• Recommended by TR
Etymotic Research hf2 iPhone Stereo Headset


Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

The mic hangs from the right earphone and I found that it was positioned perfectly in relation to my mouth. Compared to my usual solution of Shure E500s and MPA, the mic is far closer to my mouth, and I don't find myself routing all the cabling to get the microphone in the right place, as I have to with the Shures. The most amazing aspect of the microphone though, is how light it is - you'd honestly be hard pushed to even notice it was there while you're wearing these earphones, which is no mean feat.

There's a single button on the mic unit which will answer and end calls when in phone mode. While you're listening to music, pressing this button will pause/resume playback, while a quick double press will skip to the next track - just like the Shure MPA in fact. This is very basic functionality, but it's also very useful, since you'll have to take your iPhone out of your pocket every time you want to skip tracks without it.

The sound quality from the microphone is impressive too. I made several phone calls from noisy locations like Waterloo Station and Heathrow Airport, and the person at the other end had no problem hearing me. If you are planning on chatting while you're walking though, you should make use of the cable clip, since cable slap will be transmitted.

Talking of cabling, Etymotic has done a good job when it comes to keeping things tangle free. The 4ft cable has a rubberised coating, which seems to stop if getting tangled, even after being stuffed into the carry case. Obviously the 3.5mm plug is slim enough to slip into a first generation iPhone, although it's good to see that Apple has seen sense and dumped that design for the 3G iPhone.

Etymotic insists on supplying its earphones with triple flange tips. I'm not sure who finds triple flange tips comfortable, but I certainly don't. That's not to say that you can't get a good seal with the triple flange tips, just that I wouldn't want to wear them for extended periods. Thankfully you also get a pair of foam tips in the box, which resemble the old style Shure tips, in that they're cylindrical and flat at both ends. The foam tips create a tight seal that improved sound quality over the silicone triple flange tips. A definite plus point is that Shure's foam tips fit the hf2s perfectly, so I would suggest investing in a few pairs of these, since the smooth coating and tapered ends make for a more comfortable experience, coupled with an even better seal.

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August 2, 2008, 1:50 pm

I have the Shure MPA and a pair of Etymotic ER.4s and the resulting cable situation is a real pain. So I was wondering whether the sound quality of the hf2s was really the same as the ER.4s?

It would also be nice to have an image of what these earphones look like while being worn. Not really for vanity reasons as I get odd looks already wearing my ER.4s, but it would be useful to see where the microphone placement is and how the clip works that was mentioned in the review. I know I could probably check Etymotic's site but hey, I'm lazy.


August 3, 2008, 8:15 pm

I also own a pair of hf2's Andy and obviously the ER4s are more expensive but I do believe (especially if using the foam inserts)the sound is close enough when playing high bitrate encoded music to make the extra convenience worth it.

Put it this way, I have both and I use the ER4s with my Sansa Clip at the gym and the hf2s are my default earphones with my iPhone. (The hf2s don't stick out as much as the ER4s!)


August 5, 2008, 2:35 am

Having just lost my crap iPhone stock headset, where can I get my hands on a pair in the UK?!

I am loathed to pay another &#16319 for a replacement standard set!


August 5, 2008, 5:32 am

@Toberman - hf2 stock seems surprisingly limited at the moment but I did find a link here:

If cash is tight I'd hold on for a week or so, there are usually 100s of retailers stocking the full range of Etymotic earphones.


August 5, 2008, 1:56 pm

Thanks Gordon. Any suggestions as to which retailers to keep an eye on?

Looking at them on eBay to import from the US... tempted!

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