Etymotic MC5 Review

David Boehm March 28, 2011 0

Etymotic is known for their high quality in-ear earphones and the MC5 certainly maintains that reputation.  Read more about the clearest headphones I've ever used for under $100 after the break.



Etymotic Research is known for its array of higher end earphones utilizing balanced armature transducers.  Etymotic has decided to do things differently with the MC5.  Instead of a balanced armature transducer, the MC5 uses a 8mm moving coil driver.  Much to my chagrin, I expected the MC5 earphones to sound like every other pair in the ~$70-$90 range.  I was happily mistaken though and could tell from the very first song I played that the MC5 earphones were something else.  The music that comes through is amazingly clear and balanced.  The bass is extremely crisp and has a nice kick to it. Though the bass is quite strong, it isn't overpowering or annoying.  With some equalizer tweaking you can get a bit bigger bass, but if you are looking for an exaggerated bass response, the MC5 might not be for you.  The midrange and treble also come through amazingly crisp and detailed.  I'm not quite sure what the right words is to describe the effect, but they are so crisp that they sound hard.  I personally really enjoy the sound, but I could see others wanting the music to be a bit softer.  

The MC5 earphones are obviously well built.  The housing is made of scratch resistant aluminium.  The cord connects to the housing at an angle that helps minimize the number of times that your earphones fall out due to a pull on the cord.  The cord itself is also quite strong.  Though it feels rubbery and soft, it is actually quite strong as it has been reinforced with Kevlar.  The 3.5 mm jack at the end of the cord is also angled to minimize stress on the jack of the music player you use the MC5 with.  The design is simple, nothing as flashy as certain other manufacturers.  In my opinion though, the simple look of the MC5 is a bonus.  I wear earphones to listen to music, not make a fashion statement.  

Along with the ear-buds themselves, the Etymotic MC5 comes with a carrying case, a  shirt clip, replacement filters, and a variety of tips.  The case is fairly simple and standard as far as earphone cases go.  It is large enough to fit everything inside of it easily, but small enough that it isn't annoying to carry around.   The tips, on the other hand, that come with the MC5 are a bit different than your standard fare.  The MC5 is very sensitive to how deep the earphones are inserted and how well they seal the ear canal.  In order to ensure a good seal and proper insertion, Etymotic includes some interesting tips.  Two of the tips are triple-flanged silicone, in a smaller and larger size.  In addition to the two sizes of triple-flanged, the MC5 comes with a pair of foam tips and a pair of glider tips.  I find all of the tips fairly comfortable, but they take a little bit of getting used to if you haven't used them before.  I think that the foam tips provide the best sound isolation and sound, but they are also probably the most annoying to put in since they need to expand in your ear canal.  The deep insertion of the MC5 earphones causes them to occasionally build up earwax.  To counteract this problem Etymotic has also included two replacement filters.

Due to the impossibly crisp and balanced sound of the Etymotic MC5, I'm not sure they are for everyone.  If you want to hear your music accurately though, just the way it was mastered, then seriously consider the MC5.  I don't think I've listened to a pair of earphones that do the job nearly as well for only ~$80.

[Etymotic MC5] – $78.00 (Black) $79.00 (Red) $78.95 (Blue) $79.00 (Green)



  • Frequency Response:                      20 Hz – 15 kHz
  • Accuracy Score :                                 85%
  • Transducers:                                      High-output 8-mm neodymium moving coil driver
  • Noise Isolation:                                  35-42 dB
  • Impedance (@1 kHz):                       16 Ohms
  • Sensitivity (@1 kHz) SPL at 0.1V:   100 dB
  • Maximum Output (SPL):                   120 dB
  • Warranty:                                             2 years
  • Cable:                                                  4 ft with 3.5 mm plug
  • User Replaceable ACCU•Filters™
  • CUSTOM•FIT Option


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