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The hf2 headset offers better sound quality—and a more custom fit—than the stock iPhone ’buds.
Apple’s signature white earbuds are nothing if not iconic. It’s just too bad that they’re all style and little substance. Aside from advertising to muggers on the bus that you’ve got a few hundred bucks’ worth of highly desirable Apple tech in your pocket, they’re not good for much. Thankfully, we’re able to survive our daily commute via public transit by the grace of well-crafted playlists and the Etymotic hf2 headset.
Like the rest of Etymotic’s line of earbuds, the hf2 is an in-ear design, but it features an in-line mic and remote, for use with your iPhone. Aside from a secure and customizable fit—via included tips in several sizes—the design blocks out most ambient noise. This is perfect for use on trains, airplanes, or other loud spots where you might want to make/receive calls or listen to music. As an added benefit, the passive noise-canceling tech lets you bypass the bulky, battery-eating characteristics of other ‘phones that accomplish the same thing via active noise-canceling circuitry.
Learning to properly insert the hf2s into your ears takes some practice, and removing them comfortably requires a slight amount of care, but your efforts are rewarded with incredible sound quality. Even on a noisy subway, we rarely had to turn our volume beyond the 50 percent mark to hear clear audio. The hf2s render sound quite accurately. You might even start hearing the flaws in low bit-rate MP3s that never bothered you before, and you won’t get the artificial bass-heavy boom offered by some other third-party earbuds. On the plus side, calls are clear, and you’ll probably notice elements in your music that you could never hear before.
In our tests, call quality was excellent, and callers couldn’t tell that we were using an external mic or hear any background noise. The wires on the hf2 earbuds are durable and hold up well to daily use. The single-button in-line remote offers the same functionality as the stock Apple iPhone headset, allowing you to pick up or decline incoming calls, and also pause playback and skip to the next track when using the iPod features. Additionally, the remote’s shape makes it easy to find the control button without looking, something we can’t say about some of this headset’s competitors. The hf2s also work perfectly as earbuds for an iPod or other music players, so you won’t need to carry an extra set of ’buds just for your iPhone.Although the in-ear ’buds take a little getting used to, Etymotic’s hf2 headset is perfect for frequent travelers or iPhone owners who often find themselves in noisy environments.