Product review - Etymotic Research hf2 noise isolating headset
The Etymotic Research hf2 headphones combine excellent noise canceling features with a microphone and call control button. What you end up with is an absolutely fantastic pair of headphones that work on your iPhone or other compatible mobile phone.
I've been a huge Etymotic Research fan for years. The headphones made by Etymotic Research are passive noise canceling, which means they cancel out noise by isolating your ears from the noise instead of using electronics to cancel it out. The level of noise reduction with these headphones is astounding, provided you get a good solid fit.
Included in the box of the hf2's are of course the headphones themselves, as well as 2 different ear pieces; one set of foam fittings and one of smaller silicone rubber fittings. Also included is an ear filter replacement kit, since the headphone are "in-ear", they'll eventually pick up some of the wax left in your ear, so this filter kit allows you to clean things out a little. It sounds quite gross, but it's a lot better than just leaving stuff in the headphones. Etymotic Research also includes a nice carrying pouch with room for the headphones and all the accessories.
Getting the headphones to fit takes a little getting used to, in my case, I prefer the standard triple flanged earpieces. Once you insert the headphones, you need to wiggle them around a little to get a perfect fit. As soon as they are "installed" correctly, you'll instantly notice it, because almost all the ambient noise is gone. Another big benefit of blocking outside noise, is that you can keep the volume of your music down to a minimum.
The audio from the hf2's is outstanding. I'm not an audiophile, so I won't bore you with extensive descriptions of the highs and lows, but playback off an iPhone and Blackberry Curve was just great. Plenty of bass, and combined with the noise isolation means you get really rich sounding audio. I've tried the hf2's on a 2 hour flight, and at no point did they become too uncomfortable. I did have the urge to remove them every half hour or so for a minute to give my ears a bit of a break.
Call quality was also great, the built in microphone did its job just fine, and on my Blackberry I had no problem picking up and disconnecting phone calls using the call button housed in the microphone unit. People on the other end of my calls never complained, and the sound is most certainly better than most Bluetooth headsets.If you plan to use your mobile phone to listen to music on a plane, you will need to enable "flight mode" (unless of course you are on a flight with wireless Internet access).
Good quality audio comes at a price, and the Etymotic Research hf2's are no different; the MSRP is $179, but when you compare this with other brands of premium noise canceling headphones you'll actually see that they are quite affordable. I have tested other in-ear headsets in the past, but the Etymotic Research hf2's are miles ahead of anything I have ever listened to. You can purchase the hf2's directly from the Etymotic Research site.