MP4Nation is a company that produces some rather interesting cheap in-ears. Today we will be having a look at their newest model dubbed Beta Brainwavz. The MP4Nation Beta Brainwavz look pretty common, but do not let the looks fool you. These in-ears feature an 11 mm diameter driver which is huge by in-ear standards, where most in-ears use 9 mm diameter drivers. Besides the odd driver size the Betas come with a wealth of accessories compared to other cheap models. Beta Brainwavz are sold by MP4Nation and are actually supplied with several of their portable media players. They are also available separately with or without a FiiO E5 for $44.50.
- Driver: 11mm CCAW (copper-clad aluminum wire) dynamic driver
- Impedance: 24 Ohm (+/- 20%) @ 1kHz
- Sensitivity: 110dB @ 1mW
- Frequency response: 8Hz – 28kHz
- Cable: 125cm, Y-style, 45° angled 3.5mm gold-plated plug
- Accessories: Silicon tips, foam tips, shirt clip, fishbone winder, screw-on filters
Specification wise there is nothing wrong with the Beta Brainwavz, however, they do appear to be slightly optimistic about the frequency response of the drivers, 8 Hz to 28 kHz is beyond reach for any dynamic driver at least if linearity is considered a goal.
MP4Nation's Betas ship in a neat looking black cardboard box. The box is absolutely stuffed with both essential accessories and goodies that you might find use for along the way. Besides the earphones you get a nicely padded little bag, a cable clip, two clips, a set of filters. The bundle takes after the SoundMagic earphones in the sense that they both ship with a huge bundle.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were a lot of tips included, however, non of them seemed to fit my particular ears that well. MP4Nation are currently updating the tips and the new bundle will provide tips with a bigger range in size and design, in order to make sure that everyone can get a good fit.
The cable quality is really good, not the least microphonic. It is better than what is on recent models from SoundMagic.
One of the things that surprised me the most about the Betas was how good they look and feel. Compared to the SoundMagic PL30 earphones we recently reviewed, these are a class above in terms of build quality and finish.
Another interesting feature of the MP4Nation Betas is that you can alter the frequency response somewhat by installing a small filter on the nozzle. The filter is as you can see just a small metal mesh installed on a finger friendly nut.
Sound nozzle wise the Betas stand out a bit, because of both the dimensions and the thread for installing the filter. Even though the nozzle diameter is a bit smaller than that of my Head-Direct and Ultimate Ears in-ears I was still able to fit the tips to it, however, they were not held in place that securely. So if you are going to spring for aftermarket tips, be sure to try them on first or have a close look at the measurements.
The cable entry to the earphones is slightly beefier than the rest of the cable which should help to prevent cable breakage near the entry. The reinforcement is just as soft as the cable so it does not upset insertion or prohibits you from using the earphones with the cable wrapped over your ears.
On the back side of the Beta there is a small L/R-indicator which is easy to spot even in bad lighting conditions. Also worth noticing is the symmetrical housing which enables you to use the earphones both with the cable over and under your ear.
Before I began testing these in-ears I had them burning in for well over 150 hours in order to make sure they were sounding their best. To test the full capabilities of the earphones I tested them both with my PMP which is a Cowon D2 and with my HifiMAN EF2 being fed lossless files from my PC via ASIO4ALL and Foobar2000. The first thing you notice with these in-ears is their warm and full sound, especially so with the filters on. Without the filters, the upper midrange and treble is a bit more forward, which in this case is not all that good because it has a coarse sound to it, but that is manageable by using the filters. It is not a cure, it just dampens it sufficiently in order to make the earphones more entertaining to listen to.
The force of these particular in-ears is the midrange, which is well rounded and warm, but detail wise it lacks quite a bit to beat a set of Head-Direct RE2s or iMetal iM-590s for example. By comparison the Beta sound more veiled and slow.
The bass has weight to it once you get a good fit, more so than the SoundMagic in-ears we recently covered. Bass extension on the other hand is not that good, but still better than most sub $50 in-ears. These in-ears work very well for most types of music because of their natural warmness which makes them very forgiving. Even though the bass is not overwhelming in any sense, not even when coupled with the Beta's decent midbass hump. What it is lacking is punch for drums etc.
The high end is quite rolled off and a bit shill, it sounds a bit on the artificial side, the hi-hats just sound slightly off for some reason. For classical music these will not cut it. The complexity of the music will make all its faults easily recognizable.
Soundstage wise the Beta have very little to show and basically give the same left / right presentation like all of the other entry level in-ears I have heard. Their warmness also puts a mighty damper on the spaciousness of the sound.
There is no air and instruments are very vaguely defined. For me their presentation is about what I would expect, I am a bit detail-centric and hence I would be easier to sway if the midrange was more precise in its reproduction, but you cannot have it all. All things considered I really digg the earphones for what they are, cheap, fun sounding in-ears.
When it comes to sensitivity these are about average, I am sure that the average PMP can power these to their full capabilities, which makes them a good purchase for a reasonably priced portable rig.
These in-ears are well built and come with a padded bag. Although not a hard-shell it will provide ample protection for normal every day use. The construction of the earpieces is very simple and with few joints so I would expect them to last a long time. The cable is likewise simple in its construction and the entry points on the earpieces are reinforced adequately.
Value and Conclusion
- The Beta Brainwavz can be had for $34.50
- Well executed design
- Above average build quality
- Somewhat customizable sound
- Good sound quality for the price
- Attractive looks
- Price! ($44.50 incl. a FiiO E5 or $39.50 incl a FiiO E3)
- Included tips are not that great
- Sound quality
||The MP4Nation Beta Brainwavz definitely hold their own against the other entry level in-ears I have heard over the past year, however, it is clear that there is still a long way from the entry level in-ears to the ones that can best be described as low mid-end. |
If you take into account the low price of these in-ears it becomes very clear that you get good value for money if you are looking for a fun sounding set of in-ears. The bundle includes all the stuff you really need and then some which makes the Betas a good, well rounded package for about $40. If you are looking to create a cheap portable rig the Betas would definitely be on my short list.