As I write this, I am listening to my new Etymotic ER-4P's. I am using my new iPod Touch 64 GB as the source. (3rd Generation) There is surely a lot happening in my head, and I am intently trying to remain unbiased and very objective about the sound. I am listening to McCoy Tyner's "Real McCoy" album. The track is Passion Dance. I ripped from CD to FLAC, then converted to ALAC, so we are talking lossless here. EQ is totally flat.
First off, the Ety's were very easy for me to insert and get a get a good seal. I guess my very first impression is that I am somewhat underwhelmed, most likely because this moment has been long anticipated (new DAP and new IEM's). But that is not fault of any of my new gear, just that I built it up to something that just couldn't be.
As far as what I am hearing, the separation of the instruments is excellent. I never realized how much "distance" was in this recording. I can perceive distance between the mic's and individual instruments. Spatially, Joe Henderson's sax feels like it is front left, Tyner's piano is front center, Ron Carter's bass sounds like rear left, and Elvin Jone's drum kit sounds rear right. None of the instruments overpower, and I would not say the bass is weak, as I've read in some reviews. Maybe if I switched to a bassy IEM and compared the two, I would think otherwise, but as I listen, it sounds very much like an intimate jazz show. Very honest reproduction.
I am using the tips that were on the Ety's in the box - a clear-ish triple flange. I'm liking the fact that while I do feel them, they don't feel like my Triple-Fi 10's, which were so uncomfy I returned them. I will say the foam tips Ety provides look huge to me. Other people have complained about Ety's and microphonics and I see why. Moving the cables across my shirt or even rubbing them causes it to happen. Fortunately, it doesn't bother me at all.
In the 10 minutes or so that have elapsed since I started writing this, my original sense of being underwhelmed is seeming to vanish. Although they didn't take my breath away, they seem very, very accurate, clean, and faithful to the original recording. The current tune playing is "Search For Peace", (same album) and Elvin Jones is using brushes. I'm hearing little nuances in how he's striking the drums/cymbals. Very realistic.
I'll update this in the next day or so regarding long term comfort, my biggest concern.