I've said it before and I'll say it again: there's a distinct lack of high quality earphones on the market with integrated mics. I mean Come On People! we're in the era of the music phone and have been for some time. Thankfully however audio guru Etymotic is joining Sennheiser's MM 50's on this noble cruise.
Pitched a little higher than the Senns, the 'hf2' couples high fidelity, noise isolating earphones and a mic filled with voice boosting tech. Of course the audiophiles will want a bit more than this so here it is (the rest of you can look away now):
*Frequency response: 20 Hz -16 kHz
*Noise isolation: 35- 42 dB (depending on eartip used)
*Transducer type: Balanced armature
*Sensitivity (1 kHz): 105 dB SPL for a 0.1 VRMS input
*Impedance: 16 Ohms (nominal)
*Maximum output: 120 dB SPL
*Maximum continuous input: 0.55 VRMS
*Microphone sensitivity: -40 dB V/Pa
So you're all back with us and if you have trouble with that list then let's just say it borrows technology from the much respected ER-4 range and promises much (and from my time with them, delivers). From an aesthetic point of the view, the mic itself is also much slimmer than ones fitted to the MM 50 and Shure MPA meaning it is more in keeping with the original Apple iPhone earphones (though without the ear shredding sound quality).
Interestingly too, while primarily targeted at iPhone users (the slim 3.5mm plug makes it compatible with both generations one and two), the hf2 can also work with other music phones though it is best to check out specific models first (notably in the case of the Nokia N Series I'm told).
Coming it at under £100, the hf2s aren't for the faint hearted, but if you love convenience as much as you cherish sound quality then you're looking at the best bet to date. Klipsch, Shure, Denon time to get your collective fingers out...
Update: Etymotic makes hf2 foam earplugs. Trust me, they lift things to another level and are something rather special indeed...