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Final iPhone Earphone Impressions


As noted earlier, I picked up one of the new Etymotic hf2 earphones a few weeks back and have been using it exclusively during my work commute since then. My initial review on the sound quality between the hf2 and the V-Moda Vibe Duo remains unchanged. Both of these newer earphones pretty much follow their respective company's line: Etymotic places more emphasis on clear and accurate mid and highs while V-Moda places more emphasis on pounding bass. Between Etymotic models, the hf2 and the ER-4p has very similar specifications and real life comparison draws pretty much the same conclusion. Although at the same volume level, the ER-4p sounds louder than the hf2.

As for non-sound quality issues, the Vibe Duo buds are smaller and overall easier to put in and take out. It feels like the Vibe Duo buds don't seal as well due to their smaller size so noise isolation is less but it does not affect sound quality in general. The ER-4p and hf2 buds, when compared next to each other don't seem to be that much different size-wise but for some reason, the ER-4p's stick out of the ear a lot more than the hf2. I started using the foam eartips with the hf2 and they definitely are a bit more comfortable overall than the default triple-flange rubber ones.

I like the microphone piece on the hf2 a LOT more than the one on the Vibe Duo. The hf2 mic looks much larger than the Vibe Duo mic because it's wider and flatter and just a bit longer but it's very light so you don't feel any extra drag on that side of the earphones. Plus the mic button on the hf2 is soooo much easier to use. Even though the Vibe Duo button is larger overall, because it's more flush with the mic housing, I often have to fiddle around with the mic a bit before I can figure out where the button is. With the hf2, I instantly know where the button is at first grasp. The mic itself is located higher up on the hf2 which makes it at my lower jaw/chin level which is great. The Vibe Duo mic hangs a bit lower so sometimes I feel I have to bring it up a bit in order to be heard.

The cables of all three earphones are all different too. The ER-4p has a thicker plastic cable up until the Y split where it turns into this odd thin twisted pair cable. The hf2 uses the same thin rubbery plastic cable throughout while the Vibe Duo uses a thin cloth-like cable. I don't really have a preference between the three.

So it appears that once again I'll be keeping the Etymotic earphones over the V-Moda. Don't misunderstand, the Vibe Duo is a great pair of earphones (especially considering the price) but I personally favor clearer sound overall than deep, slightly-overpowering bass. To each his own obviously.

As a brief aside, my coworker recently purchased a pair of Shure SE530's and I got to play around with them for a little while. I confirmed that I'm not a big fan of the "over the ears" type of wear and I thought that the bass wasn't significantly heavier, nor the highs and mids significantly (if at all) clearer. So I'm not entirely sure the Shure is worth the $200 price premium over the ER-4p.


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Comments (1)


Thank you for this -- it's one of the most useful posts I've found since I need to replace my beloved but now broken ER-6i pair, and I'm trying to decide whether to upgrade to HF2 or HF5 or 4p, or just stick with a new 6i pair.

I am most concerned with how much the earphones I have will protrude out of the ear (because I need to be able to sleep and travel with them in), and how the HF2 seems like its mic would not work with the cable wrapped behind the ear to help with the microphonics. But in all cases the non-6i models are more durable than 6i, so I am really confused at this point as to what I should do. But your pic and comments are really helpful...

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