In-ear iPhone headsets

WARNING this was posted in 2009, there’s a newer review for iPhone headsets here: In-ear headset for the iPhone 3GS, round II

I’ve spent hours searching for in-ear iPhone headsets that suits my needs (for 3GS). I just might have reached the light at the end of the tunnel…

The initial priorities were good sound quality and noise cancelling.


I first looked into the V-MODA Vibe Duo and Vibe II models, but the reviews I found at Amazon and on made me take them off my list. What one reads very often: bass with these models is overly prominent, the weight may be a problem (metal instead of plastic), might break quickly due to low production quality. The have a stunningly cool design, though.

Etymotic hf2

Then I looked into the Etymotic hf2. All the reviews rate this headset as top notch. They come at a price that makes you swallow hard but apparently the outstanding sound quality makes it well worth it. However, what irritates me a bit is that the mic and music control device (also to start/end a call) dangles freely somewhere below your mouth on the side. I doesn’t look comfortable and since the control device is quite big it doesn’t “feel” natural. I would intuitively expect that one controls the device somewhere around your chest or belly.


At the same time I also had the Sennheiser MM50 and the Ultimate Ears 4vi as hot candidates on my list. The UEs are pretty cool because the mic and the music control device are placed separately from each other on the cable. The mic is next to your mouth and the other “box” is a lot further down. That’s very logical. Its benefits seem so obvious that I ask myself why other models are not like that.

The big outch

With the hf2 still being my top candiate I suddenly realized that neither of the models I had evaluated so far supported volume control, voice control and VoiceOver. While voice control and VoiceOver are no real requirements for me, volume control certainly is – it’s a must. Mind you, these features are only supported by the iPhone 3G S and the newer iPods: Nano 4th generation, touch 2nd gen, shuffle 3rd gen.

In-ear iPhone headsets, conclusion

So far, I only found two in-ear iPhone headsets that support the new features, the Apple buds at $80 and the Klipsch Image S4i at $100. Klipsch what? At least here in Switzerland this brand is a no-name, never heard of it. The reviews and ratings, however, praise them through the roof wherever you look. Close to 100% all the time. Impressive.

Instead of just buying them, I sent out an email to Sennheiser, Ultimate Ears and Etymotic asking about their plans to release a headset that supports volume control. Stay tuned.


Both Sennheiser and Etymotic replied telling me that they didn’t know about plans to release a headset with volume control.

Update II

I learned that a friend of mine actually knows Klipsch (yes. he lives in Switzerland, too ;-)). So, I guess it was foolish to claim that Klipsch was a no-name here. On the other hand, that friend is an audiophile and very much into Hi-Fi…

Update III

I posted a thorough follow-up review in 2o11: In-ear headset for the iPhone 3GS, round II

2 thoughts on “In-ear iPhone headsets

Leave a Reply