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Etymotic Owners of ER6i I need your feedback

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi all,


I'm new to the forum and relatively new to the Hi-Fi headphone world. My favorite set of headphones, the Etymotic Research ER6i just died on me (the wiring in the plug is broken) after almost 7 years of loyal service. I'd try wiring a new plug in but, this hasn't really worked out well for me in the past. I'm thinking it's time to pick up another pair of comparable headphones and am tempted to go back to Etymotic, as I really love their sound quality and unmatched (as far as I know) noise cancellation with the flanged ear tips. I was wondering if anyone here could help me figure out which of the newer models are comparable to my current set.


I'm looking into the mc3 model (about $70 on amazon) or the hf2 model (about $110 on amazon). The only differences I see in the specs is that the hf2 have a "High-performance balanced armature" and 105dB sensitivity vs. 100dB for the mc3 with a "High-output 8mm neodymium moving coil driver". To be honest, I have no idea what they mean by hi-perf. balanced armature and how that compares to the driver in the mc3. My question is, does anyone here have experience with the models I've described (or the mc5 and hf5 which I assume are the same models but with no mic and/or volume controls, please correct me if I'm wrong). If so could you please give me feedback on how they compare, and if the hf2 are worth the extra $40. Furthermore could anyone please confirm if either the mc3 or hf2 are the comparable models to the ER6i or if I need to step up to the more expensive ones.


Thanks in advance for all your help.





post #2 of 11

The HF2 is a step up, the MC3 a step down.  We're not talking night and day differences here, though.

post #3 of 11

I'd get the hf2, I've only got the er6i, but i'd hazard a guess that the hf3 would be closer as they both have Balanced Armature drivers.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks jekostas, and dnullify. So this is going to give away how little I know about this topic, but what actually constitutes a "balanced armature" and why is that better? I'm wondering, just for future reference.



post #5 of 11

A balanced armature is a type of transducer (see here) that produce sound differently from the traditional dynamic driver. The ER6-i has a Balanced armature, and since you liked it so much your best bet in a replacement would be a the HF3 which shares that style of transducer.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Cool. Thanks!


I've actually read up a bit more on this as well. It seems that the consensus I'm reaching is that on the issue of Dynamic vs. Balanced Armature it's not just a matter of fidelity, but also preference. I'm gathering that, generally speaking, in comparing headphones: dynamic drivers are the most common (so what most people are used to) and give you deeper bass that you hear and feel; while drivers with a balanced armature give you sound that is clearer and more true to the original recording. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


On that note, I guess I'll go with the balanced armature since I didn't feel that my ER6i's were particularly lacking in bass, and I always liked the clarity of the sound.

post #7 of 11

i have the er6i and the mc5.  both I recently recabled and repaired by the way.  I've had the er6i for ~7 years and they've been through 2 recables.  you'll find the mc5 to be lacking in clarity and highs, but it makes up for it in bass.  I agree with others though, between BA and Dynamic you'll be more familiar with BA since that's what the er6i has.  Of course, best reproduction of your er6i is fixing your er6i.  have you tried recabling before? :



post #8 of 11
Going to echo what everyone has said. HF2/3/5 are closes to the er6i, which I've owned. I have the HF5 now and plenty happy with it.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks Keopele19. I'm inspired to give the re-cabling a shot. There's not much to lose by trying. Having read a bit of the post you had pasted in your reply it looks most folks are just taking cables off a cheap pair of headphones. Would that be your recommendation?


While I'm at it, I think I'll replace the cable with one that has a microphone and volume button.


On a side note, my cable is broken at the jack, so I'm maybe considering just rewiring with a new jack. Does this seem like it would be less work, so I'm wondering if it's worth taking that approach instead of just replacing the entire cable?

post #10 of 11

i agree, if you're planning on buying new headphones, may as well try to repair the old ones.  i used samsung cables attached to the headphones that came with my phone (with a mic and buttons) for the er6i repair, and cheap purple cables that came on the free roku headphones for the mc5 repair.  both work fine, nothing special about ety's cables.  I wish they would have put the mic lower on the samsung cables, and the material is prone to tangle.  also, it's flat, so it was a pain to squeeze into the er6i housing.  I'd find smaller diameter cables for the er6i, like apple's if you have any lying around.  anyway, if you have a spare jack that would probably be the easier option, since you won't have to get into the er6i's TINY enclosure.  you shouldn't have a problem replacing the entire cable, which will give you the option of a mic and buttons, just follow the instructions on the link i sent.





post #11 of 11

Yeah don't replace the jack, replace the entire cable. Whatever jack you are going to find it is going to be huge and bulky in comparison to the original and much too big for a mobile device, if that's your intended usage. I have replaced my er6 cable at least a half dozen times, sometimes even before it breaks because my sweat makes the cable stiff as time goes by. You have to have an ultra-fine soldering iron however, it's very cramped in there, and some 5/16 or 3/8 shrink tubings.  I bought a 10-pack standard Apple earbuds from eBay myself, I like that they are cheap, soft when new, and round cable "o" NOT the "8" variety.  "o" cables are harder to tangle.  If the er4 are user-replaceable like that, I would buy a pair of er4.

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