Etymotic’s mk5 Isolator Earphones Offer Crystal-Clear Sound That’s Kind To Your Ears

8.5
  • Headset
  • Other
mk5_included_jpg
Everything included with Etymotic's mk5 Isolator Earphones. Etymotic

Looking for a low-profile, low-cost set of earphones that deliver top-notch audio? Etymotic’s mk5 Isolator Earphones are a solid, bulk-free option for work, study and travel, markedly minimizing ambient noise without the need to crank up the volume to potentially harmful levels.   

Etymotic boasts a reputation for sound quality and noise isolation, aiming to bring together the impeccable precision demanded by audiophiles and musicians with ear-friendly features advocated for by scientists and hearing practitioners. At $64.95, the mk5s also offer a significantly lower price point than several of Etymotic’s other in-ear offerings, which can climb into the triple-digit range.  

The mk5s include three sets of tips: two sets of “flange tips,” graduated rubber cones of varying width, and a pliable grey foam set similar to a set of drugstore earplugs. The rubber tips slide down over the barrel of each earphone itself, allowing you to get the little buggers all up in your ear canal. While a little bit daunting at first glance, they are comfortable to wear. Yes, you’ll know they’re in there, but they’re not bothersome. I got used to the fit after a couple short wears, and soon found myself wearing them most of the time at work.

mk5_isolator_package_jpg
The packaging for Etymotic's mk5 Isolator Earphones Photo: Etymotic

I mostly stuck to the smaller of the rubber tips for everyday use on the subway and around the office. However, foamy ones were just the ticket for a recent plane trip, drowning out the steady white noise of the cabin while watching a movie, then acting as earplugs once wanted to snooze. The mk5s will definitely be in my carry-on next time I fly.

The mk5s provide crisp, clear sound. Etymotic prides itself on sound accuracy, and I’m a believer. These earphones allow me to hear fresh details in songs I’ve listened to thousands of times, which I thought I knew backwards and forwards. They even manage to bring out more subtlety in podcasts. While the bass feels a bit thin, that’s pretty standard for in-ear headphones. After several weeks of use, it hasn’t detracted much from my enjoyment of the overall sound quality.

Best of all, you don’t have to blast the volume sky high to drown out background noise. The mk5s boast 98 percent isolation in the 35-42 dB range. So if someone’s talking to you directly, you’ll still hear them, but you probably won’t even notice the chit-chat a couple cubicles over.

The mk5s also score high marks for portability, a priority for me when travelling or just during a typical subway commute They come with a small (but robust) black canvas bag, which zips closed. Inside, a small mesh divider sticks to one side with velcro, helping to avoid tangling the cables. The pouch easily fits in a pocket -- yes, even small, impractical lady-pockets.

Compared to other earbuds and in-ear headphones I’ve used, the mk5s are like listening in 4K instead of 720p. If you’re comfortable with the in-ear fit and frequently find yourself distracted by ambient noise at home or in the office, or just want the outside world to recede into the background a bit, these little bad boys can be real life-savers.   

If you’re interested in picking up a pair of mk5s, enter code MK15TP at checkout through the Etymotic official site.

REVIEW SUMMARY
Etymotic mk5 Isolator Earphones
8.5
Low-profile, low-cost earphones that deliver top-notch audio
Etymotic’s mk5 Isolator Earphones are a solid, bulk-free option for work, study and travel, markedly minimizing ambient noise without the need to crank up the volume to potentially harmful levels.
  • compact size
  • crisp, clear audio
  • hearing-friendly
  • swappable tips
  • lacking bass
  • long in-ear portion may be uncomfortable for some
Join the Discussion
You Might Also Like
Top Stories