Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Brainwavz Delta: Ramen Noodles, or Brainwavz?

Intro

Clear Instruments & Vocals
Balanced Bass & All-Metal Housing
Disclaimer: I was given the Brainwavz Delta by Brainwavz in return for a review. The opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own, and were not influenced by Brainwavz in any way.

     Ah budget IEM's... They may not be the most glorious of audio products, but we occasionally find those that are a cut above the rest and become legends, so we keep searching through the massive influx of new IEM's to reveal these gems. That search continues with the Brainwavz Delta, sent to me courtesy of Brainwavz.

Packaging

     When I received the IEM's, I stopped to admire the packaging. It is composed of glossy black, white, and red plastic with a clear window displaying the IEM's. On the back, a shiny logo, and a quick description of them in two lines (note caption on the right).

     Inside the box, we have a pair of Comply S-400 foam tips, three silicone tips (small, medium, and large) and the IEM's.











Build and Design

     Examining the build, the cable is thick, but has some memory to it, which can get annoying. It is just a 20$ IEM, so I don't expect much, but they could have used something better. The cable is somewhat microphonic when worn straight down, but almost none when worn around the ear.

     Compared to the cables MEElectronics puts on the 10$ M9 Classic, this cable is put to shame, but then again the MEElectronics M9 Classic has the best cabling I've seen on IEM's under 30$, so it's a given... Although I don't exactly know why Brainwavz couldn't have matched the M9's cable quality.

     One thing the Delta has over the M9 is the very good strain relief. The Delta's strain relief is made of what I assume is rubber, whereas the M9's strain relief is plastic with grooves cut into it so it bends a little, and it doesn't even have strain relief on the Y-split.

     The Delta itself is well built out of metal. I dont expect these to break if stepped on or shoved in a backpack with books. Also, they look REALLY good which is a plus. Some people at school gave me complements. The shiny red back with a white Brainwavz logo in the middle, combined with the matte black body (On my pair anyways. There's a silver color option also.) makes these a real eye catcher.

     But the point of an IEM isn't the looks... Its the isolation and sound quality, of course! As a fully closed IEM, it has excellent isolation. Much better than the M9, or actually any other IEM's in this price range I've used, at that. It should be fine for even the noisiest of bus rides or planes. Now, how about the sound? I'll start at the bottom and work my way up.


Sound


Bass: Fairly neutral, and not exaggerated in any way relative to the midrange, but is missing some  speed, and texture. It extends fine down to 40hz, but bass sounds somewhat smoothed over at the lowest frequencies and lacks the grip and impact to really make it come alive. These are decent with electronic and rap, but doesn't quite capture the energy and fun of those genres.

Mids: The midrange is about as linear as you'll get for 20$. Guitars have a sweet and seductive tone. Pretty musical mids, and a pleasure to listen to classic rock with. With "Comin' under Fire" by Def Leppard these really show off their above average mids with the guitar and vocals. Compared to my K240... There is no comparison. The K240 wins hands down. Much more natural midrange. Then again, the K240 is three times the price, and a semi-open over ear... Sorry I don't have any IEM's to compare to that are in the same price range... Unless you count the Meelec M9 Classic which is 10$, the Delta mids run circles around them. The m9 mids are hollow and lifeless in comparison.
But anyways, for 20$ I think that they do admirably, even against the cans I've heard at that price. Mids are definitely their strong point.

Treble: Oh boy... Here's where a few problems arise. At around 5.5 kHz, its recessed by around 4db to my ears, then at 8.5 kHz comes back to play ball... And when I say it comes back to play ball, I mean the ball knocks out your teeth and steals your bicycle. On "Manage" by Fox Stevenson for example, the cymbal crashes are overly accentuated and not particularly articulate either (although I'm used to more expensive cans, so maybe my ears are just pampered). Dont listen to anything too bright with these, unless you like lots of confused treble. If you have heard the AKG K240 Studio, let me tell you... The treble spike on the Delta is larger. Don't get me wrong, the treble on the Delta is still of average resolution compared to most in its price range, but it's a little overkill quantity wise. A bit of EQ can go a long way with these...

Soundstage: Very deep, but not as wide as deep. The soundstage expands outside of your head quite far for a budget IEM. I'd say its the size of a jazz club.




Tip-rolling, Amping

Brainwavz Delta with MEElectronics M9 bi-flange tips.
     Now... I thought, "What would happen if I tried tip rolling?" Well, much to my delight, after trying out the Meelectronics M9 Classic Bi-Flange tips with the Delta, the treble calmed down and didn't pierce my ears with every cymbal crash, and actually seemed to have improved the resolution. On "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses, the brushes on the cymbals are less blurred over. Mids actually got a little warmer and more musical than before. The bass lost a little bit of detail, but now has more impact. I highly suggest these tips for this IEM.
Amping: I actually cannot hear any difference with additional amping other than a higher noise floor. (Nokia Lumia 925 -> FiiO E11)


Conclusion

     These are just a plug into your smartphone kind of IEM. Looks good, easy to drive, built pretty well for the price... Something you suggest to beginner audiophiles who like their mids, or a consumer who likes classic rock and 70's-80's pop. The treble can be somewhat annoying at points, and the bass might disappoint those who like their electronic music, but hey! For a 20$ audio product, I don't find them to be bad at all.




Category
Score
Build and Design
7.75/10
Packaging
6/10
Accessories
4/5
Sound
7/10
Isolation
8.5/10
Microphonics
6/10
Comfort
9/10
Value
8.5/10
Total
7.59375/10


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