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Brainwavz S5 In Ear Headphones

Posted

Pros: Good detail, non fatiguing mids, natural (unique timbre) Build quality.

Cons: Lower treble a little too forward / slightly one noted, cable a little weighty / springy.



Brainwavz are at it again with their new 10mm dynamic driver based IEM named "S5".  I must say I was intrigued to try the new sample and where they'd come from Brainwavs B2 I owned many months ago (and loved). S5 takes on an a new elegant design, rather modern appearance and although a little larger than we've seen still fits the bill nicely with its stealth looking housings. But how does it sound? Well, let's take a look as I think it sounds pretty good.

Let me start of by saying I'd like to thank Brainwavs for the sample it's been a wonderful experience.



 

 

 



Specs:
 

Drivers

Dynamic, 10mm

Shell

All metal

Rated Impedance

16 ohms

Frequency Range

18 Hz – 24 kHz

Sensitivity

110 dB @ 1mW

Cable

1.3m, flat copper cable

Plug

3.5 mm gold plated, straight

Weight

21g (with comply T400s fitted)

Fitting

Over ear

 





Design / Build:

Brainwavs S5 housings are made completely from lightweight metal which is not seen so much for an IEM of this price range, the end results something feeling almost bullet proof in the hand and make a nice "clink" when touching them together. Like others I assumed S5 was made of plastic because it's just the norm with most IEM's in this price category, so I was quite surprised. Although cold to the touch (especially here in Winter Australia), you cannot help feel secure your purchase is going to last and at $99 that's hard to come by.

Taking a look at the strain reliefs and Y spilt you feel just as confident with their reinforced rubber and slightly overly thick approach. I don't think they'll be broken in a hurry and will stand up against throwing the earphones in your pocket, however I do suggest you use the provided carry case!

Although S5 has been designed for over the ear wearing I think it's quite important to state these can be worn down without much problem, you wouldn't think so with the housing angle, but it's quite easy to do and doesn't look goofy, well, not in my opinion. The fit was also no problem obtaining a seal. Another reason I don't like wearing S5 over the ear takes us to the cable design, I simply don't think the flat cable sits well over my ear, so for that reason I opted to wear S5 down.

Hey...no problem!




 




Even down below you can see the overly strengthened Y Spilt and 3.5mm jack giving a feeling of confidence. but it's not all bells and whistles as we move onto the cable. If there's one thing that annoys me about S5 it's the flat cable, well not so much the 'flatness' but more so the weight and flexibility. While I can agree with the beats and "non tangle" approach the cables also adopted quite a hefty weight and thickness which in turn causes some microphonics and memory, the cable can tend to spring around a little on the go. It's not a deal breaker here though when stripping the earphone down you might just want to take a close look.



 


 



Accessories: 

 

As usual the package contains quite an abundance of tips to choose from (including a set of comply), the stock carry case I've seen before on Brainwavs R3 and a 6.3 to 3.5 mm adapter for those who want to use their S5 from a home amplifier. I never tried the comply tips as they simply won't fit my large canals though the "grey stock" tips fit me perfectly.

Tips supplied.

 x3 sets of grey single flange (small bore)
 x3 silicone single flange with (wider bore)
 x1 set of black (dual flange)
 x1  set of triple flange silicones.
 x1 set of comply foam. (T400)

(Please excuse my photo here I cannot find all the tips since a big cleanup, I have borrowed a picture from another review)




 





Sound: 

 

 




Bass:

The low end on S5 is certainly a fraction forward form neutral, although mixed opinions I don't find the bass overbearing or too upfront, while there's some mid-bass emphasis it's not going to be on a bass-head level in either sub-bass or mid-bass but more so a safe amount that tends to balance out well with the mids and highs. You do get a get good sense of mid-bass on EDM and trance tracks which helps fill out the lower mids giving some atmosphere, I wouldn't want any less. There's average speed but with a slight decay that can hang around just a little too long for acoustic tracks. I find the earphones low end in general geared towards all genres though possibly going to excel with EDM. Detail is sufficient as is texture and depth.


Mids:

Here at the heart of S5 you get a decently detailed mid-range with a natural timbre, if not a little metallic sounding but certainly unique.  There is good push in the upper-mid which bring out vocal detail and acoustic guitars well for the price range and one of the more detailed earphones I've heard for $99. I think of course there's limitations but the mids of S5 do show you we're moving forward in technology and driver design. I personally prefer the mid-range of S5 over RE-400 as it has that push in the upper mids and sounds a fraction cooler in tonality, also the bass just matched better with S5's mid-range in comparison. Though keep in mind personal preference is always in the eye of the beholder. Micro detail is at a decent level and in some ways reminds me of that found on some balanced armatures. In short the S5 mid-range does have a balanced armature presence. If I didn't know better I would assume it was one from the clarity levels. (S5 could easily pull this off)


Treble:

On first listen the treble did come across to me as a little harsh, it's well detailed but gains some of that metallic sheen I mentioned above. Personally for me I wouldn't want anymore forwardness in the lower treble, it treads a fine line between enough and 'too much". Despite this never goes all the way out of line and bothers me. I just find it to sound a little strange with some tracks or one toned in that it doesn't really change much with the music taking on a specific shimmer that basically stays the same a lot of the time. Extension is decent and the upper treble has good sparkle, there's just something going on in the lower treble that gives that sense of forwardness. Overal its more than pleasing and neither hides or protrudes on the presentation. 


Soundstage:

For an IEM of this price S5 soundstage is decent but nothing that's going to take any fame from an EX600 anytime soon. There's good stereo separation which helps divide the channels and you'll hear the occasional sample lingering outside your ears. Air is decent which most likely is a relative to the slightly forward treble. While S5 is never compressed or congested anywhere in the frequency range it's not going to be the most open sounding earphone. Keep in mind my opinion much of soundstage width from an IEM is dependent on your source, so this will vary depending on your MP3 players technical aspects.  As I'm listening now from Sansa Clip Zip I've heard a lot less width and I've heard more in other earphones so you be the judge.


Seperation / imaging:


For the price very decent here, each instruments well separated you get a good sense of instruments ticking in time with each other. there's very little if any smearing to talk about. If you throw fast paced EDM at the S5 it may begin to confuse a little due to the mid-bass pushing through though for most parts the entire earphone stays fairly clean and coherent. For the price range I couldn't ask for more in this area, mighty fine clean job.


Conclusion:

In my opinion S5 is a better contender than RE-400 for what its worth, while I thought RE-400 was decent it didn't give me the same wow effect as S5 or enjoyment. Possibly partly due to S5's slightly prominent bass and that push in the upper mid-range bringing out more detail with vocals and guitars. Overall, I find S5 to have better tone. If you put both in-front of me for a fun listening experience I would take the S5 as I simply find it more involving and an enjoyable listen. I don't see S5 having any problem sitting next to earphones like the $200 Dunu DN-1000 or being an alternative for those who want to save some money, because you're not missing terrible amounts here. I think what Brainwavz have done is stay moderately safe while showing people what a dynamic driver in 2014 can offer for just $99. Could I use S5 every day and be happy? Yes, yes I could, and that's what makes an IEM for me worth using, when it can offer up an above normal listening experience without making me feel underwhelmed.


 

 



Again, I'd like to thank Brainwavs for the sample.


​~H20 

Posted

Pros: Well balanced sound and excellent build quality at an affordable price!

Cons: The flat rubbery cable may be less desirable to some.

Brainwavz S5 Review: You get more than what you paid for!

 

 

My first experience with Brainwavz was the R3 and to be honest, I really like them despite the negative reception from most users regarding fit and comfort. The R3 sounded mature, well refined, and the timbre was just mesmerising. Now Brainwavz has just released the S5 and I am fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to review their new offering. So lets find out if the new S5 can impress me just as much as my last experience...

 

SETUP:  Colorfly C3 > JDS Labs C5D

               iMac 2011 > JDS Labs C5D

               16/44 FLAC

               Using Comply TS200 foam tips.

 

TEST TRACKS:

              Dr. Chesky’s Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc

              Dream Theater - Greatest Hit (…and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)

              Tool - Lateralus

              Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

              Avicii - True

              Pink - Greatest Hits... So Far!

              Tina Turner - Greatest Hits

              Boyz II Men - II

              Michael Jackson - Bad (Remastered)

 

 

 

 

The S5 has a single dynamic driver incased in a metal housing that is very well made with smooth surfaces. The strain reliefs are probably amongst the best, if not the best I've seen in an IEM. I wouldn't have a problem tossing these earphones around even when taken outdoors. I believe these can take the test of time and I'm glad that they've taken the same concept they originally had with the R3 but improved on the negatives such as the thickness and weight of the cables. The S5 cables may not be the lightest but they certainly are a lot better compared to the hefty R3 cables. I only wished they've used a less rubbery material and then terminated into an angled plug instead for a more concealed application when using these earphones outdoors. Other than that, there's really not much I can nit pick on the S5's build quality.

 

 

 

 

The SOUND of the S5 is quite pleasing to my ears, positioning itself as one of the top performers in the $100 price range. Not necessarily the best but definitely a lot better than most budget IEMs I’ve heard.

BASS has solid slam and impact but can be too emphasized for some genres such as heavy metal. There’s a noticeable boost in the entire bass frequency which I feel should’ve been minimized in the mid-bass region. At certain times the bass texture is just too thick that it causes a bit of veil over complex bass guitar lines. Fortunately, the quality is good enough with its decay/speed hovering at acceptable levels. Not as fast as balance armature driven earphones but not sloppy either… just a well balanced and natural sounding bass response that doesn’t bleed into the midrange. As a result, other genres sound really good on these! RnB, Rap, Hip-hop, Pop, and Rock Ballads are such a pleasure to listen through the S5.

MIDRANGE is quite intimate, clear, and detailed which I really appreciate considering those are hard to come by at this price range. Vocals are upfront especially with female artists giving an illusion that they’re singing in front of you. Guitar riffs in ballads are pleasantly presented like they’re the main feature of the song… thanks to the slight emphasis in the upper midrange. Clarity is also worth mentioning because it is quite capable and it’s a contributing factor in maintaining a good balance between low and mid frequencies.

HIGHS can be an issue for those who are sensitive to sibilance. There’s an emphasis in the lower treble that can sound harsh with some female vocals, aggressive sounding genres, and poorly mastered tracks. Despite this hurdle, I truly feel the added sparkle is needed to complement the boosted bass. Fortunately, the sibilance issue can be eliminated by using the right type of tips and I find comply foams really effective. Using Comply TS200 tips with the S5 not only eliminates sibilance but also results into a more even treble response with above average detail/resolution. Treble extension is good enough for most tracks but there are times when I feel like it could've benefit with just a little bit more.

IMAGING AND SOUNDSTAGE: Soundstage width is average but it doesn’t detract from a good musical presentation. Some listeners prefer a more intimate experience and the S5 is one of the strong candidates for the job. What makes the overall presentation work is the imaging capability of this budget wonder. Instruments are well placed all over the soundstage with no signs of congestion. The only time I noticed a short coming is when a complex and fast tempo bass guitar riff takes place. The emphasis in the mid bass coupled with its bass decay characteristic seem to veil the imaging and detail a bit. Other than that, the S5 is a solid performer as a budget IEM.

 

R3 COMPARISON: The overall sound is quite warm with enough clarity and sparkle making the S5 a well balanced, fun sounding IEM. Isolation is quite acceptable for outdoor use coupled with a robust build makes this an excellent choice for those who are looking for a daily driver without compromising sound quality. Compared to the older R3 dual-dynamic IEM from the same manufacturer, the S5 is just a little bit behind in terms of bass and treble refinement but it more than makes up for it in terms of fun factor, fit, and comfort. Aside from that, the S5 also sounds much richer in the midrange compared to the more laid back R3. I would say that the R3's inclination towards a neutral sound signature complements really well to the fun and energetic sounding S5. Two very good sounding yet contrasting offerings from Brainwavz!

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION: The new S5 is an excellent offering from Brainwavz and is an awesome choice for those who are looking for a durable yet good sounding earphones for everyday use. At this price point, it's really a no brainer as I haven't really found a competitor than can out match the S5 in terms of durability and sound quality combined. These IEMs can take a beating and I most definitely recommend these to those who are always on the move and are in need of devices that can withstand vigorous activities.

 

Special thanks to Brainwavz for the S5 review unit.

Posted

Pros: Warm, deep rich smooth bass, mids are not recessed, treble has some sparkle to it, very detailed, aluminum build, great accessories.

Cons: Competes with too many titans at $100 price point, treble spikes, metallic mids overall, not neutral, no detachable cables.

Ready for a repeat? Good, because the "short list" of Pros/Cons is too short. I wanted to provide a bit more in that regard. So here's a longer Pro/Con list that should sum it up better as there's a lot going on here:

 

Pros: Warm, deep rich smooth bass, mids are not recessed with the bass presence in a significant way, treble has some sparkle to it, very detailed, good separation of channels, solid aluminum build (metal), flat wires that do not tangle and birds-nest easily, great assortment of accessories (case, tons of tips, 1/4" adapter), very efficient and will run from any source.

 

Cons: Competes with too many well established IEM's at the $100 price point, treble can seem a bit harsh depending on the recording (some spikes around 7khz~10khz noted), sound stage is good (more on the intimate side) but not outstanding (this is a challenge for most IEM's so take this with a grain of salt), wires are not detachable, no volume controls (not a con for me, but for some it may be worth noting), it's not a neutral IEM (this is not a con for everyone), more in the warm and sparkly camp (more similar to a subtle "V" frequency response).

 

On to the showcase, the Brainwavz S5:

 

Brainwavz S5 - Warm, Detailed with some Sparkle

 

The IEM market is a tough market to break into. Brainwavz is no stranger to audio and has some major players in the entry market of headphones and IEMs. The HM5 is no stranger to anyone savy about headphones with it's quality for price point. The new Brainwavz S5 aims to challenge the $100 entry point in the IEM market, which is a very challening group to rub elbows with, such as the mighty Shure SE215 and the neutral Hifiman RE-400. There is a ton of other IEM's that are similar in cost and have other features, so the S5 has to really bring something to the table to grab attention. Some of us love full size headphones even for portable use (myself included), but now and then, a good IEM is just so convenient, easy to power without all those fancy and expensive gadgets that glow in our pockets, and of course the heavenly isolation that can only be provided by an absolute air seal. Let's explore the S5.

 

 

 

Quick Reference for the TL;DR folks:

 

·         Aluminum build (not plastic!)

·         Entry price point of $100; competes with Shure SE215 & Hifiman RE-400 directly

·         Rich, deep, controlled bass (not earthquake level, but it should satisfy most bass-lovers)

·         Great mids, vocals & instruments are not recessed significantly

·         Sparkly treble, a bit harsh at times, but not overly bright (spikes around 7khz~10khz)

·         Treble comes off with a bit of congestion with the spikes in high energy tracks

·         Detail retreival is excellent, great overall resolution, no congestion in mids & bass

·         Super efficient, will run from a potato

·         Good isolation (note, airport means it's not completely isolated)

·         Flat wires, resistant to tangle and birds-nests, does not transmit tons of noise when rubbed

·         Tons of accessories (case, lots of tip types, 1/4" adapter)

 

A quick summary of what this IEM is all about: Take a neutral response IEM with a typical soundstage, not too wide, not too intimate, but some where closer to the intimate side, and then gently push the mid-bass up a touch to give it warm, while still being able to comfortably drop a controlled 25hz tone like a champ. Keep the mids appropriate so that vocals and instruments sound normal, not overlly recessed or bled out, competing for attention. And then add a dash of sparkle to the treble. Flatten out the wires, throw on some Comply tips that are included and you have the S5.

 

What Comes In the Box:

 

·         The S5 earphones of course

·         Hard case (does not fit in pocket) that seals with a zipper (crush resistant, but not crush proof)

·         Comply T-400 foam tips (these retail at $17 MSRP, can be found for $8; included)

·         6 pairs of typical silicone tips in small, medium & large (meh)

·         1 set of bi-flange tips

·         1 set of tri-flange tips

·         1/4" adapter (this is a great addition actually for using these at home with gear)

 

Overall Brainwavz has packaged a good assortment of gear. I think if you removed the case, all those tips and just included a basic set of tips to get someone started, it could be sold for a more competitive price. The accessories are probably bringing it up to the overall cost of $100. I really appreciate inclusion of the Comply T-400 tips and the 1/4" adapter. Those are the most important accessories to me because the Comply tips smash down and then slowly expand in your ear canal giving you a good seal and "complys" to the shape of your ear, without having to get custom made IEM's that cost a mint. Great tips. The 1/4" adapter, while totally useless for a lot of people who use these with their mobile devices (phones, DAPs, etc) is a very nice addition for the simple fact that a lot of us still like to use these with desktop gear to get great rendering from great gear we already have and not resort down to only using mobile geared equipment. The hard case is not crush proof. It's crush resistant, so if you sit on it, you'll know you did, and hopefully you'll not continue sitting. If you're not a hulk, you may get away without flattening the case. It will survive most things. Unfortuantely it's too big to fit in your pocket, unless you're wearing cargo pants or have big jacket pockets or hoodie pockets. But typical pants/shorts pockets simply will not take the bulky little case. It's a solid inch and a half thick and covered in a vinyl-like material that will have a lot of friction sliding in a pocket.

 

 

 

Specifics of the IEM & Accessories:

 

·         16ohm Impedance

·         110dB/mW Sensitivity

 

What does that mean? It means they're incredibly efficient and will render full resolution with very little energy requirement, so they will run from your smart phone, tablet, netbook, DAP, etc. Anything. Even a potato. That also means they get loud very quickly, so they will be hissy and noisy and reveal noise floors on anything with significant output (don't plug these into your AVR to watch movies, it'll work, but it'll sound like a hiss-fest depending on the model). Can you put these on an amplifier? Absolutely. Will they burn up or something crazy that I read about on the internet? No. I put them on a 2+ watt source at this impedance and while it was hard to get the listening level down, they certainly didn't melt or smoke or catch fire or breakdown (despite their "20 mW" rated input power; I ignore those, as most audiophile folk do anyways, and just throw them on high powered sources and see what happens in our ears). Do they benefit from an amplifier? Sure. Everything will benefit to an extent. If it's a lower powered source, it will help give you a stable signal and provide a higher minimum amount of power during the rendering of the most complex passages in a track that a mobile device may not accomplish as nicely. But that's more academic than anything. I ran the S5 on just normal devices (smart phone, tablet, DAP) and devices with amplifiers (both powerful and very powerful, even a tube amp) just to see how they behaved and sounded. Thanks for that 1/4" adapter!

 

Construction, Materials & Comfort:

 

The build quality is good. It's a metal (aluminum) hull, and flat rubber wires. The Comply tips are very comfortable because they "comply" to your ear cannal and hold that shape instead of forcing a round object into a non-round space. They're light weight, but most IEM's are. The wires are nice being flat. I've had plenty of IEM's that had normal cylindrical cables and they tangle, twist and birds-nest something fierce. These flat wires don't do that as much, they can still tangle up of course, but they're not prone to it and they just seem to fall more naturally and comfortably. These were made to really be able to swing over your ear (the place where the cable attaches to the IEM is faced forward, so that the cable goes forward and naturally is where it should be to allow a cable to wrap around your ear). A lot of us do that because it adds support to the IEM and takes a lot of the pull from the cables off your ear cannal and instead puts it on your nice flexible ear cartiledge. I have a lot less "IEM slip outs" with them draped over my ear. The cable itself feels good and durable, but you still have to be mindful. It's too bad they are not detachable cables, that would have been a huge plus. The IEM itself is not overly flashy, so you don't have a gold grill or goofy symbol flashing in your ears to people, instead, it's a classy piano black finish that simply states "brainwavz" on the side in white. I like the neutral grey cable and black IEM. It'll match anything and doesn't have that silly flashy neon green or orange mess that the kids wear these days (hey, deal with it, if you're that person).

 

 

IEM Wire Tolerance:

 

Anyone wearing IEM's can testify that if a cable rubs a surface or wriggles, it can create a noise that you can hear even when listening to audio. It can be a hugely disappointing thing. I can say that the S5 doesn't seem to have this problem in a large way. The flat rubber cable seems to tolerate a lot of movement and rubbing on your clothing. I think a lot of this has to do with how you wear it. I'm wearing the S5 over my ears, so the cables' movement is transmitted to my ear structure, and not to the IEM which is in my ear canal. This means when the wind is blowing outside, my shirt rubbing the cable, etc, I'm not getting the noise from that through the cabling to my audio. So overall, a very tolerable IEM to the environment and to phsyical contact. This is a massive plus in my book because it's one of my biggest gripes when it comes to IEM's and cabling.

 

Sound Characteristics:

 

Normally I'm very weary putting any IEM in my ear as I'm usually a near full-time full size headphone wearer, as my near permanently attached to my head headphone these days is my Hifiman HE-500 driven from a speaker amp. Putting in an IEM is a total different experience. Or at least, that's what I expect before trying it. I too can appreciate a portable IEM though that can run from my phone or my DAP and still provide good quality sound even in the ambient noise of the environmente out there. Overall I was pleased with the initial impression of the S5. It had everything I would expect at this price point. It did have a few areas of concern though, so I guess Brainwavz took a chance on a few things to see how it would be received market-wise.

Overall I was pleased with the rendering. The bass was rich, warm, controlled, not loose, fast and dropped very low with plenty of authority. The mids were fine, vocals & instruments sounded as they should and didn't sound recessed to the point of distraction. Treble was a bit sparkly, and in really complex passages I noticed a weird congestion of frequencies that after playing with an equalizer, I found they were in the 7khz~10khz regions and were subdued when lowered, so the treble definitely has some odd spikes that are hallmark of "V" shaped frequency responses, but let's call it a "gentle V" and not near the legendary ear-destroying levels of Ultrasone's treble.

 

Treble:

 

The S5 has some sparkle. Expect some fatigue if you're sensitive to treble. For those of you (like myself) that like a bit of extra treble for the sparkle, the sugar on top, the excitement, the attack, you'll appreciate the gentle spikes in most regions of treble. I noticed during complex passages with lots and lots of treble clashing frequencies, there was a congestion of sorts for lack of a better set of wording. Passages with lots of cymbals like metal with repeating crashing of those types of sounds, it was quite fatiguing even for me and lead me to look to an equalizer to figure it out. I found that the 7khz~10khz region is where it was, so I lowered it a bit, and it solved the fatigue for me. I listen to a lot of Denons & Beyers, so I'm quite used to bright treble, so this is no surprise. I generally equalize all my treble-happy headphones a bit so that my hours-upon-hours of listening time doesn't result in too much fatigue. The enhanced treble gives a sense of detail, a bit of sharpness, which can make you think it has more detail. Overall treble is fine, if not a bit bright and easily congested depending on what you listen to. I noticed in metal, I easily heard the issue. But when listening to jazz, EDM, classical and rock, it was less of an issue and sometimes I didn't notice it, at all. But anything that ventures into 7khz~10khz will certainly come across with some sting and too many occurances will just sound like a congregation of noise. So beware if you're a metalhead, this may be a problem. For everyone else, it's likely not a problem.

 

Mids:

 

The heart & soul of any renderer of full range audio is the ability to render mids properly. The S5 accomplishes this nicely. The gently increased warmth in bass and the sparkle from the treble doesn't bleed into the mids or recess the overall appearance of the mids to the point of distraction. Vocals & instruments sound appropriate. They're more on the intimate side of things, not distant at all. If anything there may be a bit of an increase on the upper mids region as it ventures into the treble. Female vocals sound right, and so do males. Overall detail is great. The mids really give you the majority of what you hear, and the S5 delivers that nicely. Listening to passages, I'm hearing little details like a breath, a foot tap, a cough even in some tracks. It's those imperfections that really let you know that you're hearing detail that someone missed or couldn't remove in the studio. Great resolution requires excellent mids, so the S5 performs here well. No genre was unjustly rendered as the mids were capable of keeping up with the fast pace of EMD, rock and metal and even some complex classical, while still keeping it moody and right for jazz. The only thing that is a bit of a concern is the slight metalic sound of the mids. It sort of reminded me of how some Ultrasones sound. Overall not a super warm organic sound, but rather a decisive sharp sound, a bit cold. The added bass balances this out for a more warm appearance, but on a track with little to no bass (like some indie jazz and some passages in classical) you'll notice the colder edge to the mids.

 

Bass:

 

If the S5 does anything extremely well, it's the bass. I know, tons of people clammer over "I need more bass!" endlessly. The S5 will actually appeal to a bit of everyone I think. The bass is very controlled, rich, and fast. It's not a loose rumble that flubs around. It's capable of tight drops, and recovers for other complex drops at the same time. 25hz is not a problem for the S5. And it doesn't roll off quietly, the bass has quite a nice bit of authority. So it will sound normal if listening to something like jazz, but if your EDM calls for a serious earthquake drop, it will deliver that. While the bass is not earthquake worthy, maybe not quite there for someone who is an absolute basshead who will sacrifice all for the purity of just bass, they satisfied me quite well (coming from a planar magnetic, D5000's, etc). I didn't feel the need to equalize for more bass. It seems to respond nicely no matter what I listen to, which is hallmark of good responsive bass. It's not neutral, there is an obvious hump in mid bass, and no roll-off that is apparent in subbass, so the bass comes across on the prominent side. A good thing if you love warmth and rich bass. Too bassy for someone looking for a pure neutral experience or an analytical experience. The nice thing is that the bass, even though it has a hump, does not bleed badly into the mids, so there's nothing recessed to the point of distraction.

 

Isolation:

 

IEM's in general isolate rather well. The S5 isolates fairly well. While listening at my listening level, I could not hear my mechanical keyboard in a meaningful way, or the click of my mouse. Really all I can hear, if I concentrate outside of what I hear audio-wise, is my breathing if heavy and of course mouth noises (teeth, swallowing, etc). Normal things when your ears are "plugged." The S5 has an airport on the side, which is how it achieves the wonderful bass that it has. This allows some communication of sound back and forth. The good news is though, like most IEM's, someone sitting next to me doesn't hear what I'm listening to. And I can block out most of the ambient sound in the environment. If you need quiet, critical, private listening, then the S5 will do fairly well. In an absolute quiet environment, it's possible for someone to hear your audio if you're listening at high levels. So keep that in mind. I've heard some kids walking around with their IEM's so loud that I could plainly hear them as they walked by.

 

Soundstage:

 

IEM's are not known for having incredible sound stage width or depth. Most closed audio options exhibit this. There are exceptions, but the S5 is unfortunately not one of them. The good news is that the soundstage is appropriate for a closed source. The separation is excellent, instruments and information is nicely isolated and separated from one another and the channels do not blend uniquely to one central blob in your head. Things do have a nice swing from left to right to give you a sense of space. Intimate is the word I'd use to describe the sound stage. Everything is fairly close and appreciable. The soundstage is not wide, so things do not sound like a cloud of 3D space. But this is very difficult to achieve on a closed source. It's difficult even on open headphones. So keep that in mind.

 

Experiments with Different Sources:

 

While it's common to use an IEM with a DAP, smart phone, tablet or small laptop or netbook, it's not common to see folk plugging their IEM's into desktop level equipment. There are some dedicated serious pieces of kit out there for custom IEM users that cost a mint, so those are a whole different level. But I wanted to give a little something extra and go into some portable and desktop sources to give an impression of how the S5 behaves. I'm not much of a portable listener, so how it behaves at my desk is important to me. Let's play with some odd sources from an IEM perspective.

 

Galaxy S3:

 

 

I still use an old S3. That's right. I tested Pandora because I don't normally use my phone for audio. My collection is FLAC and it's a pain to use FLAC on phones, plane and simple. I typically use a DAP for my portable audio. I'll get to that. When I plugged into my S3 and loaded Pandora (I have Pandora One), I just set it to one of my favorite stations that I've honed over the years. Overall it functioned fine. I pushed the volume to see what kind of current the S3 could push into the S5 and it was able to get well beyond my tolerable listening level, so there's that efficiency doing good work. Everything sounded normal, bass was proper, mids were good, treble had it's characteristic sting. I did notice a bit of lack of resolution and overall body, but that's due to the low quality stream of Pandora One and probably the quality of the internal bits and bolts of my S3. It was listenable. But not up to my normal standards at all. I'm blaming compressed streaming media for 99% of this experience. The major point to take away is that the IEM functions fine from the S3 as a source and can get loud enough without an issue, but this was to be expected based on the specifications.

 

Asus MemoPad HD7:

 

 

I have a MemoPad HD7 as a little 7" tablet. Nice, small and does the job with an IPS panel and great resolution. I've watched movies on this little guy with headphones before. The S5 seems to respond just fine. It supplies plenty of power for the efficient S5 to then render nicely the audio. Movies sounded fine. I have DIVX's of my DVD's loaded on this thing, so I watched some clips from some of my films and they had that theatrical thunderous boom and the sparkle gives it some excitement. Overall a nice experience and great for movies.

 

Sansa Fuze (V2) with & without Fiio E11:

 

 

My typical DAP is my Fuze. And old Fuze, that has line level output so that I can output it's native FLAC playback from a 32Gb SD card as a line level source to my portable amplifier for better handling of the signal, the Fiio E11 in my case. I listened to the S5 both with and without the E11 form the Fuze. Directly from the Fuze, I noticed it had more body, more overall richness that lacked compared to my S3 and MemoPad HD7. I expected this as the Fuze has fairly good output that is meant for audio and has a bit more going in it's favor in that regard. With the E11 in the loop, I was able to better control that signal and it simply helped ensure it never dipped below during the complex passages. I also appreciated the much tighter volume control that I could get "just right" which is more difficult I find with a digital volume control. The quality of the FLAC playback through the S5 is a whole other level compared to listening to the S5 on compressed streamed material on my S3 and even compared to the AC3 of my DIVX. Just a clean, rich, detailed experience. Overall very nice, pleasing. The treble is stillt here, I definitely felt the sting from some trumpets in my jazz. I didn't notice any appreciable noise floor on the E11, and had it set to low gain and no equalization used at all on either device.

 

Fiio E10:

 

 

The E10 is a staple in my book for entry AMP/DAC USB units on a dime. It plugs into my netbook and gives me a great audio experience even when I'm portable, but not using a "portable" solution. The E10 handles the S5 nicely. I kept it on low gain and played FLAC via Foobar2000. I found my volume knob between the 1 & 2 on the E10. So it provides way more power than is needed by the S5. There's that efficiency rearing it's head at us (that's a good thing for most!). When I tested the bass boost switch, it definitely bumps up the overall bass response quite a bit. The S5 handled it nicely, it sounded a lot more like a basshead solution and even simple passages had thunderous bass, so the S5 responds nicely to equalization and isn't topped out already. That's great news if you're a basshead and interested in these.

 

JDS Labs Objective 2 (O2):

 

 

Everyone and their brother has the O2. So why not? It's a good neutral amp that is typically a reference for most people. I noticed I could hear something playing even with the volume all the way to the minimum. When I turned it up to listening level, I was only able to get just past the first dash mark before it would go to untolerable levels. I couldn't listen at the second dash mark as it was noticeably too loud for me (and I like it loud). The overall sound was great. Very rich, great control, great resolution. The treble still had it's sting, but I noticed it wasn't as harsh. Odd to me. Maybe the O2 gently softens treble a bit on the hardware side of things. So that said, it's an obvious good pairing to my ears. The treble still was harsh, mind, so the S5 definitely has those spikes I mentioned.

 

Audio GD NFB12:

 

 

No one needs this level of power for an IEM. But why not? It can output 3.5watts into 25ohms, so it's blasting close to 4 watts at a 16ohm resistance, and the IEM is loaded. The result? Nothing special. That's right. They didn't melt. They sounded fine. In fact, on low gain, I was able to take the volume knob to 9 o'clock and a bit more here and there at my listening level. The NFB12 has great attenuation so you get a long throw from minimum to maximum on that volume. Very handy and allows for very tight control of overall volume. No noise floor as expected here. The sound was superb. It was rich and detailed, but the NFB I think also plays with treble. I noticed it was still on the harsh side and bright, but the congestion feature I noticed earlier wasn't as prominent. So either the NFB also gently handles treble at the hardware level or not. I did notice the bass was not as prominent. It was solid and controlled, but it didn't have the same richness that the O2 provided. Interesting difference on the S5 from a totally different source. Overall pleasant to listen to and it's a great all in one solution being a good DAC and great AMP in one unit. The S5 performed great, and it's efficiency ratings didn't keep me from using my gear.

 

Little Dot MK III:

 

 

That's right, let's put a super efficient IEM on a source that hates to give up current and loves to output high voltage. This tube amp is meant for high impedance. It doesn't perform it's best with low impedance and small loads. But who cares? Let's do it for science. I used my NFB as the DAC and output to the LDMKIII. I set the NFB's line level output to around 9 o'clock initially to see how the tubes would behave. The S5 was silent when both were at minimum. When I took the volume up, I noticed that I was able to take it all the way to nearly 3 o'clock on the Little Dot. Also, I didn't have a noticeable noise floor (I thought I would have one). That's a good thing, because despite the overall match up of the devices, amps perform best at their higher output levels. Granted, the Little Dot was not working hard to output it's small current to this tiny load. Typically this kind of match is frowned upon due to mismatched impedance and output impedance. But, despite all that academic stuff, it sounded great. Atenuated with the NFB to handle a lower line level out, the Little Dot then flexed after warming up and hearing those wonderful little chirps, pops and dings as the tubes get warm, and the S5 started to sing. Right away I noticed something, just how warm and rich the S5 sounded on a tube like this. The upper bass and lower mids were much more rich and prominent, making it super warm sounding. Too warm probably for some. Treble took a step back, so the fatigue went south. Quite a nice match for me. Granted, this is just hardware equalization ultimately, but basically it sounded to me like the treble was toned down and the lower mids and upper bass were enhanced a bit, for a very rich, organic sound. No more metallic mids. It didn't quite sound like the S5 anymore. Pretty interesting. A great listen. Vocals were very much butter and syrup and I probably liked this match up best of all. It makes me very curious to now get a portable tube amp, like a Little Bear, so that's on my want list for right now.

 

Closing Thoughts:

 

Overall I'm pleased with the S5. The accessories and it's performance are pretty close to what I would expect from a $100 IEM. While it lacks some features that I would want at this price point (detachable cables) and it has some characteristics that I'm not a fan of (metallic mids, a bit harsh in the treble), it performed quite nicely every where else. It's an earphone that is definitely source sensitive after playing around. Sure, no one is going to walk around with desktop sources in their pocket. And an IEM is hardly meant for the desktop--or is it? Even without a special source, the S5 was fantastic from my Fuze and E11 and is a very good portable setup that handles my jazz, classical, EMD, metal and indie quite well. It didn't have a genre that it didn't really handle well, it was quite capable. I did note that harsh treble showed up in passages that contained tons of cymbals, like metal. So I think if I had one warning it would be to metalheads to beware unless they love the sting of treble. The S5 should fullful most bass lovers except too. And while not analytical, it definitely had the detail and resolution that made me enjoy taking the time to have a dedicated portable audio rig, as well as high quality media to playback (FLAC in my case). I was able to definitely tell a difference between my media and streamed media, so that tells you a lot about the earphone and it's resolution, it doesn't mask good audio and it doesn't gently render bad audio sources. I still think it has a tough match when it tries to compete at the same price point as the Shure SE215 which has detachable cables and the difference in tone and character is a tough match and it comes down to one's preference. I definitely appreciate the flat cables and the overall fit with Comply tips. I guess my next piece of kit is going to be a portable tube amp by Little Bear as I simply enjoyed too much the way the S5 responded to tubes. I say that as someone who is tyipcally using a tube DAC and a 50 watt solid state speaker amp as my main headphone source. I think if I were to put a price on the S5, I'd probably put it in the $65 region for competition and ditch some of the accessories and package. Does it sound like a $100 IEM? It's pretty much there. The things that hold it back from being perfect are mainly the metallic mids sound and the treble spikes and the minor lack of detachable wires. It has too much competition at $100, so I think at a slightly lower price point, it may be a better fit. Either way, I think it's fair at $100 for the overall package and I'm pleased with the quality of sound at this point and it's interaction with different sources. I'd give it a good thumbs up.

 

Very best,

Posted

Pros: nice mids, good build quality, smooth sound

Cons: not a flat cable lover, overly large Y-split, bass needs more extension and control

Full video review below

 

 

Posted

Pros: Clarity, detail, Good for almost all genres

Cons: A bit unrefined, Somewhat artificial sounding

Before I begin, I’d like to thank shotgunshane for the opportunity to review these new headphones.

 

My first experience with Brainwavz was when I picked up their M4 a couple of years ago. I was impressed with the company’s effort for being so young and how accessible their CEO was, asking customers for their input and helping them personally with issues they had with their headphones. Since then, I’ve purchased their S1 and while they weren’t my personal kind of sound signature, I liked the tough build quality and the ergonomics. I thought it would be nice if they made an IEM that had the same build quality, but a more detailed and clear sound. To my excitement, the S5 seemed to do just that. 

 

Build/Design/Accessories

 

The S5 comes with a flat cable, which doesn’t tangle easily. It features sturdy, professional looking metal housings which, like the S1 seem like they can take quite a beating. I definitely wouldn’t be afraid to take these out and about. The cable comes to an end with a smaller, straighter jack than the S1. Many people dislike straight jacks, but this one is very well relieved and much improved over the S1’s slightly awkward 130° angle jack. The Y-cable retains the same bulky split as the S1. Nice and rugged, and not too noticeable, but a bit large and odd looking, like something out of a 90’s Sci-fi program.

 

The S5 comes with the same assortment of tips as the S1; 3 gray, 3 black, 1 bi-flange, 1 tri-flange, and 1 pair of Comply T-400s. Out of the bunch, I found the best sounding tips to be the stock gray. Also included is a 1/4 inch adapter which makes me very happy as a musician who often plugs into guitar amplifiers and my digital piano. Brainwavz kept the same sturdy case from the S1, and for good reason; it was and is an excellent case for any pair of IEMs.

 

As far as comfort goes, the S5 are excellent. I had some reservations about the long housings, but rather than stick out, they fit into the curves of one’s ear. Very comfortable for long listening sessions, and even comfortable enough to sleep in. There is driver flex at times, as with every Brainwavz IEM I’ve owned, but otherwise, outstanding job by Brainwavz on the design.

 

Sound

 

I used a selection of different genres to test different aspects of sound. First, some notes on what I’m listening to and what I’m looking for.

 

Metal

  • Galneryus - Silent Revelation
  • Arch Enemy - Nemesis

 

Both of these tracks feature lightning fast double bass drums and drum work with rapid fire guitars and bass. They serve as a great test of bass tightness and how well a headphone can keep up with and control the frantic pace. They also test attack and decay, particularly in the mids and bass.

 

Rock

  • Deep Purple - Lazy
  • Dream Theatre - The Silent Man

 

These tracks both have very good imaging and detail. A good way to test soundstage and clarity. Both should also sound very natural and organic with the right headphones. The Silent Man has a deep sub bass current that plays under the acoustic guitar in the middle of the song; a very good test of bass extension. Male vocals.

 

EDM

  • OceanLab - If I could Fly
  • Leslie Parrish - Remember Me

 

Vocal trance and Eurobeat. These are both highly produced electronic songs, but are good tests of bass impact, extension, and tightness. Even with the production, these are also a good test of the female vocal range and how harsh your treble can get. The former has a bit more natural sound while the second is very artificial sounding. Should be fun and engaging to listen to.

 

Jazz

  • Dave Brubeck - Everybody’s Jumpin’
  • Diana Krall - Devil May Care (Live in Paris)

 

Detail, Imaging, bass, mids, highs. Two Jazz tunes that test just about every feature you could need a headphone to test. The Diana Krall has a nice live soundstage.

 

Classical

Sergei Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 Mvt I (Grygory Cziffra)

Erik Satie - Trois Gymnopédies (Daniel Varsano)

 

The Rach challenges a headphone’s texture, dynamics, and cohesion across the entire orchestral spectrum, where the Satie is a simple, but emotional solo piano score to test detail, harmonics, and piano timbre. 

 

Hip Hop/R&B

  • Public Enemy - Can’t Truss it
  • Utada Hikaru - Fly me to the Moon (2007 Mix)

 

Two different urban styles that test the same things. Bass and vocals. One more powerful and male, the other more musical and female. Utada Hikaru’s take on a classic jazz standard also does some nice things with imaging. 

 

Bass

 

The S5’s bass is decently extended and strong enough to handle any EDM, Hip-hop, or Metal song you want to throw at it. It has a strong mid-bass punch that will satisfy most people looking for a funner low end. It isn’t, however a basshead IEM. The bass also features well in other genres such as Rock and Jazz. It’s not as tight and controlled as something like the VSonic GR07BE, however, and while it isn’t smeared or blurry, the bass has some trouble with faster passages in Heavy Metal tunes. Drums don’t have the best decay and bass guitars can bleed a tad. For most songs, however, they do just fine. 

 

Mids

 

When I first heard the S5, I was coming from a more neutral midrange IEM. As such, the female vocal range sounded somewhat distant and laid back. Male vocals, on the other hand, sound more neutral. This is most likely due to the emphasized bass bridging into the low mids. The overall sound of the mids is somewhat thin, a trend which follows into the upper registers. The mids are well detailed despite the thinness as well as clear, though laid back. Guitars sound very nice and detailed, but piano can sound a bit hollow and lacking dynamically in classical pieces. 

 

Highs

 

The upper range is definitely brighter and has a sort of coldness to my ears. There are a few peaks near 6kHz and 10-11kHz, but nothing that bothered me too much. Bad mp3’s can sound a bit harsh, but nothing overly sibilant or bothersome at normal listening levels. The highs can sound a bit artificial due to their splashiness and thin presentation but, again, this results in clear and detailed sound. This does however get a bit fatiguing after a longer period of listening. Snare drum pops in particular can bother one’s ears. 

 

Soundstage and Image

 

The S5’s instruments are well separated, although not quite as much as some other competitors. The soundstage is fairly wide, but not too deep and high, at least noticeably. The image is good and it’s easy to hear where the producer placed mics and instruments in the stage. Overall a nice and open sound that isn’t congested.

 

A final note: The S5 is easily driven and quite sensitive, so no need to amp it up. Just plug into your favorite source and enjoy.

 

 

Comparisons

 

VSonic GR07 Bass Edition:

 

The GR07 is a bit more warm and full overall and the mids aren’t quite as recessed. The S5 is more artificial sounding while the VSonic is more natural. Detail wise, the GR07 is very slightly ahead, but you won’t miss too much from the S5. Soundstage and imaging is about the same, but the GR07 seems a little more clear and separated than the S5. The GR07 also excels in its tight and controlled note presentation, where the S5 could use a bit of refinement. It’s great to see two of my favorite headphone brands this close though, and the competition between the two is starting to get closer, but it's not quite there yet.. 

 

VSonic VSD3:

 

We’ve looked at a tier higher IEM so let’s look at a tier lower one. The VSD3S is actually quite a good competitor to the S5. The VSD3S is warmer (but less bassy) in the lows and mids and has a fuller sound without some of the bleed that the S5 has. Both have somewhat artificial treble, but the VSD3S is a tiny bit more so than the Brainwavz. Both are also about equal in soundstage with the VSD3S lagging behind the S5 in openness. The S5 also wins in terms of clarity and detail. Overall, not actually too bad of a race, considering the VSD3S is half the price, but the S5 wins out here, as expected. 

 

Brainwavz S1: 

 

Finally, I’d be remiss I didn’t compare the S5 to its little brother, the S1. The most glaring thing is the bass is far less controlled and much bigger in the S1, where the S5 has to come along and teach it a thing or two. On the whole, the S1 is muddy in comparison to the thin and detailed presentation of its family member.

 

Summary

 

Overall, I feel the S5 is a great consumer friendly IEM that shines with genres like Rock, Pop, Hip-hop, Jazz and Electronic. It’s not the best for classical, but this is not where the S5 makes its mark anyway. It’s an all-rounder that does everything well, but not without a few flaws. However, anyone looking for a sturdy, fun, friendly IEM that will handle almost anything without much trouble should enjoy them. They’ll disappear in your ears and make you smile. If you’re a discerning audiophile, on the other hand, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Posted

Pros: Nice Bass, Clarity, Separation, Detail

Cons: Cable

First I’d like to thank Salsera and Brainwavz for sending me a review sample of the S5. Brainwavz are a brand that I am quite familiar with. They have many IEMs that are often praised on Head-Fi and I have had an experience with a few of them. They were established in 2008 and are a relatively new company and their IEMs are priced quite competitively for how they sound from my experience. I also heard their HM5 and was very fond of it. Let’s see what they have in store for us now.

 

I remember the time when I first joined Head-Fi, with my pair of IE8s. Those changed to a TF-10 and eventually, a B2 from Brainwavz. They were one of my first balanced and mid-tier IEMs and I remember them very well. If you have seen my review on it, you will realise that it is not very positive, but I’m starting to think my pair had some kind of filter issue. Anyway, Brainwavz have come out with another IEM, which is called the S5. I was rather intrigued when I first saw it and now I have a pair to evaluate.

 

The S5 is a 10mm dynamic driver IEM that looks very ordinary and is priced at a rather nice $100. With the sub-$100 IEM market becoming more and more competitive, how does Brainwavz’s new entry fare against its competitors? Let’s go on and see.

 

**Disclaimer** These were given to me by Brainwavz in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

 

 

 

Unboxing & Accessories
The S5 doesn’t come in a very fancy box, but that is to be expected, considering that they are $99. The box is actually quite nice for its price; it’s cardboard and flips open, to reveal the S5s and the case. On the flap, it has some information the earphones, Brainwavz and the Comply tips that are also included in the package. The back of the box has some specifications and information about what’s in the package.

 

 

The accessories are actually very good for the asking price. They come with a wide selection of tips, including a pair of Complys, which is nice. The case is one of the more practical and easiest to use cases I have seen. Nothing like the fancy DN-2000 case which is such a pain to use. There is also a 3.5mm to ¼ inch adapter, which is a little big, but a nice addition nonetheless. It comes with some manuals and a warranty card as well. Overall, they do very satisfactory here.

 

 

Design, Isolation & Cable
The S5s have an extremely understated design and they do not stand out at all. They are over the ear, but you can wear them straight don as well, but the microphonics are pretty bad. Wearing any flat cable IEM cable down has always been like this is my experience. The plug is quite solid, and the strain relief is very good as well. These should be able to get into the phone cases if you plan to use these with your phone. There is also a cable cinch, which is nice.

 

The isolation is just okay, it’s not great, but it’s not bad either. They are fine for outdoors use even on roads with a lot of traffic. The bass heavy sound kind of helps the isolation.

 

I’m not really a fan of flat cables, but they don’t get tangled as easily, which is a plus if you just shove them into your pocket or something. The cable feels a bit thin and cheap, I really wished that they had gone with a thicker, round cable, or even that twisted one that they use in the B2. The strain reliefs are very good though, so the cable breaking doesn’t worry me much.

 

 

 

Testing Gear
Most of my listening was done through an iBasso DX50. I feel like there was a distinct improvement from my Nexus 5 phone to my DX50, but adding an amp really didn’t help the sound. Unfortunately, my DX90 is on loan ATM so I didn’t do much listening on them, but from what I remember, there was not much, if any improvement over the DX50. The S5 hits a brick wall after a while and doesn’t scale too much with better sources. I also really enjoyed the iPod Nano 3rd Gen with them, the bass rolls off a little, which makes the overall sound cleaner. The Clip+ wasn’t bad either. The O2 amp didn’t pair well with them at all and I actually liked the DX50 alone more.

 

 

Sound Quality
It’s been a long time since I last heard a Brainwavz IEM, but I had a very good experience with the HM5 when I tried it, so I had some high expectations for the S5, but I had a feeling that it would not sound anything like the dual BA TWFK B2 that I had a while back since it uses a dynamic driver. Upon first listening to it, my suspicions were confirmed – they sound nothing alike at all from memory. Is it better? Well, it’s not really better, nor is it worse, it is quite simply different, like comparing apples with oranges. They simply sound nothing at all alike.

 

 

Bass
This was the section that really shocked me when I first put them in. I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting, because the B2 and HM5 are both very neutral leaning towards being a little bass light in terms of bass. The S5 hits hard, and has some serious rumble to it! Sure, it is not up to those basshead levels like the DN-1000 was, but for most people this will not be a bad thing, and I can see a lot of S5 followers who will love the bass. The mid-bass is quite elevated and detailed, but not as much as some other similarly priced offerings. What I really loved was the sub-bass, which I found to be a bit north of neutral. It was very detailed with good texture and had a very satisfying rumble to it; not too much that it drowns out the details, but definitely not too little. The speed is actually reasonably good, but don’t expect this to be as fast as the B2 or RE-400.

 

Midrange
Being a dynamic driver IEM, I was expecting warmer mids. Some IEMs that I have heard with warm mids end up getting it very wrong and the entire sound seems to be veiled and muddy. The S5 was luckily not one of them, and immediately I like them so much more than the AF140 I just had on loan a while ago which costs around three times as much. The S5 surprised me here once again, the mids sound much more BA like than I had imagined and are very clear, but just a little bit unnatural. They are somewhat recessed and pulled back a little. The upper vocals have a unique sound to them that may be to your preference, but I’m not too much of a fan. The timbre of the instruments is actually rather impressive and very realistic. Compared to the RE-400’s neutral to warm midrange, these sound a little brighter and have a little more clarity, though it is close. It does very well here and is indeed quite good for the $99 price tag.

 

Treble
It’s been quite a weird and interesting journey with the S5 so far, they have been nothing like I expected them to be (not in a bad way). The treble can really make or break a headphone or IEM and too many times have I heard the treble be incredibly off. Personally, I like my treble just a bit on the bright side, but not too much. The S5 is a bit over what I consider the perfect treble tonality, but it is far from being overly bright and is still very much listenable and enjoyable. The B2 had some treble issues IMO that have been resolved in the S5. The detail is good over here and there is nice clarity, better than the RE-400 in this regard. Occasionally cymbals can become borderline sibilant at higher volumes, but I did not find that to be an issue most of the time. The extension is not bad, but it is nothing special either, it does pretty well for its price. Overall, the treble is pretty impressive once again but I can also see some people finding it too bright.

 

 

Soundstage & Imaging
Soundstage is the area that I feel just a little let down by. I guess I was expecting a larger soundstage than what I got, but it is by no means bad. It is just above average for its price. The RE-400 has a similar sized soundstage while the more expensive DN-1000 (from memory) smashes it here. It is decently wide, but lacks a bit of height and depth to it. Overall it is quite nice and enjoyable though.

 

The imaging is better than the soundstage but isn’t great either. The RE-400s may just be a little bit better here. The S5 images rather well though, being clear and quite precise. It handled many tracks with no problems, but the imaging of bass instruments seem to be a little bit blurred due to the slightly slow bass. Not bad at all, rather impressive, the S5 does well here.

 

 

Details, Clarity & Separation
Ah, in the sub-$100 market, a tone of IEMs are very detailed such as then RE-400 and AX35 as well as the Alfa Genus. Does the S5 do better than all of them here? Well, no, but it does have a unique way of presenting the details, which is just as impressive as it is unique. It is so effortless, it doesn’t feel like it is shoving it in your face like the AX35, but instead, kind of just lets it sink in slowly.

 

The clarity of the S5 is one of its strong areas and it really does do very well here. MO out of the bunch, the clarity of the S5 is probably the best, despite it being not the most detailed. Vocals sound very clear but due to the upper midrange being elevated, they can sometimes sound a bit unnatural. The elevation in the upper midrange carries onto the lower treble, and as a result, there is a sense of more clarity, but it comes at the expense of some minor sibilance. These actually do very well for their price range.

 

The separation of the S5, along with the RE-400 are the best in the under $100 range for me. Some IEMs come close, but no IEMs that I have heard in their price range does separation quite as good as them. The separation of the S5 holds up even in rather complex tracks but I did hear it falter on some tracks that are very hard to get right. They might even do a bit better than the RE-400s actually, but it is too close to call.

 

 

Conclusion
 

 

Wow, it has been one hell of an experience with the S5, they really blew me away in some areas, but fell short in some areas too. One might ask which one is better overall, the RE-400 or the S5 and I would tell them that they are hugely different IEMs and each has a different target audience. The S5 is one for the masses, which tend to like a more V shaped sound signature. Those seeking a more reference and neutral sound signature should go for the RE-400, it does its job extremely well. Brainwavz has created a superb IEM that competes with the best of its price range and I have a feeling the S5 will do very well. It is certainly a very special and unique IEM. 

Posted

Pros: Weighty and potently heavy bass. Solid construction.

Cons: Bass dominates and mids lack any air or presence.

Brainwavz S5 Quick Review

 

Thanks to mp4nation for the sample.

 

Full Review at http://www.head-fi.org/t/730586/brainwavz-s5-review

 

Brief:  Where the only thing flat about them is the cable.

 

Price:  US$100 or £60 at today’s exchange rates.

 

Specification:  Transducers/Drivers: Dynamic, 10mm, Rated Impedance: 16ohms Closed, Dynamic, Sensitivity: 110dB at 1mW, Frequency range: 18Hz ~ 24kHz, Distortion: <= 0.3% @ 110dB, Channel balance: =< 1dB (at 1000Hz), Rated input power: 20mW, Maximum input power: 40mW, Plug: 3.5 mm 45-degree gold plated, Cable length: 1.3 meters Y cord (CU/Ag) PUR, 1 year warranty, Dimensions (Packaging): 160 x 135 x 38mm, Net Weight: 10g, Gross Weight: 140g

 

Accessories:  1 x ComplyT-400 medium foam tips, 6 x Pair silicone tips (S/M/L), 1 x Bi-Flange silicone tips, 1 x Tri-Flange silicone tips, 1 x 6.3mm audio adapter, 1 x Hard carrying case, 1 x Instruction manual & Warranty card

 

Build Quality:  It looks and feels most sturdy.  The buds are aluminium so short of stamping on them should stand significant abuse.

 

Isolation:  Quite good.  By dynamic standards it’s one of the better so should suffice for most use cases and normal day to day activities.  Not really flight to New Zeeland stuff but would do dandy for short haul flights.  Naturally easily enough to make you a road stain of you don’t look where you’re going.

 

Comfort/Fit:  Exceedingly good.  The angle they sit at is just perfect for my ears and even the flat cable didn’t get in my way.  Full marks.

 

Aesthetics:  Visually they are fine, a bit nondescript but..... mostly I’m miffed they are painted.  I would have much rather had lovely bare aluminium.  Oh well.

 

Sound:  Well I am sorry to say but they just weren’t for me.  The bass is big, roundly rambunctious and moved enough air to get rather tiring to my delicate little ears.  The bass isn’t bad per say but it’s just too voluminous and eager to waggle its big fat ass all over the place.  My ears are sensitive and pressure sensitive (I have crap sinuses and its hayfever season.)   With all that air movement it got really tiring and then the lower range treble spike kept leaping out and the recessed mids.  It was hiding the bits I wanted and spiking just where I didn’t.  I’m sure my sister would love its big, jiggley, fat lower end and the excitable upper but it was killing me.  It’s a wants to hurl itself about and force you to party whether you do do or not and its distant yet thickened mids wasn’t for me.

 

Value:  Its sturdy, comfortable fitting and has heaps of thick, heavy bass.  I can see why some would certainly want it.

 

Pro’s:   Weighty and potently heavy bass.  Solid construction.

 

Con’s:  Bass dominates and mids lack any air or presence.

Posted

Pros: Build Quality, Nice Case, Accessories, Easy Fit, Good Isolation

Cons: Flat Rubbery Cable, Sharp Treble for Some

Brainwavz S5 Impressions by TrollDragon

I was contacted by Audrey from Brainwavz inquiring if I would like to review a pair of the new S5 IEM's.  As I have not heard any of their other products I immediately jumped at this generous offer. I my opinion, more companies should do public relations work like this with the new products they are releasing--it gives those of us who are not fully experienced in the mind boggling array of available IEM's, a chance to sample quality products.

 

Thanks to Audrey and Brainwavz for providing the S5 sample for this review.

 

First Impressions

(I have not taken any pictures of the packaging, case or contents as there are many pictures here already that are top notch.)


Upon opening the FedEx box I was very impressed with the S5's packaging, an eye catching box with a magnetic front flap. Opening the flap reveals a nicely presented product and carry case behind plastic windows. On the opposing face of the flap there is a bit of Brainwavz history and an impressive mission statement. Detailed exploded view's of the S5 driver unit, a Comply T series tip and wire cross-section fill the remaining area of the front flap. Turning the box over you are presented with a description of the S5's, an accessory list, specifications, small device compatibility list and picture diagrams of the accessories. Accented graphics on the box emphasize that there are Comply tips included and a two year warranty from Brainwavz. You don't see many warranties these days that are past 90Days, so the first thing that comes to mind is that the build quality on these must be impressive to warrant a two year warranty. I spent a good bit of time looking at all the information on this well presented packaging.

 

Included is a very nice little EVA Dual Zippered case that has two web pouches inside holding all the accessories included with the S5.

  • 1 pair of Comply Premium T-400 Medium Tips.
  • 6 Pairs of Silicone Tips in S/M/L
  • 1 pair of Bi-Flange and Tri-Flange
  • 1 3.5mm to 6.35mm Adapter

A generous supply of accessories are included with the S5's, all of the tips are of good quality and the 6.35mm adapter is an all metal design that looks good but does not have that solid holding click that some of the better quality adapters do.

 

Build Quality

The S5's are a durable looking, all aluminum machined IEM that has a flat area on the side of each body where they have painted the Brainwavz name. This flat area isn't just for brand recognition, it also provides a fool proof way to orient the S5's for the right ears without looking at the miniscule L & R raised in the rubber of the well designed strain relief. Just keep the cable up and the flat spot out and you are good to go.

 

The 3.5mm plug is gold plated and covered in a rubbery plastic that is small enough to fit in my X3's headphone jack with its leather case on. There is a large, thick, flat Y splitter with a smoothly operating chin slider for those that use them.

 

That finally brings us to the cable, this is the first IEM I have tried with a wide rubbery flat cable that is made to be worn behind your ears. It takes a bit of getting used to and there is no shirt clip provided, which will cause the cable to lift and move behind your ears depending on your movements.  The chin slide would alleviate this but I am not a fan of sliders. I have tried wearing them down and it does work but wearing them up is the best and I have done this all week at work with no cable mishaps during the day.

 

Sound Impressions

Unlike most others here on Head-fi, I can't tell you if a tone is a 1/4dB louder than it should be or where and at what exact frequency the spikes reside. Some can hear the second violinist in the third row play the Eb instead of the E# but that is not me. So these impressions are from someone who just appreciates music without analyzing it to death.

 

The bass on the S5's is very nice; I like the quantity and quality it provides, not overpowering or drowning out the mids. Male vocals sound excellent, James Hetfield's vocals and growls come through just perfectly, the same with M. Shadows and David Draiman's vocals, excellent!

 

Now the treble, that is a whole other issue.  I found the S5's to be very bright out of the box--I am somewhat treble sensitive and when a headphone or IEM is too sharp I don't enjoy it or listen to it too long as I find it too fatiguing. In an attempt to find out if others found these a bit on the bright side, I read through the S5 thread that recommended leaving them for burn-in.  Three days later, after continuous random music played from my computer, I tried them again. Nope, same thing, sharp bright treble that was painful to listen to. All my favourite AC/DC tracks and quite a bit of other music would make me wince at certain spots in the music. The next recommendation was changing tips.  So I began the tip rolling quest from the provided ones and a collection that I have here from other IEM's. I require a large tip of the silicon variety to get a good seal so that left out the Comply's as they were a medium I just couldn't get a good seal with those. The Bi-Flange were a no go and the Tri-Flange seemed to bring the treble under control, but I am not a fan of the deep insertion required with Tri-Flange tips; it just felt to strange to me. I ended up with the provided large black silicone tips to give me the best results.

 

I tried the S5's on a variety of sources like iDevices, the Colorfly C3 and the FiiO X3.  I even ran them from my tube amp just for fun and they actually worked very well on the OTL Little Dot MK IV. My main player is the X3 either with or without the E12 attached, depending on which headphones I am using that day. Since I had been on a Classic Rock / Metal kick, I decided to switch things up with a little PsyTrance. I fired up the Infected Mushroom album, "The Legend of the Black Shawarma", and was taken aback by the sound from the S5's--the bass was powerful, synth mids were right there in your face and not any painful treble, at least not on that album. I ran through the rest of my IM collection and enjoyed every minute of it, the same with Blackmill, some ASoT and others. So I have decided to use these as my EDM IEM's. A week later I decided to try some my favourite AC/DC tracks again and Brian Johnson's voice on "Who Made Who" cut through my head like a knife, so I've come to accept that the treble on the S5's is just to bright for me.

 

Conclusion

The S5 is a very well built, all metal IEM that has a flat rubbery cable you'll get used to. A sound signature that has great bass and mids but a treble that might be a little too bright if you are in any way treble sensitive; if you are not then they would be a very good every day IEM that is easy to wear.

 

Posted

Pros: Strong build. Good sound. Nice group of accessories. Amps well.

Cons: Noodle cord can get microphonic when worn down. Treble peaks.

 

First off I would like to thank Brainwavz for sending me a pair for review..I think there has been enough written about these for most of you guys to know what they are generally about. I burned them in real good and started to really listen to them about a week ago and it has occurred to me that this sound is perhaps Brainwavz best I have heard to date. These do a lot right when it comes to build, sound and usability but how do they really stack up to the current crop of $100 earphones.? These actually have hung in there with the best that I have in the price range but have one sound trait to them that is holding them back from greatness in my opinion.

 

I tested the S5 using most of my sources and they seem to sound best with more than your stock player meaning while they are efficient and sound great from a simple source they do sound markedly better with more power..Before I get into the sound aspect of these earphones as much as I wanted to really love the sound there was one aspect that was holding them back for me..I am not as picky of an enthusiast as some around these parts but I do gravitate toward proper. I Love a solid sound be it from a cheapo like a SHE-3580 or something more substantial like the FX850.

 

Throughout the years I have seen a gradual change in what we consider is a nice phone in the $100 range. I think if these came out several years ago guys would be clamoring to get a hold of these and as they are they are actually pretty solid performers in the $100 category. However the one aspect that happens for the sound of these earphones is in the one flaw that for some reason keeps on rearing it's ugliness to me every time. I want to so love this sound and to be honest out of my ICAN it is 95% sonic euphoria. Great stage sound presence that actually sounds much more expensive than the given monetary value. However even with one of my most musical of sources the sound flaw comes through yet once again..What is that flaw you might ask? More on this later.

 

So I would like to applaud Brainwavz for continuing to go back to their drawing board to constantly reinvent the earphone sound for their company..With the Brainwavz S5 I can sense a progression of their house sound in the S5s. And they are so close to coming out with something what I would consider special in the earphone realm for the money. Everything what I would consider a good earphone is there. The build for one is of a solid quality. I can see these earphones lasting for a long while with it's solid noodle cord construction. Seeing some of the other reviews there was a few complaints about the noodle cord and how microphonic it can get. True however it becomes a non issue when worn over the ears as I tend to do wearing them outdoors. Using the S5 while cutting the lawn it worked perfectly for out door use. I can see these being a solid choice for active people but only when worn over the ears. Comfort wise, there is no awkward shape on the earphone or any substantial bulk so they sit comfortably either worn down or over ears. Isolation is actually decent using complys. I would say average for in ears and they don't seem to leak if at all so good for using around silent areas.

 

The group of accessories is standard Brainwavz fair which is actually a good range of tips and one of the best cases for earphones..I must say I absolutely love Brainwavz cases. The tips? Well they are just standard though there was a pair of complys and a pair of triple flange and double flange tips. The more tip variety the better is what I say to manufacturers.  So while the stock tip choices are good I ended up using my UE tips. A much wider bored tips that I have counted on to give the best sound for many if not most of my earphones. Now to the important aspect of these earphones. The SOUND.

 

SOUND

The S5s sound is a middle ground of good technical ability, enthusiast treble emphasis and consumer oriented bass emphasis..The bass is not of much concern as Brainwavz seems to know how to tune the low end from my experiences with their in ears. It is right smack in the middle from a neutral to basshead levels here and I can see either camps complaining it might have too much or too little depending on what you think is the right amount of bass. So a middle ground is not a bad thing when wanting to tune a phone for the masses. Overall It is more of a consumer oriented sound but with good imaging and clarity more than analytical type tuning. The mids are actually done well here and the mids seem to shine more so with good amping. It is not as forward as I would have liked but it certainly is not in the background of sound either, what is there the imaging and clarity is good in the region. Instruments and vocals are centered nicely on the sound. The stage for in ears is a bit above average and has enough depth to be satisfactory and does not sound closed in or narrow. While not spectacular in the stage arena it does enough to have good separation and show good layering of sound all around.

 

It is for me the lower treble, upper mids region that has a bit of extra emphasis in the region that is the thorn on the side of the sound on the S5. It is not bad per se. Not like the older CKN70 treble emphasis or some of the older CKM earphones from Audio Technica.. I think what bugs me about the sound is that you hear most of your tunes and actually get lost in the sound and then you land on a forward recorded vocal track and. There it is.. Fairly smooth, coherent, solid sound. Until you hear the SSSSSSsss. CHH.TTT.

The upper treble has a bit too much sheen and start to loose out in resolution of nicer more capable in ears. The irritating factor is that this is barely noticeable on most tracks. But it will be some of your favorite recordings I would say 90% of them will be sibilant free.Out of nowhere .. SSSSsss. Chh. I think you guys get the idea..The funny thing is I am actually not too sensitive to sharper treble. But lately I have discovered for me at least it makes a world of difference when fine tuning a sound.  Sound refinement means refinement in all regions and I get why the sound was tuned this way. I get that Brainwavz wanted to incorporate some shimmer in the treble region. Shimmer it has a plenty, perhaps a touch too much but the gamble here is vocal performance is affected.

 

 

As I am listening to this combo now it sound utterly fantastic..To this I say it is so close..I think the price is correct on the S5 but being this close to something real special. I would like to encourage Brainwavz in treble refinement. It was the lack of treble refinement or the lack there of on the Brainwavz R3 that held those back as well..Somehow I have faith that future iterations will incorporate more refinement and get better and better..As they are these are fine for the price and is more of a casual listening earphone more so than a critically listening one..But they are so close.

 

Thanks for taking the time to check out my thoughts on the Brainwavz S5.. 

Posted

Pros: Sprightly bass, decent presentation of detail for the price, bulletproof build quality, generous warranty and accessories

Cons: Prodigious bass veers away from balance and can be distracting, treble can be splashy, probably won't be a permanent fixture for anyone

Disclosure: This review is based off a review unit of the retail version of the S5, provided by Brainwavz. This is my first in-depth encounter with a Brainwavz product, having only demoed previous Brainwavz products very briefly in Hong Kong three years ago.

 

Brainwavz S5, with a 10 mm dynamic coil driver and CNC metal body

 

Battleground: The Sub-$100 Price Category & The Dichotomy of Sound Philosophy

 

The sub-$100 price category is an all-important battleground for earphone manufacturers. It used to be the sub-$60 or sub-$80 category that was a hot topic of debate, but pricing expectations for earphones have gone up in recent years and $100 is a viable option for everyday consumers that desire to stretch their (usually zero) budgets in the name of better sound quality.

 

Year after year, premium earphone makers throw their entrants into the ring --- for less than a single Benjamin, you can buy into a HiFiMAN RE-400, an earphone almost universally lauded for having performance that stretches well beyond its price point, or urBeats as a status symbol of the consumerist premium earphone.

 

Sound quality ranges widely in this area, from painfully accurate in the lower-end Etymotics to bass cannons like *redacted*, and thus the sub-$100 category also represents a fork in the road for manufacturers --- a point where they either decide to pursue acoustic performance or go after nice materials and design.

 

So where does Brainwavz stand in this conversation? Brainwavz started out essentially rebranding OEM products as IEMs were just beginning to take off in an industry littered with $5 throwaway earbuds. Typically, OEM acoustic designs are quite competent and follow conventional rules of sound design; it's the manufacturers that tend to come in and say, "Can you add more bass? More treble?", and end up stretching a reasonable, low-cost design into distorting monstrosities.

 

Brainwavz, on the other hand, has mostly kept on its own path, carving out a niche market that allows discerning listeners a price-conscious alternative. It is this niche that has allowed Brainwavz to flourish with a loyal customer base that has continually increased over the years. It does, however, face the same dichotomous question that other, larger manufacturers have long considered (and decided on): do we want to grab the mainstream, or do we keep the enthusiasts happy? The businessman's answer is "both", but real-world execution doesn't come down to a one-word summary.

 

Brainwavz includes a great, semi-hard carrying case with the S5, along with lots of accessories.

 

Build Quality, Ergonomics & Accessories

 

This area is Brainwavz' strongest suit. With ruggedized strain reliefs to the rock solid machined metal earphone housings, the S5 sports a tank-like build that puts the Westone ADV series of adventure-driven products to shame. Some might even argue that recent Brainwavz products are even "overbuilt", opting for big, bulky Y-splits in the name of indestructibility.

 

One thing's for sure, however: even if you stash the S5 in your pockets in the most ham-fisted manner on the daily, it'll stand up to basically any kind of abuse imaginable. The S5 was built for the 14 year-old that tosses his earphones (and smartphone) four feet into the air toward his bed when he gets home from school. It was built for scrunching up into a tangled ball and stuffing into a pants pocket. The S5 needs not be babied.

 

The overall shape and design of the S5 reminds me of an old mainstream bestseller IEM --- the Klipsch Image S4. The wear style is very similar, and so a secure fit will actually make the earphones look like they're slightly sticking out of your ears (not too much).

 

The fit kit is generous; Brainwavz includes two sets of S/M/L single flange silicone tips (one set is black, the other translucent grey, the two are of differing density), a set of wide-mouthed double flange tips, a set of triple-flange tips, and a set of Comply foams. Isolation was surprisingly good with the included bi-flange tips. For me, the bi-flange tips also yielded the smoothest treble as well, so I've settled on them as the de facto tips for the S5. Delightfully, isolation with the bi-flange tips was much better than expected. I rarely have high expectations for isolation in dynamic driver earphones, but I was able to obtain a great seal with the S5 and remove myself from ambient noise.

 

To top things off, included inside the excellent semi-hard carrying case is a 3.5-to-6.3 mm adapter for plugging the S5 into 1/4" jacks. Service-wise, Brainwavz allows for a two-year warranty. Their magnanimous protection plan is considerable for a circa $100 product.

 

It's strange that the S5 doesn't have an in-line remote version, though. Perhaps it'll come in due time.

 

Extremely robust strain reliefs and Y-split. Almost too much so.

 

Sound: What The S5 Does Well

 

The S5 feels designed specifically for music that populates today's Top 40 charts.

 

RiRi's (or is it Sia's? :rolleyes:) Diamonds is "perfect" with the Brainwavz S5:

 

 

The bass slam is just the right amount to keep club-goers interested, while Rihanna's voice is spacious without being overwhelmingly forward. In reality, the S5 imparts a V-shaped signature that will set vocals back just a bit for every track. The balance is such that you'll feel the space in every track, relative positioning isn't necessarily its forte.

 

If you like big, hard-hitting bass, the S5 will deliver on that front --- the S5 possesses quite the adept low end. This isn't the kind of soft, spongy overly decaying bass found in most bassy IEMs --- no, this is solid, in-your-face, quick-on-its-feet bass. You'll hear (and sometimes feel) the bass all the down to 20 Hz. It doesn't drag its feet.

 

Because of the bass' sprightliness, the S5's midrange comes across relatively well despite its reluctance to come to the front row. Detail levels are admirable for an earphone of this price level; considering the amount of bass present in the S5, anyone can hear a copious amount of detail in both the midrange and the treble.

 

Sound: What The S5 Needs to Improve On

 

The S5 goes quite a bit beyond "balance" for the bass, though. People used to listening to earphones tuned in the vicinity of "neutral" will find the balance patently tips in favor of the bass. You'll always hear the bass line, and sometimes that effect is distracting. Should he ever put on a pair of Brainwavz S5, Swaggy P might bob his head to 'Fancy', but he might also wonder where Charli XCX ran off to, because the S5 makes it seem like she stayed in Tokyo.

 

In addition, despite clear improvement within the first twenty or so hours of runtime, treble can come off a bit splashy. Its aggression definitely can be reined in by a little bit, as it makes the Shure SE215 sound like an innocuous kitten. Treble extension, while not exactly poor (probably above average for its price range), can be better. The clearest evidence against the S5 would be in the synthesized crash cymbals of the first half of K.Dot's 'M.A.A.d City' --- they do not fade away as naturally as they do with the Zero Audio Carbo Tenore.

 

Why I feel a little "meh" about the S5

 

For a minute, allow me to veer away from political correctness and pander strictly to the male crowd. To me, the S5 feels like Kate Upton --- bountiful blonde locks, buxom curves and all. The S5 is absolutely great if you dig that style. I, however, prefer the sensibilities of Audrey Hepburn. While I appreciate the multiple SI covers, the zero-G photoshoot, and transformative All-American image, I can't help but continue to seek out my huckleberry friend. You can deck Miss Upton out in Tiffany & Co. and zip her into a Givenchy dress, but she'll never channel Holly Golightly authentically, and that's where I have a problem with the S5. I'm continually searching for an earphone of timeless persistence, but the S5 seems like it's built for "right now". If so, it's curious that Brainwavz has chosen to go this route, as it has traditionally attempted to appeal first to enthusiasts before the masses. This time, they seem to have gone full bore for the casual listener. It's the difficult, dichotomous choice that manufacturers have to take when navigating this price category.

 

I do give Brainwavz an "A" for effort, especially in the accessories and bulletproof build quality, but the sound of the S5 doesn't quite speak to me on the whole. Brainwavz has been successful in appealing to the consumer that wants superior sound quality for the money. In my opinion, however, it hasn't been successful in coming out with an "iconic" product --- something that'll last in the eyes of the consumer. It doesn't have an ER4, a Klipsch S4, or even a CX-300. That's probably what's missing from Brainwavz at the moment. In my estimation, they need a product that emphatically spells, "This is a Brainwavz product, and we stand for great sound," and will continue to do so for years to come.

 

As I've mentioned, the kinda-sorta premium earphone market is a brutal, cutthroat segment of the industry. It's almost required for manufacturers to roll out yearly with new things to keep the peanut gallery happy. However, in the eye of the enthusiast, it is the lasting product that stands the test of time that is most worthy of loyalty.

 

Suggestion: A "Pro" Version of the S5?

 

Originally, the Brainwavz S5 was supposed to be called the "S5 Pro". Upon release, however, the "Pro" was dropped from the name. I found that choice interesting, as though Brainwavz decided the S5 was for the masses rather than the prosumer. Perhaps the omission of the "Pro" connotes that a more enthusiast-oriented version will come to light.

 

With a single 10 mm dynamic driver, the S5 is a conventional design. Last year, Brainwavz released the R3, a dual dynamic driver design with the drivers pointed opposite to each other, injecting into a single resonant sound chamber. However, the single dynamic driver paradigm will forever be viable; should Brainwavz decide to release an "S5 Pro" version in the future, it should consider using a dynamic driver with a superior diaphragm technology, such as titanium coating or liquid crystal polymer coating. Breakthroughs in material science are allowing moving coil diaphragms to transcend limits of breakup resonance nodes, ridding the S5 of splashiness and enhancing its treble extension. Of course, Brainwavz should also pay attention to the housing chamber as well, as housing resonance control is as equally important to acoustic performance as is diaphragm technology, if not more. Should the end product be an S5 with even better controlled, tamed bass, smoother highs, and more prominent mids, it should prove to be a hit with demanding listeners.

 

A better diaphragm with revised body and venting would go a long way in creating a superior S5.

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

Overall, the Brainwavz S5 is a rock-solid product. It's well-built and has good sound quality. With respect to sound signature, it hits the spot for the mainstream consumer looking for an alternative or upgrade to premium "fashion" headphones --- its sound is tuned for modern pop music, and it'll deliver satisfying music reproduction for most of the populace. However, I can't imagine the S5 being a permanent fixture in the collections of head-fiers. For the head-fiers out there, keep your fingers crossed for an "S5 Pro", or perhaps yet another model that can take on the iconism of the most revered. Until then, keep at it Brainwavz, and fight the good fight.

 

Brainwavz S5 In Ear Headphones
Description:

The Brainwavz S5 are dynamic driver based earphones fitted into a sleek all-metal housing with their speakers tuned for a balanced, detailed sound with a smooth bass. They are designed to be worn over the ear for professional grade fit and better sound isolation. The over- the-ear design and flat cable allow the S5 to sit securely in your ears even during physical activities. The S5 are suitable for any genre of music. Features: Balanced sound, good detail and clarity with a smooth bass. All metal housing in a over the ear design. Flat cable for less tangle. Comply foam tips included. Specifications: Transducers/Drivers: 10mm Rated Impedance: 16ohms Sensitivity: 110dB at 1mW Frequency range: 18Hz ~ 24KHz Maximum input power: 40mW Cable length: 1.3m, Y cord, OFC Copper, flat cable. Plug: 3.5mm gold plated, 45 degree. 24 month warranty. Included Accessories: 1 x Comply foam T-400 medium series tip 6 x Silicone tips 1 x Bi-Flage tip 1 x Tri-Flange tip 1 x 6.3mm audio adapter 1 x Earphone carrying case 1 x Instruction manual

Details:
DetailValue
BindingElectronics
BrandBrainwavz
ColorBlack
EAN0728028299472
FeatureBalanced audio signature with smooth bass. All metal housing in a over the ear design with special finish to give a smooth, slick feel. Flat cable for less tangle and easy to wear. The cables are made with high purity OFC copper wiring at its core. Comply T-400 foam tips included. The best premium foam ear tips that can be found, provides for perfect seals and enhanced bass response. Other included accessories: 6 pairs of silicone tips, 1 pair of Bi and 1 pair Tri-flange tips, hard carrying case to protect your earphones.
LabelBrainwavz
ManufacturerBrainwavz
MPNBWAVZ-S5
PublisherBrainwavz
StudioBrainwavz
TitleBrainwavz S5 In Ear Headphones
UPC728028299472
Package Height2.1 inches
Package Length7.4 inches
Package Weight0.35 pounds
Package Width4.8 inches
PartNumberBWAVZ-S5
ProductGroupCE
ProductTypeNameHEADPHONES
UPCList - UPCListElement728028299472
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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