Customer Reviews: Etymotic Research ER7-MC3-BLUE-I-A MC3 Noise Isolating In-Ear Headset and Earphones for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch - Blue
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on February 20, 2013
I have owned the more expensive Etymotic HF3 earbuds for some time, and just bought the MC3 for my wife. This gave me a chance to do some side by side listening tests, both using the same grey foam eartips. These two are nearly identical iPhone headsets, except that the $170 HF3 is supposed to be higher sound fidelity than the $80 MC3.

Listening to something that has a pristine acoustic mix, say Taylor Swift's "Breathe", you can hear some subtle differences. The MC3 sound is a little more flat, whereas in the HF3 you can hear each intrument in a separate position on the stereo soundstage a little better. There is a little more live presence to Taylor's vocals and the brush slap on the snare drum in the HF3.

That said, the difference is pretty subtle and you would only notice it on careful listening of certain kinds of material. I would subjectively rate the MC3 at 90% to 95% of the sound quality of the HF3. So if cost is an issue, don't feel like you are shorting yourself much with the MC3. However, if you have the extra $90, the HF3's are a worthy investment in some high quality earbuds.

Comparisons aside, I think the sound quality on the MC3 is great. Many reviewers seem to object to insufficient bass. It is true that the Etymotic style is for an accurate mix that does not pump up the bass for its own sake. But there is plenty of clean bass in these headphones if you get a proper seal in the ear. That seal and physical connection is how these small headphones transmit the bass. Break the seal and all the bass drops out. That is why, for me at least, only the large grey foam eartips make any sense to use. You roll them down between your fingers, insert in the ear, and let the foam expand to make a complete and comfortable seal. I use the identical form factor hf3's for an hour at a time as in-ear monitors while playing drums in a rock band, and I can say they are very comfortable, give powerful sound isolation (drums are loud up close!), and transmit nice clean bass. If you have never used high quality in-ear buds with a good foam seal, you are in for a treat. At $80 these are a terrific value for high quality listening, with the added phone headset functionality.
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on April 18, 2013
I honestly don't know why I didn't bite the bullet and buy a pair of these a long time ago. I've tried the ultimate ears among others, and nothing compares to these etymotics except for more-expensive etymotic models. Even then, these deliver fantastic audio across the entire range with very clean, clear and accurate sound. They're also by far the most comfortable in-ear headphones I've ever tried, and the mike and controls are also top-quality. It's important to choose the right attachments for comfort and sound quality for your ears, but they come with so many options, that you really can't go wrong. Durability has also been quite impressive, and I haven't had to worry about cable snags or fraying like I used to with other sets.
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on September 21, 2012
Unlike a couple of the other reviewers, I wasn't impressed with the noise-isolating qualities of the Etymotic ER7-MC3. For comparison's sake, I don't think they block out surrounding noise nearly as well as the Klipsch S4i (whose sound I love and short lifespan I hate). On the street, on the subway, and in other places where I've used the Klipsch earbuds on a regular basis, the Etymotics let significantly more noise through.

The other major disappointment was the lack of bass. Yes, I had read the reviews -- here and on other sites -- that said these are not the best choice if you listen to a lot of bass-heavy music. I don't think I do. Hip-hop, for instance, takes up no more than 10% of what I listen to. But you want to hear *some* bass, of course, and it's barely there in these earbuds.

To make sure I wasn't going crazy, I picked five songs that I've listened to countless times and representing different genres: Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, "So What" by Miles Davis, "Ten Years Gone" by Led Zeppelin, "How to Disappear Completely" by Radiohead, and "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z. On all of them, the bass/low end was very faint. Especially on those particular Davis and Radiohead pieces, the bass should be prominent -- not loud, just prominent -- but I had to strain to hear it.

The earbuds come with four different tips, and the company includes a note in the package that says it's essential that the listener uses the right ones. I get that. But the issues described above occurred no matter which tips I used.

My last gripe, though not the end of the world, is the placement of the controls at chin level. I know it doesn't take too long to remember where each button is by feel, but it still feels weird to reach up that high.

On the plus side, the cables are a little heavier than the ones on the Klipsch and feel like they would last longer. And the conical tips, at least in my ears, were very comfortable -- snug but not irritating in the least.
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on July 7, 2014
I wear these under my motorcycle helmet, and when flying. Actually had to send back first set as they developed an intermittant in one ear (at the "Y" split) after only once use. 2nd pair is going well. I tend to use the default buds (with three rings), as they're easier to get in and out -- but if you don't get them in just right, suddenly with no perceived shift in fit / insertion, the blocking properties can diminish significantly in one ear or the other. Perhaps I just have a strange ear... just get them inserted right, and you'll learn what angle and depth is best for your ear, and WOW I can't even hear my engine. This allows you to keep the audio level MUCH LOWER and for sure helps preserve hearing. Highly recommended.
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on December 13, 2013
I wear these under my helmet when riding my bike. They fit perfectly and there's no interference with the helmet at all. They COMPLETELY block all noise, I mean they are crazy effective. Without music playing they are better than any actual ear plug I've tried, and with music playing I might as well be the last man on earth.

This can get tricky as you have to be very careful with outside noises you do need to pay attention to, like emergency vehicles.

I use them on the Bart commuter train too, and anyone in the Bay Area knows the godawful shriek it makes in the tunnels. With these headphones it's totally silent. I mean you simply cannot hear it.

I've owned many Etyomics over the years, mainly replacing them because I lost them or the very frail cables on the early models would rip from repeated taking off of my helmet and pulling on the cords. But these are much better built and I have no problems like that anymore.

They don't sound as good as my B&W C5's, so when I'm just out walking I prefer those for their fuller sound. But the Etyomotics are still very good (a little light in the bass), and for the amazing noise isolation it's a small trade off. Especially considering they cost less than half of the B&W's.
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on May 2, 2013
I purchased these Etymotic MC3s as a substitute for the apple earpods. The new apple earpods aren't bad at all, but they offer absolutely no isolation and have a somewhat harsh top end. Also, I needed something with a mic to call my family and friends.

Anyway, when I got them, fitting them was quite tricky, since my ear canals are short and big. I tried the stock flange tips and didn't work. I tried the big ones and they were still quite annoying. Luckily they also came with "glider eartips". Oh, they are a pleasure to use. Much easier insertion and get less filthy (at least in my personal case). The foam eartips require manual compression and a couple of seconds to decompress inside your ear canal, but they are also a pleasure to use, and due to they way they work, they are extremely comfortable and almost guaranteed to be a universal fit. They only downside of these last two is that they will need replacement after a while (which aren't very expensive). It is worth mentioning that they NEVER slide around or slip out like so many other in-ears do. Never ever!!

Getting to the sound, the MC3s sound very good. They have a firm, honest bass, good midrange, and acceptable high end, with great detail in every area. If you like boomy, overpowering bass, this is not for you. Doing tests with the oscillator, these cans will play frequencies down to 30 hz with great comfort and cleanliness, and they'll keep going until around 15 KHz. They are GREAT if you want to listen to a mildly distant double bass in a jazz recording without cranking it too far. If your music has a strong bass, then it will sound powerful yet balanced. The stereo imaging is very obvious and detailed.

The isolation is excellent. Using them in downtown Boston, with sirens blaring and drivers honking all the time, I can listen to my music at almost the same volume I would in a quiet place, instead of cranking it really far to compensate. That is how you save your ears!! The Awareness! app works as expected, although remain mindful of the fact that even with that, you still lose a lot of awareness of what goes on around you with earphones in your ears. It's still not as good as having your ears 100% on where you are.

Highly recommended!! and last but not least, this is how they compare to my other earphones:

*Klipsch S3 - Etys have better fit, superior bass, a bit more detail, superior isolation.
*Apple Earpods - Etys have softer high end, slightly clearer bass, superior fit and dramatic increase in isolation
*Sennheiser CX300 - Etys offer similar bass, superior high end, similar isolation and superior fit.
*Older Apple earphones - No contest
*AKG 271 MKII - AKGs are superior in every aspect except isolation. Kind of an unfair comparison considering they cost more than $200 and are designed for studio work. Etys still sound quite hi-fi, are portable and have a mic :)
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on November 27, 2013
UDPATE: after writing directly to Etymotics support (instead of the customer service address within the Awareness! app), I finally heard back, and the issue with the app was resolved. There must have been some issue in the upgrade to iOS 7, but it seems to work now.

I have used this headset for about a year now, in combination with a few others (Sennheiser MM 70, and my recent favorite, the much cheaper House of Marley EM-JE003-FI)

Pros: the shape of the plug into the phone is angled, so that it has less stress when your phone is in your pocket while you listen. The Awareness! app is great feature, since I can listen to podcasts or music while working around the house, and still hear what someone is saying if they ask me something, instead of having to free up a hand to stop the music or remove the headphones.

Cons: very quiet volume, so-so mic quality. For this reason, I always have to keep another headset handy for phone calls or Skype, or when I don't need the Awareness feature.
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on May 9, 2013
As other reviewers stated, you really have to jam these things deep into your ears to get them to sound good, and to block outside noise. But I use these when operating mowing equipment and if they are in all the way they definitely work to block sound and you can hear your music or podcast while running noisy machinery. There is also a free app you can get from Etymotic that allows you to 'mix' the microphone with the earphones so you can allow some ambient noise in to the phones. This is a really nice feature, almost wish it was included as hardware instead of software as the app is a little complicated to figure out.

These are fully compatible with iPhone in terms of the click controls on the microphone for answering calls etc. I am really digging these headphones for handsfree catching up on news, TED talks, and powering my outdoor work with music while protecting my hearing. Love them!

Etymotic also makes great reusable ear plugs for pretty cheap. Cheaper than buying the throwaway foam ones, more eco-friendly, and work better. Just make sure you put a piece of flagging tape on the string as they are hard to find if you drop them outside. :) So I hear...
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I've had ER6 ear phones for five years and completely love them so bought these for my son who wanted some like mine. I have to say these aren't quite as good. He is happy with them because they stay in his ears well when he is working out at the gym. Since he wears glasses, some styles with over ear holders don't work for him. These really stay in although I find my older version slightly more comfortable. I use mine on the tractor when cutting the pasture and really need the noise cancelling feature. These aren't quite as good at eliminating the ambient noise, but are still plenty good enough for the gym or running where you might actually need to hear a car honking at you. The volume feature is great--wish mine had that--but the sound just isn't as full. It's noticeably tinnier and for that reason, I took off a star. None of the earbud styles will really stay in my ears while I do yard work and such and my son complains of the same thing so these have almost no competition, but I do wish the sound was as rich as the old ER6 headset. My son has gone though two sets of Bose earbuds (wires frayed with both) and a set of Beats (ear supports are uncomfortable with glasses) so he's used to good sound, but isn't complaining that these aren't quite as good because at least they are comfortable and stay in his ears, and frankly it just doesn't matter how great the sound is if the earbuds quit working or fall out.
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on December 6, 2015
I was extremely disappointed with the lack of bass response. There is none at all. I'm not talking about huge EDM base. If you listen to anything with low notes you will be missing out. However, they have worked well otherwise. I use a half piece of foam ear plug with these and they make very good hearing protection while I can still listen to music. The long ear-tip stem is the only reason I still use them and I only use them when I have to.
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