Etymotic HF5 vs MyST Nail 2 V2
Two single armature models but one is from a company known by everyone and the other a new comer. I wish I had a ER4 to replace the HF5 in this comparison but I think that the HF5 will do okay in replacement. MY HF5 is an old boy and beaten up a fair bit but still sounds good. The first thing I will say the even with my collection off both silicone and acrylic CIEMs, the HF5 has remained my benchmark for isolation with its triple flanged tips and super deep insertion. Well the Nail just stole it with its thinner body it goes deeper but does not feel as obtrusive as the HF does. Build quality is also better on the Nail with a metal body, sturdy Neutrik right angled jack stronger feeling cable all making it an easier decision. On the other hand the HF5 is a complete package with plenty of tips and a great case, the nail comes with nothing at all. Prices are also a fair bit different. The nail will cost you £200 and one of the HF series can easily be picked up now for under a 100 squid.
For the sound quality testing I have used my FLAC off of my iMac and through USB to my MyST 1866 and the headphone out from that. It is very transparent and allows me to really judge the earphones. I have used a 75 ohm adapter with the HF5 which makes it sound better for sure and the previous owner of my HF5 said that it allowed them to become almost on the same level as his ER4s. It also makes the two have very similar impedances with the Nail being 120 ohm and my HF5 now 91 ohms.
Starting off the HF5 sounds so much more closed in and the amazing and accurate imaging of the HF5 is left gobsmacked by what the Nail managed. There is no competition here and the Nail just enjoys it self, knowing that its huge soundstage which is airy and dead accurate will not have to worry about the in your head HF5 soundstage. This was really put into perspective when listening to The Memory Remains by Metallica live from the S&M album.
Bass lacks deep rumble and texturing in with the HF5 and this is made even more apparent by what the Nail manages because when it roars to live you are impressed. By no means over the top but it does the job just how I like it done and this is not something many armature IEMs can do. I will stress again it is not like the subwoofer effect of the dynamic driver bass heavy IEMs. Mid-bass is tight and punchy on the HF5 and has a slightly less the average decay length. We get a bit more decay with the Nail, maybe 2db more boost so still quite light in presence and a better more full impact on the Nail. It is just a bit more crisp and precise on the Nail.
The midrange on the HF5 is just amazing. So accurate, amazing vocal height and details that are just mind blowing. The nail is a bit more forward, it sounds airier and lusher and also has a tilt towards the high mids compared to the more balanced HF5. Vocals sound very accurate on both but just so much sweeter on the Nail and I prefer that. Detail is always going to hard to beat on the HF5 and I would stick them on the same level that is on the very highest tier of midrange detail retrieval. The overall presentation of the Nail is much to my preference and I also find it to be generally better with more air, better timbre due to a slightly longer decay and better impact and more sweet vocals. The HF5 also sounds a bit thin and the Nail has amazing texture and a full sound.
Treble is where things get a bit different. The HF5 has a rather bright treble, not one I have ever found sibilant but it does have a fair bit of treble and amazing extension. The extension of the HF5 treble is much better than the Nail and its roll off comes a lot later and is less steep but again the Nail manages to still manage detail levels and exceeds in overall clarity. The sparkle is a lot louder on the HF5 in places like snare drums. One thing I am certain on is that the HF5 will get fatiguing a lot quicker than the Nail.
I really like the HF5, in the comparison one of my favourite songs come on, Karma Police by Radiohead and I enjoyed it in silence from start to finish. Wow, I though they are still really good. I did however wish that the sub-bass which is no makes up a fair bit of this song was a bit better but still wanted those ever so accurate and detailed vocals and mids. ‘this is what you get, when you mess with a….’ Nail 2 V2. It was just what I asked for. That was the last song of the 15 I compared with and I then just left the Nail 2 in and listened for a couple of hours, even with the HE-500 on the desk next to me. The HF5 are a bargain for the price but they could not handle the performance increase when moving to face the Nail.
With the 1866 PortaDAC