A set of Etymotic HF5 in-ear-monitors have graced my computer bag for the past few years. They are positively my favorite noise reducing headphones. The reasons are very simple; they reliably achieve a good seal in the ear canal, delivering relief from noisy surrounds. Further, they sound amazing.
Etymotic headsets are based on a balanced armature design. Coming from an audiological background, this design is characterized by accurate reproduction. They’re notable for fast, crystalline mid- and high-frequency response.
I am told that some people may find the bass response lacking. Although, to my ears they sound awesome. The fact that they seal reliably ensures that the bass is fast and tight. There’s no sloppy boom-boom-boom here.
I’ve long been, and to this day remain a fan of the Etymotic Research line of earphones. In fact, I had three product generations from them. Most recently their HF5’s which remain my favorite noise reducing earphones. That said, in recent times I don’t find myself in need of noise reducing earphones as much as in the past. After 20 years of routine business travel, in 2013 I gave up my relationship with the airlines in favor of a continuous home life.
So when my current set of HF5’s started looking a little worn out it I occurred to me that I could try something new and different. That was about a year ago. While I was curious about some of the multi-driver Shure IEMs their >$300 price point put them out of reach.
When I was in school in the mid-1980’s I was studying music recording and broadcasting. I spent a lot of time in and around various recording studios around Toronto. The single most common headset that I saw at that time was the AKG K240 Studio monitors. These were the reference grade dynamic headphones used in many facilities at that time.
The K240s are genuinely, big-ole, cans. A circumaural headphone with a semi-open design they sound great, even today. They can be cleanly driven to excessive volumes if required. Fairly efficient, they can even be powered by a cell phone or iPod.
Despite the fact that I have a couple of very good wireless headsets I still find that a wired headset can be handy. This is true both in the office and on the road. While lately I’ve been traveling with a Plantronics Voyager Pro UC cordless headset I also keep an Etymotic ETY.COM wired headset in a my laptop bag.
I’ve mentioned the Etymotic ETY.COM wired headset previously. It remains my favorite wired headset for mobile use. It sounds great and has a boom that reaches around to the corner of my mouth, which is ideal for use in a noisy environment.
However, since I changed cell phones back in November 2009 I’ve not been able to use the ETY.COM with my cell phones. Whereas the Blackberry Pearl has a four conductor 2.5mm jack for the wired headset, the newer Blackberry Bold2 (9700) has a larger 3.5 mm headset jack. The ETY.COM doesn’t fit the 9700 without an adapter.
I’m pretty jazzed about the Etymotic Research cell phone headset that I’ve been using the past few months. Most people probably don’t get too excited about cell phone headsets, especially wired models. Let’s just say that I’m not “most people” and leave it at that. This thing rocks!
I have a long history of using noise canceling headsets for listening to music. This because for the last fifteen years my job has involved a lot of travel, and airplanes are noisy places. I started out using Sony MDR-NC10s, which were amongst the first noise canceling headphones offered. To frame this up in time, I used them with a mini-disc player long before the introduction of the iPod.
I’ve been thinking a lot about headsets and headphones lately. This comes to be for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I left my favorite headset for listening to music in a coworkers car, and I don’t think I’m getting them back. Secondly, my favorite cell phone headset is very aged, and near death. Finally, I’ve been needing to upgrade the headset hardware that I use for telephony to better address my increasing use of wideband telephony. That has both desk-bound and portable aspects to be considered.
So I decided that I’d try a bunch of headsets of various sorts and see what I found the most appealing. This got started last December my wife bought me a Plantronics .Audio 480 headset as a gift. I’ve been using it quite a bit and I’m just about done with a written review of my experience using that device.