TECHNICALITY AND MATCHABILITY:-
The Sd5 is not exactly a demanding earphone, with a resistance of 13ohm it is fairly easy to drive even out of mobile devices. Thanks to its 120db SPL level it doesn’t need huge amount of driving force and get loud without dialing the volume more than 50%. One can easily drive the SD5 out of a Sony NW-A35 too.
What really impresses me about the SD5 is that it matches very well with whatever you throw at it. It doesn’t really demand anything and a happy go jolly earphone which mixes very well with any source. Even my 3 years old Samsung A7 16 is able to drive the SD5 without much problem.
Not as it is with these technically incapable sources, Sony AW-A35 included, they just simply are unable to bring the best out of the SD5. Treble region is the most affected by this. It sounds less extended and lacks energy. Layering and separation are not up to the mark too.
If you have a capable source like Plenue R or even the NW-A35 (or anything more powerful than these) will keep the SD5 on its feet.
With the Eden, which reveals plenty about the source, it is important to choose the right source which will compliment it. In the other hand the SD5 masks all the minor problems effortlessly, a minor shakiness at upper mid and lower treble of the ZX300 is barely perceived and the M5s doesn’t succeed in seducing it either. It just takes its signature and masks it nicely over the source’s signature. So the variation of sound between the Plenue R, Shanling M5s and ZX300 is not big. The source does affect a few things but they are unable to deviate a lot from each other. If I have to choose one I will go with the Plenue R for the SD5, it makes the notes a bit sharper and adds a bit of depth to the already big sound stage.
HOW DOES THIS SOUND:-
In my last couple of reviews I have talked plenty about the SD5, I have is for the last 4-5 weeks and I am haveing a very good time with it. There is no information about number of bores or they use something like an open chamber that is a mystery. There is little known about driver configuration of the whole StageDiver series.
What impresses me the most is the effortlessness. It doesn’t feel like it is being forced to hold any thing down or putting things out of pressure.
What is not a mystery is the sound quality of the SD5. It has plenty of details with fantastic tonality. Even when it is based on BA drivers, the bass is lively, the mid range has very good clarity to them and the treble range has up to the class extension and transparency.
The overall signature is very neutral and natural. There is a bit of warmth with bass and the treble is marginally dark when compared to something absolutely neutral like the Nocturnal Eden. Mid range is nicely balanced with the rest of the spectrum and has very good transparency to it.
Last time I reviewed the Nocturnal Eden which too has 5BA drivers like the SD5 but its response was closer to what is typically expected from BA based earphones. Even when the SD5 is based on BA drivers, it breaks out of that typical flatness and delivers fuller bass notes, as full as the dynamic driver of the NCM Bella earphones. Number of drivers for bass is not specified but the implementation of the driver is similar to the UM Mirage.
What is really impressive for bass from a BA driver is the amount of rumble it has with the sub-bass notes. Overall texture of the lower end is as good as some dynamic driver earphones. The UM Miracle is good but SD5 has better texture here.
It moves very good amount of air and the slam is punchy. The amount of air and slam is better than UM Mirage and even the NCM Bella V2. Sub-bass extension is very good, better than all of its competition, there is barely any earphone which has better sub-bass reach than the SD5. Earphones like TE-5B and Fibae 3 have bigger sub-bass rumble size but SD5 has better reach. Mid bass is slightly bigger with body when compared to sub-bass and gives the lower region a full bodied feeling, it is not as prominent as the Pola mid bass and feels more pleasant. Upper bass is well controlled and nicely merges into lower mid range.
Decay speed of the SD5 is very good. It strikes a good balance between being musical and still accurate. The Decay speed lies in between the Nocturnal Eden and Fibae 3. The slight slowness gives notes better precipitation and weight to them.
Having BA drivers means it never loses control, it does let the bass notes express themselves but never let it out of limits. The commanding level of accuracy is admirable. Notes are very well defined with plenty of details. There are no compromises made when it comes to the amount of details and imaging.
The overall delivery of the lower region is pleasing, you just need to sit back and enjoy. It still is not at bass-head level but one will not feel like missing much.
The mid range of the SD5 has very good accuracy, and transparency. Level of details is up to the class. Notes do not have a dry feeling to them. The Mid range feels ever so slightly laid back with smoothness to boot. It sounds very involving and engaging thanks to its tonality and texture. It delivers a calm still exciting mid range.
The mid range is nicely balanced with the bass region and the transition from upper bass to lower mid range is exceptionally good. UM Mirage is slightly shaky here but the SD5 maintains very good amount of energy and details.
There is fantastic amount of details with vocals, female vocals have acurate notes body to them without beinf overly sharp, male vocals have a nice throaty feel to them thanks to thicker notes body with plenty of texture, this type of tonal accuracy is kind of rare for BA based earphones. Both male and female vocal notes are presented with very good depth with a beautiful texture, resolution and transparency. It doesn’t aim to deliver excessively sharp and transparent notes. It is tuned to deliver a more musical experience. Other earphones in this price tend to sound a bit thinner and sharper to give a sense of better transparency and details and in that process they get lifeless and dry. SD5 is more lively, engaging and very natural.
After coming from one of the most accurate earphone in its price range (Nocturnal Eden) to the SD5 I can clearly say that the upper mid of the SD5 is a bit congested. It feels marginally clumsy and the notes have some out of character thinness to them, either earphones maintain this type of notes across the spectrum like Um Mirage and Pola or doesn’t have any of it like Nocturnal Eden and Pola39. This is a rare niggle in the SD5’s armor. I can’t even say it is bad, the level of energy and details is nicely maintained, only it had more room to express itself, it wound have been fantastic.
Every instrument maintains its clarity and has very good instrumental clarity. It doesn’t have the aggressiveness to the attack though. If you are used to something like the AF1120 or Shozy Pola, you might find the SD5 smoother.
Let it be layering or separation or spacing between the instruments, the SD5 is 2nd to none. It’s the amount of resolution and details which gets the SD5 a special place in its price range. It maintains very good amount of density across the spectrum.
Stage of the SD5 is big. There are earphones with bigger stage in this price range but SD5 is not small by any means. It has very good depth to it with complimenting width and height.
No information is available on the number of dedicated drivers for the treble region but it is as good as anything else in its class. Treble has very good amount of energy and spark with plenty of details. It doesn’t have any type of peaks or harshness to the notes. It lays things with smoothness as its priority.
Transition from upper mid to lower treble is nicely done. Slight elevation felt at upper mid range is brought to level when it arrives at the lower treble region while maintaining good amount of details and clarity.
Notes are nicely kept under control without cause any type of discomfort. They have nice body to them with very good amount of texture. It is not as sharp as the UM Mirage but still instruments have very good amount of transparency and sharpness to them. A slightly more energetic and sparkled notes presentation might have made things uncomfortable. Inear has done a fantastically here, keeping notes devoid of excessive energy and still keeping required amount of attack.
Let it be pianos, trumpets or cymbals the sharpness and the finishing of the notes along with the presentation is very good. It just is not overly sharp or thin, all the instruments have nice body without any unnecessary sharpness.
Treble extension of the SD5 is as good as it get, it maintains very good amount of energy till the very end. Layering and separation of the SD5 is very good. Due to slightly thicker and lush notes presentation air between instruments is a hair less compared to something like the UM Mirage or Nocturnal Eden. Treble stage has very good amount of space with very good density.
If you are not a fan of sparky and energetic treble then you will love the composure of the SD5. It has good amount of energy, level of details and resolution is 2nd to none.
PAIRING WITH CABLES:-
Thanks to its SPC material it sound sharper, notes find more bite, it does trade some lushness for better air. The stage improves with added width to it.
Bass is marginally tighter with better decay, mid range shows a bit more pop or say exhibits better transparency. Instruments feel more agile, vocals get sharper too. Treble feels more sparky and energetic.
Due to sharper notes the OS849 feels more transparent and detailed.
Electro Acousti copper cable:-($50)
If you do not want to spend a lot, these cables are a nice upgrade to the stock cable.
Copper retains all the meatiness of the bass and delivers better sub-bass rumble. Mid range feels ever so slightly sharper with slightly better air, the main reason for this is the bigger stage size. Treble feels more or less the same.
If you love the lushness of the SD5, this cable is good enough.