Etymotic Research HF5 Portable In-Ear Earphones (Ruby) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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- Super-high accuracy provides a near-perfect listening experience
- 3-flanged earpiece provides up to 35dB of noise isolation
- Frequency response: 20Hz to 16kHz
- Impedance: 16 Ohms (nominal)
- 4-foot cable
- 3-flanged earpiece provides up to 35dB of isolation
- Frequency response: 20Hz to 16kHz and Impedance: 16 Ohms (nominal)
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Etymotic's 5th generation of high-fidelity in-ear earphones has finally arrived. The HF5 delivers a near-perfect music experience, even in high surrounding noise conditions. Like Etymotic's earlier generations of in-ear earphones, the HF5 is built on superior noise isolation, so you experience total sound immersion when listening to your music. The HF5 is compatible with all iPod models and music players that accept a 3.5mm plug. This package includes the HF5 in-ear earphones, assorted eartips for your comfort, a filter changing tool with filters, and a protective carrying pouch.
From the Manufacturer
Etymotic Research HF5--High Clarity, Great Fit, and Maximum Noise IsolationMade by Etymotic Research, the people who created in-ear earphones, the HF5 delivers Etymotic's world-renowned sound quality in a pair of comfortable, convenient earphones. The HF5 provides a near-perfect music experience.
The HF5 works with all MP3 players and iPod models, as well as the iPhone and any other device that operates with a 3.5 mm stereo plug. The HF5 can be worn with the cables in front or in back of the head, and the cable slider can be adjusted by moving it up or down for a snug fit.
The HF5 comes in black, Ruby, and Cobalt to match your style
Amazing response accuracy means unmatched crystal-clear sound
Designing the HF5: Etymotic Research Focuses on Noise Isolation and Response AccuracyKeeping Things Quiet with 35+ dB Noise Isolation
The special 3-flanged earpieces that come with the HF5 provide 35 dB noise isolation or more (depending on the eartip used), making it one of the highest-rated products on the market for both active and passive noise-canceling headphones. With 35 dB of isolation, you won't need to turn the music up as loud to hear every nuance of your favorite artists, saving your hearing and preventing "ear fatigue". Once you obtain a proper seal in the ear, watch the world disappear, leaving you with your favorite music reproduced with remarkable clarity.
How Etymotic Research Measures Response Accuracy
The accuracy score is perhaps the single most important tool for earphone design. A perfect recording of a live performance played through earphones with 100% accuracy would produce the same sound at the eardrum as the live performance. A complicating factor is that the acoustic resonance and horn effects of the ear change a flat signal entering the open ear to an eardrum signal with the approximate frequency characteristic of the target curve. A perfect earphone will create that same frequency characteristic at the eardrum.
Hitting the "Target Curve"
Target curves on Etymotic Research graphs indicate 100% accuracy: The open ear diffuse-field response of the KEMAR® mannequin modified to compensate for the high frequency boost added to high-quality recordings. This modification (approximately 5 dB at 10 kHz) is necessary to avoid earphones sounding too bright on commercial recordings. Commercial recordings have a high-frequency boost that compensates for the high frequency roll-off in studio monitor loudspeakers and high-quality stereo loudspeakers and earphones.
Earphone response is measured on a KEMAR® manikin that has the same acoustic properties as the average head and ear. 25-band accuracy scores are calculated by summing the difference between the earphone response and the target response in each 1.3 -octave band from 50 Hz to 12.5 kHz.
In the 1970s, Consumers Union used an "Accuracy Score" to rate loudspeakers. Consumer Reports reported that it was possible to predict listeners' loudspeaker ratings within 8% from a calculation based on one-third-octave frequency response measurements converted to loudness in sones. The average error in loudness from a perfect system, subtracted from 100%, gives the accuracy score. Etymotic Research extended this 21-band calculation to a 25-band calculation and routinely uses the 25-band accuracy score in all earphone designs.
Other in-the-ear earphone manufacturers do not report accuracy scores, but Etymotic Research has tested all competitive products. The accuracy scores of Etymotic Research earphones are higher than those of most loudspeakers, and well above all competitive earphones, except electrostatic headphones that cost thousands of dollars.
What Critics Are Saying
"They're cool looking (with the right tips, they look like sci-fi laser pistols), have little to no cable movement noise and reproduce sound in a way that is both perfectly clear and highly enjoyable. Everything about these gives the impression of quality, from the brushed aluminum finish to the way that music suddenly sounds distinctly layered in a way that it didn't before, and that it doesn't on many similarly priced units. [...] The tighter seal that these offer to most people is conducive to better listening, and the isolation properties are superb. You can't hear anything else with these guys in. Every manufacturer should have something like this." --John Herman, Gizmodo.com
- Frequency response: 20 Hz -16 kHz
- Noise isolation: 35- 42 dB (depending on eartip used)
- Acoustic polarity: + electrical = + acoustic
- Transducer type: Balanced armature
- Sensitivity (1 kHz): 105 dB SPL for a 0.1 VRMS input
- Impedance: 16 Ohms (nominal)
- Maximum output: 120 dB SPL
- Cable: 4 ft
- Weight: less than 1 oz
Top customer reviews
These lasted three months and failed the same way.
I am absolutely careful with them...my ER-4P headphones still are working...and can only think they're not that durable. Gave up and of all things bought a pair of Bose 20i in-ear noise cancelling headphones; thought I'd never seriously consider the overrated Bose brand but they are great for flying and very comfortable, though have far inferior sound to the Etymotic headphones. I still use my ER-4Ps at home almost daily.
These earphones are exactly what I've always wanted, just never knew existed--excellent music inside my earplugs. I'm bad at handling noise that is out of place (neighbors stomping upstairs, blasting TV downstairs, extremely loud individuals on the subway (+ the subway noise itself), car alarms...). These guys completely block all of it out. I can sit and study in the middle of a cafeteria and not hear a soul. I'm no longer that grumpy old guy (24 is the new 75) that asks everyone to "pipe down you noisy kids." The noise isolation is so good that my wife constantly surprises me even if she's trying to get my attention--I just don't hear her calling me--as she comes up to me.
As far as the sound quality goes, these are far superior to the AT (just like in the noise dept). There's no hiss of the noise cancellation and the music is just much more clear. So many little sounds are heard hat I just didn't know were part of the music or the show. I'm periodically turning around when I think someone's behind me--nope it's just the 3D sound that these things give off.
*Sound Isolation. 10/10. I use extreme ear plugs and these are better (plus there's music inside).
*Small Package. 10/10. Completely fit inside pinna (outer ear), so there's nothing protruding. Can sleep in these comfortably if so inclined.
*Sound Quality. 9/10. I'm not at all an audiophile. I just hear much more detail in a lot of the music I have and the shows I watch. May seem a bit 'tinny' for some, but that's 'cause they're not dull and bassy.
CONS (small issues):
*3-flange earpieces. Will scrape ALL of your wax out if you don't really clean your ears. Get gunked up quick. Keep cleaning those ears.
*3-flange earpieces. May be a bit uncomfortable if put in dry or slightly off. Have to make sure to push in all the way (stop BEFORE it hurts).
*Rubbery cord. Kind of annoying. Grips tables, so it won't slide when you lean on it or try to push it over a bit with a textbook or something. Harder to untangle (not slippery).
*Cord transmits movement sounds unless wrapped around ears. Should be preshaped or stiffer at the ears to make wrapping easier. Not perfect as is.
*L/R designation written in least visible place on earphone--underneath, in thin white lettering. This is a pet peeve, the chords or phones can easily be marked by a tiny something to distinguish between them.
These headphones provide me with complete noise isolation and excellent sound quality. They have been tested in cafes, NYC Subway, home, office. If you're looking for quiet, stop looking!!! Plus there's music inside!
2)High resolution of electric guitar, mids and treble. I listen to guitar based rock over all else. I like hip hop as much as the next guy, but I wanted something specifically that would bring out the tones I like in music that I want to hear more of
3)No remote - I use a DAC and don't need a remote
When I first got them out of the box I thought they sounded bad. A lot of people complain about the bass on these headphones and I was thinking the same thing. I burnt them in for about 30 hours and tried again (just let them run continuously). I started to like them. I fiddled with the 3 or 4 different headphone ear pieces and started to like them more. The foam ones seem to give the best isolation and sound but come at a price of bad microphonics. It is so bad I can't eat with them on. Every sound my jaw makes gets transmitted into the headphones. Don't even think about using these for exercise. This is a function of how tight the seal is in your ears. I can't hear my keyboard as I'm typing this.
Pros: They absolutely deliver on what I wanted. Listening to U2's Actung Baby, I hear many things I've never heard before and I've listened to this album many times over the years. Bands like Cake, Weezer sound terrific. The strings on "You're so cruel" stand out and I hear guitar sounds I've never heard before. Sounds really awesome! The sound isolation is fantastic for travel. I can leave the volume turned way down, only about half of max, while on the very noisy Metro system here in DC. If you care about the health of your ears, this is something to consider.
Summary: There are tons of headphones out there that cater to the fad of bass. If you are a person that turns up the treble, that wants to hear that electric guitar scream, you'd probably like these. The bass is there, it just doesn't drown out the other parts. You've got to really get these suckers jammed in your ears to sound right. They're comfortable there, it is just a matter of getting the right attachments positioned correctly.
I'm taking a star away for the aforementioned microphonics. I understand it is kind of a catch 22 with the seal, but it is bothersome nonetheless. edit - The microphonics have decreased as they have been used, it isn't a big deal now. These are great headphones and I'm bumping them to 5 stars after six months with them.
Update: Tried using a different set of earpieces with a slightly less tight seal. Made a big difference with the microphonics, which might also have diminished as they broke in. Also, big pro is that the wire is nice and doesn't tangle very much/very easily. Sometimes wish for a little bigger soundstage but headphones are like like flavors of ice cream, very specific thing and these do what they do very very well.