the sub$100 price range, but certainly not the best there is.

M4-03.jpg

Sound Quality
The IEM has been burn-in for well over 50 hours and no significant sonic change has been observed.

The overall sound signature is a deep V-shaped frequency response, with lots of treble and bass. This is of course not a surprise as it is supposed to a bassy version of the bright sounding B2. While abundance and has decent depth, bass can be slightly boomy at time. However, it is not offensive and rather still quite enjoyable. Mid range, especially vocal, comes out clean and well detailed, but lacks a good sense of texture and warmness. It is further away in the whole presentation and can get slightly overpowered by other frequencies, especially in bass heavy, fast music. Treble is decently extended and crisp, but not quite as bright, detail or aggressive as B2. A peak around 12 kHz makes it sounds slightly grainy on the upper vocal, but again, nothing offensive or sibilant. Soundstage is above average, largely thanks to the recessed mid that gives more space between the listener and the performer.

So, what other IEM would M4 compare to, as far as SQ is concerned? I’ll place it just above ECCI PR401 and right next to the old Sony flagship, the MDR-EX700. Both, like M4, have a V-shaped sound. What is different between M4 and these IEM is that it has a cleaner, colder sound that places it closer to an analytical IEM than the warmer sounding PR401 and EX700. While the other two offers better textured low and mid, M4 excels in treble detail. M4 is right between PR401’s smooth extension and EX700’s overly harsh upper vocal, staying just under the threshold of being sibilant. That gives M4 a faster, lighter and crispier sound that won’t try to pierce into your eardrum.

M4-04.jpg

Verdict
For its goal as a dynamic version of B2 with more bass, M4 is quite successful. It offers a very different sound signature than the old M series, yet still improves upon them. People who find the old M series not detail enough or B2 not bassy enough should be happy to know that M4 is the middle ground you might be looking for. While neither a bass monster nor true analytical IEM, M4 is still in itself a well tuned and enjoyable IEM to listen to, almost like a lesser version of Triple-fi 10 in a dynamic transducer form. Though still a fair price at around US$70 from MP4Nation, North Americans should be happy to know M4 can often be had for less than $50 from Amazon, truly making it a great bargain.

Check out the List for numeric ranking.

36 comments:

se7en- said...

how would you compare this to vsonic gr06? good review as usual.

Tai / ClieOS said...

To put it in a simple way, GR06 isn't quite as good as M4. The detail review of GR06 will be posted soon though, probably in the next day or two.

Also, I was told the newer batch of M4 has came with more selection of eartips.

Anonymous said...

that's surprising! makes me a bit interested in the M4 and holds me back from getting the gr06

yea, and nice review!

Anonymous said...

i find the M4 bass is better thn B2(i find their bass tight, but soft on the note), but like u said, just a little boomy for my liking(bass tight/quality) like M2 is the standard im kindda into. But still love their sparkles. Anyway i can fix their Boommy bass of m4? maybe with any head amp?

Tai / ClieOS said...

Boomy bass that is a result of the frequency response generally isn't something that can be fixed by adding an amp.

Anonymous said...

any way/amps to improve their slightly recessed mids a.k.a addin a bit warmth? cmoy? e11?

Tai / ClieOS said...

The easiest way is just to do a minor EQing. Amp helps to add texture and warm, but it won't actually change the FR curve of the IEM. Anyway, cmoyBB might be better for what you are going for since it has a more upfront presentation than E11.

Anonymous said...

M4 are for $28 at mp4nation. seems like a steal?

Tai / ClieOS said...

Indeed.

7Heaven said...

i want to jump to that deal, but i'm a bit concerned. i had the Xcited, and didnt like them. the vocals were distant and the bass light. also they needed a lot of volume out of my Clip+.
how about these M4? for the deal price, it isnt too risky, but i want to be sure.
maybe the provided eartips + comply can help here?

Tai / ClieOS said...

Bass is definitely not light on the M4. But if you don't like a recessed vocal, then you won't like M4 at all. It is a steal at $28, but it won't matter if you are not into the balanced sound signature.

Anonymous said...

MP4Nation promote the M4 as great for Rock,
Vocals and guitars well reproduced
do you agree with that?

Tai / ClieOS said...

Rock is fine and guitar should be quite good. Vocal will depend - if you like a full, forwarded vocal, then no.

Anonymous said...

How different are they from the M2 in terms of mids and soundstage?

Tai / ClieOS said...

How different? Hmm, like almost a world apart? M2 is warm, mid centric and boxed-in while M4 is V-shaped in frequency and open. They are so different that if you prefer one of the them strongly, then the other will not fit you, at all.

Anonymous said...

That's good. I liked the bass on M2 but wished they had more detail and sounded more open or say, wider. :)
Pardon me for my queries, I don't have much experience and there isn't any place to audition them here.
As far as i've guessed, i think the M4 can be described as- bassy,recessed mids(but not too bad i suppose), detail in highs, and hopefully a good, wider soundstage. I felt closed in with the m2 :(

Tai / ClieOS said...

Yes, your description of M4 is about right.

Anonymous said...

are the FXT90 less reccesed than the M4?

Tai / ClieOS said...

Yes again, but that's because FXT90 isn't V-shaped sounding at all. It is more like a mid centric IEM with good extensions on both ends.

Anonymous said...

Got this a few weeks ago and is absolutely loving them and is definitely an upgrade over the Visang R02/Bwavz ProAlpha which I gave to my little sister.

I tried to like the GR07 but since YMMV, the SQ is not for me,the B2 is too bright but the M4 is just right.

I whole heatedly agree with the review, I just wished that the comply tips were a bit smaller, it is snug yet comfortable though.

Tai / ClieOS said...

Actually Comply does come in a smaller size. You might want to get those once your current pair wear out.

Anonymous said...

recieved a pair of m4 today and don't know why do you love them so. the sound is really flat. I think they should have costed 10$, not 28 and even not 70.
the sound is really bad if you compare it with soundmagic e10, that cost 34$. even my friend's cx300-II sound much better.
sorry for my bad English :(

Tai / ClieOS said...

Your English is pretty good, and everyone can have their own opinion. Just show you reading review of something that have been favorably reviewed doesn't mean you will like it.

Anonymous said...

IMHO M2 and M4 have in common only the brand name
the rest is COMPLETELY different
and depending on the kind of music I listen I prefer M4 for clear voices (Enya) while M2 for Rock (i.e. Linkin Park)

Anonymous said...

Hi which could be a better deal considering the price/value and build quality and sound brainwavz m4 sound magic e30 and sunrise xcited.Thansk

Tai / ClieOS said...

All three IEM have such different sound signature that purely talking about value is, in my opinion, not helpful to anyone. Other wise, the answer can be found in The List and you should be able to interpret it yourself.

teachMEmaster said...

should i get the m4 at 39.99$ (amazon)
or Ultimate Ears 500 39.99$
i dont have amp or dac as i will use my mobile or laptop as a source

and did you really hate the etymotic mc5, it seems that just because its not true to the etym house signature you were biased.

no disrespect as i dont have 1% of your experiences (really this is my 2nd headphone purchase EVER)

i dont think i have a fav signature, i do like to hear things as they were intended.

Tai / ClieOS said...

Never listen to UE500 before so I can't make any comparison about it.

Every reviewer has his/her own preference and bias, there is no doubt about that. That is why I have a review process that requires me to listen to an IEM and compare it to (usually around) 5 to 10 pair of reference IEM to determine its SQ rating and its position in 'The List'. I can't say it is fool-proof, but it does help to give consistent rating. If I was truly biased against MC5, trust me to say that it would have been given a much lower rating simply based on how I feel about it, without referencing back its performance to other IEM.

teachMEmaster said...

that's why i like your reviews, feels scientific
keep up the good work

one last question, how to detect driver flex and will it kill the iem?

Tai / ClieOS said...

Like to words imply, if you hear something is flexing inside your IEM when inserting, that is driver flex. Normal level of driver flex usually is harmless, and it is avoidable when the right insertion technique - By simply pushing the IEM along the ear canal wall when inserting,(thus leaving a small gap on the opposite side for air to move). Also, lesser tight eartips help as well.

Anonymous said...

just want to know what's your opinion of comparison between m4 and shure se215? im currently using m4 and do you think it is a worth upgrade to se215? honestly m4 sounds fine to me but just thinking to try something else.

Tai / ClieOS said...

SE215 will be a small upgrade over M4. The most noticeable difference is probably the change in sound signature rather than sound quality. It will be a good choice if you are looking for something more warmish in the mid. Other wise, I'll suggest you save up for bigger upgrade.

Anonymous said...

how bout a direct upgrade to UE triple fi 10? i can get a price of rm580 for tf 10.

Tai / ClieOS said...

For the same sound signature as M4, TF10 is a bigger and more obvious upgrade. The price is pretty good as well.

Anonymous said...

is it a worth upgrade? or do you have any other suggestions? for the price 600 or less

Tai / ClieOS said...

It is not about whether it is worth upgrading or not. It is about what kind of upgrade you are looking for. If you want a better M4, then TF10 makes for a good choice. If you want something else, then of course TF10 will become less ideal. Read my 'Sound Choice' article then go to my Concise Multi-IEM Comparison for something closer to what you want.

http://www.inearmatters.net/2012/07/sound-choice-illustration-of-sonic.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/541204/

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Important: All postings are my own personal opinion only and should not be treated as absolute truth. I do get things wrong just like everyone else. Always do your own research!

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