Before I tell you anything about the Brainwavz B400 Quad Balanced Armature Earphones, I must confess to not being a fan of in your ear audio devices. Sure, I use earbuds when casually listening to music on my phone, and my experience with earphones goes back to some of the original Sony Walkman models of the 1980s – for cassettes and CDs – remember how revolutionary the Walkman seemed? But for serious music listening, if I can’t crank my big speakers up to 11, only a set of good headphones will do.
The Brainwavz B400 belongs to a class of high end listening devices known as IEMs, for In-Ear Monitors, what you see musicians use on stage to hear themselves clearly, usually with custom fitted earpieces. For audiophiles, there are very costly IEMs, all the way up to – believe it – $3000.
For less than a tenth of that price, you can buy the Brainwavz B400 Quad Balanced Armature Earphones, which comes with three sets of silicone tips and one set of foam tips, to fit in your ears. They are built with four audio drivers for each ear, each said to be tuned to different parts of the audio spectrum for maximum clarity. The electronics are housed in a 3-D printed case – which stays outside your ear by the way – and resembles a large lima bean.
If the earpieces are marked left & right, I couldn’t find the markings even with a lighted magnifying glass. Then again, my review model came with clear plastic “beans” which may have made any identification harder to find. So I tried first one, then the other to see which went in which ear, and positioned the “bean” so the tip would stay in my ear canal even as the cables pulled on them.
The B400 has detachable cables and comes with two sets: one with a mic and volume remote built-in, for use with your phone, and the other without the mic and remote for audio only. Both had 3.5mm jacks, although there are optional cables with 2.5mm jacks, should you need them. Detaching and attaching the cables takes some effort and guesswork. The little instruction sheet that comes with the B400 is pretty generic for any of their models. The cords do have a bend in them, so you can hang them over your ears, which I found helped keep the earpieces in my ears.
You also get a small semi-rigid zippered carrying case, a shirt clip, and a Velcro strap to keep the cords neat. And some cleansing wipes.
So how do they sound? Well, to me, nothing really special. The Brainwavz B400 does produce a very clear, clean sound, but there’s very little “bottom,” that is, the lower range is there but not much of it. Now I don’t like a thumping bass and my home speakers and favorite headphones are pretty mellow, however, even listening to tracks with clear bass lines, there wasn’t enough of the low end with the B400 in my ear canals.
I’ve checked my experience against reviews at audiophile sites & on Amazon and others seem to agree that the B400 is a high-quality IEM with a clean, balanced sound, but it is light on the lower end. To some, tho, that’s actually a plus.
How audio equipment sounds is a very personal thing, and my older ears aren’t what they used to be, but to me, the Brainwavz B400 is good but not great, although I might not even be dazzled by that $3000 IEM, if I could ever afford it.