I’m going to be 100% honest with you guys; I have never enjoyed a Brainwavz product before. As you can imagine I was a bit sceptical about what was coming my way with the S5’s, but I like to go into any new product review with an open mind, just take things as they come.
A little info on the S5’s to kick off then.
They have full aluminium housing with an angled bore for ergonomic reasons and they really are comfortable. They also use a flat cable for tangle reduction and allegedly added comfort when worn over the ear. They are equipped with a big old 10mm dynamic driver, right up close to the start of the bore of the IEM. A 24 month warranty too! At £60! Are you serious?!
So without hesitation let’s give them a bit of a run-around.
In the box you are equipped with the earphones of course, a small carrying pouch/case, a nice 3.5-6.3mm jack adapter, 6 pairs of silicone tips, 1 pair of Bi and 1 pair Tri-flange tips, as well as a pair of T400 comply foam tips. To me, I couldn’t ask for any more than that from my £60 earphones but I will let you make that call for yourself.
Fit, Finish and Usability:
I’m going to start with finish actually because it really is very good indeed. Everything from the earpiece shell to the jack to the cable attachments is sublime. The cable connections look particularly good. They have a large surface contact area for gluing so should be incredibly durable. The Y split is worth its own mention too, there is no way of these breaking at the Y split, it is the strongest looking Y split I have seen on an earphone anywhere near this price. And yes it looks bulky as hell, but its seriously lightweight too.
Fit comes next. I actually think they fit really nicely, great comfort and really easy to insert and get a great seal thanks to that big collection of tips provided in the box. Isolation is good but not outstanding, not like I got with the TDK BA200’s, but respectable none the less. As with any earphone though, it is worth tip rolling to find the best for you. This links nicely to usability. They are perfectly usable on a train or a bus because of this comfort and usability. Easy to wind away and easy to get out and plug straight in. What more could you want?
These are designed to be worn over the ear, which is great for reducing the stress on the cable, but it can also make earphones a little uncomfortable over the top of the ear like it does on my Rhapsodio RDB v1s. That is not the case here though, the cable is soft, light and oh so supple,but with a little spring back which is really very nice indeed. You cannot tangle it either. I have stuffed them in the case in the most awkward way possible and they just fall straight back out when I need them next. This is honestly a really great cable from the jack to the y split to the earpieces. Funnily enough though some people hate this cable, but I really love it, my only concern though is that if you wear the cable down it can be a little microphonic but if it’s over the ear this really won’t be a problem.
I have to be honest guys, even at this £60 price tag, everything about this earphone so far screams quality, it genuinely feels a quality product and I cannot praise Brainwavz enough for this feat.
So here we go; the area that has always left me dramatically underwhelmed on previous Brainwavz products. I shall kick off by saying that to my surprise, I didn’t dislike the S5’s. At all in fact, I actually find them fairly enjoyable. Let’s begin here then, with the things I like about the sound of these budget IEM’s. The mid- range is not the first thing that strikes you by any means believe me, but, once you have spent a little while with these you realise that vocals do have a pretty nice presence. They couldn’t be described as forward, but they are nowhere near the recessed, unpleasant vocals I have come to expect from this price generally. Not only this, but I find vocals to be pretty detailed and quite open in comparison to the rest of the frequencies, really they are pretty nice indeed and arguably my favourite part of the S5’s. Another thing I like about the sound is the staging and presentation. It’s not exaggerated and it is not a giant killer but it is good, or rather, something that isn’t a stand out flaw. You are sitting in the audience; you don’t feel ‘on the stage’ like I do with my RDB’s and Minerva Performer Pro’s. Not a negative thing, it’s just different.
Now there are things that I cannot say are to my tastes. As a single dynamic driver the S5’s are able to offer up bass that a single BA would struggle to. It is big, bulgy and powerful. It can though become a little overwhelming, the bloat at the mid bass is noticeable to me really quite often and unfortunately this does have an effect on the vocals and mid-range on occasion, it just interferes a little on thicker tracks where a bit of bass composure and agility are handy to portray the song properly. For me there is just too much of it, I feel like if it was reined in they could be a better rounded earphone. Its flaws are not limited to low frequencies though, while treble on the whole is not bad at all there is a peak which does have the tendency to dominate certain tracks and can also give treble a ‘single note’ feeling on occasion.
This earphone actually leaves me a bit confused. It’s like it doesn’t really know what it is. It feels like we have characteristics of three separate earphones. The bass doesn’t sound like it flows into the mids seamlessly and the same from the mids into the treble. It’s all a bit messy at times, like it has a confused personality. Except in one area; they love electronic dance music. And all things synthesized by the seems of it. If you listen to drum ‘n’ bass, EDM, Dubstep and trap predominantly I can see you getting on with these, especially in this price range.
They really aren’t a bad earphone in terms of sound, they just aren’t brilliant either. They aren’t flat or technically advanced, but simply an earphone that takes a step up from high street earphones and attempts to offer some of the luxuries of more expensive stuff, specifically vocal clarity and openness.
To conclude, these S5’s are a really well made product, they will be durable, dependable and I think they look great too. I was surprised that these offered more than I was expecting in SQ, having said that, they really do have their negatives but depending on your music tastes this might be ok. That being said i can instantly think of some similarily priced products that do a very similar sound, just better, such as the Sennheiser CX3.0.
By Josh Coleby