Disclaimer: Nathan and I each got a review unit from Brainwavz after they had contacted us. We will both give our opinion on the S5. Nathan begged for his part to be ‘interwoven’ into my review. Yes, he actually used the word, ‘interwoven’ when referencing a headphone review. Nathan’s part is in Italic.
A couple of years ago, before I was writing reviews on Headfonia, I entered a contest from MP4Nation and to my surprise I won a pair of M2 IEMs. I always loved the clarity and neutral character of those IEMs but the thing I love most about them is the incredibly good cable and the perfect fit. Pretty much immediately after I got them my girlfriend confiscated them to use on her iPad and she has been using them ever since. I even offered her my new Beyerdynamic DX160 earlier this week but she gracefully declined. And I understand as nothing will ever replace this pair of M2.
I hate flying but a while ago me and the missed hopped on a plain and visited Lisbon. The M2 came along with the iPad on the plane but on the way out my lovely girlfriend forget them on the seat when leaving the plane. A few days later we got a call from abroad. An unrecognized number. On the phone was an Austrian princess, I kid you not, that found the M2 IEMs and she tracked us down. She sent over the box a few days later and ever since I consider my M2’s as Royalty. True story.
The S5, if it ever wants to live up to the M2, is up to a tough task.
The S5 Itself
When it first arrived I wasn’t too impressed. Sure it comes in a nice box but don’t they all? The box looked nice but was fairly scratched on the inside. Wait. The inside? This was a new box I just opened, the seals were intact when I got it. There was some kind of dirt, probably from the machines on the S5 and the tips that were on the S5 were so dirty I just took them off and threw them in the trash right away. Not a good start but ok, these things can happen. I suppose.
Nathan: Lieven pointed out the scratches to me. Not a great look. At first, I was like, yeah, but for less than 100$, what can you say? And then I got my head straight on. 100$ is a lot of money. The way these things were displayed were like: here are some prototypes we had thought to make, but decided against. We stuffed them in a random box we had leftover. And we’re happy to sell it to you for about a hundred bones. Why I’m not a fan of this sort of business practice is that it infects other, more customer-minded companies.
The S5 comes with a nice case, an adapter and a bag of tips of which even a pair of Comply Foam tips. When I took the S5 out of the box I noticed the big flat cable. As in 4 mm wide. Wait, wasn’t this an over ear design? Let me tell you that once you’re used to the comfort of the Linum cables, or even a normal IEM cable for that matter, this cable feels huge. I have gotten used to the rubber but I personally feel the cable is too big for over the ear use. One of my friends however didn’t find it to be big or uncomfortable at all. I guess it depends on your ears.
Nathan: My wife confiscated my case. I think she keeps coins in it. It does its job pretty well, but I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t have used it. I’m the sort that’s waiting for headphone makers to make slim, soft-sided cases. That said, I get on with the cables. In general, I dislike flat cables, but these ones fold in the right places, and groove in the others. Still, it is hard to experience anything else after going Linum.
The S5 is reasonably light using a single driver unit but they’re not the smallest of IEMs. I have really tiny ears and 80% of universal IEMs just don’t fit my ears. Custom IEMs however are excellent and I most of the time end up using those. Universals that do fit my weird ears and that I like a lot are the Sennheiser Momentum Inear, the RHA T10i, the Ficher Audio Eterna and the Beyerdynamic DX160 just to name a few. Small design IEMs basically. The S5 unfortunately doesn’t fit my weird ears as they should. If I sit still it does stay in my left ear but as soon as I move it pops out. I guess normal ears wouldn’t have any issue with these though.
Nathan: These large, long earphones look like the back of an alien’s head. While they are too long to fit my wife’s smaller-than-Lieven’s ears, they did just right by me. But I’m a man. I’ve got the chest hair to prove it. That said, they aren’t probably going to be a workout phone. Too unwieldy. I use the tips from the excellent ortofon e-Q8, which secures them pretty well.
The S5 has a metal house design and it’s very nicely built, I just wished they had chosen a different cable. The good thing is the cable isn’t microphonic. It’s a perfectly quiet pair of earphones for that matter.
Nathan: Metal is metal. I’ve seen (and heard) bad metal. The S5 may not be a looker, but I’m pretty sure it could withstand a Men in Black Pulsar Blaster. The first thing I did after yanking them from the box was to attack the y-split with rapid back and forth bends. (I do this to all earphone cables I come across.) After a hundred or so reps, I’m tired. And I see no lasting stress marks.
Sound after the click!