Etymotic Research HF5 Portable iPhone and iPod In-ear Earphones- Black
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- Lightweight earphones, compatible with all MP3 players
- Maximum Noise Isolation - great for listening to music in loud environments
- Four-foot cable for tangle free listening
- Accurate response
- Package includes assorted eartips, carrying pouch and filter tool with 2 replacement filters
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Etymotic hf5 is a no compromise noise-isolating earphone that delivers best-in-class sound and isolation. With high performance, precision matched armature drivers the Etymotic hf5 delivers superior sound. Perfectly matched to the latest product innovations from most music players that support a 3.5mm stereo jack plug. Equipped with advanced Etymotic Accu-Driver balanced armature driver the hf5 is able to achieve highest output sensitivity in its class and superior sound with very high response accuracy. Etymotic's own ACCU-Fit ear tips provide an excellent seal in the ear canal while the replaceable filters protect the balanced armature driver from ear wax and debris making sure the hf5 stays in top form. Etymotic hf5 earphones are designed to be more comfortable for extended wear, and their high degree of noise isolation enables lower-volume listening, to help protect hearing while still retaining Etymotic's highly accurate sound experience. No compromise listening.
Etymotic hf5 earphones Assortment of ACCU Fit ear tips ACCU Filter wax filters with removal tool Pouch
From the manufacturer
Etymotic Research, Inc. is an engineering-driven research, development and manufacturing company. The name "Etymotic" (pronounced et-im-oh-tik) means "true to the ear". Innovation, education, and hearing conservation are central to Etymotic's mission.
hf Series Noise-Isolating Earphones
No compromise, high-performance noise-isolating earphones that deliver best-in-class benefits and superior value, perfectly matched to the latest product innovations from most music players that support a 3.5mm stereo phone plug.
- High performance balanced-armature drivers
- Reinforced 4ft cable
- 2 year warranty
Etymotic designs products to measure, protect and improve hearing, and enhance the listening experience of music lovers everywhere. Together, audio engineers, musicians and audiologists at Etymotic have generated over 100 patents issued and pending.
High Performance Drivers
Etymotic invented noise isolating in-ear earphones using balanced-armature receivers and established these speakers as the gold standard for high-definition, in-ear earphones.
The hf series incorporates these high-performance balanced-armature drivers and their unmatched accuracy at an affordable price for everyday use.
Best Sound Accuracy
True high fidelity requires reproduced sound to be as close as possible to the sound of a live performance. Etymotic's earphones and headsets have the highest response accuracy of all in-ear earphones and headsets.
Best Noise Isolation
Etymotic's earphones have the highest noise isolation of all in-ear earphones, as measured by an independent laboratory accredited by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Reduction of outside noise lowers the risk of listening at unsafe levels.
Durability and Warranty
2 year replacement warranty.
Reinforced cable for durability.
User-replaceable filters that protect the balanced-armature drivers from earwax and other debris.
In The Box
hf series earphones .
Filter removal tool and replacement filters.
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Top customer reviews
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.
Design wise, the HF5s are very well designed. They come with a soft case which is a very nice addition, and especially compared to the un-practical hard case that came with the Shure's because I found I couldn't slip it into a pocket because of it's ridiculous size. A problem I have found with the HF5s is the cable design. It's too thin and causes a lot of noise whenever it's moved, this is a very big problem and even with the addition of the included shirt clip it's still a problem! Shure's cable management system is much better and they also have a lot higher quality cables AND also has an easily replaceable extension cable so you can replace it when the jack wears out. I am also a sucker for Shure's design of wrapping the cable around the back of the ear to minimise cable friction noise and also to keep them safe when not in use (does make you look a bit silly though). Another design choice that I am not keen on with the HF5s is the soft touch finish they have put on the cables and the body of the the headphones which makes them feel cheap and they don't feel like they will last for very long.
To summarise, I think the HF5s are an amazing sounding and well priced pair of in-ear earphones but not having a high end in-ear line of headphones leads to the HF5s missing out on any handed down high-end features you find on other headphones. Not a deal breaker but a bit annoying at times.
If I had to recommend a pair of in-ear headphones under £100 it would be these.
4/5 (3/5 when revised)
EDIT: After over three years of owning these headphones I would like to add to my review.
After about a year of owning them for three years I have found some issues. One issue is the cable, after just one year of owning my pair I had the cable damage at the plug (I made sure to put them back in the case whenever transporting them) which made the left earphone cut in and out. I did get a replacement (with a new plug but which seems to have fixed the issue of the connection breaking to the plug after a shot period of time) but the problem with the cable has persisted; to put it succinctly, they shred! The state of my cable outer after a year and a half of usage is so bad that I don't really want to take them with me as I am scared of them breaking, I now don't really use them at all much as there is no point when I have headphones for inside use.
Considered getting a replacement pair but figured this would just happen again and not to mention the fact that they are now £100+; when I bought mine back in 2010 I paid £66.95 from my local Apple repair place/centre-thing (which has now shut down). At £100+ I am considering something along the lines of the Steelseries Flux, Vsonic VC1000 or Rock-it R-50; any advice appreciated!
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. The foam tips were the most comfortable, for me, but get dirty relatively quickly and only stand up to so much cleaning, as well as being rather pricey to replace when you consider that it's just a little bit of foam.
Microphonics (noise due to the cable/headphone casing catching and knocking against things) is moderate; I do not find microphonics to be particularly distracting, but if you are sensitive to it I would not recommend these `phones. When sat still, with the cable-clip attached to my top, the cable is more-or-less prevented from knocking and rubbing against closing, eliminating the problem.
Build-quality seems at least acceptable. At first they felt rather flimsy, but having stood up to six months of fairly regular use I have to say that they are sturdier than they appear. There are as-yet no signs of wear, though I have heard of people having the cables detach from the driver module; I suspect that this is due to the headphones being removed by the cable - don't do that, remove them by holding the driver casing instead.
And onto the sound quality:
Bass: bass is precise, and extension is good (they can hit the low notes) but they are a little lacking in impact. A good seal makes them far better, but still slightly anaemic (I'm not a bass-head, either). The bass is quick to respond and rarely does it feel that the HF5s are incapable of keeping up with rapid changes in the low notes.
Mids: the mids are probably the strongest point of these `phones, being well detailed although perhaps slightly forward relative to the bass and treble, but largely well-balanced. (Male) Vocals are definitely more prominent in the mids than in the bass. I find tonality to be fairly poor here, with unamplified instruments and vocals often sounding quite unnatural (more on that below).
Treble: again, the treble is well balanced and accurate. Detail is also very good here, and I am still noticing things in tracks that I never knew were there (though this is probably due in part to the excellent isolation). With female vocals I often find them to be uncomfortably shrill, despite the headphone sounding relatively neutral overall. As an example, I rarely listen to Florence and the Machine with these because I find it an almost painful experience, but then again, her voice is quite shrill naturally.
Overall, these are precise, balanced and neutral sounding. Unfortunately, this leads to a more analytical sound than a musical one, so it depends what you're after. Listening to music on these makes it sound a little dead, as if it's being played in a padded room. You can hear everything very clearly, but they are not going to make you want to dance. I also find the timbre to be quite unnatural, especially with classical music. I know how a violin is supposed to sound, and this is not it. There seem to be both low- and high-end harmonics/overtones missing, which is especially noticeable in string instruments. I'm sort of on the fence about sound quality, because while they don't appear to do very much wrong, the sound just isn't quite right. That said, I really enjoy listening to electronic music with these `phones, despite their slightly lean bass (they respond well to a low-frequency boost from a decent EQ.)
Sound stage is larger than I expected, but still quite small. They certainly don't sound as closed-in as I had expected, given their deep-insertion. Instrument separation is also minimal, but enough not to find everything lost to a muddy, unclear jumble of sounds.
From the last few paragraphs I may have painted quite a negative picture of these headphones, but I am just being overly-critical. You will get used to their tone after some mental burn-in, and I am yet to find anything else that offers such good isolation in a similar price bracket. When on the move they are probably my best-sounding set of `phones, because the awesome isolation means you lose so little to unwanted ambient noise.
So yes, for the price there are better sounding IEMs, over-ear headphones, etc, but none of them will sound this good when your sat at the back of a noisy bus. I bought them for commuting, and in that respect they perform excellently and are relatively good value. Oh, and well done if you made it this far.
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Most recent customer reviews
Great for phone or tablet use. Especially good for public transport.