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Wednesday February 14, 2018 2:46 am

Tidal Force Wave 5 headphones review

Tidal Force has jumped into the headphone arena with a pair of planar magnetic headphones, aimed at providing better sound than typical driver-based models which follow the loudspeaker model of projecting sound.

If you’re unfamiliar, planar magnetic headphones use a very thin, light diaphragm in order to reproduce sound - this is instead of the traditional driver. The diaphragm is “driven” by a neodymium magnetic system consisting of a matrix double pole which ends up moving its surface evenly back and forth. The Tidal Force Wave 5 features a 56mm diaphragm, which in turn is able to produce notes between 16Hz and 50kHz. Are they worth your attention though? Let’s find out.


  • Wave 5 Planar Headphone
  • 6’ High end braided headphone cord
  • 6.5mm connector adapter
  • Wave 5 Travel Case
  • Warranty card / registration

tidal force wave 5 headphones review

Holding the Wave 5 headphones in your hand, the all-metal design feels both premium and hefty - this makes sense, as the Wave 5 cans weigh 480 grams. The dual headband design is eye-catching, especially with the laser-cut logo on the outer metal band. The second, inner band is the more familiar faux leather variety. It self-adjusts to the size you need while the top band seems to be the one that helps create the nice seal that the Wave 5 exhibits. I’m a fan of a tight seal on my headphones, as it results in a better listening experience, but there will undoubtedly be some who find it to be a little too tight after a long listening session. One cool touch though is that the ear cups are adjustable in and of themselves, allowing easy adjustment to your head shape and ears, and the ear pads themselves are affixed magnetically to the body. The cavity for the ear cups are an oval shape but I found it to be just a little too narrow, almost like a large on-ear rather than a true over-ear.

Aside from the planar magnetic technology, these are also open-back headphones - another point that separates these from most of what you’d find at your local consumer electronics store. Open-back headphones have an opening on the outer ear-cup (the part that faces away from your ears) that allow sound to escape. The idea is that you end up with a sense of listening to a much larger soundstage - that you’re listening while standing in the middle of the music all around you. I didn’t really find this to be much of a difference though when compared to other open-back designs like ones from Sennheiser. 

tidal force wave 5 review

As far as portability goes, the Wave 5 has ear cups that can pivot and lay flat for easier storage.  Tidal Force also includes a nice, hard shell carrying case, a 6.5mm connector adapter, and a pouch for the Y audio cable. The high-quality braided headphone cable is a nice touch and is something you rarely find included with even many high-end headphones models.

I’ve always found planar magnetic headphones in particular to sound a lot better when using a DAC than when connected directly to something like a typical smartphone, and the Wave 5 are no different. This isn’t a weakness in the Wave 5, mind you, but rather than most smartphones just aren’t powerful enough to really get the best of out planar magnetic headphones, which can do so much more. If you have a device with a built-in quad DAC (or if you own a portable one) you’ll really enjoy listening to these. They also aren’t heavily bass-y, likely a result of being open-back - but if you’ve been tired of the bass-heavy Beats sound profile that’s been copied by many others, you’ll find these to be much nicer.

If you’ve been wanting to try out a good pair of planar magnetic headphones, the Wave 5 offers a great opportunity to do so at a price that is substantially less than what you’d find in this category from the competition. If you plan to pick these up, be aware that Tidal Force is rebranding its audio division as Helm Audio under the leadership of five-time Grammy award-winner Mike Dean, so be sure to search for the Helm Audio Wave 5 if you can’t find them under the Tidal Force brand!

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