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Showing 1-10 of 694 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 820 reviews
on November 3, 2015
These earphones replace a pair of Etymotic Research ER5 earphones I used for nine years before one earphone quit. The price of those ER5 earphones was comparable to what I paid for these HF5 earphones. Because my old Etymotic Research earphones performed so well, I had high expectations of these HF5 earphones. I’m not disappointed. I find the HF5 sound isolation and audio quality are excellent. I don't miss the ER5s at all.

I consider sound isolation to be essential to audio quality. To my mind, if you have other noise bleeding in, it doesn’t much matter how good your earphones are. I spent a lot of time researching earphones when I bought my first pair of Etymotic Research earphones. Those rated high on audio quality and no one else could claim the sound isolation they had. They delivered on the promise. When it was time to buy new earphones, I did the same research and got the same result: no one else makes earphones with both excellent audio and excellent sound isolation.

With all noise shut out, these HF5s make me feel as though I’m in the studio with the band. Every rustle and breath comes through. You hear the guitarist’s shirt brush against his guitar. I point this out not as examples of distraction from the music but to show how completely these earphones deliver every bit of sound in a recording. If the artist didn’t want those sounds in the recording, the engineer would have removed them. When I listen on these earphones, I hear everything.

The HF5 earphones also create a huge sonic space. You feel as though you’re in a vast empty room with just you and the music. They place each instrument separately in that space--when the music is produced that way. It’s complicated, and I don’t understand how it works, but some producers pull all the sound together into one stream, others maintain or create separation between the instruments and voices.

Any pretty-good earphones with good fidelity in bass, midrange, and high end will do for music that’s pushed together into a wall of sound, as much pop music is. But many indie, folk, blues, jazz, classical, and other specialized recordings often use this separation in space to bring you into the middle of the sound. You feel as though you are there, with the music spread around you, just as it would be if you were right there during the performance. The intimacy of this experience has an almost emotional quality. These earphones deliver that experience.

Etymotic Research promises more than 40 dB of noise reduction. That’s a lot. By comparison, the best foam earplugs, when inserted deeply into your ears, reduce noise by 32 dB. That’s plenty to save your hearing, but not as good as these earphones. I use foam earplugs often. The company’s claim is true: these earphones keep out more noise than the best foam earplugs I can find.

I’m an artist working with steel. I use power tools in a small, concrete-walled studio. The noise is truly deafening. It’s loud enough to be annoying even with foam earplugs. However, I put in my Etymotic Research earphones and listen to acoustic music at medium to low volume while I use a power grinder on steel . Another example: When I use the lawnmower (a quieter machine than the power tools I use), I barely notice the mower.

Time will tell whether these new earphones are as durable as the last ones, but I expect they’ll do as well or better. The old ones had ordinary wires, but these have Kevlar reinforced wires. These HF5 wires are also springy so they don’t tangle easily. The earphones themselves are made of metal and stick out of your ear a little so they’re pretty easy to remove. Because of the seal necessary to keep out noise, Etymotic Research earphones are a little difficult to pull out. The long body of the HF5s helps with that by giving you something to grip.

Not very many things I’ve bought over the years have given me as much satisfaction as my Etymotic Research earphones. If sound quality matters to you and you listen to music anywhere but in your living room, I highly recommend these HF5 earphones.

UPDATE--CAUTION IF YOU HAVE WIDE EAR CANALS
Fit on these earphones is not as good as with the earlier ones. None of the silicone tips fit snugly for more than a few minutes. For me, noise isolation isn't much better than non-sealing earbuds. The memory foam tips work well, but only two or three times per pair, then they are squished and not strong enough to maintain a seal. Noise isolation is crucial and an important reason I bought these to replace earlier ER earphones. THE PROBLEM IS PARTICULAR TO SIZE, NOT A GENERAL ISSUE WITH THE EARPHONES. I'm average height and weight, but apparently my ear canals are large: consider the size of yours when buying. I now need to buy custom tips which will nearly double the cost. I'm in my fifties and have lost a little high-frequency hearing, so I can't comment authoritatively on the sound, which means I can't confirm the value for cost, now that I have to get after-market tips. ER is a reliable brand and I still recommend their products. However, sound isolation now depends on the size of your ear canals. If you have large ones, you may want to look elsewhere, I'm afraid.
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on March 13, 2016
These guys make amazing in ear buds. I owned a pair of their flagship buds years ago (ER4?) Until I lost them. Since then I've tried everything from $10 throwaways to flagship Shures. There's definitely a law of diminishing returns where ear buds are concerned, at least to my ears. I'm at the point where I can't justify spending $350 on them anymore, but at the same time, I'm tired of replacing cheap ones every month. That's where these come in. I honestly can't tell the difference between these and the original ones I had all those years ago. Sound quality is fantastic, but you do have to get a proper seal to get the bass working properly. But overall I'm very happy with this purchase.
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on August 29, 2015
I have been using Etymotic earphones practically since the arrival of the iPod (the Apple white buds tend to hurt my ears after an hour or so). My first pair was purchased at an Apple Store.the sound is quite good for someone who fancies himself as an audiophile. I have the much ballyhooed and celebrated "Beats earphones" which are a little cumbersome to place correctly on your ear and, most of all, just too bass heavy. I like my music eq'd with more treble where the piano tickles brightly, the high hat shimmers and the instrumentation is bright and sparkling. The downside of the Etymotic, which indeed offers a more treble eq, is having to constantly replace the filters (about every 6 months). That becomes a tad costly ($15 a set) and laborious. I would have thought that Etymotic would have found a much more user friendly solution by now.
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on March 1, 2017
HF5 is a very good IEM. To me they sound clearer and better than the Westone, Shure, some AKG's, and Mee audio's in this price range. Westone's sound muddy compared to these. Shure's are unintelligible and fall apart. AKG's sound good but are flimsy. Mee's sound boring nothing special.

Bought the ER4SR's too and shouldn't have listened to them first. SR's are the best IEM or headphone I have ever heard. Better than my AKGK702 reference cans. Spoiled. I would have thought the HF5 were clear and clean sounding, no coloration in the sound at all, just get what you pay for and good product built well with a great warranty.

I wouldn't have a problem with them had I not listened to the SR's. Now I can't listen to anything else- or don't want to. I cannot honestly bring myself to buy the HF5's again because of the gold the SR's sound like. I guess it would come down to use. If you use them lightly, or sporadically go with the HF5. If you are a professional, using your IEM's on a regular basis, do yourself a favor and save for the SR's. There is a huge difference. The HF5's don't sound bad by any means if that's all you can afford, (best in price range) but they don't sound like SR's either. Comply foam tips add sealing and comfort. Makes them not go into the ear canal so far.
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on January 13, 2011
After spending several months researching headphones, I finally settled on the Etymotic HF5 Earphones. I already owned a pair of Sennheiser 595's, which are some of the best headphones money can buy (in that price range, anyway :), but those headphones utilize an open design, which does provide a wonderful room-like listening experiences and superior sound quality, but also allows a tremendous amount of outside noise to bleed through (which can be good or bad) and, likewise, bleed a substantial amount of noise to anyone close by; also, while the Sennheiser's are extremely comfortable, they are big and bulky--not easily portable, or suitable for many day-to-day activities. As such, I was interested in finding the best quality in-ear headphones that would be comfortable, provide excellent sound reproduction, and also sound isolation through noise reduction--a tall order, especially if you want to spend less than $200. I'm happy to say that the Etymotic HF5's have met my needs.

They are not perfect, and, for instance, I would say that the overall sound quality and comfort (in a quiet environment) is still better with my Sennheiser 595's, but they are definitely the best in-ear headphones I have tried by a landslide. Some care is required for proper insertion into your ears. They have a helpful video on their website showing how to properly insert the various included tips into your ears to ensure a proper seal--which, if you don't have a proper seal, you will be disappointed because the noise isolation will be severely diminished and the bass response drops considerably. After a little bit of practice (learning to pull my upper ear back at the right angle, rather than out away from my head, for instance) I was able to get the default flanged tips to fit fairly comfortably and also provide an exceptional amount of noise isolation. Again, it did take a little practice to insert the tips properly and make a good seal, but, once I had that figured out, I was extremely happy with the quality. Obviously everyone's ears will be different, but I would wager that with a combination of practice putting the tips in, and also making sure to use the best tips for your ears (they provide several options included with the headphones), anyone should be able to wear the headphones reasonably comfortably and enjoy a good bass response as well as superior outside noise reduction.

I have experimented with listening to several genres of music, from Jazz, to Rock, to Metal, Classical, and even that stuff Enya does :), and the headphones have performed excellently. (For those who care, I've only used a 4th Gen. iPod Touch and my laptop computer so far, but both serve as an adequate driver in my opinion). Highs are crisp and clear, and the mid-tones and bass are well represented. I would prefer a little more articulation in the bass, but I don't find that it detracts too much from the listening experience.

I would highly recommend this product to anyone looking for in-ear headphones in this price range. They offer exceptional (though not perfect) sound quality, reasonable comfort, and incredible noise reduction.

I should also note that the cord-noise that is almost inescapable on in-ear headphones is actually not so bad on these; yes, you do hear it occasionally, but by adjusting the cinch on the cord and using the attached clip, the noise is virtually eliminated. Even during the times when I do hear it, I don't find it as distracting as it is on most other in-ear headphones.

For what it's worth, I consider myself an audiophile. I've done sound reinforcement for about 6 years and I also play the piano, drums, and guitar, so my opinion is at least semi-educated and based on a fair amount of experience.

UPDATE: I originally bought these headphones in January of 2011. Now, about a year and a half later, I'm happy to say that they've held up extremely well. I do my best to take good care of my headphones, but these being my go-to, daily-use pair that I carry around with me, I wouldn't have been surprised if they got a little worse for the wear--but they haven't. At one point the cord-clip broke (which I recommend using whenever you wear them, since it will all-but eliminate cord-noise) and I somehow lost the leather storage pouch (also highly recommended, since it makes for a safe, convenient way to carry the headphones around), but it was very easy and inexpensive to order replacements from Etymotic. I've also found that the flange-style earpieces seem to have adapted somewhat to the shape of my ears, and between that and habit, it's gotten very easy to achieve a proper fit with a good seal (needed for the noise reduction effect to work, as well as the full extent of the bass response) almost every time; every once in a while I might have to make an adjustment after putting them in, but not often. The only maintenance required is an occasional cleaning of the flanged tips, if earwax builds up. All in all, I'm very impressed with how well these are holding up after a year and a half of heavy use.
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on December 6, 2016
I bought these 2.5 years ago, and they are still going strong with no signs of wear. I used the carrying case for a little while, but most of the time I just drop them into my pocket and they still are wear-free. The sound is excellent and by far the best bang-for-your-buck. These have a flat frequency response, so it gives you the ability to listen to music as it was recorded, without any arbitrary bass/treble boost that other headphones sneak in. This also allows you to use your own EQs on your device.

Get the foam tips, though! The included 3-flange tips are uncomfortable to those who haven't used them before. The foam tips are very comfortable, easy to insert, and are excellent at noise-isolation.
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on October 11, 2016
Used these recently on a several domestic of flights. The noise isolation is perfect. Excellent quality audio. All the reviews that say you absolutely have to have noise cancellation are insane. The noise isolation is exactly the ticket. The last flight I used it on was horribly bumpy, one of those you remember for a couple of decades where the plane drops like a rock multiple times and then rocks like an old car on steroids on a washboard road at high speed. Paired with solitaire on my iPhone an old Sony Walkman with a combination of Mozart and Kid Rock, I breezed through the flight. Pretty sure it kept me and the barf bag from an intimate relationship. Babies were crying and people were groaning, or so other travelers said. I was fine and did not even notice. I LOVE this headset. I wish I had had this years ago.
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on March 9, 2016
Some people are not going to like how these buds feel and sound and before I figured out how to properly insert them including watching a video on how (it's a two handed process), they were destined for a return. Etymotic gives several forms of eartips including foam and two sizes of their ray gun style. Once the ray guns are in correctly, they feel like something huge is clogging your ears. Not painful, but not particularly comfortable either. Their video says you will get used to this and so will a screwdriver in your ear after a while I guess. Putting how they feel aside, their range is very good once inserted correctly, but those on Beats, Bose and other popular turbo bass buds that usually color and amp the bass (sacrificing accuracy), will say, "Where's the bass?". It is there, just very flat and accurate, even enough to distinguish bass notes, something you do not get often in mid priced bass heavy buds. Those listeners will miss the deepness and drama in these buds but the will hear a cymbal crash longer then they've heard before. Those wanting the accurate and flat frequency response will say this is how the music was intended to sound. All said, this is a midrange to hi frequency set of buds like most more accurate audio accessories, at times with a harsh vocal more on the Roger Daltrey vs James Taylor side, but again, ranges and accuracy people will say that this is how the music was intended to sound. We've all been mass marketed that the bass sound is the best sound for a very long time. You will hear new things with these because the range is very wide and clear. All in all, the most different set of buds in sound and feel I ever had, the former more desirable than the latter. BTW, sound isolation is just ok and not exceptional as claimed. The foam eartip option actually provides more of a muddy response but probably more of what people are used to on the bass side. Don't give up on them until you try the foam eartip option and they act like true ear plugs, rolling them to expand in the ear. You can buy foam replacements as well as they will eventually deteriorate I expect. Again, good mid priced buds musically in the mid to upper range, but not that the bass is absent, just not amped like what we're used to.
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on January 5, 2017
I've now owned my pair of cobalt HF5s for nigh on five years that I purchased right here on Amazon. I've always been an earbud person over headphone, and these ones are easily the best I've ever used. It comes with several different tips to accomodate everyone's varying ears, which is very nice. I use the foam tips (which you can also buy replacements for here on Amazon) and they offer the best sound quality, noise cancelling, and comfort for my ears. I believe Etymotic also offers a service to get custom made tips through their website as well, if you want to go all out.

I've never had a problem with my pair, however now nearing their fifth year, the cables are starting to fray somewhat. I still think that is pretty good for using them nearly every day. I plan on using these for awhile longer until the cable fraying becomes an actual issue for me. Then I will certainly just buy a replacement pair of HF5s as they are that good in my opinion.
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on December 13, 2016
These produce good, clear sound, but are not as good as the discontinued ER-6i that used to be the same price. I don't know why Etymotic stopped making the ER-6i; if you've never used them, you won't be disappointed with the HF5, but if you did happen to have a pair, you will be reminded of what's missing in these.
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