Brainwavz Jive Review
Thanks to mp4nation for the sample.
TLDR? Try here.
First Impressions: Lol when I was asked what colour I wanted I couldn’t decide so I said I liked the blue and the green so either was good. They sent me both which I thought was a lovely gesture. Brainwavz are always so nice. Anyway grr stern hat on. No buying of ones affections by ever so pleasant gestures. The Jive then. Little box that really is just a sliver of plastic covering the case inside. The case though while looking like the normal Brainwavz ones, red and black, rectangular. This one is much longer and narrower. Why the change? Anyway inside we have the Jive’s and a bag of tips, comply pair included and a cable Velcro wrap. For a cheap thing it’s a nice little bundle. Though blue? Err no, they can call it blue all they like but that is purple. In photos they looked more purple but you can’t always tell by a photo, the photos were right, these are totally purple, “Ink Blue” my backside.
So slapping the comply’s on and in the ears. Hmm pleasant, seem fairly even and balanced. Cheap stuff I always anticipate gobs of bass. Pretty nice vocals here actually. Oh and there is the bass, hmm bit elevated bit of a weighty thumyness to it too. Damn, for £18 these aren’t bad, that’s putting them head to head with the Beta though actually they have almost exactly the same price. They were super awesome for the money but had no isolation, could be interesting to see how these compare. Burn in time.
Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.
Lows: They are elevated, capable, clearly they are trying to pleasing to the mainstream bass orientated crowd yet not wanting to over shadow. Brainwavz have had a while to get good at walking this line and I’ve got to say, they do it pretty nicely. Now hard core audiophiles, given the choice of the Jive and the Beta for almost identical prices, the Beta wins, hands down, with ease. I mean the Beta just sails past the Jive. The Beta is like a race car, the Jive is more like a Rally car, you know it’s something you could actually do other things with, you could drive it to Tesco if you wanted. The Beta is pure the Jive is the crowd pleaser. Its bass is big enough to please all but the most crazy bassheads yet restrained enough that it doesn’t just fart cannon all over the place. It is a good solid all-rounder. So, depth, it’s a bit so so. It does get a little bit midbassy and it does like to give a bit of a slightly flabby punch. It’s not a masterpiece but its even-handed enough that I can see it not only, not offending but pleasing pretty much everyone. As happy playing Tori’s “Playboy Mommy” mellow with a firm, articulate undertone to it. Fire up “Cartoon Heroes” and it’ll happily explode and thump all over the place.
So long as you recognise its depth does fall off pretty soon and your fine with that and that the bass here never takes over, you’re good. A really solid versatile, generalist crowd pleaser.
Mids: Ahh I wish I hadn’t pulled out the Beta. The Beta has crazy good mids for the money and the Jive just pales in comparison. The Jive is much more even, mids are actually in a tiny slight valley. Vocals here are aimed more at Carly Rae Jepsen than they are at Miss Streisand. Not that they can’t do Barbara, they can but those Beta’s, they clear the stage for her, the auditorium in pitch darkness with just a single spotlight, on her. The Jive, na it’s more like a TV recorded production. You can see everything and the vocals never get the space to dominate. Keep it to poppy stuff and you’re good. Clarity is good, pretty well articulated.
Highs: Moderately toned, Brainwaz are really getting a feel for this stuff. Cheap things are never going to nail treble so the wise thing is to gently mellow it, tone it down, toss in a hint of warmth and gently round those edges. A little bit of warmth and shimmer can give the impression of a sumptuous and mellow, relaxed master casually displaying its talents. The Jive I know isn’t a master but the Dresden Dolls “The Perfect Fit” it so casually rolls and raises that treble, it pretends that its doing is so half-heartedly and casually. Like it could easily bedazzle you if it so wished it but it does not wish it so. It does the song just as it should be done.
Treble junkies maybe a little disappointed with the quantity of the treble or the comparative lack of aggression and brutality. It’s got enough detail for any pop you through at it and if you want to eek out more energy up top. Pair with a cold DAP like the 1G shuffle, cold and powerful.
Soundstage: Kinda middling. It’s alright but nothing amazing, pretty reasonable stage size and it can certainly fill your ears with sound but distance, well err not really. So for poppy bouncy stuff you don’t need distance anyway. Instrument separation is okay too. Fine, nothing to get excited about nor to be upset over.
Fit: Great. I as usual wore these over my ears and that was fine, I did try down and too that was fine. Shoved in ears and that was it.
Comfort: Again no issues at all.
Cable: It’s quite nice. Moderately thick, fairly flexible. The Y splitter is kinda huge though for seemingly no reason. The Jack is one of those 45 degree ones, people seem to either love or hate, I like them and it’s firmly constructed.
Isolation: It’s pretty fair, about what you’d expect really. That means its wild step up on the Beta, which had no isolation at all. Fine for your normal out and about stuff, on a bus, etc etc. Not really Long flight or Tube worth but better than nothing. Oh and naturally easily enough with music playing to get yourself killed if you don’t remember you must look where you’re going. You won’t hear traffic.
Build Quality: For delivered for £18 with a mic, hell lots of companies charge you a tenner to add a mic, the build is super, super nice. Again it’s a gigantic, epic leap up on the Beta’s. They were so flimsy feeling in comparison. The Jive should stand up well to some real word use I’d bet. (You should still use the case though, if you don’t use cases all earphones will die sooner or later.)
Aesthetic: Cleary Brainwavz have put some effort into their appearance. (Beta’s were not lookers.) Since you get 3 colours they clearly expect the looks to matter to buyers. I do like their looks you’d never guess from looking and holding them in your hand they were less than 20 quid delivered. Though their colour options are odd. Like err “Ink Blue” I’m sorry but what? They aren’t blue, they are clearly purple so call them purple. The green, it’s a weirdly dark, yet glossy green. It I actually really like but it’s a weird colour, like a strange Forrest green. The red ones, well those I don’t have but they seem a bit darkish too. I like the options and I really like how it’s the buds, the cable, the jack and even the tips are all the same colour!!! Yeah, yeah so the tip colours don’t matter as they can’t be seen in use but so what. I can like what I like and its little attention to detail things like that, that I like.
Phone Use: Well they come in two flavours, iOS mic or Android mic. I have Android so I get the Play/Pause/Skip button that’s flanked by volume up and down controls. On my nexus 5 there worked perfectly, ditto on the P8 and Lumia 735. So it seems to work on everything. Phone calls too all seemed to work fine and even with them being used over ears, so the mic sits high, seemingly I was still perfectly audible on the other end. Good stuff.
Amped/Unamped: Hmm. These liked power. Lots and lots of power actually which is unusual for a lower end item. Not that they didn’t work just fine out of my N5 and played all good. When I plugged them into the E9 there was a clear clarity boost. Which is weird as they won’t really ever be paired with an amp nor likely ever play with a powerful source. Being mic’d they are clearly meant for life with a phone which means so so power levels. I mean they still sound good out of a phone but they do noticeably improve with more power.
Value: If there is one thing that Brainwavz have shown us time and again, it’s that they can take what they done before, tweak it, change it, improve it, then find a way to charge bugger all for it. The Jive isn’t some crazy earth shattering earphone that’s going to amaze or wow the Head-fi crowd. It belongs in a John Lewis with a demo stand, letting normals have a try and see just what, with the right brands, you can actually get for under £20. These are as pretty much all brainwavz have been, I’d expect probably will be too, excellent value for money. They look lovely, they feel nice in the hand, they come with a nice little case, even a pair of comply’s and, and!!!! They come with colour appropriate tips to match the colour of the earphones themselves. Tell your friends these cost two or three or more times what they actually do I’d bet none would call you out on it.
Conclusion: Ahh the little Jive. The Jive is not really a Head-fi product, it’s the kinda thing a headfier might get for a friend or family member looking for something cheap but that’s actually decent. The Jive it’s about as perfect a mainstream IEM as I can think of for being a looker, an acoustic generalist, sounding good, being really well made and just all round being pretty damn good at everything, far in excess of what its price tag says you should get. I mean the Beta’s sounded amazing for the money but they had clear compromises, no isolation, super thin cable, no case. The Jive though is deficient nowhere.
The trouble for Headfi’ers is we like masters of one thing, it helps to justify having 10 or 20 different earphones. The Jive though is saying to hell with that and it’s got pretty much every aspect more or less covered. Its bass is good, its vocals fine and treble nice. Its non-acoustic attributes are if anything even more accomplished and then it comes with a mic too!!! I have no idea what the margins on the Jive are but they must be pretty slim. It’s just so well put together.
So should you buy one, well for hard core audio nerds, no probably not. I mean its £18, it’s not going to be challenging your sets that are 10 or twenty times the price. This though, if you have a little brother, a friends birthday, a lady friend, a gentleman friend, that you might like to get a gift for? Boom!!!! The Jives are cracking for the pennies you have to part with and they do every aspect fiercely well. Their build, their looks, their colour options, their mic, their all-round quality are simply superlative value.