The B&W C5 headphones are the newest addition to the headphone section of the company and what a great addition they are too.
Great sound with lovely response and great base define an innovative In Ear Monitor IEM.
Bowers and Wilkins are a company I have always highly respected. Even though I have never had the pleasure of owning any of their truly high end products, the ones I have owned have always been of great quality and design.
Last year I purchased the [[ASIN:B003IHUHGE P5 Mobile Hi-Fi Concert for 1 Headphones - Black]] after deciding to replace my [[ASIN:B000UZ03ZW Shure SE420-K-EFS Sound Isolating Earphones - Black]] which had gone missing.
As great as the P5’s were, I took great issue with how warm my ears got when walking round London in the Summer. This led me to hastily offloading the - in my opinion - flawed product.
I went back to the Shure SE-420’s once again and that was that.
Come late 2011 and once again I was without my 420’s. This time I had been an idiot and had dropped them outside my car door whilst getting out and returned to find the headphones smashed to smithereens - not a pretty sight I assure you!
Whilst at the airport just a week ago I noticed that I had become fed up with Apples signature, crap, headphones and needed something else.
Surprisingly my choices were varied, even at the airport. I narrowed down my choices to [[ASIN:B003S3RD74 Shure SE425-V-EFS Sound Isolating Earphones]] the [[ASIN:B00368CICQ Klipsch Image X10i Noise Isolating In-Ear Headset with 3-Button Mic for iPhone / iPod - Black]] and the Bowers and Wilkins C5’s after discounting the Bose QC15’s on the basis of not wanting noise cancelling technology destroying the music I listen to.
In the end I settled on the Bowers and Wilkins C5’s. My reasons were the innovative design, and reputation of the firm for creating great musical listening devices.
I was not disappointed.
DESIGN & BUILD QUALITY
The design is something I have never seen before, the headphone, after being pushed into the ear uses the cable which is slightly rigid - although still adjustable - to slip inside a ridge of your ear to hold itself in place.
It is a much cleaner solution to the one employed by Shure and is leaps and bounds ahead of Klipsch.
Also the study metal construction is reassuring and the cable does not feel like it will fall apart. I must say I was most disappointed to find the cable non replaceable.
Other than this the design is a welcome refresh to the same old.
Also the inline controls - which only work with iDevices are very useful and work well.
The headphones feel well built, they should last at least a year or two.
Now here is of course what you have been waiting for.
Summed up in one sentence; The Bowers and Wilkins C5’s deliver astonishingly good bass which can be too powerful whilst still providing the listener with a warm - although sometimes harshly bright mid and high range.
At high volumes on tracks with lots of bass the mid range can suffer although it handled Thom Yorke’s ‘Skip divided’ with relative ease up until 3/4 volume. Villa Nah’s ‘Running on’ did however suffer and i was forced to turn the bass down to FLAT on my iPod.
If not presented with heavy or overbearing bass such as in Interpol’s ‘Leif Erikson’ the headphones truly shine.
Of course chances are you want to shut out the outside world whilst commuting and the good news is that these headphones do a great job of shutting out the outside world.
Problem is that due to the ‘micro porous’ outside - which helps provide the great bass’ most of your fellow commuters will probably be able to hear the music as well if you are listening above 2/3 volume.
It can be a little tricky to get a proper fit but you are rewarded with deep bass and lovely highs if you get it right!
The headphones come with a somewhat ‘suave’ suede case.
Personally I’d avoid it. My headphones didn’t fit in them very well so I am continuing to use my Shure case as that is large enough to accommodate both my headphones and iPod Nano.
The 4 differently sized tips should accommodate most ear sizes.
I would say that the B&W C5’s do represent good value for money.
Although not at the cheap end of the market they are definitely not at the top of the IEM market either. Innovative design and fantastic sound quality for the price make these a great buy.
The only downsides are the sound leakage and non replaceable cable.
To me these outperform the Shure SE-425’s on sound quality and build in most respects. Perhaps the se-420’s are cleaner when it comes to merging bass and mid range but at that stage it is purely a matter of personal preference.