First Post: need Ety hf2 comparisons
Jul 10, 2009 at 9:13 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5


100+ Head-Fier
Jul 10, 2009
After much lurking, I've finally decided to make my first post here on Head-Fi. I've been spoiled with a nice but simple home audio setup (Rogers LS3/5a monitors, NAD Stereo Receiver C 740) since I have a close relative in the high-end audio industry, but will be away from home and that setup through the coming years. Though I lack the vocabulary and experience to analyze all of what I hear, I do have an extensive musical background as a pianist and percussionist so I value detail above all else.

As of now, my portable setup consists of a humble iPod Touch 2g with a pair of easily driven Grado SR-60i headphones. I'd like to skype with it, so an in line microphone or a microphone adapter is a must. In part because of that, the Etymotic hf2 tops my list of potential buys. I do have a question though: how would the sound quality of this purchase compare to my current Grado SR-60i earphones? I do know that IEMs generally have smaller soundstage and far better isolation when compared to full sized headphones, but how much more would I have to spend to match the warm bass, musicality and sweet midrange of my Grados? I know that the the SR-60 is an entry level headphone, but it's my only point of reference right now. What I'd really like is a general comparison between IEMs and normal headphones i.e. "you'd have to pay 2-2.5x more for an IEM to match" etc.

Sorry if this information has been laid out elsewhere, I can't seem to find it. Thanks for your help and I hope to learn more from you guys!

EDIT: Currently torn between Etymotic hf2 ($110) and Apple IEM ($40), price is no object.
Jul 11, 2009 at 6:46 AM Post #2 of 5
peli_kan, you sound to me more like a Shure listener than an Ety listener. Don't get me wrong, I love my Etys (I have 3 pair of ER-4's, and a handful of lesser models) but people who like what you like about your Grados often find the Ety signature rather sterile. The Shures on the other hand - at least the SE530 - definitely fall in the "warm bass, sweet mids" category. (My wife's a Shure girl, so we have both SE530's and Etys in the house.)

On the basis of the sound you say you like and price not being an issue, I'd suggest you have a look at the Shure SE530 plus the Shure Music Phone Adapter that turns them into a headset. People who describe their likes the way you do very often love the SE530. Or if you'd like to start smaller, Shure has a handful of other headset combos from $120 on up though I can't speak to these personally.

To address more specifically your question about "an IEM to match" the SR-60, only a Grado sounds quite like a Grado, so it's possible you will not find satisfaction with any IEM. But the SR-60 is indeed entry-level, with audible limitations, and IEM listening may well raise your standards in some areas even if it's not a sound-signature match. For a headset with IMO very nice audio fidelity, good bass and good detail, at a modest price, the V-Moda vibe duo should be considered: it is a nonisolating IEM headset that is easily driven by a Touch 2g and has a fairly "open" sound, at an MSRP of $79. The $119 vibe ii is substantially better sounding and IMO far technically superior to the SR-60, but again I'm not going to claim it's a substitute for a Grado if Grado is what you love. (My wife and I seem to agree on the Vibes, she has the vibe duo and I have a vibe ii.)

Based on what you said you like abour your Grados, I really think you'd like the SE530. But it's a pricey way to start out. If you'd like to start with something less expensive and think an open IEM might be suitable for you, I'd suggest the vibe ii. That way there'll be less overlap if you get an isolating earphone like the SE530 later.
Jul 11, 2009 at 6:52 AM Post #3 of 5
From what I've read, my only concern with your suggestion is the treble of the SE530's seem anything but Grado-like, but I haven't heard either so this is merely an observation from what I've seen posted on here. Any comments on that aspect?
Jul 11, 2009 at 7:02 AM Post #4 of 5
Can you say more about your treble concerns, Zalitian? What specifically do you mean?

To my ears the SR-60 has very rolled-off treble. The newer SR60i may be improved in this respect, I don't know. But the original SR-60 is definitely quite limited in this area. High notes are reproduced okay, but high harmonics really aren't: percussive sounds like a strike on the rim of a drum are severely smoothed over. It's like furniture that has had every edge sanded off, every corner rounded. The SE530 too has limited highs (from the point of view of an Ety listener anyway), in somewhat the same way that the SR-60 does, but IMO the SE530 is much less limited than an SR-60. As for the voicing of the treble, well, again, nothing but a Grado really sounds like a Grado, but to my ears the SE530 seems like a pretty good substitute as IEMs go.
Jul 11, 2009 at 11:01 PM Post #5 of 5
Thanks for the well thought out and written replies. I actually WOULD like earphones that deviate from my Grados, so that there is as little overlap as possible, in order for me to justify expanding my stable of headphones

As I understand it now, normal full sized headphones versus equally priced IEMs aren't necessarily superior in sound quality, but rather different in their points of emphasis. I was merely worried that if I buy a pair of Ety hf2's I'd no longer have a reason to keep the Grados, which would result in a good bit of head hurt.

I will keep the SE530 in mind as I continue exploring the world of Hi-fi audio, though I'll likely try out some Etys before I go with Shures. Thanks!

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