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48 Reviews
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic headphones
I got a set of these today in black, and let me say that they are damned fantastic.

Firstly, the quality. Audio reproduction is awesome. Mids, highs and lows are all beautifully reproduced - I really don't own another pair of in-ear headphones like them. You can easily spend double on another pair but I don't think that you'd be able to distinguish them...
Published on 2 Mar 2009 by Dave

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfect imperfect
Reading some of the negative reviews I've been inspired to add my own.

Etymotics are great but there are some significant issues you need to be aware of.

Firstly, you need a good quality bass boost or equalizer to compensate for the neutral bass; and that's assuming you've got a decent seal. The bass is very high quality (tight), but the bass sounds...
Published on 17 Oct 2012 by Francis George


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic headphones, 2 Mar 2009
I got a set of these today in black, and let me say that they are damned fantastic.

Firstly, the quality. Audio reproduction is awesome. Mids, highs and lows are all beautifully reproduced - I really don't own another pair of in-ear headphones like them. You can easily spend double on another pair but I don't think that you'd be able to distinguish them easily.

Be aware that many people have complained about lack of bass. This simply isn't the case - you just need to ensure that you have a good, deep, seal in your ear canal. The product ships with several replacement tips, but I found the default three-flange ones to be great for me. Many prefer the foam buds, however. Once they're in, I can hear virtually nothing of the surroundings which is fantastic whilst sitting at work.

Quality of the actual product itself is very good. Cabling is nice and not too noisy when rubbing against clothing, although some noise is inevitable. Microphone is excellent, having tested it in calls today and asking people what they thought!

Overall, I don't think you'll find a better pair of headphones for the price.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Aural Pleasure, 19 Oct 2009
I'm a lifelong, fully-confirmed, over-ear headphone wearer. I've moved away from closed back to open back, forgoing the comfort of fellow train users for the increased sound quality you get when you stop bouncing bass around a pair of fully sealed cans. And let's not even start on active noise cancellation. Ech. In addition, I've never enjoyed the experience of wearing in-ear headphones; prolonged use generally leads to discomfort and some mildly disturbing incidents involving 'waxy deposits'.

All that considered, the Etymotic Research HF2 headphones were not preordained to please but, after a good bedding-in, I'm happy to say they perform and impress on every level. All frequencies (including bass), are present, correct and perfectly turned out. Yes, you do need a good seal for them to work but, no, this is not painful or difficult to achieve if you follow the instructions. Prolonged usage, weirdly, does not lead to painful ear canals... though some of the (admittedly easy to clean) ear tips supplied are more prone to collecting ear funk than others.

The other plus is the mic and control button. This works incredibly well and I use it on my bike all the time to receive calls, skip tracks etc. Anybody on the other end of the line can here me fine even with background wind, so that's really quite impressive. If you are using these on a bike, you should only ever ride with one ear in as otherwise you will be totally oblivious to even the most monstrous of trucks bearing down on you from behind. You have been warned.

So, in summary, a great pair of phones at a very reasonable price. Be sure to give them at least a week's worth of listening to bed them in and get used to the sound before you pass judgment on them, especially if you've moved from a pair of artificially bass-enhancing headphones: you'll be very glad you did. Build quality is great and functionality is spot on, though a 'last number dialed' call option would be welcome if they could figure out how to do it. One final note, if your remote stops working (as mine did), but you can still hear music fine through the headphones, it's probably not because they've busted but because you've got some lint or dust in your iPhone headphone jack - definitely worth fishing around in there with a paperclip before you get on the phone to customer services.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 27 Jan 2010
Anyone who says that these IEMs lack bass simply isn't using them properly. I nearly didn't buy them because of the amount of reviews that said they were lacking in the bass department. I can assure you that with the correct insertion they have got MORE than enough bass (and I listen to a lot of electronic dance music). I am using the triple flange tips - when they are inserted they are almost flush with my ear (i.e. not sticking out at all). If you don't like the sound of having something shoved that far down your lughole, these (and probably IEMs in general) aren't for you. For those that are willing to use them as they are designed to be used, you would be pushed to find better value anywhere. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfect imperfect, 17 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Reading some of the negative reviews I've been inspired to add my own.

Etymotics are great but there are some significant issues you need to be aware of.

Firstly, you need a good quality bass boost or equalizer to compensate for the neutral bass; and that's assuming you've got a decent seal. The bass is very high quality (tight), but the bass sounds weak to the layman ear. Good quality equalizers are difficult to find. The one on older Ipods (gen 2) is atrocious (perhaps also true of older iphones, pre 3); it distorts almost immediately. Android needs 3rd party apps to get quality equalization. I can recommend the clip+ at £26 for the 2GB version: it has excellent equalization out of the box as well as hifi audio : google "clip+ nwavguy" . Better still, the clip+ and clipzip can have the rockbox firmware put on it.

2nd, Earwax: when I first got them I had a painful and squelchy feeling in one of my ears. I thought my ears were etymotics incompatible but in fact though being quite young I had an ear wax issue, which apparently is quite common. the (slight) pain continued even after taking them out so I went to the doctor and eventually got it sorted out by the local nurse. Hot damn, my hearing majorly improved.

3rd, player issues: the electricals mean that some player designs cut corners and have high 'output impedance'. Read more on that with a google "nwavguy output impedance" .To summarise: this is a serious issue for low impedance earphones (typical of consumer earbuds etc) and even worse for balanced armatures like the HF2/3/5. It weakens bass and treble: you won't be getting the promised audio fidelity. The iphone 3GS,and 4 are fine. But many older ipods have high output impedance. The iphone 5 has increased the output impedance and will be affecting these etymotics. You could use the cheap-n-cheerful FIIO 5 headphone amp to correct this (it's near hifi and 'corrects' the output impedance, google "fii0 E5 nwavguy").

Personally, I haven't had issues with my HF2s falling apart as some have, yet I've treated them quite roughly. I'm suspecting fakes out there. Now near two years I can see the kevlar splitting at the plug; which doesn't surprise me the way I treated them. One of the reasons I went ahead and purchased these expensive phones is because of the 2 year warranty and reports from the US or etymotics being very good at honouring it even for wear and tear. However, another review here casts doubt on that. It would be good to hear of other people's experience of this.

So why only 3 stars? Firstly, they are NOT neutral or flat. According to diffuse-field headphone design theory they are neutral, but that theory requires a bump in the audio frequency at about 3000Hz. The result is the legendary thin and bass-shy performance of etymotics. You can clearly hear the bump if you do a sinesweep. For all the reported detail (partly from the artificial boost) they have anti-warmth. This is only of any use to the partially deaf (which usually affects 2000-4000Hz). They are neither good for monitoring nor for music enjoyment. They are really not 'reference' monitors, neither the ER4S or ER4P. What they are good for is being properly equalized and getting £300 performance from a $100 earphone + 2 year warranty (only from amazon-official sellers). If you have no parametric equalizer then boost the bass by about 9db to get half-decent performance. 30hz and down can't be equalized in; they just don't have the oomph. Also they lack beyond 12000Hz, for 'air'. You need multi-armature phones for that but then you have phase issues. Except for freqphase multi-armatures $1000 phones, these etymotics equalised are a pretty good compromise.

With a rockboxed clip+ the equalizer settings you need for enjoyable performance (with deep bass) are 40Hz 5db q=1.4, 650Hz -4.5db q=2.8, 2900Hz -5db q1.4, 8500Hz -8db q.4.8 (8500hz is an ear canal resonance and will vary by person and tip used), finally treble -5db. With these settings, if you are a loud listener it's conceivable that you'll need more volume than the clip+ can provide, in which case the Fii0 E5 should do that. With that 40Hz setting, you should really not set volume higher than -5db (or +1db at a pinch); if that's not loud enough then change to 50Hz, +3db. Adjust treble according to taste; for both bass and treble the rule of thumb is to avoid being distracted (high-hats, snare posessing your attention? Turn down the treble).

Secondly, they have limited 'soundstage'. A wide soundstage really adds a lot. Nevertheless, for on-the-go hifi and isolation these phones are really good. And because they are technically excellent with hyper low-distortion, they can help to sort out issues with other headphones or poor mixes/mastering by comparing.

I really recommend the Sansa clip+. It's hifi, with low output impedance and a good equalizer...and it's cheap. Rockboxed, it's the perfect companion to these headphones.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Etymotic hf2, 9 Jan 2012
Just got these to replace a pair of klipsch s4i i recently lost. I was a big fan of the klipsch but i have to say these are a step up. They come with 4 different types of fittings- after a bit of testing i opted for the foam - you can roll it like an earplug then it expands after you have seated them in your ears.
The range of these earphones is stunning. You will hear ever nuance of sound and as i re listen to music with these i am picking bongos and flourishes that i had not heard before- amazing.
Regarding the bass comments- i can see why serious bass enthusiasts may grumble but id rather hear the complete range of sound- these provide amazingly detailed high mid and bass range, without the bass drowning everything else out.
One small complaint is that i assumed the remote would enable volume control - it doesnt.
Overall though, highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Won't go wrong with these, 24 Mar 2011
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I was a soundmixer for many years, and I am very picky. These are great, just as good as the Shure Ec4-n, in fact I would say identical, + they have the microphone and are very pretty in red. I have therefore switched to this is my second pair of them
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes good music sound great, 15 July 2010
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Can't fault the sound quality of these earphones nor their design to be very ear-friendly. I have been using the standard ear fitments as it was packaged after experimenting with all the various others supplied. They fit very snugly and also seal around the ear-canal to sound-proof from the outside world and the "moisten and twist" method that has been described previously is the most user-friendly. The lack of a volume adjustment is a bit of a nuisance at times but the 1,2,3 click function is really good.
My only niggle is that the cable clip broke within days and as there is a lot of noise interference if the cables rub against clothes etc, then this has been annoying and not what I would expect for a mid-price range specification.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Headphones, 7 July 2010
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Ordinarily I don't like in ear headphones however these are the exception. I bought them mainly for shutting out the continous drone of my bosses annoying voice and I have to say they work perfectly. You do have to push them right in so ocassionally I use a little olive oil in my ears to prevent earwax building up, which is much better than getting your ears syringed believe me. The bass is excellent and they come with a microphone that is placed well for vocal reception and additionally will cut out music and allow you to answer and hang up any incoming calls. They are also a good build quality and after nearly a year they are still in excellent condition.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good sound but very flimsy, 27 Nov 2009
By 
Ben (London, UK) - See all my reviews
Finding the right ear canal piece is a matter of trial and error. I found the foam tips worked best for me. There needs to be a good seal for the sound quality to be any good. However after 2 months of these phones the left ear-bud went dead. I returned to Amazon and they were replaced with no problem. 3 months on from then - the same problem - this time the connection problem seems to be in the cable at the jack end. I have been fairly careful with the phones in general - even more so since the first pair broke. I do not keep them in the pouch but I am careful to ensure they are not tucked or pulled around. When intended to be used with an iphone which comes in and out of your pocket all of the time, I expect more robust construction, given that these are non-cheap earphones!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great product, Im chuffed., 13 Nov 2009
By 
N. Morgan (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Have been using these for 5 or 6 weeks now so I've got to know them pretty well. From an audio point of view, I've found them excellent [I'm surprised some other reviewers didn't find the bass up to the mark. I've only had 'standard issue' earbuds in recent years so the difference in listenting experience was dramatic. External sounds are muted to insignificance.

I'm a bit disappointed that there is no volume control on the mic pod, though Its only a minor issue.

It took a month or so before I got fully accustomed to the in-ear canal insertion or presence, but now feel totally comfortable using them.
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Etymotic Research HF2 iPhone and iPod Headset - Blue
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