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Sunday, August 30, 2015

[REVIEW] Brainwavz S5

Brainwavz needs no introduction. They have been in the IEM market long enough that they have made a name for themselves, especially in the bang-for-bucks section. The S5 has been in the market for a while now, and the price has dropped from the initial US$130 to the current US$100. However, the price tag is still right in the ‘warzone’ as far as IEM goes, where many competitors coming from China are all trying to outdo each other for being the next budget giant killer. So how does S5 fair?

Drivers: 10mm Dynamic
Rated Impedance: 16 Ω
Frequency Response: 18Hz ˜ 24kHz
Sensitivity: 110 dB @ 1 mW
Rated Input Power: 20mW
Maximum Input Power: 40mW
Cable: 1.3m, Flat Y-Cord OFC
Plug: 3.5mm Gold Plated Stereo

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality
S5 is beautifully packaged. Then again, I won’t expect anything less from Brainwavz with their outstanding track record. Of course they didn’t skip on accessories as well. You will get a pair of Comply foam tip, a pair of tri-flanges eartips, a pair of bi-flanges eartips, 2 set (S, M, L of a total of 6 pairs) of single flange eartips with slightly different design and material. There is also a good looking hard case as well as a 3.5mm-to-6.4mm stereo adapter. All and all, they really give the S5 a premier feel.

Build quality is top notch as well. The IEM itself is pretty much over-built like a tank, with flat cable, adequate strain relief and overall attention to detail. Though flat cable probably isn’t going to be everyone’s favourite, the over-the-ear design does make the cable much more tolerable in actual use than in a straight-down configuration. I just hope that they had used a narrower flat cable, then it might better appeal to those who really just don’t like flat cable. One area I do want to give credit to the flat cable is that it is hard to get it tangled. There is also no real driver flex to speak of, which is a good improvement over previous Brainwavz models that tend to suffer from some degree of mild driver flex issue from time to time.

Sound Quality
Sound signature wise, S5 is probably best described as U-shaped with good presence on both ends of the frequency response. Bass has very good depth, rumble, texture and quantity - enough to satisfy bass head but still in a well-controlled way that it won’t offend those who don’t particularly enjoy bass. Mid-range however is a little bland – not bad per se, but doesn’t have much to praise of either. Treble has good extension, clarity and crispiness, but the lower treble / upper vocal range has some noticeable peaks that can become rather edgy when the volume is pushed too loud. Soundstage is quite good, might not be the best but definitely well above average.

*Compensated. Measurement accuracy is not guaranteed

*Measurement accuracy is not guaranteed

All and all, the graininess on upper vocal is probably the only real weakness as it makes S5 more appealing to those who like brightness in their music. Tuned that down a bit, maybe by the use of foam tips or extra filter / acoustic dampening, and S5 will shine.

There are some really great sounding IEM coming out of China these days on incredible low price, enough to rewrite everything we know about the ratio of price vs. performance. While S5 won’t win the price war these days, it is still a very solid offering on its own right. As I imagine, Grado fans who usually don’t mind a bit of brightness will probably also enjoy this IEM with their Rock music.

A thanks to Branwavz for the sample.

Disclaimer: All trademarks and logos in the website belong to their respective owners. Beside getting free review samples, I don't work for or get paid by anyone to write anything on this website, or anywhere else in that matter. Also, free review samples are never sold for any financial gain. I do buy gears and review them, but for simplicity you (the reader) should always assume what I review is free sample in nature (and thus comes with all the bias). The website does have Google Ads and Amazon Associates enabled (which I have no direct control over their content) - though I don't write review for a living, nor does the ads generates enough money to cover my breakfast (in fact, not even one breakfast per week). Listening to music and playing with audio gears are purely hobby for me. In short, I am just an audiophiles who happens to have his own blog. Not a journalist who happens to be an audiophile. Oh, and excuse my writing as I am not a native English speaker and can't afford a proofreader. Also, just because I don't write in a negative tone doesn't mean I don't write down the negative aspect of a gear. Please read them carefully. Last but not least, please note that this site uses cookies to track visitors' number and page view.

Important: All postings are my own personal opinion only and should not be treated as absolute truth. I do get things wrong just like everyone else. Always do your own research!

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