Etymotic Research HF5 Portable In-Ear Earphones

General Information

Etymotic's 5th generation of high-fidelity in-ear earphones has finally arrived. The HF5 delivers a near-perfect music experience, even in high surrounding noise conditions. Like Etymotic's earlier generations of in-ear earphones, the HF5 is built on superior noise isolation, so you experience total sound immersion when listening to your music. The HF5 is compatible with all iPod models and music players that accept a 3.5mm plug. This package includes the HF5 in-ear earphones, assorted eartips for your comfort, a filter changing tool with filters, and a protective carrying pouch.

Latest reviews

Pros: Great Imaging

Plenty of Clarity

Easy To Drive

Fantastic Isolation
Cons: Fit Takes Getting Used To

Even Less Bass Than HD600s


Narrow Soundstage

Be Prepared To Buy More Foam Tips
I used these everyday for almost a year, until I lost them. They're the best IEMs I've heard, but they are far from perfect. The most glaring issues are the fit, and the lack of bass. Once fitted properly, and using the right tips, isolation is incredible. I've almost been hit by cars multiple times walking around with these in. Again, once fitted properly, the bass is very high quality, but there just isn't enough of it to listen to hip-hop, or EDM. The mids are very uncolored an clear. The treble takes center stage, as it's as clear as I've heard on anything. It manages to do this without being painful. Imaging is almost as good as HD600s, and better depth, but as a result of them going so deep into your ears, the soundstage is very narrow. The cable is pretty noisy, but if you play music you won't notice it. Unfortunately, the foam tubes fit me best, but they fall apart every two weeks.

To wrap it up, these sound pretty great, but there are quite a lot of compromises. I liked/got used to these enough that I'm on the hunt for a used pair of ER4s.
Pros: Detailed, good mids and highs, good cord.
Cons: Uncomfortable pads, nonexistant bass, questionable pad inserts
Let's get something out of the way first. There's some debate over whether these are accurate or "reference grade". It seems to me that a lot of people that bought these have done some massive amounts of mental kung-fu to convince themselves that must be what's going on here. From 600 Hz on up, they are very accurate, detailed, snappy, but bordering on sibilant at times. Below 600 Hz though, there is a crater in the frequency curve where the bass would've been in normal headphones. This is most certainly not accurate, and I feel that 'subdued' is not a strong enough term to convey what you're hearing. It's almost nonexistant. The only saving grace is that the pathetic excuse for bass that these have is at least extended nicely to the sub bass, and you can try to save it with an amplifier, but it will never sound as natural as it would if the headphones could do it on their own.
These are cold headphones. Put an antarctic new spin on all your music. That's not all, because the 3-flange inserts simply won't fit a lot of ear types. The alternatives they include are all bad. I ended up using Klipsch S4 pads to wear these.
Even the new SR4 are dull and flat and empty sounding. I had them for a day and had to return them. There is a reason why Etymotic are not very popular on this site when you compare it to other IEM's.
Oh and yes they were sibilant also, and a very deep insertion made them uncomfortable for long periods.
I was also surprised about the non-existent bass, I mean, it's pretty much not there. On a EQ scale these are -8 if bass is reduced from 0. max reduction being -10. BUT, they did respond very well with EQ up the bass. That was a big surprise. You will need a good music player app though. Lot's of them introduce distortion when EQ up bass.
Pros: Accuracy, nice mids and highs, Isolation, Accessories
Cons: Fit, Microphonics, Build quality
Hello All, 
This is my second review on Headfi so bear with me on the details :wink:
I have been owning these "amazing" IEMs for about an year now. My main source of music is on my iphone 5s with flac files ( through VOX music app).
Let me get right to the point.
Accuracy: Highly accurate with nice mids and highs, has a really nice sound signature, not too bassy but just right. ( If you feel the bass isn't enough, you may have to somehow find the right fit for you and of course if you reading on this IEMs you are not a bass-head )
Isolation : Really good with the triple flanged buds
Accessories: a lot of included ear buds but I think the triple flanged worked well for me.
And of course the sound :)
Fit - Man o man it hurts like hell doesn't it. But my ears were getting better after a couple of weeks
Microphonics - Very bad but can be avoided using the included clip
Build quality - Sub par, not really happy for the price I paid
Sound Quality:
Lows: Has a very tight low end. For many the bass could not be enough but I find it "just right" with the triple flanged buds.
Mids: Very nice mids (I keep HD 600s as my baseline)+
Highs: really good highs too (Not bright, fatiguing, just right)
Sound stage/Resolution : I find the soundstage a bit narrow maybe even narrower than HD600s. The sound also seem to be a bit conjested with complex/fast music.
Most people find difficulty with the triple flanged buds and when using the other or custom made buds the sound could be different. My personal opinion is this IEM sounds great "only" with the triple flanged buds. I used the other included tips and found them to be bass light, but its perfect with the triple flanged tips. 
Despite the cons this IEMs has more pros which make them a worthy purchase.
I wrote this review in a very fast manner, please leave comments or questions if you have any. Much appreciated.
Thank you :)
Surely, I currently have 4PT, HF3, and HF2. I use the 4PT and AK120II along with New ALO RX and use it exclusively whenever I can to listen to high fidelity.
I use the HF3 and HF2 with iPhone 5S and Cowon Z2. 
I use the Ety's almost exclusively and hardly use the Grado 10e, it's that good. I highly recommend it. Only caveat is that the 4PT does not have a microphone which is a good thing; just nice sound. Dynamics are awesome on the 4PT and I really like this IEM a lot, and it's my first choice if I need to carry around a potable audiophile set up. Hope this helps.
@dieseldriver200 Ah thank you :) I'm a bit lost with the variants, 4PT, 4P, 4S..? the difference?
Not sure with "P" and "S" --- I have the Etymotics 4PT, it's the one with each channel wire pair that's braided and it comes with a hard case. It retails for $300 USD but you can get lower than that. But that's the one I use. If you like dynamic but neutral without adding too much color to the sound, I would definitely give it a try. I have Grado 10e also which was more expensive than the Ety but although the sound is much clearer, it's characteristics variates more depending on the genre of music. Also, it just sound less dynamic than the Ety 4PT -- so on the go, 4PT is my favorite and even listening to music working chores around the house.


There are no comments to display.