I received a couple of weeks ago a sample unit from mp4nation for me to review it, black in color and without the retail box. I burned my M5 for around 60 hours in case you are interest and auditioned them quite a lot with either my Cowon J3 or my laptop (no special equipment). My laptop's sound card has more juice than the Cowon J3 but the M5 pretty sufficient and dont so any alternation as my vsonic gr07 does.
They retail for $44.50 from MP4nation in copper and black and you can choose a mic edition with $5 extra.
I am a newbie in Audio Terms so forgive and correct me freely.
The accessories are pretty much what Mp4nation has been offering and improving for quite some time now. You will get a nice rectangle hard case (eva) which even has room for a sansa clip, a pair of Comply foam tips S series (I think medium), 1 pair of wide bore b-flanges, a nice shirt clip (360 degrees spinning) and a lot of silicone tips. I think they were meant to be 6 pairs, 3 wide and 3 narrow (L/M/S) but I got 4 pairs and 1 single .
Generally it’s a perfect pack of accessories but since I got fitting issues with every earphone and eartips I use, it would be nice to see some innovation. (Maybe something between M and L)
Build quality (5/5)
The build quality is great. I haven’t notice any compromises. The casings are lightweight and aluminum with 1 vent on the side with the distinctive L/R signs and 1 vent on the rear with the written “brainwavz”. The cable feels fine and it has minor memory effect. All cable connections have good strain reliefs with a nice long L type 3.5mm plug. Cable cinch and shirt clip complete the package!
Isolation- Microphonics (3/5)
Due to the vented design the isolation is average especially if you use the wide bore tips which expand the soundstage as well. Microphonics is average as well. I can notice some cable noise. Cinch slider and shirt clip helps so they are not that much of a pain. I cant recommend to wear them over the ear to eliminate cable noise. I think they are designed to be worn cable down because the strain reliefs extend quite a bit.
If I judge the M5 when only wearing them cable down and without keeping in mind the noticeable microphonics, I found them extremely comfortable. Since they are straight-barrel design and very lightweight they can be forgotten in your ears. I think they are one of the most comfortable iems I tried so far since I do have a bit of a problem to get a good fit and keep iems in my ears.
(I have burned the M5 for around 60 hours and even if I don’t know if it’s me or the drivers I noticed some difference in the soundstage which expanded and ast tracks are controlled a lot better)
The M5 have a nice balanced sound signature. They don’t seem to have any particular disadvantages neither in the sound spectrum nor in terms of presentation. The balanced signature will appeal the most and the ported design offers a decent soundstage. Like most iems it can’t compete with full size headphones but it doesn’t particularly lacks in depth or left right. The sound signature is also a bit colored, similar to iems like the Panasonic hje900 when compared to the more neutral GR07. This is not a bad thing in my papers and actually I lean towards this sound signature. Also I believe that the M5 are able to control fast tracks more than decently.
Bass (8/10): The M5 as I said are balanced and you will get almost the same quantity in every frequency spot. Although the M5 are not aggressive they are not dull either. The bass extents pretty well and doesn’t bleed to the mids. They have more quantity than the gr07 and separate- control it a bit better than the Brainwavz M1 which tends to keep everything around the mids.
Mids (7/10): The mids are placed correctly to my preference. Neither recessed nor overly pronounced. They have the right color to them as well and the right thickness. What I noticed and I didn’t like is the presence of instruments. In songs like the spokesman were drum kick is present I don’t get satisfied. EDIT: i am not sure about the drum kick.. i think its the way the song was recorded since my vsonic gr07 dont sound dramatically more realistic.
Highs( 8 /10): The highs are also very well placed and have a nice presence. Besides very bad recorded songs the M5 normally don’t produce sibilance. Highs are clear and well textured. They don’t extend as much as high end iems and don’t have a top notch refinement but of course this is when compared with iems whch cost many times more.
To conclude I think the M5 are an upgrade over the older brainwavz Models (M1, pro alpha). The only thing that troubled me was that drum kick sounds a bit strange. I don’t think that the M5 lack instrument presence because it sounds like they are more realistic and separate instruments better than my CAL!
The accessory pack is also very complete. I noticed that the comply tips affect the sound in a strange way. The bass remains the same but the transparency and the highs lose some energy. Something is missing with the foam tips on. I would love if I had an option of 6 sized wide bore tips for me and the people who have iem fit problems. Build quality and comfort get the green light (If you dont mind wearing them cable down) and feels like the M5 will last a long time.
Generally the sound signature doesn’t have any flaws besides the fact that the M5 drivers have limits due to the price and can’t get as refined as more expensive iems can. Balanced, clear, transparent sound for every day laid back use, enough energy and bass for exercise as well. Well worth the asking price. In fact, I am going out for running with the M5 right now! See you out in the streets fellow Head-fiers!
(Forgive me for the extensive and yet not sophisticated language I use since English is not my first language, especially the headfi slang)
Edited by Angelopsaro - 9/30/12 at 8:22pm