On the back of the release of the iPhone, headphones with a built-in microphone are becoming increasingly popular, so Etymotic enters the market with its effort, the £99 Etymotic hf2.

And although they work with any iPod or music player, the Etymotic hf2 premium phones are clearly aimed at iPhone users due to the inclusion of the mic. The headphones ship with a range of eartips which we found easy to remove and refit using the tools provided. They also come with a storage pouch that can easily hold the headphones and their 4ft-long cable.

The Etymotic hf2's microphone sits close to your mouth on the cable leading to your right ear so it can pick up your chat, it hosts a send/end button which lets you answer calls, and will also flick forward to the next song.

Don't be put off cramming the Etymotic hf2's unusual triple-step shape earpieces into your ears, as once you have selected the correct-sized tip you'll find they slip into your canal very comfortably. And because the buds are light (the whole set weighs just 37g) they're comfortable to wear for long periods.

Comfort and useabilty aside, it's all about sound quality. The acoustics of the 1.3 ounces (which stands for ‘high-fidelity, hands-free') match those offered by the company's award-winning ER-4Ps. The sound reproduction is outstanding, with a lovely balance and good noise cancelling.

With frequency response of a tidy 20Hz-16kHz, we weren't disappointed. You'll experience extremely accurate playback across mid, treble and low ranges and the overall sound mix is excellent, although it lacks a little bass punch.


A phenomenal set of earphones. While the Etymotic hf2 is at the top end of our pricing comfort zone, we believe they deliver the kind of sound reproduction you could pay a lot more for. We also found them to be among the most comfortable in-ear headphones we’ve tested.