Brainwavz B400 hands-on review

Sing it loud: The sweet Brainwavz B400s only cost $200

Smooth, precise, and controlled, the $200 Brainwavz B400 in-ear headphones offer astonishing value.
Smooth, precise, and controlled, the $200 Brainwavz B400 in-ear headphones offer astonishing value.
Smooth, precise, and controlled, the $200 Brainwavz B400 in-ear headphones offer astonishing value.

Highs

  • Sweet vocal presence
  • Highly musical
  • Comfortable
  • Easily swapped MMCX cables
  • Excellent presentation and accessories

Lows

  • Lacking bass in some situations
  • Over-ear cable design may not suit everyone

Quad-anything has got to be better, right? Quad turbos on your car would make it pretty exciting, for example. Brainwavz has released the B400 quad balanced armature earphones, which as the name suggests have four drivers inside each earpiece, all performing a slightly different job to deliver the best sound possible. It’s not a new approach, but the price point of less than $200 has few competitors in this realm – the Quad Driver from 1More being the only option we’ve come across so far. Audio Technica’s ATH-IM04 cost more than $500, and Shure’s SE846 can be more than $800, making the B400’s incredibly tempting based on price alone. However, how do they sound?

Let’s talk about build quality and fit first. The B400 adopt that over-ear cable design familiar to fans of high-end in-ear monitors, and the cable itself is molded for the design. We found the headphones comfortable and easy to put on, and the cable design minimizes irritating cable noise. That said, we did find the molded over-the-ear cable section slightly annoying because it can’t be bent to exactly fit the shape of our ears.

The in-ear sections are made from 3D-printed liquid resin, and ours came in a cool translucent finish, but black and other colors are available. Inside are four drivers that each have their own register to focus on, running all the way from a claimed 10Hz to 40kHz. This gives the B400s audiophile sound quality, says Brainwavz. Each bud has its own removable MMCX cable, and two sets come in the box — one with an in-line remote and the other without. The design makes it easy to swap the included cable for a 2.5mm balanced version in the future, ready for use with a high-end music player or amp with such an output. Brainwavz’s generosity continues by including various tips including Comply foam tips, some cleaning wipes, and a very durable case. Yes, all this for less than $200.

The B400’s are incredibly tempting on price alone.

How about the 3D-printed build quality? The crystal versions aren’t especially pretty to look at, as they expose the internal molded sections, but they do feel solid and the cable attaches easily. We used the standard rubber tips for our audition of a few hours, as the fit was excellent and effectively isolated us from the outside world.

We used two different sources for our test: The Astell & Kern AK70 MkII hi-res portable audio player, and an Apple iPhone X with the headphone jack dongle. Using the AK70 MkII, the first song we listened to was Nogizaka46’s Itsuka Dekiru Kara Kyou Dekiru, and boy, do the B400s love to sing. The vocal presence is right at the center of the experience, with the group’s voices perfectly reproduced by the strong midrange, and subtle treble. The B400’s beautiful treatment of strong vocal performances was reinforced with 7!!’s wonderful Orange, where lead singer Nanae’s voice became even more shiver-inducing than usual.

Brainwavz B400 review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The listening experience between the two devices was very different. The iPhone X brought out the B400’s bass response considerably more than the A&K player’s Pro EQ setting. This made the mids warmer, losing some of the wonderfully smooth and precise vocals we enjoyed listening to on the A&K, but making the B400 likely more accessible to listeners of all music types. Regardless of the source and no matter what we played, the Brainwavz B400 were always musical and controlled.

[comparable-products]

Sound staging is centralized, with the B400s preferring to let the vocals become the focus and keep everything else close by. We wouldn’t call the sound tight — intimate would be a better description — just don’t expect a wide, stadium-style soundstage. While mid-bass is present, it’s not the B400’s strong point, and there are no brain-rattling lower tones either. This may change subtly over time, as we were listening to a brand new pair without a burn-in period. We didn’t miss the heavy thump, but if you’re after monster bass, the B400 are not going to be for you.

The choice of headphones available today — in-ear or otherwise — is huge, just like the variation in price. The Brainwavz B400 quad balanced armature headphones are pitch-perfect in both audio performance and cost. Delivering a very high-quality listening experience and not charging eye-widening prices is a tall order, but the B400 headphones deliver on both counts.

Home Theater

Dream on: The concert of the future is in Vegas, and Aerosmith leads the charge

Aerosmith has partnered with THX, L-Acoustics, 1More, and Mixhalo to provide fans with an unparalleled, tech-fueled concert experience for the band’s 50th anniversary. Here’s how this one concert series could shape the future of live…
Home Theater

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.
Mobile

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best affordable phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget…
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our favorites, with all the features you want.
Trash

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.
Home Theater

What’s new on Netflix and what movies and shows are leaving in May 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Netflix for May 2019 and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on your bingeing, and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Home Theater

Beats Powerbeats Pro: Everything you need to know about the earphones

Apple will release a fully wireless pair of earphones in May from its Beats brand. The Powerbeats Pro earphones have impressive features to compete with the AirPods, along with a litany of other options. Here's everything we know.
Home Theater

Rock out, dance, or just nod along with the best Bluetooth speakers

The market is saturated with wireless audio solutions fit for any and all circumstances. Check out our picks for the best Bluetooth speakers available, whether you'll be listening in the kitchen or on a mountaintop.
Buying Guides

Control is within your grasp with one of our favorite universal remotes

Get ready to simplify your home. Our top choices for the best universal remotes let you easily control your Blu-ray player, DVR, TV, A/V receiver, or any other device you may have tucked in your media hub.
Home Theater

Any night can be a night at the movies with the best home theater projectors

Are you sick and tired of those cumbersome big screen TVs? Don’t want to spend big for a huge TV? These home theater projectors will bring you that big screen experience without breaking the bank.
Home Theater

Don’t cash in that 401(k)! These are the best 4K TVs you can get for under $500

These days, you can land a pretty epic 4K TV for under $500. Still, sorting through the litany of options online can be both time-consuming and overwhelming. Check out our list of the best 4K TVs under $500 to cut through the clutter.
Home Theater

Roland’s Amazon-exclusive BTM-1 Bluetooth speaker doubles as a guitar amp

Roland, long known for its many digital instruments, has made an Amazon-exclusive Bluetooth speaker for musicians on the go. With a guitar cable input and overdrive effect, it might be the perfect portable rig for guitarists.
Home Theater

The best noise-canceling headphones paint your music on a cleaner canvas

Drowning out the sound of babies, jet engines, and the outside world isn't as difficult as it seems. Here are the best noise-canceling headphones, whether you're concerned with style, comfort, or sound.
Product Review

Sony’s Z9G paints a bright, beautiful future for 8K TVs

The Sony Z9G 85-inch 8K TV is majestic to behold. No doubt, this TV is a looker, and you’ll know what we mean when you see it. Does this TV make sense, though? Should you buy it? We have the answers.