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Etymotics?!?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I wanna bump up to the Etymotics or the HD600's. I'm not sure which one i want though. I'm going to be using my SBLIVE soundcard and/or my minidisc. Maybe an amp as a future upgrade. Can someone give me their opinion on either etys? They look decieving as I would never expect ear buds to put out what people have said they put out. Just wondering and interested.
post #2 of 23
Well...I think if you can stand using canalphones, the Etys are clearly superior to the Senns, although the Sennheisers should be excellent headphones and I'm sure you'd be satisfied with them. I'm not sure either one of these headphones would be ideal for use out of a sound card or minidisc player, though. I suppose you could get an Ety 4p which would allow you to use it with portables effectively. Do keep in mind, though, that the Ety cable is only 5 feet long so you'll probably want to order an extension so that it will reach to your sound card jacks. As for portability...well, I think it's pretty obviously which one wins. Plus, the Etys are very durable - you can fold them up into the small pouch that's included and carry them around in your pocket without fear of damaging them. Just make sure you search your pockets before you do the laundry. Don Wilson (of Ety Research) can tell you all about that.
post #3 of 23
I think that the Etymotic ER-4S (I've never heard the ER-4P) sounds amazing, but quite clouded without an amp. With a decent amp (I used the Headroom Supreme, both new and old) these are very clear, perhaps slightly lean on the bass (although it's very tight), and they're very fast. The sound is definitely everything you'd expect from a full-sized high-end open-back headphone. I actually prefer the sound of the ER-4S to that of the HD 600 (although my MS Pro still handily beats the 4S in my book ). Do not underestimate the ER-4S.
post #4 of 23
Yes...I suppose I never mentioned that the Etys (4s, at least) sound incredible. I use them with an old-model cosmic and even with a cheapo PCDP, they sound excellent. I don't have much experience with any other headphones, but I still know that the Etys provide an experience quite different from just about anything else out there. The isolation really does make a difference, and once you get used to wearing them you really can't even feel them in your ears, which makes you feel like the sound is just emanating from your head. And oh, does it ever sound good.
post #5 of 23
Quote:
Do not underestimate the ER-4S.
For some reason that has a star wars vibe to it.

Going to Irvine eh? I recently gradumacated.

*warning*
What follows is long and pointless rambling and some tests in my quest to figure out why my DT931's sound close, but no cigar in comparison to Ety's. I mighta started a new thread for this crap, but thought now would be a good oppurtunity as any to blab about my findings.

The Ety's raises the standard of which I judge even full-sized headphones. I believe, that for the Senns to come close or beat it, you probably need Clou cables + a hefty expensive amp to back it up. DT931? Nah I don't think that could do it. The Ety's have ridiculous R/L driver matching. I'm beginning to think the reason I can't enjoy DT931 near the same level is not really because of its treble, but that its L/R matching in the upper treble is not close to Ety standard, and discrepency in this area leads to "aggressive" poorly imaged treble when one driver is producing unnaturally more than the other. The close coupling to the ear just exaggerates this problem. Ety's are even CLOSER coupled to the ear, yet they will be extremely well matched between drivers. My MS-1 may be worse in this regard. I think some of headrooms latest graphs which tout L/R channel response may confirm my suspicions on this issue with the DT931. I tested DT931 some more as far as balance...it isn't that bad, good for a full-sizer...from what I remembered of the AKG501 or SennHD600, but I can't accurately say since the testing circumstances are not the same or in the same given time frame with properly matched volumes. I just know they didn't match Ety's when it came to producing balanced non-peaky response up to even the higher frequencies.

I have played test tones before and on many phones I've owned high-freqs were always somewhat unbalanced or peaky, but not with the Ety's. Not many full-sized phones really performed well in this regard. I remember the Senns did quite a bit better than most however when I tested this (I never recorded my results however so I don't remember). And I speculate that maybe higher end Grado's do well in being well matched as well (as long as you can measure them accurately even with the supraaural pads). I used to think this had to do with coupling and ear canals...but from looking at some headroom graphs and hearing consistent imbalance with some full-sized phones, and a consistent balance with Ety's, I am thinking it probably is more driver matching related. In fact the frequency range for which I start to hear irregularities begins right where the graphs for the headphones break up. I can close my eyes, run through the freqs, stop when I hear inconsistency, and notice that I stopped at 5khz, which is around where the DT931 stops being smooth even on headroom graphs. I do this with my MS-1, I stop somewhere at even around 4khz. Sportapros are already showing noticable L/R mismatch at 3khz. From what I remember of Senns...they were actually pretty good, maybe only beginning to sound irregular to me at 8khz even but I think overall did good. The thing is, with my Ety's there really isn't a point for me that it sounds very irregular.

Before anyone rolls their eyes and think I use Ety's to just listen to test tones...I'm just trying to figure out why they sound better to me than some of my other phones with so much music. I only recently put the DT931 through these tests, and again the Ety's show true accuracy, while the DT931 although may sound accurate, is really far far more peaky in treble. Maybe in the future I'll see if a new DAC + Amp setup truly alleviates some musicality woes of the DT931.

To me, the Ety's present the best combination of portability, isolation, accuracy, and musicality, for the price. Yes they like good amps like any phones, but IMO, don't need it AS much as Senns (or Beyers for that matter). Ety4S can be made pretty happy for cheap. As long as they fit you well at least.
post #6 of 23
Quote:
TimD said...

The Ety's raises the standard of which I judge even full-sized headphones. I believe, that for the Senns to come close or beat it, you probably need Clou cables + a hefty expensive amp to back it up.
In my experience, this is a true statement. The Senns just don't sound all that great straight out of a soundcard or portable. I would recommend getting the Ety 4P. They get an amazing amount of good music from my portable, will get more than loud enough, and are small & portable. Plus, if you ever do get an amp & better source, you can get an Ety 4S conversion cable for the Etys and have great sound everywhere.
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
How's the Bass? I'm concerned how something that small can provide the bass and the experience that people says it can produce. How scary. I've had nothing but baaaaaad experiences w/ear bud type phones.
post #8 of 23
The Etys have no weaknesses to my ears, including bass. Now, they aren't going to be shaking your head w/ bass. But what you hear will be very tight and fast.
post #9 of 23
Don't forget convenience - if putting on headphones causes the phone to ring and friendly workmates to come along for a chat then you're going to be twice as pissed off if you have to remove/insert canalphones as opposed to the comfy, easy on-off Sennheisers. On the other hand HD600s are really too big and open to wear on a train.

If I had to do it again I'd still buy the HD600s for home, and if I couldn't afford Etymotic immediately for the portable would use some cheaper Sonys until I could.
post #10 of 23
In my experience, the bass is not the kind of bass you get with full sized headphones like the grados or sennheisers. It is definitely there, but you don't notice it as much because it does not overwhelm the rest of the frequency spectrum since you cannot feel it. Sometimes on other headphones I only notice the bass because I feel it, and not necessarily hear it very well. However, when you get used to the ety's bass, you might find that other headphones sound too boomy; they just have lots of it, but it is very unrefined. Etys have bass definition--as in, you can actually hear the tone and timbre of bass intruments--whereas many other headphones, such as my Grado SR-60 does not. I cannot say for sure how it compares to something like the HD600, because I only listened to it briefly at the store. However, compared to my etys (which I also had with me), I found it a little muddy.

edit:
or perhaps muddy isn't quite the word I'm looking for there. I think a more appropriate word would be flabby.
post #11 of 23
Quote:
I think if you can stand using canalphones, the Etys are clearly superior to the Senns
I think that's a misguided statement -- "clearly superior?"

I've owned both, and they are two of the best headphones you can buy. Which are best is clearly a matter of taste. The Etys are much more flat and accurate -- not bright, not warm. You can hear *everything* with them (bad or good) and well-recorded CDs sound magical. The HD-600 are also very detailed, with good bass response, but they sound a bit more warm/laid back. Some people think they sound more "musical" -- on some recordings, I definitely agree.

Bass response is also very different between the two: with the HD600, like most larger cans, you hear *and* feel it (not felt as much as with Grados, but definitely felt). With the Etys, you don't feel it at all -- bass is simply heard. It takes some people quite a while to get used to this, and some people never do.

CAVEAT: the above comments assume adequate amplification. Both the HD600 and the ER4S require very good amplification to sound their best. Neither will sound very good out of a portable or soundjack, and I wouldn't recommend either for those uses.

Comfort-wise, the Senns are generally considered very comfortable (with a few dissenters), while the Etys are love/hate. Some people get used to them and *love* the way they fit, others end up sending them back. You definitely should order from a place that has a return policy.


Nugen, if you're not going to be using a good amp, you'd be much better off with the ER4P, which are designed for such uses, and give a bit stronger bass response, which would seem to alleviate one of your concerns. If you later buy a good amp, you can get an adapter cable that makes the ER4P identical to the ER4S.
post #12 of 23
I agree that if you're not going to have a good amp, you'd do better to invest your money somewhere else besides either of these phones. However, as far as the bass goes, the Etys don't make any compromises. I don't know how they produce that much bass out of such tiny drivers either, but the bass is incredible. Find a good recording of some Organ works - maybe get the Bach Toccatta and Fugue in D Minor for something familiar. The Etys have profoundly deep bass and it is very much present. You don't really feel the impact, but to me it doesn't lessen the experience because I have never heard such deep and clean bass out of any other headphones (or speaker system, for that matter).

As somebody brought up, the major thing that annoys me about the Etys is inserting and removing them. You can't just pull one out quickly to listen to somebody say a short sentence and then pop it back in - if you do that more than a couple of times a day then you'll rip your ear to shreds. If you can get away for some private listening time when nobody will or should be bothering you, though, I don't think there are any other headphones that can provide what the Etys do. As far as finding out whether or not they're comfortable...I wish headroom offered a 90-day return policy on these. I know that it took me at least two months before I could comfortably insert them and consistently get a good seal. Now that I'm used to it, it's easy and painless (again, unless you do it too many times at once) but it took me quite awhile to get to that point.
post #13 of 23
The Etymotic ER4 in any version is the most amazing audio product ever offered.
For instance my brother has EVERYTHING available for the Headphone lover except the ER4. He has all the amps; Grado, (He is getting away from Headroom amps but has had almost all of them) MG Head, and some new big blue tube thing (Can't remember the name) and the Xcans as well as one of my Szekeres, and several others I can't readily think of. Almost every Grado, Koss Electrostatics, Sennheiser, and Sony as well as AKG phones including the K-1000 with monobloc tube amps. I want to hear that. I never have enough time when visiting "David Pumphrey's Audio Paradise". Always something new and state-of-the-art. Surround sound with four electrostatics and Big amps for each. Some 2000.00 surround splitter. At least 20 CD and DVD players and transports. One separate setup for each headphone amp too. Just roll the chair around and try everything available.
That room must have at least 400 power Led's on all the time.
I would not trade the Etymotic ER4 experience for all of these expensive pieces if I could not replace the Ety. If I had to give up the ER-4 none of these would ever do the job as well.
I simply cannot believe he has not tried the ER4. Maybe it's the illusion of not getting a lot of impressive looking hardware for the 300.00 price that keep him away.
The price of audio perfection. 300.00 for the ER4!
I will also say that the ER4-P and "S" sound just fine without an amp using almost any decent Portable CD, but an amp brings out the best.
Dan
post #14 of 23
I own the 4p (and Daniel Pumphrey's 4s conversion cable) and the senn 580 (which is close to the 600 in many ways), so I'll give my 2 cents.

Straight out of my minidisc, the senns are pretty lifeless, the 4s sounds good but pretty laid back, and the 4p sounds fantastic. If I add in an amp, then the 4s still sounds better to me than the senn 580. They are clearly different, and both sound good. I don't find the senns as engaging as either etys, and I think you'll be disappointed by the sound you'll get with the senn 600 without a good amp.

I highly recommend the 4p for straight out of the portable.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
some new big blue tube thing (Can't remember the name)
Sounds like the MicroZOTL to me.

I can't recommend using something like the Etymotics straight out of a soundcard because of how revealing they are. They're better off out of your portable, but out of your soundcard, you're gonna hear a lotta electronics grunge, namely pops and clicks and hiss.
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