Customer Review

302 of 308 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This review is a lie., August 15, 2010
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This review is from: Etymotic Research MC5 Noise Isolating In-Ear Earphones (Green) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I bought these very recently, but it doesn't take long to formulate a thorough review. Overall I would give these a 4.5/5 if I could, but you must also take into consideration I'm a bit of an Etymotic fan. I can't claim to be an audiophile, but I like my music to sound good. I'll try to do a normal review, and then compare them to the Etymotic ER-6i headphones because a lot of people have those or might be considering them seeing the similar price.

What you get:
Etymotic MC5 headphones with 4ft cord and removable shirt clip
1 carrying case
2 large tri-flange ear tips
2 small tri-flange ear tips (already on the phones)
2 foam ear tips
2 easy glide ear tips
1 filter changing tool
2 filters

Review:

If all you're used to is the ipod headphones or something cheap you will absolutely be blown away by your music. Putting these in adds sounds you didn't know existed. This depends on the quality of your music though. If you have music files at low bit rates it's still going to sound bad. Personally most of my music is 192, but varies between 128 and 320 kbps, and while there is a difference, it's not too bad. Just know that if all your songs already sound muffled and off they probably will continue to do so, but if it's CD quality or itunes quality it should sound just fine.

If you're new to in ear monitors these things go inside you ear rather than just sitting on top of the ear. I mean way inside. For some people this is painful and awkward, and it definitely takes some getting used to. When I first tried it with my old Etymotics it hurt and I couldn't figure out why people liked them. Once you experiment with the different ear tips and find what works best for you, you'll start to get used to the feel and eventually you won't notice it's there.

Sitting so far in the ear is what gives these buds their isolation. You cannot hear a thing with them in. I use the large tri-flange tips but the foam ones are supposed to give better isolation. I often use my ipod at the lowest or second lowest setting and can hear just fine. Sometimes this is problematic when you want to go back and forth from listening to music to doing something like having a conversation. It can also be dangerous if you try to use them while driving or something like biking near roads.

One thing that is definitely different from other headphones is that the sound feels like it's coming from inside your head. It's kind of hard to describe, but you probably won't feel like you're surrounded by sound like you would with the large over the ear sets.

Bass is something everyone mentions with Etymotics. This set was supposed to be their response to everyone's constant criticism that their products don't have enough bass. While they have ramped it up a bit, if you're a bass addict like most people you will find these unsatisfying. As someone explained, we are addicted to bass. It's common to turn up the bass in the car or on the speakers. These phones play the sound as it was recorded, not necessarily how you're used to hearing it. One of the first songs I listened to with these was Satellite by Guster, and I noticed that the bass seemed to just fit right in with the music and blend rather than stand out. This might not be what some people are used to. One of the next songs that came up on my shuffle was by In Flames which has heavy bass driving the beat and it managed to come through alright. Not the level you might expect, but definitely acceptable. After listening through the shuffle a while I came across some Ben Folds songs and they sounded absolutely amazing. Styles of music that don't rely on heavy bass should all sound this way.

Overall this is a great item for the price point. The isolation is wonderful when you need it, though sometimes annoying when you don't. Once you listen to ears with sound quality like this you'll wonder how you ever went without them.

Comparison:

I used my ER-6i's for about 18 months before the cord cut out to one ear. The cord is very thin and fragile and it ended up being the downfall. I loved the ears, they sounded great; but with just one side working it was time to get new ones. Apparently it's common for this kind of fault to happen with the ER-6 series which is why they only get a 1 year warranty instead of 2. The MC5 has a much stronger cord and is firmly fastened at the headphone. Definitely something I was glad to see. The cord on the 6i's also made a whole lot of noise. Any small movement was amplified to the ear and would overcome the sound of the music (I believe it's called microphonics). The cord on the MC5's must be made out of something different because it's much less noticeable (though still present).

Another thing is comfort. I found the 6i to be much more comfortable than the MC5, probably because the MC5 is much larger and protrudes out of the ear while the 6i fits pretty well in the ear. This isn't to say the MC5 is uncomfortable, just less so.

Smaller differences include the carrying case for the MC5 feeling much cheaper than the 6i. The 6i had an L and R very visible on the side while the MC5 has it small and on the bottom. The MC5 has better bass response than the 6i. The MC5 uses much smaller filters that I feel like I'm going to lose. The MC5 ear tips sit more snugly on the phones and don't feel like they're going to fall off as easily. I think the 6i has a 5ft cord instead of 4ft. The MC5 plug is a 45 degree angle, and the 6i is 90 degrees.

I like both pairs of phones. I think the MC5s have a little better sound and it's nice to get a choice of color. I think the 6is are a little more comfortable though they have a tendency to break more easily. I really loved my pair of 6is but with how easily they broke I'd have to favor the MC5 over them. Hope this helps someone out.
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 6, 2010 5:31:51 PM PDT
Anthony says:
Do you have to use the shirt clip? I have the Ety ER4p and it's so heavy that the clip is required or it tugs down on your ears.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2010 1:47:43 PM PDT
Stephen B says:
The shirt clip is pretty lightweight. I've actually kept it on the things and haven't really noticed it. That being said, it does slide up and down the cord with a small gap keeping it from connecting all the way around. I think if you really wanted you could get it off the cord but it might require breaking the clip or being hard pressed to put it back on.

Posted on Oct 27, 2010 8:48:19 PM PDT
Sarah Walker says:
my 6i's died after 14 months, one ear cut out. your review sealed the decision. thanks.

Posted on Dec 1, 2010 1:36:28 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Apr 26, 2011 11:33:39 PM PDT
C. Miner says:
This review was incredibly helpful! Like you, I used my ER-6i's for years. Unlike you, I simply lost mine. The microphonic noises were annoying, and I was very cognizant of the fragile cord, so I never sliced it in a zipper. The er-6i's were comfortable once you got used to them, so its disappointing to find that the MC5's are less comfortable, and they look like they'd stick out of the ears quite a lot. I don't know why Etymotic decided to put the cables at a 45 degree angle out of the IEM's. I'm confused on how Etymotic wants to position these phones. I'd imagine Etymotic considers this a step beyond the ER-6i's since those came out in 2001 and the MC5's came out just a few months ago. However, the MSRP on the er-6i's is 150, but the MSRP on the MC5's is 80, despite the street prices being almost the same.

/EDIT It appears that Etymotic is phasing out the ER-6I's and is putting these in its place as a sub-$100 headphone.

Posted on Apr 3, 2011 2:47:33 PM PDT
Steve says:
Really really great review... I live in Asia half the time and use er6is over two hours a day for the last seven years!!! Nobody here understands one need to put then REALLY far in- uncomfortable until we surrender and now I cannot stand the ones that do NOT go in far :) ... I bought over 10 pairs of er6is as they are the ONLY ones that fit under a full face helmet. Three times one side went dead, one set was stolen, one got lost. At least I have five more pairs scattered around the house in iTouch, Ipads, Mp3 player etc,... I will have to save the remaining er6is for motorcycle only and buy stronger ones for general use :) ... take care and thanks for the review!

Posted on Apr 19, 2011 12:56:16 PM PDT
I love my 6i ear buds. There is some advantage in the 5-foot cord if you pocket your music device, or tuck the cord under-and-around clothing in winter; inside clothing, the device can be under a jacket (for example), giving the users more flexibility when working with layered clothing, say for example when operating a chain saw. And like you said, the triple flanges (if you pick the right size) really isolate ambient noise.

I reinforced my 6i ear bud plug-in with cold-fusion tape (because that seemed to be a weak point). I'm sure there is a better way; perhaps clear silicone or black-painted "bondo" near the plug-in? However, my set has lasted 2 years with rugged exercise and through sawing down 19 trees in the backyard.

These things are great!

Posted on Aug 8, 2011 9:35:00 AM PDT
Pete says:
Excellent review, I agree! My ER-6 cable broke again, and I was wondering if the replacement model was stronger. Reviews like this are exactly what we need more of, not idiots saying they are still waiting for their item after 2 months!

Posted on Sep 24, 2011 7:50:11 AM PDT
Bob Dillin says:
My Ei6's also broke after 18 months, when a short developed in the wire where it meets the earpiece. Looking at it now I think how stupid of Etyomics not to reinforce that area of the wire like almost all other headset manufacturers do. I also had problems with the bass on the Ei6's. But after trying many different things I finally figured out that by using the cone shaped covers and by pushing them deep into the ear and angling them up towards the top of the ear I got a very full and satisfying bass mixed in with a wonderful clear and detailed mid and upper range sound. I'm glad to hear the bass is enhanced on the MC5 but sorry to see they stick out so much from the ear and are less comfortable as the comfort on the Ei6's when pushed deep in the ear was marginal.

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 7:15:10 AM PST
Alex says:
I need help!!! Should I buy this? Does it have cord that is hard to cut?

Posted on Aug 8, 2012 2:38:29 PM PDT
Thanks for the excellent review, particularly in comparison to the ER6i's which I love. Mine have developed an annoying buzz in the right one and I guess they need to be replaced. However, I wear them under a motorcycle helmet and I need the new set to fit as well as the ER6i. Anyone found anything that works as well?

thanks
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Location: St. Louis, Missouri

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