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Should I look at Etymotic hf5's, or something else?

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 

Hey guys,

 

I've been lurking for a fair while here, and have been in desperate search of some decent IEM's. What I was wondering is, what are peoples thoughts on the Etymotic hf5's? They seem to be the price range I am looking for, but I am concerned they may be a little lacking on the low end for some of the music I enjoy listening to.

I primarily listen to rock, alternative, metal, big band and ska type bands as well as some drum and bass/ jungle. In effect they basically need to cater for everything.

 

As for the earphones I've already tried, I found my first pair of decent phones, the sennheiser CX400's to be punchy with bass, but felt a little washed out with the mids and highs to me. I then tried Monster Jamz, which had terrible issues with build quality but were a bit more balanced with more defined than bloated bass. These were probably the ones I enjoyed sound-wise the most. However, after returning them twice for warranty the third pair still had bits ungluing, amongst other issues with cable strains. Being low on money the last few months, I've settled with some Logitech UE 200's which I managed to pick up for something like 25 dollars at dick smith.  They sound okay to me, but only when using comply tips. I still find that they seem sound like the instruments are blending into each other though, and have terrible microphonics unless they are worn looping over the ear.

 

Are there any recommendations around the price range of the hf5's that would cater for all of my tastes? Or would the Etymotics suffice? I would love to hear anyones opinion, as it all helps me make a decision. I'm so indecisive!

 

Thanks

post #2 of 63

Personally I love my Etymotics.  Despite having a bunch of other IEMs I come back to them often.  But here's the why:

 

1 - The isolation (especially if you use the tri flanges or comply foam) is the best available.  For travel (planes) you can't top it.

 

2 - Clarity is wonderful.  If you're not used to quality IEMs (and even if you are) you'll hear parts of your songs you hadn't heard on poorer speakers or phones.

 

If you're in love with a lot of loud bass thump they're not the best choice.

 

Another option I'd strongly reccomend is the Hifiman Re-Zero.  For $100 it's amazingly musical, less anyaltic than the HF5 but a beautiful sound and slightly prettier with the mids.


Edited by Deviltooth - 7/29/12 at 12:16am
post #3 of 63

I also love Etymotics. I've never heard a better IEM for under $200 than one that uses the same drivers as found in the HF series (and more expensive, better-tuned ER series).

 

In addition to what Deviltooth said, I would personally avoid trying to use all tips except for the cylindrical foam that come with them, or Shure Foam "Olive" tips. The triple flanges included with the HF series isolate extremely well and sound great, but they can literally be painful. The other tips included, barring the cylindrical foam ones, aren't much better. I use Shure Olives exclusively for all my Etymotic IEMs. They also do a good job of giving more bass response (I should say, letting you better hear what is already there, coming out of the earphones).

 

The Etymotic HF series will certainly give you the bite you need for metal and rock. Mids are not covered up in any way, and the treble and bass are smooth and tight. I guarantee they will be better than all of the other IEMs you've tried that you listed. If the low end is lacking to your ears, simply EQ it up 4-6dB. They respond very well to EQ (and amping).


Edited by soundstige - 7/28/12 at 8:05pm
post #4 of 63
Thread Starter 

See, that is my concern. I'm not sure if I like the loud bass thump or not. Ahah. I guess my only option is to give them a shot. Another option may be for me to get multiple sets of IEM's, for different types of music. Don't the RE-Zero's sometimes have cable durability issues though? Durability is a fairly big factor for me too, seeing as I use them whilst walking, sometimes jogging and commuting amongst other things. One thing that draws me to the Etymotics is the 2 year warranty. I will definitely look into the Hifiman's though, I think there is an authorized reseller in Australia for them too that I could get to easily. Thanks!

post #5 of 63

Keep your options open. Look into the GR07 you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.
 

post #6 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundstige View Post

I also love Etymotics. I've never heard a better IEM for under $200 than one that uses the same drivers as found in the HF series (and more expensive, better-tuned ER series).

 

In addition to what Deviltooth said, I would personally avoid trying to use all tips except for the cylindrical foam that come with them, or Shure Foam "Olive" tips. The triple flanges included with the HF series isolate extremely well and sound great, but they can literally be painful. The other tips included, barring the cylindrical foam ones, aren't much better. I use Shure Olives exclusively for all my Etymotic IEMs. They also do a good job of giving more bass response (I should say, letting you better hear what is already there, coming out of the earphones).

 

The Etymotic HF series will certainly give you the bite you need for metal and rock. Mids are not covered up in any way, and the treble and bass are smooth and tight. I guarantee they will be better than all of the other IEMs you've tried that you listed. If the low end is lacking to your ears, simply EQ it up 4-6dB. They respond very well to EQ (and amping).

 

Ah I almost forgot about EQ, but yeah I have found foam tips are the most comfortable for me, and I would definitely sacrifice some isolation for comfort and a little bit more safety walking around the streets. I do notice the comply tips kind of reduce the bass response as opposed to silicone tips though, but they make up for it in comfort and I find they feel a little less 'harsh.' So they will be a noticeable step up? I gather balanced armatures would definitely be one, but I've never heard them before.

post #7 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lee730 View Post

Keep your options open. Look into the GR07 you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.
 


Thanks, I'm taking a quick look at them now. I like how they have the over ear fit. One other thing with the hf5's, are they comvortable to wear over the ear? It's nice to have the option to wear them both ways, and over the ear really seems to help reduce the microphonics from the cable when walking/ jogging.

post #8 of 63

All tips that don't go in deep, like Comply and to a degree like Shure "Olives" will reduce bass just a little bit. But then, if there is a tight seal (very easy to get with Shure Olives), that bass presence is mostly recovered. The couple of times I managed to get silicone tri-flanges into my ear correctly, I can't say I noticed a substantial difference over the sound offered by Shure Olives.

 

BA drivers will definitely give you a vertical step up in quality compared to low-end dynamic drivers, especially the one Etymotic uses.

 

I haven't used HF over the ear, but I don't see it working very well in my mind. The design doesn't really lend itself to doing that.

 

GR07 and HF5 are both great and direct competitors in terms of quality, though the GR07 has a different sound signature and will give you a bit more bass and treble detail. The only issue is that the submitting for warranty claims requires shipping to another part of the world, and long wait times. They also won't isolate external noise as well, for better or worse.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zilla7777 View Post

 

Ah I almost forgot about EQ, but yeah I have found foam tips are the most comfortable for me, and I would definitely sacrifice some isolation for comfort and a little bit more safety walking around the streets. I do notice the comply tips kind of reduce the bass response as opposed to silicone tips though, but they make up for it in comfort and I find they feel a little less 'harsh.' So they will be a noticeable step up? I gather balanced armatures would definitely be one, but I've never heard them before.

post #9 of 63
Thread Starter 

Hmm, it seem's like the Etymotics will definitely be finding their way into my ear canals at some point in the next few weeks, ahah. But in response to the over ear fit, has anyone noticed vibrations and noises from the cables being an issue at all when worn straight down? You are right, they do not really look like they would suit over ear use.

post #10 of 63

Honestly yeah, there is a little cable noise (microphonics). A great way to relieve that is with a shirt-clip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zilla7777 View Post

Hmm, it seem's like the Etymotics will definitely be finding their way into my ear canals at some point in the next few weeks, ahah. But in response to the over ear fit, has anyone noticed vibrations and noises from the cables being an issue at all when worn straight down? You are right, they do not really look like they would suit over ear use.

post #11 of 63

I say go for the Ety's. 

 

I purchased a pair of the ER6i's and they lasted for 5-6 years through college and getting beat up non stop. Finally one ear went out.

 

They also have a out of warranty buy back program. Pretty much, you can send in your old pair and get a new pair much cheaper. 

 

When My ER6i's finally went out, I was going to get the HF2s (inline mic and Android control) and could have for about 108 with shipping. Luckily, amazon had them on sale for like $112 that day so I just went with that.

 

They rock either way. Some complain about bass but it really is all about proper seal. Also don't forget about picking up some extra filters. They aren't cheap and need to be replaced from time to time. (They aren't expensive but when you see what they are and that you just paid $3each for them its kinda sad)


Edited by colinIRL - 7/28/12 at 10:11pm
post #12 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilla7777 View Post

See, that is my concern. I'm not sure if I like the loud bass thump or not. Ahah. I guess my only option is to give them a shot. Another option may be for me to get multiple sets of IEM's, for different types of music. Don't the RE-Zero's sometimes have cable durability issues though? Durability is a fairly big factor for me too, seeing as I use them whilst walking, sometimes jogging and commuting amongst other things. One thing that draws me to the Etymotics is the 2 year warranty. I will definitely look into the Hifiman's though, I think there is an authorized reseller in Australia for them too that I could get to easily. Thanks!

 

To be honest I regularly cycle through a few different IEMs and when I'm active (at the gym) I'm sweating like mad and there's always the danger (a likely one) of catching a cord with a dumbell, machine etc.... I use cheap IEMs for the gym so when they die I feel no pain.  The Re-Zero appears to have average build quality but I don't put them under any stress.

 

Regarding tips for the Etymotics: I use comply foam because it provides the best combination of comfort and isolation.  I have done some comparisons with silicone tips and I don't hear any real bass loss.  The drawback to foam is it's not going to hold up as long as silicone.  Especially if you are active and sweating.  So factor in the costs of additional tips (Shure Olives can be had cheaper than Comply foam) and filters.

post #13 of 63

Those etymotic are far too expensive, IMO, to use since they have no user replaceable cable. The only etymotic I could ever use were the ER4S. They all have incredibly flimsy cables but at least on the 4S they are user replaceable. The entire HF line is disposable with the cables they come with. I much preferred my ER4S to my SE325, but I could buy replacement cables for the SE325 and not have to deal with being without headphones for 2 weeks only for etymotic to tell me the wire isn't covered under warranty. They wouldn't sell the replacement wire. Ugh.

 

It'd be fine if it failed at the headphone plug end, but they often fail in the middle or right by the earbud. It is possible I am hard on them, but there are 8 million people in NYC on an island meant for maybe 200,000, so it is easy to bump into things/people on occasion.

 

It may not happen to you, but if it does, it will feel really awful to know you dropped $100+ on something totally disposable.


Edited by larossmann - 7/29/12 at 12:33am
post #14 of 63

Based on the music you listed above, I recommend looking into GR07 and triple.fi 10. HF5's bass though highly textured lacks impact for those music IMO.

post #15 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by larossmann View Post

Those etymotic are far too expensive, IMO, to use since they have no user replaceable cable. The only etymotic I could ever use were the ER4S. They all have incredibly flimsy cables but at least on the 4S they are user replaceable. The entire HF line is disposable with the cables they come with. I much preferred my ER4S to my SE325, but I could buy replacement cables for the SE325 and not have to deal with being without headphones for 2 weeks only for etymotic to tell me the wire isn't covered under warranty. They wouldn't sell the replacement wire. Ugh.

 

It'd be fine if it failed at the headphone plug end, but they often fail in the middle or right by the earbud. It is possible I am hard on them, but there are 8 million people in NYC on an island meant for maybe 200,000, so it is easy to bump into things/people on occasion.

 

It may not happen to you, but if it does, it will feel really awful to know you dropped $100+ on something totally disposable.

 

That was another option I was kind of looking at, IEM's with replaceable cables. Sadly, I can't seem to find any within this price range. Are there any that you could recommend that are similar in price and quality to the hf5's?

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