Brainwavz Alara

Fun, fun and more fun. Say hello to Brainwavz Alara with a Planar magnetic driver priced at 499USD.

Sound quality for the price

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Build quality

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Value

Rating: 6 out of 10.

Packaging

Brainwavz is a Chinese company, but this time it isn’t making any feeling of cheapness. Box itself looks great, it has graphics of the headphone on the front and on both sides. Inside the box with Alara you’ll find a hard case similar to the smaller one attached to their earphones and the cable terminated with 3,5mm TRS jack on each end. The case is well made, with sachet for the cable inside.

Cable

The cable is covered with nylon, it is very soft, nice to the touch and it has the same thickness all along. There’s no microphone effect, in overall it is of pretty high quality regarding sound and handcrafting. It is terminated with 3,5mm jack with thread for 6,35mm jack. The rubber part of the connector is stiff, so I’m not sure if it will protect the cable at all.

Build quality

Build quality was never merited for Brainwavz. Alara is made better than HM5, but still, it creaks while rotating the earcups which also runs down under it owns weight. The headband is well made and really soft. It is nice to the touch, and so are the hybrid pads. I love their design, but details mentioned before are irritating a bit.

Comfort

Alara is a pretty heavy headphone, it weights 430g but I don’t feel this on my head. It is very comfortable, but there’s a problem with their size. When Sivga Phoenix was too small for big heads, Alara isn’t made for small heads. Phoenix isn’t comfortable even on the biggest possible option when Alaras is set on the first click from 8 possible. Pads are of very high quality, of course not on the Audeze level, but I’m pretty sure that everyone in the audiophile community heard about Brainwavz Pads at least once. The attached pads are hybrid, with the velour on the part which sticks to the skin, and leather all around.

Sound

Brainwavz Alara is standing opposite to Sundara and Monolith M1070 in this price range. Compared to them Alara is less detailed and the sound signature is totally different. Alaras are natural and smooth (except treble), with a great body of the sound. It is also very easy to drive, even with portable sources.

The bass is rich, with very good dynamics, powerful punch and ability to shake the headphone. I think it’s the deepest bass I’ve heard on planars under 1k USD, it doesn’t cover mids, and perfectly beats a beat. It’s perfect for fun lovers. It’s not fast as a hypercar, but also isn’t slow as a snail. It’s just natural, but heavy enriched.

The midrange is warm, lush and comfy to listen to. Details are on a lower level than Sundara, but better than Audioquest Nighthawk. Vocals are awesome, lower male ones are thick and formidable. Higher male and female vocals are hypnotizing and charming, they sound so sweet with a delicate smoothness. It reminds me of the times when grandma was singing cradlesongs, that’s an amazing feeling.

Treble is really natural, it doesn’t try to be on the front, but also doesn’t hide in the shadows. It’s very detailed, without signs of sharpness. I would say it’s clicky and fast, but a little too dull. For example, bells are flat, when usually I can hear their shape, treble just doesn’t feel if it would really like to give something from itself, it is playing accurate and properly, but I’m missing some anchor point.

The soundstage is pretty narrow, it’s deep but mixed, without any stability, I can’t rely on them during gaming sessions, they bluffed me several times. Sometimes I heard things at two o’clock, but the sound should come from four o’clock so it was really confusing. Imaging also isn’t the best one, I think this part is an Achilles heel of the Alara. Pity, because it limits their potential by a big margin.

Summary

Brainwavz Alara is a decend headphone, with natural sound, deep bass, powerful strike, sweet higher vocals and compelling lower ones. They are also very comfortable, but only if you have a bigger head than a typical one. Nonetheless, imaging and soundstage are misleading, if you’re a fan of an exact and wide soundstage, it’s not the product for you. Anyway, for fun lovers, it’s a good option to check and listen to. When they’re running for 350$ on sale, i’d call that a good deal. For retail though, i find the Alara uncompetitive.


Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:

  • Headphones – Fidelio X2HR, Audio-Technica AD900X, Monoprice Monolith M1570, Hifiman Sundara, Audioquest Nighthawk
  • Source – DX3 Pro, D50s, Hip-Dac, Little Dot MK IV, iBasso DX160, iFi IDSD Micro Black Label, Zen Dac, FiiO M11

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