Penon’s BS1 might not immediately stand out quite like the Tomahawk that precedes it, but the earbud is certainly no less impressive in the hand and is considerably more conforming to the ear. Gone is the chromed finish of the Tomahawk, its angular edges and bold branding. The BS1 is all about subtlety and refinement, not just in its acoustic tuning, but in its design, and the culmination of a few small tweaks make a huge stride over the Tomahawk in ergonomics, comfort and sonic consistency.
Upon first listen, what stuck out to me was the comfort provided by the BS1 which is considerably improved over the Tomahawk. The BS1 sports more rounded and sculpted features, the rears are thinner and the edges less angular. The concave sculpting of the rears of the housings perfectly slot into the ear without forming hotspots, unlike the straight edged Tomahawk, and provide a purchase when removing the earbuds from the ear. In addition, the BS1 utilises thin plastic strain reliefs on the earpieces rather than the aluminium coke bottles on the Tomahawk, which were the prime source of discomfort for many users.
As a result, the BS1 is hugely improved in terms of long wearability and even finds comfort when sleeping, I was able to wear them for hours with minimal discomfort whereas the Tomahawk would hurt my ears after about an hour. The BS1 is about the same size as most Yuin style earbuds, making it quite compact. And with those revised strain-reliefs, the earbud achieves similar fitment depth and stability, especially with foam covers. I personally find them a bit more comfortable than Sennheiser MX500 style earbuds, putting them among the most comfortable earbuds on the market.
I’m also a fan of their very understated look. The BS1 assumes a uniform black finish which is very smooth and while seams are present, they are all subtly rounded to prevent abrasion. Build quality remains as strong as the Tomahawk with a metal construction save for the plastic front. They have a smoother finish than the Tomahawks and look to be slightly better machined. The earbuds are very minimalist with absolutely no markings, the only branding to be seen is the Penon logo on the 3.5m plug. The earbuds have a small white dot on the bottom of the right earpiece to denote orientation though it’s a bit hard to see. Sides are more easily differentiated when installing different coloured foams on each side.
But perhaps my favourite aspects of the BS1 is their cable, which is massively improved over the Tomahawk’s tacky, springy unit. The BS1 has a great looking silvery cable with a transparent sheath (though I’m convinced it’s OFC copper underneath). It is super supple and smooth and doesn’t catch on clothes or fabric. The softer cable in addition to the lack of seal also produces almost zero microphonic noise. The cable is so wonderfully compliant with zero memory and spring, easily coiling and avoiding tangles exceptionally well. It is similar to the cable utilised by the Musicmaker TP16 and the red coloured Ting, but it is slightly thinner and appreciably more compliant.
Perhaps my only gripe is its straight 3.5mm plug, I usually prefer a right angle unit, but the knurling on the plug enables easy plugging and unplugging. The plug is also slim enough to fit in most phont cases. The y-split is also a nice low profile unit constructed from metal but has no strain relief, though earpieces and jack, the most common point of stress and failure, both have small but effective relief.
The BS1 also has a rubber chin slider which holds its place pretty well. So while the BS1 and Tomahawk may look similar on a surface level, in use, they couldn’t be more different; the BS1 really fixes every ergonomic complaint I had with the original Tomahawk.
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