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on 16 July 2016
These earphones never fail to amaze me. If you're looking for something to completely mute the world around you, these are what you've been looking for.

Now for a bit more info: As someone who is easily irritated and distracted by noise, I was looking for headphones that would block out absolutely everything. I tried on many pairs of over-head earphones, thinking they would be more apt at isolating noise than in-ear ones due to the fact they cover your whole ear, but they all failed to do little more than muffle the sounds around me. Noise cancelling is also a no-go as the technology does indeed block out low-key background hums, but has no effect on sudden, non-constant sounds such as talking, music, coughing, etc. That left me with in-ear phones, which I was not convinced of. After hours and hours of research and comparing them to several other pairs, I kept coming back to the Etymotics. I originally promised myself I would never spend £100 on a little pair of headphones, but after becoming so pained by external noises while trying to study, I took the plunge.

The first thought when trying these on was WOW. I was cooking at the time and had a loud extractor fan on. As soon as I put these in and stuck on some music, everything simply vanished. I was convinced the fan had turned itself off, but it had not. I got my housemate to try talking to me, and I was sure he was joking about and simply mouthing words at me, but no, these headphones really are that good. I've since used them on planes, trains, bustling cafes, and all sorts of incredibly noisy environments - not once have they let me down. However, if you are in a louder place you will have to choose songs that have a good 'wall of sound'. Light piano music will not drown out all sound, but any generic song that has bass and vocals should get rid of everything without having to crank it up too loud. I've had people literally shout in my ear and have not heard a thing.

The second thought I had was OUCH. This is where the Etymotics fall down. They hurt. I forced myself to wear them for days, revelling in audio bliss but suffering from a great deal of pain. I tried all the tips over and over again, and while my favourites are probably the mushroom type, they're simply too big for my ears. Eventually, after fearing I'd have to return my saving grace from the distractions of the outside world, I made one last ditch attempt to keep my new babies, coughed up another £15 and bought some Comply replacement tips. These changed everything. I'm not 100% sure the quality is as good as it is with the triple flanges, and they are flimsy as hell, but they provide the same amount of isolation with minimal pain. I've had these phones for months now and love using them, though hours and hours of use can make your ears a bit sore. That amount of isolation will undoubtedly come with a price.

Now, the sound. I'm not the best person to give an evaluation of sound quality. In fact, I'm reluctant even to go there, but as these are headphones, it is pretty important. There is clearly a difference between these and a pair of generic Apple headphones, but truth be told, I can't tell much difference between these and my £10 pair of Sony in-ear phones that I use for situations in which they could get damaged. The bass is a bit lighter on the Etymotics (not to a point where it's lacking, I might add), but I can't go into much more detail than that. What makes the sound seem so great to me is that you can hear all of it. There is no external noise bleeding in and so you can appreciate every note, every guitar string, every piano key.

Microphonics are, as others have mentioned, pretty bad. When walking it is almost manageable, but I'd never run wearing these. The clip is handy and reduces it by a fair amount, and to be honest I rarely use them outside anyway. You have to be very wary of traffic, as you will not hear it coming.

All in all, if you want to shut yourself in with your music and not hear a single thing from outside, and are willing to put up with a bit of discomfort or buy separate tips, these will give you everything you need. You could probably get better sound quality elsewhere, but I can't imagine any other type of earphone providing such good noise isolation as these.
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on 27 June 2017
These earphones block external noise really well. For example, it blocks out engine and cabin noise in an aircraft almost completely allowing you to enjoy the in flight entertainment without any distractions. However, the main drawback I have found with these is that they are very uncomfortable to plug into the ears and wearing them for long is often painful. Hence I rarely use them anymore. The sound out of these are decent and bass is rich and deep contrary to some other reviews here, but it is nothing earth shattering compared to the average more affordable earphones on the market. Replacement ear tips bought directly from the manufacturer however are a complete rip off once import charges are considered (practically a 1/4 of the HF5 price), and all the cheap ones being sold here are utter rubbish quality. Rated 2 stars because I expected better for the price, and I don't expect it to last very long as the 3.5mm plug often malfunctions and stops sound coming from the left earphone.
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VINE VOICEon 8 April 2013
I purchased these Etymotic earphones after my Audeo Phonak headphones stopped working one day after warranty ended. I looked for headphones which were in-ear as I sleep with earphones in some nights, I prefer to have phones in my ears when exercising. I enjoy a wide array of music and I wanted something to fit in with my eclectic taste in music and be comfortable too.

After much googling best in ear headphones I came across these. On arrival the box and earphones were smaller than I expected but that wasn't a bad thing. I was impressed with the pouch and accessories supplied. Etymotic provide you with foam ear tips, slip in ear tips and a tool to remove and refit filters and a pair of extra filters. For the price I paid this was more than I got with my Phonak pair.

Following instructions to inset ear tips in ears I got an adequate seal and listened to tracks from my iPod. The HF5s are comfortable and I forget I have them in. Sound wise they are ok, sharp treble and mid range, they aren't bassy earphones and those who like more bass will be disappointed as even with the bass boost setting and a good seal I don't get the level of bass I got from my previous earphones.

However, these are the most comfortable headphones I have owned and the sound leakage is minimal, they stay put when I exercise on my stepping machine. So if I had to choose I would choose comfort and portability over the loss of bass. The Etymotic does what it says very well.

The option of custom fit ear tips was an interesting one to consider. The cost of these custom ear tips came to around £130, I would rather spend that on getting the next model up or considering the next price tier of headphones as the standard ear tips were fine for me.
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on 30 October 2014
Having upgraded my home audio to a Naim all-in-one streamer and PMC Twenty 21 speakers I wanted to have a similarly high-end musical experience when listening to my iPod so started looking at better quality earphones. I thought long and hard about this purchase, as they are not cheap. There is also a huge choice when it comes to earphones, but reading user reviews it seemed to be be agreed that the Etymotics provide the best sound isolation (this can be quantified), which is very important to me as I want them for travel, listening to music whilst on a train or plane. I was concerned about some reviews which criticised the fit of the Etymotics, but was greatly relieved to find that they fit me perfectly out of the box, without the need to even try any of the other tips. On the issue of sound quality, these did not disappoint, clear and detailed and with the highly effective sound isolation I can have top quality audio anywhere. If you do commit to these and have problems with the fit, there is the option of custom-made silicon ear-piece, available as an extra cost. Highly recommended.
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on 23 November 2016
I purchased these to replace my Etymotic ER6i's which finally died after 8 years of good service. At first I was very disappointed by the HF5, and found bass weak, and the sound in general lacked presence. I then remembered that with the ER6i's the fit in your ear canal is crucial, and try as I might I just couldn't get any of the supplied tips to fit adequately. I ended up buying these:
2 Pair, Contour Tip - Earphones Plus brand replacement ear cushions made to fit Klipsch, Shure, Etymotic, and other models requiring a 2mm attachment diameter. Clear, Large
which fit my ears well and have transformed the HF5's performance from lacklustre to pretty good. I am not however convinced that they are any real improvement on the old ER6i, but I accept that I have got 10 years or so older and my ability to appreciate high quality sound has definitely reduced!
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on 12 September 2017
Bought these in 2010, and they are still working I even used them for the gym a couple of weeks (really bad decision because it helped the cable to fray), unfortunetly the cable started to fray and I currently have all wires exposed, but they still work and sound as awesome.
In terms of sound quality , let me put this out I don't look for bass heavy in ear I prefer a more flat sound and or more prominent mids and highs, and to me these in ear are just perfect they sound flat I find them good for monitoring and really enjoy using them. Because of the deep insertion, people that are not used to might not like but because of that you get probably one of the best passive noise cancelling I have ever experienced.
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on 11 November 2015
Great sound, easy to insert and remove with very good noise insulation. Just wish they did a larger size of ear tip as I have to push them in a long way to get full noise attenuation (which can be slightly uncomfortable) and they don't stay that far in for long if you're moving about or trying to sleep on a pillow on your side (when you move the pillow can dislodge the earphone from the perfect position you'd got it in).
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on 26 August 2017
I've been using these earphones for over 8 months and I absolutely love them. Many earphones that I've used get some sort of fault within 6 months but these have had no faults at all. The sound quality is excellent for my listening needs. A word of warning to people who like a lot of bass, these earphones are definitely not for you. The bass is very clear and precise, but this means it lacks a lot of volume and punch. This however is perfect for me, as I find the bass to be far too overpowering on many other earphones.
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on 14 January 2017
Sorry to say it, average headphones, well over priced for what they are and their capability. Disappointed with them.
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on 29 May 2013
I'm a big fan of Etymotic products. I had the ER6i before I bought the HF5, and I've had these for about two years now. I've been very impressed with the sound quality. Very clear, and despite what some folks have said, there is very accurate bass present, provided you get a good seal. There isn't as much bass as the ER6i, it's a much more analytical sound. They've performed brilliantly with everything from house to rock, and have superb sound isolation. The seal in the ear is very important to get the best from the sound quality, and there's quite a few fittings to achieve that.

Unfortunately, these have suffered the same fate as the EER6i, with the cabling starting to fray around the collar going into the ear piece. I'm also one month beyond the 2 year warranty period (joy). I tend to upgrade my IEMs every couple of years, so this time around I think I'll be going for the ER4S, as the sound quality is supposed to be even better, but most importantly, it has a replaceable cable!
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