Review: Brainwavz S5 (Smooth and Balanced)

Firstly I would like to thank Brainwavz for contacting me and asking if I would like to review their new S5 IEM, this IEM has been receiving great reviews and I shall write as honest a review possible, portraying my subjective findings. These received over 50hrs of burn-in, small changes were noted, so don't judge these straight out of the box.

Gear Used:
iPod Classic 7G > Brainwavz S5 (medium bi-flange tips, not stock as I couldn't get a good seal with the stock tips)
iPod Classic 7G > Silver LOD > JDS Labs C5D > Brainwavz S5


Specifications:
  • Transducers/Drivers: Dynamic, 10mm
  • Rated Impedance: 16ohms Closed Dynamic
  • Sensitivity: 110dB at 1mW
  • Frequency range: 18Hz ~ 24kHz
  • Distortion: <= 0.3% @ 110dB
  • Channel balance: =< 1dB (at 1000Hz)
  • Rated input power: 20mW
  • Maximum input power: 40mW
  • Plug: 3.5 mm 45-degree gold plated
  • Cable length: 1.3 meters Y cord (CU/Ag) PUR
  • 1 year warranty
  • Dimensions (Packaging): 160 x 135 x 38mm
  • Net Weight: 10g
  • Gross Weight: 140g
  • MSRP: $99

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality:
The S5 comes in a sleek black box, the front folds open t show the IEM's through a window, you can also see the carry case below. The inside of the flap shows some information about the IEM's, the cable and also Comply Tips which are also included. On the back accessories are listed as well as more information about the IEM's including tech specs. Nice finish overall, and the packaging is easy to open, with all accessories neatly packed in to the carry case.

Accessories included are plentiful, a very nice carry case with enough room for the IEM's and spare tips, including the 3.5mm-6.3mm adapter. A plethora of tips is also supplied, S, M and L in 2 different types of silicone single flange tips, 1 pair of M bi-flange tips, 1 pair of M triple-flange tips and finally 1 pair of M Comply T-400 tips. Plenty of tips and all the necessary accessories are included.

Build quality is great, the housing is similar to the S1 but slightly slimmer and smoother, also the colour is much better than the S1. The flat cable is strongly built, and the y-split is a little on the chunky side but manageable. So an all metal housing with thick flat cable, straight jack with good strain relief and overall excellent build quality.



Comfort, Isolation, Cable Noise and Driver Flex:
Comfort is good, the angle of the nozzle is best for shallow insertion unless you use the bi-flange or triple-flange tips, I do prefer a slightly deeper insertion due to them staying in better. They are comfortable after getting a good fit and finding the right depth and seal. The cable goes behind the ear easily, but I do find normal round cables go better behind the ear than flat cables.

Isolation depends on depth of insertion but I find them fine for public transport use with the bi-flange tips.

Cable noise is not generally a problem, but the chin slider will reduce any if problematic. I don't find cable noise a problem on these.

Driver flex is also not a problem for me on these, they are vented which usually prevents driver flex.


Sound:
Split in to the usual categories with a conclusion at the end.

Lows:
Well balanced albeit a little boosted over the rest of the sound, well behaved with nice sub-bass extension and mid bass thump. The mid bass can sound a little hollow sometimes, but most of the time it has plenty of body, track dependent. Bass guitar sounds fantastic, very articulate and accurately reproduced. The lows only affect the low mids a tiny bit and don't really cause much recession or warming of the mids overall. The lows are a little on the slower side so they are not ideal for faster metal music and the likes.

Mids:
The mids sit a tiny bit behind the lows and highs, giving these a very mild U shaped signature. Vocals still cut through in the mix and have good tone to them, neither being too thick nor too thin, details are fine but these are not overly analytical. Electric guitars have enough power and authority to grab your attention, yet acoustic music like Mumford And Sons sounds wonderful with excellent reverberation and tone from the guitar/double bass and banjo. The harmonies are rendered with emotion and all vocals are easily distinguishable with Marcus's vocals being up front and centre with the rest filling the stage. The mids are where these have great separation and space/air.

Highs:
Again very recording dependent, there is a little bit of brightness and harshness in some of the highs, but on the whole the highs are defined and present only a tad on the splashy side, but for a single DD at this price I wouldn't expect the detail and precision of more expensive models. The highs however do fair well and are not nonexistent by any extent, neither are they in your face or overly bright. They do sit very well in the mix and give these a great overall balance.

Soundstage and Instrument separation:
Well the soundstage isn't huge but it is big enough to give you the feeling that you're not listening to IEM's all the time.
Instrument separation is very good, these have good air mainly in the mid range.


Conclusion:
Well as I had said in the S1 review I liked the new direction Brainwavz were heading in, they seem to have kept that up. The S5 is a well priced and well balanced IEM, it has good tonal balance with a very mild U shaped sound signature. They are non fatiguing, comfortable, well built and overall great IEM's. These don't have the best extension up top, or the detail retrieval of some, but for the price I really cannot complain. I won't say these punch way above their price, as that would be unrealistic. But they do do a lot right at their price and are very easy to like and will appeal to many people.

Thanks for reading.

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