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Etymotic Research HF5 Portable In-Ear Earphones Reviews

Positive Reviews


lots of punch in a small body


Pros: detail is fantasic, some of the best isolation around

Cons: bass might be too thin for some, fit takes some getting used to

  A few months ago, my trusty westone um1s died after 2 years of faithful service, so i got this pair to replace them, based purely on the reviews i had read about them online, seeing as i was unable to personally demo a pair. needless to say i was nothing short of entirely satisfied with them, and while i have owned the um1s, comparing them would be slightly pointless as they are completely different in character, so this review will be a simple standalone affair. the basic setup is the hf5s and an ipod classic (the latest gen not sure which one it is) un-amped, playing either lossless ALAC rips or 320 kbps mp3 tracks.   FIT/BUILD: the first impression i got when i removed...
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Very Good Neutral Headphone for the Price


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...
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Negative Reviews


Shoving ice cubes in your ears would be warmer


Pros: Detailed, good mids and highs, good cord.

Cons: Uncomfortable pads, nonexistant bass, questionable pad inserts

Let's get something out of the way first. There's some debate over whether these are accurate or "reference grade". It seems to me that a lot of people that bought these have done some massive amounts of mental kung-fu to convince themselves that must be what's going on here. From 600 Hz on up, they are very accurate, detailed, snappy, but bordering on sibilant at times. Below 600 Hz though, there is a crater in the frequency curve where the bass would've been in normal headphones. This is most certainly not accurate, and I feel that 'subdued' is not a strong enough term to convey what you're hearing. It's almost nonexistant. The only saving grace is that the pathetic excuse for bass that...
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Pros: Hmm...

Cons: No bass, shrill mids and highs, microphonics

The Etymotic HF5 suffers from a marked lack of bass. It might not be immediately apparent to many listeners, as the majority of pop songs produced in the last 5-10 years reproduce the “sound” of bass in the midrange so that listeners will “hear” bass through virtually any speakers. A good example of this type of “bass” is Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What.” (don’t worry, that song has plenty of “real” bass, too) However, after listening to “Turn Down for What” on the HF5, then listening to a song where the baseline doesn’t bleed into the midrange, such as “Beastie Boys - Check It Out,” it is clear that the HF5 is almost inaudible below about 100Hz, and anemic throughout the typical “bass”...
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More Reviews


Accuracy, thou now has a price point.


Pros: Amazing isolation, Transparent sounding, Extremely accurate, High degree of imaging in mid and treble

Cons: Bass is uninspiring, Product out of the box is a poor representation of the device -- burn in absolutely required.

First off let me preface by stating that I bought these on a whim.  I had read many things about Etymotic's penchant for accurate reproduction.   The initial impressions I got from these were a mixed bag.  First off, I love the isolation factor, putting these on in the middle of a crowded communal area was like stepping into a library.  I tried the various silicone pieces which were provided as well as the obnoxious chunks of foam and settled back on the medium sized triple flange which was installed on the unit from the factory.  These tend to sit a little further inside the ear canal, however once they are in I didn't find them to be any more uncomfortable...
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A very nice "neutral" IEMs


Pros: Accuracy, nice mids and highs, Isolation, Accessories

Cons: Fit, Microphonics, Build quality

Hello All,    This is my second review on Headfi so bear with me on the details ;)   I have been owning these "amazing" IEMs for about an year now. My main source of music is on my iphone 5s with flac files ( through VOX music app).   Let me get right to the point.   Pros: Accuracy: Highly accurate with nice mids and highs, has a really nice sound signature, not too bassy but just right. ( If you feel the bass isn't enough, you may have to somehow find the right fit for you and of course if you reading on this IEMs you are not a bass-head ) Isolation : Really good with the triple flanged buds Accessories: a lot of included ear buds but I think the...
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A cyclist's best companion.


Pros: design for snug fit in ear canal, excellent audio qualities, superb isolation

Cons: No remote control

Love them. First and foremost, the audio is excellent for acoustic music. Secondly, the isolation is superb. Who needs noise canceling when you have these?. 3rdly, the are perfect for me when I am cycling with my helmut on. Training on bicycle has never been more fun since I found you.

Smooth and accurate


Pros: relatively flat sound

Cons: lack of lowest and highest extension

Etymotic Research HF5 Review   The hf5 didn't fit well with my ears.  I believe this is due to the long armature shafts and ear tip combo.  Essentially, the sound port needed to be pointing at precisely the direct path of my ears to get a good sound, but this didn't happen with the normal fit position.  This seems to be rare for most, but just something to note.  However, in the "normal" position I would call these comfortable.  I had to push them deeper than normal and angle them awkwardly to get the full sound.  I could tell when they were "just right", and this review is based off of that position, which is most likely what most people hear in...
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Very good IEM


Pros: Sound quality, isolation, price?

Cons: price?

Bought new in Europe for $100 My best IEMs, very good analytic sounding, obviously not for bass-head even though my favorite headphones are Denon D2000! High isolation but might be uncomfortable (it goes deep in ear canal) I had RE-0 as well, to me HF5 are much better, they are not bass anemic like Hifiman's I still do not know how to evaluate the price, they are MANY newcomers in the market such as JVC FX series or VSonic which can be bought for less than $100. If you need very strong isolation, don't look elsewhere!

Awesome IEM's


Pros: Natural sound, sound isolation, comfort, price

Cons: none that i can think of

This is my first IEM. I owned Grados and LOVED them, but i'm going to college and wouldn't be able to listen to my Grados in many places as they are open back cans.   So started my search for an IEM that sounded like my Grados. I found the HF5's!    These have a very natural sound just like the grados. Bass is present, not overwhelming, just right. Mids make listening to classical, jazz, and vocals a real treat. Highs are excellent as well and don't hurt my ears like make in ears.    These are totally worth the $150 price tag. I much prefer them over the shure 215's or 315's. 

They got the sound right but...


Pros: accurate yet analytical sound

Cons: microphonics, stock tips

...got everything else wrong. Take this mini-review with a grain of salt because YMMV with these IEMs. You may even get a great fit with comfort, but I didn't. Tried all the tips. The gliders don't stay. The foams are itchy. The grey flanges are itchy and too big. The only one that works are the stock small flanges. They fit well and isolate well, BUT they are uncomfortable as HELL. I am considering upgrading to the custom tips or even buying some other tips, however I've seen users whose HF5's broke due to using other tips, so be careful. The sound is great. When doing an A/B comparison to the EX600, I found that the HF5 has a higher resolution sound and weaker bass. The BA driver is...
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P.F. Jo

Quick evaulation


Pros: Awesome for the price

Cons: Somewhat congested soundstage but not terrible

These phones are great, for their value, even at retail price these are quite good.   Though I do not have past exp. with other etymotics, I could sum these as very clear, tight bass but not lacking, unless the track you're playing is. the mids are a little emphasized, but it's not too obvious the seperation is also very good, If I were to give an example these are like an artistic version of   That is regarding the soundstage, but it's not that big a of a con considering its other traits.   This is after a few hours of critical usage of these, source is a J3 with some EQing. Also, they are currently unamped.   Good luck,   Jo JS.

Etymotic hf5


Pros: amazing highs and mids, looks stylish, blocks lot of noise

Cons: Lacks in bass, take some time to get used to

These are a great pair of earphones for the price! Highs are detailed, airy, with no sibilance. Mids are superb, detailed. Overall they sound very neutral, but lacks in bass. It took me some time to get used to the triple flange tips, but after they were very comfortable. The quality is good, I am using it around 1-2 hours a day for almost 3 months, and I haven't had any problems with them. If bass is not important for you, these earphones are one of the best you can get.
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