"Hear what your music is SUPPOSED to sound like!"4.5 starson by ManlyBubbles
Pros: Accurate sound reproduction, Very good in-line mic w/ easy to push control button
Cons: Microphonics (cable thump) do occur so these are not a good choice for the gym
Summary: I would be willing to bet that many people have never heard their favorite music accurately. Most of the reviews I read online focus on preference, not accuracy.
These Etymotic hf2 in-ear canal headphones are accurate and reproduce music the way you are supposed to be hearing it. Without distortion and without altering the frequency response.
My greatest wish in audio is that everyone would settle for nothing less than speakers and headphones that are capable of reproducing sounds accurately. I've often heard people say that they are "no audiophile" or that they just want something inexpensive and they know they aren't getting "the best", but that's ok for now. Honestly, anyone with that opinion is only doing a great disservice to themselves and also to the artists and recording engineers.
There is such a thing as a "right" and a "wrong" when it comes to audio and video equipment. "Right" is when the equipment reproduces the recording accurately and perfectly recreates the recorded sound or image as intended. "Wrong" is when the equipment does anything else. In an effort to "stand out" and be noticed, almost all companies purposely go about things the "wrong" way. They alter the picture or sound on purpose in order to look or sound different from all of the other brands and they hope that their particular "wrong" choice will happen to appeal to your preference. In the case of headphones, this very often means exaggerated bass, rolled-off highs, exaggerated mid-bass (for a "warm" sound) or all other manner of changes to the original, intended sound.
So thank goodness for companies like Etymotic! Simply stated, these are the least expensive headphones of which I am aware that reproduce sound ACCURATELY and therefore deliver the sound to your ears they way you are SUPPOSED to hear it...the "right" way.
Outside of their sound reproduction quality, the in-line mic is very good as well. These hf2 have clearly been made specifically to work with the iPhone and that is how I am using them personally. The mic quality is at least equal to, if not slightly better than using the mic in the body of the iPhone itself with the iPhone held up to your ear. Thus, it is better than the mic of the included iPhone earbuds (which, in its own right is already quite good, so that is saying something!).
The control button is raised, small and very easy to push. No problem at all to activate the double-click command.
With such glowing remarks, are these hf2 perfect? No. There are some microphonics (cable thump) if you are vigorously moving about. These would not be a good choice for the gym. Then again, if you are working out, it seems unlikely that you are paying full attention to the details in your music. Thus, I would recommend having a different pair of headphones for the gym and using these hf2 when you are listening more attentively.
To sum up: BUY THESE.
If you spend less, you will only be doing a disservice to yourself and the artists by purchasing headphones that fail to reproduce the sound accurately. And truthfully, it is not really necessary to spend more. For certain, there are some excellent, more expensive headphones out there, but when you can achieve accuracy for this price already, it is not necessary to spend more for an alternative.
The only people who should NOT buy these Etymotic hf2 are people who want headphones for gym use, people who are using an incompatible player (as has been mentioned, due to the microphone connection, these will only work properly with particular devices - the obvious favorite being the iPhone) or people who just plain hate music and only want to ruin it with inaccurate equipment.
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