Etymotic hf3 Noise-Isolating Headset Review

I, like some iPhone and iPod touch users, ditched the stock Apple earbuds the second I opened the box. The white buds, while a culture statement, do not have a great fit or stunning sound quality. I needed a good set of earbuds to use while riding the local public transportation system. I’ve been looking for the perfect iPhone-compatible headset for a while now, and I think I’ve found my favorite so far. Today we’re taking a look at the Etymotic Research hf3 noise-isolating headset and earphones. If you take a look at the webpage on this product, you’ll see the tagline, “The world’s most accurate noise-isolating headset + earphones under $200.” Is that the case?

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I, like some iPhone and iPod touch users, ditched the stock Apple earbuds the second I opened the box. The white buds, while a culture statement, do not have a great fit or stunning sound quality. I needed a good set of earbuds to use while riding the local public transportation system. I’ve been looking for the perfect iPhone-compatible headset for a while now, and I think I’ve found my favorite so far. Today we’re taking a look at the Etymotic Research hf3 noise-isolating headset and earphones. If you take a look at the webpage on this product, you’ll see the tagline, “The world’s most accurate noise-isolating headset + earphones under $200.” Is that the case?

The hf3 headset comes in three colors (cobalt, black, and red) and all with an assortment of ACCU-Fit eartips that you’ll have to play around with for a few minutes to find the best fit (and subsequently, noise isolation) for your ears. Ever since I’ve used my first pair of noise-isolating earbuds, I’ve taken a liking to the expanding foam tips. Etymotic also offers a custom-molded eartip option, where you’ll go to an audiologist near you and have ear impressions made with a special silicone material.

While this option may offer the best overall fit and sound isolation (they’re made for your ears, of course), it is an extra $100. Maybe I’ll stroll down that lane soon, but these will do for now. The glider tips, which I tried for the first time with the hf3, were somewhat uncomfortable despite their name and the largest 3-flange eartips are not as snug fitting as the foam tips were. Whatever the case may be, take a few minutes to try each of the different eartips and your mileage may vary from what we’re mentioning here.

Like the stock Apple earbuds, the hf3‘s have an inline remote on the right earbud cord for controlling playback, volume, answering calls, or using the Voice Control feature on your iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4. When I began my search for the best iPhone-compatible headset, it needed to have an iPhone-compatible remote, as I didn’t want to have to reach in my pocket to answer a call or adjust the volume of my music. Overall, the remote worked just as good as the Apple earbud remote, and the built-in microphone on the backside of the remote worked great for talking on the phone.

Beyond that, audio quality is exceptional. You’re not going to find overpowered bass here, my friends, but what you will find is second-to-none audio reproduction. The sound of these compared to the sound of your Apple earbuds is night and day. I’ve listened to a variety of music on the hf3′s. From alternative to jazz, it all sounds great.

The Etymotic Research hf3 noise-isolating headset is available at Etymotic’s website or at Amazon.com for around $150 bucks.

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