Etymotic Research ER-4S/ER-4P Earphones | iLounge

Reviews

1

This sounds like it was written by the earphone company itself. This is one big advertisment for their over-priced headsets!

Don't believe the hype, this person was paid by etymitic to do this "review"

Posted by Doubtful on August 1, 2003 at 8:46 AM (PDT)

2

I totally agree with this review.
I bought a pair of the earphones myself and was
blown away.

Posted by Me on August 1, 2003 at 9:09 AM (PDT)

3

The review may sound over the top, but it's not. I have a pair of earphones with the same drivers, and they're amazing.

My pair were made my Elacin, and were moulded to my own ears -- I visited a hearing aid specialist, who filled my ears with some foam to get the shape. But they were worth waiting for; they fit deep into my ears, and are more comfortable than any other earbuds I've tried. They cut out external sound to an astonishing degree, so that I can listen at a far lower volume than before and yet hear far more detail. And the sound of the Etymotic driver is great -- rich, clear, and deep enough to do without any 'bass boost'.

I've used them daily for a few years, and wouldn't be without them. They're expensive, but if you're serious about a) hearing your music clearly, and b) protecting your hearing, then they're well worth the money, and I'd strongly recommend them.

Elacin's customer service is also worth a mention -- one side went dead a few months out of the one-year guarantee, but Elacin repaired them for me free of charge, and even replaced the cord with a lighter, more convenient one and the inline jack with a right-angle one as I asked. Cool.

(Disclaimer: I've no connection with either company except as a very satisfied customer!)

Posted by Gidds in UK on August 1, 2003 at 9:51 AM (PDT)

4

I find that the SONY Nude EX71SL's are pretty amazing, they're earbuds as well and the freq response is something like 6-20,000Hz. They're definitely less expensive at $52 (including shipping from Japan) and it's hard to believe (for me) that the Etymotics are THAT much better. Anyway, I'd never spend $300+ on earphones even if I had it, that's nearly what I paid for the 'pod!

Posted by boogie_doggie on August 2, 2003 at 9:35 AM (PDT)

5

Maybe you miss the point; it's not just that the Etymotic drivers make great sound, it's the isolation that lets you hear that sound.

My previous earbuds sounded fine, but I simply couldn't hear much of them over the train noise &c; and although there was a lot of bass, I couldn't hear much of it unless I pressed them into my skull. The shape of the Etymotic phones, and especially of the Elacin mouldings, means that all of that sound gets through all the time, and there's practically no outside sound to interfere with it. It's like carrying around your own personal insulated listening room.

BTW, if you really can't afford something like this, SlicSound make some moulded covers that fit over your existing earbuds and try to provide similar insulation. I'd be surprised if they've anywhere near the isolation or comfort of the others, but at $7 they may be well worth a try.

Posted by Gidds in UK on August 2, 2003 at 2:35 PM (PDT)

6

You guys are serious? I mean, I COULD get these earphones for 200+ on ebay, but that's still a lot of money. I wish they actually sold these phones at a store so I could have a risk-free test-drive, so to speak.

Posted by lilteyang on August 5, 2003 at 12:42 AM (PDT)

7

liteyang,

HeadRoom at [url=http://www.headphone.com]http://www.headphone.com[/url] has them for $269 and they have a 30-day return policy.

Etys are an acquired taste (I have the ER-4Ps). They're in-the-ear canal phones which took me a while to get used to. People typically complain about the lack of bass - it's not the usual, visceral reference and also took some getting used to.

Now, after some burning in, I wouldn't part with them (I've also got a pair of Sony MDR-7506s that I haven't used since I got the Etys). The sound is great, the size makes them portable (some people carry them around in Altoids tins) and they are the iPod's equal in design sensibility - a great match.

Posted by BobP on August 8, 2003 at 9:11 AM (PDT)

8

Holy Smokes I must eat my hat!

I wrote the comment above, to beware of this review. I WAS WRONG.

(A guy I know works for an advertising firm that specializes in putting great reviews of products on sites like these.... I thought this review seemed to slick and over the top.)

AGAIN-I was WRONG! After many hours of listening and researching good earbuds- I disovered the Etyomic ER-6 (the ER-4's cheaper brother) and I was blown away on how good they sound. They smoke the sony ex-71!

SO now I am just saving up for the 330 dollars for the ER-4. (BTW if you can't afford the ER-4s, try the ER-6s, they're great!)

Rock on loungers!

Posted by Previously Doubtful on August 9, 2003 at 11:50 AM (PDT)

9

The hosts on The Screensavers on TechTV both swear by these as well. They had nothing but good things to say about them. I may have to get some for the iPod I just won from Real Software, once it arrives grin

Posted by Mark Moorcroft on August 22, 2003 at 10:35 AM (PDT)

10

As a musiclover, I have a number of headphones for music at work, Grado SR-60, Sennheiser HD-600, etc. I use them with my CD portable and an Airhead amp. Never thought of owning an mp3 player before. Then one day, I need tunes to ease out my jogging session.

Bought my little iRiver MP3 player, then went on the search for a more portable than my HD-600. Of course, my new pair couldn't be less than an audiophile quality phones. A lot of R&D, lots of phones.

Then I found Etymotic ER-4s. ~$220 on Ebay. Amazing that these tiny ear-canal phones step up closely to my HD-600. Even better considering using them in the noisy environment. Yes, good enough to make me want to try an iPod with them. I bought a 30GB the day before they released the 40GB iPod. So I exchanged for a 40GB.

The ER-4s in their provided carrying pouch make one compact package. Combined with the iPod, the experience is almost like having your big rig audiophile system on the go, and that says a lot. Bonus is that my noisy 20 hour flight SF-Tokyo (transit in Taipei) unexpectedly turned into some 14 hour quality listening time.

Cons:
- Microphonic effect when the cords rub your shirt. Work around, I attached two custom made clips just for jogging use.
- For some people, it might be difficult to get used to.
- With ~23db ambient noise shielding, you'll hear yourself breathing and that's not a good time for snacks smile

Pros:
- A great gift for your ears. On the flight, almost the same volume level as at home.
- Flat response throughout. Real unboosted defined bass. Impressive soundstage for an earphone. Well layering of instruments.
- An iPod is a great match DAP for the ER-4s, vice versa. IMHO, both are the finest in their field.

Vinylnotes@Tokyo_business_trip

Posted by Vinylnotes on September 18, 2003 at 7:50 AM (PDT)

11

**********

Posted by John Lardee on October 20, 2003 at 4:55 AM (PDT)

12

$300 for headphones seems a little excessive when the output quality on the iPod is a little below standard. Are there any hardware hacks to improve the iPod's headphone jack quality?

http://gear.ign.com/articles/452/452815p1.html?fromint=1

"Compared to the iPod or iRiver the Zen NX is a beast. It is a good deal larger and heavier, which makes it harder to tote around. Creative includes a carrying case, but that just makes it bigger.

Two things make the Zen NX a great player. Firstly, the sound quality is second to none. It is loud and clear as a bell. Invest in a decent set of headphones and you'll be happy as a clam. Secondly, it offers stunning value. The larger capacity model is the same price as the entry iPod and much cheaper than the iRiver.

Creative also packed the Zen with features. It is not as robust as the iRiver, but it is equipped with plenty of sound and playback options.

I recommend the Zen to anyone looking for a good deal. I also recommend it to those of you who place the highest priority on sound quality. It's not as slick as the iPod or as well-endowed as the iRiver, but I think the sound and cost make it a very practical solution."

Posted by zowie on October 20, 2003 at 6:01 AM (PDT)

13

To Previously Doubtful: I haven't visited this review in quite a while and when I read your first comment, I was prepared to dash off an indignant reply. Thanks for your later correction.

Incidentally, I was NOT paid in any way for my review. I don't think of my writing as slick, but I tried to make it interesting and I was, still am, very enthusiastic about my Etys. Over the top? Perhaps, but I meant every word of it.

Remember the quote in Stereo Review I included in my review?: "(the ER-4S earphones are the) Closest thing yet to a direct sonic connection to your brain." Those quys in Stereo Review don't dish out cheap praise and neither did I in my review.

Concerning the Ety's bass reproduction, I find it astonishing. By this I mean one can distinctly hear the varied qualities of bass sound in music. I have some expensive Klipsch speakers, along with a sub woofer in my living room, which do not transmit bass textures as well as my Etys. True, you don't feel the bass in your chest with Etys. This can only be accomplished with big speakers pushing a lot of air, but, when all is said and done, I prefer the sound qualities of the Etys to speakers.

I have noticed, however, that the Ety's bass reproduction is dependent on their placement in the ear canal, but such placement is by no means "touchy" and is easily accomplished.

To anyone considering an Ety purchase to use with their iPod, I would recommend the lower impedence "P" model.

Posted by Edward McShane on December 4, 2003 at 11:52 PM (PDT)

14

ive read the comments to the review. there are good responses and bad responses. so far, the only bad responses are from those who never bought the earphones to begin with. how can you comment negatively, or even positively about a product unless you buy them?

i bought mine three days ago. i also have a pair of sennheiser reference headphones as well as a pair of bose noise canceling phones i use for traveling. in all here are the results. the sennheiser phones cost me about $300 and the bose cost me about $250. you get what you pay for. see where i am going here?

the earphones by etymotic are handmade. they are basically non-powered hearing aids. they were originally made for audio engineers and musicians for live recording. when they first started selling them, they were about $500 a pair and were not as good as the ones sold today. when you put these things on for the first time, they feel awkward and quite a bit uncomfortable. thats because you didnt put them in right. after a few tries you find that they fit snug and like a jewel. if you dont put them in correctly you will not get base response if they are not put in correctly. thats why you read the instructions.

let me make this short and sweet.

after you correctly put them in your ear, you will find that the sound is the most incredible thing on the face of the earth. they are a miracle worker for those who cannot afford the $15,000 reference model headphones. i went to a highend audio store a couple years back and try'd out the most expensive "tube" amp headphones and i will tell you that the earbuds do a better job bringing the sound to your brain.

if you are going to leave a comment here (bad or good) concerning the quality of the earphones, at least have the gaul to try them first.

$300 is not that much money when you think about how much it cost to buy the 40 or 60 GB ipod. they last forever and you will not find a better deal . . . ever.

i bought them and i love them. for all the fakes out there who are tearing down the quality for money value, get a life and think about ding something for yourself like upgrading from that sony cassette player to an mp3 unit and then buy some real headphones.

Posted by brian on December 23, 2003 at 4:39 PM (PDT)

15

They have a 60 GB iPod now???


anyways, is there any advantage to the s over the p model. i've been leaning towards the p to save battery power.

how about a comparison between these and the ultimate ears

comfort for extended listening time? like 10 hours or something.

also, what steps are involved in getting these custom fitted?

Posted by Pete on December 23, 2003 at 8:16 PM (PDT)

16

Go read their FAQ at http://www.etymotic.com/info_exchange/FAQ_ER4.html

FAQ 2 answers your question about the difference of the S and the P models.

The P model i designed for less powered players (MP3, CD, etc).

As for comfort for extended listening and custom ear molds, read FAQ 7 and 8.

Posted by Smudge on December 30, 2003 at 1:40 AM (PDT)

17

Just my two cents: I got a pair of Ety ER-6 ear buds, so that I could listen to music on my frequent business trips. The things are incredible, some of the best sound I've ever heard (and no, I'm not an expert and haven't tried too much of the competition). I can listen to my iPod sitting next to the engine of a turboprop, and the music comes through clear and beautiful, and very little engine noise leaks through. The only downside, is I had to re-rip a ton of MP3s, because the lower bitrates really show how compressed they are when heard through good headphones.

Given how good the ER-6 is (at $150, give or take), I find it hard to push for the $300 version, unless you're a serious audiophile. Ety frequently has discounts available on the ER-6 as well, so you can get 'em for a little over a C-note. They're a bargain at that price.

Posted by Nik Friedman on January 20, 2004 at 2:10 PM (PDT)

18

Nik, I know exactly what you meant. Amazing, isn't it. Boeing 747 sounds kinda like somebody vacumming next door, with the door closed smile

And yes, I ripped most of my MP3 at 320Kbps. ER-4s with your CD player is even more impressive. But it's the beauty of iPod letting you take ~300 CDs with you on the go, almost at its best through ER-4s.

Portable music never sounds better than that.

Posted by Vinylnotes on January 21, 2004 at 9:38 AM (PDT)

19

Bought a pair of ER6P ....all I can say is once you have created a seal they are great....a bit expensive but worth every penny ...

Posted by Barry Fox on February 10, 2004 at 1:00 PM (PDT)

20

I've been surfing the reviews here for a while now and often drooled over the many varieties of acoustic paradise eludicated by the posts here, till i finally found the ER6 at a shop in Singapore. never expected to! and a day later i bought it; would have wanted the ER4 but it's out of the mullah quotient.

still struggling to get the seal right, but once i found the right fit, i'm very reluctant to take it out.

listened to a variety of sounds on it and i was just blown away. granted the soundstage is not very much to speak of (i always depended on cumbersome closed in headphones for better sound previously), and the EQ is unadulterated, unlike my seinheissers (consumeristically sweetened bass at the expense of everything else) and AKGs (pleasant warm sound but otherwise relatively subdued). but there is a viseral beauty in the brutal honesty of the sound. effortless LOW bassy notes, a little over-bright mids, but the sheer truth of the sound!

the Chanticleer countertenor's solo in Shenandoah is heartwrenching in a velvety yet gritty manner. Faye Wong's ethereal voice took on a vulnerability and clarity never before discerned. Run Lola Run soundtracks painted a surreal landscape of aural reality.

i can only imagine what ER4 can do, but until then ER6 has already brought me to a level of bliss i never knew possible with two peanut sized ear buds.

Posted by linwei on February 23, 2004 at 5:16 PM (PDT)

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