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Bowers & Wilkins C5 In-Ear Headphones

60% Positive Reviews
Rated #264 in Universal Fit


Pros: Excellent audio, Noise Isolation, and good looks!

Cons: Goofy "secure loop" system, hard to clean, awkward ipod/iphone controls, EXPENSIVE, and a tiny carry pouch.

I bought these to replace my beloved A-Jays four.  I needed something with the integrated in-line ipod/iphone controls,  but with a bit better audio-quality, and some that may not pop out as easily as the JAYS.   These have a "secure loop" system which provides an adjustable cable loop that tucks into your upper ear, helping to keep the buds in place.   I personally found that the "adjustment" was just a series of markings on the cables, which would easily move up and down giving no "exact" setting for your ear.   They would stay in my ear,  but it always just felt sort of... Also, I found my ears getting quite sore after wearing them for an hour or two (not my ear canal, but the part with the "secure loop").   The noise isolation was great, and the audio was superb with rich lows, and well balanced mids . The highs were rolled off a tad too much for my taste, but overall I thing that these would cater to most peoples tastes in music.   I found, however that the audio began to attenuate over the course of a few months.  I realized that my ear wax was clogging the extremely fine steel screen mesh that covered the ports...  this was almost impossible for me to clean or rectify.  The ipod/iphone controls were also hard to find without looking, and did not provide any tactile response.   This resulted in me mis-hitting the buttons all the time.   Up would be down,  on would be off etc.  Not a very good design.  Major points however for isolation, which I found to be quite immersive, and the audio quality was fantastic before they became too quiet to enjoy. Also, the carry pouch was just a little too small.  I felt like I was crushing these, and bending up the "secure loops" every time I put them away..


Overall I was let down by this product, especially due to how expensive they were ($179).  Compared to the cheaper ($80) A jays,  they dont match as far as overall quality and comfort/ I did however enjoy their handsome design, but looks dont really count when all you want to do is listen.


Pros: Powerful and fun sound; good details and soundstage; looks and feels nice

Cons: Terrible build quality; overcooked bass; average comfort

This is a review of the original B&W C5. Not the recently released C5 S2.


Design/durability: The C5 feature a really unique design because of the secure loop. The finish of the earphones is very nice (metal construction), and the cable *looks* sturdy. However sturdiness isn't the strong point of the C5. Actually, I have sent them back twice already because of cable defects. Every 6-8 months, one of the channels stops working due to faulty contact, as if it were pre-programmed. Build quality is definitely not up to expectations. B&W's customer service is second to none though, but this issue still ruins customer experience.


Fit/comfort: Not very comfortable, no matter the ear tips. The earpieces are very heavy, and stick out of the ear prominently. The secure loop hurts the inside of the ear, although you can disassemble it. The silicone tips provided are stiff and hurt the ear canal easily. Microphonics are easily heard.


Isolation: Average isolation for IEMs, since these are supposed to be semi-open (which is interesting, see sound section).


Sound: This is a heavy, V-shaped type of sound. The bass is indeed very prominent and boomy and it protrudes on the mids, the mids are fine and clean, but they are recessed and often overpowered by the huge bass hump, the treble is bright and slightly harsh with average extension. Now the soundstage of the C5 is actually quite impressive. It sounds wider than many IEMs especially in this price category. Instrument separation is also neat, I guess due to the "microporous filter" and the semi-open design of these earphones. Ultimately, the C5 have a fun sounding signature with a good amount of details, but with some seriously overcooked bass. Good for some genres, not so much for some others.


Bottom line: A pair of semi-open earphones that could have been interesting, sadly ruined by poor build quality and excessive bass response.


Pros: build quality

Cons: bass

i really want to embrace this earphone, the build quality is some of the best of all universals, earpiece is full metal and just feel solid. the loop is a good design for me. and if i don’t want to use the loop i can make it small and it work like a earbud. or take the wire out and wear it over the ear.

So i mainly listen to young female vocals, but the bass just muddy it up. male vocal sounds much better.

The bass is too overpowered, especially in the sub bass area, and the op bass extend all the way into the vocal band. The bass is slow and controlled, the quality is there, but too overpowered. I’d say that it is hard to even get this into my ear.


on phone I basically lower frequency below 500, boost 2k and 16k to my liking (poweramp)


edit: i found other solutions, i was going through all my tips, and the ue tips and comply T series seems to work well(no compress before insert) i can drop the eq now. The t500 and medium ue tips give the perfect amount of air/isolation for me. the roundish ts series also works fine but not a easy fit comparing to the T series.


Pros: Inline Mic/Controls for Apple Device, nice subbass, Build Quality is Excellent.

Cons: No Detachable Cable, slight grain in the treble, Loop doesn't fit in everybodies ears, Bass is loose and kind of muddies up the sound

Decent. But get the Dunu DN-1000's instead.


Pros: stays in place/maintains seal during even strenuous activity; signature natural, transparent B&W sound with a complementary bass presence

Cons: 3-button control could be easier to use

I own a pair and love them.  I am surprised there is not more online buzz regarding these.  I mostly listen to music during activity but had difficulty finding a pair of active headphones that approached audiophile quality until I heard the C5.  The sound is clean, accurate and full.  The bass is prominent without being overwhelming which is perfect for workout tunes.  The sound is also enjoyable for home listening.  This is a great all around headphone for all types of music.  The ear loop also provides a secure fit and I sometimes forget they are on.  Related to fit, I have owned other earbuds that gradually slip out and the sound becomes hollow as the seal is lost.  I NEVER lose the seal with these because of the unique ear loop designed.  I was impressed with their sound quality from the first time I tried them on and haven't heard a better sounding headphone in their price range.

Bowers & Wilkins C5 In-Ear Headphones

Concert for one Bowers & Wilkins C5 In-Ear Headphones with Secure Loop design

Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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