Home / TVs & Audio / Headphones / Etymotic Research hf3 Headset / Sound Quality and Verdict

Etymotic Research hf3 Headset - Sound Quality and Verdict

By Hugo Jobling

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

The sound of the hf3 headset might take a little getting used to if you're migrating across from just about any other brand of earphones. As Riyad said of the hf2s way back in 2008, fans of bass emphasis need not apply, but that's not a criticism. Where the hf3s success lies is in delivering a clear, detailed and uncoloured reproduction.

Unlike the lower-end Etymotic MC5 earphones, we didn't find that the hf3s lacked presence. It's only if you can't get a good fit that the hf3 headset completely lacks bass; once you get a good seal their low-end comes through and balances out the overall sound nicely. It's also worth noting that the hf3s handle complex music without getting muddied or crowded, and don't show any discernable distortion even at too-high volumes.

It's the high-end that we find the hf3s accuracy really pays off. Female vocals are presented with a pleasantly natural tone, and cymbals ring out clearly and brightly, but without any sibilance to ruin the crisp reproduction. Quite what it is about the hf3s that makes their strive towards accuracy sound good, while the MC5s sound clinical we couldn't say, but whatever it is, it works.

That said, we couldn't find any difference between the hf2 and hf3 headsets in terms of sound quality, which makes us wonder why the newer set is £30 more expensive. Other than volume controls on the in-line remote we're not sure there's anything to justify the price increase, which makes us wonder why you wouldn't just pick up the hf2 headset as it can be found for under £70 - practically half the price of the hf3.

Verdict

It's under no dispute that the hf3 headset does a great job of reproducing a detailed, uncoloured and, above all, accurate sound. And the provision of volume controls, in addition to the play/pause button and microphone the predeceasing hf2 headset offered is definitely a useful improvement. Inexplicable, however, is the disparity in price between the hf2 and hf3 headsets given how minor the change is - the former offers much better value for money.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Value 5
  • Sound Quality 9

WestHej

August 18, 2010, 4:28 pm

I have the hf2s and I actually use the silicone 3 phalanged tips (in the picture) which fit my ears very nicely. I don't understand how anyone uses the foam ones, they just won't fit in my ears!





I actually bought my hf2s for £70 so these hf3s seem way overpriced. Not sure the added volume control is worth the premium.

Gordon394

August 18, 2010, 5:28 pm

@WestHej I'm actually the other way round: phlanged tips don't fit my ears comfortably at all so foam tips are better, though better again are Etymotic's gliders: http://www.google.co.uk/produc...





I do have a custom mould as well, but I generally use the gliders if HF2s when out and about as they can be pulled out my ears more quickly when I need to speak to people.

JK

August 18, 2010, 10:10 pm

@Hugo - It's interesting how you say that you 'couldn't find any difference between the hf2 and hf3 headsets in terms of sound quality'. Yet the hf2 scored 8/10 in sound quality, and the hf3 got 9/10...


Just saying.





Have a good one!

comments powered by Disqus