The oddly named company Brainwavz has come out with another pair of earphones designed especially for sports enthusiasts. Being not much of a fan of the design, I was keen to know how Brainwavz, in particular, handled it.
Build and Design: 7/10
The earphones are oddly shaped with an over-and-behind the ear design, aimed at sports enthusiasts who want their earphones to stay in place during vigorous activities. Due to the shape, these earphones are not for the casual user as these require more care during earphone insertion, more about this in “The curious case of missing Bass” in Performance section below.
The unique shape is such that it lends itself to perfectly stay on no matter what. It is meant for vigorous sports activities without the fear of falling off. However, it is not sweat resistant like the Sennheiser PMX 686G reviewed before. Though for the price of one PMX 686G, you can go through several pairs of Brainwavz XF-200’s.
One extended benefit of this kind of design is for motor-bikers who like wearing earphones with their helmet on. The earphones stick inside the ear well, unlike regular protruding pairs that can press uncomfortably against the ears with the helmet on. Please note that this is dangerous as earphones + the helmet creates quite a noise-isolating seal and the situation becomes worse if you have music on.
The remote is a simple 3-button operation that controls volume, skip tracks, pause/play, plus a microphone for taking phone calls. Brainwavz S3 earphones have a much better design with protruded markings, making it far easier to access the controls without looking.
The earphone cord doesn’t make any cord noise though it is prone to tangling. The cord also has a thoughtful adjustment to keep the unwieldy wires well together.
For the price, Brainwavz really gives a lot of quality accessories. I was pleasantly surprised to see a really nice striking sturdy case (the guys over at Evidson ought to learn from this) which is the same in their high-end line of earphones too.
Also, the earphones come with several ear tips to please everyone and that too multiples of each. Even “Comply” ear tips are thrown in for good measure for those who like it. Brainwavz really spoils its consumers with a lot of quality goodies out of the box.
We tested the Brainwavz XF-200 with our Android phone, Windows PC with FiiO Q1 DAC + amp attached, with all enhancements off.
Overall, the sound is really good, well-balanced and clear. You’ll get a nice open soundstage when listening to music. Though the earphones do not have the same refinement of sound that their very own higher-end S3 earphones have, but the S3’s also cost four times as much.
The highs are just right, not too flat and not sibilant even with noisier Heavy Metal tracks there was no fatigue while listening to music.
The mids are crisp, and sharp, tracks with a focus on voice sounded well, and none of the snares nor the tom-toms of the drums sounded lean or tinny. There is a full body to the sound.
Am happy to say the bass is just right, I personally quite enjoy a sound that balances well across the sound spectrum without giving too much emphasis on any one particular frequency. For bass heads, you’ll just need to up a few notches higher in the lower range and you’ll be just fine, if you desire more bass, then perhaps the Sennheiser CX 3.00 would suit you better.
The curious case of missing Bass
At first, the bass sounded quite lean, pumping it up in the EQ helped but not sufficiently without altering the sound. I was ready to write it off saying “lean bass”, but interestingly my cousin brother blurted, “Hey, it's bassy” during testing…wait, What?? I checked my fitting and it certainly sounded lean, I re-inserted the earphones being careful to insert in the ear by stretching the ears and pushing the earphones further than I’m used to with regular pairs. Aligning flat with my ears, the bass, and the overall sound improved immensely.
Coming back to my cousin, the reason why he found them bassy, is simply because his ears are smaller than mine and I tend to use large ear cups, the wrong size created too much seal, therefore, more bass.
Interestingly, a lot of users online have shared their experience on Amazon customer reviews indicating the same issue that the earphones don’t have much bass. This I can completely understand, my advice would be to check the fitting by using the right ear tips, stretch the ear when inserting the earphones for a better seal and if none of these work, last resort is to adjust the bass in the EQ.
This sort of design is certainly tricky to wear, you cannot casually insert the earphones like regular designs and get away with it. Similarly designed sports earphones from Evidson Audiosport W6 gave me quite the tiresome time during testing.
Call Quality: 9/10
The call quality was really good, after all, the earphones were inserted in both ears with the mic hanging close, just behind the ears, ensured that there was less interference in the sound. The earphones do have quite a good noise isolation capability as there was no drop in conversation nor any noise of any sort. The person on the other end of the call could hear me very clearly.
One thing to note of this over-and-behind the ear design is that it isn’t as easy to remove the earphones from the ear unlike regular straight designs. So you’ll see yourself struggling to casually pop the earphones out as it tends to stick to the ear by design.
Verdict and Price in India
These earphones are a definite recommend. They are an excellent pair, with a lot of added accessories not seen in this price and they cost just Rs 1299 street price. If you are into vigorous activities like sports, jogging and the like, these pairs are for you.
There is one thing you ought to be careful of is that the design and the fitting are a tricky thing to get right, a lot more deliberation needs to go into it when wearing. Those who don’t like earphones going that far deep inside should stay away from this kind of over-and-behind the ear sports designs.
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