The Etymotic mc3 is the only in-ear headphone set in our test with an in-line control and mic for iPod/iPhones. If that’s not a feature you need, the company’s mc5 is effectively the same thing minus the mic and controls (and minus $20). There are fewer choices in tips: two flanges, a foam cylinder, and a rubbery, mushroom-looking, half-sphere foam thingy. Whichever one you pick, the mc3’s are very long and protrude from your ears a bit, making the fit awkward and often compromising sound isolation. Unlike with most of the other models here, though, you can get a custom-made sleeve (similar to how the JH Audio model works) for an extra $100. The mc3 has an 8mm neodymium driver, which Etymotic rates at 20 Hz to 15 kHz, with a sensitivity of 100 dB.
Sonically, the mc3 has a lot in common with the similarly priced HiFiMan RE-Zero. Its sound was fairly balanced, though treble was a little more peaky, with a bit more sibilance and less overall ambience than some of the other ’phones tested. Still, the track “Sunshine” from Matt Costa’s Songs We Sing sounded great, with the strum of the guitars and the harmonious vocals matching well with the mc3’s sonic lightness.
Etymotic’s mc3 offers decent sound for the money, but the ability to add a custom-fit sleeve is what makes it a fantastic deal.
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