I just purchased my CS5 Series 2 earbuds, so this is my initial reaction to the product.
1. Overall quality - As with all B&W products, fit and finish of the earbuds
is superb. The micro-bead filters add a unique look, and do seem to
add an extra spaciousness to the overall sound and soundstage. While
the cable is not oval or flat, it does feel robust, and tangling has not
been an issue so far
2. Fit - the provided ear tips, in four sizes, allowed me ample
options for finding the most secure, sound dampening fit in each ear.
Taking the time to experiment with the different sizes, mixing and
matching so that each ear was perfectly sealed proved extremely
valuable and revealed the true quality of sound reproduction from these headphones.
3, Sound - A little experimentation allowed me to "tune" the
sound specifically to my liking, and provided a more accurate response
curve, one I perceived to be more in line with a very good
reference loudspeaker: bass was well-defined and tight, even at the
lowest frequencies. Mid-range was excellent and clear, framing both
male and female vocals well. The highest frequencies were smooth and
I listen to quite an eclectic mix of music, from Nu-Metal to Opera. I found
these earbuds to be especially well suited for acoustic and jazz, with a
clear and pure sound and spaciousness. The dynamic range was
evident on classical pieces, and even impressive with Nu-Metal and
classic rock tracks. Overall definition was superb, and the smooth
frequency response allowed me to clearly identify previously unnoticed
nuances in the various performances
4, Comfort - Overall, these are quite comfortable to wear for extended
periods. Initially, I found them just slightly uncomfortable, but soon was
able to concentrate solely on the music, as the earbuds became almost
unnoticed. The loop worked well to provide a secure fit, and I didn't need
to constantly re-adjust or re-seat the earbuds. Certainly, it's important to
spend time to find the best ear tips for comfort, sound, and noise
isolation. I found external noise (moderate levels) dampened to
significantly lower levels, and unobtrusive when listening at reasonable
In summary, I'm quite impressed with the sound quality of these earbuds. In truth, they provide even better sound than many over-the-ear headphones I've tried, and are very similar to the B&W P7 set that I currently use as a reference,
NOTE: I did compare sound quality with and without a USB DAC on my computer: I can say that the DAC provided a very noticeable, very positive improvement to the sound quality, with tighter, more controlled bass, and an improved soundstage.
I am very pleased with this purchase, and expect the audio experience to improve as these "break in" over the next few weeks of regular use.