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Kool Tools: Etymotic etyBLU Headset

Volume Number: 25
Issue Number: 06
Column Tag: Kool Tools

Kool Tools: Etymotic etyBLU Headset

by Dennis Sellers

The folks at Etymotic say their etyBLU ( was the first Bluetooth headset that features a connecting noise-canceling boom microphone. Described as a "dual mode" Bluetooth headset, it comes with a noise canceling boom microphone (the Blumaxx Quick-Connect Microphone, which enables callers to be heard clearly and understood) and an internal microphone. You can use the latter independently simply by unplugging the boom microphone. As for the BluMaxx, it gives you up to 25 decibels more noise cancellation compared to the internal microphone.

When it's connected correctly, the opening at the tip of the microphone is closest to the mouth and the opening at the middle of the microphone tip faces away from the mouth. You can connect or disconnect the Blumaxx without disconnecting a call.

At US$129, the etyBLU isn't inexpensive. Of course, you're paying for two microphones. Why two? According to Etymotic, the combination of an in-ear noise-isolating earphone and a boom mic provides better sound quality and clearer communication at both ends of a conversation. That said, the headset is designed for taking and making phone calls, not for playing your tunes.

The etyBLU weighs less than .5 ounces and has a range of around 30 feet. It boasts up to seven hours of talk time and up to 100 hours of standby time. It takes 2-3 hours to fully charge the headset; you can get an 80 percent charge after one hour.

Unlike Apple's iPhone Bluetooth Headset, which has a foam-covered earbud, the etyBLU uses an in-canal earpiece. It comes with two sets of small and regular-sized triple flanges, and one foam alternativeNote whose ear tip fits snugly in the ear. So snugly that some people find it uncomfortable. But it's great at blocking out noise.

In fact, it's so good at it that you should take the etyBLU off when you're not using it so you can hear the world around you. For that reason, be very careful when you're using it while driving (and many folks will use it for just that to allow hands-free conversation) as you won't be able to hear through one ear.

The earpiece in the etyBLU headset has a special filter that smoothes the frequency response and prevents earwax from entering the earphone. The filter is located at the end of the earphone and is visible when the ear-tip is removed. You should change the filter if loudness decreases or the sound quality declines. Filters aren't reusable, but the etyBLU comes with an extra earpiece filter and filter replacement tool.

There are two volume buttons located on the side of the etyBLU and one port on its bottom. The port is where you can plug in an included USB charging cable or the boom mic.

Etymotic also tosses in a metal ear-hook, which can be used for extra stability, and a foam windscreen.

The etyBLU has a slim black design with a silver multifunction button that calls to mind (probably intentionally) the Apple Bluetooth Headset. It measures 1.8 inches long by 0.5 inches wide by 0.5 inches thick. There's also an LED indicator light underneath the button.

The etyBLU offers features you'd expect in such a headset: the ability to answer, end, and reject calls, last number redial, voice command support, call waiting support, three-way calling support, and the ability to transfer a call to the handset and vice versa.

When you're ready to use the etyBLU headset, it's discoverable for five minutes after you power it on. To pair it with a device, such as an iPhone, you:

  • Turn the phone OFF and then back ON.
  • Turn on the mobile phone's Bluetooth function.
  • Press and hold the Multi-Function Button (MFB) for five seconds. The blue LED will flash rapidly when ready for pairing.The etyBLU stays in pairing mode for five minutes.
  • Activate the search for BT and/or audio devices on the phone When the etyBLU is found, the phone will display "etyBLU." Scroll to it and press OK to confirm pairing.
  • If a passkey/password is requested, enter 0000.

The etyBLU is compliant with Bluetooth Core Specification 2.1, Headset 1.1 and Handsfree 1.5 profiles. It comes with a two-year warranty.

Dennis Sellers is a long time journalist. He started in the newspaper business, but has been in the online journalism business for the past 15 years. He's the editor/publisher of Macsimum News (


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