The in-ear headphones market is never short of new pairs vying for your attention. The latest pair of affordable in-ears we've put under scrutiny for review is the B200, from Hong Kong-based manufacturer Brainwavz.
We'll admit, it's not a company we've heard about before, but a quick browse of the official Brainwavz website shows it means business, with in excess of 30 pairs of earphones and headphones.
But with the same claims of letting you "hear your music as the artist intended" as its pricier peers, can the Brainwavz B200 do enough to stand out from the rather large crowd?
Brainwavz B200 review: Design
- Over-ear hook design
- 1.3-metre cable
- Lightweight ear housings
The Brainwavz B200 use an over-ear hook design, similar to that found on the Audio Technica LS70iS. The difference between the two lies in the bit of cable that goes over your ears. Whereas the Audio Technica has a flexible piece that can be adjusted and bent tightly over you ear, the B200 has just the cable and a small rubber coated section. Thankfully, this section is designed in such a way to naturally follow the contours of your ear.
What we love most about the B200 is just how comfortable they are. The earpieces are small and incredibly lightweight. You get a small piece to insert into your ear canal, while the larger section fills the rest of your ear.
Elsewhere you get a 1.3-metre cable, with the extra 10cm length over a standard 1.2-metre cable greatly appreciated. There's less chance of putting strain on the connector, or the cable getting in the way when you're listening when out and about.
There's no in-line microphone or three-button control on the cable, so you can't use the B200 to make and receive phone calls, nor can you control music playback and volume - you'll have to turn to your phone to do that. A bit inconvenient, but for £90 it's hardly a surprise.
There's also a hard-shell carry case, six pairs of silicone ear tips and a pair of Comply foam tips. We'd thoroughly recommend fitting the foam tips when you get your pair, as they provide the most isolated fit, which improves the sound in the process.
Speaking of isolated fit, we used the B200s with foam ear tips on a plane journey when watching a couple of movies. We couldn't hear a single thing around us, and even the low rumble and high-end hiss of the jet engines was minimised. If you can't afford a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, the Brainwavz B200 are a fantastic and affordable substitute.
Brainwavz B200 review: Sound quality
- Balanced armature driver
Inside each of the B200 earpieces is a dual balanced armature driver, combining a tweeter and a woofer. Brainwavz says this has been tuned to deliver a balanced and accurate sound. While we do wholeheartedly agree, it's just how loud the B200 in-ears can go that really impresses.
We listened to a few songs, then changed over to another pair of in-ear headphones that we've reviewed recently and didn't change the volume. We found ourselves needing to turn the volume up several notches for the other pair to match the B200.
What's also apparent, even at high volume, is just how clean and balanced the B200 sounds. There's no one frequency trying to out-muscle the other, and while a balanced armature design inherently can't provide bass levels to match dynamic drivers (as often found in competitor products), we were never left wanting more.
It's a well-rounded sound - but not the most exciting of listens. However, after spending a number of days using the B200 we've completely come around to the sound profile, enthusiasm and detail conveyed.
Indeed, the B200 has quickly become our go-to pair of in-ears - which is perhaps a surprise considering the price point.
When we first received the Brainwavz B200, the asking price was just over £150. Even at that price, these in-ears deliver a much better overall sound than some more expensive rivals - so long as you don't want huge bass levels, an in-line mic/controls or a companion app.
With a great, lightweight design that will remain comfortable in your ears for the longest of listening sessions - easily for a 10 hour flight - and combined with the supplied foam tips, the noise isolation is superb. It's not proper noise-cancelling, but then that doesn't exist at this price point.
Since, however, the price has dropped to just £90, making for an absolute bargain. The Brainwavz B200 mark some of the best sound we've heard for under the £100 price point. As an upgrade to your current phone-bundled earphones, we can think of no better affordable in-ear option.
The alternatives to consider
Audio Technica ATH-LS70iS
Sporting a similar design to the B200, this Audio Technica pair is tuned for live sound, offering a tremendous amount of detail. Some may prefer the way they fit over the ears. Price is a little higher than the Brainwavz, but with the only real difference being a play/pause button, we think many will be satisfied enough with the B200.
Read the full article: Audio Technica ATH-LS70iS review
Another pair of in-ear favourites here at Pocket-lint. Cheaper than the Brainwavz, the Denon sound profile isn't as well-balanced, but if you favour bass then the AH-C621R is well worth a listen.
Read the full article: Denon AH-C621R review