hf2 Custom•Fit review
Once a music fan tries a top-end set of headphones they can never look back. Canalphones are amazing, providing you can get past the squeamishness of shoving them in your earholes. They push right into your ear canal, blocking out external sound and letting you focus on your tunes.
Canalphones provide much better protection from hearing damage than regular earphones. Because the earphones fit in the ear, they provide much clearer audio at vastly lower volumes - even when used on the Tube or in heavy traffic.
It is this protection from hearing damage that motivates Advanced Communications Solutions (ACS), and it has teamed up with Etymotic to offer a customisation service for Etymotic’s classic hf2 headsets.
The hf2’s by themselves are a five-star product - we reviewed them in late 2008 and were very impressed by the sound quality. Like most canalphones, the hf2s come with a selection of different eartips that slot on the end of the speaker and fit inside your ear. Sounds icky? Well that’s the drawback.
The deal with the hf2 Custom•Fit is that you buy a regular pair of hf2s from the Apple Store. These come with a voucher for custom hand-crafted eartips made by Advanced Communications Solutions. You then pop along to a registered audiologist who will measure your ear.
Finding an audiologist in the UK is actually much easier than you think. Many Boots stores offer a service called Boots Hearingcare (its provided by a company called David Ormerod). You can find a hearing centre near you at www.hearingprotection.co.uk/impressions.
Sounds like a lot of hassle? It’s completely worth it. We found the fit of the custom moulds to be perfect. If you’ve tried regular fit tips before and found them uncomfortable, you’ll be amazed at the custom comfort. Although they don’t specifically improve the sound quality, the fact that you have a perfect fit ensures that extraneous noise is completely and perfectly blocked out.
Of course, custom moulds are available for other makes and ACS has ranges available for most makes of canalphone. But we’re pleased to see Etymotic effectively push this to the mass market. This is definitely a product that anybody with an interest in listening to music, and preserving their hearing, should invest in.
We honestly can’t think of much to criticise here. The hf2s were already a fantastic set of earphones, and the custom moulds make them even better. Not only do they make music sound great, they are incredibly comfortable, and enable you to reduce noise levels - so they’re better for your ears.