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Portable amp for Etymotic HF5

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by aeroengr, Feb 11, 2012.
  1. AeroEngr
    I'm looking for a portable amp to bring out the bass on my Etymotic's. I was planning on returning them, but I've read that an amp may help my situation.
    The only problem is I don't know much about amps and I don't want to spend a large amount of time researching. What would be a good combination with the hf5?
    With an impedance of only 1Ω it won't need a great deal of amplification.
    I plan to take these school everyday and my source of music will primarily be from my android phone.
    I was looking at the Fiio e6 for $25 on amazon. It seem's like a good deal but at that price the amp seems like it may be bad in quality.
    Price range ~ $100. Although will go up if there is something considerably better.
  2. matthewtng

    I am receiving my HF5 on wednesday and then I'll go down to Jaben in Melbourne to try out all the amps there (because we can!!) and I'll get back to you on my findings. I bought the HF5 as a reference pair of earphones to go with my new (slowly approaching) JH16.
    I reckon that the RSA amps might actually do well to bring out the bass and not affect the clarity of the HF5s. However, they are kinda pricey. I'd say the RSA Hornet (original version). Someone told me that you can't get them brand new nowadays. Perhaps other Headfi-ers would know about it.
    What kind of music do you listen to?
  3. AeroEngr
    I listen to a lot of fusion, jazz, hip hop, trance, metal, alt. rock, and classical. Mostly instrumentals because it helps me study, music with words get me distracted.
    The amp you mentioned is well over my price range.
    I'll spend $150 tops on a amp. I will be using it for school when I study. 
  4. matthewtng
    Yea. I'll be sure to keep that in mind. I will reply at the earliest.
  5. AeroEngr


    Sounds good to me. Thanks for the help.
  6. matthewtng
    Are you brand conscious, and where do you live? Some amps might or might not be available in your country/area.
  7. AeroEngr


    I'm relatively new to the amp world, so I don't know many brands. I'm in the U.S. I live in San Diego. I should probably head to a store somewhere out here, but I don't know where to look.
    I just asked around here so someone could steer me to the right direction.
    I was hoping that someone who owned these earphones would know of a few brands and models that go well with the earphone.
    The sound these things produce are great for the price, but the bass is really tight for my taste.
  8. matthewtng

    You probably should find a head fi store where you can try things out for yourself. My gut tells me that the Go-vibe Martini(+) would be a good option. You probably can order it from jaben.net. Or if you're really tight on cash, the Fiio e11 is very cheap and has 2 bass settings; e17 has a DAC. Build quality is not fantastic but they'll last if you look after them.
  9. matthewtng
    My HF5 just arrived 30 mins ago and I'm totally enjoying that right now. The detail is awesome! :D
  10. Krnnamedjason
    Hello AeroEngr.  I have the HF3s (which are HF5s with smartphone controls/mic) and I found the bass to be, well, "thin" (*gasp* audiophile blasphemy!) compared to some of the other headphones I own.  The thing I noticed about portable amplifiers is that while they may do wonders in boosting the sound in general, they will not really help in tuning the sound to your preference unless the amp has a dedicated equalizer and/or bass boost.  Have you tried to use an equalizer on your android phone?  Those results may tell whether the HF5s will suit your needs or not, even without resulting to connecting to an amplifier.  
    I have a limited exposure to source components, but from the sources that I've used so far (which includes various iPhones, iPods, MacBook Pros, and the venerable Sony D777 CDP), I've found that using the equalizer helps bring out the bass I want more than the old CMOY Altoid Can amplifier that I have.
    I took the plunge, however, and bought the FIiO E17 recently and I can say that boosting the bass level on that device definitely gave me the bass emphasis I wanted.  I can honestly say that the E17 is a marked improvement over listening straight out of my source components or using the old CMOY amp (which didn't have a bass boost like the newer ones have).  
    I specifically mention the "bass boost" function because as you may already know, the FiiO E6 also has a bass boost function.  I have never listened to the E6 but from my experience with the E17, the ability to directly control the bass definitely helped in the bass department while maintaining the clarity of the HFs.
    The last thing I want to say, however, is that any portable amp is going to increase your bulk considerably and reduce the portability.  I think you should try to tune your music using the onboard equalizers on your phone before trying out amplifiers which may or may not suit your needs.  While I do enjoy the sound that comes out of my CMOY and E17, I find myself just plugging my HF3s into my iPhone or iPod straight and using the "Bass Booster" equalizer setting more often than I'd like to admit... 
  11. AeroEngr


    Yes the detail on these things are phenomenal for the price. I only paid around $90 at j&r and thought that was a steal. I'm glad your enjoying them.
    Also, I'm glad you mentioned the e17 as a possible amp. I've been reading a few reviews on it and it seems like it may be the one I buy. Let me know what amp you end up buying when you test them all out.

    I have messed with the equalizer on my phone and it doesn't produce the sound I'd like to hear. I'm hoping an amp will fix all that. I find it interesting that you mention the e17 because it was the one I'm considering after reading a few reviews. For an amp and DAC at that price, you can't beat it. (Well maybe you can I honestly don't know many other brands.)
    Where did you buy your e17? I tried looking online for them and they seem to not be out yet.
  12. matthewtng
    Just tried a few amps here below $150AUD. The Fiio E11 improves the bass depth and kick when you turn it up to eq1 and even more so on eq2.
    Hippo box+ also has a bass booster which adds bass, not as much as e11, but the sound is cleaner.
    Im here for a few hours today. Let me know if you need something else.
  13. drsamdc
    I use a cmoy v2.83 which has base boost. This works beautifully with my HF5s. Build it or buy it, the price is right and their service is first rate.
  14. Khaine775
    Hey there! I'm just gonna hi-jack this thread >_>
    It's been a few months now, and how are you guys holding up with the Etymotics HF5/E17 combo? I just happen to have received an E17 myself, and I'm seriously considering buying the HF5 as I only use IEMs for travelling and isolation is big plus in my book - together with awesome SQ obviously, which the HF5 seem to have. 
    Looking forward to hear from you, since the "purchase" button on amazon is itching my trigger finger.
  15. Swimsonny
    I find the best combination of on the go amping for the HF5 is to use my cMoy BB (you could use the bass boost, adds body and presence to the bass) and to get the most out of the amp use a resistor to up the impedance of the HF5.

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