Etymotic hf5 high-fidelity earphones

During the month of June, I spent approximately 50 hours travelling at 30,000+ feet in the air in some form of Boeing aircraft with the noise of babies crying and loud engines in the background. Unless you’re lucky enough to be sitting in the more expensive seats, this is the reality of flying past, present and for the foreseeable future. When Etymotic contacted me with the promise of a solution for the noise with their noise-cancelling headphones, I immediately embraced the idea of being able to get some decent sleep whilst in the sky.

The hf5 from Etymotic is a set of in-ear headphones that provide noise-isolation, allowing you to enjoy your music with minimal interruption or interference from background or ambient noises. Using a patented technology, Etymotic has developed the hf5 using its 5th generation design in providing the best seal for the ear canal.

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The earphones come with 4ft (about 1.2 metres) of cable using a standard 3.5 mm audio jack. You also get a set of ear-tips, filter tool with 2 replacement filters and a carrying pouch.

For about £80, the hf5 is not for the budget conscious. It’s aimed at the mid to high-end market. If you have problems keeping the earphones in your ear or you’ve yet to find the perfect noise-cancelling set, then I would strongly recommend the hf5 for you. The design of the rubber casing for each earphone make it very stable and give you peace of mind that once they’re in there, they’re not going to fall out.

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Insertion is a bit awkward the first time you use them, but after a few goes, the process is quick and easy. You have to pull your ear upwards and then push the earphone in with a drilling motion, twisting to the left and right until they’re secured in your ear. You just know when they’re at the right depth. Once they’re in, you’re rewarded with a brilliantly clear sound that is interference free, even in the busiest or noisiest of locations.

Using these on an aeroplane will allow you to block out most if not all noises from passengers talking, laughing or crying. As for the constant engine noise. The most you’ll hear is a very feint hum in the background – a drastic improvement. If you plan on using these for the office, you’ll be pleased to know that all background chatter is eliminated and noisy typing from the desk next to you will no longer be a problem.

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Audio quality from the hf5 provides decent midrange and a healthy amount of bass for the tracks that require it. You’ll enjoy R&B and Hip-Hop tracks from the likes of Keri Hilson, Kanye West or Rock from John Mayer and The Killers. Slow tracks from Coldplay and Snow Patrol are crystal clear. Classical tracks and chill-out tunes from the likes of Groove Armada (At the River) also work very well too.

To roundup, the Etymotic hf5’s are well-rounded headphones that provide excellent sound quality for all sorts of music tastes. Audio quality is reflective of its price and at the same time provides noise-cancelling that will work great in anything right up to travelling in the sky.

2009-07-09 Onwah Tsang

2 comments - why not add yours

  • Coors says:

    How comfortable are these? I have a funny thing about inner-ear earphones and these look like they go deep!

    Posted on 16th July 2009
  • techcastoni says:

    @Coors: They’re as comfortable as in-ear headphones can be. I’m not keen on sticking things down my ears either, but after using them for a few hours, you get used to them.

    Posted on 24th July 2009

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