review: Etymotic hf3 Earbuds
November 2, 2010 by Beatweek
Not everyone is in a position to spend as much on earbuds as they did on their iPhone or iPod in the first place. But there’s a balance between price tag and audio quality, and the pinpoint of that equilibrium in 2010 is Etymotic’s hf3 earbuds. At $179 they’re clearly not in everyone’s price range (which is why our Best of 2010 awards also include value priced earbud categories). But after having tested dozens of earbud products over the years whose price tags have ranged from less than twenty dollars to more than five hundred dollars, the hf3 is our winner for 2010.
Here’s why it rates out on top: in a word, clarity. The crispness of the hf3’s sound makes it easily worth paying extra in comparison to the various $119-$129 earbud products out there, the best of which sound fantastic in their own right. But the hf3 has a clarity to its audio which not only makes the music feel complete, it also makes you believe you’re wearing full-on headphones instead of tiny earbuds.
We’ve made the decision to focus our earbud coverage only on those earbuds which offer button control (preferably three, but at least one), as iPhone and iPod users routinely tell us that’s what they’re looking for. And in that department, the hf3 delivers over its one-button hf2 predecessor by offering full three-button controls (plus a mic for phone calls and voice control) in a manner that’s both tiny and easily accessible.
rating: five stars out of five • Etymotic.com