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best analytical IEM (ER4?)

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 

Hi all!


I need to choose good analytical IEM for a price around $200-400.


I was read many reviews and FAQ and still very unshure about best choice for me.


My requipments in sound: I need precise, clear, fast, analytical sound. I don't very interesing in bass, too powerful bass is even bad for me.


Also it's very good for me, if cable will be completely replaceable. It's big money for me and I whant to use my IEM for a long term.


My source is internal amplifier of creative e-mu 0404, I already bought it and I hope that it was a good choice, what do you think about it?


It's hard to define what I prefer in genres, it usually someting very strange and experemental between ambient, noise, electropunk and industrial. Sometimes records are relatively bad, but I ready to see it face to face and I need headphones that shows me all possible defects of record. Even compression artefacts if compression used. Also I interested in acoustic science and digital signal processing, so it is not unneded nuances for me.


Also I help to do some records to my friends, and it's another reason to have as much analytical sound as possible.


Also maybe I need more usual studio monitoring headphones, and IEM is wrong choice for me? Price is critical, I'm ready to pay big money, but price MUST be adequate to sound quality(by MY creteria)


I think that I must to choose between ER4P(with upgrade to "S" with resistor), ATH CK10 and UE TripleFi 10.


ER4 has a completely replaceable cable, ATH CK10 and UE TripleFi 10 - not. I'm right about it?


ER4 sounds more precise, analytical and fast than ATH CK10 and UE TripleFi 10, It's truth?


I have no ability to listen any of them, I live in Belarus and IEM's here is not popular, especially so expensive, so I must make my choice on a base of reviews and your opinion.


My choice now is ER4. Or do you think that exists better vartiants for me?

Edited by digital noise - 4/7/11 at 10:05am
post #2 of 51

I haven't heard the ck10 but your post and requirements shout out er4, i'd go with the p version, you can always add impedance but you can't take it away, (unless it would be inconvenient having an adapter at times. Yes, the cables are replaceable and etymotic's customer service is excellent so you won't be left high and dry.

post #3 of 51

Don't know about the CK10 as well, but I'll pick ER4S (or ER4P + S adapter) over TF10 for analytical sound.

post #4 of 51

The Triple.Fi 10 isn't analytical.  It is very refined though and clean.  It's just that the note is a bit thick, and micro details end up getting lost. 


Analytical comes in various flavors.  Some compress the dynamic range to bring forward the quieter bits and give you a greater onslaught of information.  The DBA-02 and RE252 are good examples of this.  I am personally not a fan of a compressed dynamic range, but it does have its benefits.  It doesn't help that a lot of music today is already compressed to some degree anyways, often due to the expectation of less than silent environments.


Other earphones bring forth details through a high level of texturing and a good ability to articulate a lot of details within the notes.  The ER4 falls into this realm but so does earphones like the UM3X, Custom 3, or even e-Q7.  The CK10 specifically is one of the most textually detailed earphones out there.


Some earphones use high dynamic range to convey information and try to articulate variations within the dynamic breadth to bring forth details.  Good examples of this is the SE530 or RE262.


The more competent earphones tend to be the ones that offer a good amount of everything.  Not all of the above earphones do that, and a lack somewhere is a lack.  You want good texturing, good dynamics, good speed and clarity all rolled into one package.  The CK10 that you're interested in does this well.  So do others like the UM3X, Custom 3, ER4, and so on. 


Most earphones do have their trade-offs though.  Some ideal qualities comes with other less ideal qualities, so you pick and choose what you can be content with.  If I were to look back at a single earphone that I can call most "correct" it would be the CK10.  There is very little that I can really complain about with that earphone.  It's not perfect, but really nothing is.  However, if I were to break apart the sound presentation and ask myself what does it not do right, there are very few things I can pick.  It's only significant issue is the treble peak at 10kHz.  It's narrow but moderate.  The CK10 hasn't been a personal favorite of mine when it comes down to me simply picking a product I would prefer to keep, but it's one that I can't really find significant fault in.  From an unbiased standpoint, that's the bigger measure.


The ER4 is one of those earphones that you should listen to at least once in your head-fi hobby.  It is a true reference level product, and shows you a lot of what sound should be from these earphones.  The downside is that it is a single BA driver and simply does not cover the spectrum quite as well as dual driver options.  The driver itself is not unique to Etymotic though.  Westone also uses the driver.  The unique nature of the Etymotic product is in how it was tuned.  It's a good driver in the first place, old, but good.  It's got a thick, excellently textured note.  Ety's goal was to tune it to be as perceptively flat as possible, and they did well in this regard.  The same driver in other earphones don't really end up the same way.  For example the UM2 runs the same driver for mid and high frequencies but adds a bass driver to it, and the tuning is different so the end presentation varies quite a bit.


So what about the ER4 vs. the CK10?


Well, I'd opt for the CK10.  Actually, with your budget, I'd buy both.  Frankly you should at least try both because they both are very good products, just for different reasons.  You may find yourself liking one over the other, but I couldn't tell you which one it would be.  I know what I'd use personally, but my goals are different from your goals.  Your budget allows for you to own both, so why not?  As well, I'd look for used ones if possible.  This keeps the cost down and prevents loss on resale when you do end up with the one you want to keep.



post #5 of 51

ER4S. End all- be all for analytical iems, period.


post #6 of 51
Originally Posted by jleewach View Post

ER4S. End all- be all for analytical iems, period.


Absolutely. In terms of universal fit models, the ER4-S is the be all end all. 





post #7 of 51

Just a slight curve in the suggestion from me.  I, too, agree that the ER4 series is probably your best bet.  But, I'm going to suggest you look into the "B" series from Ety.  I suggest this for two reasons:  First, you mention the amount of bass is not that important, and second, the mids and highs of the B will hide absolutely nothing in a recording.   Nada!


And once you get used to the B's sound signature, everything else...and I do mean EVERYTHING ELSE will sound slow and bloated.


Good luck in in your search.



post #8 of 51
Thread Starter 

I'm sorry for this delay, it's a big problem to buy U.S. dollars in Belarus now, but I resolve this problem and now I have enough money on my card.


Your opinions and advices, especially most detailed, was intersting and usefull, thank you for it.


I decided that my first seriuos headphones will be ER4P. CK10 is very interesting too, so it was very hard choice, but replaceable cable is important for me.


AFAIK, ER4B is absolutely identical to ER4P, but it has some capacitors in its circut. I can easily add it, if I need more bright sound. And ER4S is differs from ER4P only by two 75ohm resistors. It's not a problem to buy or assemble simple adaptor to convert ER4P to ER4S or ER4B.


Now I have a question - where is better to buy ER4P? on it costs $299. It's OK, but on ebay, for example, it sometimes costs less, even new. Maybe exists some risk of buying a fake? Or, maybe, I lose some warranty? Do you have any recommendations?

Edited by digital noise - 4/22/11 at 4:32am
post #9 of 51

I'm pretty sure that everyone who owns the CK10 has said that they have one of the best, if not THE best build quality out of all other universal IEMs. The cable is said to retain little memory and inspire confidence in how long it will last. And I don't think the ER-4P has a replacable cable (?). The CK10 has a titanium faceplate to boot lol. If I were in the same circumstance, I would buy the CK10 over the ER-4P judging from build quality alone. -Zac


post #10 of 51
Thread Starter


It looks like a good proof of possibility to replace cable on er4


Also exactly today my friend from Russia accidently break cable on CK10 near earphone itself and now he have no idea how to repair it. I even offer him to send it to me by post, maybe I can do something with it. I have some skills in repairing things that not designed for repairing, and also it's possibility for me to hear CK10 if my attempt will be successfull.


But I don't say that build quality of CK10 is bad, I think that any cable breaks earlier or later by it's nature, so replaceable cable is ultimate solution for that problem.

post #11 of 51
I've been telling myself no more universals, my next iem will be a custom. What did I do this morning? I ordered the ER4S. rolleyes.gif
post #12 of 51
Originally Posted by digital noise View Post


It looks like a good proof of possibility to replace cable on er4


Ooooooh! They sure didn't look replaceable; that's pretty elegant. 

post #13 of 51
Originally Posted by RADI0HEAD View Post

I've been telling myself no more universals, my next iem will be a custom. What did I do this morning? I ordered the ER4S. rolleyes.gif

You won't be disappointed.  They're great IEMs.  Beware, though, those things do insert deep into the side of your brain.


My guess:  At some point you'll say to yourself, "I'm done."  Of course you won't be (as I don't believe there's a single soul on these boards who is "actually" done).  But for a minute, you'll think you are.


Keep us posted.



post #14 of 51
Originally Posted by AudioDwebe View Post

You won't be disappointed.  They're great IEMs.  Beware, though, those things do insert deep into the side of your brain.


My guess:  At some point you'll say to yourself, "I'm done."  Of course you won't be (as I don't believe there's a single soul on these boards who is "actually" done).  But for a minute, you'll think you are.


Keep us posted.



Initial impressions of the er4s is they are extremely revealing and detailed. Listening the some of my music collection I've already been wowed several times by hearing certain details in my music that I haven't heard before. This is coming straight out of a nano 6g. I can only imagine the improvement with the addition of an amplifier. The isolation is fantastic. The cabling seems bullet proof but its not as quiet as I would like(microphonics). Although the cabling on the CK10 is not replaceable it is much quieter, almost silent, soft, thick and supple. The CK10 to my ears has quite a bit more bottom end than the ER-4S. If you think the CK10 is thin sounding you'll find the ER-4S thinner. The highs on the CK10 are brighter. Delicate parts on hi-hats or ride cymbals are a little easier to pick out with the CK10, I still heard these parts on the ER4S but they sounded a little softer or lower in volume. Sibilance is lower on the ER-4S. The Etys sound very refined. So far I'm very happy with them. With the right amp and maybe even a set of custom molded ear tips it should get better.
post #15 of 51

It may be hard to believe, but JVC FX700 is the most analytical IEM I've heard because I can easily pick out all details with it. Everything is clearly separated and the dynamic range is vast which ensures that subtle details don't stand out more than they are supposed to and do not create a false sense of extra detail. ER4 is also very detailed, but it pushes more detail forward due to a more compressed dynamic range, making things easier to hear, but less natural sounding. With FX700 you can analyze not only detail but the dynamic range of the music as well.

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