Pros: Sound quality, comfort, build, balance, naturalness, clarity, isolation, price, replaceable cable, accessories, soundstage (for a closed can)
Cons: Pads can get hot/sweaty, bass can be a little hollow/honky
Pros: Sound quality, comfort, build, balance, naturalness, clarity, isolation, price, replaceable cable, accessories, soundstage (for a closed can)
Cons: Pads can get hot/sweaty, bass can be a little hollow/honky
Pros: Easy to EQ, comfortable for long sessions, price!
Cons: None yet.
I stumbled upon these headphones after numerous hours of research. To be quite honest, I'd never heard of this brand before so I was a bit hesitant before making the jump; especially after owning products from major brands such as Shure, Audio Technica and Beyerdynamic. You know what to expect from those brands, but from Brainwavz? Read on to find out more..
#Packaging: they come in a relatively small box (compared to the ATH-M50s), inside you'll find:
-A black and red hard shell carrying case that'll hold your headphones and accessories
-A carrying strap for your hard shell case
-The warranty card and instructions
-A spare pair of pleather ear pads
-The headphones themselves
-¼ audio jack
-Two removable cables (1.3m and 3m long)
-An airline adapter
-A pouch to store all the cables and audio jacks
#Design and Build Quality: and I thought my DT770s were big!
They're definitely not like any other set of cans you've seen before, as soon as you pick them up you'll notice how light and sturdy they are. Some parts are made out of plastic, but they don't feel cheaply made.
The ear pads seem to be of top notch quality, they're made out of pleather. If you do happen to break them, Brainwavz was kind enough to include a second pair; they both appear to be identical.
I was actually kind of surprised with the quality of the cables, they appear to be strong and both sets are removable and can be plugged in without any problems.
In my opinion the HM5s look super clean and modern, and I love the metal accents on the ear cups. You will like them wether you're 18 or 45.
#Sound Quality: after burning them in for 72 hours with lossless music and pink noise. Amped with a Fiio E12 Mont Blanc and iPod Classic w/Fiio LOD L9.
I like to buy different headphones because they all offer me different experiences; the ATH-M50s have a particular sound signature, as well as my Beyerdynamic DT770s and my Shure SE215. None of them sound alike, and that was one of the reasons I was in the market for a new set of closed back headphones. I also needed something less colored and more 'EQ friendly'. If you're a music fanatic like I am you will understand what I am saying.
Why do I have the Audio Technicas? Because sometimes I wanna feel the bass (and have my head rattle for a couple of hours with techno and industrial music)
Why do I have the Beyerdynamics? Because sometimes I wanna get that immersive experience without bothering those around me. Some people may disagree with me, but the soundstage on these puppies are outstanding, and not to mention little to no sound leaking.
Why do I have the Shure in ears? Because I also need something more portable and inexpensive but also have the best sound quality for the money.
The HM5s do not disappoint in terms of sound quality. Yes, they are flat, uncolored headphones. But that doesn't mean they're boring. It just means that you can pretty much EQ them in any way and direction you want to. If you're not a fan of EQing then leave them as they are, and you'll hear the music the way the artist intended.
If you've never heard a flat response headphone before then you're in for a treat. No, the bass will not rattle your head, but you will be able to hear the bass as opposed to feel the bass. The mids aren't overpowering and they give the vocals a nice presence. The highs are perfect and I did not experience any sort of sibilance (unlike the DT770s).
The soundstage is phenomenal; all the instruments are well separated.
You will not be bothering those around you either, the HM5s have great passive noise isolation, so there's almost no sound leakage.
I suggest listening to the following songs before you receive your headphones and then again after you burn them in.
Madness - Muse
Speed of Sound - Coldplay
Dreamers - Savoir Adore
Autumn's Monologue - From Autumn to Ashes
Strict Machine - Goldfrapp
House of Cards - Radiohead
Nature Trips - Eyedress
Also remember these are 64 Ohm headphones, so having something to power them is recommended.
#Final Thoughts: they're keepers!
Even if you hate these headphones you have to realize that you paid $129 for them. And not to mention all the great accessories that came with them (the case itself has to be worth at least $20 right?)
I, on the other hand, loved them. I couldn't be happier with them and in my opinion these are right 'up there' with the leaders in the hi-fi audio business.
They've earned a spot in my headphone collection, and I truly recommend them to you as long as you know what to expect.
Pros: Sound Quality, Build Quality, comfort, non-fatiguing, cables
Cons: Not really a con, but would be nice if additional velour pads were included instead of another pleather set.
These headphones are a pretty good value for the money.
Simple clean design, don't look over the top, or tacky.
The build quality is pretty nice with good materials. Plastic parts on the headphone cups have the "soft touch" feel. The pleather ear pads are really comfortable, and I'm glad they come with an extra set. I would've liked an additional velour set for the hot summer season though where heat could become a comfort issue. The headband is nicely padded for better comfort and uses metal for the extension area which should be more durable than plastic.
Comes with some nice accessories. 2 cables.. 1 short, 1 long. The cables seem to be of good quality. Highly flexible, yet very durable. The cable connectors look really nicely done as well. They're color coded to the correct jacks in the headphones for left and right. It's nice that they're detachable from the headphones. Also comes with 2 adapters. 1 large jack adapter, and 1 airplane jack adapter. Of course it's got an extra pair of pleather ear pads which are nice. Luckily I got in on the pre-order so it came with a simple carrying case with foam inserts as well (not spectacular, but better than no case).
Sound Quality is pretty good to me. I've been listening to a mix of acoustic, jazz, jazz/funk, rock, hip hop, you name it. These headphones really do seem like they get better with burn-in. During my first several hours I didn't really like how they sounded with rock. I left it running for several days and came back to a pleasant surprise. My rock sounds much better and clearer now. Shortly afterwards, my FiiO e10 arrived in the mail. Pairing these phones up with the FiiO e10 (I listened with bass boost off) sounds really nice. Every genre sounds even better than when I had this plugged straight into my macbook air.
Pairing these up with the FiiO E10 is a winning combo to me!
Pros: Build quality, comfort, sound quality, removable dual entry cable, price
Pros: Build quality, comfort, sound quality, removable dual entry cable, price
I am unable to comment on the packaging of the HM5 as I have received a loaner model. I can comment on the accessories I've received though and Brainwavz has done a fantastic job here. Included with the HM5 I received were an extra pair of faux leather pads which are good quality here, soft yet firm. Also included was two cables, both being dual entry with a 3.5mm plug and an included 1/4 adaptor. The cables are thick and feel of the utmost quality, I'm thoroughly impressed with them, and the inclusion of a set for each plug rather than the cheaper way out of just giving an adaptor.
Design and Build Quality
The first thing that I noticed about the HM5 was that the build quality was astounding. I picked them up from the soft foam padding they laid in and noticed a nice weight to them and very solid construction even under close inspection. The headphones themselves seem to be clones of the Fischer FA-003, at least aesthetically, and I think that's a great thing. The FA-003 have a very nice clean look to them and Brainwavz has done a great job keeping everything clean while adding it's own little touches.
Starting from the top, the faux leather and soft foam make for a minimal, yet clean looking headband. On the top "BRAINWAVZ" is in a glossy black to accent over the matte black of the faux leather. A little further down you reach the adjustors on the headphones, which is a slightly notches aluminum strip from the right and left that feels very solid when being adjusted in anyway. A click will let you know you've reached each notch and where the adjustor meets the lower half of the headphone there's some room for it to move laterally slightly allowing some flexibility. The adjustors meet with a black matte plastic which almost has a rubber feel to it allowing for better grip. At the top of it there's a red "R" and a blue "L" indicating left or right as well as color coding for the cables. The plastic wraps around the housing and locks in at the sides allowing the HM5 to swivel up and down up to 90 degrees allowing them to point down.
The housing itself has a brushed aluminum siding with a small circle cut out with the Brainwavz logo on either side, the grey brushed aluminum looks beautiful contrasting against the outside of the housing which is the same black matter rubberized plastic that gives the HM5 a sleek look. On the bottom back of each ear cup HM5 is stamped in a light grey. The cables enter from the bottom using a straight 3.5mm plug in each ear. The ear cups are big soft faux leather pads that are not only comfy, but provide good isolation for the HM5. They're also very easy to take off and put on for those who want to try different pads.
The cables were a huge surprise to me, each side has a blue or a red ring around it to indicate which ear it belongs in and is not only thick, but feels surprisingly high quality. The cables are joined by a simple y-split and terminate with a thick, solid, straight plug.
Everything about the HM5 screams high quality. The build quality is easily comparable to any high end headphone. The aesthetics are extremely simple, but beautiful to boot. These headphones are well worth the asking price for this alone, they make my Ad900 feel like a cheap toy.
These arrived from Dragon2Knight with a nice hand written letter explaining these had well over 250 hours of burn-in/use before being used. Therefore I simply listened, I can't speak for any burn-in and I am not noticing any changes throughout my listening.
The Brainwavz HM5 are being marketed as neutral for studio monitoring purposes and I couldn't disagree with this if I tried. The HM5 are almost perfectly neutral to my ears allowing me to pick apart problems with the mix and mastering unlike any other headphone I've used before. That isn't to say the HM5 are the most detailed headphone I've ever used, there's some grain even, but these are the flattest headphones I've used with excellent extension on both sides of the spectrum while having good detail and clarity.
The HM5 are not for bass heads, if you're expecting the bass to rattle your head then look elsewhere. The HM5 have a very flat response across the bass with only the slightest mid bass hump and great extension, there was never a point where I felt I was missing anything in the lows. The mid bass has decent impact, enough to let you know a kick drum is being hit, but it's not bloated or overdone, it's more of a rounded hit rather than a sharp jab. Even on songs with incredible bass the HM5 handle them well. I don't particularly feel the bass but I hear it no matter how low it goes with good detail to boot. The mids are the weakest of everything here, but that's only because I'm used to my Ad900. The mids here are clean and serve as a perfect link between the lows and highs. The mids are polite as to not push out the mids and highs, but are assertive enough to give the vocals good presence and electric guitars a good crunch. The upper mids or low highs do have a slight edge to them, but just like the mid bass it's only the slightest. There's a very slight sense of sibilance, but only on the most sibilant heavy songs. There's a slight grain as well in the highs, but they're well extended without being overly bright.
As I said before the HM5 have good detail, but they're certainly not to be considered analytical, at least in comparison to the likes of the AKG K701 or HiFi Man RE272. I don't feel as if I'm missing anything when listening to these, but they don't have the typical cold analytical presentation. The soundstage on these is decent, there's actually a light air to it. There's good separation throughout and I feel as if I'm at an intimate outdoor concert, if I were to describe it at all. Perhaps yes described as if the stage were enclosed from all except the front, giving a slight air, but still an intimate presentation. As for amping, I definitely recommend something to power these, but they sound rather good even from an iPod or straight from my MacBook Pro.
Onto the music!
The Antlers - Kettering
In this song there's an incredible ambiance and emotion conveyed through the music with a great build up and dynamics. Right away the hushed piano plays the repeating melody sounding very cold and subdued as the vocals take on a very similar tone, sounding hushed and cold while sounding very intimate, as if he were singing a few feet in front of me in a small coffee house. The synth noise rolls in as a precursor to the soon to be change in dynamics. The vocals stop, the piano goes a little higher, then the drums come in with the synth noises vibrating at a high frequency. The song continues to build up giving me the chills. Everything is beautifully conveyed through the HM5 in such a perfect, delicate manner. Very clean with excellent presentation.
Sufjan Stevens - Impossible Soul
This is a really hard song to do well as it is essentially 5 songs, each with different sounds to them, combined into one. I'm going to just take the first movement and talk about the HM5 for it as it's a 30 minute song. I have to say, I don't think I've heard this song as good before as I am now. The synth is polite, soft, and clean as Sufjan's voice matches with good panning and the echoes of his voice being heard perfectly below in the mix. The harp that rolls along pans beautifully back and forth as the drums do as well. Hearing certain hits in the left and the proceeding one in the right keeps my ears open and paying attention, Sufjan knows how to keep a listener entertained in such small ways. There's simply so much going on here that the HM5 replicate so well. The harshly toned guitar solo comes in like a jagged knife, which is definitely intended and the HM5 do a great job giving it the edge Sufjan intended, all the while the harps and drums panning, not once does it feel confused or congested. I could go on, but this song is beautiful through these. It's not easy to have a song with such hectic parts and combinations of electronic, pop and classical sound good. The HM5 are fantastic though!
Radiohead - Idioteque
This song is a perfect example of how good the HM5's bass is. The electronic kick drum thumps enough to be present, while being polite enough to allow the mechanical sounding hi-hat and snare to tick away as the synth sweeps along and the various noises make their appearances. Thom's voice comes in and the kick drum still thumps, but it's clear that the vocals were mixed to be slightly higher here as they wanted them to be the focus. The vocals come in clear and slightly higher than anything else while the backing vocals are panned to the right and hushed behind the rest in the mix, which is a nice contrast going on here having vocals essentially surround the instruments. Everything sounds clean here and I'm enjoying it, just the right amount of thump.
Porcupine Tree - Trains
This song is a great progressive rock song with a good sound. Right away the acoustic guitar shines, clean and detailed, I can pick apart each string loud and clearly. The vocals are perfectly balanced with the guitar and equally clean. The drums and bass come in and are punchy and easily heard, in-fact I don't think I've ever noticed the bass line in this song before. Even the acoustic guitar is still easily heard in conjunction with the punchy drums and bass. As the song continues I really don't have much to say than everything simply sounds clean, there's no grain at all, every instrument has it's own space. I'm enjoying the clarity of the HM5 for this song, especially for the well recorded acoustic guitar.
Sara Bareilles - Bottle It Up
This song is a sibilant heavy song. The sibilance that made this unenjoyable on my q-JAYS is still there, but it's a recording issue more than a headphone issue. The HM5 do show signs of sibilance here, but again this is a recording issue and the HM5 do a great job of making the song listenable still. It's clear though that this song is mastered loudly with a emphasis on the vocals. It's clear that this album is a victim of the loudness wars and the HM5 have no problem revealing this.
You'll see I have no listed cons for the HM5, and deservedly so. For the $120 or so you can pre-order the HM5 for you can't ask for more. The build quality is absolutely top notch from top to bottom, from cable to ear cups. The included accessories is just a huge bonus, Brainwavz didn't need to include two cables, but they did, as well as an adaptor. I think that simply goes above and beyond what they had to. The sound is something that won't immediately please you, it's good out of the box, but it's when you realize the subtleties that make it so good you'll appreciate it. The delicate balance it gives songs that sometimes sound congested on other headphones, the polite yet present presentation is just fantastic.
The HM5 are for the person who wants a musical, neutral, clean and detailed sound. Are these as detailed as the K701 or RE272? No, but never once did I feel like I was missing anything in the music, while enjoying it far more than on either of those headphones that were simply too cold and analytical for me. These are one of the best values in the headphone world.
Come see the rest of the pictures here!
Pros: Hyper Comfortable , Smooth throughout the board , Very distant for being a closed , great for smooth listening , PRICE !!
Cons: Withdrawn Sub-Bass , Detail not up there for critical listening , clamping , clarity , flimsy headband adjustment
2nd Review lets do this
Instead of talking about the stuff that I have talked about in the video below , will focus here on sound
The day I got them I remember the first session with it was listening to "Live in Paris" by Diana Krall , I was stunned my the smoothness it had , just a very smooth and enjoyable tone , the bass in tracks like 'Lets Fall in Love" and "The look of Love" just sounded exceptional and very well extended , the bass reminded me of my 650s just a bit withdrawn in the Sub-Bass
To be really honest , its one of the best if you are primarily a Jazz listener , I can't justify using it as my go-to HiFi headphone for every genre , the perceived detail just seems to be absent but that is just by a thread , minuscule as a matter of fact but noticeable and worth mentioning if you have other HiFi cans
For me the HM5 is the headphone I would love to listen to some Grant Green or Wes Montgomery maybe some Jimmy Smith too , just the overall smooth timbre makes it a perfect headphone for any Jazz lover (Which I am one)
There are zero discernible spikes , undoubtedly a "Neutral Champ" cannot stress that enough
In terms of overall separation I found it to be quite good , for a closed headphone this might be the best for the price , did play some Binaural , out of all I had , found Ottmar Liebert: Up Close to be the best , this is a great album BTW if you haven't heard it already
The bass was very good , the overall texture was quite discernible with this song by "The Roots" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qzacv8dtb4&feature=kp , not over inflated just a good presentation in general if not the rolled of sub-bass made it a bit thin sounding
So , yeah this is a good headphone , one of the best purchases at least in my book , must have for any enthusiast
This is my Review I did on YouTube -
Pros: The travel pack is beautiful, decent, and useful. The headset itself is comfortable with acoustical space and naturalness signature
Cons: none so far
Got mine today. Takes two days directly from Hongkong. Yes, the waiting is hard for me. A little back story. I was planning getting myself a pair HD 598 from Sennheiser as my Christmas gift. However, the cost of HD 598 just doesn’t cut it. After extensive online study, I found out this nonexpansive headphone (compare to HD 598) has the potential to outperform many $300 grade headphones(I told myself that). Since this headphone is a replication of the famous FA-003. Moreover, my friend Waiting told me that HM5 is having a pre-order sale right now. I am so glad I pull the trigger at that moment.
Enough of the chit-chat, let’s take a quick look on the package. All I can say is amazing, the protector/carry box is a mini hard shell box. The color and build quality of the box itself is top notch. Better than my 270 dollar Revo sunglass protect box. I meant come on it even comes with a shoulder strap. The box itself can well worth 40 dollar. I bet I can take this box to the mall and sell it for 50 without much effort. The accessories include the shoulder strap, 1/4" adapter, extra set earpads, airplane adapter, 1.3m detachable cable, 3.0m detachable cable, Instruction manual, and Warranty card. ALL copper plated connectors!! I have not seen they do that on Monster Turbine and klipsch X10. That basically says it all. You are getting something that’s way more than $100 can give you in today’s real world. However, at this point I was thinking if it sound like poopoo maybe I can still give it to my brother or something and it would still looks like an awesome piece of headwear for Christmas gift.
Needless to say, I run to my desktop and plug this bad boy to my Fiio E7 and start checking it out. And oh my holy cow, I finally understand why some people love these and some people hate it. As for me, I am on the love side. If you listen to metal rock or punk, you have a high chance you gonna love this pair of cans. I don’t have the professional testing knowledge or instruments to do a wave compare or display. I do have oscilloscope in school’s lab and other instruments for doing the test. However, since I am a slacker and I will just review it from the feeling of my human ear. For me the most significant stand out on HM5 are the “acoustical space” and “naturalness”. Pair HM5 with fiio E7 and start playing Hinder “Lips of An Angel” and though I was in front of the stage. I can listen to any instrument effortlessly. Personally, I play guitar so normally this would be the first instrument I listen to. Trust me with HM5 is so easy to listen to certain instrument without even focusing. The space between each instrument is just enormous in a good way for me. About the “naturalness” is actually pretty funny. So I was listen to some music with HM5 on the first day I received it. I was thrilled with the headset that day and played with it till 2 O’clock something in the morning. No big deal, I start to look for websites that offer headset test file. I found the website “http://www.audiocheck.net/soundtests_headphones.php” and start listening to the provided tracks. Boy oh boy, I play through each track till “Binaural Test” and I almost crap my pants, since it was 2 something in the middle of the night and someone is knocking on my door pretty hard. I took off the headphone and went to see who is behind the door. As soon as I took off the headphone I just realize the ambient noise in my room and outside my apartment are quite loud(desktop computer fan noise and bugs singing outside the window). I was still thinking that if someone knocked the door it would be hard for me to heard it so clearly. Apparently there is only one possibility, I put on HM5 again and play the track again. Yes, I have to take the headset off and make sure there is no one knocking on my door again!! I was sweat at the moment. This is ridiculously incredible.
Because the positioning is so well defined, I also used it for my gaming sessions. Payday the heist, the accurateness is pin point, I can reload my gun with proper distance from my enemy and catch them at the corner every time. Overall, HM5 is way better than I expected. For 100 dollar I can get this awesome headphone which worth every penny. What I hate about it is that I should have bought it sooner!
Pros: Sound as great as they're said to.
Cons: The clamping force is EXTREME at first. As per some kind suggestions, I stretched them out overnight and now I've absolutely no complaints!
SEE PROS & CONS.
NOTE: The clamping factor will obviously differ from person to person, but I'm surprised to find little mention of it, as it is the sole reason I'd never think twice about the HM5. Shame, really. Considering they do sound great.
UPDATE: Thank you for the wonderful suggestions, and after some (needed) adjustment, their clamping force is MUCH more tolerable, and plays in their favor considering how well they isolate. As such, I've updated their ratings, and I've only not given them a 5/5 because I don't believe anything is truly perfect. Not to mention, I also own a few other mid to high end cans (PRO 750, K550, D5000, D7000, GS1000i, etc.), and where performance is concerned, if I was to give a 5/5 rating to any one of the cans I own, as it stands, it'd have to be the Signature Pros.
UPDATE #2: I ended up getting rid of the HM5's, and instead, placing an order for the $70 ($50 + $20 shipping) rebrands from Jaycar (<<< click here for the product page). While the rebrands may come with different (or fewer) accessories, the price is nearly half what the HM5 cost me. I'm sold!
UPDATE #3: Received my Jaycar rebrands, and I immediately let them stretch out, in order to relieve the originally intolerable clamping force. I also switched out the pads for a set of ATH-M50 pads (which are relatively half as thick/plush as the original HM5 pads), and the M50 pads allow for a SIGNIFICANTLY MORE comfortable fit, owing to the much thinner padding of the stock M50 pads. Bottom line, at their current price, they are an absolute no-brainer! Whether or not you need them, I can't recommend them enough, at least as a backup.
UPDATE #4: The Shure SRH940 velour pads work like a charm with the HM5/Jaycar, in case anyone is in the market for velour pads. No mods necessary, just replace the pads as you would the stock pads, and voila! I personally find the SRH940 pads even more comfortable than the M50 pads. Their price alone leaves me in awe, let along the performance at said price.
Pros: Comfy, comes with lots of accessories
Cons: Not all that neutral, numerous cons in the sound outweigh the positives, build quality is meh
I liked these when I first got them but over time as I listened to more and better headphones realized they are not very good. They're not all bad but I think the cons outweigh the pros. There are already enough hyped up positive comments from tons of people, so I'm just going to list what the problems were for me.
Not really all that neutral. Perhaps more balanced relative to some of the wilder headphones out there and mostly non-offensive, but that's about it. Overall balance is actually a little bit on the dark side. I'm no treble head and hate any spikes in the higher frequencies, but even for me these sounded a little bit veiled and lacking clarity. The treble on its own is very smooth and had the most accurate tonality for cymbals I've heard, but the bass/lower mids are quite muddy and smeary and get in the way. There is a dip in the lower mids and then a hump in the upper bass which I think contributes to this. The muddiness sometimes creeps up into the mids as well unfortunately, because the mids are actually pretty nice. I noticed that frequency response graphs actually confirm the slightly dark balance.
The soundstage is wonky with a hollowed out center image. At first I mistook this for depth, but it's not, it's just shaped weird. Basically, things which are panned in the center sound farther away, while things which are panned in the left or right ears sound closer. Kind of like a "V-shape" where your head is staring down into the point of the V if you can imagine that. Other headphones with more evenly shaped soundstages do not do this so much. I also found these to lack punch and attack both in the bass and the mids/highs. I find too much punch to be fatiguing, but these just sounded kind of flat and boring.
The other thing about these headphones is the cup sound or echo as some have called it. If you take a look at the way the cups in combination with the pads are shaped, you'll notice they form a cylindrical or tube shape. Listening to music on these headphones sounds like that--listening to music through a tube. It sounds like there is some kind of reverb added on to the music, which makes you feel you are listening inside of a cave or a subway tunnel or something. I don't know exactly how to describe it, but frankly it is pretty strange. It is less noticeable on some recordings, but on others it is very obvious and weird if you have other headphones to compare to.
Also while they come with a bunch of neat accessories, the build quality is not all that great. It's not outright bad, but questionable. The sliders for adjusting the length of the headband are kind of loose and wobbly, the cups sometimes snap out of the hinges, and the headband is so rigid every time I stretched it to put these on my head it felt like it was going to snap.
If you can find some rebrands of these for less than $100 and you like a slightly dark and very laid back sound, these might be decent, but overall I don't think I'd recommend them to anybody, especially if you think you're going to get a "neutral champ."
Pros: Value, Nuetral Sound, Sound Stage, Easy to Drive
|Feature||Large, comfortable over the ear cups|
|Product Type Name||HEADPHONES|
|Title||BRAINWAVZ HM5 Studio Monitor Headphones|