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That’s the bad news. The good news is that these earphones sound superb. To be perfectly honest I wasn’t expecting that much from the ety8s, but I’m happy to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. Of course it helps that the Bluetooth 2.0 EDR standard is far more accomplished than the old 1.1 standard, and also offers significantly better bandwidth.
There’s a surprisingly wide soundstage on offer, with no discernable compression. OK, so we’re not talking as wide as the superb Shure ET500s, or even the clarity of Etymotic Reseasch’s own ER.4 microPro earphones, but what you’re getting is pretty damn good. Unlike previous wireless headphone solutions I’ve used, you’re not having to compromise on decent sound quality for the sake of convenience.
The ety8s definitely have a bias towards bass and heavy beats, but not at the complete detriment of clarity. The superbly crafted Brown Sugar by D’Angelo, with its R&B/Jazz hybrid style is very well rendered by these earphones. The strong bass line is still smooth enough not to overpower, making sure that the electric piano isn’t lost despite being further back in the mix, and all the while the snare drum thumps the beat through your head.
Turning to something less bass heavy, I fired up Whistle For The Choir by The Fratellis. The ety8s didn’t falter here with the acoustic guitar intro crystal clear in the right channel, with the movement of fingers along fret board easily discernible. The vocals are equality clear and when the full accompaniment joins in, the effect is full and loud.
Dialling things back even further I moved on to Love & Affection by Joan Armatrading, a personal favourite of mine. It still amazes me how many female vocalist seem to have taken cues from Joan, and also how her music hasn’t seemed to have dated over the many years since it was recorded. Once again the acoustic guitars are beautifully handled, while the truly angelic vocals just flow over the top like silk. I was genuinely surprised at how good this track sounded on the ety8s – with its complex arrangement and harmonies, many earphones fail to capture all the subtleties.
But there’s even more to these wireless wonders. Bundled in the box is an iPod adapter, which will work with nanos, minis, 5th and 4th generation iPods. Simply plug the adapter into the iPod and the earphones will instantly link up, and all music will be beamed directly to your head without wires. But being a Bluetooth device, these earphones aren’t limited to use with an iPod, and you should be able to stream from any Bluetooth enabled device.