Etymotic hf3 review

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by DustinT, Mar 15, 2011.

  1. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    So, I picked up a set and thought I might post up some thoughts here in case you are thinking about buying a pair.

    First impressions are quite good. The packaging lends itself to a quality air. When you first try out the headphones you'll notice the very subtle looks. Personally, I think its brilliant to have a $200 pair of headphones not draw too much attention. So, I approve. There's a carrying case, a few different tips to help you get the feel you are comfortable with.

    On to the sound, before you even turn them on you'll notice these block a lot of background noise when properly inserted. Etymotic claims roughly 40db of noise reduction and I believe it. If you aren't noticing this then you probably don't have them far enough into your ears or you have on tips that don't fit properly.

    How do they sound when you start playing music? Well, I've listened to a variety of music through them ranging from Jazz to Blue, Rock to Metal, Club to Pop, Country to Western so far and have gotten a good feel for their style of sound reproduction. Its very restrained and accurate as is fitting for in ear monitors. These are not Beats by Dre and you will not be impressed if you connect them to a low quality source or you play poorly stored music. Now, if you have a good source and good music you'll start to hear the music the way it was recorded. Meaning a well engineered track will reveal things you've never heard before and a poorly recorded track will sound like warm dog poop.

    Whether thats appealing to you or not really depends on the kind of music you want to hear so I'm not going to pass judgement on it other than to say that I like accurate monitors and these are just great.

    If you read online you'll hear a lot of reviews on these and other Etymotic's that complain about a lack of bass response so I think a few comments on that are needed. If you compare these to a pair of Bose, Beats, Sony's and the like you'll not be impressed with the bass since they are accurate. The Etymotic's will not over-emphasize the bass and drown out the mids and highs. You'll hear a nicely balanced bass, mids and treble. I've got a pounding house beat going as I type this and it just rocks albeit softly. Its also a very accurate bass. I've picked up a few things in well known songs that I've never hear. Now, I'm used to that in the vocals or instruments but I was a bit surprised to have that happen with the bass line.

    All in all I'm impressed and happy. They are a bit pricey at $198 including tax from my local Apple store but if they last they will be well worth it.

    If you have any questions or comment post below and I'll try to respond quickly.
  2. aricher macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2004
    Thank you for posting this review, I was just looking at buying these the other day since my old pair of Shures finally gave out. I was almost going to get them at the Apple Store while I was returning my iPad Smart Cover but saw them on Amazon for a little bit less, no I just have to wait for shipping.
  3. Leehro macrumors member

    Aug 11, 2007
    I have a pair of these now too, and highly recommend them. I had a pair of Shure e3c's that bit the dust, and used the $79 apple in-ears for a while after that, but these are by far the best.
  4. a1rflow macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2009
    I also have a pair. They're a perfect complement to my iPhone when used with the headset.

    About the bass response, I've found that getting a great, punchy, and tight kick sound depends mainly on the fitting of the earbuds. Achieving an air-tight seal is critical for this.

    All in all a great pair of earbuds!
  5. DustinT thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Just a follow up to my original review a few weeks later. I'm still quite pleased with these for the money. I think they are a great deal because I'm able to enjoy monitor quality audio on the go from a wide variety of devices for a fair price. That's a great deal.

    I use these regularly while working out and have no issues with sweat or them coming out. In fact, I find them to be a little quieter than what I'm used to when the cord is rubbed, something I can never seem to eliminate.

    One of the things I didn't really appreciate at first is how much noise attenuation these provide, even turned unplugged. So, I find that I tend to play at a lower volume with these than I would on a set of iem's that didn't have the noise reduction.

    The main complaint I have is that the accuracy of these will very quickly reveal if I've got a poor quality recording. Now, I don't find these to be unforgiving at all. Just very accurate.
  6. DustinT thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Still rocking and rolling with the hf-3's. I use them constantly and I have yet to have any real damage to them. a+
  7. Skengman macrumors member


    Nov 29, 2008
    I've got a set of these too and they're awesome.
    Used them every day since Christmas 2010 and no issues, they sound amazing.
    I agree about the recordings though, they have turned me off a few artists/bands because the quality of the recording is really obviously bad when heard through these bad boys.
  8. Nameci macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2010
    The Philippines...
    Today I got one of these for $79 on clearance sale from Best Buy. I was hunting for a sub $100 headphone and got my eyes locked on a Senn HD 428s when I pass on a pair of the Etys on clearance. Quickly grabbed it and paid.

    I put it on, and wow! It rocks. The sound is clear and very accurate. The bass reproduction are tight and not boomy.

    The only negative thing I find on this in-ears is that the tips are not comfortable and that to be effective it must be really inside your ear canal and almost in your brain. Lol.
  9. krsnet macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2007
    HF3 call recipient echo?

    Great review. Have you had issues when making a call where the recipient hears an echo of their voice?

    Only occurs with my HF3's. I've had them replaced (and phone replaced) with no change. Klipsch, Skullcandy, and apple in ear headphones d not seem to have the same problem.

    To make sure my description is clear - I call with my hf3's. Recipient complains of an echo. Unplug the hf3's and plug in any other headphones and there's no echo. The the hf3's back in and echo returns.
  10. DustinT thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    No, I've never had that issue.

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