Etymotic Research hf2 Custom Noise Isolating Earphones - Etymotic Research hf2 Custom Earphones

By Hugo Jobling


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Etymotic Research hf2 Custom Noise Isolating Earphones


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Once you've decided to splash out on some custom earphones - and paid your fee to do so - it's time to make an appointment with an audiologist to get your ear canal impressions taken. This means having those canals filled with silicone gel which is a slightly surreal experience. Especially as I arranged to have this done in a Starbucks on Baker Street and attracted more than a couple of strange looks.

Impression taken, the mouldings find their way to ACS and up to 21 days later a pair of custom tips should arrive for your hf2s. In the meantime you can use the hf2s with the standard tips which are supplied in the package.

There's no denying that the firm-ish, clear silicone tips supplied by ACS are wonderfully comfortable. Ease of fitting depends on just how twisty your ears are, although the method should be the same for everyone - a twisting action gently screwing the earphone into the canal. Don't worry; it's less violent that I just made it sound.

Once you have your hf2 Custom earphones in then be prepared to really learn the meaning of awareness should you dare to venture outside. I thought navigating Piccadilly Circus was dangerous enough when I could hear the traffic and people around me but the isolation afforded by custom-fitted earphones turns the usually simple act of crossing a road into a life-risking experience.

As you might hope, this isolation does make a tangible difference to the quality of music produced by the hf2 earphones. Or, to be pedantic, seeing as the drivers inside the earphones are the same as in the standard hf2s, the perceivable quality.

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Hamish Campbell

May 15, 2009, 4:55 pm

Didn't you mention this a wee while ago, and someone suggested you could get the same custom tips (from different suppliers) for a bit less?

Can't find the article on here....maybe it was another site?

Bryan Kerr

May 15, 2009, 5:21 pm

How long do the custom buds last and how easy are they to clean?


May 15, 2009, 5:47 pm

@haim + @Bryan - what Bryan raises is an important point. ACS moulds are of very high quality and it says you can expect to get up to five years from them. You can find cheaper moulds but you'll replace them far more frequently (which doesn't really make them cheaper).

As for cleaning: 1. you get a little tool to do the job though it's easy with any number of things and 2. no need to if you keep your ears clean ;)


May 15, 2009, 5:48 pm

haim - I thought I mentioned that, oops. Yeah, ACS will do custom tips for any earphones (also for £90 I believe). The difference here is pretty much just the packaging of the bundle.

Bryan - I think they're supposed to last nigh-on indefinitely. Very easy to clean, they're silicone so you just run them under some warm water and wait for them to dry.


May 15, 2009, 6:10 pm

Hmm, wouldn't it be great if you could get a custom set of moulds that would last years and fit many types of earphone from many manufacturers? Just thinking out loud...


May 15, 2009, 7:06 pm

In theory that would work as a lot of tips are interchangeable between various Shure models, see here on the Comply website for specifics

If you get the moulding and sleeves through leightons they will do the mouldings for free, as opposed to £20 or £30 pound, so all in it's £88, which is a pretty good imo, makes my phonaks sound excellent as I struggled to find a decent tip for ages.


May 15, 2009, 7:32 pm

@comedian - All in that's the same price as the ACS custom option (which as Hugo states can be made for any brand of earphones you like). I can't vouch for the quality of Leightons moulds but if that £2 is important to you... ;)


May 15, 2009, 7:47 pm

Yes for £2 difference my point was rather moot.

I was trying to say that the cost of a custom sleeve was lessened if you used that sleeve with a number of different but compatible iems as opposed to getting a mould for each 'phone.

Ricky Archer

May 15, 2009, 10:22 pm

For the sake of an extra £80, I am happy with my 'Beats' by Dr Dre. They come with the inline microphone so I don't miss any calls, they have a mute button so I can hear people when I need (want) to and they are VERY comfortable. I used to use the Ultimate Ears, but got fed up with maneuvering them into a comfortable position! OK so I used to get some stares walking around wearing them, but since every artist and their dog now has them in their music videos, people just tend to nod instead!


May 15, 2009, 11:00 pm

Beats by Dr Dre!?! *runs and hides*


May 15, 2009, 11:03 pm

Actually a really good set of headphones those 'Beats'. Obviously they're somewhat tailored to certain kinds of music but they're still at least good for all types.

Ricky Archer

May 15, 2009, 11:09 pm

Still waiting to see a review on these by you guys, or have I missed it? All my music on my iPhone is lossless format and they give a rich sound that is very crisp at the top end. The bass is slid but not overpowering, try them on Guru Josh's Infinity 2008, there is a slid whoomph of bass that shows off their ability pretty well


May 15, 2009, 11:10 pm

@Ed - fair play. Audio is extremely subjective and for me they're the equivalent of a crass Bass Boost button, but I'm not suggesting any one else runs and hides *runs and hides*


May 19, 2009, 9:11 pm

Ricky, we're getting in some Beats soon. Both the headphones and earphones.

Chris F

May 27, 2009, 8:01 pm

I already had a pair of custom tips made from ACS for my Shure SE530s and they actually mould the tips so that the silicon comes flush onto the drivers and not just the exit channel, so it may make swapping custom tips a little more difficult. However, the upside is that the when in place, the tips and earphone body is lined up perfectly to allow the cable to tuck neatly over and behind your ear!

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