Since I wrote my Etymotic earphone review way back in December of 2004, I’ve worn them nearly every working day on the subway, on the streets, on airplanes, trains and treadmills. I’m forever spoiled on sound isolating earphones and until we all get brain-implanted Bluetooth modules I’ll continue using them.
I only have two problems with this setup. 1) Fragility. Etymotic has been pretty excellent about fixing them for me so far, I hope this continues.
2) Not being able to hear outside sounds when you need to. I’m embarrassed to say how many times I’ve been riding the subway — particularly on weekends — and missed the “this train will run express to 125th street” type announcement. I could tell something was being announced, but you don’t know if it will be the “packages are subject to search” speech for the 9000th time or something important. (The MTA really needs a hearing impaired/earphone wearing friendly system to alert passengers)
But I just found a solution from Shure. Push to Hear. This module goes inline with your headphones and when you push the button it turns on a microphone and pipes in outside sounds. They aren’t specific to Shure earphones, so anyone can use it, Bose, Etymotic, Ultimate Ears, etc.