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112 of 117 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Typical Etymotic sound quality, but a high price for a mic
You've seen those people with earphone-mic combos for those phones - you know, *those* people who walk around, holding the mic up to their mouth, who might as well pull out the earphone and just hold the phone up to their ear. Are they uncomfortable, thinking that the mic won't pick up their voice, or are they compensating for a lackluster microphone? If the latter,...
Published on July 24, 2008 by Personal Robot

versus
100 of 121 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Annoying when you move a single muscle.
Others have applauded the superior sound quality, and I will second that without repeating the details. However, there is too little emphasis on the side effects of this technology: the noise induction when under isolation.

Basically, the cables connected to the earpieces rub up against your shirt, ID badge, iPod, whatever. . . and you hear every single...
Published on May 24, 2008 by David from DC


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112 of 117 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Typical Etymotic sound quality, but a high price for a mic, July 24, 2008
By 
Personal Robot (Always here, sometimes there) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You've seen those people with earphone-mic combos for those phones - you know, *those* people who walk around, holding the mic up to their mouth, who might as well pull out the earphone and just hold the phone up to their ear. Are they uncomfortable, thinking that the mic won't pick up their voice, or are they compensating for a lackluster microphone? If the latter, that will not be necessary with the Etymotic HF2 earphone headset, whose mic is every bit as strong as the one built into most phones, if not better.

I tested this set with an Iphone 3G, and those on the other end were not able to guess that I was on a headset microphone rather than the Iphone's admittedly high-quality mic - that's a great compliment right there. The mic, which hangs about three inches below the right earphone, seems to be able to filter out background noises, as well. As for controls, it's simple - there's one button on rectangular microphone unit. Press once to answer or hang up a call, twice to send a call to voicemail.

As for sound quality of the headphones, they're fantastic, and that's no surprise given the pedigree associated with the Etymotic name. I'm an Ety fan - I have a pair of Ety ER6i as well as their "big brother" the ER4P, and the sound quality of the HF2 ranks right around the ER6i, which should be excellent for most people. Those not familiar with the "Etymotic sound," it is extremely clean, and many may find it lacking in bass, but it is very true to the recorded sound, unlike many other cheaper (and sometimes similarly priced) earphones. What you hear with Etymotics is a very accurate, if sometimes stark, representation of the sound that the artists captured. They are not good headphones for those looking for huge bass response. Those who enjoy jazz and great detail in their music might just love the Etymotic sound - they truly are an audiophile company. And when it comes to calls, there's also a small thrill to be had that first time you talk to someone and hear them in stereo through these earphones if you've never experienced it before. The world is blocked out due to the earphones' superior sound-dampening abilities, and the caller on the other end is extremely clear.

A note about fit and sound quality: these in-ear 'phone are meant to seat deep in your ear, sealed with your ear canal. When seated properly, they will deliver incredible sound quality and beautiful, solid bass - but not the deep, head-rattling bass you may be accustomed to from other head-and ear-phones. If they aren't seated properly, wet the tip just slightly, insert, and then turn just a bit to get them "snug down." The fit shouldn't hurt, but may feel odd at first. I found it took some getting used to and, yes, you will likely notice some earwax - you are, afterall, closing up your ears, so they will get warm. Clean the triple-flange tips from time to time and make sure your ears are as clean as possible. It sounds like a ritual, but it really is worth it for the extrmely high sound quality these earphones are capable of creating.

Other small details: where the two wires for the earphones connect to join into one is a slider to sinch up the wires . . . I assume if you want them close to your neck? Included on the wire is a clip that I found more annoying and cumbersome than useful. Thoughtful, yes, but not easy to remove, and I feared damaging the wire sleeve in doing so, so it stayed put. It simply made winding the wires up to put into the handy zipped leather pouch a job a little more clumsy than necessary. Also included are foam tips and smaller triple-flange tips for the earphones, replacement filters, and a filter replacement tool.

For owners of the first generation Iphone, the headphone jack is sized to fit into the recessed jack - no need for an awkward adapter.

So why only four stars if I enjoy these so much? (It would really be 4.5 stars if Amazon would let me offer it.) I balk a little at paying almost the price of the 8gb Iphone for a mic/earphone headset, even as high-quality as this one is. Another thing, and this is true of any headset, and so I don't mark this one down for it, your speaking voice does not come through the earphones. Normally that's not such an issue, but when you are listening to the other party in stereo, and you can only hear yourself as if through plugged ears, it's a little disorienting, and I found myself fighting the urge to speak louder. It would be nice if there were some way for your voice to be able to feedback into the earphones.

Overall, however, these are fantastic - miles above most typical headsets, but the price reflects that, too. If you spend a significant amount of time both listening to music and talking on your phone, and you truly treasure sound quality, these may make perfect sense.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best in-ears I've used., September 1, 2008
I've used in-ear headphones and monitors almost exclusively for just over two-years now, both for use on-stage music monitoring, and for day-to-day ipod listening. Obviously, comparing in-ear monitors to in-ear headphones isn't quite fair -- they don't do the same thing. But, judging each pair for how well they succeed at their given task, i would definitely say the ER HF2s are hands-down the best pair of headphones I own.

(I currently use a pair of EarPeace LiveWires for on-stage music monitoring, and have used Shure E2s and E3s... And, having just started using an iphone, I decided to upgrade a little from the Ultimate Ear super-fi 3s I was previously using for my ipod.)

The HF2s are clean and transparent -- I won't go too far into detail about that here, given the glut of other reviewers saying the same thing. I will say, though, that the HF2s are really very impressive across the volume board -- they seem to provide the same punch for low-volume listening as they do at higher volumes; unlike my UEs, there's no "sweet spot" that they need to be set at in order to reproduce well. And unlike any other pair of in-ears I've owned, I truly can forget that I'm listening through headphones with this pair; unlike so many others that constantly make you aware of exactly how much they're coloring the tone (for better or worse), the HF2s really just step back and let the pure tones come right through. Highly impressive.

(Of course, the casual headphone buyer is probably not willing to spend this much dough for headphones -- so I won't spend too much time pointing out that if you're used to having your home or car EQ goose your bass way up, or if you use a pair of phones that have super-jacked-up bass drivers, you'll be disappointed with these.)

Cable noise was a concern for me based on the other reviews, but I decided to take the plunge anyway -- and let me just say, the reviews are right. If the HF2s have any drawback whatsoever, that's it right there. The provided clip does very little to help -- and, as previously noted in another review, wearing the cables "over-the-ear" (which would greatly minimize the amount of noise generated by the cable rubbing against a collar or lapel) is almost impossible with the HF2s -- the microphone would be too far away from one's mouth if worn that way. And, despite the fact that the dB isolation is really incredible with the HF2s (up to 42dB!!), the rubber on the cables -- AND the rubber on the driver housing itself -- picks up TONS of sound, most noticeably wind noise. (Even my relatively-cheapo UE super-fi in-ears didn't do that!) So a lot of what gets blocked out winds up getting re-introduced via transduction, at least at low-volume listening levels. (I was quite shocked when I first heard the sound of the wind hitting the driver-housing being reproduced in my ears. Now I don't mind it -- I actually sort of like it; it makes it seem as though you're not QUITE so isolated from the world around you. But if you're used to other in-ears, this might take some getting used to.) Be warned -- if cable-noise is a deal-breaker for you, you might want to look elsewhere.

That said, I wouldn't trade these in for anything. I'm even planning on getting a pair of fitted Sensaphonics sleeves to replace the drivers -- an expense on TOP of already expensive in-ears. But that's how great I think they are. As for the cable noise -- I'm planning on using a little piece of tape, to affix the cables to the top of my shirt, instead of the clip -- that should cut the noise to almost nothing, making these PERFECT. I highly, highly recommend them to any iphone user -- it will change your mp3 player from a toy to a audiophile-worthy piece of gear.

(P.S. -- I'd take these down to 4 1/2 stars if I could, because of the cable noise, but since I can't give it a "half" star, I'd place it closer to a "5" than a "4".)
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, June 26, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have to admit, I was a long time believer in the law of diminishing returns and did not believe in buying high end electronics for a very small incremental return. We held out against HD TV until our old TV died. When we finally got HD we were amazed so much we ended up rewatching nearly our entire DVD collection to see everything we have been meeting.

I had the same reaction when I first tried these ear buds. I was amazed at the sharpness of the high tones. The first song I listened to was the dresden dolls and I could make out every drum beat and each key stroke on the piano rang out. I really was like HD audio without any changes to the media or ipod. It took a while to be able to just be listening to music again, I was so impressed by the clarity.

There were two big reasons I wanted these head phones. First I wanted to be able to listen to my Ipod touch on my bus commute without having to crank up the volume. This worked perfectly, I can now greatly reduce the volume and get far more clarity than I was getting before with the buds that came with the ipod. Watching movies is also far easier now because the isolation makes hearing dialog much easier. The second reason I got these was to use with the upcoming iPhone 3G. I am looking forward to using it when I get one.

Here are the Pro's and Con's as I see them.

Pros

These have by far the best sound I have ever experienced in headphones. They are comfortable, or at least after a couple of days to get used to the feel of them. Once properly inserted, I had full mobility with no fears of them slipping out. I was worried about replacement covers, but then I looked into the box again and found the two bags that contained dozens of replacement covers - very nice touch.

Cons

These are the first isolating headphones I have used. It does cause some strange internal sounds, like if you try to eat while listening to music, the chewing noises are very loud (kind of like chewing with your fingers in your ears.) Also there is some noise that gets transmitted from the cords into the ears. Also, they seem a little overpackaged, or at least the version I got. I still feel a little uncomfortable with the price, $180 is steep for me, and now that I have tried them, I'm not sure if I can go back. But the quality covers the price difference, as well as the few cons I can think of.

These are truly great. Much like the iPod it's revolutionalizing my listening experience. I can now understand audiophyles.
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100 of 121 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Annoying when you move a single muscle., May 24, 2008
By 
David from DC "daytraitors" (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
Others have applauded the superior sound quality, and I will second that without repeating the details. However, there is too little emphasis on the side effects of this technology: the noise induction when under isolation.

Basically, the cables connected to the earpieces rub up against your shirt, ID badge, iPod, whatever. . . and you hear every single impulse and beat of that damn cable moving around. It's akin to hearing a motor boat miles away when underwater or holding your ear against a wall to eavesdrop on your neighbor. I find myself having to hold myself completely still to enjoy my music when I wear these.

So, if you are mostly docile and sedentary when listening, you'll be able to enjoy these. If you're moving about the slightest, such as walking down the street in NYC, forget it. If you're looking for something to take on your jog, keep on looking. The cable noise will drive you crazy.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great sound, poor quality, April 9, 2008
Update: I have had these headphones replaced under warranty once already. Now a year later and the same cable problem returned. The spot where the wire meets the plug goes bad very easily and sound can cut out whenever that wire is moved, which means at any point when you have your iphone in your pocket. Very poor quality and I may be just out of warranty.

Original review:
First I have to get a few things straight so people know what to expect from Etymotic products.
Etymotic does not make basshead earphones. They never did. I don't think they ever will. The HF2 does have bass, if you know how to insert them in your ears properly (which takes some time to get right, after which becomes a piece of cake) but the bass isn't heavy or overwhelming like some people prefer.
Etymotic DOES make earphones that have exceptional sound quality and detail across the spectrum. These are for people that enjoy every bit of music, not just heavy bass beats. Listening to these will allow you to hear sounds in music you have never heard before. Yes, this does include distinguishing one bass note from another.
The microphone in my experience so far has been superb. Nobody had any trouble hearing me and most people couldn't even tell I was walking down a busy street. Before I couldn't use any phone, headset or not, when walking down the street in downtown Manhattan because I couldn't hear the person on the phone and they couldn't hear me. This headset fixed that. Since the noises of NYC are so loud people do hear them, just not too loud to be obstructive and at least I can have a conversation on the phone.
Personally I recommend using the foam ear tips because they give the best seal. You have to use them properly as well, squish them as much as you can and insert them deep into your ears, then allow to expand. Those require replacement every few months so I also recommend purchasing a few replacement sets from etymotic.
Now that I rambled enough, I will say I am very happy with my purchase and I highly recommend these to anyone that can afford them!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars vs. Etymotic M3 and Klispch S4i (using iPhone 3GS), September 30, 2010
By 
Handyman (working hard somewhere in California) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I purchased 3 different in-ear earphones for use with my gixxer 600 sportsbike. I have repeatedly tested them using the same songs on my iPhone 3GS, same helmet and gloves for about 1 week. Here is how I would rate them (considering price):

Klipsch S4i >>> noise isolation C, bass response A, remote A, ear canal comfort B. Cost $99
Etymotic M3 >>> noise isolation A, bass response C, remote B, ear canal comfort C. Cost $99
Eytmotic HF2 >>> noise isolation A, bass response B, remote C, ear canal comfort A. Cost 159

The Etys were best at noise isolation (really blocks out engine and road noises). But there ENDS the similarities between M3 and HF2.

The problem with M3 is its tiny 3-button remote is barely usable unless you have really tiny fingers (it gets worse when I am wearing gloves while riding, it is impossible to "feel" the buttons). The built-in microphone is also of poor quality (my buddies say I sounded thin over the phone). The actual speaker tubes are quite thick (inserting them into my ear canal caused a lot of stress and became uncomfortable after extended period of time). It is also the least sensitive (requiring about 25% more volume dial). Its sound quality very good but not as good as the HF2 or S4i.

The HF2 is hands down the winner in all categories, but it is the most expensive one and lacks 3-button control. Although it uses the same 3-flange eartip as the M3, I found the HF2 very comfortable because its "balanced armature" speaker tubes are really tiny (about the size of a pencil lead, very easy to insert into ear canal). It also offers the highest sensitivity (requires about 25% less volume dial on my iPhone 3GS) and the highest accuracy (as in highs are clear, lows are punchy and none of the frequencies are over-blown). The noise isolation also superb (blocks out 90% of the engine and road noises).

The S4i offers the best bass response. I would say it is about 50% stronger than the Etys. This much bass may or may not suit you, depending on personal taste. I find it great for hip-pop type of music but poor for instrumentals (the pianos sounded a bit distorted). Its microphone is better than HF2. Its 3-button remote is bigger and easier to use than HF2. Its sensitivity and accuracy are very close to the HF2. The only problem I want to point out is that S4i uses oval-shaped eartips that do not seal as well as the Etys. They did not fit my ear canal well and blocked out only half the noise. Comfort wise, it is better than M3 but worse than HF2.

Of all these 3, I would say either go with the Etymotic HF2 for its supreme noise isolation, in-ear comfort and clarity - OR - go with the Klipsch S4i for its stronger bass and better remote. Skip the Etymotic M3 because it is uncomfortable (thick tubes), has tiny remotes (hard to "feel" buttons) and offers the lowest sensitivity (requires highest volume dial).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great sound, perfect fit!!!, February 17, 2010
By 
Amazon Customer (Brooklyn, NY USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Etymotic Research HF2 Hands-Free Universal Earphone Headset with Microphone with Awareness for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Smartphones (Cobalt Blue) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I had a REALLY hard time finding earphones that fit my small ears/ear canals without falling out or causing pain. I tried Sony's, Sennheisers, Shure's, UE and some others without any success. Over-the-ear headphones aggravated my TMJ and were out of question. I tried different in-ear earphones, but never got good fit. Even the smallest and softest silicone eartips were too painful for me. (I guess my ear canals are really small and sensitive) Finally I bought Etymotic Research HF5 and was almost crying of joy - perfect fit (with small flanged earpieces), no pain after almost 6 hrs of use. I did not even feel that I had them on!!! These cute blue earphones were the BEST!!! Needless to say, HF2's were my first choice after I upgraded to iPhone 3GS. Same high quality sound and comfort plus the microphone. Simply the best!!! Unfortunately, I lost my cobalt blue HF2's last week (after only 4 months of use), but was pleasantly surprised with brand new Ruby red HF2 set that my husband got me for Valentine's Day. To make it short, if your ears are small and sensitive, invest in Etymotic Research earphones before buying any others (cheap or expensive)!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Breaks very easily, January 12, 2009
I typically don't mishandle electronics - most of my headphones last for years with heavy use. This broke within three months of use - there seems to be a weakpoint near the plug, and lost signal in one of the speakers. I had to pay for the shipment for it to be "inspected" by etymotic. I had to email the company to get the reply after not hearing from them for over a week. I would have passed it as a common defect, but it turns out that my second pair broke in a few months, on the other side. The headset sounds pretty decent and the mic is excellent - but it is a bad purchase with such a high rate of failure. I'm going to give up on this product now - product this expensive should not break this easily!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great value with big features at this price point., June 25, 2008
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had owned my Shure E4c-n Sound Isolating Earphones for over a year when I tried the Shure SE530PTH with Push-To-Hear Control. The difference was so huge and I just had to have them. I use them mostly on airplanes (six flight segments last week alone) and I have been very,very happy with my purchase.

I recently got a chance to own the Etymotic Research HF2 earphones and I am very impressed. Here I will compare them to both the Shure E4c (which retails at about the same price as the Etymotic HF2) and the much more expensive Shure SE530PTH (around $500).

The first thing that I noticed was that the Etymotic is thinner and more compact that either of the Shure models that I own. While the Shure is more ergonomic, they require you to run the wire behind your ear in order to get the best fit (at least that is what I have found). I use the memory-type foam ear pieces on all of the models that I reviewed; they just work better for me and give me a nice, tight fit. I like the Etymotic case better. Although it is bigger, it is a soft case versus the Shure hard case and you can carry extra ear pieces in Etymotic case.

I listen to mostly classical, jazz and opera. I started this test with musical pieces that I was very familiar which; music which I've heard both recorded and live many times over the years. I first listened with some inexpensive earbuds, the kind that come included with iPods and other devices, then with the Shure E4c-n. The cheap set sounded like I was listening to the music from another room. I could hear it and recognize all of familiar parts, you just don't get anything close to the live music experience that you do with better buds. All of the exciting parts seem muted and dull. The Shure E4c-n made a huge difference. The high notes sounded crisp and pure. The violins sounded like the real violins that they were, not synthetically generated ones. Oboes, clarinets and tenor saxes had a clear, sharp sound to them (by the way, I have tried the $60-150 earbuds and, at least for me, I wouldn't buy anything less that the Shure or the Etymotic $150-200 models). Bass drums, violins and guitars stood out, had texture and shook you a little.

Next I tried the Etymotics. I have to admit that I liked them better, and not by a little margin. Tenors sounded more vibrant with the Etymotics as did jazz guitar rifts. Bass was a little better with the Shures, but not by much. Plus, the Etymotics have the mute and call-switching feature that makes them useful to iPhone users (I used an iPod Touch for my tests). They felt better and lighter in my ear.

Finally I tried the SE530PTH. Yes, they are better, but it takes a picky ear to hear justify the $300+ price differences. Plus, the Shures have a device with a built in microphone that lets you listen to someone talking without needing to pull your earbuds out (although I don't use it with my set, it's too bulky). If you have an iPhone, the Etomotics are a better choice as they have phone-useful features that the Shure doesn't.

If I had the Etymotics first, I might not have bought the Shure SE530PTH. Still, I am glad that I have all of them and I will certainly recommend the Etymotic to friends who are looking for a great set in the under $200 price point.

Shure SE530PTH Sound Isolating Earphones with Push-To-Hear Control

Shure E4c-n Sound Isolating Earphones (Black)
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only great pair of iPhone headset you can buy today!, June 1, 2008
By 
KhyberNY "KhyberNY" (NEW YORK, NY United States) - See all my reviews
i've tried the vmoda, ultimate ears, maximo, rivet, and they are all of so-so sound quality and extremely poor reliability. None of them lasted more than a few weeks, most of the jack connectors can take no stress, and eventually the wires come loose and you loose sound in one earbud. The HF2s provide amazing sound clarity, never thought i would pay so much for a pair of headphones but its definitely worth it. It takes a couple of days to get the right fit though. Watch the video on their website on how to put it on properly, otherwise there will be no bass. So far, I love it.

Update:

After a whole month of use, I can say that I like these even more! I love my iPhone and can't wait to get the 3G. I use my iphone all the time for music and calls, and these are just perfect. I am not sure how they could improve the sound anymore, i find myself listening to songs that I have heard for years as if I am hearing them for the first time. You feel like you are in the same room where the music is recorded. Simply amazing. I have never been an audiophile and never understood why someone would pay more than $50 for a pair of earphones but now I don't think i can use anything else. I was planning to use my other headsets with my shuffle at the gym and I find the sound quality so poor in comparison that I can't even use them anymore.

To be fair, I have not tried the Shures, but they do not make a one piece mike/earset for the iPhone.

For those of you who are complaining about the sound, I am pretty sure you are not putting them in properly or getting the right fit. It took me a week to get the perfect fit. I tried the foams, the different silicone ones, and I find that as long as I pull my ears up and out while inserting, they fit really easily and well.

Sometimes they do get too deep in my ears and that is a bit freaky but besides that the only room for improvement is a smaller mike (its very light though) but that might compromise sound quality.

My mike button got stuck and their customer service was top notch. They sent me a replacement in 2 days. Highly recommended if you can afford it. I thought it was really expensive at first but for the sound quality, I think it's actually a good deal. It may cost 2-3 times more than others, but the sound and build quality is 5-6 times better.
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