I analyzed 5×5 paired up with LPGT while playing a variety of test tracks, such as Agnes Obel “The curse”, Sandro Cavazza “So much better” (Avicii remix), C-Bool “Never go away”, Ed Sheeran “Shape of you”, Alan Walker “Darkside”, Galantis “Hunter”, Iggy Azalea “Black widow”, Indila “Boite en argent”, Dua Lipa “Love again”, Counting Crows “Big yellow taxi”, David Elias “Vision of her”, and Michael Jackson “Dirty Diana”. Due to a hybrid design, the sound analysis actually started after about 100 hours of standalone continuous playback, and I used stock SPC cable and AZLA Sedna eartips.
To my ears, 5×5 has a balanced signature with a little more focus on upper mids. Actually, depending on pair up, sometimes mids could be more forward, even pushing the signature more mid-forward, but overall, I find the sound signature to be balanced. The tonality is natural with plenty of clarity and details and without any coloring or exaggerated peaks. The tuning is very coherent, I would have never guessed it’s a hybrid design because 5×5 sounds more like multi-BA tuning, especially since bass is not as prominent. But, without sounding too cliché, the bass does come out “to play” when called upon, making you realize there is dynamic driver with a deeper sub-bass rumble.
Actually, bass sounds more like a crossover between DD and BA, being tight and fast yet with a dynamic driver texture and sub-bass rumble which surprised me with its depth, like in Iggy’s Black Widow. Mids are clear and detailed, relatively transparent, naturally resolving, slightly above neutral with fuller body in lower mids and more focused detailed upper mids that have more forward presentation. The layering is above average since there is not too much air between layers, but everything is still well separated. Treble has a good natural sparkle as well, no harsh peaks. The airiness is moderate, though I do hear a decent upper frequency extension.
Soundstage scales up depending on the source, and can go pretty wide and deep, even reaching holographic level in some pair ups. But in general the soundstage is nicely expanded without being exaggerated. The imaging is convincing with a relatively accurate placement of instruments and vocals, nothing is congested, everything is easy to distinguish and pin-point in the audio track.
The tuning is not genre specific, and it actually works well with any genre I tried playing, from EDM to pop and rock, classical and instrumental. From what I’m hearing, the sound scales up quite well to adapt to anything you throw at it.
The selection of eartips is crucial with any universal in-ear monitor and will affect the sound, especially the bass impact depending on the seal and the soundstage depending on insertion depth. Due to a large opening of my earcanals, I usually go for the largest size eartips to get a better seal. Please, keep in mind, these impressions are subjective and relative to my ear anatomy which affects how I hear the sound.
Symbio F – even with larger size tips, sound sig was a little more mid-forward, and I was a little surprised that I lost some bass. The same with stock FIR Audio foam tips and 64 Audio marshmallow tips, the bass was attenuated down but at least with Symbio F there was some bass.
Final Type E – lost a bit of a bass here as well, but mids and treble were very clean and clear.
SpinFit – with these I’m hearing soundstage a bit narrow and treble got a little brighter. Not sure if I like this combination at all.
Stock silicone tips – to my surprise, while my earcanal needs large size tips and these were easily sliding out of my ears (even L size pair), it didn’t affect the sound as much, giving me a nicely balanced signature.
AZLA Sedna – for my ears this one worked better. Besides keeping sig balanced, the soundstage expansion was the widest, and I can hear both low end and upper end extension to their max potential with deep rumble and airier treble.
Cable pair up.
Since I don’t have too many mmcx cables, I only had a chance to compare a few.
SPC vs FIR Audio Copper M-cable – copper cable (comes standard with their M-series IEMs) gives sub-bass a little more texture and rumble, adding more weight to low end while also boosting lower treble, making it crisper and airier. In contrast, SPC cable has a little less sub-bass rumble, but also keeps treble more natural in comparison to this copper cable. I’m still flip flopping which one I prefer better, but leaning more toward the stock SPC due to a smoother treble response.
SPC vs iBasso SPC (from IT01S) – from outside these cables looks identical, thus I was curious if they will sound the same as well. The sound turned out to be slightly different, with iBasso cable having less revealing mids with a warmer tonality. The difference was easy to spot, proving once again not to judge book by its cover, even if those covers look identical.
SPC vs Dita OSLO – OSLO adds even more sub-bass, boosting it with more rumble, and also adds more body to the sound with a slight boost in lower mids. SPC cable keeps the sound more transparent, with less sub-bass rumble and smoother and more natural treble extension.