Merry Christmas everyone! I know it’s a bit late to be reviewing any products for potential Christmas gifts, but since I own these and ended up getting another pair for my dad as a present, I thought a review on them might be useful for anyone looking to get a quality pair of in-ear headphones.
On the Etymotic website, the hf5 earphones are described as the best in class for under $200, and as “no compromise, high-performance noise-isolating earphones that deliver best-in-class benefits and superior value, perfectly matched to the latest product innovations from most music players that support a 3.5 mm stereo phone plug.” But that’s just what the website says; let’s get in to the real review…
Price: Etymotic: $129.00 Amazon: $95.91 (cobalt) or $100.79 (black) The price seems a bit expensive to many, especially those who tend to break their headphones frequently, but more serious audiophiles know that good headphones can be extremely expensive, making this $100 seem relatively cheap. Also I would add to those who worry about losing or breaking these, they come with a nice storage pouch, and I find that you tend to take special care of things that you really like and cost a hundred bucks!
Noise Cancellation: The product description lists: “35 dB – 42 dB noise isolation and documented highest noise isolation of any earphones or headphones on the market today.” I have found that they really do provide excellent noise cancelling. Many times I will have them in, listening to ambient music quite quietly while studying, and people will come into my room and chat with my roommate all while I remain completely oblivious! I cannot hear a single thing but the music, which is pretty dang great in my opinion. Probably my favorite aspect of these headphones.
Sound Quality: According to the site they have: “85%+ response accuracy from 20 Hz – 15 kHz, achieves highest output sensitivity in its class with 105 dB SPL sensitivity at 1 kHz at 0.1 mV, and Accu•Driver™ high performance, precision matched, balanced armature drivers.” I find that they give great sound to any and all genres of music, but they may not be ideal for serious bass-heads because they lack the capability to provide a very intense deep bass sound, but the bass is definitely present, clear and detailed, but not overwhelming. The trebles are crisp and clear, without hurting your ears, another plus. The mids are really where these earphones shine; they’re clear and very controlled. The soundstage is very wide, but perhaps a little bit lacking in depth. I would believe etymotic’s claim that they give a very accurate reproduction of the music. Overall, very good sound quality for the price.
Design/Comfort: The earphones come with a variety of accessories, including: in-ear earphones; assorted eartips for your comfort; filter changing tool with filters; carrying pouch. The cable is 4 ft long (almost a little too long for me), and gives slight feedback when hit, but it’s not overly annoying. I personally like the large 3-flange eartips the best because they provide the optimum noise cancellation and are the most comfortable, but that’s just me. They may take a little bit of getting used to because you really need to get them deep into your ears for optimum sound quality. One bad thing is that they do not have a control for volume etc. on the cord; you have to pay extra for that. Overall good design and comfort level.
Overall Opinion: I would definitely recommend these earphones to anyone looking for superb noise cancellation and great audio in any genre. A good first pair of true quality in ear portable headphones.