On the Brainwavz Site we read this: “The Brainwavz S5 are dynamic driver based earphones fitted into a sleek all-metal housing with their speakers tuned for a balanced, detailed sound with a smooth bass. The S5 are suitable for any genre of music”. I can only agree to a part of that statement.
The 16Ohm, just under $100 costing, earphones do have a linear sound. Kind of. Overall they have a more mid centric presentation with a normal sound stage. It’s certainly not small but it isn’t the widest sound stage either. Same goes for the detail retrieval, I have heard a lot better but the S5 does ok. I would have wished it had more clarity though, not that it is utterly dark but it do is on the darker side. Especially the mids are affected by this.
Nathan: May I add ‘almost thunderous’ into the mix? My first listen laid me back. Wowsers, that’s power, I thought. Then after a few minutes, I realised it was power without gumption. Like the Michelin man. Not bad at all, but bass detail and imaging are trumped totally by bass bump. I think people with tricked out car stereos to make top-40s demolish the neighbourhood will dig the sound of these.
If you would ask me what the S5 is about I would say it’s all the bass. Bass has good body and impact but it isn’t the most detailed. It reaches low and has good rumble, however it isn’t the tightest and it also seems to bleed in to the mids a little. That doesn’t sound too good but I’m convinced that a lot of casual listeners will love the bass.
The mids to me are the most special. They’re missing some clarity for my personal taste. Vocals are nice and more forward but the rest is happening a little more in the back and together with the bulkier bass it delivers a special sound you have to learn to appreciate. Treble is quite good for me, it’s easygoing but sometimes it can get hotter, depending on the type of music and the quality of the recording.
Sometimes you would even think it sounds a little v-shaped because of the special “more in the back” mids but I would not refer to the S5 as v-shaped. The bass, mids and treble together actually deliver a nice total sound that’s very fun and enjoyable. I threw a lot of different musical styles at the S5 as I was testing the iBasso DX90 at the same time, and it basically plays them all well: from Melody Gardot to Chris Isaak to Leonard Cohen to Hip Hop, dance and the Beastie Boys. The S5 is suitable for all sorts of music but I do prefer them with slower music. They aren’t my favs for punk and faster rock like Billy Talent and Linkin Park.
Nathan: Not sure I have anything to add but this: I’ve not heard music that the S5 makes sound bad. It’s fast enough, deep enough, and not too detailed. Nothing spoils. Good bass feel, so bumpy music can be fun. But, like Lieven, I feel the other bits are missing a bit. I’d love for more upper midrange ring to balance the bass. That said, overall, this is a bassy sound done pretty well.
The Brainwavz S5 can be bought via the dealer network from Brainwavz. The full list of retailers is available here. For under $100 you get a nice and easy to drive IEM that is fun to listen to. These, like all other IEMs, do need a perfect fit or you will get bad sound. The S5 even is foot tapping fun to listen to but it hardly is anywhere near audiophile level. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, fun and easy to like sound you should for sure demo these S5 IEMs. The more detail and clarity wanting listener might not appreciate these S5 IEMs as much though.
I somehow can’t help but feel this IEM isn’t ready to compete with IEMs like the Beyerdynamic DX160 ($115) and the Sennheiser Momentum Inear ($99.95). They offer more clarity, more detail, tighter bass, bigger sound stage and an easier fit. Oh, and they’ll all be reviewed here as well.
Nathan: Ten years ago, WHAM BAM! The S5 would have stunned. But the market has moved on a bit. Hell, the Shure SE215 doesn’t cost much more (or depending how well you shop, less), but is a far more capable music-listening earphone. The S5 isn’t plagued by awful cables though. That’s a point right there. I like its bass, and like that it jives with pretty much any music out there. Is it a good match for all music types? No way. But it won’t upset any, either. And the best news of all is that you’ll have a hard time breaking it, so your 90$ or so bucks should last a long time.