Brainwavz S5 In Ear Headphones

Average User Rating:
3.78704/5,
  1. Loquah
    3.5/5,
    "A Really Solid Budget Earphone"
    Pros - Great bass, very comfortable, well made
    Cons - Treble has some holes, flat cable behaves strangely

    Overview

     
    The Brainwavz S5 is a new IEM priced at around $100 and is getting a lot of exposure thanks to a concerted effort from Brainwavz to push out review units to reviewers just like me. Thank you to Audrey and the Brainwavz team for arranging this pair of S5s for me to review at no charge. I'm really glad that they've decided to make this push too because Brainwavz have never been on my radar, but the S5 is a surprising package that has me seriously interested in their future offerings.
     

    Specifications

     
    1. Driver:  1 x 10mm dynamic
    2. Impedance:  16 ohms
    3. Frequency range:  18 - 24,000 Hz
    4. Sensitivity:  110 dB at 1 mW
     

    Design & Comfort

     
    For a $100 earphone, the S5s come with plenty of accessories including a good range of silicone tips, a  pair of comply T400 (medium size), a sexy 6.3mm adapter and a great hard case that doesn't look expensive, but is very practical in both size and build because it's a very rigid and compact hard case.
     
    The housing of the S5s is a curious cone shape and I have to admit to being quite sceptical when I first looked at them - I couldn't imagine a universe in which they'd be comfortable, but apparently I'm already living in that universe because the S5s are very comfortable IEMs. The tapered shape of the S5s combined with the perfect angle of the nozzles means that the housing sits close to the ear, but not touching which is much better than the IEMs on the market that stick straight out of the ear and look like Frankenstein's bolts. The housings are light despite being solid metal and the cable entry / exit angle is excellent. There's really no flaw in the functional and aesthetic design of the S5s.
     

    Cable

     
    This is definitely a weak spot for the S5s, but not a deal breaker. I'm yet to experience a good, comfortable flat cable and the S5's cable is no exception. The flat cable seems prone to tangling and refuses to sit flat so I'm not sure what benefit it is intended to impart because I would have much preferred a simple, round cable design. It's not a disaster, but could have been better. On the positive side, the strain reliefs and Y-split are all solid and look good and the cable length is good at 1.3m.
     

    Sound

     
    When I first listened to the S5s I hadn't yet researched them so had no idea of their price. Suffice to say I was shocked when I later checked to discover that they are $100 earphones - I expected a price tag much higher based on a combination of packaging, accessories and sound quality.
     

    Bass

     
    The S5s offer a boosted bass level akin to other v-shaped IEMs like the Atomic Floyd Super Darts and many of the hybrids on the market from T-Peos, Astrotec and Dunu. Despite that comparison, the bass from the S5s isn't quite as tight and perfect as most of those options, but the S5s are also at least one third the price. The S5's bass is punchy with a little bit of extra weight beyond what's natural, but it's still in control enough to be resolving for the most part. I'd describe the bass from the S5s as dynamic and fun with enough control to suit all the music I threw at it. Really tight bass lines may trip up the dynamic drivers a little, but for a $100 earphone they are fantastic.
     
    In addition to the weight and speed of the bass, the bass goes deep and creates a really satisfying sub-bass impact when it's needed. Often earphones with a bass boost become all about the mid-bass and sub-bass extension is lost in the boom, but the S5s manage to still rumble deep even while creating some ounchy mid-bass emphasis. For example, listening to Liberation by Outlast (from the Aquemini album) the bass depth and control is excellent - tight and punchy like a great subwoofer.
     

    Mids

     
    Despite being a V-shaped sound overall, the mids from the S5s are well-placed in the overall mix. There's no doubt your attention will be drawn to the bass and treble first, but the mids aren't pushed back into the distance, they're still front and centre.
     
    Mid quality is good with vocals coming through clear and warm for the most part. On tracks that are boomy to start with (e.g. Try by the John Mayer Trio) I found the bass and treble lifts left the mids sounding a little thin with a touch too much upper-mid / lower treble emphasis, but with more balanced recordings I found myself thoroughly enjoying the mids from the S5s. There's a nice warmth and smoothness to the delivery of mids from the S5s, but they also retain good attack and edge to the notes. Really the only complaint I can make about the mids from the S5s is that they occasionally get overshadowed by the sometimes over-eager bass and treble. In other words, the mids from the S5s are really excellent - there is absolutely nothing to complain about with them and given a slightly more balanced overall tuning, these could be mid-monsters (and are when thrown a nice lean acoustic track).
     

    Treble

     
    The treble from the S5s is a bit tip-dependent (as with many IEMs) and they can sound a little brittle and splashy with the wrong tips / insertion. With the right tips though (I found the provided tip options to be the best) the treble is quite good, but probably the weakest link in the S5's frequency repertoire. Don't stop reading though - they're not bad, it's just not their strength.
     
    The treble from the S5s is a little unbalanced so while they avoid harsh spikes or sibilance, they do sound peaky. What I mean by that is that you can hear some gaps in the overall treble presentation on certain recordings and it makes certain sounds like cymbals sound a little fake and thin - like there's something missing from the overall presentation. On other tracks this problem doesn't present itself at all because of the way the track is mixed and mastered.
     
    Once again, in the context of a $100 earphone, the S5s perform very well. My comments above are subjective evaluations regardless of price, but in the scheme of things, the S5s perform very well for their price tag.
     

    Staging & Imaging

     
    The S5s present a pretty good stage. It's relatively small and contained within the boundaries of the forehead, but it doesn't feel congested. Instruments and vocals are each clearly defined although not razor sharp. Once again, this also depends on the mixing of the track and the bass levels present - more acoustic / lean tracks show good imaging capabilities, but when the bass kicks in the stage size and clarity is reduced. It's important to note that the S5s never offer a bad presentation and retain good clarity and coherence at all times with all tracks. They range from a beautiful, clean image on leaner tracks to refined, but still clear images on bassier tracks
     

    Summary

     
    As I mentioned earlier, on my first listen I thought the S5s were a much more expensive earphone (in the $200-300 range I would have said). They reminded me of a "poor man's" IE800. Further listening with a wide range of tracks showed why they're not on the level of something like the $250 Audiofly AF140s or similar $200-300 models, but at less than half the price of the offerings in that price-range the S5s are a brilliant budget IEM that is very well made, packaged with outstanding accessories, and sounds very very good for the money if you like a dynamic and fun sound. I can imagine these being an excellent exercising or commuting earphone due to their comfort, over-ear design and dynamic and engaging sound. I'd definitely recommend auditioning a pair if you get the chance because if your music tastes happen to hit the sweet spot of the S5 you could have yourself a really nice budget earphone.
    Brooko, djvkool and trellus like this.
  2. thatBeatsguy
    4.0/5,
    "The Party Pills"
    Pros - Amazing for EDM. Looks great. Feels great.
    Cons - Minor driver flex issue. Too warm for certain tracks. Flat cable is iffy.

    Intro​

    [​IMG]

    TL;DR: The Brainwavz S5 is loud, bass-heavy, energetic, and a lot of fun to listen to -- just the ticket for any EDM lover.
     
    Before I begin, huge thanks to Audrey (@Salsera) for providing a sample of the Brainwavz S5 in exchange for my honest opinion. My deepest gratitude goes out to her and the guys over at Brainwavz. But let me remind you that I was neither paid to write this review, nor am I an affiliate of Brainwavz or any of its staff. Any and all opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own unless otherwise specified, and these opinions should be treated as nothing more than that. Finally, my impressions of the S5 in this review might conflict with yours; therefore, your mileage may vary.

     

    Well, let me just say this: This review is filled with a lot of firsts. I won’t list them all to keep things brief, but the most significant one is how this is the first time I’ve been asked to write a review from a representative of a company. I know, I’m still squealing like a girl since I was sent a PM a couple weeks ago -- but still, it is my first time, so I’ll give it all I got!

     
    Anyway, let’s get onto the subject at hand. The Brainwavz S5 is Brainwavz’ latest IEM release, and is now their current S-series flagship IEM. Priced at $100 retail, the S5s look the part, feel the part, and are priced the part, but do they play the part? Read on and find out.

     
    Author's Note: This review is a little bit old, so expect some cringe-y parts if you're reading this in 2015 or later. I'm a little too lazy to edit the whole thing, and I want to keep the chronological flow in my reviews as I grow, so you can definitely see the improvements over time.
     
     


    == Aesthetics ==​


    Packaging, Design, Accessories​

    [​IMG]

     
    When I (still squealing like a girl) opened up the package containing the earphones, I was greeted with a very retail-looking box -- the likes of which I haven’t held in my hands for averylong time. Right on the front of the box, an image of the S5 is emblazoned along with the name BRAINWAVZ and an “S5” on the top-right corner. That front panel actually opens up to reveal the S5s sitting there in a moulded plastic housing, just waiting there for a pair of ears to take them out and put them on. The back of that front panel contains a quick history of Brainwavz and a list of the S5’s features. The other sides of the box had a lot of other information on it, like specifications and whatnot (which eliminates the need for useless literature inside the box, which is a good thing). You should be able to read them with a click on one of the pictures at the bottom of the page.
     

    Now, let’s take a good long look at the accessories. When I took a look at the accessories list on their official product page, my jaw dropped to the floor. The Brainwavz S5 actually has -- wait for it -- nine pairs of eartips, including a double-flange, a triple-flange, and even a Comply T400 pair. (I compiled a full list of the accessories in the Specs section below.) The Brainwavz S5 quite literally has its own collection of eartips. In fact, they’re so many that they’re actually more than half of the eartip pairs I already had. Oh, and did I mention they also come with a nifty hard case and a 2-year warranty?


     
     

    Design, Build, Microphonics​

    [​IMG]
     
    Now, onto the earphones themselves. I have to say, I was totally surprised to learn that the S5 actually has afull metalhousing, rather than just plastic. To my eyes, I thought it looked like plastic and expected it to be, until I read the description on the box. That was one of the big points that changed my outlook of the S5s completely. The S5s have a flat cable this time, which has their own strengths and weaknesses, which I’ll explain in further detail later. And also unlike all of the other IEMs I’ve reviewed, the S5s have no remote, but has an eye-catchingly large Y-split in its place. I mean, just look at it. It’s freaking huge! But then again, that doesn’t really change anything, does it?

     
    If I could sum up the build quality of the Brainwavz S5 in one word, it would have to befantastic. I’m being honest here -- the S5s look, feel, and are very durable. The full-aluminum housings are nice and solid. The huge Y-split in the middle looks to be very durable and should probably last along time. Even the connector, which, given the rather short strain relief, looks well-built.

     

    However, I do have some thoughts on the build that I would like to express. First of all, I would suggest Brainwavz to go with a removable cable design for the S5s.I would like a replaceable cable for the S5 since, honestly, they sound really good (more on this later) and since the cable is usually the first thing to break in an earphone.On the other hand, I think I do see why they wouldn’t go with that approach, because with all of the measures they’ve taken to ensure maximum durability for that one cable (I mean, just look at that Y-split), going directly for a removable cable approach would render all their efforts null. Second, the cable itself. The Brainwavz S5 employs a flat cable, which, unlike most round cables, is virtually tangle-free; however, they are a lot harder to manage than round cables, and is much heavier than I’d like. On the topic of cable noise, this is also a great point for the Brainwavz S5. Despite flat cables usually being very microphonic, I’m glad to report that this cable is far from that -- although I would say that it’s the result of the IEMs being worn around the ear. Still, their weight is pretty heavy, though on the other hand, it’s really durable, so I would say that’s a little bit of a trade-off.

     
    Finally, and probably one of my biggest issues with the build of the S5, there is the issue of driver flex. Driver flex is as it sounds like--an occurrence in which the driver in an earphone where the driver (speaker) inside flexes due to the air pressure of the ear canal. This results in potential damage to the driver, and damage is something we need to avoid. Then again, it only happens occasionally, but the fact that it does happen is something to worry about. However, I had a quick talk with Audrey and she stated it should just be my own pair, so that’s something less to worry about. In any case, I still feel it’s an issue that I can't simply leave out.


     

     

    Fit, Comfort, Isolation​

     ​
    I never actually had any fit problems with the S5. It’s been a while since I’ve worn an IEM around the ear, but my ears aren’t as fussy with most universals, so a little caveat emptor there. A peculiar little oddity about the S5s’ fit is how they still fit perfectly fine when worn straight-down, despite them being designed to be worn around-the-ear. Comfort, in my opinion, is pretty variable depending on the eartips; however, the Comply T-400 foam eartips provide the best comfort for the S5 in my opinion. Isolation is also a variable factor that depends on the eartips, but the S5 has generally good isolation with the stock silicone eartips.

     

    Anyways, I think that’s about it for the aesthetics of the S5; now, let’s get to the sound!
     
     


    == Sound ==​


    Specs​

     
    Headphone Type
    Closed-back, vented in-ear monitor (straight down, around-the-ear)
    Driver Type
    10mm dynamic, neodymium magnets, CCAW voice coil
    Frequency Response
    18 – 24,000 Hz
    Max. Input Power
    20 mW
    Sensitivity
    110 dB at 1 mW
    Impedance
    16 Ω
    Weight
    N/A
    Cable
    1.3 m flat Y-cord, OFC
    Connector
    3.5 mm (1/8”) gold-plated, straight TRS
    Accessories
    Hard carrying case
    6 sets silicone single-flange eartips (gray S/M/L + black S/M/L)
    1 set silicone double-flange eartips
    1 set silicone triple-flange eartips
    1 set Comply T400 premium foam eartips

     
    There really is nothing much to say here, so let’s move on to the most important question: How do they sound?
     
     

    Equipment, Burn-In​

    [​IMG]
     
    The sources I’ll be using consists of a 4[sup]th-[/sup]generation iPod Touch, an iPad 3, and my PC through Headphone-Out. The amp I use is a Yamaha RX-V359 receiver feeding the IEMs through Headphone-Out. Finally, the EQ used for the test is Viper4Windows on the PC. My test tracks are posted here for reference.

     

    Also, prior to the review, I have burned-in the Brainwavz S5 for a minimum of 100 hours, to clear any doubts about burn-in. As for the eartips being used, I used the Comply T400 foam eartips and the stock grey eartips interchangeably.

     

    So let’s not waste any time, and let’s get to it!


     
     

    Sound Quality​

    Bass:

    The S5’s bass is the star of the show here, having a very heavy, fun, in-your-face presentation that pounds the beat down so hard and so deep you can pretty much feel it in your chest. This has its merits, especially in EDM and bass-heavy genres (Knife Party -- Give It Up), but it doesn’t go without its drawbacks. For one, its quantity tends to overwhelm the rest of the sound, making you hear not much other than the bass at some points. They also tend to blend into the lower midrange, making male vocals and instruments like guitars sound thick and lack articulation.

     

     

    Midrange:

    The midrange on the S5 is, having a V-shaped signature, is recessed and distant-sounding. However, despite the heavy bass, is surprisingly clear in certain songs (Ed Sheeran -- Runaway). Of course, that last sentence doesn’t redeem it completely -- the S5’s midrange completely flunks solo piano tracks because of their warmth (Isaac Shepard -- Looking Forward). For midrange-focused genres I can easily recommend several other IEMs just as easily as I would recommend the S5 to EDM lovers.

     

     

    Treble:

    The S5’s treble is lively, snappy, and energetic, providing a nice counterpoint to the thundering bass. It gives the midrange a much needed clarity boost (so at least you can still hear it clearly over the bass), which is a good thing, but at times they do tend to get too lively and bright, which is pretty irritating. This happens in certain tracks, however exactly which ones really comes down to the listener.

     

     

    Soundstage/Presentation:
    The S5’s soundstage is pretty good for a bassy, consumer-sounding IEM. It’s got decent size and air, which is surprising for the IEM that it is. Its presentation is rather intimate, though, so don’t expect too much out of the S5’s soundstage. For what it does, though, it’s more than adequate.

     
     


    Genre Proficiency:

    With my description of the Brainwavz S5 in the previous section, it’s easy to see that these things are a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Well, that’s where I’m going to stop you. Yes, they play all genres well, but so far, no IEM has ever made me love EDM more than the Brainwavz S5. Really. They play any type of EDM from dubstep to progressive house exceptionally well, with each aspect of their sound signature playing a part to deliver a club right into your ears. It’s practically like calling up all of your favorite DJs and EDM producers into your house for a party for you, you, and only you.

     

    But like I said, these IEMs aren’t all fun and games – they could play classical a lot better than I expected. With Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (played by the Connecticut Early Music Festival Ensemble), the Brainwavz S5 manages to keep up with the dynamics of each track. In a nutshell, it’s really something. The bass doesn’t take too much prominence in the album, which leaves the midrange shining through with warm, clear beams.

     

    On the other hand, the Brainwavz S5 is a warm IEM, and that warmth can be off-putting in a lot of classical recordings. In this case, it depends more on the recording and affects some more than others, but it’s a quality of the Brainwavz S5 that cannot be ignored. Then again, they still sound pretty great.

     

     
    Summary:

    The Brainwavz S5 immediately wowed me from the very start with a fun, lively sound signature. They had a very energetic, life-of-the-party kind of sound that, to my ears, was amazing and a whole lot of fun to listen to. This was the kind of IEM I was looking for -- something that was lively, something that was fun, something that made you get on your feet and dance, even though you’re the only one listening to the music.

     
    However, the true value of the Brainwavz S5 really comes down to your musical preferences. If you favour clear vocals and instruments, then you should start looking elsewhere since the Brainwavz S5 is not an IEM that will give you that. On the other hand, if you listen to EDM or rap or just want a heavy, energetic sound signature, then look no further.


     

     

    Other Media​

     
    I’ve been gaming with the Brainwavz S5 extensively – mostly racing around in Watch Dogs, but pretty extensively nonetheless. The Brainwavz S5s perform undoubtedly well in this department, with the bass making you really feel the gunfire and the roar of the engine as you zip through the Chicago highway. Vocals come through very clearly, as well. Positional audio is good, but I’m iffy on its performance in more competitive gaming scenarios. They should more than suffice for the average gamer, though. As for the movie buff…I don’t know about you, but I’m clearly going to enjoy watching The Desolation of Smaug again with these babies on.

     

     

    Value, Comparison​

     
    With Brainwavz listing these IEMs at $100, there’s no surprise that the S5s will face a lot of competition, including many amazing IEMs that have earned their place in Head-Fi’ers’ hearts with ease. And these legends I’m talking about? Oh, I don’t know, the Shure SE215, the Yamaha EPH-100, and the HiFiMAN RE-400 Waterline, to name a few. Like I said, these three IEMs are legendary, and that goes without saying. It’s a shame, then, that I have none of them here with me, since they would’ve made for one hell of a shootout. So for now, you guys will have to put up with what I did get to compare.

     

    Versus Monster DNA (~$200)

    I always like comparing IEMs with headphones, because aside from their inherent sonic differences, it makes for a great opportunity to see if an IEM has no trouble keeping up with the big leagues. And I’m happy to report that the Brainwavz S5 do just that, and then some.

     

    I really like the Monster DNA for its fun, but audiophile-friendly sound signature packed into a Beats-esque, nightclub-inspired package. The on-ear headphones have a moderate V-shape signature, with great bass and crisp treble without sacrificing too much of the midrange. The Brainwavz S5 takes things a little bit further with its stronger V-shape sound that gives it even more bass power, lively treble that gets too sharp at times, and a more recessed midrange. However, the Brainwavz do improve with better tips, and at its best, they sound nicely balanced and fun, making the S5s and the DNAs not too far apart from each other.

     

     

    Versus Xiaomi Pistons 2.0 (~$25)

    Since I don’t have any proper IEMs that would make fairer matchups for the Brainwavz S5, I thought I’d let my self-proclaimed “King of Ultra-Budget-Fi,” the Xiaomi Pistons 2. Even now, they’re still one of the best all-rounders I’ve ever heard in my audiophile journey, and I know a lot of other Head-Fi’ers would agree with me. They just have this mild V-shaped signature with great clarity in the mids and crisp treble that just blends with the rest of the signature so well. For me, it’s probably the best headphone I’ve ever owned and heard (so far).

     

    Against the Pistons, the Brainwavz S5 gives out the same impression I did when I compared them with the Monster DNA – a stronger V-shaped signature, more powerful bass, hotter treble (which lessens with Comply tips), and a slightly more recessed midrange. Oh, and the S5s sound much warmer than the Pistons. Right now, I’m leaning towards the Brainwavz S5, if only for the fact that the pair I compared the S5s with are my sister’s. That, and at the moment, I’m having too much fun listening to Monstercat 015.

     

     

    Conclusion​

    [​IMG]
     
    In the end, there’s a lot to like about the Brainwavz S5 – from the look, to the build, to the sound. They’re pretty good all-rounders, and can play all genres fairly well, although you might want to look for something else when you have more specific musical tastes. That means classical lovers, run away – and run away fast. But for someone with an electronic addiction, here’s the doctor’s prescription – take a pair of the Party Pills, once a day, every day. You’ll be having a blast.
     
    Category
    Score
    Comment
    Packaging, Accessories
    8/10​
    Solid retail packaging and a treasure trove of useful accessories make for an amazing starter package.
    Design, Build, Microphonics
    8/10​
    All-metal housings, heavy-duty strain reliefs, and solid cable turn the S5 into a tank of an IEM.
    Fit, Comfort, Isolation
    8/10​
    The S5 in general provides an easy and secure fit thanks to its over-ear design. Comfort and isolation are mostly eartip-dependent, but are pretty good with the stock eartips.
    Microphone
    N/A​
     
    Bass
    8/10​
    The S5’s bass is heavy, deep, and loud, but tends to be bloated and overwhelming. Great for EDM, but not much for everything else.
    Midrange
    5/10​
    The midrange exhibits good clarity, but is recessed, distant, and overly warm. Not very good by audiophile standards, but should do fine for most consumers.
    Treble
    7/10​
    The S5 has a bright and lively treble, although it does tend to get too bright at times.
    Presentation
    7/10​
    Don’t expect too much out of the S5’s soundstage, although to most ears its soundstage is more than adequate.
    Gaming, Movies
    7/10​
    These aren’t the type of IEMs I would use for gaming with its explosive low-end; however, they do perfectly well with cinematic action movies instead.
    EQ Response
    7/10​
    The S5 is pretty easy to EQ, with a little bass adjustment already going a long way.
    Value
    8/10​
    For $100 there’s little to complain about with the S5’s package -- unless you were looking for better vocals, in which case you got the wrong IEM for the job.
    Total
    7.4/10​
    EDM lovers, gather round -- the S5 is one tough IEM to beat if you’re looking for an energetic, fun, in-the-club experience.

     
     

    Shout-Outs, Gallery

    First of all, I want to again thank Audrey at Brainwavz for giving me this huge opportunity to review their latest IEM. You can check out some of the other pictures I took of the S5 here, and you can click here for more headphone reviews. This has been thatBeatsguy of DB Headphones; thanks for reading!

     
     

    About Brainwavz

    At Brainwavz we have a simple mission, to produce innovative, high quality audio products with a dedicated focus on high-end sound at a realistic price. Our strength, success and product range is built on our unique relationship with our customers and users, a relationship that has produced a simple and obvious result. We give real-users real sound quality. 2014 will see Brainwavz pushing forward with an expanded product line, continuing with unique and innovative products, from earphones to headphones to audio accessories.

     

    Company website: www.brainwavzaudio.com


    iKhaos and trellus like this.
  3. razor5cl
    4.5/5,
    "Bang for Buck 2.0?"
    Pros - Brilliant bass, Sparkly Trebles, Wide Soundstage, Good build and fit, Nice accessory selection
    Cons - Mids slightly recessed, Treble too harsh for some recordings, Bass can be a little muddy in some songs
    Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of the Brainwavz S5 for review. This will not affect my opinion of these IEMs in any way.
    You can also find this review(with pictures) on my own blog here.
     
    Brainwavz has been making cheap, well made IEMs that punch well above their weight for quite a while now. However I've never owned one before, so when I was approached to make a review I hastily accepted. Considering the price of the S5, and the increasing competition in this price bracket coming from some of the smaller Chinese companies lately, they offer an astoundingly complete package for their price.
     
    Packaging and Accessories
     
    The S5 come in a fancy book-style box that has been becoming more prolific recently among most tech products and it shows a nice attention to detail from Brainwavz. Large swathes of accessories have been becoming the norm from smaller Asian companies recently, and Brainwavz are no exception to this trend. The S5 comes with 6 sets of standard single flange tips(two sets of Small, Medium and Large, one grey one black), one set of double and triple flange tips respectively and a set of Comply T400 foamies, as well as a rather beefy(not in a bad way) 1/4 inch adapter and a rather snazzy carrying case. This is arguably my favourite part of the package as it is nicer than the one that came with my JVC FX800s that cost 2.5x what the S5 do. It's compact, rigid, zippered and has sorted compartments inside, perfect for carrying the IEMs with a selection of tips and other assorted things you might need on the go. Overall the packaging and accessories get the Brainwavz S5 off to a good start.
     
    Design/Build Quality, Comfort and Isolation
     
    The S5 are a traditional over-ear IEM: no surprises here. The housings are made of a nice shiny black metal with a simple Brainwavz logo the only adornment. The strain reliefs are adequate but not cumbersome or bulky and the cable is a tagliatelle style flat cable, sleeved in a grey rubber. It is light, and doesn't tangle easily. The Y Split is rather large, similar to that found on Shure IEMs and the cable cinch is also smooth and ergonomic. The jack is of the standard straight variety and strain reliefs on it and the Y Split are reinforced well, important on any IEM. The jack and split also have nice little engraved Brainwavz logos on them, which shows Brainwavz is putting the effort in when it comes to details, very nice to see. 
     
    Fit wasn't an issue at all. The small housings and ergonomic shape of said housings makes comfort no problem, and the huge selection of tips provided makes getting a good seal easy, no matter the shape of your ears.  Isolation was very good with both the included sillicone and Comply foamies, able to withstand my daily commute on the train no problem, and as these are over the ear IEMs, microphonics were a non-issue. Build quality is, again, excellent. The metal housings, beefy strain reliefs at the jack and housings and strong y split make the S5 an incredibly well built IEM, especially for the modest price. They feel absolutely miles better than the similarly priced Audio Technica IM50, and I have absolutely no worries as to the longevity of these. 
     
    Setups Tested:
     
    Nexus 4 -> Brainwavz S5
    Nexus 4 -> Fiio E11 -> Brainwavz S5
    PC -> Creative X-Fi USB DAC/Amp - > Brainwavz S5
    All Music 320kbps
     
    Sound
     
    I usually listen to more electronic styles of music, but for this review I dug out some classical and rock songs to listen to in order to really get a feel for how these IEMs perform. I found no real difference when amped vs unamped, apart from maybe a little less hiss and noise, although this is mainly due to the fact that these are quite sensitive headphones, and so you'll want to use a cleaner source and decent quality source material otherwise you'll hear bad stuff you wouldn't normally hear.
     
    One claim Brainwavz makes in their advertising is "Smooth Bass." While I was expecting this to be marketing drivel, it turned out that these do indeed have smooth bass. Bass is very well extended and deep, and texture is brilliant. Quantity is above neutral, but far from basshead level. It may sound muddy on the cleanest of recordings, but most electronic basslines and percussion, and bass guitars,  sound absolutely sublime. Bass is not as emphasized as the Audio Technica IM50, for example, but the extension and texture make it second to none. The low frequencies are my favourite part about this IEM.
     
    The middle frequencies are where things start to slip a little. Mids aren't exactly recessed, per se, but they aren't at the forefront of the music either. They sound a little better than the IM50 or Yamaha EPH-100, for example, but they aren't going to beat any of the Shure offerings for example. Some Trance pads and Hardstyle leads sound decent, whereas others can sound a little overpowered at times, however the mids aren't necessarily bad. They are neither here nor there; neither at the front nor at the very back, somewhere in the middle, a little lacklustre but not an entire deal breaker.
     
    Trebles are fantastic on the S5. They sound sparkling and prominent, and very well extended too. Sometimes on more bright recordings they have a tendency to sound a little too strident, bordering on fatiguing, but most of the time the trebles are clear and accentuated nicely. Listeners looking for a slightly more laid back, relaxed treble should look elsewhere, the treble here is bright and adds a nice sheen. Trance and Hardstyle leads stand out and sound rightfully epic, and violins sound just as they should, piercing and sharp but not painful. 
     
    Another Brainwavz marketing claim is that the S5 boasts "Rich Detail." I surprisingly found this to be absolutely true. Detail retrieval is brilliant on the S5, and every layer of music can be easily picked apart even in the most hectic of climaxes. Soundstage is also very good on the S5, extremely wide for an IEM, sufficiently deep but not sounding spaced out or too wide. I played a lot of CS:GO using these and the combination of supreme detail, nice trebles, deep bass and wide soundstage made the experience top notch.
     
    Conclusion
     
    The Brainwavz S5 present a brilliantly rounded package at a very competitive price point. They are built well and come with any accessory you may ever need, fit and isolate well, and sound good with most types of music. Users who listen to unusually mid-heavy genres(unplugged vocals, types of Jazz, etc) may want to look elsewhere, but for everything else, the Brainwavz S5 provides an excellent listening experience.
     
  4. Zelda
    4.0/5,
    "A Mix of Fun and Detail"
    Pros - Build Quality, Accessories, Overall SQ
    Cons - Cable might be annoying. Slightly artificial tonality
    REVIEW: Brainwavz S5
     

     
     
     
    Specifications: (from Brainwavz site)
     
    Driver: 10mm Dynamic
    Rated Impedance: 16 Ω
    Frequency Range:  18Hz - 24kHz
    Sensitivity: 110 dB @ 1 mW
    Cable: 1.3m, Y-Cord, Flat, Copper
    Plug: 3.5mm Gold Plated
     
    MSRP: $99
    Official product page:
    http://www.yourbrainwavz.com/s5.html
     
     
     
    Packing & Accessories:
     
    The S5 arrives in the same box as the previous S1 and as usual, Brainwavz are very generous with their accessories pack:
    3 pairs (S/M/L) of single flange grey tips
    3 pairs (S/M/L) of single flange black tips
    1 pair of bi-flange tips
    1 pair of tri-flange tips
    1 pair of Comply Foam T-400 (M size) tips
    Carrying case
    1/4" Adaptor
     

     
     
    Build & Design:
     
    The new S5 is almost identical to the first of the Brainwavz S series, the S1, and as such boosts a very good build quality in every part. Apart from the straight plug and black color scheme, the housings are the main difference, still of aluminum material which is pretty good, but with a more ergonomic design and slightly lower profile. The plug is well relieved, and just the Y-split is a bit large. Probably the main issue would be the flat cable; while sturdy, it's also thick and quite springy and too rubbery. No memory effect but not too well behaved, with average microphonics level. Not a deal breaker for sure, but should be taken in count.
     

     
     
    Fit, Comfort, Isolation:
     
    Personally, I find the S5 to be a very good upgrade over the S1. The housings are a bit smaller and easier to fit in both configurations and can be used for long listening without causing discomfort. The cable is a bit annoying and a shirt clip should have been included. Isolation is pretty good, definitely above average for a dynamic based earphone and the inclusion of Comply Foam tips should help even further for some.
     

     
     
    Sound:
     
    The S5 is not just better in fit and comfort over the previous S1, but most importantly in sound performance, as should be expected for a new earphone that enters the $100 price tag.
    The signature is the very popular V-shaped sound, which is usually very easy to either like or hate, depending the tuning. For a lively sound the S5 performs pretty good, mixing a fun factor with decent level of details.
     
    Bass is pretty strong but not extreme. While it takes a step back in quantity compared to the S1's heavy bass, it's been really improved in quality, showing much better controlled behavior and accuracy. Technically, sub-bass reaches as far as the dominant S1 did, but not as obvious and free. Good layering overall with an added authoritative mid-bass lift for 'fun' but not sure it'll be for everyone liking. It's not as annoying as the last M5 and less noticed than the well regarded budget IEM, Xiaomi Piston 2, but should still be taken into consideration.
     
    Midrange is where v-shaped earphones usually differ from each other. The S5 mids are quite good on their own. They are placed a bit distant as expected but far from being called lost (a certain flaw on the S1). They do carry some fullness (due the bass) but feel somehow cold and dry. The main issue is the tonality, as the S5 leans more to the artificial side of things and lacks in texture, especially in the vocal dept. Much better than older models for sure, such as M5, S1 or Audiofly AF56, but won't put the RE-400, KC06/6A, ZA Tenore or even the ATH-CKN70 in danger anytime soon. The Moe Audio SS-01 (dual dynamic), for example, shows better texture and sounds much sweeter but also feels more closed and intimate against the more spacious S5.
     
    Fortunately, the Treble was taken into another league than the previous Brainwavz models. The S1 I tried had a serious and almost unbearable peak and sometimes extreme harshness. While the S5 is not completely clean sounding, it is much more refined and enjoyable. Extension is pretty good, mirroring the lows to complete the whole balance. Stage is quite wide as expected for a v-shaped signature, and overall detail plays a decent role. Imaging and instrument separation are decent but will feel very average compared to the most resolving and natural sounding RE-400 and Ostry's options.
     
    The included different tips array can help tuning the sound in a certain way, from warmer/darker (single grey tips) to flatter and more spacious (bi-flange tips) to a more V-shaped and sharper sound (single black tips).
     
    As far as SQ goes, the new S5 is a much higher step over the first S1. Is it 5 times better? Well, not exactly (doesn't costs 5X the S1's price, either), but it's a real improvement over the S1 which despite some strong characteristics, had some flaws on the treble dept. and probably in the midrange too.
    Targeting the $100 market there's some stiff competition, including BA and Hybrid based sets. But if we take in count the generous accessories pack and robust build quality together with a caring customer service as well, and we get another solid buy from Brainwavz.
  5. JoeDoe
    4.0/5,
    "Quintessential V-Shaped Sound"
    Pros - Design, SQ, Durability, Case
    Cons - Treble-hot at times, Y-split?, Tip-dependent
    The new S5 from Brainwavz will certainly please most casual listeners. It's sleek design, tangle-proof flat capable, and pop-ready sound signature certainly justify it's price - not to mention probably the best IEM case I've ever seen short of an Otterbox. 
     
    Before I get into it, I owe a thank you to the good people at Brainwavz for reaching out to me for a review. They shipped the IEM to me quickly and have been very courteous and communicative throughout the review process. Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with them in any way. 
     
    (If you want to read about the packaging and included accessories, check out one of the numerous other reviews, as this one will jump straight to the point: the sound)
     
    Out of the box, the S5 sounded a little lackluster. The midbass was a bit muddy and bled into the mids. The treble was very hot and almost unbearable on treble-heavy tracks. But in an effort to remain fair, I gave these guys multiple chances and I'm quite glad I did. 
     
    After ~50 hours, the midbass has tightened and the sub-bass has made its presence known. The mids are now much less cluttered and quite listenable. The treble has cooled, although changing to foam tips calmed them more than the burn-in. 
     
    So now that they've gotten some more devoted head-time, here's the breakdown.
     
    Test Songs (all MP3 320):
     
    Someone Like You - Adele - Live from Royal Albert Hall
    Late in the Evening - Paul Simon - The Essential Paul Simon
    Wake Up Everybody - John Legend and The Roots - Wake Up Everybody!
    What About Me - Snarky Puppy - We Like It Here
    Firewall - Steve Vai - Real Illusions: Reflections
    Hide and Seek - Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself
    Prelude from Cello Suite #4 - Yo Yo Ma
     
    Sources:
     
    Desktop: MacBook Pro > Fidelia > Pan Am Stack
    Mobile: Sansa Clip+ & iPod Classic 160GB > iBasso D-Zero
     
    Bass:
    Well, in a word: tasty. The sub-bass is present! In my experience, this is someone quite uncommon in sub $100 IEMs. It's nice to hear the low notes in "Late in the Evening" and "What About Me." The midbass is a touch boosted, but certainly not overly so. It adds a little oomph to pop/rock/hip hop, yet doesn't make the classical or jazz stuff sound unnatural. Very well done.
     
    Mids:
    Rich and in place. Neither forward nor recessed. The mids are very lifelike in they're portrayal of texture and detail. The horns in the Simon and Snarky Puppy are very clear and textured. Vocals sound excellent in "Hide and Seek." Very organic and rich. That's all I have to say about that. :)
     
    Treble:
    The treble is make-or-break according to the tips (and quality of the source material). I found it a little hot and sibilant in most instances ("What About Me," "Firewall"), although bear in mind, the iPod/D-Zero has a neutral to bright sig. There were a few times with the stock silicone tips that the treble was hot enough to make me skip tracks. However, with a little EQ-ing and a change to the included T400 foam tips, it was pulled back a little to reveal a detailed treble that works well for the same genres that the midbass helps. 
     
    Soundstage/Separation:
    The soundstage is nothing to write home about. It's on par with similarly priced IEMs like the Shure SE215 and Hifiman RE400. Not large or deep, but not congested either. Instruments are easy to place and pick out individually. A nice bonus for an IEM with a very consumer-friendly signature.
     
    Final Thoughts:
    Overall, I would recommend this IEM to anyone looking for a very durable and comfortable solution for popular music genres. The midbass boost and spicy treble work quite well for electronic, rock, and hip hop-styled genres. However, as mentioned above, the treble can be a little too hot at times, so sensitive ears beware. All in all, this is a solid offering from Brainwavz that will compete quite well with the established in-ears in this price range like the RE400, SE215, and FXT90.
     
    Edit:
    I've been giving these guys some more head time with some new source material and I have some impressions to add! They've been hanging out with the Fiio X5 (MP3 320) all week and the treble peakiness is almost (but not quite) gone. The thick tasty bass and rich mids are still there too, and the soundstage is a little improved, although the X5's exceptionally black background may be the largest reason for this. In any case, it's good to know that the S5 seems to scale will better gear. I'm not finding the qualms I had with them before in this setup and it's like I'm getting to know them all over again!
  6. NA Blur
    3.0/5,
    "The 2014 Brainwavz S5 Single Dynamic Driver IEM"
    Pros - Improvement over the M2, excellent accessories, bass boost
    Cons - Flat cable is cumbersome to wrap up and around the ear, not all tips will allow sound to enter the ear canal, bass becomes boomy
    The 2014 Brainwavz S5:  A Single Dynamic Driver IEM
     

     
    Specifications Found here:  
     
    www.yourbrainwavz.com/s5.html
     

     
    No measurements for the S5 were available at the time of this review.
     
    Initial testing on an iPod touch ( 3rd Gen ) no EQ

     
    The idea with the iPod is to ensure that the S5 is easily driven and controlled by a portable player.  The S5 having high sensitivity and low impedance is easily driven to very loud levels with a portable and the drivers were nicely controlled although the bass becomes boomy at times.  The S5 sound does improve with amping.  I also noticed that the S5 does sounds more laid back with a portable compared to my home rig.
     
    Full review conducted on my home rig:
     
    Sources:  PC playing 256kbps AAC or better files, Internal DVD player, iPod Touch 3rd Gen.
    DAC:  Grace Design m903 ( 24 bit mode )
    AMP:  HeadRoom BUDA in single ended mode
    Interconnects:  Kimber PBJ RCA and Seismic Audio Balanced patch cables
     
    TEST TRACKS
    The Beach Boys:  Surfin’ USA
    Chick Corea:  Three Ghouls, Part 1
    Karsh Kale: Longing
    Maroon 5:  Won’t Go Home Without You:
    Michael Jacskon: Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
    Patricia Barber:  Dansons la Gigue
    They Might Be Giants:  Spiraling Shape
     
    ACCESSORIES

     

     
     
    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    I will compare the Brainwavz M2 and S5 throughout this review.
    My history with Brainwavz goes back to the M1 and M2 days.  I am intimately involved with listening to the M2 as it remains my budget IEM of choice.  Glancing at the spec differences between the M2 and the S5 there are a few noteworthy tidbits.  First the frequency response is reported to be wider on the S5 going from 18 Hz – 25 kHz whereas the M2 spans 20 Hz – 20 kHz.  Typically when I see a manufacturer change the specs like this it points me to the fact they are purposely altering the spec because the sound is obviously different than their other models  The S5 holds true to this fact.  In bass sounds extended and the image becomes more up-front under amped conditions.  The impedance and sensitivity are lower, but the M5 reaches ear-blistering loudness on my portables so there are no worries with using either IEM.
     
    You can fiddle around with impedance calculations here:
     
    http://www.apexhifi.com/specs.html
     
    Read more about impedance here:
     
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/607282/headphone-amp-impedance-questions-find-the-answers-here
     
    The different between the M2, my go to affordable IEM, is significant. 

    The S5 is noticeably bassier which at times becomes too boomy and during other tracks is fun.  The S5 also contains a clearer midrange, and a slightly more up-front image.  The S5 improves upon all aspects of the sound signature of the M2 except the loose bass and hint of sibilance in the upper midrange.  I had no trouble sticking with the S5 during my listening sessions as the M2 sounded too mute and laid-back from my home rig after listening to the S5.

     
    LET’S TEST THIS THING
     
    Check Corea’s Three Ghouls, Part 1:  This track tests quickness, realism, and treble.  It also tests how up-front sounding a headphone can be.  The speed and glistening treble were well reflected with the S5.  The track sounds quick, fun, and responsive to the cacophony of the Three Goals.  The splash of the cymbals was not as true to form and metallic as from a high-end headphone like the AKG K712 Pro, but certainly was not diminished like so many other IEM’s in this price point.
     
    Karsh Kale’s Longing is a track I use for general imaging and engagement.  As Tyll will tell you sometimes how a headphone makes you feel tells a lot about the headphone itself.  The image of the S5 collapses during this track detracting from the space and echo.  The general presentation remains intact, but the spacious gravity is almost completely lost as the image becomes too up-front.
     
    Maroon 5’s Won’t Go Home Without You is a track I typically use to test crossover issues with speakers and IEMs.  It also gives rise to issues with male vocals and too up-front sounding headphones.  This track reveals some blurring occurring in the S5 as well as slight sibilance.  I found the S5 fatiguing both with my portables and amped rig with this track.
     
    Michael Jacskon’s Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ is a track that tests the up-front nature of headphones.  It also tests treble and vocals as with some headphones like the AH-D2000 and K701 can be harsh.  The treble was surprising soft and laid-back with this track.  I finished the entire track without fatigue.  The upper midrange became a little tizzy at times having a slight buzz sound blending in with the abundance of instrumentation, but nothing that sounded too far out of place for an IEM in this price point.
     
    Patricia Barber’s Dansons la Gigue is an excellent track to test separation, bass, and female vocals.  A headphone like the Grado RS-1i struggles here as things become too one dimensional.  The bass blurs into the mids and further into the treble.  The bass sounds awesome with the S5 proving lush and full.  The detail remains clear enough to resolve the full spectrum showing only slight diminution in the upper treble.
     
    The Beach Boys’ Surfin’ USA is a track I use to test how even a headphone may sound.  Much like using Pink Noise it reveals any glaring issues like a lack of midrange smoothness, imaging, and even quickness.   The S5 reveals the nice echo and general flow of the track.  However, I did notice a slight sibilance in the upper midrange heard on the letter “S” and when the words “Inside outside USA” were voiced.
     
    They Might Be Giant’s Spiraling Shape is a track I use to test male vocals in detail and how the kick drum resonates.  I also use it to reveal the metallic splash of the crash cymbal.  Here the laid-back nature of the S5 becomes obvious.  The track is soft and nice to listen to without any obvious weakness, but no part of the track is especially clear nor exceptionally presented.  The splash of the cymbals is not metallic and the kick drum is a single tone making the S5 sounds unnatural.
     
    FORM, FIT, FUNCTIONALITY
    The cable of the S5 is flat rather than a twisted pair and the headphones are supposed to be installed into the ear and then the cable routed over the top of the ear.  The problems for me began with the flat cable having too much surface area and pulling the IEM out of ears at time in the recommended orientation.
    The IEM can be worn in the cable-down configuration quite comfortably, but they protrude will passed the outer ear which may get attract some unwanted attention.  There is a lack of left/right labeling on the body and how they fit inside the outer ear when installed with the cable up is the only way that I could find which earpiece goes in which ear.  Not a big deal in most instances because we typically just want to listen to music in a general sense while on the move, but for more critical listening a simple red “R” and blue “L” would suffice.
     
    The case is well designed and filled with myriad tips.  The addition of some Comply foam tips is a nice touch.  I found the bi-flange tips to be the best sealing and sounding tips.  Brainwavz also provides a slick ¼ inch adapter which easily clicks on and off of the 1/8[sup]th[/sup] inch standard jack plug at the end of the IEM.

    The angle of the resonator, the part of the headphone inserting into the outer ear, was only comfortable or adequate with two of the abundance of tips.  The Comply foam tips simply collapsed into my ear canal and completely blocked out any sound coming from the driver making them an impossible combination with the S5.  This is something that the M2 does not suffer from and Comply foam tips are a huge improvement for that IEM.  The accessories cover a wide variety of tips and sizes so finding one that fits should not be an issue, but optimization may be difficult or impossible for some.

     
    CONCLUSION
    The S5 improves upon the sound signature over the M2 especially in the bass and presentation.  The treble extension remains in check without becoming fatiguing, but is not as extended as most balanced armature driver IEMs.  My biggest complement to the S5 is the up-front image and midrange clarity which Brainwavz keeps improving upon.
  7. DigitalFreak
    4.0/5,
    "Brainwavs S5 Review"
    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
     
    [​IMG] 
    Ixeling likes this.
  8. HK_sends
    4.0/5,
    "Fun little Phones!"
    Pros - Light-Weight; Supple Cable; Good Bass; Fun Sound; Fit
    Cons - Needs Burn/Break-in; Sound very Tip Dependent; Emphasis on Bass and Treble; Indistinct L/R Markings
    Disclaimer:  I would like to sincerely thank Salsera and Brainwavz for providing the sample S5 for this review.
     
    For most of my audio listening “career”, I haven’t been a big fan of in-ear-monitors (IEMs) or earphone/earbuds, tending to prefer more traditionally designed portable and full sized headphones.  The major issues I had were trying to find the right positioning, fit, and seal to obtain the optimal sound quality.  Earbuds were out because I prefer to block ambient noise and enjoy the music at a level that doesn’t require an upgrade to a hearing aid before I’m 55.  The IEMs I tried before usually came with two or three sets of ear tips that seemed to fit everybody but me and no instructions on how to actually insert the things.  So I never could seem to find the right position for the housings to stay in so the tips could stay sealed so the music could sound good (got all that…?).  Lastly, the overall musical presentation appeared to be geared towards people who prefer to sit between two 20-inch sub-woofers with a 5-inch mid-range speaker pointed at their face (admittedly, the above mentioned factors may have had some bearing on my impressions of the sound).[​IMG]
     
    Then a while back I received a set of Brainwavz R3 earphones as a gift when I ordered an iBasso DX50.  While their design was a bit unconventional, I found them to be an enjoyable introduction to the newer styles and design philosophies of modern IEMs.  First, I somehow managed to get them to fit in my ears without them wanting to fall out.  Second, they came with more ear tips (of multiple designs and materials) than I had ever seen...including some that actually fit!  So along with the fit and seal came number three; sound was head and shoulders above what I experience before, approaching the level of quality headphones.  It was enough to open my eyes to the potential sound quality of in-ear phones being made today.
     
    Since then, I have tried several different types to include hybrid dynamic/balanced armature, straight dynamic with replaceable filters, and straight dynamic with different types of ear tips that change the quality of the sound.  I have discovered a new world in universal IEMs with sound quality and comfort approaching the likes of some of the high-end full-sized headphones out there.  When I can turn on the music and forget that I am wearing IEMs (or headphones) and only hear the music, then the manufacturers have done their job well! 
     
    Which brings us to the S5 Earphones; a fun little phone that may not hit audiophile heights, but brings some unique character of its own to table.  Coming in a black box with a front opening flap displaying the driver housings and flat cable on the outside and providing some general company detail and cross-sectional info on the driver, cable, and Comply Foam Tips.  On the back is the list of accessories and specifications.

     
    The Build:
     
    The S5s look solidly built with metal driver housings and ear tip posts/acoustic filters.  The filters do not look to be replaceable.  There is a flattened, beveled area near the rear of the housing that has “Brainwavz” embossed on it and a small air-port on the opposite side (blocking this port will affect the sound).  The cable attaches to the housings at the top rear side in such a way that the only practical way to wear these is with the cable over the ear.
     
    There are tiny, barely readable Left/Right markings at the cable connection point.  Frankly, I don’t know what the point of even having them is.  Unless they are larger and with better contrast, you have to have a magnifying glass and bright light just to see them.  The good news is Brainwavz designed the housings to be fairly intuitive; so as long as the beveled side of the housings face away from your ears and the ear tips point forward and in (and the cables point up), then they are pointed in the right direction.  BUT…if you are going to put L/R markings on an IEM, make them READABLE!

     
    The Cable:
     
    I’ve heard about some IEMs having flat cables before but had never had any before.  The R3 cable was rubberized and seemed more like a thick round monstrosity that you would find on a so-called “sport” headphone.  It was very microphonic and not easy to manage at all.  The S5 cable is the polar opposite, with the cable being thin, flat and supple, I find it very easy to route over my ears and thread it through my clothing so it stays put.  While still having a rubberized coating, it is not as thick or nearly as microphonic as the R3.  There is a convenient chin slider at the Y-connector that helps reduce the microphonics even more.  I quite like the cable.
     
    The Sound:
     
    Disclaimer:  I find that rating sound is very subjective.  There are those that use measurements, there are those that use descriptive comparisons of the frequency ranges in musical passages, there are those that describe the sound qualities of one headphone in comparison to another.  I will offer that none of these are necessarily wrong, but how can I convince you that the sound I hear is what you are going to hear?  I can’t, and I shouldn’t.  I can only offer that the impressions I write down are what I hear based on my listening experience.  Your experiences may be similar, or they may (in all likelihood) be different.  I offer these impressions as an anecdote and as a service.  Feel free to disagree if you wish but that doesn’t make me any more wrong than it does you right.  Okay, enough blathering…
     
    I’ll say it upfront; the ear tips made the sound.  I could not get a real good sense of how the S5s were tuned because every time I tried a different ear tip the sound quality changed…and in some cases, dramatically.  So I would like to offer my opinion of the S5’s sound based on each of the sets of ear tips (and only those) included in the package.  My source was an iBasso DX-90 playing some classic rock, folk (acoustic) instrumental, orchestral, and electronica.
     
    One other note: Salsera told me ahead of time the S5s needed several hours of burn-in to tame the bass a bit so I burned them in for 30 hours before even trying to listen to them.
     
    Silicone Ear Tip, Black, Small Opening:   My least favorite.  Remember my little description of the 20-in subwoofers and 5-in mid-range?  It wasn’t too far from the mark with these tips…okay, maybe 8-in subs, but you get the picture.  They had the soundstage of a shoe box.  I ended up removing and reinserting them in my ears multiple times to ensure I had got them in right but in the end, they were bass heavy with some emphasis in treble and extremely recessed mids…and a super narrow sound stage.
     
    Silicone Ear Tip, Grey, Slightly Larger Opening:  Optical illusion?  Those holes look bigger to me.  But the sound..!  I actually listened to these first and the sound stage is much wider than the black tips above.  There is less bass than the black tips and there is a little more of a mids presence.  There is a definite V-shaped frequency response but it is more pleasant.  There is more bass than treble emphasis but the treble is clear and not harsh.  The mids are recessed somewhat but haven’t been overwhelmed by the bass and treble.  I find myself listening with these tips the most.  They bring out the fun in the S5s
     
    Comply T-400: Sorry folks, foam tips and I don’t get along and this experience was no different.  The foam interferes with the fit and usually ends up blocking half the sound channel when I try to use them.  If you find that you like them…more power to you!
     
    Bi-flange Ear Tip: To me, the most balanced sounding of the bunch!  I admit I do like a slight bass emphasis to my music and the bi-flange tips provide a little of it while bringing the mids forward for the first time and smoothing out the treble.  It was as close to a balanced IEM that I have heard from a dynamic driver and I really liked them a lot.  They are also the first bi-flanged tips that I could get a good seal along with fitting the housing in my ear.  I may start using these as much as the grey ear tips in the future.  I like what they bring to the S5.
     
    Tri-flange Ear Tip:  Unfortunately, the tri-flanges took the balance a little too far and removed the slight bass emphasis that I enjoyed so well.  Other than that and the fact the sheer size of the tips made it impossible to fit into my ears properly, these did sound rather nice with some of the acoustical and vocal music I listened to.
     

     
    In summary:
     
    Using the ear tips that came with the S5 I managed to find a sound I liked.  With the sheer number and types of ear tips available on the market, the possibilities for customizing the sound signature to fit a person's tastes are almost endless.  I’m sure that it would be possible to find a set offering a sound signature that meets your needs with the S5.  I have at least 20 sets of tips that I can’t wait to try just to see how much more fun I can have with the S5’s sound!
  9. bowei006
    4.0/5,
    "Great Middleman with strong points i"
    Pros - Good bassy sound with detailed mid end
    Cons - Slightly fatiguing and a grainy mid

    Brainwavz S5 Review: 



    There are questions, and then there are questions that you get asked constantly. One of the most common requests of knowledge from me are on if unit X is better than unit Y. And commonly enough, Brainwavz is thrown into that loop every so often. This is probably due to how popular their untis are in the price range and the rave reviews they typically get. And so today, I have the new Brainwavz S5 with me, and I’m wondering if there is truly going to be a new answer to the age old question of what unit people should buy.



    Brainwavz is a personal audio company commonly sold through mp4nation. They specialize in making IEMs and headphones – their primary markets – competitive to units that are worth so much more. They compete through their attention to sonic competence and build durability; so far, their ideology is holding up quite well. The newest entry to their seemingly mantra based company is the S5, especially right after successful launches of the S1, R3, and Delta. The S5 takes a little bit from all three and places them into a nice package.



    To start off with, the build of the S5 is similar to the S1s’. They are of a slightly ‘thicker’ build due to the girthy flat cable, 3.5mm cable terminator, and the insertion driver design that the S1 also used. It’s seems to have its durable points covered while still allowing for relative flexability. This seems to be because the S5 took the S1’s strong points of being very build heavy, but mixed it with a slightly lighter and less Hulk like design. Almost like a mix between the S1 and the cable end of the R3.



    The driver housing seems to be of lighter grade material than the S1. The S5’s are undeniably plastic with their glossy surface and in how light they are  are metal (this has been brought to me as information by the commentor below) I was a bit disappointed to be honest when I first saw it. The S1 took me a few minutes to discern if they were actually metal, plastic, or a hybrid. They were also weighty and felt reliable. That’s not to say the S5 can’t be all of those things. They can indeed still be reliable, and better yet, their lighter weight can help with insertion and keeping the drivers in your ear. I can’t personally say that I take preference to the S5’s build on the driver housing. But I can say, that they are in no ways a con; it’s rather a mix match of what your priorities are. For those that want a lighter housing for ease of inserting and staying in place along with overall weight. These work for those guys. For others that want a unit that even the Hulk can use, you may want to look at the S1 or even the Nuforce NE-700M.



    All in all, the design philosophy of the S5 is a victory on the part of principle and that it actually works. In terms of principle, it shows how Brainwavz is actively listening to users of their previous gear and making noticeable and deliberate changes to their product line with speed. I remember remakring in my S1 review on how awkward and thick the headphone jack was and in how the entire unit was slightly on the heavy side. And while some may take issue with the S5 for being lighter and having less perceivable build, the S5 still works and it does its job well. The flat cable, smaller headphone jack, and driver housing inserter are all in great shape and do their job well.



    The Brainwavz S5, with the Comply tips, act as great sonic isolators. I’ve used this in loud enviroments, train journeys, and for walking past Harleys. They pretty much can get rid of most of the sound. The thing they can’t get rid of are the very low rumbles that an environment may produce. This can be the hum of the car engine, the rumble of a Harley, or the tracks on a train; all of these are things I’ve experienced. They are still excellet in getting rid of the general noise of the environment though.



    Brainwavz knows how to impress, and they do it yet again with their goodie bags. Yep, you know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about all the accessories that Brainwavz showers its owners with. Upon unboxing the unit, I knew I was in for a treat as the red carrying case was bulging under the weight of whatever was in it. Inside were a bag load of siliclne tips, a Comply tip set, a 3.5mm to quarter inch adapter, and warranty information. I was most surprised at the new jack adapter and Comply tips this time. They were both quite fancy and made me feel like they were exotic goodies. For the most part, I’m impressed with what Brainwavz gives its owners and do like their goodie bags.



     
    The general sound signature of the S5 can be described as clear with a slightly thick undertone with a palpable timbre in the mid range. It’s almost a sonic mix between the thick S1 and the detailed R3.



    The mid range of the Brainwavz is active with a forward presentation. The vocals are quite clear and generally full of detail. They don’t have a veil to it and are entertaining to listen to. They are a good match for the tier of this unit and its performance and I like them. But the issues come in the finer parts. They aren’t completely full; there is a bit of ‘soul’ lacking from them. This exacerbates a slight issue on the part of naturalness that gets amplified due to the lack of fullness to them. They are a bit anemic in regards to how natural the timbre and direction should be. Just slightly off balance, but nothing completely out of place. The last thing to note is that they have a very slight – and rare- instance of sibilance evey so often. It’s not very pronounced or loud, but it does happen.

    The instrumental mid range is one of the best parts of the S5. Whereas the slightly colder mid range and a lack of soul extension makes the vocals a bit stale, the insturments benefit from it. Often times, too full a mid range makes the instruments too thick. The S5 gets it just right here as instruments are detailed without the tonal warmth to it that many other units have issues with. The instruments also get their own space apart from the vocals and so its quite a good mixture of the two. Listening to instrumental tracks is a guilty pleasure of mine with the S5. They entertain the listener without getting too sharp or hot, and this is pretty important for a unit at this price.

    The kick of the low-end is precise and loud enough that it pleases, but not far enough that it becomes a competitor in car-audio. It doesn’t show up that often, but when the bass is required by the song. It delivers a precision strike of good low-end kick. It was a rewarding instance, to be listening to a clean and mid heavy song, only to wait for the moment a bass drop would appear, and in where the S5 would deliver beautifully.

    The highs of the S5 don’t have much to be introduced. They are slightly passive and do deliver a bit when needed, but I did find them a bit dull during the times that they did make an appearance. It’s good to have a high range that isn’t bright, but at the same time, its not good to not have a high range. It’s a fair dilemma and I think that the S5 produces just enough to make it above the imaginary line of what works and what doesn’t.

    Overall, the sound of the S5 was detailed and offered itself as a great unit for listening to instrument heavy tracks; they were still quite doable with vocal tracks, but that wasn’t their shinning moment. The unit had a good design and build standard reminescient of the R3, and S1 and it worked quite well. And so what do I think of the question on how this unit stacks to the others? Well, I find the S5 to be a great middleman of having a lot of strong points that the other Brainwavz’s also have. It’s a balanced and middle decision really, and if you want something that is the best of all worlds with a slight loss in a few areas. Then I say that the S5 is your new friend.



  10. Typhoon859
    3.5/5,
    "Neutral (but not flat)"
    Pros - Great design overall; provided assortment of eartips to match anyone's interests and comfort needs; solid soundstage & imaging; neutral signature
    Cons - Fairly sibilant; slightly boomy in the upper-mid bass range; slightly recessed mids (lacking "bite"); buds are made of aluminum but don't feel robust
     
    UPDATED REVIEW- *initial mistaken impressions contrasting with this revised version are preserved below or are otherwise struck out
    All the ratings for each individual category are relative except for "design" which I've decided to mark standalone (based on its own merit):
    Audio Quality: 7/10
    Comfort: 8/10
    Design: 8/10
    Isolation: 8/10
    Value: 7/10

     

    *I'm not sure if the ratings under "Review Details", off to the left, are supposed to reflect that of my own or just everyone's average.  They obviously don't match what I've listed here (and perhaps this answers my question), but in any case, that's the reason I've written it out.

     

    _______________

    As it is easy to find pictures which many have already posted, likely better ones than I'd be able to produce anyway given the use of better cameras, I won't clutter the web with redundancy.

     
    General Impressions- 
    To mention straight from the start, for those unfamiliar with Brainwavz, I regard them as currently one of the best companies which brand and manufacture different kinds of headphones.  They aim for quality and produce their product at prices which many I'm sure would argue are very fair.  Often times they also allow for some great sales!  As an audio enthusiast and sound engineer, they truly do provide a wide variety of products to satisfy needs on every front.  I would say the Brainwavz M2's formerly were and the Brainwavz HM5's are currently the number one value headphones on the market, from every perspective one can think of.  By my standards, the Brainwavz S5 in comparison falls a little short on these fronts.  Although not necessarily entirely bad in the general context of all things, the product is more akin to the design and price of something made by Monster.
     
    So now, moving onto the S5's more specifically, upon opening the packaging and opening the case in which they reside, from the beginning I was immediately pleased by everything aesthetically about them.  Having had experience with many IEM designs in the past, I already knew this would be a winner.  I think mostly the cable design is what's to credit, and the obvious choice to make angled eartips.  
     
    Upon picking them up, considering the soft quality of the cable, a concern did arise which was that perhaps the cable may rip over time.  Upon further examining, the connections were solid enough that this concern quickly dissipated.  That, plus the slider which connects the earphones at the Y-split, which I finally found to once be useful on a cable, is what also helped this fact.  I would recommend using it as it seemingly also aids in the distribution of tension from any pulling forces.  
     
    Apart from this, the cable design is actually very comfortable.  Anybody who may have concerns about the thickness of the cable can drop them now because all this does is help keep it from tangling.  Additionally, in my experience, it actually gets less in the way considering the fact that it doesn't twist out of shape.  The thickness also doesn't otherwise contribute noticeably to the weight of the cable.
     
    Finally, this new cable design also handles microphonics quite well (which is when tapping the wire transfers the sound to your ears) though perhaps it isn't the best amongst earphones starting to approach this price range.  All-in-all, it's a more than worthwhile tradeoff for the rest of the benefits imo.  
     
    _______________
    Sound Quality-

    My review of these in-ear monitors is from impressions obtained mostly with use in conjunction with the FiiO E17 DAC/Amp.  I have however tried them with many other devices such as phones and tablets, and for the most part, given their easy-to-drive nature, their signature sound and their frequency response generally remained the same.  Listening was done after 120 hours of burn-in.  It should also be noted that this is all based on listening using the stock medium-sized silicone tips with which they arrive, which are perfect in terms of comfort/size for me (and I imagine is likely the same for most).  Lastly, the music this was tested with was largely varied to encompass the full spectrum of sound including time and frequency; this includes the best produced and recorded pieces of Classical music, Dubstep, other forms of Electronic music, Hard Rock, Metal, Pop, and other genres and unique artists (obviously, all with different production styles). 
     

    Upon truly getting comfortable with the Brainwavz S5’s, I came to recognize their full potential.  Going from song to song, if I were to best sum up in one word the way which they sound, it would be neutral.  This wouldn’t be however to say that they sound natural, unfortunately.  One would think the two go together but interestingly, not in this case.  I found the sound to generally give the impression of being sonically layered, and in turn lost some depth. Songs generally retained most of their qualities though the area which I found mostly problematic were the highs.  If there was at all anything these headphones can be claimed to seriously imprint onto the music, it would be very one-dimensional and isolating highs.  This in effect can grow to be tiresome over time, however ignoring this fact, I did find all genres of music to work rather well, very rarely giving the impression of lacking in any of their fundamental frequencies.  They can in cases be unforgiving to music that's poorly mixed or otherwise poorly produced.  Sound-wise, I feel the S5’s would squarely fall into the category of $80 IEMs (at retail value), and would imo be a great deal at a price of ~$65-.  I’d place their true value at around $70, but of course all these values are completely arbitrary and don’t account for any design/manufacturing costs.

     

    _____

    Taking note of the good (with exception)-
    These have great clarity, soundstage, and separation.  I’d certainly say it’s above average from what you’d come to expect of most in-ear monitors leading up to this price range.  I haven’t had in-depth experience with the RE0’s, but from how I remember them, I would wager that they still lead* on this front (or I guess I should say led* since they're discontinued).  

     

    Furthermore, as mentioned, these do work well for pretty much all genres, although I might say with the exclusion of Jazz.  In many songs, the concentration of frequencies falls right into the accentuated ranges of the headphones, giving a sense of really cheap reproduction.  Obviously this applies to any song mixed with sound predominantly in those areas but it appears to be more rare in other genres. 

     

    To take note furthermore, there’s never a sense of fatigue from crushed transients.  In terms of their speed, they have a great balance between accentuated notes and sustain.  Problems lie mostly in other areas.

     

    Finally, in terms of what stands out, bass guitar in most songs is well defined, clean, and smooth throughout the ranges.  Apart from a certain peak which emphasizes the attack of certain LF sounds, there is little to criticize about.  If “adjusted” right, these IEMs certainly aren’t missing balls.  Just as an example, anyone considering these for EDM would likely be satisfied…

     

    _____

    Taking note of the bad-
    Because of a sibilance peak I’d wager is around 10 KHz-12 KHz and other frequencies throughout the treble range which also peak (or otherwise dip), the sound of the highs came across as thin and narrowly focused, mostly affecting percussion type instruments like cymbals, shakers, and snare actually as well.  It also gives the feeling of having these instruments taken out of context, especially when they're panned off to the left or right.  In the center, it’s rather distracting and there’s generally a predominance of a harsh-sounding snare over everything else (likely due to another peak at ~5 KHz).  These specific regions give the impression of somewhat sounding distorted, and there is definitely an issue of sibilance in vocals (though it’s not the worst out there, likely due to not as narrow a peak). 

     

    In terms of low frequency response, bass may sometimes appear to be bloated, particularly in the 80 Hz & 120 Hz regions (the power frequencies), somewhat more prominent at around the upper-mid bass area.  There is apparently a bump there which, as briefly mentioned prior, tends to mostly influence sounds with a relatively fast attack, like it may with kick drum for example.. 

     

    Lower mid-range seems to be present, but often times there seems to be a lack of mid-range bite.  My best guess would be slightly attenuated frequencies between 650 Hz-850 Hz or perhaps they're just somewhat drowned out by other slightly boosted regions.

     

    Considering all the above mentioned qualities, this is likely why, as mentioned in my introductory SQ impressions, the sound comes across as layered.  It’s almost as if the lows, mids, and highs are generated from three different sources.   

     

    It’s safe to say that clearly, these aren’t exactly flat; however, it would be my personal submission that they don’t also lean towards any one area over the other.  Any of its inconsistencies I would explicitly label as strictly faults.  That being said, any set of headphones as disproportionate in balance as perhaps these are imperfectly tuned in any one area, I’d likely consider as ultimately worse.

     

    _____

    In conclusion, I would say these headphones are good for any general purpose; however, I would also say they are the master of none and certainly not the master of all.  If you’re looking for something specific for any casual listening purpose, there would perhaps be options better tuned for whatever that purpose may be.  If you’re looking for IEMs which are simply as accurate as can be but personally aren’t willing to spend much over $100, these may be the way to go. 
     

    _______________

    *Keep in mind that all estimations of frequencies are nothing more, stated simply for the purpose of conveying some sense of understanding to those at all familiar with how specific frequencies may influence your overall impressions of sound. 

     

     

    _____________________________________________________________________________________________
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________
    Previous Review-
    Rating:
    ★★★☆☆​
    Overall Summary: Setting a Precedent in Cable Design; Warmth & Neutrality Left to be Desired in the Sound
    Pros: Exemplary design; provided assortment of eartips to match anyone's interests and comfort needs; solid soundstage & imaging; all the pros of good IEMs
    Cons: Highly priced for only slightly better than average sound; earphone buds are fully plastic
     
    All the ratings for each individual category are relative except for "design" which I've decided to mark standalone (based on its own merit):
    Audio Quality: 5/10
    Comfort: 8/10
    Design: 9/10
    Isolation: 8/10
    Value: 6/10
     
    "
     ...
     
         "
    _______________
    Sound Quality-
    My review of these in-ear monitors is from impressions obtained mostly with use in conjunction with the FiiO E17 DAC/Amp.  I have however tried them with many other devices such as phones and tablets, and for the most part, given their easy-to-drive nature, their signature sound and their frequency response generally remained the same.  Listening was done before and after 120 hours of burn-in, and unlike claimed by some others, it failed to even out the frequencies for me in ranges where it would be considered to be a problem, although I can't claim to have done this test very scientifically.  It should also be noted that this is all based on listening using the stock medium-sized silicone tips with which they arrive, which are perfect in terms of comfort/size for me (and I imagine is likely the same for most).  Lastly, the music this was tested with was largely varied to encompass the full spectrum of sound including time and frequency; this includes the best produced and recorded pieces of Classical music, Dubstep, other forms of Electronic music, Hard Rock, Metal, Pop, and other genres and unique artists (obviously, all with different production styles).
     
    It was apparent to me from the start the signature which the S5's impart onto the signal.  After about two songs, everything I further listened to pretty much served only to reinforce my impressions or otherwise increase the degree to which I was able to recognize the projected response onto the music.  I was actually a little surprised that the time they burned in didn't make much of a difference (whether for better or for worse) because my feeling was that the issue here was specifically the drivers.  In any case, what this immediately meant, at least to me, was that regardless of your preferences, their sound would grow tiresome/boring after a while since the sound of every song greatly conforms around them (which if I'm honest isn’t that much different from what I find the problem to be with most headphones/earphones).  In my opinion, the degree to which this is the case here is too much for earphones in the $80+ category.
     
    _____
    Taking note of the good (with exception)-

    Starting off more with some of the good however, the soundstage I noticed to be slightly better than what you would typically expect from IEM's (though it didn't differ much from what would otherwise be familiar to most) due to noticeably good separation found between frequencies in the mid and lower-mid range.  This also lends itself well to clarity, with exception to certain frequencies in the upper-mid range or perhaps upper treble frequencies even (~4.5 KHz-6 KHz and/or 10 KHz). 
     

    Additionally, apart from the mentioned range above, highs appear to be well extended, so e.g., cymbals tend to sound pretty clear on these.  These IEMs certainly wouldn’t be considered to be in any way dark/veiled. 

     

    Also quite good I’d say is the bass.  Though it doesn’t extend quite as far as I would’ve liked, where it hits it is clean and accurate.  It is rather neutral I would say but it may not appeal to bass enthusiasts.

     

    On another point, transient response is excellent on the S5’s.  Many IEM’s fail to deliver a clear and fast transient response and therefore lend themselves poorly to long listening sessions.  If not for maybe other reasons, the S5’s certainly wouldn’t be fatiguing in this regard.

     
    _____

    Taking note of the bad-

    The increase in separation may be the illusion of a fault however, which is that the lower-mid range is predominantly missing/scooped out compared to everything else.  In one word, if I were to describe their main fault, it would be their lack of fullness.  This impression can be gotten due to many different reasons, but in this case, it's simply the fault of the relative response of the frequencies (rather than simply sounding overall thin, cheap, underpowered, and/or distorted).  I therefore have a strong feeling this can well be compensated for with some EQ, so if you are an owner of a PMP/DAP with a high quality built-in EQ or your primary use would otherwise be using a media player like Foobar2000 which has the ability to implement all manner of VST plug-ins (out of which there are definitely some great EQs out there), I wouldn’t rule this pair of earphones out just yet. 
     

    Apart from essentially the entirety of the lower mid-range being attenuated and the perhaps briefly inferred lack of hard-hitting lows, the extremity of the upper mid-range is rather accentuated.  It falls victim to the quite infamous problem with many IEMs which is sibilance, particularly S’s and T’s pronounced in vocals.  It is to the point of even narrowly sounding distorted in that range.  One thing that’s predominantly noticeable and perhaps more understandable to those less fine-tuned to the implication of certain exaggerated frequencies, in this case specifically, the snare drum in many tracks harshly cuts through practically everything else and is obviously therefore skewed in its relative AND individual balance.  Perhaps this is the thing I found most annoying.

     

    _____

    Ultimately, if I were to choose from headphones which perhaps purposely emphasized/deemphasized frequencies for the purpose of emphasis of more fun and/or pleasing frequencies, this would almost be the inverse of what I would consider a nice balance in that regard.

     

    If I were to recommend these earphones, it would be to those who perhaps value clarity above all else and prefer the opposite of a signature which may be considered muddy or in any way boomy sounding.

     

     

    _______________________

    *This review will be updated with picture(s) and a description of screenshot(s) of the iZotope Ozone 5 Master Suite plug-in, primarily focused on the EQ section, the purpose of which will be meant to demonstrate the areas which I feel ultimately needed compensation/correction.