Etymotic Research MC2 Noise-Isolating In-ear Headset and Earphones
Cost: $99 @ Amazon
Etymotics is well known as the company with a CUSTOM-FIT program for personalized ear molds that provide a perfect fit. They also happen to sell earphones. Their newest release, the MC2 (a universal follow up to their MC3 iPhone version), claims to be the world’s most accurate noise-isolating headset + earphones under $100 for the cost‑conscious consumer.
As far as noise-cancelling, when the earpieces are properly in the ear, you are happily removed from the noise around you. It blocks out most of the sound and allows you to clearly hear your most recent playlist. I have tested these earphones while listening to my latest obsession, Adele, and I have been able to hear her croon to me perfectly clear, well below maximum volume on both my phone and my computer. Using these definitely prevents me from hurting my eardrums on the subway. They are a bit on the pricier side. A non-audiophile like me would normally think twice about spending that much for earphones. Additionally, there is a nifty Send/End Button that, depending on your device, may also mute a call. Always a pro to have an option like that attached to your earphones.
There is much left to be desired when it comes to the fit of these earpieces. Etymotics gives you an array of buds to try to your liking, but I have yet to find one that fits me best. I have not tried their custom fit program. There are two sizes of the 3-flange eartip, or what I refer to as the plunger type buds that seal in very tightly. Etymotics explains you must take out very gently and slowly to break the seal. There are people who may prefer these tips, but it’s something you must get used to. The Foam eartip you must rub between your fingers to compress the foam before inserting into your ear. These fit and block out all noise from the surrounding, but I wish they were shaped a little less boxy and a little more rounded on the edges to fit more comfortably in the ear. The Glider eartip Etymotics states must be pushed in simply to the ear canal. These are the least fitting buds, as they fall out almost immediately, every time.
In short, it’s worth a shot to try the earphones out, especially if you are inclined to try or have used Etymotics Custom-Fit Program. They are a bit on the pricier end, so if you are having trouble with the ear pieces, you may not benefit from the noise isolation. All in all, these are far superior than the typical iPod pain-inducing earphones.