"True Hi-Fi sound from one of the best in Hi-Fi"4.0 starson by Arvin_C
Pros: - Highly accurate sound reproduction, without sounding too "clinical"
- Bass response is fast and clean
- Crisp and detailed highs
- Open, airy soundstage compared to other in-ear phones
- Solid build-quality
- In-ear loop design works
Cons: - Warm signature may not appeal to the critical listener
- Mid-range is a touch forward
- Noise isolation is average at best
- Straight-design jack isn't as portable as a L-type
- Needs some break-in time to sound and fit its best
Summary: Hi-Fi & stereophile enthusiasts know that B&W's full-size speakers have a well deserved reputation for providing lush, smooth, room-filling sound with presence and power. Well, the C5s attempt to provide the same for your personallistening enviroment, mostly succeeding on that front. B&W went for a sound signature that is clean, accurate and detailed. However, as with their speakers, B&W throws in a bit of warmth. The C5s do not have the starkly accurate, clinical sound of say the Etymotic hf5 or ER-4, nor do they have the bass-heavy signature that many other manufacturers favor. Instead, the C5s strike a pleasing balance, providing sound that is deep and powerful, while losing none of the detail and speed that can make for a muddled mess.
Having owned the C5s since they were introduced, I can say that they benefit greatly from some break-in time. On the sound side, the sound has become deeper and fuller, with all the frequency signatures having a richness that makes listening a real pleasure. The soundstage they provide is wide and open, with none of the "inside my head" sensation many earphones can give. They are capable of playing as loudly as you dare while not breaking down into the area of distortion. Another factor during the break-in period is fit: at first, the novel loop-in-ear design was very un-comfortable, causing some soreness. But, as the cables have loosened and my ears have adjusted to them, I find wearing the C5s to be easy, with the loops keeping them securely in place even during a dead-run through an airport terminal. The build quality, as with all B&W products, is very high.
I own several hi-fi grade headphones and earphones from Shure, AKG and Grado. While the C5 cannot match a true, audiophile can like the Shure SE535, for the $200 and Under pricepoint, they are hard to beat. They have that complete, fulfilling sound that B&W is famous for. They would be hard to beat at twice the price.