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Ooo... colors...

Etymotic HF series

So ever since I read Gizmodo's In Ear Headphone Battlemodo article a little over a week ago, I was intrigued by their praise for the Etymotic hf5. In the comments section I had asked the author if the hf5 was just the hf2 without a microphone and he answered in the affirmative so I didn't give the hf5 much thought after that since I already own the hf2.

The other day though, on a whim, I decided to google around for more info on the hf5 and surprisingly there was very little to be found, even on Etymotic's site. Oddly enough, Amazon already has them in stock. So I decided to try out a pair. In cool cobalt blue. ;-p No news flash here, the 3 models: hf5, hf2, and ER-4p sound pretty much the same to me. At first I thought I detected a bit more fullness of sound with the ER-4p's but I discovered that the cause was the rubber triple-flanged eartips. The default ones that the hf models come with are a bit smaller than the ones that are standard for the ER-4p so I had to insert the hf models deeper to get a better seal (or replace the hf tips with the ER-4p ones). So yes, with Etymotic's, creating that seal in your ear is critical for maximum performance.

Spec-wise, the hf5 is a tiny bit lacking in the high end of the frequency response: 20 Hz -15 kHz compared to 20 Hz -16 kHz for both the hf2 and ER-4p. I don't even think you'll miss much with that 1 kHz difference. Besides that (and the cord length), every other spec is identical. So I'll most likely wind up replacing the ER-4p with the hf5 for at-home use because I prefer the looks, fit and cord. You can't really go wrong with any of the three though.


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» Earphones Once More from Absurd Singularity
So, it's been a little over a year since my last earphone post. Ever since I picked up the Etymotic hf2, it has been my preferred everyday earphone for use with the iPhone. However, the hf2 isn't without its problems.... [Read More]

Comments (4)

Cool! Your post is very timely. Like you've said, there's not much info regarding the hf5 yet and I am very eager to get one but was holding back because of the lack of reviews. I am very keen on getting the Stax SR001mk2 but it's not as portable as other IEMs like the Etymotics. I think I'll get the hf5 for mobility and the Stax for office use :) Thanks dude! Keep the reviews coming - it's very helpful for guys like me \m/


Glad someone found this helpful. =) I'm not an audiophile by any means but I do know what I like. And Etymotic's hf line is pretty sweet.

Del Alakija:

Just wanted to ask. I had an ER-4. Great earphones but my only problem with them was the noise coming from the wires. I heard Etymotic has done something to make this better with the hf5 (and i'm not talking about the shirt clip). Do you hear less noise with the hf5? BTW my ER-4 is about 4 yrs old.



Hi Del, well the cable is definitely different between the hf series and the ER-4. The hf cable is thinner, shorter, less glossy and feels a bit "rougher" compared to the ER-4. I use the hf2 during my daily commute and don't really notice the noise coming up the wire but I think that's because I'm so used to it now that my brain automatically ignores it. So I had to actually force myself to pay attention today just to check. And while there's still noise, it's not that bad. It's only noticeable if you're a heavy walker or have really delicate hearing. Since these headphones need to be sealed well into your ear canal, I think some noise is unavoidable. But I do believe the hf series does exhibit less of that noise than the ER-4.

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