Wear style: Straight-down
A laid-back headphone with a spacious sound. It does not isolate very well but this is a tradeoff for good instrument separation and a deep soundstage. The M1 pairs best with “smooth” music such as soft indie rock. Because of their small form factor, they are incredible for sleeping in.
[Disclaimer: The unit used for this review was sent to me by Brainwavz]
The M1 sits among some tough competition in the Brainwavz lineup, namely between the cheaper Beta and more expensive M2 which was my day-to-day IEM for over two years. So what does the M1 have to offer? Is it simply a poor man’s M2 or another beast altogether? Before hearing the M1, I read several reviews and my impression was that the M1 was going to be an analytical, bass-light, spaced-out version of the M2. After comparing the two side by side, I conclude that I was about half right.
The M1 housings are made of plastic and metal – plastic on the outer portion, metal on inner nozzle area. The form factor is very small making the M1 absolutely AMAZING to sleep in. Even if you sleep on your side, they are hardly noticeable up against a pillow. They do not isolate or block sound very well compared to other earphones due to two tiny vents on the housings, so I do not recommend them for airplane or bus travel.
The cable is very strong and durable but it can be quite noisy if you are moving around — the shirt clip helps but does not eliminate the noise. The cable also has a memory effect which leads to “curling” in the cable if you wrap them up for storage.
The first thing that struck me by surprise was the bass of the M1. I was expecting a bass-light earphone but the M1 is nothing of the sort. It is not for bass-heads, but quantity-wise it will satisfy most people.
The next thing that stuck out to me was the spacious sound. Instruments are layered very well which leads to an airy sound. Soundstage is not as wide or tall as I expected but it is quite deep.
In terms of tonal balance, the M1 is laid-back and mid-centric. As I mentioned, the bass is strong but not incredibly impactful — in other words, it is smooth, soft, and makes for good “backdrop” bass. But when the bass needs to take the forefront, it does not quite step up to the challenge. There is more texture in the bass than the M2, but it is not as clean and does not integrate as well with the rest of the music. The mids are forward and smooth. Treble is recessed as to cause no harshness whatsoever – just how I like it.
At louder volumes, bass reverb in the housings is noticeable (possibly an effect of the plastic), but it is something you can get used to. It also sounds somewhat hollow, which in combination with its instrument layering can make songs sound unrealistic especially if they have prominent bass. However take these downsides with a grain of salt because the more I listened to the M1, the less noticeable these things have become.
The Brainwavz M1 is a very good headphone for the money but they are not great all-arounders. If you need some headphones to sleep in, look no further. If you listen primarily to laid-back, soft music, you will not be disappointed. If you listen to a wide range of genres, I would highly recommend stepping up to the M2.
|Driver type||10.7mm Dynamic|
|Frequency Response||20 – 20k Hz|
|Cable||4.2’ (1.3m) with 45°-plug|
|Included accessories||Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes) (eartip accessories may vary), shirt clip, clamshell case|
|Recommended tips||Generic biflanges|