Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphones › Over-Ear › BRAINWAVZ HM5 Studio Monitor Headphones

BRAINWAVZ HM5 Studio Monitor Headphones


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


The Brainwavz HM5 is a closed dynamic circumaural head-phone which appears to be a clone of the Fischer Audio FA-003.  There is also another similar clone by Lindy.  OEM/ODM manufacturer appears to be Yoga Electronics. Response from owners at the moment suggest that the HM5 / FA-003 / Lindy sound similar/same.
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Pre-amble (about me)
I'm a 44 year old music lover.  I don't say audiophile - just love my music.  Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current entry/mid-fi set-up.  I vary my listening from portable (i-devices + amp) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > HP).  My main headphones at the time of writing are the Sennheiser HD600s, HM5's, a modded set of Alessandro MS1i, and a set of B2 IEMs.  I previously owned Beyer DT880, Shure SRH840 and 940 + various other IEMs. I have auditioned quite a few entry and mid-tier cans, but have yet to hear any flagships (at current time of writing this review).  I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety - from classical and opera to grunge and hard-rock.   I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, and alternative rock.  I am particularly fond of female vocals.  I tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced - with a slight emphasis on the mid-range.  I prefer a little warmth in the overall signature.  I am neither a bass or treble head.  Current amps = NFB12, GoVibe PortaTube, Fiio E11.  Previous desktop set-up was a Fiio E7/E9 combo.
Gear used in this review
 - Brainwavz HM5
 - Sennheiser HD600
 - Alessandro MS1i FWJ
 - iPod4 + Fiio E11
 - Audiogd NFB-12
I chose the HD600 for a comparison, as in other reviews, the FA-003 was often compared sonically to the HD600.  This was in fact the main reason I bought it.
Packaging and Accessories
I purchased my HM5's from MP4nation.  They come with a nice and well padded canvas case (similar to the case that I had for my DT880's), spare pads, a long (3m) and short (1.3m) cable, airplane adpator, and a 3.5-6.3mm adapter.
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Technical Specifications :
Nominal impedance = 64Ω
Transducer = principle dynamic 42mm, closed
Ear coupling = circumaural
Frequency range = 10 - 26500 Hz
Sensitivity =  105 dB at 1 mW
Rated input power 100 mW
Weight w/o cable = 280 g
Weight w/1.3 cable = 323 g
Weight w/3.0 cable = 363 g
Jack plug = 3,5mm stereo with 6,3 mm screw-on adaptor
Frequency Response Graphs (+ others) - From InnerFidelity - FA-003 (none available currently for the HM5)
Build / Comfort / Isolation
At first glance, the HM5 look as though they should be quite heavy.  What is surprising is how light they are, and how light they feel once worn.
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The headband looks similar to the Beyer DDT880 Pro.  The head-band padding is adequate, and more importantly it is shaped to actually fit your head (Shure - this is how a headband should be).  The extenders are metal, seem very solid and are adjustable with a solid click.  The arms (to connect the cup) are a molded plastic - appears reasonably strong.  The cups can be easily disconnected - so as long as parts were available, it would be easy to replace anything broken.
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The cups are nicely shaped - and for my ears are completely circumaural.  The pads are very thick - almost exactly one inch - but also very soft.  This keeps the ear well away from the transducer.  The clamp is quite tight, but due to the softness of the pads, once they've been on for a while, I don't really notice them.  The pads are removed from the cup by a quarter twist, and are easily replaceable.  
The rear of the cups can be removed by undoing 4 micro screws.  This exposes the rear of the driver - but more importantly allows modding and also, should allow fitting of the Fischer wooden cups if so desired.
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Because of the clamp and the thickness of the pads, isolation is very good.  Not to the level of my B2 IEMs - but as good as I have had with a closed can.  When I next travel around the world (later this year) I am definitely taking these - as they seem to be ideal (especially with having the airline adaptor) for long-haul travel.
The cable is replaceable, and the plugs are reassuringly snug fitting.  To me they look like a standard 3.5mm mono plug - but it is the molding at the and which would have to be duplicated if you wanted to make a DIY cable.  Fortunately the cables appear extremely sturdy and you are supplied with one at 1.3m (which I find very good for portable), and a 3m length if you require more cable for a desktop / home system.
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Overall, these are very comfortable - with one small complaint - due to the thickness and softness of the pads, combined with the clamp, they can get quite warm after extended use. The good news is that the Fischer FA-003 velours should fit them.  The hard part may be finding them.  Comfort is slightly less than DT880 or Senn HD600 - but definitely in the same league.
Listening Set-up
My main set-up with the HM5 is PC > Coax > NFB-12 (low gain) >HM5.  For a portable rig, I use iPhone4 > HM5.  For the purposes of this exercise - to compare with the HD600 straight out of the iPod4, I'll also be using the Fiio E11 (via LOD).  Note - I initially was going to use my PortaTube for comparison with the HD600 - but the HM5 is so easy to drive that I ran the risk of channel imbalance because I was so low on the pot. 
Sound Quality
The HM5 for me are good for their price.  They are quite natural sounding - one of the most natural sounding closed headphone I have heard to date (with only issue being some hollowness in the bass - more on that later).  They seem reasonably well balanced across the spectrum - with good extension at both ends.  There is some sparkle at the top end - but it's not enough to overly exaggerate the highs.  A quick summary of the main sound quality headings:
Detail/Clarity - Detail is good - but quite not as detailed as the HD600 (or the DT880).  They are very clear though - and sound very good especially with acoustic instruments.  They do appear to be a little more forward than the HD600 - and do exhibit a little more reverb - which for me sits them below the HD600 in terms of overall refinement and clarity.  For the cost - the level of clarity is good.
Sound-stage - Seems reasonably good for a closed can - but not overly expansive or deep.  Instrument separation I found quite pleasing.  Listening to Julia Fischer playing Tchaikovsky's violin concertos definitely gives a sense of space at first - but when switching to the HD600 you suddenly realise that while they are good for a closed can - they are simply not in the HD600's league for staging, timbre or realism.  For a closed can though, they are have a better than average sound-stage.
Highs - Very good.  No trace of sibilance or harshness, with good detail.  They are slightly more emphasised than the HD600's and give surpisingly good presence.  I tend to use jazz now to look specifically for presence in the highs.  For this test I was using Diana Krall's "Black Crow" for the contrast between cymbals and piano - and The HM5 handle it very well.
Mids - The HM5 does mids well.  They are focussed with a slight hint of warmth - and give a feeling of intimacy - similar to the HD600.  For this test I'm listening to Alison Krauss (Paper Airplane).  I often use the song 'Dustbowl Children' for comparison - as the acoustics are wonderful.   I think the HM5's mids are ever so slightly more forward than the HD600 - but this could be the smaller sounstage.  Even with busier tracks, there is no sign of congestion.  
Bass - Here's where things get slightly interesting,  There is definitely nice extension n the HM5 (as there also is on the HD600).  The main difference here is in presentation with the bass on the HD600 being extremely well textured and defined.  The HM5 is almost there - but on really punchy tracks it can exhibit a very faint boominess/reverb.  Almost a hollow sound.  I have to admit that despite this I do like the HM5's bass.  It's there when you need it, and doesn't sound over or under-done.  Impact is very good while still retaining balance.
Power Requirements
The HM5 has 64 ohm nominal impedance - but what surprised me is how sensitive these are.  They are absolutely ridiculously easy to drive.  Straight out of my iPhone (unamped) my 32 ohm MS1is take almost exactly 50% volume for a nice listening volume.  The HM5 at 64 ohm use the same volume.  They do sound wonderful out of the NFB-12 - but I have to use low gain or they go too low on the pot.
Comparison HM5 vs MS1i and HD600
Hm5 doesn't have the top end of the MS1i - but is quite similar in the mid range, and has more impact in the bass.  Compared to the HD600, the HM5 has a little more sparkle up top, again similar mid range (maybe a touch more forward) and the bass is similar - but does not have same texture or refinement. In sound stage comparison, the MS1i is on-stage, the HM5 is front row, and the HD600 is perhaps 4 or 5 rows back.  For detail, all 3 headphones have good clarity - with the HD600 ultimately showing better micro detail and placement (as it should).  Comparing realism, the MS1i is what I bought it for - an incredibly edgy fun but coloured headphone - ideal for rock and blues - it's not realistic but I love it.  The HM5 is closer to the HD600 - but it does not match the naturalness of the HD600, nor the texture or sense of 'being there'.  For what it brings to the table in comfort, isolation, and value - that is a pretty good achievement.
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The HM5 was not designed to compete with the HD600 - and for the $100-$150 price bracket, it is great value.  Compare to other popular cans in it's price bracket - Shure SRH840, ATH M50 etc, I can see the HM5 being an excellent studio monitor, and also a very engaging headphone for private listening.  It does well with practically every genre I've tried it with (and that includes classical).  I have even used it for gaming - and it does well with both directional acuracy and fun factor.  They are quite good for portable use, and I think will be very durable long-term.  If I was to sum these up in four words - I would simply say - "Incredible value / great sound.  It's not a closed HD600 - but it does share some similar sonic qualities for audio lovers on a budget.  Definitely recommend the HM5 as a value proposition for an entry level to quality audio.


Pros: Reference-esque SQ, Accessories, Comfort

Cons: Clamp, Size

Brainwavz has done it again! While there are several audio companies offering a nice budget-king-FOTW IEM here, a feature-packed portable amp there, I can't think of many that have put together the streak of high-quality products at affordable prices in the short time the way that the people at Brainwavz have done. Delta: Low Cost Champion. S5: Sub $100 Contender. S0: Budget All-Rounder. Even though it's not their newest, the closed back offering from Brainwavz is yet another strong entry.


Enter: The HM5.


The HM5 is a full-sized, closed-back headphone that performs quite well, regardless of price. It does everything well. It'd be dishonest to fling praises from the mountain tops about it's razor-sharp treble or to schedule a small town parade about the richness of it's sub-bass. However, I've been using it extensively for the last few days and I'm happy to report that not once have I 'wanted' anything else from it. The sound is balanced well with itself and anyone looking for a neutral-ish closed-back headphone for under $300 should seriously consider this guy.


Test Songs (all ALAC either 16/44 or 24/96):


Someone Like You - Adele - Live from Royal Albert Hall

Late in the Evening - Paul Simon - The Essential Paul Simon

Limit to Your Love - James Blake - 

What About Me - Snarky Puppy - We Like It Here

Hide and Seek - Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself

Prelude from Cello Suite #4 - Yo Yo Ma

YYZ - Rush - Exit Stage Left



MacBook Pro > Fidelia > Pan Am Stack


The Sound



  • The low end of the HM5 is quite nice. I'm a fan of neutral sigs that might have a touch of warmth (HE500, RS1, HD600, etc.) and I've found the HM5 right in line with my palate. The low end is certainly present and almost linear. The ridiculous sub-bass in James Blake's version of "Limit to Your Love" is in full effect. The punch of the kick drum in the Snarky Puppy and Rush tunes is present and nicely textured. Stays in the bass region without bleeding into the mids which certainly is appreciated. I've found that with closed-backs, getting the bass right is tough. It's easy to produce a basshead can as the seal of a closed-back is quite conducive to this, however, achieving a more neutral bass without bloat, bleed, or blur is far less common. Props to Brainwavz for spending the extra time to get this one right.



  • Clean. They aren't super rich or forward, but they are nestled comfortably in between the extremes of the frequency range. Both Adele's and Simon's vocals are accurate and organic. Horns in the Snarky and Paul Simon tunes are crispy and lively. The crunch of the electric in the "YYZ" isn't as engaging as the Grado or Hifiman sound, but that's not to say it isn't enjoyable. These are a monitor-style headphone, and as such shouldn't emphasize any part of the signature way more than any other. 



  • The treble on the HM5 is polite yet detailed. It's not a detail retrieval monster, nor a haven for treble-heads, however, monitor-style headphones should have a revealing treble.The HM5 is no exception. It's not the most spacious I've heard, but it is very capable for a closed-back design. Like the midrange, the treble is clean and articulate. Intricate cymbal work and upper-range trumpet and sax is clean and detailed. Now the treble is a hair behind the lower frequencies to these ears, but not recessed. I imagine this tuning is meant to make them easy to listen to across genres. These headphones are certainly not going to cause any wincing or fatigue after lengthy listening sessions.



  • Slightly better than average. The sense of space is decent, but probably not anything to write home about. Decent height and width, but not a lot of depth. On some of my orchestral stuff, having come from the HE500, I knew that there was more in the recording to be offered. Left-to-right imaging is spot on. Nothing else to say on that. Instrument separation is also just fine. Nothing incredible or shortcoming to note. From the large live-in-studio recording of the Snarky Puppy tune to the digitally-enhanced sense of space in Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek," picking out individual timbres, rhythms, and layers is very easy.



  • For me, aesthetics are only worth mentioning if they're very good or very bad. In this case, it's very good for most respects. Comfort? Almost excellent. The spacious pads that these have become known for are very light and plush. It's no wonder they show up in pad-rolling threads all the time. ***Stay tuned for my review on the new HM5 Velour Pads!!!*** The shape and padding of the headband is very ergonomic, however, the clamp is worth mentioning. It's a little clamp-tastic out of the box. This does help with the seal and stability on head, but is still a little vice-like. Luckily, this can be alleviated by periodically stretching the headband beyond normal wearing width. The mostly-plastic build ain't my first choice, but ya gotta save some production dough some how! The metal-faced cups are nice and clean which does lend a more premium feel to the HM5.



  • I can't not mention the accessories. Brainwavz has always impressed with the included accessories. From the slew of tips that come with IEMs to the hard case and multiple cables of the HM5, I've always pleasantly surprised. The HM5 comes with two removable cables, a spare pair of pads, probably the best hardside case I've seen for a full-sized can, and a little zip pouch for the hefty 1/4 adapter and extra cables inside the case. Nice!




Overall, the HM5 from Brainwavz is one of the best sub-$300 closed headphones I've heard. It bests its rebranded NVX XPT100 in every category. It offers an accessory kit that every other major headphone manufacturer should take note of. And, best of all, it offers exceptional value with regards to sound:price ratio. For anyone who enjoys a clean, mostly neutral sound signature for either personal listening, monitoring, or mixing, the HM5 form Brainwavz is an excellent choice!


***This review unit was provided free of charge. I'm in no way affiliated with Brainwavz or their distributors.***


Pros: Quite Neutral, Accessories, Value

Cons: Slightly Bass Light

Brainwavz HM5 Review



The Brainwavz HM5 is a headphone that I have been very intrigued about for quite a long time. I have heard the FA-003 and some other headphones that use the same driver many times and always felt like it had something that really made it stand out. There was always something special and particularly appealing to me when I listened to it and I was curious whether Brainwavz’s version would be any different and hopefully better with their HM5 pads that come in both velour and pleather.


Founded in 2008, Brainwavz has had quite a bit of experience in audio and they have come out with many new products recently, all of which have been rather unique. The HM5, however, is an older model that has been around for quite a few years and I was quite eager to see how they would stack up to the competition today. Despite their somewhat flashy looks, they are by no means tuned for a consumer friendly sound, but one that is aimed at the Head-Fi community.


The HM9 that I reviewed a while back was not quite what I expected. It was really warm and wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I could see many people enjoying that type of sound outside of the audio circles. It was very inoffensive but lacked the excitement that I like so much and was overly warm. From my past experiences, the HM5 was the complete opposite of its brother and has a sound signature that I appreciate much more.


**Disclaimer** These were given to me in return for an honest, unbiased review.



Packaging & Accessories
The packaging is almost identical to the HM9 packaging. It is very simple and has box which contains the case, in which is the headphones and accessories. If I recall correctly, the old packaging for these was a large foam soft case that was similar to the Beyerdynamic cases. I think Brainwavz have changed it to the hard case they are using now. Upon opening the zippered case, there is a pouch with all the accessories. Standard Brainwavz packaging here.


I was quite impressed with the amount of accessories that Brainwavz includes considering the relatively low price of the HM5s. It comes with a 1.3m as well as a 3m cable for portable and home use respectively. They also come with a ¼ adapter as well as an airplane adapter. A strap is also included, but I’m not really sure what exactly that is used for. There is the instructional manual too, of course. There are also extra pads that I forgot to mention before, which is very nice for when the pads wear out. The case is very practical, being a lot smaller than the old case that was huge and probably not as effective. The clamshell style case is very hard and durable.



Design, Isolation & Cable
I find the HM5 a very attractive looking headphone. It looks traditional but still somewhat flashy. The design is a little understated but it is still one of the nicest looking headphones IMO. It is almost completely plastic, but the cups are metal but by no means heavy. In fact, the headphone is actually one of the lightest headphones I have owned. The cable has red and blue on each of the sides that enters the headphone, which is nice for telling which side is which. The headband is indented with Brainwavz and feels very soft and comfortable.


For an over the ear close headphone, the isolation is pretty good, but by no means impressive. They block out some sound, but I would not recommend using them outdoors where it is noisy. They are also quite bulky so it isn’t a great choice for a portable headphone anyway. There are also some other drawbacks from portable use in regards to sound, but that will be covered later.


The cable is just a standard cable that looks very ordinary. The plug has the Brainwavz logo which is a nice touch and as mentioned before, the left and right sides are colour coded. The strain relief on the 3.5mm plug is quite nice and it feels quite durable. The 3m cable is probably a little long for these headphones IMO, maybe 2m or so would have been better. I do appreciate the fact that these are removable and the cable uses 3.5mm mono plugs as connectors so they should be very easy to replace or to build a custom cable for them.



Testing Gear
Now I will elaborate on the point of why these may not be the best portable solution. These headphones benefit greatly from amping. When I first received them, I plugged them into my phone and was disappointed by how lifeless and lacking they sounded. The bass seems to be affected the most by the lack of amping and it is not as strong as they are when you amp them. The HM5s are already not bass heavy whatsoever so it may be problematic if you like bass. Adding even a cheap am solves these issues, however. The Brainwavz AP-001 is actually a good choice if you are on a tight budget. For most of this review, I ran them through my iBasso DX90 and D-Zero MKII. I liked the D-Zero MKII pairing more because I found that the D-Zero had a bit more bass. I also put on the velour pads for the review, which are my favourite. Thy must be purchased separately and are thicker than the stock pads as well as being more comfortable. I prefer the velour pads over the stock and the pleather Brainwavz pads. Sonic change is very minimal though.



Sound Quality
The HM5 is a headphone that I am very familiar with despite never owning it previously. There are many headphones that are basically the same and use the same drivers. The Fischer FA-003 is one of them but at a much higher price. From what I remember, these two sound essentially identical and you will probably not be able to tell the difference between this and the Fischer. I was a fan of the FA-003 and I was quite certain that I was going to enjoy these as well.



I often hear these being called neutral and whilst I don’t completely agree, I can definitely see why. The bass is very flat, but also lighter than what I perceive as neutral. The impact just isn’t strong or visceral as other headphones I consider to have truly “neutral” bass. Comparing impact with the HD800, which people often claim is somewhat bass-light as well (although I don’t agree) was quite interesting. I was thinking the HM5 was going to have more impact, but surprisingly it had less and I was a bit let down. Moving on from the slightly hollow sounding bass, the speed is very fast and there is no bass bloat whatsoever. Drums are nicely presented and I do enjoy the way that when the track calls for bass it is usually there, but never really affects any of the other frequencies. The detail is quite nice for the price and other than the lacklustre bass tuning, the overall bass on the HM5 is one that is quite attractive. Although I am not a huge fan of the bass-light tuning of the HM5, I suspect many other will enjoy the clean and very fast bass.



Once again, I don’t really hear the HM5s as being completely flat in the midrange. Despite reading what other people hear, I cannot really fathom how the midrange is warm. To my ears, it is slightly on the colder and brighter side, accentuating those higher midrange frequencies. It is nothing like the warm and liquid midrange of the HM9, but bright in a very positive way. I really did enjoy the midrange, despite the fact that it isn’t the flattest. I did find female vocals a bit too bright, however and didn’t enjoy them as much as some other headphones I have heard in the price range. Male vocals seem to have that extra bit of clarity to them due to the lifted upper mids which I found to be appealing. The midrange is presented in a way that is very slightly laid back but by no means recessed at all. Pianos weren’t bad, but had a little bit of an unnatural and artificial coldness to them. I like the midrange of the HM5 very much and feel like it does indeed outshine other headphones in this price range.



The treble is, not unlike the bass and midrange, close to being neutral, but just a little bit off. I do feel like this is closest to neutral out of all the three main frequencies, however. To my ears, it is just a little pulled back, but not at all dark or warm. While the upper midrange can make the treble sound like it is bright too, I felt like cymbals just didn’t sound as neutral as some other headphones I have heard that I consider neutral. From memory, these are brighter than HD600s, which is a very popular headphone, so if you have tried it and are fine with it, then the HM5 treble should give you no problems. Cymbals not as pronounced as I would have liked, but it didn’t really bother me that much and I didn’t find them to detract from the HM5 at all. Keep in mind that I am a bit of a treblehead and I do like my treble to be a bit bright like the HD800. There is definitely sufficient detail in these to make it a fun and enjoyable listen, but don’t be expecting SRH940 detail. The HM5 does very well here.



Soundstage & Imaging
Obviously you can’t expect the HM5 to have incredible imaging considering the cost and the fact that it is a close headphone, but I feel like it is a very solid performer here. The width and depth especially were actually quite good and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything, I did not feel like I was bothered or that the music was being restricted by the HM5’s soundstage at all. The height could be a bit better, but for a little over $100, I am not going to complain about that.


Imaging is likewise quite impressive. With the Brainwavz pads, I felt like this was affected the most. The imaging became a little better and more precise, maybe because of more space in the cups? At times it did feel like the stage was a little crowded, but I have a feeling that that has got more to do with the soundstage than the imaging. The imaging was very precise and reminded me a little of the Hd800 actually; a real feat for the HM5.



Separation, Detail & Clarity
I found that the separation was good, but didn’t really stand out from the wide range of headphones in the sub-$200 range. It is good and handles simpler tracks very well, but when it comes to more complicated tracks, it does struggle and this does become apparent. Instruments are like this more so than vocals. The vocal separation is much better and I feel like the vocals on the HM5 are really a standout. Not bad, but could be improved a little in a few areas.


The HM5 is not a detail oriented headphone, but that is not to say that it is not detailed because it definitely is. The upper mids really brings out the details there, but I feel like the treble could be a bit more detailed. The detail in the bass is actually quite good despite the let down in the tuning. For casual listening or editing, these should be fine, but they won’t really show the small details or flaws in the music if that is what you are looking for.


Although the clarity is indeed very good, I do feel like there is a sense of artificialness about it. Vocal clarity, as mentioned before, is very good, but with female vocals I find it a little bit too much. Instrument clarity is good, but I am left with the feeling that there is a slight edge to it that I notice occasionally with some tracks. Other than that, the clarity is one of the best in that price range.



Brainwavz Earpads
To clear up any confusion that might be surrounding this, by Brainwavz earpads, I mean the earpads that can be purchased separately and not the ones that the HM5 come with. These come in a variety of colours and in either pleather or leather and at a very reasonable price. They are very thick pads, but also extremely soft and comfortable. My ears have no issues fitting inside the pads completely, but they aren’t the largest pads in terms of space inside the pads. Compared to the similar stock HM5 pads, they are thicker and also softer. I find the velour ones much more comfortable than the stock pleather and the Brainwavz pleather ones. I also found the stock pads to occasionally make the drivers touch my ears and with the other pads, this does not happen.


It terms of sonic change, not much can be reported here. I’m not entirely sure I perceive a difference, but feel like with the Brainwavz velour pads the soundstage was a little bit bigger and imaging was improved a little but the bass was also reduced just a bit. The pleather one was similar to the velour pads, but had a little more bass. To be honest though, the pleather ones don’t really make a large, or any difference to the sound of the HM5, but are an excellent choice if you are looking to replace the pads on your headphone with some plush and comfortable earpads. It is also worth mentioning that there are many different colours available, which is not very common. Usually there are only black aftermarket ear pads available, but Brainwavz offers them in many colours, which is nice.



I realise that I have been somewhat critical in the review so let me begin the summary by saying that I like the HM5 a lot and find it to be a steal at its price. The only real section I can really complain about is the bass impact, which could be a bit stronger, but it is not too bad. The HM5 is a very solid closed headphone that I will happily recommend over other headphones such as the M-50. It gives you a true insight into what high end sound is like, but understandably is a few steps short of reaching it.


Pros: Sound Comfert Price

Cons: Build Quality

 I bought a pair of HM5s about 6 months ago. They give you absolutely great sound for under $150 but I ran into a big problem. Both sides where the slider connects to the headphones started to crack within a week of one another. A little later pieces of plastic started falling off altogether and now I can't take them off too fast without cutting my ear. Before you buy try searching about the HM5s build quality, lots of complaints. The best part is even though I'm still under warranty no one will return my emails.


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: 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

Cons: None





Pros: Build quality, comfort, sound quality, removable dual entry cable, price

Cons: None




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.


Sound Quality


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: Good airy soundstage, smooth and quite detailed, comfortable

Cons: slight lack of bass, loose adjuster on headband

I have the Studiospares M1000, identical to the HM5 and won them on ebay for £26 which was an absolute bargain.  The Studiospares retail brand new for £64 plus delivery.


They have a secure clamp pressure but are comfortable due to the thick, soft pads.  I like the secure feeling that they won't slide off the head, I think the overall clamping and comfort is near perfect for my small to medium sized head.  One of the adjuster sliders is a bit loose but does not matter due to the clamping force.


Sound is quite neutral except for very slightly forward mids around 1khz to 4khz, but without any spikes and very smooth transition which makes for a very pleasant sound signature, perhaps not neutral enough for mixing in a studio.  Bass and treble are mixed well with the mids although this is not a headphone for bassheads.  Treble is not excessive and very pleasing. They are as smooth sounding as the beautiful earcups look, almost as if the physical aspects have influenced the sound!


Soundstage is very wide for closed cans and there seems to be a slight airiness in the presentation, maybe due to the deep earcups combined with the small slotted vents.  I do not hear any echo which some people have reported, nor any boomy bass, bass is well defined.


These do not have the detail and accurate imaging of my Philips A5 Pro and PSB M4U1 but they are more expensive headphones.  One reviewer said that the Philips Uptown was superior to the HM5 but I did not like the slightly veiled mids and slightly boomy bass of the Uptowns. 


I would say that the HM5s are the best value closed cans for under £70.  If you are lucky you can get the Philips A5 Pro for under £100 on ebay although they are not as comfortable as the HM5.  I think you can get the Yamaha hph mt220 for £120 and the PSB M4U1 for £130, I have not tried the Yamaha but have heard good things about them.  The PSB have great detail and soundstage but I do not like the harsh treble.  For open headphones you can get the Yamaha hph-200 for £70 which is fantastic, also the AKG k612 is meant to be very good for £89.


Pros: Does everything well for its price

Cons: treble is ted too bright

There has been plenty of monitoring headphone floating around in the market some of which are more on the affordable range such as, the Shure SRH-840 which I likes a lot, the Audio Technica ATH-M50 which doesn’t really suit my taste as well but it is still good for what it is. Then we have the Brainwavz HM5 which surprisingly, a very good pair of headphone for under $200! Of course, not to mention the Sony MDR-7506. With so much to choose from, I am going to focus on the Brainwavz HM5 in this review and a huge thanks to Audrey for sending them in!

Before we get started, here’s a quick run through on the HM5’s specifications:

  • DriversDynamic, 42mm
  • Rated Impedance64 Ω
  • Frequency Range10Hz ˜ 26.5kHz
  • Sensitivity105 dB @ 1 mW
  • Rated Input Power100 mW
  • Cable3m & 3m Detachable
  • Plug5mm Gold Plate

Contents & Accessories

  • Cable (Detachable)3mt & 3mt
  • ¼" Adapterx1
  • Spare Earpadsx1
  • Manualx1

The Brainwavz HM5’s included case fits the HM5 just nicely at the edge with no room to spare for bigger headphones. When zipped, the case looks very much like a giant dinosaur’s egg. Perhaps, T-Rex’s? I don’t know, but what’s inside is the gigantic mini dinosaur HM5. While this headphone looks like a crocodile biting a head when worn, it feels pretty lightweight on hand considering its baby dinosaur size. Enough with the Animal Planet explanation, I did attempt to bring them out with me for once or twice, the fact that, it’s not foldable design, makes it not so suitable for going outdoor and I think, it can be a small drawback since this headphone could have been a very good headphone for outdoor use if it is a little more portable than what it currently is!


The cables are detachable but again, it’s double sided which makes it less fun but after all, this monster headphone is more targeted for studio monitoring. With comfort in mind, and as a person who can sometimes, wear headphones for an hour or two at home in front of a rectangular screen, this Brainwavz HM5 is pretty dark comfortable even with stock pads! The stock pads are really, really, so executively, soft like pillow [although it still looks like a crocodile biting your head]. This headphone is very comfortable. Sorry for sounding like a broken record but this headphone is very comfortable! The headbands are well padded and so are the pads. If anything, Brainwavz included an extra pads. The stock pads are thick, soft, and huge to totally avoid your precious ears from touching anything. How I wish my pillow are as soft as these then I wouldn’t have trouble dealing with insomnias. The clamping force are slightly stronger than what I am used to but it definitely does not have any means of chopping off your head or something. Really, this thing is super comfortable! Brainwavz also sale a thicker pads which you can read more here.

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So the Brainwavz HM5 is super comfortable [ in case you missed the first page ]. The build quality are also very well built from head to toe. It is ready for any sorts of torture and is expected to survive all of it but if you are still worried you are less careful, there’s a hard dinosaur egg shell you can put the HM5 inside. No offense, the case is huge but its very useful since you definitely do not wish your headphone to drop and die. Anyway, while the HM5 are made mostly of plastic, but they are durable plastic. This plastic helps in lighting the weight without compromising the durability at all! The earcups are moveable to change to other earcups for different/upgrade sound. Cables are detachable but I would have like it better if the headphone’s cord are single sided which makes it much more convenient for anything. The included cables are also anti microphonic so no sound will be transmitted to your ears when knocking against your shirt or anything you could think of.


When I put on this headphone and spin a track, I was wow-ed. Its probably all you need! It does nothing wrong at all and produce the music as the artist has intended without adding peanut butter jelly to make anything sound more fun or whatsoever. There are some tracks, that when I listen to with other headphones, there are those tiny little things going on at the back of the music which some headphone, seem to project it as harshness especially instruments like drums, cymbals and the like. When using the HM5, all those things sound like an extra instruments and because of all these minute extra details that the HM5 reproduces, it can make one to feel like as if they are listening to the track for the first time even thought you were sure that, you have listened to it a thousand time.

Similarly thought, because of its excellent ability to capture the smallest detail in the music, bad mastering of records with clippings at the back can also be noticeable. It makes bad mastering records more noticeable at the weaknesses. Then again, if the music is well mastered, be prepared to listen to music for the very first time!

As I have mentioned two paragraph ago, this headphone does nothing wrong and it leaves no exception to the bass. It’s not overpowered nor underpowered. Yet, it goes deeper than the ocean. Like deep under the ocean I suppose, it’s well controlled and hit at your face with a kiss. It definitely doesn’t feel like as if the bass is throwing sword and knifes at you. It’s more of a relaxed type. That said, it is very well controlled. Because of its excellent control, you can hear every single beat of the bass guitar produced in the music unlike many of HM5’s competitors.

Like father like son, like bass like midrange. The midrange are like pure H2O water, uncolored with no extra artificial added. It has been quite sometimes since I have ever heard a headphone at this price, producing such a crispy note in the midrange. It’s very crunchy and each music instruments are finely produced. The overall midrange can be described in a single word: musical. All instruments are equally focused and are given the chance to shine where the time comes. Male vocals are very manly presented without being too rough and the perfect touch of warmness of the HM5 in the lower midrange region makes it very much less muffled.

Treble is probably where HM5’s weakness lies but it was rather well kept deep down the tunnel to avoid it to be found unless otherwise, listened carefully. The treble can be sometimes, a ted brighter and after a long extended hours of listening, female vocals especially, may feel shouty with certain tracks but it definitely depends on what tracks are you listening to. It is also worth mentioning that, the treble is highly detailed at certain part thus, bad recordings at the treble are easily detected with the HM5.

Soundstage, instrumental separation and imaging has again, surprised me in every single way. The soundstage is astonishing for a closed back headphone but it’s not something new I have personally encountered. In fact, I have found quite a few closed back headphones that sound like an open headphone with isolations and the HM5 is among one of them. Maybe a few couple of years back, we can easily conclude that, closed back headphone does not have a wide soundstage. However, its 2015 where the new breakthroughs are far beyond our expectation and in fact, the headphone market have been growing steadily recent years. As a result, there are now some closed headphone that actually sound like an open headphone although is not as open as some open headphone such as the AKG K1000 but still, we can finally get a chance to taste the goodness of open headphone now in a closed back design. I would still prefer to go open whenever allowed thought. The spaciousness of instrumental separation does gives me a wow factor. Like the soundstage, the instrumental separation are somewhat like a pair of open headphone. I can feel that, all the instruments in the music does not sit closely but rather, they are pretty far separated.

Imaging once again, has surprised me! I think this headphone is not just suitable for studio mastering and listening to music but because of its great imaging, and exciting sound, I believe that this will be a good pair of headphone for movies as well! Keep in mind that, I am using the stock pads and the thick leather pads that can be purchased from MP4Nation.net. The reason for used a leather pads is because, when using velour, I feel that the bass escaped too much and the treble seem to go even brighter than it is before. This resulted in a very fatigue listening. So I am very glad that, Brainwavz did not include a velour pads but instead, a pleather pads.

As for amping, yes of course, I did pair with the tiny yet, strong in bass Brainwavz AP-001 amplifier. While the AP-001 created tons of hisses to certain extend, it does create a good synergy with the HM5 but due to the hisses, it takes away the good naturally, clear and transparent sound of HM5. I did pair it up with my Garage1217 Project Sunrise III and wow is the matching a Heaven!

The HM5 sounds great and it’s a little unfair to many headphones at this price as the HM5 basically outperforms many. It is also “unfair” to have such a great build quality and design for the price! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. The build quality could possibly be improved further to lightweight metal would have been more durable thought. The HM5 outperforms many headphones around the same price such as Philips Uptown, Audio Technica ATH-M50, Shure SRH-840, Sony MDR-7506, and many others.

BRAINWAVZ HM5 Studio Monitor Headphones

The Brainwavz HM5 studio monitor headphones provide for exceptionally accurate sound reproduction, their neutral sound signature replicate audio as it was intended to be heard. The HM5 feature an over the ear design which sits comfortably, providing an adequate seal that limits leakage. These closed dynamic monitor headphones are designed to give astounding sound for almost any genre of music and like all Brainwavz the headphones have a simple but stylish look to them. Included in the package are two detachable cables, a short 1.3 meter cable that is intended to be used with a portable rig and a larger 3 meter cable for use in a home environment. The large 42mm CCAW drivers are surprisingly easy to drive, but they do benefit with amping if used with a portable rig. Features: Neutral sound signature 1.2m and 3m detachable cables included, use with your portable rig or home rig Large, comfortable over the ear cups Specifications: Transducers/Drivers: Closed dynamic, 42mm Rated Impedance: 64ohms Sensitivity: 105dB at 1mW Frequency range: 10~ 26.5KHz Rated input power: 100mW Plug: 3.5 mm gold plated Cable length: 1.3 meters & 3 meter detachable cables 1 year warranty *Included Accessories: 1 x 1/4" adapter 1 x extra set earpads 1 x airplane adapter 1 x 1.3m detachable cable 1 x 3.0m detachable cable 1 x Instruction manual 1 x Warranty card *The included accessories with the BRAINWAVZ HM5 can change at any time, as can the outer packaging design. The photographs of the packaging, and the list of included accessories, may not necessarily reflect what your package will look like or the accessories you will receive if the manufacturer decide to make a change. We will, however, do our best to keep this page up to date.

FeatureLarge, comfortable over the ear cups
List Price$189.50
Product GroupCE
Product Type NameHEADPHONES
TitleBRAINWAVZ HM5 Studio Monitor Headphones
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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