Pros: Excellent detail retrieval, clear midrange, superb instrument separation
Cons: Constricted soundstage, not much bass to be satisfying, deep insertion
Build quality is good, plug is meaty and the cord is not as thin as most IEMs. Comes with a lot of accessories. Isolation is typical of Ety's which is superb.
Sound quality is very good overall and for the price. The bass is I would say is just neutral or for most people, a tad bass-shy and I definitely can understand that. I think this is my only earphone where I got a bit surprised that the bass quantity that I’m used to hearing to isn’t the same. It extends fairly low into the bass and it’s super tight but there’s simply not much quantity that would make you stomp your feet when listening to music that demands it.
Midrange is good, upper midrange is so slightly boosted and it gives that extra clarity I think. Treble is good. Typical of Etymotic.
Soundstage is of course small but it is wider (yet lacking height) than most in-ears I’ve heard. Layering is very good but this makes this headphone critical of the source. Play a 128kbps track and there’s a good chance it wouldn’t sound good. This might not also be the best earphone to use for modern RnB and pop music as it may not be satisfying enough in terms of rendering the ‘oomph’ and ‘booms’ of the music.
The above is an excerpt from my review of the Etymotic HF5: http://www.headphone.ph/the-etymotic-hf5-iem-review/