Published on December 27th, 2014 | by Greg0
Brainwavz HM5: Studio Monitors With Value
There are so many types, styles, and brands of headphones out there- and if you’re looking for earbuds, noise-cancelling sets, or bass-heavy style-focused models then today’s pair won’t be the right ones for you. But studio monitors are traditionally neutral-sounding, on-ear or over-ear, and often either are expensive or a bit uncomfortable.
The Brainwavz HM5 Headphones balance all of those variables, sacrificing only fashion points but winning big on value, offering great sound for the price point. We’ve seen other gear from the company, both their R3 in-ear monitors, and their newer S5 IEMs in addition. These are easy to drive, benefit from an amplifier or DAC, but don’t need a whole lot of power- making them ideal for everyday use with a variety of music. And while they aren’t the most portable- no folding and they aren’t designed to be lightweight- they’ve held up well over our tests even in travel. For most people, they’re a great deal for their intended purposes- wearing them at home while mixing or kicking back and enjoying at the desk or in the living room.
Pretty solid isolation and build quality anchor the music-focused HM5s- no wireless Bluetooth here, microphone, or remote controls which is to be expected from monitors for the most part. But a solid carrying case is included, along with a nice pair of cables (1.2m and 3m detachable). Plastic is nicely coated, and though the cables are a bit pone to noise, they’re pretty heavy-duty and well-plated. The earpads are fairly cushy, but are synthetic leatherette, not real leather, and tended to bunch just a bit for us and get a tad sweaty during longer listening sessions. Branding is minimal and unobtrusive, and we liked the subtle shadowing on the headband. Those with super large or small ears may want to test these first; as with most headphones, fit can be everything and these are a good middle ground but won’t be perfect for everyone. The headband was pretty adjustable though, if a bit tight during the first few uses.
We already noted their audio neutrality, but the HM5s were well-rounded, punchy on the highs and just a little muted on the lower bass. Soundstage is direct, pretty straightforward and not as immersive as some more expensive competitors, but they can roar on rock and rage on metal, without sounded synthetic or cold. Acoustic Pearl Jam sounded authentic and full, as did the Brazilian Girls, though the Flaming Lips could sound somewhat distant even as vocals shined loud and clear. Available now online and in stores for around $130, these are a good bargain, and the Brainwavz HM5s continue the company’s trend of offering well-priced gear that aims and hits their targets.