May 8, 2011

Tale of two brands: Xears and Brainwavz - 11 IEMs compared


Xears is a German web site that sells IEMs (and now even MP3 players) under the Xears brand.  IEMs are also available through the ebay store 4Satisfaction Store.

For someone who has not heard about Xears through the reviews at Head-fi, it's easy to get confused with a garden variety of names, shapes and prices (apart from the long list of discontinued models both under the Xears name as well as Playaz Audio). One interesting fact that sets apart Xears IEMs is that they have no concept of fixed price. Web site and eBay store prices don't match at times and it's not that hard to see an IEM sell at €90 and €20 weeks apart. I've come to regard them as something akin to a small-cap stock whose prices fluctuate widely and wildly on a daily basis. As a result, it's tough to assign Value for money rating as you are valuing against a moving target. Luckily, most Xears IEMs can be had for $25-50 shipped at some point in their life.

Brainwavz is MP4Nation's line up of re-branded / re-tuned IEMs, mostly based on Visang R series. 

At the time of writing the long review (12th February, 2011), I owned five Xears IEMs and have the entire M series (Pro Alpha, M1, M2 and M3) available as loaners, but since then have bought Xears TDIII, Brainwavz M2 and obtained Brainwavz Alpha for free along with Nanite N2 player.But, I no longer have Pro Alpha and M1 for comparisons. Be warned! It is going to be an annoying long diatribe crossing 5,000 words. I will review the IEMs in the order of my preference.