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Over-Ear item created by kingpage, Dec 20, 2011
Pros - Good airy soundstage, smooth and quite detailed, comfortable
Cons - slight lack of bass, loose adjuster on headband
I have the Studiospares M1000, identical to the HM5 and won them on ebay for £26 which was an absolute bargain. The Studiospares retail brand new for £64 plus delivery.
They have a secure clamp pressure but are comfortable due to the thick, soft pads. I like the secure feeling that they won't slide off the head, I think the overall clamping and comfort is near perfect for my small to medium sized head. One of the adjuster sliders is a bit loose but does not matter due to the clamping force.
Sound is quite neutral except for very slightly forward mids around 1khz to 4khz, but without any spikes and very smooth transition which makes for a very pleasant sound signature, perhaps not neutral enough for mixing in a studio. Bass and treble are mixed well with the mids although this is not a headphone for bassheads. Treble is not excessive and very pleasing. They are as smooth sounding as the beautiful earcups look, almost as if the physical aspects have influenced the sound!
Soundstage is very wide for closed cans and there seems to be a slight airiness in the presentation, maybe due to the deep earcups combined with the small slotted vents. I do not hear any echo which some people have reported, nor any boomy bass, bass is well defined.
These do not have the detail and accurate imaging of my Philips A5 Pro and PSB M4U1 but they are more expensive headphones. One reviewer said that the Philips Uptown was superior to the HM5 but I did not like the slightly veiled mids and slightly boomy bass of the Uptowns.
I would say that the HM5s are the best value closed cans for under £70. If you are lucky you can get the Philips A5 Pro for under £100 on ebay although they are not as comfortable as the HM5. I think you can get the Yamaha hph mt220 for £120 and the PSB M4U1 for £130, I have not tried the Yamaha but have heard good things about them. The PSB have great detail and soundstage but I do not like the harsh treble. For open headphones you can get the Yamaha hph-200 for £70 which is fantastic, also the AKG k612 is meant to be very good for £89.
Pros - Does everything well for its price
Cons - treble is ted too bright
There has been plenty of monitoring headphone floating around in the market some of which are more on the affordable range such as, the Shure SRH-840 which I likes a lot, the Audio Technica ATH-M50 which doesn’t really suit my taste as well but it is still good for what it is. Then we have the Brainwavz HM5 which surprisingly, a very good pair of headphone for under $200! Of course, not to mention the Sony MDR-7506. With so much to choose from, I am going to focus on the Brainwavz HM5 in this review and a huge thanks to Audrey for sending them in!
Before we get started, here’s a quick run through on the HM5’s specifications:
Rated Impedance64 Ω
Frequency Range10Hz ˜ 26.5kHz
Sensitivity105 dB @ 1 mW
Rated Input Power100 mW
Cable3m & 3m Detachable
Plug5mm Gold Plate
Contents & Accessories
Cable (Detachable)3mt & 3mt
The Brainwavz HM5’s included case fits the HM5 just nicely at the edge with no room to spare for bigger headphones. When zipped, the case looks very much like a giant dinosaur’s egg. Perhaps, T-Rex’s? I don’t know, but what’s inside is the gigantic mini dinosaur HM5. While this headphone looks like a crocodile biting a head when worn, it feels pretty lightweight on hand considering its baby dinosaur size. Enough with the Animal Planet explanation, I did attempt to bring them out with me for once or twice, the fact that, it’s not foldable design, makes it not so suitable for going outdoor and I think, it can be a small drawback since this headphone could have been a very good headphone for outdoor use if it is a little more portable than what it currently is!
The cables are detachable but again, it’s double sided which makes it less fun but after all, this monster headphone is more targeted for studio monitoring. With comfort in mind, and as a person who can sometimes, wear headphones for an hour or two at home in front of a rectangular screen, this Brainwavz HM5 is pretty dark comfortable even with stock pads! The stock pads are really, really, so executively, soft like pillow [although it still looks like a crocodile biting your head]. This headphone is very comfortable. Sorry for sounding like a broken record but this headphone is very comfortable! The headbands are well padded and so are the pads. If anything, Brainwavz included an extra pads. The stock pads are thick, soft, and huge to totally avoid your precious ears from touching anything. How I wish my pillow are as soft as these then I wouldn’t have trouble dealing with insomnias. The clamping force are slightly stronger than what I am used to but it definitely does not have any means of chopping off your head or something. Really, this thing is super comfortable! Brainwavz also sale a thicker pads which you can read more here.
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So the Brainwavz HM5 is super comfortable [ in case you missed the first page ]. The build quality are also very well built from head to toe. It is ready for any sorts of torture and is expected to survive all of it but if you are still worried you are less careful, there’s a hard dinosaur egg shell you can put the HM5 inside. No offense, the case is huge but its very useful since you definitely do not wish your headphone to drop and die. Anyway, while the HM5 are made mostly of plastic, but they are durable plastic. This plastic helps in lighting the weight without compromising the durability at all! The earcups are moveable to change to other earcups for different/upgrade sound. Cables are detachable but I would have like it better if the headphone’s cord are single sided which makes it much more convenient for anything. The included cables are also anti microphonic so no sound will be transmitted to your ears when knocking against your shirt or anything you could think of.
When I put on this headphone and spin a track, I was wow-ed. Its probably all you need! It does nothing wrong at all and produce the music as the artist has intended without adding peanut butter jelly to make anything sound more fun or whatsoever. There are some tracks, that when I listen to with other headphones, there are those tiny little things going on at the back of the music which some headphone, seem to project it as harshness especially instruments like drums, cymbals and the like. When using the HM5, all those things sound like an extra instruments and because of all these minute extra details that the HM5 reproduces, it can make one to feel like as if they are listening to the track for the first time even thought you were sure that, you have listened to it a thousand time.
Similarly thought, because of its excellent ability to capture the smallest detail in the music, bad mastering of records with clippings at the back can also be noticeable. It makes bad mastering records more noticeable at the weaknesses. Then again, if the music is well mastered, be prepared to listen to music for the very first time!
As I have mentioned two paragraph ago, this headphone does nothing wrong and it leaves no exception to the bass. It’s not overpowered nor underpowered. Yet, it goes deeper than the ocean. Like deep under the ocean I suppose, it’s well controlled and hit at your face with a kiss. It definitely doesn’t feel like as if the bass is throwing sword and knifes at you. It’s more of a relaxed type. That said, it is very well controlled. Because of its excellent control, you can hear every single beat of the bass guitar produced in the music unlike many of HM5’s competitors.
Like father like son, like bass like midrange. The midrange are like pure H2O water, uncolored with no extra artificial added. It has been quite sometimes since I have ever heard a headphone at this price, producing such a crispy note in the midrange. It’s very crunchy and each music instruments are finely produced. The overall midrange can be described in a single word: musical. All instruments are equally focused and are given the chance to shine where the time comes. Male vocals are very manly presented without being too rough and the perfect touch of warmness of the HM5 in the lower midrange region makes it very much less muffled.
Treble is probably where HM5’s weakness lies but it was rather well kept deep down the tunnel to avoid it to be found unless otherwise, listened carefully. The treble can be sometimes, a ted brighter and after a long extended hours of listening, female vocals especially, may feel shouty with certain tracks but it definitely depends on what tracks are you listening to. It is also worth mentioning that, the treble is highly detailed at certain part thus, bad recordings at the treble are easily detected with the HM5.
Soundstage, instrumental separation and imaging has again, surprised me in every single way. The soundstage is astonishing for a closed back headphone but it’s not something new I have personally encountered. In fact, I have found quite a few closed back headphones that sound like an open headphone with isolations and the HM5 is among one of them. Maybe a few couple of years back, we can easily conclude that, closed back headphone does not have a wide soundstage. However, its 2015 where the new breakthroughs are far beyond our expectation and in fact, the headphone market have been growing steadily recent years. As a result, there are now some closed headphone that actually sound like an open headphone although is not as open as some open headphone such as the AKG K1000 but still, we can finally get a chance to taste the goodness of open headphone now in a closed back design. I would still prefer to go open whenever allowed thought. The spaciousness of instrumental separation does gives me a wow factor. Like the soundstage, the instrumental separation are somewhat like a pair of open headphone. I can feel that, all the instruments in the music does not sit closely but rather, they are pretty far separated.
Imaging once again, has surprised me! I think this headphone is not just suitable for studio mastering and listening to music but because of its great imaging, and exciting sound, I believe that this will be a good pair of headphone for movies as well! Keep in mind that, I am using the stock pads and the thick leather pads that can be purchased from MP4Nation.net. The reason for used a leather pads is because, when using velour, I feel that the bass escaped too much and the treble seem to go even brighter than it is before. This resulted in a very fatigue listening. So I am very glad that, Brainwavz did not include a velour pads but instead, a pleather pads.
As for amping, yes of course, I did pair with the tiny yet, strong in bass Brainwavz AP-001 amplifier. While the AP-001 created tons of hisses to certain extend, it does create a good synergy with the HM5 but due to the hisses, it takes away the good naturally, clear and transparent sound of HM5. I did pair it up with my Garage1217 Project Sunrise III and wow is the matching a Heaven!
The HM5 sounds great and it’s a little unfair to many headphones at this price as the HM5 basically outperforms many. It is also “unfair” to have such a great build quality and design for the price! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. The build quality could possibly be improved further to lightweight metal would have been more durable thought. The HM5 outperforms many headphones around the same price such as Philips Uptown, Audio Technica ATH-M50, Shure SRH-840, Sony MDR-7506, and many others.
Pros - Quite Neutral, Accessories, Value
Cons - Slightly Bass Light
Brainwavz HM5 Review
The Brainwavz HM5 is a headphone that I have been very intrigued about for quite a long time. I have heard the FA-003 and some other headphones that use the same driver many times and always felt like it had something that really made it stand out. There was always something special and particularly appealing to me when I listened to it and I was curious whether Brainwavz’s version would be any different and hopefully better with their HM5 pads that come in both velour and pleather.
Founded in 2008, Brainwavz has had quite a bit of experience in audio and they have come out with many new products recently, all of which have been rather unique. The HM5, however, is an older model that has been around for quite a few years and I was quite eager to see how they would stack up to the competition today. Despite their somewhat flashy looks, they are by no means tuned for a consumer friendly sound, but one that is aimed at the Head-Fi community.
The HM9 that I reviewed a while back was not quite what I expected. It was really warm and wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I could see many people enjoying that type of sound outside of the audio circles. It was very inoffensive but lacked the excitement that I like so much and was overly warm. From my past experiences, the HM5 was the complete opposite of its brother and has a sound signature that I appreciate much more.
**Disclaimer** These were given to me in return for an honest, unbiased review.
Packaging & Accessories
The packaging is almost identical to the HM9 packaging. It is very simple and has box which contains the case, in which is the headphones and accessories. If I recall correctly, the old packaging for these was a large foam soft case that was similar to the Beyerdynamic cases. I think Brainwavz have changed it to the hard case they are using now. Upon opening the zippered case, there is a pouch with all the accessories. Standard Brainwavz packaging here.
I was quite impressed with the amount of accessories that Brainwavz includes considering the relatively low price of the HM5s. It comes with a 1.3m as well as a 3m cable for portable and home use respectively. They also come with a ¼ adapter as well as an airplane adapter. A strap is also included, but I’m not really sure what exactly that is used for. There is the instructional manual too, of course. There are also extra pads that I forgot to mention before, which is very nice for when the pads wear out. The case is very practical, being a lot smaller than the old case that was huge and probably not as effective. The clamshell style case is very hard and durable.
Design, Isolation & Cable
I find the HM5 a very attractive looking headphone. It looks traditional but still somewhat flashy. The design is a little understated but it is still one of the nicest looking headphones IMO. It is almost completely plastic, but the cups are metal but by no means heavy. In fact, the headphone is actually one of the lightest headphones I have owned. The cable has red and blue on each of the sides that enters the headphone, which is nice for telling which side is which. The headband is indented with Brainwavz and feels very soft and comfortable.
For an over the ear close headphone, the isolation is pretty good, but by no means impressive. They block out some sound, but I would not recommend using them outdoors where it is noisy. They are also quite bulky so it isn’t a great choice for a portable headphone anyway. There are also some other drawbacks from portable use in regards to sound, but that will be covered later.
The cable is just a standard cable that looks very ordinary. The plug has the Brainwavz logo which is a nice touch and as mentioned before, the left and right sides are colour coded. The strain relief on the 3.5mm plug is quite nice and it feels quite durable. The 3m cable is probably a little long for these headphones IMO, maybe 2m or so would have been better. I do appreciate the fact that these are removable and the cable uses 3.5mm mono plugs as connectors so they should be very easy to replace or to build a custom cable for them.
Now I will elaborate on the point of why these may not be the best portable solution. These headphones benefit greatly from amping. When I first received them, I plugged them into my phone and was disappointed by how lifeless and lacking they sounded. The bass seems to be affected the most by the lack of amping and it is not as strong as they are when you amp them. The HM5s are already not bass heavy whatsoever so it may be problematic if you like bass. Adding even a cheap am solves these issues, however. The Brainwavz AP-001 is actually a good choice if you are on a tight budget. For most of this review, I ran them through my iBasso DX90 and D-Zero MKII. I liked the D-Zero MKII pairing more because I found that the D-Zero had a bit more bass. I also put on the velour pads for the review, which are my favourite. Thy must be purchased separately and are thicker than the stock pads as well as being more comfortable. I prefer the velour pads over the stock and the pleather Brainwavz pads. Sonic change is very minimal though.
The HM5 is a headphone that I am very familiar with despite never owning it previously. There are many headphones that are basically the same and use the same drivers. The Fischer FA-003 is one of them but at a much higher price. From what I remember, these two sound essentially identical and you will probably not be able to tell the difference between this and the Fischer. I was a fan of the FA-003 and I was quite certain that I was going to enjoy these as well.
I often hear these being called neutral and whilst I don’t completely agree, I can definitely see why. The bass is very flat, but also lighter than what I perceive as neutral. The impact just isn’t strong or visceral as other headphones I consider to have truly “neutral” bass. Comparing impact with the HD800, which people often claim is somewhat bass-light as well (although I don’t agree) was quite interesting. I was thinking the HM5 was going to have more impact, but surprisingly it had less and I was a bit let down. Moving on from the slightly hollow sounding bass, the speed is very fast and there is no bass bloat whatsoever. Drums are nicely presented and I do enjoy the way that when the track calls for bass it is usually there, but never really affects any of the other frequencies. The detail is quite nice for the price and other than the lacklustre bass tuning, the overall bass on the HM5 is one that is quite attractive. Although I am not a huge fan of the bass-light tuning of the HM5, I suspect many other will enjoy the clean and very fast bass.
Once again, I don’t really hear the HM5s as being completely flat in the midrange. Despite reading what other people hear, I cannot really fathom how the midrange is warm. To my ears, it is slightly on the colder and brighter side, accentuating those higher midrange frequencies. It is nothing like the warm and liquid midrange of the HM9, but bright in a very positive way. I really did enjoy the midrange, despite the fact that it isn’t the flattest. I did find female vocals a bit too bright, however and didn’t enjoy them as much as some other headphones I have heard in the price range. Male vocals seem to have that extra bit of clarity to them due to the lifted upper mids which I found to be appealing. The midrange is presented in a way that is very slightly laid back but by no means recessed at all. Pianos weren’t bad, but had a little bit of an unnatural and artificial coldness to them. I like the midrange of the HM5 very much and feel like it does indeed outshine other headphones in this price range.
The treble is, not unlike the bass and midrange, close to being neutral, but just a little bit off. I do feel like this is closest to neutral out of all the three main frequencies, however. To my ears, it is just a little pulled back, but not at all dark or warm. While the upper midrange can make the treble sound like it is bright too, I felt like cymbals just didn’t sound as neutral as some other headphones I have heard that I consider neutral. From memory, these are brighter than HD600s, which is a very popular headphone, so if you have tried it and are fine with it, then the HM5 treble should give you no problems. Cymbals not as pronounced as I would have liked, but it didn’t really bother me that much and I didn’t find them to detract from the HM5 at all. Keep in mind that I am a bit of a treblehead and I do like my treble to be a bit bright like the HD800. There is definitely sufficient detail in these to make it a fun and enjoyable listen, but don’t be expecting SRH940 detail. The HM5 does very well here.
Soundstage & Imaging
Obviously you can’t expect the HM5 to have incredible imaging considering the cost and the fact that it is a close headphone, but I feel like it is a very solid performer here. The width and depth especially were actually quite good and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything, I did not feel like I was bothered or that the music was being restricted by the HM5’s soundstage at all. The height could be a bit better, but for a little over $100, I am not going to complain about that.
Imaging is likewise quite impressive. With the Brainwavz pads, I felt like this was affected the most. The imaging became a little better and more precise, maybe because of more space in the cups? At times it did feel like the stage was a little crowded, but I have a feeling that that has got more to do with the soundstage than the imaging. The imaging was very precise and reminded me a little of the Hd800 actually; a real feat for the HM5.
Separation, Detail & Clarity
I found that the separation was good, but didn’t really stand out from the wide range of headphones in the sub-$200 range. It is good and handles simpler tracks very well, but when it comes to more complicated tracks, it does struggle and this does become apparent. Instruments are like this more so than vocals. The vocal separation is much better and I feel like the vocals on the HM5 are really a standout. Not bad, but could be improved a little in a few areas.
The HM5 is not a detail oriented headphone, but that is not to say that it is not detailed because it definitely is. The upper mids really brings out the details there, but I feel like the treble could be a bit more detailed. The detail in the bass is actually quite good despite the let down in the tuning. For casual listening or editing, these should be fine, but they won’t really show the small details or flaws in the music if that is what you are looking for.
Although the clarity is indeed very good, I do feel like there is a sense of artificialness about it. Vocal clarity, as mentioned before, is very good, but with female vocals I find it a little bit too much. Instrument clarity is good, but I am left with the feeling that there is a slight edge to it that I notice occasionally with some tracks. Other than that, the clarity is one of the best in that price range.
To clear up any confusion that might be surrounding this, by Brainwavz earpads, I mean the earpads that can be purchased separately and not the ones that the HM5 come with. These come in a variety of colours and in either pleather or leather and at a very reasonable price. They are very thick pads, but also extremely soft and comfortable. My ears have no issues fitting inside the pads completely, but they aren’t the largest pads in terms of space inside the pads. Compared to the similar stock HM5 pads, they are thicker and also softer. I find the velour ones much more comfortable than the stock pleather and the Brainwavz pleather ones. I also found the stock pads to occasionally make the drivers touch my ears and with the other pads, this does not happen.
It terms of sonic change, not much can be reported here. I’m not entirely sure I perceive a difference, but feel like with the Brainwavz velour pads the soundstage was a little bit bigger and imaging was improved a little but the bass was also reduced just a bit. The pleather one was similar to the velour pads, but had a little more bass. To be honest though, the pleather ones don’t really make a large, or any difference to the sound of the HM5, but are an excellent choice if you are looking to replace the pads on your headphone with some plush and comfortable earpads. It is also worth mentioning that there are many different colours available, which is not very common. Usually there are only black aftermarket ear pads available, but Brainwavz offers them in many colours, which is nice.
I realise that I have been somewhat critical in the review so let me begin the summary by saying that I like the HM5 a lot and find it to be a steal at its price. The only real section I can really complain about is the bass impact, which could be a bit stronger, but it is not too bad. The HM5 is a very solid closed headphone that I will happily recommend over other headphones such as the M-50. It gives you a true insight into what high end sound is like, but understandably is a few steps short of reaching it.
Pros - Sound Quality, Build Quality, Comfort, Features, Affordable.
Cons - Headband, Clamping.
I am penning down my opinion about the Brainwavz HM5 Over ear Studio Monitor headphones. I will try to keep this review as simple as possible and I hope it would be easy to read, and help fellow enthusiasts to understand more about the HM5.
Me : I am an 21 year old Engineering student living in a small town in India. I would like to call myself an music enthusiast, rather than an audiophile. I was inspired by music since childhood, and as the time passed, the passion of music grew in me, and that subsequently led me to join Head-Fi. Eventually, I found the pleasure of listening to music mainly by the HD600 headphones, and realized the true components of recorded music. I usually like to listen to Indian Classical Music along with Bollywood songs.
Intro : Brainwavz, established in 2008, is an renown brand in the audio world. I always have felt that, Brainwavz excels in delivering quality products in an affordable price.The HM5 is the only over ear and closed headphone offering from the house of Brainwavz. HM5 is aimed to function as Studio monitor, rather than solely for Audiophile listening purposes.
Packaging and Accessories : The HM5 arrives packed inside an typical-Brainwavz-style colourful cardboard box, on which features, accessories and other information have been mentioned upon. The box is sealed by Brainwavz factory. Once the box is opened, the HM5 and accessories are packed inside the hard case. Nice step taken by Brainwavz, considering thousands of miles journey the HM5 has to undergo before reaching its destination. The hard case can be unzipped off to reveal the storage compartment, in which all the included accessories are present.
List of accessories in the box, which include the following:
1) 1.3M headphone cable: Practical step taken by Brainwavz, The cable is of short length and suits much better for portable use. The cable terminates in 1/8” jack. I find myself using this cable for most of the time.
2) 3M headphone cable: This cable has extra length, same features, and is intended for non-portable purposes in studio. This cable too terminates in 1/8”.
3) ¼” converter: This converter can be screwed-in directly to both short and long cables for plugging in ¼” headphone jack, and is gold plated.
4) Spare Earpads: One spare set of stock pleather earpads.
5) Hard Case: To store the HM5 headphone and its accessories.
6) Zipper line : It is an long cord with hooks to attach to hard case and can be hung around our shoulder while travelling.
7) Warranty: Contains warranty details of the HM5.
Overall, the packaging and accessories gives an positive first impression. Packaging is secure and practical, with accessories provided being plenty and made up of premium quality. They all have the same sophisticated feel as each and every part of the HM5.
Design and Build : The HM5 has an excellent build quality and has been built with professional grade materials. Metal cups, steel headband, high quality audio jacks, reliable overall sturdy construction. Nothing feels finicky. HM5 is a little smaller than how it appears in pictures, thus making it very portable and nimble. Headband is made up of high grade steel. Headband padding is cushioned and is good enough to keep us comfortable for 1-2 hours on an continuous listen. On the top side of the headband padding, The brand name ‘Brainwavz’ is engraved, giving the HM5 an professional look.,
Headphone cable is made up of good quality materials, 1/8” jack terminal is gold plated and feels high quality. The mono jack ending for the headphone, marked red for right and blue for left, The ¼” converter too has a premium quality. The driver housing cup is light in weight, has metal plated outer finishing, and has clearly visible Left and Right markings. Strain relief on the housing are rigid and well implemented. Headphone cable connector design is simple yet reliable and practical, with mono 3.5mm connector. With an simple push inside the socket, the connector sits snugly in its place.The HM5 feels rubbery when held in and has matt finish, which increases the holding grip, and does not it slip off from our hands.
Another thing to mention about HM5 is that, it is completely modular, with user removable and replace-able parts. Headband, earcups, earpads, and even the driver unit can be removed out of the HM5, which increases HM5’s reliability and durability along with ease of maintenance for the user. The HM5 in overall is made up of high quality materials, also, the HM5 has excellent finishing. A 3D Brainwavz logo embossed on the ear cups looks very attractive!
Specifications of HM5 as per Brainwavz:
Drivers : Dynamic, 42mm
Rated Impedance : 64 Ω
Frequency Range : 10Hz ˜ 26.5kHz
Sensitivity: 105 dB @ 1 mW
Rated Input : Power 100 mW
Over ear Design : Ensures in good fit and comfort, and has oval shaped earcup design to comfortably fit on our oval shaped human ears. Earcups have have plenty of space inside to accommodate larger ears.
Easy to drive: HM5 is rated at 64Ohms and having an dynamic driver, and is easy to drive from most of the portable devices. Which is an plus point of portability.
Detachable cable : HM5 has an simple detachable cable mechanism, which of snug-fit simply push type. Though replacement cable are rare in mono 3.5mm headphone plug, its always convenient to have an detachable cable.
Portability : It is appreciable that, an over ear headphone which is truely portable practically. Most of the over ear headphones are cumbersome to carry around, whereas the HM5 can sit comfortably in its carry case, and is easy to carry around.
Modularity : This feature vaguely reminds me of the HD600’s, just like HD600, the HM5 is modular, with most of its parts user repairable and replaceable. This feature allows us to easily change the earpads, earcups, and allows other modifications.
Comfort : Comfort level on HM5 is good enough. HM5 headphones are very light in weight, does not get dislodged when head is shaken. The HM5 is ergonomically designed, except for the headband assembly and clamping force, which I feel lets the comfort levels down.
Since the HM5 is compactly designed, The headband cushioning is quite mediocre, is very less in length and thickness, and this can cause slight pain or discomfort for larger heads. Clamping was so tight that, I carefully bent the steel supports to suit for my head. But this 'bend' reverses back, to default, once the HM5 is stored back in its hard case. I have to mention, earcup comfort is very good, considering the oval shaped cups suitable for human ears and lots of ear-space inside the earpads.Velour pads may be itchy for sensitive skinned people. The headband screw cover is bare and exposed right besides the headband cushion, and touches my head.
Sound : The HM5 is overall ‘clean and clear’ sounding with very good sound stage depth and decent width, imaging and detail retrieval (for an closed can). Considering the HM5’s overall neutral sound character, It can match up with any genre and with any source without sounding bad in particular. Sound stage depth is very good especially for an closed can, width is decent and good enough. Detail retrieval is excellent. Imaging and dynamics live upto expectations, giving an circular spacious surround sound. Gives an neutral and balanced sonic performance.
The final sonic output in HM5 noticeably changes from different earpads and earcups used:
Aftermarket Pleather earpads : Lows are strong but a little boomy, Highs are a touch smoothened, and soundstage feels congested. sounds dark and muddy when compared to velour pads. Although comfort is very good, and maximum isolation is achieved by this pleather earpad.
Aftermarket Velour earpads : Lows are tighter and are well controlled. the overall sound is more airier with increased soundstage. Sounds much more relaxed than the pleather earpads and is sonically more neutral. Increased wearing comfort and ventilation is an bonus. Though isolation is least in this pad.
Stock earpads : Sounds noticeably inferior compared to the above two, and is relatively uncomfortable, due to its thin padding.
I could imagine that more sonic improvements and neutrality can be achieved with installation of the custom semi open earcups; though I do not have opportunity to try them.
The Downsides :
1) Headband Padding : The head padding provided is minimalistic, and is not very comfortable for larger heads (like mine), causing headaches and sore heads after an hour of continuous listen through the HM5.
2) Clamping : The HM5 has tight clamp force, and my face felt jammed between the earcups of HM5 on the first use. The clamp force did reduced a bit after few hours of use, but not upto to my comfort.
The above two downsides should not be much of an issue for people with smaller or moderate head size.
3) Quality in some areas: Although overall quality of HM5 is very good, but at some places, like inner earcup swing-arm has an hollow appearance. This feels as an compromise in quality. Headband securing screws are completely exposed and have finicky feel to them.
Conclusion: The HM5 is designed to function as an studio monitor, and that explains its closed design to capture every detail in accurate way possible. The HM5 offers very good neutral sound quality along with excellent portability and features, in an affordable price range. The HM5 is an very capable headphone, but one may have to purchase velour earpads and semi open earcups, in addition to the headphone itself, for an more pleasing experience. Headband can be bit of an issue for people with larger heads.
Pros - Reference-esque SQ, Accessories, Comfort
Cons - Clamp, Size
Brainwavz has done it again! While there are several audio companies offering a nice budget-king-FOTW IEM here, a feature-packed portable amp there, I can't think of many that have put together the streak of high-quality products at affordable prices in the short time the way that the people at Brainwavz have done. Delta: Low Cost Champion. S5: Sub $100 Contender. S0: Budget All-Rounder. Even though it's not their newest, the closed back offering from Brainwavz is yet another strong entry.
Enter: The HM5.
The HM5 is a full-sized, closed-back headphone that performs quite well, regardless of price. It does everything well. It'd be dishonest to fling praises from the mountain tops about it's razor-sharp treble or to schedule a small town parade about the richness of it's sub-bass. However, I've been using it extensively for the last few days and I'm happy to report that not once have I 'wanted' anything else from it. The sound is balanced well with itself and anyone looking for a neutral-ish closed-back headphone for under $300 should seriously consider this guy.
Test Songs (all ALAC either 16/44 or 24/96):
Someone Like You - Adele - Live from Royal Albert Hall
Late in the Evening - Paul Simon - The Essential Paul Simon
Limit to Your Love - James Blake -
What About Me - Snarky Puppy - We Like It Here
Hide and Seek - Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself
Prelude from Cello Suite #4 - Yo Yo Ma
YYZ - Rush - Exit Stage Left
MacBook Pro > Fidelia > Pan Am Stack
The low end of the HM5 is quite nice. I'm a fan of neutral sigs that might have a touch of warmth (HE500, RS1, HD600, etc.) and I've found the HM5 right in line with my palate. The low end is certainly present and almost linear. The ridiculous sub-bass in James Blake's version of "Limit to Your Love" is in full effect. The punch of the kick drum in the Snarky Puppy and Rush tunes is present and nicely textured. Stays in the bass region without bleeding into the mids which certainly is appreciated. I've found that with closed-backs, getting the bass right is tough. It's easy to produce a basshead can as the seal of a closed-back is quite conducive to this, however, achieving a more neutral bass without bloat, bleed, or blur is far less common. Props to Brainwavz for spending the extra time to get this one right.
Clean. They aren't super rich or forward, but they are nestled comfortably in between the extremes of the frequency range. Both Adele's and Simon's vocals are accurate and organic. Horns in the Snarky and Paul Simon tunes are crispy and lively. The crunch of the electric in the "YYZ" isn't as engaging as the Grado or Hifiman sound, but that's not to say it isn't enjoyable. These are a monitor-style headphone, and as such shouldn't emphasize any part of the signature way more than any other.
The treble on the HM5 is polite yet detailed. It's not a detail retrieval monster, nor a haven for treble-heads, however, monitor-style headphones should have a revealing treble.The HM5 is no exception. It's not the most spacious I've heard, but it is very capable for a closed-back design. Like the midrange, the treble is clean and articulate. Intricate cymbal work and upper-range trumpet and sax is clean and detailed. Now the treble is a hair behind the lower frequencies to these ears, but not recessed. I imagine this tuning is meant to make them easy to listen to across genres. These headphones are certainly not going to cause any wincing or fatigue after lengthy listening sessions.
Slightly better than average. The sense of space is decent, but probably not anything to write home about. Decent height and width, but not a lot of depth. On some of my orchestral stuff, having come from the HE500, I knew that there was more in the recording to be offered. Left-to-right imaging is spot on. Nothing else to say on that. Instrument separation is also just fine. Nothing incredible or shortcoming to note. From the large live-in-studio recording of the Snarky Puppy tune to the digitally-enhanced sense of space in Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek," picking out individual timbres, rhythms, and layers is very easy.
For me, aesthetics are only worth mentioning if they're very good or very bad. In this case, it's very good for most respects. Comfort? Almost excellent. The spacious pads that these have become known for are very light and plush. It's no wonder they show up in pad-rolling threads all the time. ***Stay tuned for my review on the new HM5 Velour Pads!!!*** The shape and padding of the headband is very ergonomic, however, the clamp is worth mentioning. It's a little clamp-tastic out of the box. This does help with the seal and stability on head, but is still a little vice-like. Luckily, this can be alleviated by periodically stretching the headband beyond normal wearing width. The mostly-plastic build ain't my first choice, but ya gotta save some production dough some how! The metal-faced cups are nice and clean which does lend a more premium feel to the HM5.
I can't not mention the accessories. Brainwavz has always impressed with the included accessories. From the slew of tips that come with IEMs to the hard case and multiple cables of the HM5, I've always pleasantly surprised. The HM5 comes with two removable cables, a spare pair of pads, probably the best hardside case I've seen for a full-sized can, and a little zip pouch for the hefty 1/4 adapter and extra cables inside the case. Nice!
Overall, the HM5 from Brainwavz is one of the best sub-$300 closed headphones I've heard. It bests its rebranded NVX XPT100 in every category. It offers an accessory kit that every other major headphone manufacturer should take note of. And, best of all, it offers exceptional value with regards to soundrice ratio. For anyone who enjoys a clean, mostly neutral sound signature for either personal listening, monitoring, or mixing, the HM5 form Brainwavz is an excellent choice!
***This review unit was provided free of charge. I'm in no way affiliated with Brainwavz or their distributors.***
Pros - comfort, tonality, soundstage, neutrality, isolation
Cons - the included case is useless to me, but that is really it.
I need to start by thanking Brainwavz for the HM5 to review. They had sent me their S5 IEM a couple months back to review, and afterwards had asked me if I was interested in reviewing any other headphones of theirs, and I asked for the HM5. I had always wanted to try one, but had never gotten around to it. I am now wishing that I had gotten one when they first came out. I like it a whole lot.
Packaging - accessories:
The packaging is sufficient and includes two different length cables, an extra set of pads, and a semi-rigid carrying case. My only complaint here is the case. In order to use the case, you have to unhook the cables from the headphone and set the headband to the smallest position. I have another case that I had bought years ago that I use with them when I leave the house, so no big deal really. I just don't like the fact that the cables have to be undone to fit the headphone in the supplied case.
Comfort - fit - isolation:
I find the comfort and fit of these to be great. Others have mentioned a tight clamp, but I have a small head. For example my full face motorcycle helmet is a size small, so I do have a small head. So I find the fit of these to be just fine. The pads are nice and soft and deep and seal very well to my head. The headband has good padding where it touches my head as well. No issues with comfort at all after hours and hours of use. They could get a bit hot I'd imagine, but It's fall here, now so I've not had the chance to use them in any temps over 70 yet. Isolation is above average as well. They seal to my head perfectly and block out a good amount of background noise. Not like IEM's, but very good for a full size headphone. I've experienced better isolation, but have also experienced worse.
Build quality - durability:
Seems average or better than average to me. I don't see them failing on me. I have never broken a headphone, and I don't see these being that changing. The construction seems to be all plastic, but they don't feel weak or flimsy or fragile.
Soundstage - imaging:
I'd call them better than average for a sealed headphone when it comes to soundstage depth and width. They do not sound congested like closed back headphones often do. My other full size headphone is an AKG Q701 that I use with the speaker taps of an Emotiva A-100 Mini-X, if that helps to put it in perspective. I'm not saying they are as open sounding as a Q701, but going back and forth the difference isn't disappointing considering the HM5 is closed and isolates very well. Imaging and instrument separation is very good as well for something in this price bracket.
Onto the tonality:
Very close to neutral, but still natural and fun. Nothing seems exaggerated or missing.
The bass is clean and smooth. It is well extended and pretty quick. They are not bass heavy or bass light. It does what the music tells it to do. I have seen people pull the cups apart and do various mods to supposedly "clean up" the bass. I think the bass is fine as it is, and I do not plan to pull th cups apart and mod them.
The mids are right there, not recessed or overly in your face either. Everything in the mid-range gets represented like it should.
Top end is also smooth and present. It can be sparkly and splashy when the music calls for it, but I have yet to hear any sibilance or harshness.
Detail is very good across the whole range. I listen to rock, metal, jazz, and a little bit of electronic music and it does them all very well just like a neutral headphone should.
They are very sensitive and easy to drive to good levels. They do not require a dedicated headphone amp. All of my listening to these was and is done on a Verizon wireless Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone using the Neutron music player app. I have all the good audiophile settings enabled on the Neutron app, but I am not using any EQ on them at all. They sound just the way I like with no EQ. I do not actually even own a headphone amp that I can try them on to compare. For my Q701 I use the speaker taps on an Emotiva Mini-X A-100. To use the HM5 on this amp would require me to make a custom cable/ modify one of the two supplied cables, or make some kind of adaptor. I see no reason to bother at all. These do just fine with the volume at the halfway mark on my S4. The S4 puts out clean power, and has a low output impedance, so it makes a very decent music player. This review would have been done earlier, but I was having some issues with the phone randomly rebooting after a software update which made it hard to listen to and test the headphones when the phone kept rebooting randomly, but quite often. That has been straightened out, so I was finally able to get some good listening done.
I am very very impressed with these. Are they the best sealed headphone out there? I'm sure they are not, but I'm also not sure they can be beat for the price if this is the type of sound signature that you prefer. I do wish I had gotten an HM5 when they first came out. They make a nice sealed headphone that I can use out of the house with a smartphone to go along with my Q701. They sound close enough to the Q701 that I am perfectly happy with them.
Music tested with:
Lots of different rock, metal, and jazz, and a little bit of electronic music. I have never really put together a list of prefered test tracks, I just listen to what I like and enjoy it.
Another big thanks to Brainwavz for the headphone to review. I like these quite a bit and will continue to enjoy them.
Pros - Sound Comfert Price
Cons - Build Quality
I bought a pair of HM5s about 6 months ago. They give you absolutely great sound for under $150 but I ran into a big problem. Both sides where the slider connects to the headphones started to crack within a week of one another. A little later pieces of plastic started falling off altogether and now I can't take them off too fast without cutting my ear. Before you buy try searching about the HM5s build quality, lots of complaints. The best part is even though I'm still under warranty no one will return my emails.
Pros - Easy to EQ, comfortable for long sessions, price!
Cons - None yet.
I stumbled upon these headphones after numerous hours of research. To be quite honest, I'd never heard of this brand before so I was a bit hesitant before making the jump; especially after owning products from major brands such as Shure, Audio Technica and Beyerdynamic. You know what to expect from those brands, but from Brainwavz? Read on to find out more..
#Packaging: they come in a relatively small box (compared to the ATH-M50s), inside you'll find:
-A black and red hard shell carrying case that'll hold your headphones and accessories
-A carrying strap for your hard shell case
-The warranty card and instructions
-A spare pair of pleather ear pads
-The headphones themselves
-¼ audio jack
-Two removable cables (1.3m and 3m long)
-An airline adapter
-A pouch to store all the cables and audio jacks
#Design and Build Quality: and I thought my DT770s were big!
They're definitely not like any other set of cans you've seen before, as soon as you pick them up you'll notice how light and sturdy they are. Some parts are made out of plastic, but they don't feel cheaply made.
The ear pads seem to be of top notch quality, they're made out of pleather. If you do happen to break them, Brainwavz was kind enough to include a second pair; they both appear to be identical.
I was actually kind of surprised with the quality of the cables, they appear to be strong and both sets are removable and can be plugged in without any problems.
In my opinion the HM5s look super clean and modern, and I love the metal accents on the ear cups. You will like them wether you're 18 or 45.
#Sound Quality: after burning them in for 72 hours with lossless music and pink noise. Amped with a Fiio E12 Mont Blanc and iPod Classic w/Fiio LOD L9.
I like to buy different headphones because they all offer me different experiences; the ATH-M50s have a particular sound signature, as well as my Beyerdynamic DT770s and my Shure SE215. None of them sound alike, and that was one of the reasons I was in the market for a new set of closed back headphones. I also needed something less colored and more 'EQ friendly'. If you're a music fanatic like I am you will understand what I am saying.
Why do I have the Audio Technicas? Because sometimes I wanna feel the bass (and have my head rattle for a couple of hours with techno and industrial music)
Why do I have the Beyerdynamics? Because sometimes I wanna get that immersive experience without bothering those around me. Some people may disagree with me, but the soundstage on these puppies are outstanding, and not to mention little to no sound leaking.
Why do I have the Shure in ears? Because I also need something more portable and inexpensive but also have the best sound quality for the money.
The HM5s do not disappoint in terms of sound quality. Yes, they are flat, uncolored headphones. But that doesn't mean they're boring. It just means that you can pretty much EQ them in any way and direction you want to. If you're not a fan of EQing then leave them as they are, and you'll hear the music the way the artist intended.
If you've never heard a flat response headphone before then you're in for a treat. No, the bass will not rattle your head, but you will be able to hear the bass as opposed to feel the bass. The mids aren't overpowering and they give the vocals a nice presence. The highs are perfect and I did not experience any sort of sibilance (unlike the DT770s).
The soundstage is phenomenal; all the instruments are well separated.
You will not be bothering those around you either, the HM5s have great passive noise isolation, so there's almost no sound leakage.
I suggest listening to the following songs before you receive your headphones and then again after you burn them in.
Madness - Muse
Speed of Sound - Coldplay
Dreamers - Savoir Adore
Autumn's Monologue - From Autumn to Ashes
Strict Machine - Goldfrapp
House of Cards - Radiohead
Nature Trips - Eyedress
Also remember these are 64 Ohm headphones, so having something to power them is recommended.
#Final Thoughts: they're keepers!
Even if you hate these headphones you have to realize that you paid $129 for them. And not to mention all the great accessories that came with them (the case itself has to be worth at least $20 right?)
I, on the other hand, loved them. I couldn't be happier with them and in my opinion these are right 'up there' with the leaders in the hi-fi audio business.
They've earned a spot in my headphone collection, and I truly recommend them to you as long as you know what to expect.
Pros - Hyper Comfortable , Smooth throughout the board , Very distant for being a closed , great for smooth listening , PRICE !!
Cons - Withdrawn Sub-Bass , Detail not up there for critical listening , clamping , clarity , flimsy headband adjustment
2nd Review lets do this
Instead of talking about the stuff that I have talked about in the video below , will focus here on sound
The day I got them I remember the first session with it was listening to "Live in Paris" by Diana Krall , I was stunned my the smoothness it had , just a very smooth and enjoyable tone , the bass in tracks like 'Lets Fall in Love" and "The look of Love" just sounded exceptional and very well extended , the bass reminded me of my 650s just a bit withdrawn in the Sub-Bass
To be really honest , its one of the best if you are primarily a Jazz listener , I can't justify using it as my go-to HiFi headphone for every genre , the perceived detail just seems to be absent but that is just by a thread , minuscule as a matter of fact but noticeable and worth mentioning if you have other HiFi cans
For me the HM5 is the headphone I would love to listen to some Grant Green or Wes Montgomery maybe some Jimmy Smith too , just the overall smooth timbre makes it a perfect headphone for any Jazz lover (Which I am one)
There are zero discernible spikes , undoubtedly a "Neutral Champ" cannot stress that enough
In terms of overall separation I found it to be quite good , for a closed headphone this might be the best for the price , did play some Binaural , out of all I had , found Ottmar Liebert: Up Close to be the best , this is a great album BTW if you haven't heard it already
The bass was very good , the overall texture was quite discernible with this song by "The Roots" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qzacv8dtb4&feature=kp , not over inflated just a good presentation in general if not the rolled of sub-bass made it a bit thin sounding
So , yeah this is a good headphone , one of the best purchases at least in my book , must have for any enthusiast
This is my Review I did on YouTube -
Pros - The travel pack is beautiful, decent, and useful. The headset itself is comfortable with acoustical space and naturalness signature
Cons - none so far
BRAINWAVZ HM5 Studio Monitor Headphones Best bang of the bucks in five years!!
Got mine today. Takes two days directly from Hongkong. Yes, the waiting is hard for me. A little back story. I was planning getting myself a pair HD 598 from Sennheiser as my Christmas gift. However, the cost of HD 598 just doesn’t cut it. After extensive online study, I found out this nonexpansive headphone (compare to HD 598) has the potential to outperform many $300 grade headphones(I told myself that). Since this headphone is a replication of the famous FA-003. Moreover, my friend Waiting told me that HM5 is having a pre-order sale right now. I am so glad I pull the trigger at that moment.
Enough of the chit-chat, let’s take a quick look on the package. All I can say is amazing, the protector/carry box is a mini hard shell box. The color and build quality of the box itself is top notch. Better than my 270 dollar Revo sunglass protect box. I meant come on it even comes with a shoulder strap. The box itself can well worth 40 dollar. I bet I can take this box to the mall and sell it for 50 without much effort. The accessories include the shoulder strap, 1/4" adapter, extra set earpads, airplane adapter, 1.3m detachable cable, 3.0m detachable cable, Instruction manual, and Warranty card. ALL copper plated connectors!! I have not seen they do that on Monster Turbine and klipsch X10. That basically says it all. You are getting something that’s way more than $100 can give you in today’s real world. However, at this point I was thinking if it sound like poopoo maybe I can still give it to my brother or something and it would still looks like an awesome piece of headwear for Christmas gift.
Needless to say, I run to my desktop and plug this bad boy to my Fiio E7 and start checking it out. And oh my holy cow, I finally understand why some people love these and some people hate it. As for me, I am on the love side. If you listen to metal rock or punk, you have a high chance you gonna love this pair of cans. I don’t have the professional testing knowledge or instruments to do a wave compare or display. I do have oscilloscope in school’s lab and other instruments for doing the test. However, since I am a slacker and I will just review it from the feeling of my human ear. For me the most significant stand out on HM5 are the “acoustical space” and “naturalness”. Pair HM5 with fiio E7 and start playing Hinder “Lips of An Angel” and though I was in front of the stage. I can listen to any instrument effortlessly. Personally, I play guitar so normally this would be the first instrument I listen to. Trust me with HM5 is so easy to listen to certain instrument without even focusing. The space between each instrument is just enormous in a good way for me. About the “naturalness” is actually pretty funny. So I was listen to some music with HM5 on the first day I received it. I was thrilled with the headset that day and played with it till 2 O’clock something in the morning. No big deal, I start to look for websites that offer headset test file. I found the website “http://www.audiocheck.net/soundtests_headphones.php” and start listening to the provided tracks. Boy oh boy, I play through each track till “Binaural Test” and I almost crap my pants, since it was 2 something in the middle of the night and someone is knocking on my door pretty hard. I took off the headphone and went to see who is behind the door. As soon as I took off the headphone I just realize the ambient noise in my room and outside my apartment are quite loud(desktop computer fan noise and bugs singing outside the window). I was still thinking that if someone knocked the door it would be hard for me to heard it so clearly. Apparently there is only one possibility, I put on HM5 again and play the track again. Yes, I have to take the headset off and make sure there is no one knocking on my door again!! I was sweat at the moment. This is ridiculously incredible.
Because the positioning is so well defined, I also used it for my gaming sessions. Payday the heist, the accurateness is pin point, I can reload my gun with proper distance from my enemy and catch them at the corner every time. Overall, HM5 is way better than I expected. For 100 dollar I can get this awesome headphone which worth every penny. What I hate about it is that I should have bought it sooner!