Brainwavz B400 Quad Balanced Armature Earphones Review

EDITORS' RATING: 7/10
Pros
  • Good, balanced mids, smooth highs
  • Comfortable fit
  • Sub-$200 price tag
Cons
  • Bass lacks punch

In-ear buds, like those that come with almost every smartphone, are so small it's almost too easy to take them for granted. After all, how much can you cram into such a cramped space to produce good-quality audio? Just enough, if you ask audio accessory maker Brainwavz. Its latest B400 in-ear monitors is the same size as your average IEM but packs four balanced armature drivers in each earbud, promising higher-quality sound than those same average IEMs. At least that's the theory, so we plug a pair in to test it in practice.

Right from the get-go, the Brainwavz B400 stands out from the crowd with its design. The standard color, if you could call it that, is "Frost" and it comes with a translucent shell that makes it look like some odd alien or undersea creature, especially without the detachable MMCX cable. But the story behind that shell is just as interesting as the design itself.

Unlike almost all mass-produced earbuds, the Brainwavz B400 is 3D printed using a liquid resin material. More than just being "hi-tech", this allows the company to use a shape that can't easily be replicated in conventional manufacturing lines. That shape has been meticulously design to fit comfortably and snuggly inside any ear. It's the closest you'll get to more expensive personalized earbuds. The 6 sets of silicone ear tips and one pair of Comply T100 foam tips increase the chances of making that fit truly yours.

A comfortable pair of earbuds will simply be expensive earplugs unless they sound good enough for you to actually use. This is where the B400's four balanced armature (BA) drivers come in. Most earbuds of its size, like the ones that come in smartphone boxes, use only a single driver each. More sophisticated ones use two. With four BA drivers, the B400 is able to assign a driver to a different audio range. One handles the lows, two are assigned to the mid-range, and the last aims for the highs.

To put that to the test, we paired the B400 with a Panasonic XDP-30R DAP and set it to lossless (ALAC) copies of Adele's songs ("Hello" and "Rumour Has it"). It gave us a decent sample of different kinds of sounds, from vocals to bass to instruments to foley. And the results were pretty much spot on with what Brainwavz is promising.

For such a small thing, and for its price, it's quite impressive how it can deliver clear, crisp, and well-balanced audio. The B400 performs best with mids but highs are also smooth and pleasing. The one area where it does trip up a bit is in the lows. Mind, it's not bad in the slightest but it lacks a bit of punch. This makes the B400 an excellent pair for those who lean more towards vocals or classical music over drums and beats.

As impressive as the B400 itself is, its entire package is even more impressive when you consider what's included in the box. Aside from the B400 and the aforementioned 6 silicon and 1 Comply T100 tips, the package includes not one but two detachable MMCX cables. Only one of the two, however, comes with a mic and remote controls. Of course, you're also free to use your favorite cable if you have one, but you won't have to go out of your way to look for a quality and durable line. The B400 also comes with a hard case, a shirt clip, a velcro strap, and even a cleaning kit. And guess how much it costs? $199.50 or $219.50 for opaque color options.

Balanced in performance and comfortable in design, the Brainwavz B400 admittedly won't blow you away. But it's hard to argue with a sub-$200 price point that delivers one of the better performing earphones we've heard. Especially when its peers with similar, sometimes worse, quality charge a lot more.