Brainwavz R3 Revised Edition Review
Thanks to mp4nation for the sample
First Impressions: I will assume all reading this have at least glanced at my review of the original version. That version I personally greatly loved its aural talents but it had one stupendously large flaw. It had the single worst memory wire built in I have ever had to deal with. Every single review I know of the R3, like mine, hated that wire and wished it removed. Brainwavz it seems have sort of got the message and have produced version two with lacks that horrible 12 foot long coat hanger wire. I say sort of because it seems Brainwavz have lost the wire but still attached a rubbery ear guide, while it’s a vast improvement I have to ask. For gods sake Brainwavz what exactly was the problem with just using the cable, add a removable guide if you absolutely feel one is needed!!! So annoyed its not even funny.
Otherwise, box, yadda yadda yadda, tips, case, whatever. Sound wise, sounds nice. Is it me or is it a bit less trebly? Can you tell I’m still annoyed?
Oh and this review will be fairly short for me. Aurally it’s basically identical to the original.
Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-60, 1G Ipod Shuffle.
Lows: Well they are still adorably lovely to behold. Smooth and genteel and effortless and just so silky. While I realise that many won’t love the bass here, it lacks real vigour and any semblance of aggression but I like it very much. For the like of soft jazz, melancholic ballads and otherwise beautiful, sweeping music it works. God damn it works. Its wonderfully polite and restrained while still producing more or less whatever quantity you ask of it. It’s no party animal and that suits my ears just fine.
Mids: Just gorgeous. Serene and sweeping and smooth and soft and just achingly eloquent. It is the aural embodiment of Bach’s choral works. It has an overall middy flavour to things but given how beautiful they are that is perfectly fine by me. Once more aggressiveness is not where the R3’s heart lies. Such air and finesse!!!
Highs: Just like the other two aspects, smooth, serene, delicate etc etc. Detail levels are wonderfully good and combined with an exceedingly delicate nature. I know that there are some who will hate this, they want detail upfront and hurled at you. The R3 is so subtle and refined up top that if you don’t look for things you may not notice them. However, I’m rather treble sensitive and this faintly delicate nature suits me exceedingly well. I like very much.
Soundstage: Ill defined but with a sweeping sense of distance and scale. Things are just sort of there without having come from anywhere in particular. Think a speaker set up outside, there is no sense of enclosure here. Instrument separation is a bit ill-defined too. Stuff is just sort of there without being anywhere in particular.
Fit: Much better than you would think to look at them. The ear guide rubbery thing is still a hindrance but if you rotate the buds before insertion it’s all good.
Comfort: Really good actually. They are huge but it works. Conditionally in that you must wear them up, which I would do anyway.
Microphonics: Yey! With no gigantic memory wire it’s largely cured as a problem, thank god.
Amped/Unamped: Feed it all the power you can. I mean it’ll work out of your phone but it won’t do the R3 justice. It’s not particularly about a warm or cooler power source it just wants there to be oodles of power available to it. You should do so, it is quite glorious if you do.
Isolation: Petty reasonable. Its circa the norm for new dynamics. Fine for normal day to day stuff. Not so much for an hour long Tube commute every morning. As always, sufficient to make you a road stain if you don’t look where you’re going.
Build Quality. Very nice. It’s a great big metal blob and the cable looks sufficient to garrotte someone.
Accessories: Bunch of tips and a rather nice case. That this time is actually usable as it the lack of memory wire means it can fit inside.
Value: I see it at US$130 or £75.79. I’d buy it. Sure there is plenty of also great stuff out there for the same sort of money so I can’t say this is “better” value than the MA750 or RE-400 but its better suited to my ears than they are. It’s certainly not for everyone, tonally its too sedate for many but I love it. With it now having gotten rid of that horrific memory wire it would be the IEM that would get my money if I had £80 to spend.
Conclusion: The original R3 I loved acoustically but it was really hard to get past that memory wire it had. It was like being presented with a beautiful meal and a passing bird has crapped on it. It was such horrible thing it just ruined the whole deal and while I love the sound it made the old R3 unliveable with. With that epic impediment out of the way it’s now really easy for me to love the R3.
Aurally the R3 is like a beautiful and delicate symphony for your ears, it’s just so exquisite. Like a Straus waltz, playfully and serenely flowing and dancing over your ears or a delicate silk scarf fluttering in the breeze. For me and my rather sedate tendencies it works achingly well. If you want something filled with rambunctious power and aggression, the R3 is soooooooo not it. So there is no way it can be thought of as a generalist, it’s not something I would think of as being a sure bet for others as say the GR07 can. The R3 has a very specific target audience and I happen to fall in it.
In essence, the R3 is the summation of all that is lovely, smooth and transcendentally delicately beautiful. Its not a sound for everyone or every piece of music but I love it. Love it, love it, love it!!!