Details: Brainwavz’ fifth M-series in-ear
MSRP: $49.50 (manufacturer’s page); $54.50 for M5+REMOTE with mic & 1-button remote (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $35 from amazon.com / $35 from mp4nation.net for M5; $35 from mp4nation.net / $40 from amazon.com for M5+REMOTE
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 103 dB | Freq: 16-18k Hz | Cable: 4.3′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock (wide channel) single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (4.5/5) – Single-flange wide channel (3 sizes), single-flange narrow channel (3 sizes), and bi-flange silicone tips, Comply foam tips, shirt clip, and hard clamshell carrying case
Build Quality (4/5) – The M5 features lightweight aluminum shells with metal nozzle filters. The rubbery cabling is a bit thin above the y-split but strain relief is excellent all around and the new L-plug seems very durable
Isolation (2.5/5) – Isolation is about average for a dynamic-driver earphone and can be increase slightly with the included Comply tips
Microphonics (3.5/5) – Cable noise is bothersome when worn cable-down. Cable-up wear is recommended
Comfort (4/5) – The housings are lightweight and compact, tapering at the rear to provide a compliant, non-intrusive fit. Flexible strain reliefs and cable cinch allow for over-the-ear wear, though this may not be desirable when a mic/remote is present
Sound (7.6/10) – The newest M-series earphone from Brainwavz, the M5 seems to combine some of the best aspects from the M1 and M2 into a competent and coherent audio package. At the core of the sound is ample bass—the low end of the M5 boasts good depth, plenty of impact, and a mild mid-bass focus. Compared to the older M1, M2, and M3, the bass of the M5 is deeper, more powerful, and more dynamic. It is noticeably more detailed and effortless, and even next to the VSonic GR02 Bass Edition the M5 more than holds its own, providing a deeper, more fleshed-out low end.
Despite the powerful bass, the M5 does a reasonable job of minimizing bass bleed and bloat. Part of the reason is the prominent lower midrange of the M5 – unlike many other bass-heavy earphones the M5 isn’t notably mid-recessed. The lower mids are emphasized and the entire midrange is smooth, dropping gradually in forwardness towards the top. The treble takes a small step back and clarity is pretty much the only aspect of the M5 that doesn’t surpass other earphones in its price range. Still, despite its warmer tone, the M5 is about as clear as the older M1 model. Vocal clarity and intelligibility, especially with female vocals, take a hit compared to the M1 and M2 as well as competing sets like the pricier VSonic GR06. Detail levels are better than average, however, with the M5 sounding more refined and realistic than the M2. The top end doesn’t offer up a whole lot of sparkle but extension is good for a warmer earphone. Harshness and sibilance are nonexistent – in fact, the M5 cuts down on sibilance.
The presentation is affected by the laid-back treble but offers a substantial improvement over the older Brainwavz models. The M5 isn’t very airy and can get slightly congested on busy tracks but has better layering and sounds much more enveloping than the M1 and M2. The M2 especially sounds exceedingly flat and two-dimensional next to the M5. The pricier VSonic GR06, on the other hand, despite its more forward midrange, is capable of portraying a wider and more open sonic space.
Value (8.5/10) – The Brainwavz M5 is a well-built, well-accessorized, and comfortable earphone with sound that puts it at the top of its game. Its sonic signature won’t do for those looking to maximize clarity but it is sure to please fans of warmer, smoother sound. Better still, the M5 improves in many ways on the older M1, M2, and ProAlpha models without hiking up the price – an amazing accomplishment considering how far ahead of the competition the original Brainwavz earphones were upon release just a few short years ago.
Pros: Good build quality; deep bass and full, smooth sound
Cons: Average clarity