Etymotic hf2 Impressions
Jul 20, 2009 at 4:20 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


100+ Head-Fier
Jul 10, 2009
Disclaimer: my experience with earphones is woefully shallow and narrow, so instead I have to draw from my years as a percussionist and pianist to evaluate what I hear. Feel more than welcome to comment on any inaccuracies.

Today I received a pair of Etymotic hf2 earphones, and had a pair of Grado SR-60i's ot compare them to. My setup:

Apple Lossless ripped from CDs ---> iPod Touch 2g ---> Etymotic hf2
Apple Lossless ripped from CDs ---> iPod Touch 2g ---> Grado SR-60i

Fit and Comfort: Very comfortable, and no worse than the earplugs I get to use from being in a drum line. The supplied foamies isolate better, and don't compress the air within the canal upon insertion.

Sound Quality and Sound Signature:

(15 steps, from In Rainbows by Radiohead) - Compared to the Grados, snare drums had more weight where with the Grado it was all snare sizzle. Most apparent with the snare line at 1:40, which was all snare sizzle with the Grados but instead a damped snare drum on the Etys. The following series of rimshots and rim taps at 2:00 onwards further demonstrated the gap between these two earphones, where the brightness of the Grados made the snare drum nearly unrecognizable, while the Etys displayed every move the drummer made. Base seemed to be equally present and punchy on both earphones, vocals were fuller on the Etys while the Grados had a brighter, sharper attack.

(Reckoner, from In Rainbows by Radiohead) - The very first thing I noticed going to the Etys from the Grados was the presence of wood tones, starting with the background maracas/shaker. With the Grados, I'd thought they were metal beads or nails being jangled in a sack, while the Etys were much more faithful to the sound of the wood cased instrument. With the Etys, the swelling strings line at 2:50 is meaty and robust, while the Grados sounded more delicate and throughout the whole song give the impression of space that placed the instruments not only beyond my ears but apart from each other. I happen to know exactly what cymbals sound like when hit, and the two earphones represent the noise very differently. With the Etys, they seem struck and inch or two from the edge, resonating at a lower frequency than the Grado's which like lighter, thinner cymbals struck right below the crown, close to the center instead.

(Lullaby, from Some People Have Real Problems by Sia) - This song has mostly guitar, vocals, piano, and glockenspiel. Sia Furler's bright brassy voice sounds breathy and mellow by comparison with the Grados, which seem to place her voice closer to the listener by emphasizing high frequencies.

Conclusion: It seems to my work-in-progress ears that the Etymotic hf2 tames whatever music it comes across, giving weight especially to the lower mids/upper base as apparent in vocals and percussion. I do love the sound of the Etys, though somehow they're not very memorable despite my having read that they are extraordinary among IEMs for their fidelity and clarity.

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