Review: Etymotic ETY-COM Cell Phone Headset

Review: Etymotic ETY-COM Cell Phone Headset

Etymotic Research, manufacturer of the highly regarded Etymotic ear buds, has ventured naturally into the cell phone headset marketplace. This review covers their cell phone headset, the ETY-COM.

First of all, you need to select the right sized eartip for your ear and attach to the headset. The ETY-COM comes with 4 different sized rubber eartips and 1 foam one. Similar to the ear buds, the extra eartips come in a compact zippered black carrying case. The case doesn’t quite fit the boom microphone that well though; I thought I might break it by bending it too much, so I ended up just letting the boom stick out of the case.

ETY-COM Headset

I’ve always found that the rubber eartips take some getting used to. Even the smallest eartip seemed very tight in my ear canal and after long periods wearing, my ear would hurt. Etymotic recommends moistening the eartip before inserting into your ear (‘for best results’), but I don’t see this as being too practical when you’re in your car. I did find that putting on the headset for the first time required both hands, as I need to hold the earpiece in while adjusting the boom microphone to be near my mouth. As long as I didn’t bend the boom out of place later on, I could then replace the headset in my ear with only 1 hand. Unfortunately, over a relatively long time (10 minutes or so) and an average amount of talking, your jaw motion ends up working the ear piece out of your ear and you find yourself having to re-adjust its fit. This may be in part because I don’t shove the eartip in too deeply into my ear; of course I really didn’t want to do that.

Now for the acid test, sound quality. In one word, “great”. I already had a pretty good headset that did not tip off the person on the other end of the line as to its presence, and no one knew I was using the ETY-COM either, but the sound quality on my end with the ETY-COM was heads above that of my old headset. It was as good as using the cell phone itself without a headset. There was no background noise filtering through the eartip, the caller’s voice was clear and I spoke at a conversational volume without ever having to repeat myself. I did have to get used to not hearing my voice in the ear with the headset, due to the eartip having such a full sealing effect.

Overall, this is a top-notch cell phone headset, given that the #1 problem with cell phone headsets is typically the sound quality. The other quirks that I mentioned are just that – quirks, minor annoyances. The ETY-COM has a street price of around $45, which may end up costing more than your cell phone itself, but worth it if sound quality is important to you. By comparison, I’ve bought a couple other headsets in the past for under $20 that I have had no significant issues with, but I could easily tell the difference in the acoustic quality on those as compared to that of the ETY-COM.

What’s Groovy and What’s Sucky

What’s Groovy: The sound quality is top-notch. Neither you nor the person on the other end can tell that you’re on a headset.

What’s Sucky: The price is a bit steep and the eartips may not suit everyone.

Features Performance Quality Value
5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 2 Stars
In general, cell phone headsets don’t really have too many features, but perhaps the most important is the sound quality, so the ETY-COM rates a 5 here. It could use an on/off switch, but since that is cell phone model dependent, I’ll let it slide. See Quality. I’d be repeating myself if I said the sound quality was great. 😉 I think the value is where it really falls down. I have used and tested many other cheaper headsets that ‘do the job’.
3 Stars
The price and eartip fit are really the only reasons for giving the ETY-COM a 3.

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