Brainwavz S5 In-ear Headphones Review
As the “Loudness War” in the music industry finally looks to be coming to an end, consumers are looking for better quality sound from their personal audio devices. Whether it be an Apple product or one of the many high-resolution media players available, you still need to get that improved sound from the digital 1's and 0's into your ears without losing any of the sparkle and emotion recorded by the artist of choice.
Brainwavz, have been making personal audio transducers since 2008, with their aim of “bringing real earphones to real users at realistic prices”. Their new model S5 IEM (In-Ear Monitor) is a dynamic type transducer with a 10mm driver. This means, unlike many other low-cost (sub- $100) earphones, these earphones have the ability to deliver deeper bass to your ears without the characteristic distortion which is inherent in a smaller design.
The headphones come supplied in a hard case so I dug around in the case's little side pockets. The case contained a plethora of different types and sizes of ear tips. There is a pair of conforming foam tips, and several different styles and sizes of black and translucent rubber tips. Also included is a 6.5mm adapter, for using the headphones in home stereo devices.
Once I figured out how to identify the L and R ear piece (it's a tiny letter on the cord connection point), I tried all the different tips and found they all fit easily onto the machined aluminium body of the earphones. The overall feel of the S5 is light, but strong and smooth. The plain grey silicone tips were my preferred choice, fitting snugly but not too tight into my ear canal. They only require a light tug to get them out of the ear but did not fall out on their own, which does often happen with 'phones that don't fit properly.
The flat cord seems to be very good at resisting tangles, and very easy to organise if there was a loop or two along the length. Brainwavz recommend the cord to go over the ear and down, but I found it more comfortable to use them in the conventional (front dangling) way. At only 1.2m long, the cord was fine for portable use, but sitting in the study or lounge connected to my hi-fi system left me wanting another half metre or so of length, so I could move around at my desk or sit back in the chair comfortably.
Starting with some “Deeper Blues” from Lane Baldwin (Dig the Hole, 2008), I found the bass and lower mid-range of the S5 very detailed and full, conveying a real sense of rhythm and liveliness often glossed over by low-cost earphones.
David Munyon's “Who'll Stop the Rain” (Big Shoes, 2009) has very smooth low bass, along with the steel string guitar, sounding light and airy. The raspiness of David's voice cutting above the music was a little over-stated.
In “Out of the Shadows” (Touch - 1988), Sarah Mclachlan's voice was a little shrill, and the upper mid and high frequencies seem to be very much over-represented. This was also the case in other mainstream albums I auditioned, giving a somewhat monotone-sound due to the peak in response. On low-bitrate MP3 tracks, the sound was quite ok, making up for the lower frequency roll-off of this music.
- Quality and Price 9/10
- very good feel and many accessories, under $100.
- Function 8/10
- needs a longer cord.
- Sound Quality 6/10
- a bit too “toppy” for me, but the bass and midrange is quite nice.
- Overall - 7.5/10
Brainwavz is distributed in Australia by Headphonic.