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Etymotic Research HF5 Portable iPhone and iPod In-ear Earphones- Colbalt

3.9 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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  • The hf5 delivers a near-perfect music experience, even in high surrounding noise conditions
  • Like Etymotic's earlier generations of in-ear earphones, the hf5 is built on superior noise isolation, so you experience total sound immersion when listening to your music
  • The hf5 is compatible with all iPod models and music players that accept a 3.5 mm plug

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Colour Name: Colbalt

Product details

Colour Name: Colbalt
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 5.1 x 17.1 cm ; 113 g
  • Boxed-product Weight: 136 g
  • Delivery Destinations: Visit the Delivery Destinations Help page to see where this item can be delivered.
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  • Item model number: ER5-COBALT
  • ASIN: B000XP8DJC
  • Date first available at Amazon.co.uk: 4 Dec. 2008
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank:

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Colour Name:Colbalt


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Colour Name: Colbalt
I purchased these in-ear-monitors (IEMs) about 6 months ago, but waited until now so I could review them based on more long-term impressions, since I feel that's always more useful when considering products that people may well be using every day. I'll start with everything not relating to how they sound, and then finish with my opinions of the audio quality - but bear in mind that's a very subjective topic.

I didn't used to be a fan of IEMs, but the HF5s have converted me. The isolation they provide when fitted correctly is superb, making them perfect for my noisy commutes (bus, train, occasionally coach). I'm also confident that they would be more than enough for use when travelling by plane. They are particularly good at blocking out the low frequencies, with higher frequencies being *slightly* more audible. This isn't necessarily a bad quality, though, as it means that voices can be heard when needed, though you'll have to remove them if you want to have a conversation. The isolation is so great that I would not recommend them for running/waling around town etc.

In spite of the deep insertion, I find them to be a very comfortable fit. The triple-flange design is made of quite soft silicon, and compresses nicely when inserted, but still provides plenty of resistance and friction to keep them in place. Several other tips are included: a smaller triple-flange set, some rather unusual-shaped `glider' tips (I don't really know how to describe these, but I found them both less comfortable than the flanges, and to decrease the sound quality), and a set of foam tips.
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Colour Name: Colbalt
Headphones, & in particular, earphones are a tricky purchase. It is difficult to try before you buy & you are never quite sure what you are going to end up with, over priced tosh or a decent value product. The Etymotic HF5 fall into neither of these, coming up just short of the hurdle of being a good valued piece of kit.

First off these type of phones are slightly intrusive, if you struggle to use foam ear plugs then look at a different style headphone, if not & you want a good level of sound isolation then read on.

Build quality is good & the supplied bits include: case, two sizes of flanged ear tips, one set of foam ear tips, a filter removal tool, filters & clip to hold the cable to clothing.

The headphones provide a very detailed insight into the music, picking up things in the recordings that you may not have noticed before, mid range in particular comes through with outstanding clarity & this with the very balanced top end really gives a sense of quality sound. However I found the bass a little lacking with any of the supplied fittings. These style phones need to fit really well in order to reproduce the correct bass but even with the supplied foam plugs the only bass that really comes through is a very tight mid bass, not that I want something that is thumping, but a little more warmth & a touch more low end grunt would really push these on sonically.

So, I've tried them with the Shure Foam Tips (PA910 fit perfectly), these really do bring an added depth to the bass, an altogether rounder & warmer tone. However there is a trade-off for this improvement in sound & that is cable feedback, it was driving me mad, solution - put the phones in upside down & trail the cable around your ears.
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Colour Name: Black
I bought these recently as a replacement to my Shure SE210. I find them a much better headphone, they seemed to be much better designed and have better clarity and separation. I am extremely happy with these headphones but then again you are probably wondering why I gave them a 4 star rating apposed to a 5 star. Well I will address the problems these headphones suffer in detail so keep reading.
Advantages over the SE210 is that the sound is rounder with basses being more fleshed out and highs not being ultra sharp. In comparison to my Sennheiser HD650s they don't flesh out the bass as much as I would like and also with the HD650s I find each layer is perfectly audible and crisp but with these I don't find them as crystal clear listening to some music. This is really not a fair comparison because the HD650s cost twice to three times as much and are not marketed as competitors and also try carrying them around with you!
In terms of comfort & design compared to the SE210 these come out top dog. I find their three layered flange tips to be amazing for blocking out ambient noise and putting you right in your music. Personally I find etymotic's range of tips lacking compared to the ones Shure offers, so this leads my having a bit of an uncomfortable time with the HF5s. I find you really need to jam the tips far into your ear canal, which is not a very pleasant experience and if one of the earphones is not inserted all the way it sounds un balanced, so you might be moving them around until you are happy with the fit. I also found that the tips made my ear irritated which is a problem I have never had with any other in-ear earphone every before. The other tips Etymotic provide don't really serve much purpose I find, they are exotic looking and are not pleasant to use.
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Colour Name: Colbalt