Pros: Sweet midrange - extended highs - spacious soundstage
Cons: Bass is lacking - can be a little too mid-centric for some
(Pictures can be found in the thread)
The Ortofon e-Q5 was a very uber popular headphone for a short period time, that is until bigger and better IEM’s took the market by storm, like the Westone 4 and the Earsonics SM3. While I may be a little late to the party when it comes to auditioning these little marvels, this will definitely be sticking in my book for a very, very ling time, as they are one of the most unique and beautifully tuned IEM’s I have ever in my short lifetime.
Unlike the Westone 4’s or the Earsonics SM3, which use an all plastic body, the Ortofon e-Q5’s have a very pristine aluminum housing that not only manages to look very modern and sleek, but it is also one of the most durable IEM’s on the market. The cylindrical housings on the e-Q5’s have an almost futuristic look to them and manage to prevent scratching and dings, even after a harsh fall to concrete, in which I was very surprised. Just don’t take these in the pool, and you should be just fine with them. Now, there is one of aspect of the e-Q5’s that fails to me impress me at all, and that’s the cable coupling. While the rubber coating has a much better strain relief over the e-Q7’s lower cable, the e-Q5’s are a lot more tangle prone and is quite susceptible to scratches and tears. To me it confuses me that Ortofon would combine the ultra durability of aluminum with the tenderness and fragile-ness of a slim rubber cable, when a kevlar reinforced or even a sheath coated one would have sufficed much more.
Comfort & Fit
The cylindrical design is unique, that’s for sure, and some would think that there may be problems when it comes to these aspects, and it’s actually quite the opposite. While the e-Q5’s are certainly not as comfortable as the likes of the Radius HP-TWF21R (the infamous half in ear, half out of ear IEM), they offer as good, and if not better, isolation than the Westone 4, Earsonics SM3, and Final Audio Design Heaven series. Ear fatigue is almost nonexistent as these nearly fade away in your ears just as high quality chocolate give you that melt in your mouth feel and taste.
The e-Q5 gives off a very spacious vibe and presents in it in a manner that excites me more than any other top tiered IEM I have tried. While not as wide as the e-Q7, the e-Q5 is more spacious, deep, and gives off better transparency all throughout. The highs are more extensive, sparkly, and forward, with the e-Q7 being more laid back, smooth, and warm sounding. When compare to the W4 and the ESM3, the e-Q5 just can’t compete, as those higher end IEM’s have better extension, are a bit brighter, and have much better micro detail retrieval when amped with a bright amp or source (to my ears). The mids of the e-Q5 mimic the e-Q7, are a tad less forward, a bit less sweet, but more full bodied. The e-Q7 was known for acoustics, and Ortofon has tweaked the driver ever so slightly to recess to the vocals slightly, but still keep fantastic clarity.
The low end is more prominent than the e-Q7, has more rumble, and is a tad bit deeper, especially when amped with a decent portable amp like the SoundMagic A10 when bass boost is turned on. Let’s say you were to have the e-Q5 and the Radius HP-TWF21R on hand. They would sound pretty different, and the HP-TWF21R, while definitely taking the prized possession in terms of low end sonic precision, would definitely have a rival in terms of bass body when the e-Q5 is properly driven and amped.
The Ortofon e-Q5 sells at an MSRP of $349, which is $30 less than it’s older brother. For $30 less you get more extended treble, less silky mids, and more bass body. In my opinion, that makes for a much better IEM. Here is a quick tip though, if your are in the market for the e-Q5’s, hit up Wicked Digital, as they are holding a sale were you can get the e-Q5’s for $249 (no promoting by me) on their website. The link for the e-Q5 will be at the bottom.