Etymotic MC5 review

Alan Lu
22 Jul 2010
Etymotic MC5
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

The MC5 earphones sound generally well-balanced, but their noise isolation isn't as effective as we hoped.


Etymotic's latest set of noise isolation earphones, the MC5s, are cheaper than the company's previous sets at just £55. We've been impressed with the noise isolation capabilities of previous models, but underwhelmed by their audio quality. Despite their low price, we hoped the MC5s would have improved audio quality as well as effective background noise isolation.

The MC5's audio quality was indeed greatly improved over previous sets. Music from most genres sounded generally well-balanced and detailed. We were able to hear details such as backing instruments in jazz and blues tracks that were inaudible on many earphones.

However, those same tracks also sounded rather cold, lacking the richness and warmth that we prefer. Rock, R&B and other bass-heavy tracks weren't as pleasurable to listen to though due to the unsatisfying bass, which wasn't as thumping as we'd like, plus there’s a lack of volume.

Etymotic MC5

Unfortunately, while the MC5s did manage to block out some background noise amongst the din of a London Underground carriage, it wasn't nearly as effective as other earphones we've tried. Some sentences in audiobooks were inaudible and we had to turn up the volume to hear the more subtle parts of quiet classical and folk tracks, almost defeating the point of using noise isolation earphones in the first place. These results were so surprising, we tried using some of the other differently sized earplug sleeves included in the box to try and improve the noise isolation but without any success.

The Etymotic MC5 earphones are affordable and they generally sound pleasing, although we'd prefer more bass and volume. Their noise isolation is inferior to other earphones we've tested though.

The V-Moda Remix Remote aren’t as well-balanced, but their noise isolation is far more effective. If you have more money to spend though, Creative's EP-3NC are even better at blocking out unwanted noise since they combine noise isolation and noise cancellation techniques.




Active noise-cancellingno
Power sourcenone
Frequency response20-15,000Hz
Impedence16 ohms
Plug type3.5mm stereo jack plug
Inline volumeNo
Cable length40cm
Extrasfoam covers, rubber covers, pouch

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