Brainwavz S5 earphones review

Discussion in 'iPad Accessories for iPAD 1, 2 and 3' started by donka, Jul 25, 2014.

  1. donka
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    donka iPad Junkie

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    Founded in 2006, the aim of Brainwavz are to produce affordable products ranging from entry level earphones up to professional ear and headphones. The S1 model which I reviewed previously are a step or two above entry level with regards to pricing but still a very affordable earphone and the S5 take this even further. The packaging exudes an air of confidence and is something I am more accustomed to seeing with more expensive models. Included with the earphones are a rigid carry case, a 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter, 2 pairs each of small, medium & large silicon tips, 1 pair of bi-flange tips, 1 pair of tri-flange tips and a pair of Comply foam tips. This is the kind of package that you would be expecting with a much more expensive purchase.
    The earphones themselves are of the in ear monitor (IEM) variety and designed to be worn with the audio cables over and down the back of the ears instead of hanging straight down. This has the benefit of offering more support to keep the earphones in place as well as cutting down on cable phonics. The housings are fashioned from aluminium giving them good strength as well as remaining very light. The tip canal is angled to sit better in the ear and this helps make the S5 a very comfortable IEM. These are connected to your audio source of choice by a flat cable. This type of cable has no impact on audio performance but does make the cable easier to manage - they are much less likely to get tangled. Some people prefer round cables over flat cables but personally I am fine with either. What is more noticeable however are the connections and strain reliefs - they are something that I would describe as over sized. This is particularly noticeable with the Y-split on the cable. I wouldn't consider this as a negative, it is just an obvious difference over other, more discreet cables. If this extra bulk translates to a more robust product then I'm all for it as I have seen many earphones in the past fail in this regard including many from well known brands. This is all finished in a dark grey and black colour scheme that gives a classy, discreet look.

    So how do they sound? Well the first thing to note is that these have dynamic drivers with a moving coil inside. This means they are likely to sound a little different after some use and is why 'burning in' for a good 10 hours or more is usually recommended. New out of the box, first impressions are favourable.
    They have a smooth, strong bass without taking over the listening experience but remaining well controlled. Highs are present and sound good and it's actually things in the middle that still have obvious room for improvement. This is all academic though as my experience tells me that running these overnight with my iPod on shuffle will help to burn these in and give closer to the final sound that we would expect of the earphones.
    After this over night run, the changes were noticeable even though things sounded good beforehand. The bass remains strong with these earphones giving a nice smooth bottom end and real presence to the lower notes. Thankfully it doesn't over reach into the booming sub woofer style type of bass than will ruin the rest of the sound range. I'm also pleased with the texture of the bass which is accompanied with a nice kick and punch. The middle of the audio range is well represented and hold their own against the strong bass on offer, things tend to sound smooth yet remain very engaging and brought the biggest improvement after the burn in period. Depending on the track, vocals can really stand out but not as much when accompanied by a busy backing score. The vocals still sound very good on complex tracks, it's more a case of the kick of the bass and the sparkle of the treble stand out ever so slightly.
    A lot of it comes down to the quality of the track but these earphones are capable of some well detailed treble without sounding overly bright or harsh. There are more detailed earphones out there in a higher price range but I haven't listened to anything in this price range that can match these for audio range and quality. After some experience with other Brainwavz models, I wasn't surprised about how revealing the S5s can be and there is a small but definite improvement over the S1s. You hear people talking about this with expensive, higher end earphones but I was very impressed when I listened to some tracks, even ones I had listened to with quality earphones in the past. The better the quality of the track, the more smaller details popped out that I had never heard before. The caveat to this though is that lower bit rate tracks can sometimes get shown up for the lesser quality that they are but thankfully the S5s are somewhat forgiving in this regard and even 128kb tracks can provide an enjoyable listen.
    After using the S5s for around a week, I can see them easily being a single pair of do it all earphones for pretty much all types of music. At times they can sound very good indeed, orchestral tracks really shine with good instrument separation and bass and strings really coming to life. Faster tracks such as Editors 'Bones' are handled well too with everything keeping pace as expected. Listening to Damien Rice's 'The Blower's Daughter' is a very compelling experience with the stripped back production sounding glorious. Joseph Arthur's busy acoustic tracks sound great and offer an insight into how well the separation of instruments is handled. The intro to the track 'Death' by White Lies is a feast for the ears as the bass drum, guitar and cymbals combine to great effect. These IEMs would also be a great choice for movie soundtracks and gaming too which just add to their flexibility.
    As mentioned earlier, these are comfortable to wear but the selection of tips on offer contribute to this and also help isolate you from outside sounds. Not everything is blocked out but the vast majority is to make listening to quieter passages easy going and these are on a par with anything else I have tested.
    I actually prefer to be able to hear louder external noises when wearing earphones for safety reasons so would consider these ideal for normal day to day use.
    For the money, you are getting a great earphone with the S5. Brainwavz have put together a great package from the audio and build quality to the supplied case and selection of ear tips. I would love to see a pair of these designed with an in-line remote/microphone for mobile phone use but otherwise have no negatives of note. As much as I consider these very good all round earphones indeed, I think it makes sense to pair these with higher bit rate or uncompressed music to get the most out of them. I said before that I thought Brainwavz are ones to watch in the earphone market and the S5 just goes to cement that impression.

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