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Yet Another Etymotic 4S Review (Small bass issue tho)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I just got my Etys from SageArts (shipping was only 2days, but then again they're in the same state), and although they have had NO break-in time, I thought I'd post a review. I'm comparing them against the Grado SR-80s, and I drove both from the headphone output of my Denon CD player (NOT the McIntosh headphone out, the Denon seems to have some crossfeed which is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY with Etys).

Something that's immedieately(sp?) noticeable is that they have PHENOMENAL detail. I know that Joelongwood has claimed that Grados make you feel like you're up on the stage with the performers, but they don't even come close to the Etys. When I listened to a Mozart CD I could hear every cough of the audience and the musicians drawing in their breath during pauses of the music. My 'gold standard' for detail testing, Sousa's Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (because it uses a Turkish Crescent, an arrangement of bells on a staff, which create a complex and extremely detailed crashing noise when shook), demonstrated quite vividly HOW detailed the Ety sound is.

The famed Etymotic noise isolation (a whopping 23db!) I found to be much better using the foam eartips; the rubber/soft plastic ones I had to shove deeply into my ear canals to get the same results, deeply enough that it was uncomfortable. On the other hand, I don't find the foam eartips to be nearly as uncomfortable or rough as other people have mentioned, once they're in I just feel the outward pressure that they need to apply to get a good seal.

This brings me to my only complaint; namely that the Etymotics have a lacking bass response. The Grados have a deep, rich bass, whereas the Etys have very little, if any. Because the reviews both on HeadWize and on the accompanying info-sheet claim a 'profound bass' and a 'phenomenal bass response', I'm wondering if I might be at fault. Are there any suggestions the numerous Ety owners might have to offer? (other than letting them burn-in)
post #2 of 20
Thread Starter 
OOPS! Wrong forum... Jude, would you mind moving it? I typed the review in the wrong browser window...
post #3 of 20

Congratulations on your purchase! The Etys are one of the finest headphones made. Let your ears get used to the bass. In my experience, at least with the SR-60 and SR-80, Grados tend to have an exaggerated lower midbass that makes them sound bass rich. Listening to truly deep bass with headphones takes some adjustment because you don't feel it with your body, and it's easy for you to ignore low frequencies when there's no vibration to be felt.

Another possibility is that the foam tips aren't giving you a good seal, relative to the rubber seals. Does the bass perception improve if you use the rubber seals?

post #4 of 20
I know that Joelongwood has claimed that Grados make you feel like you're up on the stage with the performers, but they don't even come close to the Etys.
That's one of the reasons I was so looking forward to hearing them at the NYC show recently. Unfortunately, I was afraid that I would have a problem shoving something into my ear canal........and i was right. As soon as I began to put them in, I cringed and stopped. Thus, I never did get to listen to them. Damn! I'm glad you like them, though, and based on what others have posted I'm confident it's an ear seal problem, which I'm sure can be rectified. Good luck.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
AndreYew: Actually, the rubber seals have LESS bass!

Joe, sorry to hear that. You seem to be born for Grados

I'm still trying to figure out how to get a better seal. Any more suggestions?
post #6 of 20
hi eric,

the ety's have a different type of bass than the grados do. i kinda went through a grado withdrawal for a couple months when i first switched to ety's from my 80s. i strongly believe that your brain has to adjust to the ety's more than other phones. now i find the ety bass to be much better than grado. it is deep, tight, clean, and more extended. give it some time
post #7 of 20
I definitely agree the detail from the Etys is astounding! The problem w/ the rubber tips and bass is from not getting a good seal. Much easier to do w/ the foamies. I haven't found the right way w/ the rubber tips yet. I actually got lucky the first time I tried and put them in right, but haven't duplicated my success since.
post #8 of 20
...and I drove both from the headphone output of my Denon CD player (NOT the McIntosh headphone out, the Denon seems to have some crossfeed which is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY with Etys).
There is no way that CD player's headphone jack has any crossfeed. Just thought i'd say that...

and as far as the bass thing is concerned, many people say that burn-in is necessary for the er4s's bass to open up. I'd give them some more time, and I'm sure you'll love them even more!
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Neruda, it has more crossfeed than my McIntosh. I don't know how or why, but it does. I've tested it. It is probably an unintentional, but it works and I'm not complaining.
post #10 of 20
It just takes some time to get used to getting a perfect seal. If you think they sound good from the start they only get better once you perfect insertion techniques. Personally I like the bass much better on the silicon seals. I can get such a good seal that sometimes I can simply insert the rubber seals...and when I pull them out I can manage to flip the smallest flange cause of suction. You basically want to get the best seal without having to push them in too deep.

Your Denon CDP probably seems like it has more crossfeed cause it has poorer stereo seperation. Something that probably is pleasant sounding for headphones, but makes for less definition in speakers.
post #11 of 20

I went through the same deal with regard to bass and my Etys. It takes a while to finding the right way to insert them for your type of ear. For me, the trick is to insert the tip, and twist back and forth a bit. Even after you have gotten a good seal, it is a different kind of listening with regard to bass response. With most conventional cans either open or closed, the deep bass is usually accompanied by some sort of physical feeling that you can feel on your outer ear or sides of your head. With the Etys, at least in my experience, there is no physical aspect to the sound of the bass, but the bass is defenitely there to hear and believe me, it goes deep too. It is tight and deep and very accurate in my opinion. There is no coloration whatsoever. Listening to bass response in this way really takes some getting used to, but once you do, its a wonderful sound. I have seen thos over and over again in dozens of posts. The first thing folks notice are the great highs, but "Where's the Bass?" If after a few weeks of listening, if you still can't hear much bass, then you might want to consider custom ear molds. I haven't taken that step yet as I have only had my Etys for a couple of weeks, but it is something I might consider down the road. I can't begin to imagine how they would sound with custom ear molds.
post #12 of 20
Yeah, ralfaro and others are absolutely correct.

With the etys the bass isn't as obtrusive as other phones. nothing is really out of place with these phones. When you listen to music on them, you listen to ALL of the music. nothing more, nothing less. i've found that i can sit back and enjoy the music without criticising the sound much more with these phones than with my (dearly departed) Grado SR-80s or Sennheiser HD-600s. i'm still getting used to the 600s sound.

Basically, the etys (along with my speaker system) bring me way more musical satisfaction than i really deserve. i feel guilty sometimes.

Oh yeah, try the lick, stick, twist & push method. it works for me. do it with music playing and at a certain point they'll just "pop" and the music will seep luxuriously into your brain. ah... what a feeling
post #13 of 20
Hmmm is it me or do Ety Lovers talk about their listening experience in ways that parallel something else entirely.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hey, you claim to have some yourself, you should know
post #15 of 20
Well Tim, I think your choice of which tips to use also says something...
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