For the past couple of years, the Brainwavz B200 universal in-ear monitors have been one of my go‑to earphones for the gym due to their compact footprint, excellent fit, and good all-around sound. When Brainwavz announced their new Quad-balanced armature model, the B400, I wondered if it would have a similar level of comfort and utility. That answer would be affirmative.
The B400 uses four balanced armature drivers. The configuration is one driver dedicated to the high frequencies, two drivers for the midrange, and one driver for the bass. The drivers are made by Knowles. Given that four drivers need more room than two, I was concerned that one of the B200’s best features, its compact size, would be lost. While noticeably larger than the B200, the B400 is still an extremely lightweight and compact design that fits easily and comfortably into most ears. Obviously, using plastic instead of metal earpieces keeps an earphone lightweight, but the B400’s overall shape and form also keeps its weight and mass to a minimum.
Most earphones in the B400 price-range do not have removable cables, however the B400 not only has a removable cable, but also uses the MMCX connector, which opens up a multiplicity of cable options. Brainwavz offers six additional cable options including silver and ‘candy cane’ cables. Another option that I explored was using a third-party Bluetooth cable with the B400. The Westone WX cable, which also has an MMCX connection, worked perfectly with the B400. The two supplied cables, one with a smartphone controls built in and the other without, both functioned without issues.
The B400 shell, instead of being molded, which is a more traditional way to make in-ear monitor enclosures, is manufactured via 3D printing. The first images of the B200 showed a green or black enclosure that had an unfortunate ‘orange peel’ surface that I’ve seen before on other early 3D-created devices. But my review sample was almost as smooth as glass. Currently the B400 is available in six colours: Aqua, Stay Frosty, Green Rage, Crimson Red, Black, and Cosmic Black, which is black with sparkles.
I tried all the supplied ear tips and settled on the Comply tips as my best option. Although I could get a good seal from the medium silicone tips, they did not stay in place during workouts as securely as the Comply tips.
The B400’s sound is natural as opposed to spectacular. Unlike many earphones whose elevated midbass overpowers the lower midrange, the B400 attempts to present a balanced harmonic picture of the sonic event. The ‘fatigue factor’ is extremely low. I spent almost two hours auditioning newly added tracks on Tidal, some of which were rather rude sound quality-wise, but all were listenable through the B400. I especially enjoyed Paul McCartney’s track ‘Fuh You’ From Egypt Station [Capitol].Unlike some Bluetooth headphones I’ve experienced where everything is too smooth and laid back, the B400 doesn’t sound boring or sterile. Instead the B400 does a credible job of staying out of the music’s way. Yes, I would love a larger soundstage, a bit more low bass, and slightly more air on the top end, but given the option I think that many listeners will appreciate what the B400 does right as opposed to fretting over what it may lack at frequency extremes or in soundstage size.
Not scrimping on accessories, the B400 includes an oblong Kevlar-like hardshell case, Comply foam tips, six pairs of silicone tips, two cables (one 2.5mm balanced and one 3.5mm single-ended), Velcro cable tie, and even a shirt clip. Although the B400 faces stiff competition in the $200 price range, its combination of excellent ergonomics, comfortable fit, natural sound, and cable flexibility and interchangeability make the B400 one of the universal in-ears that should be on every music lover’s short list of potential earphones that deliver high quality at a reasonable price.
Brainwavz B400 universal-fit earphone
Type: Universal fit earphone
Drivers: Four balanced armature-type drivers: one high, two mids, and one bass.
Frequency Response: 10Hz–40kHz
Impedance: 30 ohms
Sensitivity: 115 dB
Weight: Not specified
Price: $299 US; £169
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