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Brainwavz S5 Review by mark2410

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Brainwavz S5 Review

 

Thanks to mp4nation for the sample.

 

 

 

First Impressions:  What is with Brainwavz naming, is there some pattern to it I am just not getting?  Box is looking rather nice, even has a flappy lid held closed with a magnet, fancy.  Whats also fancy is the case.  Not only does the black and red affair look nice its also rather functional too.  Additionally there is a bunch of bits, lots of tips in there, hmm and I see a flat cable.  I don’t love flat cables.  What I do like is the shape of the buds, I'd wager they will be most comfortable.

 

First quick listen and instantly “all of da basss!!!!!!”  its no secret where the S5 has been tuned to favour.   Admittedly this could have something to do with fact I’ve been listening to their sibling previously.  Still I’m definitely thinking there is much bass here.  Off to go burn in time.

 

 

 

Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-601, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5.

 

 

 

Lows:  In terms of balance the bass is where these dominate.  The bass is the focal aspect.  What it lacks in linearity it makes up for in the form a big ass hump of bass.  Its great big ass bass that likes to vigorously throw itself around.  It's pretty taught though and its bass extension is pretty nice too.  It comes across to ear as rather bold and well rounded.  In terms of quantity, its not the most I've ever heard but it's certainly very elevated and combined with its solidity and eagerness to punch I must confess I found its bombastic nature a little tiring on my ears.  Presently they feel a little tender and worn out.  Now I now that many out there just love tons and tons of bass and wouldn’t have the slightest issue with it but, well, I did.  Its big and potent and I have delicate little ears. 

 

I reiterate, the quality is fair and its tonality is very nice.  It’s the relative quantity that isn’t working for me.

 

 

 

Mids:  Meh.  They are really rather recessed, while they offer a nice slight echo to the vocal ranges the mids are just too overshadowed.  I like mids, I like very vocal centric music and I found these rather wanting quantitatively.  Qualitatively too I wasn’t loving them either.  Vocals here have a distance and yet a slight thickness to them that may work with typical chart based pop but…..for many things I found them feeling like they were a little bit of an afterthought.  Clarity was reasonable but again the recessed nature serves to somewhat obscure detail.  Shockingly in much charty pop this is often a good thing as one or two artists haven’t the greatest vocal talents, they are often mastered by the half deaf and thus have been dynamically compressed to hell. 

 

Tonally they have a hint of over warmth and thickness that is reasonably pleasant to hear but added to the distance and recessed nature it works a little against things in terms of detail retrieval.  There is detail in there but it's not quite so readily presented to the listener as with some other IEM’s.

 

 

 

Highs:  The sadly there is a spike in the mid/highs range that I found somewhat hard on my ear.  It somewhat dominated the upper range for me and served to overshadow both the mid range and the more extended highs.  Upping the volume dial I found my ears grew tired increasingly quickly.  The rest of the high end is rather sedate and rolled off.  A signature that I'd normally classify as forgiving and gentle on the ear but the lower treble spike made them forgiving but not so much with the gentle.  Detail levels are so so.

 

 

 

Soundstage:  As it’s a dynamic it's pretty reasonably scaled.  Instrument separation is likewise fine.

 

Fit:  For my own little ears the fit was exceedingly good.  The angle the tips aim inward at worked beautifully for my good self.  Even the flat cable didn’t get in my way when going over the ear.  Very good.

 

 

 

Comfort:  As with the fit the comfort was quite exemplary.

 

Microphonics:  I did get a little but nothing terrible.  Using the chin slider basically eliminated it.

 

 

 

Amped/Unamped:  It needs no amping and I can't really say benefited from having more power thrown at them either.  I might actually even go so far as to say I preferred them out of my phones as the bass power diminished somewhat.

 

Isolation:  Rather good for a big dynamic.  The sort of thing I'd be quite happy using out and about.  As always, not really what I'd want for long flights or daily Tube commutes.  Also my ever present warning that it more than easily enough to get you run over if you don’t look where you're going.

 

 

 

Build Quality.  Rather nice.  I must say though I'm a bit disappointed that they are painted black given they are actually made of aluminium.  The cable feels and looks rather sturdy and the Y splitter is pretty chunky.  Oh and you get a 2 year warranty.

 

Accessories:  You get a good bunch of tips, 9 pairs I think.  A 6.25 to 3.5mm adapter and lastly you get a rather nice black and red Brainwavz case.  I very much like the little case.

 

 

 

Value:  Presently priced at US$99.50 or £59.17.  This puts them in a spectacularly competitive environment. The fact is there just isn’t any aural aspect I can see someone wanting and me thinking “oooh the S5, that’s exactly what you’re looking for.”  It's not that it’s a terrible option but it doesn’t shine anywhere in particular and for the money the competition is savagely fierce.

 

 

 

Conclusion:  I have spent a goodly long while with the S5.  Others seem to have liked it more than I, I did see it said that they like a good long burn in so I gave them a few hundred hours just to be sure.  Still I found, as you may have guessed, I just could not feel the love for the S5.  Aside from their fit just about everything was how I wouldn’t make an IEM for me.  I don’t like flat cables.  I don’t like loads of bass.  I don’t like far, far away mids and then that spike in the lower treble was icing on the cake.  It just entirely rubbed me up the wrong way.

 

 

 

To give the S5 its due, it's not terrible or a bad product. It just is entirely not aimed at me.  Its bass is big and expansive, oh and that flat cable I'll grant, is tangle free. Which I know to many are highly positive attributes, I'm pretty sure my sister would love these and I have no doubts that many Beats buyers would lap these up like a cat that’s got the cream.

 

 

 

Never the less I am the one writing this and I'm very sorry Brainwavz but the S5 just really wasn’t my cup of tea at all, sorry.


Edited by mark2410 - 8/14/14 at 6:21am
post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 

Brainwavz S5 Quick Review

 

Thanks to mp4nation for the sample.

 

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.

post #3 of 14
@mark2410Nice Review,as always....surprised to see, you still have your 1G shuffle....first saw urs with M6/M9 review? 4/5 years ago....And yeah if bwavz fix the price reasonably low,and replace the driver keeping the shell intact than re-tuning from the scratch(waste of man hours).....And for the same price the king of budget all rounder GR07 is a pretty best option imo. Otherwise S5 is an wonderful IEM from mp4nation(again not for the current price tho).....
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

lol, i still have 2 of the 1G Shuffles,a 1gb and a 512mb one.  yep they getting mightily old now but they still sound really impressive for a little "back up" dap.

post #5 of 14
Looks like there might be inconsistency in S5 production.
It happens. Some models sometime have its 'bass version'. Sometime it's just something blocking the bass tuning port.

Mine is rather bright sounding, no bloated bass at all.
Curious to read opposite impression :-)
Edited by earfonia - 8/14/14 at 9:50pm
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

well its possible.  i dont believe it to be the case as both sides were exactly the same and if a production flaw id have expected there to be a discrepancy between the two sides.  still if others think that it is the case ive said to brainwavz im happy if they want to send another pair and ill give them another go.  i would hate to be seen as being unjustly harsh towards them.

post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2410 View Post
 

well its possible.  i dont believe it to be the case as both sides were exactly the same and if a production flaw id have expected there to be a discrepancy between the two sides.

 

Yes, that make sense. I'm really curious to hear the 'Bass version' of S5 :bigsmile_face:

May also be some batch production error that Brainwavz need to check.

 

There are like around 21 reviews:

http://www.head-fi.org/products/brainwavz-s5-in-ear-headphones/reviews

So it is more likely that your pair simply sound different than the rest.  Best if Brainwavz could send you another pair for verification.

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

well i have said to them that if they want to send another id be happy to reassess things.  however as @hans030390 said more or less the same as me im not the stand out lone voice.  unless they has been a production run that have been all defective in the same way and its just he and i that have got them so far?

post #9 of 14

I doubt that there is a faulty pair that has both sides with the same issues. Most likely just a personal preference thing. I know there are a lot of people who like this type of sound and V-shaped signature, so I try to review stuff less subjectively even if it's not exactly my preferred sound, otherwise I would have been more critical.

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

well its not the first thing ive ever reviewed that wasnt to my tastes.  that it wasnt to my taste wasnt the issue.

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2410 View Post
 

well its not the first thing ive ever reviewed that wasnt to my tastes.  that it wasnt to my taste wasnt the issue.

Well, then I don't know. For me the s5 does have a boosted bass but I don't find it particularly thick and hard hitting to be that tiring. It does have recessed mids but clarity is quite good due to the thinner note presentation. And for me while the lower treble isn't perfect the upper treble is the more problematic part of the highs.

post #12 of 14
Great review, Mark!

For what it's worth (very little, I imagine), I came to the same conclusion as you when I got the chance to try the S5 out. I really didn't like the transition from the bass into the mids, and I too didn't care for the accentuated upper mids and lower treble. The unnatural tonal balance and lack of perceived detail retrieval remind me of the S1, which also wasn't to my taste. The housings are excellent, though...
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kjk1281 View Post

Great review, Mark!

For what it's worth (very little, I imagine), I came to the same conclusion as you when I got the chance to try the S5 out. I really didn't like the transition from the bass into the mids, and I too didn't care for the accentuated upper mids and lower treble. The unnatural tonal balance and lack of perceived detail retrieval remind me of the S1, which also wasn't to my taste. The housings are excellent, though...


lol, well its always nice to know ive not had an aneurysm and others are hearing the same things.

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by kjk1281 View Post

The unnatural tonal balance and lack of perceived detail retrieval remind me of the S1, which also wasn't to my taste. The housings are excellent, though...

And I sold my S1 2 weeks ago but still have 2xM5s,beta etc in my collection tho becoz FWIW....but the looks and build of S1 is just amazing but then they all second when it comes to sound.....I hate to part but theres an audience who like the same sound than me,its all our personal preference, end of the day......rather than I keep them as souviner......
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