Etymotic hf5 review: Etymotic hf5

The Etymotic hf5 earphones feature a black, 4-foot cable with a detachable lapel clip and a slider at the Y that helps prevent tangles during storage. A padded zipper pouch with a handy inner pocket is included for such occasions. Etymotic also throws in a filter-changing tool and an extra set of filters, which are tiny cylinders that are inserted in the earphone opening to smooth the frequency response and prevent earwax from entering the earpiece. This is a cool feature as it gives the user at least some opportunity to self-repair the earphones, which is rare with in-ear styles.

At the very least, the Etymotic hf5 earphones provide an ultrasecure fit (probably because the 'buds insert so deeply) and offer some of the best sound isolation we've come across. Also impressive is the fact that you don't get a lot of noise from the cable brushing across your body (we had to try pretty hard to cause any). Sound quality overall is quite good across all genres, although we found that rock, electronic, and classical were much more impressive than hip-hop, which had a slightly deficient quality to it. Other than that minor quibble, we were very pleased with the listening experience. Audio is nicely balanced, with a tight low-end that is underlying rather than overpowering and shimmery, encompassing mids. In particular, Belle & Sebastian's track "Lazy Painter Jane" sounded fantastic, with absolutely striking guitars. High-end detail and clarity is mostly good, with the exception of some hip-hop tracks, where the higher frequency sounds can tend to get lost in the shuffle. All in all, the Etymotic hf5 earphones are an excellent option for the price.

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