Etymotic Reseach MK5 Noise Isolator Earbuds: Great Sound in Your Own “Private Oasis”
Review by Alison Blackman and Anthony Sabatini
Editor’s Note: When Tony and I review audio equipment, as with the “Double’Take” Q&A we write for our relationship website Leather and Lace Advice, we write our responses in a joint review from different angles. Tony is an audio and technical expert, while I am an experienced consumer and audio enthusiast. Together, I think we cover both the details, and the holistic experience you’ll get from a product, should you choose to investigate it further, or perhaps, purchase it. We both really liked the Etymotic Research MK5 Noise Isolator earbuds. Put them on and create your own “private oasis.”
The MK5 Isolator Earbuds by Etymotic are a unique new concept in the earbud field. Instead of designing a speaker and then integrating it into an earbud Etymotic Research has taken a world-class sound isolator (in-ear hearing protection) and integrated the speaker element into that.
The result is an earbud within an amazing amount of sound isolation and comfort while retaining 99% of the sound quality of your highest-ranked earbuds (basically, they’re flawless except at the lowest and highest ends due to the limitations of their size).
Versatile Earbuds That Work Under Hats and Helmets:
Another thing I really like about these slim earbuds is that you can use them under hats or helmets.
Disconnect From the Outside World, But Do It With Care:These units are perfect when you wish to disconnect from the outside world while in a noisy environment. In fact, they are so good that I didn’t even realize that other people were in the room when I was testing these earbuds. However, be careful that you are not so disconnected when you are outdoors that you are hit by a bus (as was one woman we know) .
Amazingly, these earbuds retail for only $59.00!
When I first received the Etymotic Reseach MK5 Isolator Earphones Earbuds for review, I had never seen any quite like them. I didn’t read the instructions (mistake #1 – you should always read the accompanying instructions or visit the company website for more information). I simply slipped the thin and oddly-shaped earbuds into my ears, plugged in my iPod, and attemped to listen to “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. This is the song that Both Tony and I use as a standard to test most speakers and headphones (read: HowTo Compare and Buy Audio Equipment: How We Test Sound).
Much to my dismay, the sound was tinny, and there was almost no bass, but in terms of silencing sound around me, it was pretty good.
Lesson Learned: Earbuds Must Be Inserted Properly:
I gave the earbuds to Tony and asked him to test them. He told me that I had not inserted the earbuds properly and that the sound was exceptional. In fact, he didn’t just love the sound quality, the noise isolation was so good that he didn’t notice someone else in the room for a full ten minutes as his head was down, looking at something.
So I tried the earbuds again, this time looking at the video on the etymotic website that fully explains how to insert the earbuds properly. Then the sound quality was great and the noise isolation, excellent! I am including the video about how to insert the earbuds in this feature, because if you do want to consider earbuds of this type, you must insert them properly.
No noise isolating earbud of this type is going to satisfy if it’s not inserted correctly. The seal won’t be good and the earbuds won’t isolate enough noise and worse, the sound won’t contain any base. Once inserted properly I was wowed by the sound quality and the noise isolation.
WATCH THE VIDEO:
*Text: The Basic How-To Of Selecting an Eartip/Insertion and Removal:
Selecting an Eartip:
Theses earbuds come with a variety of different earbuds in a zippered pouch along with a clip and the instruction booklet. We opted to keep ours with the pointed tip that arrived with the MK5 earbuds. No matter what you choose, it must seal well in your ear. If you can easily hear others when the volume is off, you don’t have a good seal. Twist it in deeper, or choose another eartip. When changing eartips make sure the eartip fits securely on the stem of the earphone.
- Carefully insert the earphone while pulling up and out on the back of the ear.
- Twist the earphone up into the ear canal while inserting, until outside noise is blocked out.
- 3-flange eartip: Moistening eases insertion.
- Foam eartip: Roll down or compress foam eartip before inserting. Hold the eartip in place for about 5 seconds while the foam expands to create a tight seal in the ear canal.
- Glider eartip: Simply push into ear canal.
Remove earphones slowly with a twisting motion to gradually break the seal. Do not pull on the cable to remove the earphones.
A Must-Have For Travel:
Right before these earbuds arrived, I was on an airplane right in front of a baby who screamed the entire trip at decibels loud enough to cause hearing loss. Even with foam earplugs in my ears and noise cancelling earphones over those, and an iPod amped up to a volume far higher than I normally would feel comfortable using, this baby’s screams could be heard. By the time the plane landed I had a splitting headache as I’m sure everyone else did as well. If I’d had the Etymotic Research earbuds, I would have had a much more blissful flight.
Even if you don’t think you need serious noise isolation of this quality in your daily life, if you travel, they are a must-have for your next airplane trip!
The Mk5 Isolator Earphones Tech Specs:
For more information about Etymotic visit www.etymotic.com