First Science: Review of Etymotic ER-4P headphones | iLounge News


First Science: Review of Etymotic ER-4P headphones

“Ear-Bud Headphones (the type you put directly in your ears) are generally fairly useless. This seemed to be one of those universal truths that was right up there with food that tastes the best being the worst for you and computers always crashing 3 seconds before you were about to save a vital document.”

Editor’s note: You can also read our review of the Etymotic ER-4S.

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These headphones are the reason I rip all my cds at 320k AAC.  I love my ipod, but I’d sooner go back to my minidisc player than give up these babies.

The rule of thumb in stereo equipment is to budget at least 50% of your purchase for speakers. The same goes for portable music - except that there is no need to shop around.  The ER-4P’s are the only choice.

Posted by jordan in Irvine, CA on August 1, 2003 at 7:56 PM (CDT)


little review like this wont make me switch from my Sony D66SL’s. They probably sound much better :)

earbuds are nomore for me, they’re uncomofrtable.

Posted by Stasyna in Irvine, CA on August 2, 2003 at 10:20 AM (CDT)


The D66SL’s can’t hold a candle to the Etys. They’re in completely different leagues.

Posted by D in Irvine, CA on August 2, 2003 at 1:52 PM (CDT)


i’m sure these earbuds sound great but $300? I bought Sony earbuds for $50 dollars and they sound good enough. When I want superb quality I use Sennheiser HD570’s. They run about $150 and being that they are professional studio headphones they probably sound better.

Posted by southstar in Irvine, CA on August 2, 2003 at 10:25 PM (CDT)


and another thing, unless your using 320kbps mp3s even the ER-4Ps won’t sound that great

Posted by southstar in Irvine, CA on August 2, 2003 at 10:28 PM (CDT)


$15 Sony earbuds are pretty good if you want something better than the apple earbuds.  But spending $300 for earbuds is just retarded, unlesss you get those secret service types.

Posted by tetro in Irvine, CA on August 3, 2003 at 3:02 PM (CDT)


Guys, those ety’s are incredible. Don’t confuse them with earbuds. They are super high-end. Some people use them for their home listening because they are better than any speakers they could afford. Their bigger brother is even better, but the 4P is good for those of us who don’t want to lug around an amp.

Posted by Ramy in Irvine, CA on August 4, 2003 at 7:44 PM (CDT)


I was fairly happy with the original Apple buds except they did not block out much background noise. However i bought Sony X71 & Shure E2c and now Etys. I have found each one to give me too little bass and too strong treble. For example i get much more base out of my Grado 80s. I have tried moistening the buds as recommended. I wonder if it is just something about my ear canals which stop in-the-ear buds from working properly. On balance i get best sound (and no screeching treble) out of my Apple buds.

Posted by gumbo in Irvine, CA on August 5, 2003 at 3:12 AM (CDT)


It’s important to note that etymotic sells a little cable that will convert your 4P’s into 4S’s for around $60. That way you get the best of both worlds. 4S’s at home and 4P’s on the road with my Ipod.

Posted by Todd in Irvine, CA on August 5, 2003 at 7:03 PM (CDT)


I got this response from Etymotic:

“Please be advised that some of the earphones and/or earmuffs have larger diameter speakers than the ER-4.  Bigger speakers are capable of higher outputs at lower frequencies.  The ER-4 earphones, by design,  have a flatter frequency response.  That means without adding extra bass by using an equalizer or bass boost, the ER-4 may sound like it has less bass than other earphones.  The other thing that is very important is the issue of sealing the ER-4 in the ear.  It must seal in the canal like an earplug or the bass frequency response will be diminished.  With some earphones, you can get away with not having a good seal and your earphones will sound o.k.; e.g. Grado 80 and your iPod earphones. 

The ER-4P is capable of outputting more than 100 dB SPL at low frequencies, the other earphones are capable of greater low frequency output because the speakers are larger.  The ER-4P has a flatter low frequency response compared to the other earphones mentioned.  Doing a side-by-side comparison of all the earphones would result in the ER-4P sounding like it has less bass than the others.  Extra bass can be added by adjusting the equalization or adding bass boost.

Lastly, based on the shape of one’s ear, one may want to consider a musician’s custom earmold for comfort and seal to replace the “standard” foamies and white flanged eartips. “

Posted by gumbo in Irvine, CA on August 6, 2003 at 3:11 AM (CDT)


I am considering the Etymotic earbud speakers but my major use is listening while running.  Can anyone tell me if these speakers will stay in place while running?  Would it be practical to cover my ears with a cheap over-the-ear clip-on disc speaker that has been disabled to keep the ER-6’s in place?  Any comments and suggestions welcomed.

Posted by john porter in Irvine, CA on August 6, 2003 at 12:06 PM (CDT)


They are not recommended for running for 2 reasons. They blockout most of the background noise and the cord makes a big thumping noise if you are running.

Posted by gumbo in Irvine, CA on August 7, 2003 at 11:29 AM (CDT)


Currently, I use B&O’s A8 earbuds with my iPod, but since I travel every week on planes, I find that these earbuds do not block the ambient sound out well (also, the B&Os; hurt my ears after some time). I am considering buying either the Shure E1c or the Etymotic ER-4P. Any suggestions/comparisons?

Posted by Sunil in Irvine, CA on October 1, 2003 at 10:40 AM (CDT)

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