Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Extreme noise isolation
on 16 July 2016
These earphones never fail to amaze me. If you're looking for something to completely mute the world around you, these are what you've been looking for.
Now for a bit more info: As someone who is easily irritated and distracted by noise, I was looking for headphones that would block out absolutely everything. I tried on many pairs of over-head earphones, thinking they would be more apt at isolating noise than in-ear ones due to the fact they cover your whole ear, but they all failed to do little more than muffle the sounds around me. Noise cancelling is also a no-go as the technology does indeed block out low-key background hums, but has no effect on sudden, non-constant sounds such as talking, music, coughing, etc. That left me with in-ear phones, which I was not convinced of. After hours and hours of research and comparing them to several other pairs, I kept coming back to the Etymotics. I originally promised myself I would never spend £100 on a little pair of headphones, but after becoming so pained by external noises while trying to study, I took the plunge.
The first thought when trying these on was WOW. I was cooking at the time and had a loud extractor fan on. As soon as I put these in and stuck on some music, everything simply vanished. I was convinced the fan had turned itself off, but it had not. I got my housemate to try talking to me, and I was sure he was joking about and simply mouthing words at me, but no, these headphones really are that good. I've since used them on planes, trains, bustling cafes, and all sorts of incredibly noisy environments - not once have they let me down. However, if you are in a louder place you will have to choose songs that have a good 'wall of sound'. Light piano music will not drown out all sound, but any generic song that has bass and vocals should get rid of everything without having to crank it up too loud. I've had people literally shout in my ear and have not heard a thing.
The second thought I had was OUCH. This is where the Etymotics fall down. They hurt. I forced myself to wear them for days, revelling in audio bliss but suffering from a great deal of pain. I tried all the tips over and over again, and while my favourites are probably the mushroom type, they're simply too big for my ears. Eventually, after fearing I'd have to return my saving grace from the distractions of the outside world, I made one last ditch attempt to keep my new babies, coughed up another £15 and bought some Comply replacement tips. These changed everything. I'm not 100% sure the quality is as good as it is with the triple flanges, and they are flimsy as hell, but they provide the same amount of isolation with minimal pain. I've had these phones for months now and love using them, though hours and hours of use can make your ears a bit sore. That amount of isolation will undoubtedly come with a price.
Now, the sound. I'm not the best person to give an evaluation of sound quality. In fact, I'm reluctant even to go there, but as these are headphones, it is pretty important. There is clearly a difference between these and a pair of generic Apple headphones, but truth be told, I can't tell much difference between these and my £10 pair of Sony in-ear phones that I use for situations in which they could get damaged. The bass is a bit lighter on the Etymotics (not to a point where it's lacking, I might add), but I can't go into much more detail than that. What makes the sound seem so great to me is that you can hear all of it. There is no external noise bleeding in and so you can appreciate every note, every guitar string, every piano key.
Microphonics are, as others have mentioned, pretty bad. When walking it is almost manageable, but I'd never run wearing these. The clip is handy and reduces it by a fair amount, and to be honest I rarely use them outside anyway. You have to be very wary of traffic, as you will not hear it coming.
All in all, if you want to shut yourself in with your music and not hear a single thing from outside, and are willing to put up with a bit of discomfort or buy separate tips, these will give you everything you need. You could probably get better sound quality elsewhere, but I can't imagine any other type of earphone providing such good noise isolation as these.