There are literally thousands of $20 IEMs out there that is not made to target the audiophile market but the masses who are happy with just being able to hear their tunes or watch their daily dose of media shows straight out of their mobile phones and laptops. Enter the Brainwavz Zeta IEMs and competition gets interesting, we are talking about IEMs you’d usually find on your MAC centers here and the entry level audiophile IEMs as well. The Brainwavz Zeta uses a single dynamic 10mm driver with specifications of a 10 Ohm impedance, 20 Hz – 20 kHz Frequency Response, Sensitivity of 103 dB at 1 mW and a Rated Input Power of 3 mW. Thanks to Marlon of Brainwavz for providing the review unit in exchange for an honest review, the Brainwavz Zeta is priced at $20 and you can grab them at Brainwavz official website, Brainwavz Audio, along with all of their other audio solutions. Brainwavz also mentioned that the Zeta’s will “Energize your day” with “Exceptional Sound and Comfort”. Here’s to hoping it delivers.
Packaging and Build Quality
The Zeta’s came in a small translucent pouch with a built-in hanger, the pouch uses adhesive for sealing it and after some repetitive close/open actions, it is unusable, would have been cool if they used the ziplock pouch which they use on their earpads packages. The package is simple and has some interesting quotes like “24-Month warranty” which was confusing since their site says it has a 12-Month warranty. It also quotes “Smooth Detailed Bass, Lightweight Design and Comfortable Fit”, we’d get back to these later on. Inside the pouch is a tiny ziplock pouch which stores the included 3 size black silicon eartips (S, M, L), 2 red rubber earbud housing loops and a black shirt clip. A cool accessory set for $20. The Zeta’s themselves are in a separate pouch and has a velcro strap keeping it intact.
The Zeta’s has a fixed cable which is black all over and has excellent strain relief on both the Y-split and on the 80-degree gold-plated 3.5mm plug. A cable cinch is also present along with a single button that controls both music stop/play playbacks and answer/drop call functions. The IEM housing itself is built strudy and uses a corrugated round silhouette which is great for gripping when removing and inserting the Zeta’s, a vent is also present on the backside which upon use is almost 90% blocked. Overall the build is excellent and I have used it quite extensively at work since it can be basically tossed here and there and also on my bedside for the late-night FB videoclip scourging which sometimes is left in my ears when I fell asleep and the IEMs being rolled over when I twist and turn on my sleep and so far, it isn’t broken. So, their “Comfortable Fit and Lightweight Design” claims are marked appropriate.
Now this is tricky, right off the pouch, the Zeta’s were BASSY and BOOMY. I’ve never heard Ed Sheeran sang that low to be honest when I plugged it my OnePlus 3T mobile phone. I then handed it to my girl and it was confirmed when she immediately asked “why is this so bassy?”. I just chuckled and told her, “Burn-in”. I have decided to use a medium-sized black generic (the one you’d find randomly on some IEMs) foam tips for the Zeta’s as the stock silicon eartips weren’t giving any good seal on my ears. I also did a full 200-hour burn-in for this since I really want to know if this were any good since the out of the pouch experience was kind of a letdown. I had a really hard time choosing what I’d use of the duration of the realview for the Zeta’s and ended using my OnePlus 3T with the BlackPlayer App along with 16/44 FLAC’s and the Opus 1 as well.
There is no question that the Zeta’s cup of tea is its low-end, even after the 200-hour burn-in, the low-end is still its prominent feature. It however tamed the excessive bass bleed that clouds the totality of the sound spectrum. In Daft Punk’s “Game of Love” in 16/44 FLAC, the bass sounded boxy and impact had moderate thump on it while the decay gave a lingering effect even when the midrange comes into play. Overall the low-end sound of the Zeta is its most dominant aspect yet one that you can’t pride over much. Brainwavz claim that the Zeta’s gives out a smooth detailed bass is about 70% accurate, they did nail that the Zeta’s is a basshead IEM.
Maroon 5 came to play with the Zeta’s midrange, their “Moves like Jagger” in 16/44 FLAC which has a good balance of lows, mids and highs gave Adam’s vocals a run for his money. The midrange performance gave no notable dips and peaks and sounded pushed back at some point. The midrange is clearly laid-back and doesn’t emanate any of the lively or musical ambience the “Moves like Jagger” should have displayed at a great degree. The “Out of Goodbyes” track featuring Lady Antebellum in 16/44 sounded much more enticing on the Zeta’s rather than letting this IEM churn out upbeat tunes, the female vocals blends well in the spectrum and sounded natural but then again, the bass is still there, bass extension that is.
The highs of the Zeta’s are your peace of mind, it is almost guaranteed to never provide harsh treble peaks and gives out a good deal of articulate and detailed highs albeit at a pitch lower yet also doesn’t give out sparkle and any sizzle. It however gives a smooth sounding result which is a welcome feature at $20.
Soundstage and Imaging
The soundstage performance of the Zeta’s is intimate and pans out rather a wee bit slow rendering an almost mediocre imaging. Left and Right instrumental hits are still distinct with also mediocre accuracy. It is very important that you find a good seal on the Zeta’s to aid for a respectable soundstage and imaging performance.
The Brainwavz Zeta is a well-built IEM for the masses which can also handle your tunes respectably. The functionality of the 1-button mic is also accurate and responsive in both the iOS and Android platforms and the cable also doesn’t give any microphonic issues when used on the go or when idle. The accessory set is great and the sound allows for a smooth experience which a heavy emphasis on the low-end, at $20 and if that 24-Month warranty is indeed applicable, it’s a no brainer to be awarded a recommendation.