Brainwavz B2s with my Gen 2 iPod Nano.
My written review on the sounds and physical qualities of Brainwavz B2 dual-balanced armature IEMs, as well as a comparison to the Brainwavz M2 dynamic IEMs.
Rig: iPod Nano (2nd generation)
Listened to Yeasayers, Zero 7, Sigur Ros, The Mars Volta and a little Jethro Tull for good measure.Sound Pre Burn-In
Out of the box, the first thing the B2s impressed upon me was the difference in detail versus my current M2 setup – the B2s were much more obvious with exceptional clarity. I heard instruments and sounds I didn't hear before within a track I had heard many times over through the M2s.
There was definitely a clear and strong emphasis on the highs which allowed vocals, acoustic sounds and high frequency electronic sounds to pop right out and sizzle in your head – in a good way! These sounds are often numbed or muffled with other earphones that focus on the mids or lows. If you're into the high ranges, the B2s offer you a great way to really appreciate them.
On the other side, there is a noticeable lack of bass. The bass sound is present, however that (essential to bassheads) bass feel or thump is very minimal, and doesn't quite do it. But I'm a basshead, and as the old saying goes, different strokes. Those who aren't fans of bass will be hard pressed to dislike the sound the B2s provide.
In that vein, as mentioned, the bass is there, but for some songs such as Zero 7's 'Futures' which has excellent jazz/house bass, it would be slightly better if the bass was more prominent. It would be possible to play with EQs to simulate a deeper and more powerful bass, but you're better off going with an amplifier that has a bass boost function if you are determined to add bass to the B2s sound signature. Sound Post Burn-In
The difference between the B2s out of the box sound and post burn-in sound wasn't that different, to be honest. The main and most noticeable difference was that the soundstage broadened and the bass loosened up a bit, becoming slightly more prominent and natural sounding. There is debate as to whether armature drivers even need burn-in time, but either way, I gave mine about 50 hours. From this, I don't think burn-in is necessary for the B2s. Instead, use them as you would and if things sounds better over time, all the better! (Or it's all in your head!)Comfort
It took me just a couple minutes to get acquainted with how to wear them. I started off with the default medium sized silicone tips (I prefer silicone over foam). My right earpiece sat in my ear completely fine whereas the left kept popping out at the butt of the earpiece – could be due to my unevenly shaped ears.
To fix this. I decided to change from Medium to the small sized silicone tips. Both earpieces fit fine after the change, but I was worried that noise isolation would not be as good as with the medium – I'm very particular when it comes to noise isolation, as well as having the earpieces sit as perfectly in my ears as possible. After a while I grew to accept the noise isolation given from the small, which I soon found out was sufficient enough for particular ol' me.
The shape of the earpieces were very easy to get used to, and since they were pretty light, non pointy and not ginormous in size, they sat rather comfortably in my ears.Other Aspects
The cable was an interesting braid of black and white, and its light weight and coating material used gave off minimal microphonics.
The straight angled plug sits well in my pocket, however straight angled plugs have a higher risk of being damaged from movement and pulling than angled plugs. Although with expensive earphones like these, it's probably best not to use them during a karate class. The cable neck tie is great for holding the wires firmly against the sides of your face, and the cable's light weight also prevents the earphones from being dragged down by gravity.Comparison to the M2s
The biggest differences between the two are the details in sound, enhanced highs and lack of bass on the B2s, whereas the M2s have pretty much the polar opposite – little focus on the highs and very heavy on the bass and lower ranges. I felt that the B2s were missing a punch that the M2s provided for bass (enough to knock you out cold with its warm, heavy bass covered fist), but the B2s offer a crystal clear sound, with a wide and detailed soundstage to match. Arguably comparing the two is a little moot as they focus on such different areas of the sound spectrum.
With the M2s, the lower ranges can dominate, and when comapred with the B2s, often you hear a fair bit more in your music with the latter than the former, simply as a result of this low range domination. That's not to say you miss much with the M2s – you really don't. It speaks more toward the B2s.
Not only can these new sounds be heard, but the clarity and detail on them are elevated. The M2s overall sound is warmer and less precise whereas the B2s provide you with a much more clinical sound with a focus on precision. You hear a twang all the way through to the end of its resonance in near crystal clarity.
Soundstage wise, the B2s take the cake. The M2 don't necessarily lack in soundstage, but it is significantly narrower than the B2s which are able to really spread the (playing) band all around you, making you hear where they would be positioned if they were playing right there in front of you. This ends up with the odd juxtaposition of an incredibly clinical and precise sound that provides an intensely real-life listening experience.Conclusion
I like to look at it this way – the M2s are for straight-up headbanging and hardcore dancing. The B2s are for introspection during the listening experience, along with a focus into the sounds themselves.
From a technical standpoint, the B2s come out the clear winners, as one might expect with the price difference. They excel at providing detail and what they gain in the highs and in clarity offsets what they lose in the lows. They've provided me with a totally different kind depth than I had been accustomed to with the M2s and their deep, bassy rumble. More of a 3-dimensional depth, rather than a 2-dimensional depth.
In the end, the highs of the B2s may overwhelm some, just like the lows of the M2 can overwhelm others. The choice between the two boils down to something intensely personal, and the two don't really exist on the same plane of comparison when factoring in price.
But since there are many M2 owners out there, the comparison should be useful.
All I know is that I love my deep rumbling M2s, but I find myself strangely attracted to the precise and accurate B2s.
It's a tough life owning two great IEMs.Alex