Need the Perfect Earphones for that Next Flight?

Naomi Kokubo

Naomi Kokubo

by Naomi Kokubo, Cofounder of Founders Space

Founders are always travelling, and the worst part about travelling is flying.  I’ve been searching for the perfect earphones to take with me on trips.

I hate hearing the airplane rumble.  I can’t watch movies or listen to music or catch nap with that noise, unless I crank up the volume on my iPhone and that surely isn’t good for my eardrums.  Thus, I went searching for the ideal pair of travel earphones.

Here were my top criteria:

  • Must have great sound quality
  • Must have have excellent noise-isolation
  • Must be small enough to fit in my pocket
  • Must be affordable

I finally found an earphone that meets all of those.   It’s the hf3 by ETYMOTIC, which is not your typical earphone company. They were founded by Dr. Mead Killion, an audiologist and jazz musician.   Over the years, they’ve filed 100 patents on their inventions.   The result is a pretty amazing set of high fidelity noise-isolating earphones.

I tested these out, and they worked like a charm.  I’ll never go back to regular earphones when travelling. They really do block out the ambient noise, like the rumbling of the airplane engine or traffic on a street. They also have some nifty features, like ClearVoice, that makes all speech picked up by the microphone clearer and easier to hear.

They even let you download an app for your iPhone or Android that does all sorts of amazing stuff, including…

  • Maximizes awareness for any situation (commuting, outdoor sports, work/office communication)
  • db Meter – measures outside noise levels
  • Vibrate/Noise Alarm
  • VoiceOver UI
  • Mic Pad/Boost
  • AutoPause – pauses when outside noise exceeds a threshold you set
  • AutoSet – monitors the sounds around you and sets microphone threshold to make sure you hear anything above the background noise
  • Ducking – lowers music when mic is triggered

I could have gotten one of those big clunky cans that fit over your ears.  Some of them are amazing, but they’re so bulky I wouldn’t want to travel with them.  The nice thing about the hf series is that they’re tiny. The hf3 also comes with an assortment of noise-isolating eartips that fit a variety of ears. Let’s face it, not all ears are the same size. I had no problem finding a tip that worked for me.

Probably the best thing is that the company prides itself on making a quality product.  You can tell by everything from the packaging through to the design that all their earphones are produced with care and attention to detail.

He’s a more comprehensive list of features:

  • 85%+ response accuracy
  • 105 dB SPL sensitivity at 1 kHz at 0.1 mV
  • Accu•Driver™ high performance, precision matched, balanced armature driver
  • Frequency Response 20 Hz – 15 kHz
  • Transducers – High-performance balanced armature
  • Noise Isolation 35-42 dB
  • Impedance (@1 kHz) 16 Ohms
  • Sensitivity (@1 kHz) SPL at 0.1V 105 dB
  • Maximum Output (SPL) 120 dB
  • Cable 4 ft with 3.5 mm plug
  • User Replaceable ACCU•Filters™
  • CUSTOM•FIT Option
  • Kevlar-reinforced cable for durability
  • User-replaceable filters

Best of all, they come with a 2-year replacement warranty. So if you break them while travelling, you can get a new one. And the cost is very reasonable.  They are $125 on Amazon.   All in all, I highly recommend these for any founders who need to travel, which is most of us!

NOTE: We received free samples of their products for this review.

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