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 left 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.
Next Page: Sound
Bit harder to find an earbud with a remote since most are designed for home use from an amplifier. The BS1 is a really solid option as far as sound and comfort go, I don’t think there’s much better until you get closer to $100 and their sound matches what you are looking for. The Ourart Ti7 is a consideration, it has a removable cable so you can swap out one with a remote. However, its midrange is veiled compared to the BS1 despite its higher price.
I love earbuds for work due to their minimalism and lack of noise blocking. Im coming from the VE Monk and am looking to take a step up to something a little more all round (perhaps less piercing treble and a touch more bass), for a price of around $50 (although im flexible really).
Ideally id love a remote just so I can skip songs without touching my phone at work, but this isn’t a deal breaker.
What do you think, sound wise are these the benchmark in the $50 price range?
Thanks again for this info. Sorry for the late response here, but I was awaiting a reply from “Dr Walkman” in Italy who has had my earphones for a long time without being able to find alternatives or even the time to repair them. The grilles are 15mm in diameter according to him i.e. slightly larger than the norm. Regards. Kevin
You can try Aliexpress, a lot of earbuds use generic shells and some sellers sell individual parts for them. Otherwise, you might be able to buy an entire shell for the driver size and retrofit the drivers and cable from your JVC’s into them. I like the Yuin style shells and the MX500 is probably the most common, I believe they accept 14mm drivers.
Thanks for acknowledging my comments, Ryan, as well as your guidance about the foams.
Another topic – do you know any suppliers of replacement round metal mesh grilles for damaged ones in an old but good JVC earphone? I can provide a pic if thus helps. Regards Kevin
Thanks for pointing that out Kevin, I will be sure to correct that! I didn’t feel that changing the foams here was any harder than other earbuds. Try and pinch the circumference of the foam, stretch and slide off perpendicular to the earbud. When installing, I pull one side apart, slot one side of the earbud in and stretch the other side on. The Heigi foams have quite a large opening so they go one quite easily. I think the problem may be pulling on the edge of the foams which can tear them, otherwise, they are surprisingly resilient.
Sorry – a fundamental error in this review: the white dot marker denotes the LEFT earpiece, not the right. I queried this aspect directly with Penon, after feeling that the earpiece felt distinctly odd in my right ear, and ditto with the other, and their reply was unequivocally the reverse of the claim here.
What would be useful to know is the method of changing the foams from stock to Hiegi donuts, as another review states this is very difficult. I can imagine a lot of shredded foams.