BRAINWAVZ HM5 Studio Monitor Headphones

General Information

The Brainwavz HM5 studio monitor headphones provide for exceptionally accurate sound reproduction, their neutral sound signature replicate audio as it was intended to be heard. The HM5 feature an over the ear design which sits comfortably, providing an adequate seal that limits leakage. These closed dynamic monitor headphones are designed to give astounding sound for almost any genre of music and like all Brainwavz the headphones have a simple but stylish look to them.

Included in the package are two detachable cables, a short 1.3 meter cable that is intended to be used with a portable rig and a larger 3 meter cable for use in a home environment. The large 42mm CCAW drivers are surprisingly easy to drive, but they do benefit with amping if used with a portable rig.


Neutral sound signature
1.2m and 3m detachable cables included, use with your portable rig or home rig
Large, comfortable over the ear cups


Transducers/Drivers: Closed dynamic, 42mm
Rated Impedance: 64ohms
Sensitivity: 105dB at 1mW
Frequency range: 10~ 26.5KHz
Rated input power: 100mW
Plug: 3.5 mm gold plated
Cable length: 1.3 meters & 3 meter detachable cables
1 year warranty

*Included Accessories:

1 x 1/4" adapter
1 x extra set earpads
1 x airplane adapter
1 x 1.3m detachable cable
1 x 3.0m detachable cable
1 x Instruction manual
1 x Warranty card

*The included accessories with the BRAINWAVZ HM5 can change at any time, as can the outer packaging design. The photographs of the packaging, and the list of included accessories, may not necessarily reflect what your package will look like or the accessories you will receive if the manufacturer decide to make a change. We will, however, do our best to keep this page up to date.

Latest reviews


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.
  • Like
Reactions: rocksteady65


Headphoneus Supremus
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:

  1. DriversDynamic, 42mm
  2. Rated Impedance64 Ω
  3. Frequency Range10Hz ˜ 26.5kHz
  4. Sensitivity105 dB @ 1 mW
  5. Rated Input Power100 mW
  6. Cable3m & 3m Detachable
  7. Plug5mm Gold Plate

Contents & Accessories

  1. Cable (Detachable)3mt & 3mt
  2. ¼" Adapterx1
  3. Spare Earpadsx1
  4. Manualx1

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.

Continue next page…

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 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.

  • Like
Reactions: rocksteady65
I enjoyed your review.  Strangely I never heard of this brand.  Did you try this through any normal integrated amplifier as well?


Headphoneus Supremus
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.
Testing Gear
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.

Sound Quality
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.
Brainwavz Earpads
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.

Nice one
Totally agree with your conclusion, I've spent a year now with the NVX versions and have been very happy with them. One note for potential purchasers should be aware of is the tendency for the cup arms to crack and break off under normal use. I have gently worked on stretching the headband a bit so that they aren't under as much pressure and plan to fill the plastic cavities in the arms with epoxy to try and keep it from happening again (I'm on my second pair). There is also a 3-D printed replacement available I saw somewhere...


There are no comments to display.