Brainwavz First Look: HM100 / Zeta
A couple new products from Brainwavz arrived and I’ve spent the last couple days giving them a listen. How are first impressions? Let’s find out.
Opening the box I was expecting to find the headphones set within a plastic or cardboard insert. Instead, I found the box completely filled by a single, giant clamshell carrying case. The bottom half of the case is filled with laser cut foam shaped perfectly to hold the HM100. The top half of the case is netted and holds the accessories, of which there are a few; 1.3m cable, 3m cable, extra ear pads (black velour), 1/4″ adapter, and a manual.
Lifting the headphones out they certainly look the part of a set of 199 USD cans. The brown and silver color combination looks fantastic. The wooden ear cups are nicely crafted with the Brainwavz logo cut in offset of centre. There is a metal band surrounding the bass of the wood that is horribly cut and very rough, though maybe that was intended? The plastics also feel fairly low end, and the adjustment sliders are extremely loose, more so on the right than left. Picking up the headphones, the right side will easily extend fully from the weight of the cups alone. The headband is well padded, but the pleather material covering it feels thin and is bunched up at the ends. When it comes down to it, the HM100’s build and materials are a bit hit and miss. Feels tough enough though.
I’m finding the sound signature well-balanced with a light emphasis on the mid-bass and lower treble regions, though I suspect those peaks might shift or even out more with the velour pads in place. So far I’ve only used the pre-installed PU leather pads. End-to-end extension seems good with some roll off in the sub-bass. Sound is slightly warm and lean through the mids with good speed and clarity. Sound stage is a standout for a closed back, a lot like the AKG K553 Pro in that regard. I’m thinking the HM100 will be a crowd pleaser. It’s fairly flat response is easy on the ears and seems to be quite technically capable.
The Zeta is Brainwavz’s new budget friendly offering, coming in at only 20 USD. The packaging reflects this with the earphone and accessories arriving in a smaller version of the dense plastic bag Brainwavz ships their ear pads in. Inside you get the Zeta, silicone tips in s/m/l, silicone stability rings, a shirt clip, a velcro strap, and a manual.
The Zeta’s plastic, bell-shaped shells have a unique look with their ribbed texturing. Construction and fit an finish are solid. Anyone who has purchased a Brainwavz product in the past will be familiar with the rubber sheather cable affixed to the Zeta. The 45 degree angled plug is well relieved, as is the y-split. The lack of relief leading into the housings is a worry, though maybe not a much as it would be on a more expensive product.
When it comes to the sound, I hope you like bass. The Zeta feels like it has a down sloping signature with bass leading the way, mids following next, and treble tailing close behind. The presentation is quite smooth with great low end extension and a fair bit of punch, but a little lacking in detail. Sound stage is comfortably spacious for a budget offering with nice imaging. For it’s intended purpose as an every day carry with a smartphone or DAP that will take advantage of the inline mic and single-button controls, the Zeta should be a great replacement for mediocre stock earphones.
Thanks for stopping by, and be on the lookout for full reviews in the coming weeks.
*Editors note: First impressions are always subject to change. You learn about the intricacies of a product as you use it over long periods.*