Etymotic MC5 vs. RE0/RE2... An amateur's comparison
Jul 27, 2010 at 9:46 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 11

Guppy_

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Just received my Etymotic MC 5s...
 
Coming from a long love-hate relationship with head-direct, love because sound is unbelieveable, Whilst quality control, durability, etc. is rather poor.  Brief history:
Bought RE2s about a year ago, right side went completly mute, RMA'd, got a second pair, went completely useless around 8 months of very carefull use, but this time, if I turned the volume to decent listening levels, right side would blow up and start clipping and then the left side would do teh same. This time out of warranty, so I said, what the heck, let's go for the RE0... Basically the same story 2-3 months into light use, the right side completely went mute... So I said F it... I'm going to try a new brand and read about the good reviews the MC5s were getting, so I decided why not.
So just got my MC5s about 3 days ago, barely no burn in, but man... I completely love the sound.
Bass is there, at some point it makes me even feel like a bass junkie :| compared to the RE0 I feel there is a bit more of bass quantity, highs are there and like the RE0s these completely bring out the imperfect parts of poorly encoded MP3s, which aren't much, but still are in my music collection, anything below 192kbps completely sound like crap. Anyway... I listen to a variety of  bands in different genres ( Underoath, norma jean, audioslave, sting,Creedence CR, Rachmaninov, vivaldi, NIN, kanye west, Santana,   daft punk,  Art tatum, Lynyrd skynard, MCR oasis, you get the idea) and I never found these lacking one bit. I do feel soundstage is  a bit wider in the MC5s.
 
On detail it goes maybe like this RE0=MC5 > RE2.
Oddly enough though, my RE2s had 32 ohm impedance, the RE0s 64 ohms and the MC5s sound about the same as the RE2s at the same volume ( 11,12 in my zen vision M, XFi2) and the MC5s have supposedly 16ohms? Should the MC5s be a tad louder ( to my understanding of impedance anyway...).  The RE0s did need around 15-20 though. Perhaps the ohms in the RE2s is mislabled?
Now to give the RE0 some credit, I never tried them amped, which I read is truly needed for them to completely shine.
Build quality on the MC5s is MILES ahead of the RE2s and RE0s IMO. Even though the RE0 have a metal casing,  they just feel cheap, cable reliefs feel like they're going to tear even with the slightest of pull, not to mention the tip... Whilst the MC5s just feel superior in every way, even the 45º tip feels robust. Heck, even the shirt clip feels that's it just not some other cheap $0.01 part like the one included in the REs.
Microphonics is there, just use under the shirt and provided shirt clip and presto barely an annoyance or in worst case scenario, over the ear gets the job done.
I must add that it took me around 2-3 minutes the first time to figure out the proper seal with the big 3 flange silicone and man... It feels like my ears are getting rapped!  Though after a minute or two, I barely notice them.  Foam tips make them a whole lot comfortable, though after reading about the poor durability, they will be my back up tips...
 
Overall I feel the MC5s (no burn-in) match if not surpass the RE0s in general terms, though I will update after a couple of hours of burn in.
 
Packaging with Etymotic is very nice,  pouch is a little small though and man, if Head-direct which is a small company can manage to ship 2-3 of EACH tip, why can't etymotic, same goes with the filters, I only got one pair of filters... and paying an extra $15 for another 3 is just abusive/aburd.  I wouldn't mind them upping the original price an extra $10-15 dollars and getting more extra filters and tips, avoiding the hassle of ordering more, paying for shipping, etc.
 
So in short
Etymotic MC5
Pros:
Build quality/ 2 year warranty
Excelent sound
Isolation FTW. Seriously Etymotic isolation is just that ETYMOTIC Isolation.
Cons:
Insertion? ( not really a con).
Lack of QUANTITY in accesories.
 
RE0s
Pros:
Amazing sound ( HDs reputation)
Comfort? ( for those that insertion is an issue anyway)
Amped apparently is basically a top-tier IEM ( Can't comment about though as it is not something I did)
AMAZING RMA/customer service ala newegg, hassle free (though sadly they were still RMA issues)
 
Cons:
Build quality
Quality Control
Durability
Build quality
Quality Control
Durability
 
Seriously though, if head direct upped their build material a tier or two they'd have a real winner! 
 
Couple of questions for you head-fiers. Which Foam tips will provide best durability from what i've read shure olives > comply tips and them there's compatibility with the MC5s? I searched the forums, but found nothing really conclusive.
 
Note: All this is based purely in my opinion, no scientific data here, other then what my ears heard with MP3s and FLACs (though mostly V0 mp3s).
 
Sep 14, 2010 at 2:02 AM Post #4 of 11

jarrett

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The similarities to my thread are striking!
 
http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/410676/etymotic-er6i-and-head-direct-re2
 
Fails on build quality!!!
 
Quite funny your RE2s died within 8 months because I quoted the same period before my RE2s died also. My RE0s lasted 10 months! I'm not going back to Head-Direct as much as I support them for everything else. I don't want to replace headphones every year! These Ety's sound very nice. My first pair of nice headphones were the Ety ER6i (lasted two years). It sounds only natural to hop back to Etymotic again.
 
Edit: linked to wrong thread
 
Sep 14, 2010 at 8:22 AM Post #6 of 11

Demonic_Pope

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Wow, sounds just like me. My RE0s had problems within two weeks, but the problem went away so I didn't bother about it. about half a year later my left side stopped producing sound, so I sent them back for a replacement. I got my replacement two weeks ago, and... yeah, no sound from the right piece now. Absurd.
 
I'm thinking of getting either the MC5 or Fischer Audio DBA-02 (which is a bit too expensive for me, but I'm tempted). The DBA-02 sounds like it will beat the MC5 easily when it comes to the sound, but again, I'm worried about the build quality. Plus it looks ugly. The MC5 looks really nice and has a 2-year warranty, and is said to have great build and sound quality. But I'm not sure if deep insertion is for me. Hard to make a decision.
 
Sep 16, 2010 at 9:05 PM Post #7 of 11

Guppy_

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Yeah, as i've said before, head-direct sound amazing, but their build quality is  barely average. I'll post a couple of burn in notes (though i'm on lame GPRS so it might be till I get home) but long story short I did notice some difference after 50+ hours.
 
Sep 19, 2010 at 5:18 AM Post #9 of 11

goodvibes

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It's an often repeated misnomer on this board that impedence equals effeciency. They are seperate specs for a reason. Lower impedence may play louder at the same V setting when all else is equal but may also not have a lower V setting at clipping by pulling more current from a DAP. Problem is that when comparing 2 IEMs everything else is different and the impedence correlation becomes moot.
Quote:
 
Oddly enough though, my RE2s had 32 ohm impedance, the RE0s 64 ohms and the MC5s sound about the same as the RE2s at the same volume ( 11,12 in my zen vision M, XFi2) and the MC5s have supposedly 16ohms? Should the MC5s be a tad louder ( to my understanding of impedance anyway...).  The RE0s did need around 15-20 though. Perhaps the ohms in the RE2s is mislabled?

 
Sep 19, 2010 at 2:58 PM Post #10 of 11

yearsofwisdom

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Wow.... guess i can knock the RE0s off of my list... i listen to 35prcent classical, 35 percent rock, 25 percent hip hop, 5 percent other.... for me its down to RE0,RE-ZERO,IE6,Super FI 5,HJE900s, and MC5s..... which to get????!? sub 100 category obviously.
 
Sep 20, 2010 at 1:03 AM Post #11 of 11

jarrett

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So how do you feel the MC5 are better than the RE0 in terms of sound? My first nice earbuds were the ER6i then I went to RE2 and RE0. I already know the Ety's will isolate better, have more natural sound, treble extension / detail in the highs; and because of this you get a more present sound. Most of my listening is acoustic music (classical, world, jazz) and the ER6i were fine for classical, but anemic for anything with bass in it.
 

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