If you’re a regular reader of TrustedReviews you’re probably well aware of my annoyance at the lack of 3.5mm headphone jacks on modern mobile phones, especially when they purport to being audio devices as well as phones. The ety8s however, address this problem and circumvent it. Holding the power button on the right earphone for ten seconds, puts it into pairing mode, then you simply search for Bluetooth devices on your phone. I connected up to an HTC Touch and happily played back music that was stored on its micro-SD card.
Another feature in Etymotic’s cap is that you can control the source device with the earphones. On the right earphone you’ll find controls for Play/Pause, Volume up and down, and track skip forward and back. This means that your iPod or phone can remain in your pocket or bag, while you can still have total control over your music via the controls on the earphones. Strangely, on 4th generation iPods and iPod minis, you can only control volume via the earphones, while on nanos and 5th generation iPods you can also use the device itself. I had no problem controlling track selection and volume from both the earphones and the device with a mobile phone.
Etymotic Research quotes battery life of six to nine hours when using an iPod and seven to ten hours using any other Bluetooth source device. The deviation in battery times is dependant on which generation of iPod you’re using, or which Bluetooth device. I wouldn’t argue with these numbers, since I’ve listened to the ety8s pretty much all day while working without the battery running flat.
The Etymotic Research ety8s aren’t exactly cheap, but then I don’t think they’re particularly expensive either. With a retail price of £193, the ety8s will set you back roughly the same as a good set of Shure, Ultimate Ears or even Etymotic Research’s own traditional in-ear solutions. You’re not getting quite the same level of clarity as you would with, say, a pair of Etymotic ER.4 microPros or the beautifully balanced sound of the dual-driver Shure SE420s, but what you are getting is a complete lack of wires. The question is, how important is that to you?
Etymotic Research has produced the only set of wireless earphones that I would be willing to use. The sound quality is better than I ever imagined it would be, even with a name like Etymotic on the box, and the remote control of the player/phone is also very cool. Even the price is pretty reasonable, considering what you’re getting for that money.
The only downside with the ety8s is the design. The earphones feel quite heavy in your ears, and they do make you look extremely silly when you’re wearing them. If Etymotic could adapt the design, perhaps incorporating a neck strap, it would have, arguably, the perfect wireless audio solution.
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