“Tuned for clear sound with well-defined bass”
As for the sound, they say “the wide soundstage, well defined bass and clarity make the M100 suitable for most genres of music.” Is this correct? Um…. Ehh… kiiiiind of. Let’s start with the signature. It definitely has a bit of a V shape to it. Bass is certainly emphasized. It is big, but it doesn’t reach down especially deep. It punches, but it won’t make the bottom of your feet tingle. The bass isn’t as gargantuan as it was on the Base Audio G8 I reviewed the other month. There might be a little bit of bass overwhelming the mids, as well. I think that explains part of the reason the mids sound withdrawn, is that the bass simply commands more attention. Voices do a good job of standing out, and given the right recording, can even pop a little. The treble is rolled off, and doesn’t extend too far. Yeah, this is a darker sounding IEM. Even the voices seem to have a darker lilt to them. There is still enough upstairs, to keep the sound from getting too dark, however. While it wouldn’t be my choice for audiophile genres, it isn’t an abject disaster with them either. The M100 is clearly most at home with the more mainstream, pop genres. Having the laid back treble here can be a major asset as there is no danger of harshness. The M100 can, and does, rock. Thinking about it now, maybe the sound is more of a “check” shape that a “V” shape. The detail level is only ok; the bass can be a little muddy.
So, I think the part where they said that it does well with most genres is true enough; it is the other parts that I don’t agree with. I certainly wouldn’t call the sound stage wide. It isn’t constricted, but it is a pretty centered sound. It isn’t a problem, but it isn’t strength either. Adding to that is the darker sound means that there isn’t a lot of air around the top; an airier sounding earphone this is not. Neither of these are real big issues; they just don’t fit the description. My biggest problem is this, if there is one word I would not use while describing the M100, it is clarity. The combination of the bigger, not terribly detailed bass with the rolled off treble means that clarity is not something that is going to be jumping out with this IEM. Again, I don’t want to sound like I am making this out to be a bad sounding IEM, because it isn’t. I just feel this is its weakest aspect, and as it is called out as a strength in its description, I felt the need to speak up. The bottom line, for me, on anything I review, is whether or not I enjoy listening to music through it. With the M100, I do. My ear adjusts to its sound, and I find myself rocking out in no time.
Comparing it the Base Audio G8, the G8 extends further in both directions, and its bass is even larger, but it does offer more clarity and detail across the frequency range (the extended treble helps there). It is close, but voices seem to stand out a bit more on the M100. The bass on the G8 can be overbearing, and if you aren’t in the mood to play around with EQ, I could see some people finding the M100 to be the easier choice to live with. You might not always want to feel like you are at a rock concert. It can get fatiguing, and the M100 certainly will not.
Now, on the extreme other side, you have the Hifiman RE-400. It is much more linear and lighter sounding. It isn’t as fun. It also doesn’t have the rugged build of the M100. I would be more afraid of using it out and about on a constant basis.
And that is where I think Brainwavz M100 is meant to be used; when you are out, running from place to place, with its tough build and pop loving sound. If you want to sit around your house, appreciating great music critically while thinking great thoughts, this is not the droid you are looking for. If you are looking for something affordable but good to mate with your phone when on the go, the M100 is something to audition.