BRAINWAVZ S5 in-ear monitors
ALTHOUGH I’m not a fan of in-ear monitors like the Brainwavz S5, I’ll admit they bring benefits to those who want to travel light. Just roll up the cable and tuck them in somewhere. In the case of the S5 in-ear pair, there’s even a compact pouch provided that should fit in somewhere on your attire.
So if audio on the movie is your thing and headphones are too cumbersome, this in-ear item from the Hong Kong company should be of interest; plus, it’s nicely priced, too. Importantly, the S5 is a significant improvement on the earphones that come with your mobile device.
The S5 is targeted at those seeking to step up the quality of sound from their iPhones and such, with Brainwavz claiming it is suited to any sort of musical diet.
BITS AND PARTS: The S5 is designed around a 10mm dynamic driver that’s enclosed in an all-metal housing. Brainwavz says the speakers are tuned for a “balanced, detailed sound with a smooth bass, and designed to be worn over the ear for professional grade fit and better sound isolation.”
The flat cable allows the S5 to sit securely even during physical activity, plus it can be fitted over the ear with the cables not bothering you. The plug is the 3.5mm gold-plated type, and a quarter-inch adaptor is provided as well.
These ‘phones have a rated impedance of 16 ohms, frequency range of 18Hz to 24kHz and sensitivity of 110dB at 1mW.
Brainwavz provides a collection of foam and silicone tips in the package, allowing room for user flexibility. The black-and-red compact pouch houses all the accessories as well.
IN CONCERT: Initially, the S5 had a few rough edges in the mid-to-upper ranges, but most of these smoothened out with increased use. What drew my attention at this point was the bass, it almost overwhelmed the proceedings when I fitted the S5 snugly into my ears.
However, once I tweaked the position of the tips, hung phones the right way, and with few hours of play, things settled down.
The S5 certainly betters the standard ‘phones that come with most portable audio devices, iPhone and iPod included. It doesn’t sound as brash and bright, and has more low-end heft (albeit a bit veiled at times). And it is more comfortable for long hours of listening… once you get used to the feel of a foreign object in your ear. At least, the soft tips lessen the impact. The option of various tips allows some tweaking for comfort, and the trick is to find one to your liking. There is an impact on sound delivery as well… I stuck with the standard one fitted on the S5.
Overall, I found the sound to be tight and dynamic, although if you’re looking for more spatial information and refinement, you’ll have to pay much more for one of the bigger-name brands. Still, the S5 is clean and clear in its delivery, and with a lot of detail showing up in the mix.
I found the S5 to work pretty decently with a variety of music – some jazz material I tried was as impressive through it as classic rock tracks. The S5 rendered dynamics and detail with equal aplomb, and yet showed enough finesse to convey the sense of space in quieter recordings.
APPLAUSE: Given the price, I found little to fault in the S5. It is comfortable – physically and sonically – for lengthy sessions, and I didn’t have to push it to extract its best. Low-level detail is very important and the S5 has no issues here.
BUT… : Perhaps not the last word in refinement, but I’m not complaining… considering what it can do well.
FINALE: If you’re looking to step up from the crummy units that came with your modestly-priced portable audio devices, the Brainwavz S5 is a good bet to pleasure you for extended listening sessions.
Well-designed and specified, it’s the sort of thing that makes believers out of sceptics like me.
Sources: Apple iPod Classic (old and new)
Available from various Brainwavz dealers.