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The Etymotics HF5 Thread

post #1 of 529
Thread Starter 

The reason behind this thread is to share my enthusiasm about the Etymotics HF5 In Ear Monitors.

I strongly believe these IEMs deserve to be ranked among the very best of them, and as this belief has slowly grown on me, I also wish to share my findings and give potential buyers some tips to gain time and enjoy more!

As the average person, I became interested in IEMs due to my frequent use of a Digital Audio Player during my everyday transportation in the (noisy) city environment. And once more, as the average person I slowly grew from low cost solutions to higher end ones, as I discovered more and more benefits.

The average person however, more often than not, wonders about the end of this quest. In plain English: How much Hi End is enough? And as a result, how much should one spend?

I will try to justify my case, which is “not a $ more than the cost of the HF5s”.

Let’s see the reasons…

I decided to bet on this IEM mainly based on my extensive research on the Internet. I don’t just trust “any” review, but some people tend to be frank, and having a long experience in High End equipment, I just read what I trust.

So, the word was that Etymotic as a firm offers a unique natural & balanced sound signature. Now, these words bear a heavy promise in the mind of any audiophile.
Furthermore, being a firm that only makes IEMs for a long-long time earned some more points in my mind.
Third, as far as the HF5 was concerned they were reported to sound pretty close to the legendary ER4p with a lesser price tag that brought them within budget for me.

I have now lived with them for 3 months and my current perception of them has nothing to do with the initial one.

I think that the average user will find it really hard to achieve optimal sound with these. It took me months to finally get the sound promised. This is how I finally achieved truly spectacular results…

First thing to do is get proper tips. Perfect shield is absolutely necessary. Use the Shure Black Foams, I recommend SMALL size for most ears.

Replace the flanges that come with the Etys with these.

Please push the tip all the way using your thumb while you hold the earphone steady with the other hand. The Black Foam should now be touching the main earphone and no stem at all should be visible.

Insertion: take my word for this: do NOT push the foam to contract! (this is why the small size is suggested). Moist the outer surface of each tip instead by putting your fingers in some water.

Now, push the tip in your ear, pushing gently with a slight direction to the back of your head – instead of pushing with a 90 degrees angle, just tilt a bit to make it more like 65 degrees – the smaller angle being towards the face and the force going to the back of the head.

Ok, this will go up to a point and you feel there is no more room. This is enough. By now you should be isolated from outer sounds and if you are this is a good sign. Keep some pressure on for some seconds until the IEM stabilizes. Remove your finger and repeat for the other ear.

I think you’re ready to go…

What I get is a fantastic sound with great bass – and I mean GREAT, not just good – that can be heard, felt and makes your brain go wild! Lows get so low I’ve never heard from my main setup. Excellent definition and texture without getting overblown. Mids are simply sensational. Male or female voices are smooth and deep, they sound like real human voices all right. Great detail here but no sign of shrill sounds. Higher up there is plenty of detail, very good definition of treble, lots of information and still no edginess. I find the soundstage to be very good despite many comments about the opposite. I think it is quite realistic, while other earphones tend to present a much wider & more impressive illusion.

If I was hard pressed to find some weakness I would ask for some more “air” in the treble. I think that deciding to move to the ER4 has to do with this exact point.

I listen to a wide variety of music, from classic to metal and from country to trance and progressive. Natural and electric instruments, male and female voices, rockabilly, folk, anything really…It all sounds great!

Partner these with a good sounding DAP please, they deserve it. They are driven quite easily, no special amp required, the resistance is designed to fit the HP out of everyday DAPs…

I really hope you enjoy these, and spend the rest of your cash on whatever you wish!!!


post #2 of 529
I too think these are outstanding IEM's for the money...I got mine for 99 dollars at amazon on a special sale and cannot imagine a better bargain...and I have westone and shure IEM's as well.....
post #3 of 529
I still can't decide between these, RE0s, S4s, and now the Fischer Eternas
Before I discovered head-fi I was an Etymotic man through-and-through, but I bought my ER6s back when Ety ruled the IEM game ... a field which has certainly diversified since.
post #4 of 529
Same here pretty much, except I ruled out the s4s and not interested in the eternas.

It's come down to hfs vs the RE0s, but I'm just wondering which one produces more bass.
post #5 of 529
I owned a pair of 6i and heard 4P. hf5 performs really, really well, I'd say it's pretty much up there next to 4P. And yes, hf5 does indeed produce plenty of bass (as long as it's sealed correctly). Quite unlike what Etymotic usually does with their leaner signature. Slightly too much bass now? Perhaps it's just short of 4P in detail and airy-ness? I guess I liked the old sound a bit more. Not bad though.

Seal is important, but you people already knew that, right? My hf5 came with this olive-round-tip-ish foams, and I use that now rather than two-flanges I used to use with the 6i. Seals about as good, and it's oh so much more comfortable.
post #6 of 529
How does these compare to the Philips SHE9850? Will the Shure olives fit the HF5?
post #7 of 529
Dang, perfect timing, so I just received my HF5 and plugged them in about 5 minutes ago ... so far so good. Definitely not nearly as bass lean as many posts in the forums make them out to be (or rather, I guess most of the bass leanness comments are regarding the ER4P, so I wouldn't really know, but just taking the HF5 on its own, it's not to the point that I would consider them lean, just not overly emphasized).

Microphonics are kind of crazy though ... definitely have to use the shirt clip or else it's terrible.
post #8 of 529
i wonder if anyone has used these with an p to s adapter
post #9 of 529
Originally Posted by Inks View Post
i wonder if anyone has used these with an p to s adapter
I have one coming in the mail, hopefully it'll be here in a week and I can post my thoughts.
post #10 of 529
Does anyone have the ability to do an UN-AMPED comparison with ER4P, preferably with an Ipod product?

I have owned both but not together. From memory I want to say that un-amped, HF2/5 are clearly superior.

Reason: HF5 is much smoother sounding and the treble is not as harsh. Transients are better too most likely due to 16 ohms versus 27 ohms of ER4P. These are both 2 big areas ER4P struggles with that seem to be "fixed" with HF5. Comments?
post #11 of 529
From the accuracy thread:
Originally Posted by episiarch View Post
As for sensitivity, I have both the ER-4P and the hf2 (mic'd version of hf5) and my experience is different from Spyro's. I find the hf2 considerably more sensitive than the 4P. I can't account for why we experience this differently, but I'm sure of what I hear. As for unamped SQ, I much prefer the hf2. In the unamped 4P (driven by an iPod Touch 2nd generation, a pretty weak source IMO) I hear enough of the usual needs-more-power artifacts (mushiness in complex passages, lack of impact in bassy passages, etc.) to bother me. The hf2 sounds much cleaner to me with the same material at roughly the same subjective volume. Again, this is with a source that I consider to be pretty weak. With a source powerful enough to drive the 4P properly, I wouldn't be surprised if the 4P came out ahead.
post #12 of 529
I received my HF2's today(hope its okay to invade the HF5 thread!) and so far I am really impressed with these.

For the last year I've been using IE8's and am more than happy with them however I wanted new phones with a mic for my Iphone. I had owned er4p a couple of years back and sometimes regretted selling them on. With this in mind i took the plunge and ordered the HF2's.

I cant compare to the er4p, only from memory which wouldn't be accurate, but I have done a bit of listening earlier with the HF2 and er6i's and IM716's that I hadn't used for a while. The HF2 are for me a definite step above both of these and from memory very close to what I remember of the er4p.

I thought that after a year of the Senn IE8's strong deep bass that i would find the HF2 a bit underwhelming but to my surprise I didn't. I'm not saying that either is better, I think they are too different to compare but where the IE8 give me a deep bass with an overall warm sound, the HF2 give me a fast accurate detailed sound.

For the price here in the UK, £80 compared to £145ish for the er4p, I think these are a bit off a steal.
post #13 of 529
I dont understand, how can be HF5 in Britain so cheap! Their price is almost same as ER-6i.
post #14 of 529
Gossling - thanks!
post #15 of 529
Originally Posted by Bína View Post
I dont understand, how can be HF5 in Britain so cheap! Their price is almost same as ER-6i.
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