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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.