Pros: Tube-like earphones, reasonably priced
Cons: Available only in Japan (ex-grey market)
The Ortofon e-Q5 is an easy-to-drive low impedance single balanced armature driver designed by Ortofon themselves. It uses OFC cables and the shells are aluminium CNC-ed.
As with most Japanese products, presentation is important and the e-Q5 doesn't disappoint. It comes in a nice cylindrical can with a multitude of accessories - tip cleaner, flanges/tips of various sizes, and filter replacements too.
The e-Q5s retail approx Y13,800 (USD$175) online, and probably a tad more in a bricks 'n mortar shop. For that price though, its provides a very nice, tube-like signature. The earphones tend to lean more towards a mid/treble forward and the trebles are nicely extended with detail but doesn't sound harsh or sibilant. Despite being somewhat tad mid/treble forward, they aren't as forward as the Shures SE535 for example.
The bass on the other hand seem to have slightly less dimension and less detail but more musical. However Ortofon has managed to keep the bass tight and neutral. These are not bass heavy earphones.
As for the other aspects of its signature, it's timbre and instrument separation are also very impressive particularly for acoustic instruments - a very airy presentation. The soundstage is also quite decent.
Talking to the makers, the target genre is more jazz/classical and it's met that goal. Listening to West Coast Jazz like Gerry Mulligan, & Paul Desmond, their (alto) sax sound very smooth and involving.
For some early 80's music with electronic (e.g. keyboard) instruments, that are naturally treble focused, the earphones could sound a little more fatiguing but genres such as acoustic of vocal jazz, & classical, they reveal the strengths of these earphones.
As for the fit of the e-Q5, they do fit in snugly into ears and the cable can be looped around the ear if desired - however I don't know what kind of stress that will put on the cable since it'll be bent perpendicular to the aluminium housing. It's isolation is also decent (but I've not tried all their flanges).
Overall, for the price, one is definitely great workmanship with good quality sound. I'd definitely wouldn't hesitate recommending these earphones or it's bigger brother, the e-Q7 especially to a jazz enthusiast.