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

Reviews

41

The Etymotic ER-4S's have given me--by far--my finest listening experience ever.

After selling my modified SONY ES SACD player, French-made tube amps, Italian-made monitors and subwoofer--along with all the room treatment, I rebuilt a sound sytem with Sennheiser HD-600's and a very respectable headphone amp. I really enjoyed the intimacy, simplicity and economy of headphone listening over "conventional" hi-fi.

However, the distant sound of the HD-600's and the losing battle with outside noise contributed to my selling off the headphone system.

A few months later, the listening bug bit again. This time I bought an entry-level (PIMETA) headphone amp and discovered the ER-4S's. The accuracy, neutrality, clarity, immediacy and detail of these earphones grabbed my attention at once. For a lot less than I paid for my previous headphone set-up, this one was much more enjoyable and engaging. The ER-4S's were THE reason for this, too.

Having since upgraded my source component (DVD/CD), headphone amp, cables, AC conditioners and other audio accessories, the ER-4S's have more than held their own, rising to the occasion of finer and finer audio equipment, and giving even more of what they're already so good at: deep, articulate bass; clean, extended treble; and smooth, engaging midrange like I've never heard before. I SO MUCH appreciate the honesty of these phones. In comparison, the HD-600's sound muddy and detached, and feel bulky and uncomfortable. Even my former 15K conventional rig could never get me where the 4S's have taken me--and then some.

You can get these at The Earplug Store for $205/shipped. A stone cold bargain. I will not be getting rid of my Ety ER-4S's for a good, long while--ever.

If you want to reach the zenith of affordable audiophilia quickly, get a pair of Etymotic Logic ER-4S's. Properly seated in your ear canals, nothing else for the money even comes close to the neutral, rich and satisfying sound the Etys reproduce.



Posted by Patrick on July 8, 2004 at 10:02 AM (PDT)

42

Just ordered the ER6, cant wait to listen to them... and they should sound f***ing amazing, cause living in holland i had to import them: this means 147 plus 47 shippingcosts, plus 100 customs... While I am absolutely gonna enjoy these expensive motherf***ers, u all keep on listening to your er4's...aargh.
Oh, whatever, music is the love of my life, so they can't be too expensive right?

Posted by groove in amsterdam holland on July 8, 2004 at 11:41 PM (PDT)

43

Great thread! I used this as one of my main references before deciding to commit the $$$ to buy the ER-4p.

WOW!

These phones really turn the iPod experience into something transcendental. In my other research, most of the complaints were in three areas:

1. Some people were not happy with the bass response. These phones have a lower, clearer bass range than any of the other phones I've heard. I honestly think that they just had problems with insertion or not able to get a proper fit. (by the way they do feel pretty wierd the first time you put them in - and I have owned other in-the-ear phones previously (sony ex71 ? I think) )

Still most will agree in this age of extended maxi mega boosted bass, the bass does need a little pumping up which can be easily done on the EQ presets. I listen to a wide range of music styles, and there is enough bass for me. And it is some silky slinky stuff. I've never heard the low end this clearly ever.

2. The 'real audiophiles' said the iPod lacked sound quality sufficient for these phones. I want to say definitively for the record that the iPod er-4p combo rocks and you do not have to be an audiophile to notice. Of course, you'll not have the same sound as plugged directly into a Nakamichi CD player, though if you have ripped your MP3's at 192VBR or 256VBR, you'll be loving it and hearing detail you've never heard before. Since I got the etys, I am not listening much to the stuff ripped at 160 and below - it still sounds fine, though you don't get the full environmental aural explosion.

3. The microphonics of the headphone cables is a big problem for many reviwers, and I was most apprehensive about this before buying the etys. Yes, it's there, and you get a minor thump, though it's not nearly as overpowering as you'd be lead to believe. Strategically place the provided clip, and you can elminate most of this, even while jogging.

If you've got the extra cash & the iPod, you can't go wrong here!

Note: I purchased the phones and had them shipped to Beijing for just US$203.99 and they arrived halfway around the world in just three days! I purchased them through idealsound on eBay, whom I recommend. (and to you skeptics, I have no relationship with idealsound other than that of a satisfied customer & the price is right!)

Posted by baaj on July 18, 2004 at 11:40 PM (PDT)

44

AN AFTERTHOUGHT

Overall, a top quality A rated product. If they could just make them look as slick as they sound, they'd get an A+.

In

Posted by baaj on July 19, 2004 at 12:00 AM (PDT)

45

Bought the ER-6- tinny and not happy with them. Exchanged for the ER-4 and OH MY GOD they are 1. worth EVERY penny and 2. I couldn't live without them 3. you do hear music completely differently. Save your money and get the ER4. Life is wayyy too short to listen to anything less than absolute perfection.

Posted by Julie on August 1, 2004 at 5:36 AM (PDT)

46

in relation to these earphones, all i can say is that everything is true! I have tried the model reviewed here, but settled on the (lesser in price but not in quality) ER-6 Isolator model.

However, due to the fact that my girlfriend's father is an audiologist, i was able to get them for free, as well as have molds taken of my inner ear, which were then made into custom buds that attached right onto the earphones (after removing the buds already there).

I have never heard music so clearly. Also, since the earphones are molded directly to the shape of my inner ear, I have never felt as confortable wearing earphones before.

All in all, a must have for any serious ipod user.

Posted by ER6 lover on August 10, 2004 at 7:03 AM (PDT)

47

I love putting these on underneath my earmuffs when I go to the shooting range. Sounds in an indoor range can really penetrate even good earmuffs, but with these on undernearh, I can both enjoy my ipod as well as not wince in pain at the boom from my .45.

Posted by GoodFellas on August 24, 2004 at 9:19 PM (PDT)

48

I first heard about these earphones in the Mac newsletter, TidBITS. Also read your review. Never could deal with earbuds as they always fall out of my ears, quite apart from the rather flimsy music quality. And I do love music. Well, I got the ER-4s - had them shipped to France.

Rats.

Now I'm going to have to re-rip all my iTunes music at a higher bitrate to take advantage of these little wonders. Lucky I just bought a 40Gb 4th gen iPod...

Posted by Nina Contini Melis on August 27, 2004 at 2:48 PM (PDT)

49

As another data point, if you happen to have ears larger than average, you're probably NOT going to like these. I tried both the foam inserts and those weird 3-tiered plastic thingies, and neither would make a good enough seal. Result: much like listening to music through tin cans and string. For those of you endowed with generous ears, you might wish to consider the Aiwa HP-VX101's a much better choice. And you can spend the difference in price on 136 7-layer burritos. Or 23 extra-large pizzas. Or 19 albums at the iTMS.

Posted by Juan on September 2, 2004 at 4:42 AM (PDT)

50

Right I bought a pair of the 4p version, with 4s adapter cable. Used them for 2 weeks and sent them back.. The microponic noise was unbearable, they were uncomfortable (bearing in mind I wear earplugs at work as it involves working in loud industrial sites) and the lack of bas as shocking. I would also say that listening for more than 2o minutes became tiring. I was really disappointed as I was expecting great things from these little babies.

I decided to get Sennheiser HD600s after and have got to say that running them with a headphone amp, they sound amazing. You do not get the sound isolation, but if you are just using them for listening at home or in the office, I can not recommend them enough. If you need in the ear phones for sport, do not get the Er 4p/s as the microphonic noise was unvbearable. I have a previous incarnation of the sony EX71 and use these at the gym, not as good as the HD600s or as clear as the ER4p but great value and no microphoinc noises.

I recommend trying these out before buying and testing out the fit (which gets uncomfortable after a while), sound (which becomes tiring after a while), bass (which is seriously lacking) and tapping the chord to see whether you can put up with the microphonic noise. If so, go ahead and get them - if not, walk away. DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE - TRUST YOUR OWN EARS.

... and before anyone says, I did insert them correctly, so that can not be used as an excuse.

Posted by James Harmer on September 3, 2004 at 12:15 PM (PDT)

51

anyone try the new ER-6i according to etys website they we're designed for the iPod

Posted by Dan on September 4, 2004 at 1:21 AM (PDT)

52

I've debated about gettting these earphones for far too long. I finally took the plunge last week. Overall, I am pleased with them. However, what has not been acknowledged within any forum I've seen is the enormous amount of massaging necessary to get these earphones to sound ideal. And even after getting the EQ settings correct on iTunes, there's no way to export them to the iPod. Major bummer. I never realized this would be an issue b/c I've always used headphones that sounded nicely balanced across the board w/o any EQ manipulation (Grado SR-60).

One other thing: has no one noticed on these earphones how much the bass gets clipped when using any bass-enhanced EQ setting on the iPod? Is it just me?

BTW, I purchased the ER-4P model. And I own a 3G iPod.

Posted by berzerkeleyan on September 16, 2004 at 6:32 AM (PDT)

53

After much hand-wringing, I finally bought a pair of these earphones. Overall, I am very pleased with the sound. However, in no forum has anyone posted the need for heavy duty massaging to get these to sound perfect.

I've never felt the need to use an equalizer. But that's what I have to do with these. And b/c I never used the equalizer with the iPod, I didn't know that you can't export custom EQ settings. Jeepers!

Also, when I use any of the EQ presets with any amount of bass boost on the iPod, I can hear the bass getting clipped. I can get around this on the computer by turning down the preamp on the EQ, but not on the iPod. Has no one else noticed this, or is it just me?

I'm not some bass-hungry audiofiend, BTW. I like my music very well-balanced across the sound spectrum. Given what the literature says about these earphones, you'd think that's what you'd get. But it seems that out of the box, the mids were a little pronounced for my tastes.

I will definitely keep these earphones. They are excellent when used with a stereo or laptop, but only above average when used with an iPod. That being written, they still beat the pants off of any earbud out there.

Maybe I just need to give them more time. It's only been a week.

Any suggestions?

Posted by berzerkeleyan in Bay Area, CA on September 18, 2004 at 10:48 AM (PDT)

54

I ordered a pair of ER-6i-s from Headroom--they were $129 and are white to match the iPod. I had previously bought and returned the ER-4P because I found them uncomfortable. I would go with the custom ear inserts to avoid any pain in the ear canal.

Posted by Avi on October 4, 2004 at 1:00 AM (PDT)

55

Anybody know how the ER6i's compare to Shure E3?
Thanks, J

Posted by Jesse on October 20, 2004 at 6:24 PM (PDT)

56

Hey everyone. I havent been able to get a pair of these heaphones yet but all the reviews are phenominal. I found them at earplugstore.com for around $220 but I dont know what their return policy is. Im pretty sure if you get these you wont want to return them. hehe. Just saving up.

Posted by snowman7 on November 15, 2004 at 3:41 PM (PDT)

57

how do you re-rip all your music?

Posted by snowman7 on November 15, 2004 at 3:46 PM (PDT)

58

how do you re-rip all your music?

Posted by snowman7 on November 15, 2004 at 3:46 PM (PDT)

59

Bottom line.... the 4P is the best headphone I ever had! Expensive OK, also my Dior iPod Case is grin

Use it with a 4Gen U2 iPod. The only con is that only with sounds above 256 Kbps you hear a big gap to other headphones.

Posted by N. Ruff on January 13, 2005 at 2:35 PM (PDT)

60

Bottom line.... the 4P is the best headphone I ever had! Expensive OK, also my Dior iPod Case is grin

Use it with a 4Gen U2 iPod. The only con is that only with sounds above 256 Kbps you hear a big gap to other headphones.

Posted by N. Ruff on January 13, 2005 at 2:47 PM (PDT)

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