Brainwavz S0 review

Brainwavz S0 review: what they are, why they matter

The Brainwavz S0 is an in-ear monitor headphone that fits in toward the bottom of the scale in terms of cost, but delivers superior performance, build and comfort. It comes with three different sizes of silicon ear tips, and a canvas carry case.

You get additional bi-flange and tri-flange tips, too. And with a microphone and remote control on the cable, the Brainwavz S0 is certified compatible with iOS devices such as iPads and iPhones, but works with pretty much any smartphone. (See also: 20 best headphones UK 2016.)

Brainwavz S0 review: price, availability and value

As with many decent quality but inexpensive headphones, the Brainwavz S0 isn't the most widely available. In the UK we found we could buy it from eBay for around £45. But you don't need to worry about that, as Brainwavz will sell you them direct via Amazon for a much more interesting £29.50.

Over in the US you can pick up the Brainwavz S0 for $44 at Amazon.com.

All of these prices put the Brainwavz S0 toward the bottom the pile when it comes to cost of third-party headphones. For this spec, and feature set, the Brainwavz are decent value. So let's look at how they perform in the real world.

Brainwavz S0 review: build quality, comfort and design

At this price we are not expecting space-shuttle levels of build quality, but the Brainwavz S0 stacks up well. The bud itself is housed in black-coated aluminium. Our Brainwavz S0 had red-plastic trim with opaque black silicon tips, and a thick black cable. The overall effect is one of bold but simple style. It feels marginally dated, but to my mind in a good way.

The chord is around 1.2m long, and is thick, flat and square-edged in a way that should make it more robust than your average spindly round chord. The remote control is a good way up the cable, but we found it relatively simple to use (there are only three buttons, and only one of them is annoying enough to shut off your audio device. The controls are pretty straightforward for both iOS and Android devices. And the 3.5mm jack is gold-plated, although it does run straight from the edge of the cable which makes it a potential victim of a stray jerk or drop.

Most important is in-ear comfort, and here we can't fault the Brainwavz S0. Out of the box we tried the smaller silicon tips, and although this was comfortable the earbuds did tend to jerk out when we were running. But the mid-sized pair solved this problem (and there were three other levels to which we could go, tip wise). We expect everyone who can stand in-ear earbuds would be able to find a comfortable fit with the Brainwavz S0. (See also: best cheap headphones of 2016.)

Brainwavz S0 review: audio quality

At this price we don't expect much. But in this case we were pleasantly surprised. The Brainwavz S0 is a very well balanced earphone. Bass is prominent, but clear. We could detect no muddiness when playing all types of music, as well as spoken word podcasts.

Things are a little less impressive when we consider the mid-range. This is very much present, which removes some of the texture of overall sound. Obviously produced pop music sounds even blander than it deserves to down these headphones. It isn't terrible, just a little bit flat. Occasionally the vocal disappears into the backing track when playing less produced indie or rock music, too.

The top end is clean. Impressively so. But combined with the other factors outlined above this can make it seem a little wibbly and lacking in punch. Overall to my untrained ears the effect is of a smooth sound, with decent volume. But if we were being picky we would suggest it can be a little too smooth. To me, anyway.

The important thing is that the Brainwavz S0 will feel like a big upgrade on your bundled 'free' earbuds, and is on a par with more expensive alternatives. (See also: 20 best headphones UK 2016.)

Brainwavz S0: Specs

  • Drivers: Dynamic, 9mm
  • Rated impedance: 16 Ohms
  • Frequency range: 18Hz-18KHz
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB at 1 mW
  • Rated input power: 10 mW
  • 3.5mm gold-plated jack
  • 1.2m y-cord
  • Drivers: Dynamic, 9mm
  • Rated impedance: 16 Ohms
  • Frequency range: 18Hz-18KHz
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB at 1 mW
  • Rated input power: 10 mW
  • 3.5mm gold-plated jack
  • 1.2m y-cord

SHOULD I BUY BRAINWAVZ S0?

Well made, decent-sounding and very good value. We are big fans of the Brainwavz S0. If you want an in-ear monitor for £30 or less, you can do a lot worse.