Etymotic ety8 Bluetooth Stereo Earphones

On March 19, 2009

One of the most exciting things about yesterday’s iPhone 3.0 announcement was the inclusion of stereo bluetooth on the iPhone and the existence of bluetooth on the iPod Touch 2G. I have longed for the option to use bluetooth headphones with the iPhone and Apple’s resistance to the feature has long perplexed me. Well, we can finally look forward to cutting the cord but still enjoying our music and I can look forward to using my ety8 stereo bluetooth headphones without the dongle.

I first got the ety8s when I was in the midst of reviewing Etymotic’s hF2 headsets and, while looking over the Etymotic catalogue, was struck by the rather odd-looking headset. I asked Gail Gudmundsen, Etymotic’s Director of Sales and Marketing about them. They looked heavy and uncomfortable. She wrote back-

The one thing people say repeatedly once they have tried the ety8s is how small and lightweight they are compared to what they were expecting.

A few days later a review pair arrived (Thanks Gail!) and I can honestly say that Gail was right on target. They are much smaller and lighter than expected and they sound awesome!

That was July. Fast forward more than a few months later and I continue to find them “rather odd-looking” but I use them all the time because… they sound AWESOME!!


They come nicely packaged. Inside the box are the earphones, a variety of eartips, a usb charging cable, a filter changing tool and filters and a nice leather case.

There is also a bluetooth dongle that an be purchased but… by summer WE WON’T NEED IT!

The earphones themselves are small and square. They are connected to one another by a thick cord and fit easily in a pocket for easy carrying. Despite appearances they weigh less than half an ounce each. This is an especially good thing since the earphones are supported by Etymotic’s familiar in-ear tip that fills the ear canal and isolates outside noise.

As usual, Etymotic includes a large selection of eartips, assuring that a comfortable fit.

The awkward, square shape of the earphones is the result of one ear being almost entirely composed of a battery that provides 7-10 hours of continuous music.

The other earpiece has simple, easy to use controls that include a small round power/play/pause button at the top corner, four buttons (two for volume and two for track forward and back) arranged in a circle, and a small power indicator.

I have used multiple bluetooth stereo headsets and this is by far the easiest set to control while wearing and therefore, out of sight. (A far cry from the buttonless controls of the new iPod Shuffle!)

Like the company’s other headphones and earpieces, this headset is of the "in the ear canal” style. That means that the proper fit is important not only for comfort and headset’s stability, but for the quality of the sound as well. When the headphone is seated properly the sound is magnificent and external noise is isolated. When the headphone isn’t seated properly, however, it loses much of the bass and sounds tinny.

Some people, such as my wife, find the in-ear style of the headphones uncomfortable. I should note that when I first tried Etymotic’s ER 6i headphones it took a bit of time for me to become comfortable with the unusual feel of the headphones. Now, however, I prefer them over pretty much everything else. Because the ear-tips are exceptionally effective at noise isolation, it easy to become totally oblivious to the outside world. That is reason enough to only use these earphones when stationary.

I should note that the earphones are just earphones and do not provide voice support for calling.

An iPod adapter is available for purchase but will not be needed for use with the iPhone and 2nd Gen Touch once version 3.0 comes out. In have been using the dongle and am pleased with how easily it pairs with the headphones. That said, i am looking forward to leaving them in the bottom of my drawer.

There is a longstanding joke in my family that when headphone implants become available I will be first in line. I’m not sure about that, but I do know that these headphones come as close to fulfilling that prediction as I have ever seen. They are terrific bluetooth earphones. No, scratch that- they are terrific earphones that also happen to offer bluetooth wireless connectivity. If you’re willing to spend the money on some of the best headphones available I highly recommend them. I was listening to them last night in bed, and forgot that I even had them on. Moreover, along the way, I enjoyed some of the best sounding music that I’ve ever heard.

Sound GREAT!
7-10 hours battery life
Light and Comfortable
Noise isolating

Funky looking
Cord connecting the to ear pieces can be annoying (but not as annoying as a cord connected to the iPod!)
In ear-style may be uncomfortable for some
Currently requires adapter (Apple’s fault not Etymotic’s)
On the expensive side

Available from Etymotic, ($249 with iPod adapter, $159 without) Amazon and other retailers.

More information and ordering HERE.



This is a slightly revised version of a review I first published on JustAnotherMobileMonday.