At a retail price of just $49.50, the Brainwavz S0 are a great, cost-effective option that delivers above expectation. They have a very smooth and easy going sound signature, are comfortable to wear, and come with a ton of additional ear tips. I definitely recommend checking them out.
- Good Sound Quality
- Solid Build
- Very Comfortable
- Great Value
- Good Isolation
- Cable Causes Microphonics
Disclaimer: I was provided the Brainwavz S0 as a review sample. This does not, however, affect this review. This review is my honest, subjective opinion.
- Driver Unit: Dynamic, 9mm
- Rated Impedance: 16 Ω (Ohm)
- Frequency Response: 18Hz - 18kHz
- Sensitivity: 100 dB @ 1mW
- Cable: 1.2 meters. Flat. Copper
- Plug: 3.5mm Gold Plated
Brainwavz S0 In-Ear Monitors Detailed Review
Brainwavz have decided to go with a very sleek and clean look this time around. The earpieces themselves have a similar shape as that of the S5, but the S0's are smaller and don't have the angled nozzle. Unlike the S5, the S0 are designed to wear down, not over the ear. There has been some debate whether or not this was the right move. It's a matter of personal preference, but I think it was. I enjoy wearing my IEMs downwards and had no problems with them trying to sneak out of my ears at all.
The housings of the earpieces are made out of metal and painted black. Needless to say, this makes them feel very solid and durable. Moving to the cable, we meet a strain relief made from hard, red rubber. This is one of the most vulnerable spots on the cable so the solid protection makes perfect sense.
I've heard some people say they're unhappy with the flat cable. Personally I had no issues with it whatsoever. It collects in a simple, solid Y-split which does it's job nicely. A repeating aspect of the Brainwavz S0 is that it is smaller than its predecessor, the S5, and the Y-split is no exception.
It was a pleasant surprise to open the parcel Brainwavz sent me. I was greeted by a beautiful packaging that I couldn't wait to rip open. I managed to resist the urge just long enough to snap the picture on the right hand side. Included in the package was:
- Brainwavz S0 Headphones
- Hard Carrying Case
- Shirt Clip
- 1 Set Foam Ear Tips (Comply S400)
- 6 Sets of Silicone Tips
- 1 Set of Bi-Flange Silicone Tips
- 1 Set of Tri-Flange Silicone Tips
The carrying case is fantastic, by the way! It may be a bit large, but it offers great protection and has two very convenient pockets on the two sides. It's just overall a very high quality case. Brainwavz could easily have charged $20 for it alone, which to me makes the retail price of $49.50 a steal.
As is evident from the list above, the Brainwavz S0 comes with a large variety of ear tips. This is something I absolutely love, as it lets you sculpt the headphones to your ears. The bi-flange ear tips ended up being my preferred tips of choice.
The Different Aspects
Here is the review of the different aspects of the Brainwavz S0. Click on each title to expand them.
Sound Quality - 4/5
The sound quality of the S0 took me by surprise. I had not expected such good quality from them at all. They are definitely a very enjoyable pair of IEMs to listen to.
The sound signature of the S0 is smooth, clear, and balanced. They have a mild V shaped frequency response with a slight boost towards the mid-low frequencies. Mild is the correct word to use here, as the sound overall is very balanced. It has a bit of warmth to it but still has enough brightness to provide great clarity throughout the entire frequency spectrum.
The low bass is a bit lacking, but mid-bass has a great punch to it. It seems to be a bit emphasized, but not at all to the point where I would classify them as basshead IEMs. They have a good level of bass but the texture is not very clear. Taking into account that they are a couple of IEMs that go for less than $50, the bass is very good.
The mid-range is exceptionally clear. This is where the Brainwavz S0 shines. The mids are smooth and natural, and are balanced nicely with the lows. Their great clarity makes vocals sound phenomenal. The natural sound signature is something I personally enjoy very much.
The treble stays in line with the mids and bass, and is very detailed. This high level of detail ensures that they are separated from the mids, which gives them a unique feeling. The lower treble didn't have as much detail as the higher but it was still exceptionally clear. The treble stays smooth at any volume. This ensured that fatigue isn't caused as easily as the S5, for example. High pitched sounds aren't as sheering as that of some IEMs. They're toned down a bit, which is a good thing.
The Brainwavz S0 are a pair of forgiving headphones that don't punish recording imperfections. Their sound stage is wider than average but isn't as spacious as some other IEMs out there. Music that's supposed to feel spacious, like classical orchestral, doesn't perform very well on the S0. On the other hand, modern music and music that doesn't aim to sound spacious performs absolutely wonderfully on them.
Their instrumental separation is quite good for a pair of IEMs in this price class. I did not have any problems picking up details from some of my favorite tunes. This is something I greatly appreciate. I love listening for subtle little details in music.
Judging from sound alone, these could easily have been priced higher than $49.50. Not much, but they could have been slightly more expensive and the fact that they aren't is great. They are easily one of my favorite low priced IEMs to this day.
- Tip: The key to a good sound is the fit. The Brainwavz S0 comes with many different ear tips and I recommend you try them all out. Finding a good fit can change the sound drastically.
Comfort - 4.5/5
The S0 is a very comfortable pair of in-ear monitors. The earpieces are small and easy to handle. One of the reasons that they are so comfortable is the many different ear tips that are included. You're able to choose the perfect tips for your ears.
The cable is a bit heavy, but the shirt clip rid me of that problem pretty easily. I had no problems with them feeling like they're about to fall out of my ears.
Some might argue that the carrying case is too large. I disagree. I could easily fit it in my pocket without it feeling overly full. I didn't expect to get such a quality case with such a cheap pair of headphones. Sure, it's a bit larger than some of the other cases out there, but at the same time you won't have to spend 5 minutes getting them to fit properly every single time you place them in the case.
Build Quality - 4/5
A solid pair of headphones, the Brainwavz S0. Let's take it from one end to the other.
The headphone plug is 3.5mm and is straight. It is small and has quite good strain relief. Holding it in my hand, it feels very durable. As with all plugs though, no matter how good the strain relief, don't let the cable bend too much.
Let's move on to the cable. It's a flat cable and it feels a little thin. It does not, however, feel weak or squishy. It seems to be in good balance between weight and solidity. I've been using the headphones extensively for the past 2 weeks and have had no problems with the cable tangling up into a messy little ball. Don't get me wrong here, if you allow them to get tangled, then they most certainly will. They didn't get tangled for me because I always place them in the carrying case.
Just about the only problem I had with the cable was the microphonics that it caused. If the cable is free to bounce into your jacket or something of the like, it will cause quite heavy microphonics. Nevertheless, this problem is reduced considerably when you use the shirt clip optimally.
The Y-split is pretty small, which I do appreciate. Too many IEMs have these large and heavy cable splits. Not the S0. It's made out of hard, solid rubber and has good strain relief.
Reaching the top - the earpieces have a metal housing which makes them remarkably solid. They have a robust strain relief where the cable connects to the earpieces. A pair of lightweight earpieces is something I tend to look at in IEMs. They're supposed to be easily portable, and the S0 is just that.
To recap, the Brainwavz S0 are a solid pair of headphones. The plug, cable, and earpieces are durable and well designed. A drawback is the high level of microphonics caused by the moving cable, but this can be reduced considerably using the shirt clip.
Isolation - 4/5
The S0 has a decent level of isolation, just not great. This might be because of the bass tuning vent located in the back.
The level of isolation is largely dependent on the ear tips. If you can find a pair that fit your ears very well, you can get a pretty good isolation. It's never going to be perfect though, so if you're looking for a pair of IEMs with an outstanding isolation, then the S0 isn't for you.
Value - 5/5
Now here's yet another point where the Brainwavz S0 triumphs. Throughout this review I've repeatedly stated that judging from quality alone, the S0 could easily be priced higher than $50. I'll stick to this statement. In my opinion, $50 for these IEMs is a remarkable bargain.
When judging the value of a pair of headphones, it's all about comparing their overall quality to their price tag. Taking into account all of the different aspects of the S0, their quality outweighs their cost by a considerable degree.
How Do They Compare?
Let's look at some of Brainwavz S0's competition:
JVC HAFX1X Xtreme Xplosives - The S0 is, hands down, a better pair of IEMs. They have a clearer sound and less of a bass emphasis. The price is the only aspect where the JVC takes the lead (although, the difference in price isn't very large). They are a decent pair of headphones considering their low cost, but setting them up against the Brainwavz S0 - the S0 comes out on top every time.
Brainwavz S5 - The S5 has a higher level of detail and a better overall sound quality. However, the S0 is smoother than the S5 and the bass is more in balance with the mids. They do have a bit less clarity though, but at half the price I wouldn't expect anything else. Choosing between the S0 and S5 basically comes down to preference. They're both great IEMs, with slightly different sound signatures. The S5 is aggressive and clear, while the S0 is warm and smooth.
Tekfusion Twinwoofers - The two of them are in the same price class. The Twinwoofers are a very bassy pair of headphones, while the bass of the Brainwavz S0 is more balanced. The sound of the S0 is quite refined, while the Twinwoofers' is more colored. As you can see, these two IEMs do have quite different sound signatures.
Since the two of them sit at the same price range, this too comes down to preference. I'd recommend the Twinwoofer for the basshead, and the S0 for basically anyone else. The S0 just has a much better overall sound.
Should I Buy the Brainwavz S0?
If you're looking for a relatively cheap pair of IEMs that are of good quality, then the Brainwavz S0 might be exactly what you're looking for. They have a very smooth and easy going sound signature, are comfortable, and are just overall a pair of quality headphones.
There are two scenarios where I don't recommend you purchase the S0. They are:
- You're a basshead and want as much bass as possible.
- You're willing to spend considerably more than $50. In this case a high end pair of IEMs might be a better choice.
If the scenarios above don't apply to you, then I absolutely recommend you check them out. They're easily one of the best IEMs that I have used in a very long time, and with a retail price of $50 they're a steal!
Have you tried the Brainwavz S0? If so, then I would love to hear what you think of them in the comments below! And as always, if you have a question, please let me know in the comments below and I'll get back to you ASAP.