Etymotic ER3XR

CK Moustache

100+ Head-Fier
Link to my review and measurement index thread where one can also find a full review overview, more information about myself as well as my general-ish audio and review manifesto:

I only give full stars. My ranking/scoring system does not necessarily follow the norm and is about as follows:

5 stars: The product is very good and received the "highly recommended" award from me.

4 stars: The product is very good and received the "recommended" award from me.

3 stars: The product is good/very good, but not outstanding/special enough to get any of my two awards. ["Thumbs Up"]

2 stars: The product is only about average or even somewhat below that and somewhat flawed/flawed in some areas. [neither "Thumbs Up" nor "Thumbs Down"]

1 star: The product is bad/severely flawed to outright bad. ["Thumbs Down"]

Etymotic ER3XR


Review sample.


Just like on the ER2XR as well as ER4XR, “XR” stands for “Extended Response”, indicating a moderately boosted bass compared to the flatter tuned SE (respectively SR) models.

The ER3 series IEMs are basically similar to the ER4 series, but with lower impedance and higher sensitivity (hence slightly different (darker) frequency response in stock form), different/less accessories (small instead of large carrying/storage case, shorter cable), manufactured at a different facility, don’t come with the new ER4 series’ “certificate of performance”, and, in theory, have less strict quality control/driver matching compared to the ER4 series, although even Etymotic stated that most ER3 units would easily pass ER4 series standards, but unlike on the more expensive, more pro-user targeted ER4 series, they couldn’t guarantee for this (at least in case of the ER3SE and ER3XR that I have on hand, I can say that these two would definitely and flawlessly pass ER4 series quality control and driver matching standards).

Come with the same accessories as the ER3SE and ER2 series (same small pouch case as that of my ER-4S and the ER3 series, one pair of green replacement filters along with a filter removal tool made of metal, one shirt clip, one pair of cylindrical foam tips, and last but not lest two pairs of differently sized silicone tips – that’s definitely a bit disappointing compared to the new ER4 series’ ampler amount of accessories, but overall still okay).

Small shells that are made of metal and similar to those of the ER4 series, however matte/satin black instead of stainless steel blue.
Build quality seems to be very good.
It’s nice that each shell has the serial number as well as model number on it in white (the same is true for the ER2 and new ER4 series in-ears).

Removable cables with non-rotating (small notch that prevents that) MMCX connectors.
Y-splitter that’s made of metal, too.
A chin-slider is present.
Cable shorter than the one that comes with the ER4 series in-ears and with straight instead of twisted conductors above the y-splitters.
Side indicators unfortunately only small and difficult to see in dimly lit environments – coloured indicators would have been better.
Fairly supple and flexible cable.
Rather high microphonics when worn down, but that can be fixed by guiding the cable over the ears and using the chin-slider (or alternatively using the included shirt clip).

One Balanced Armature driver per side.


Largest included triple-flange silicone tips, modified so that they create a seal in my large ear canals while still maintaining the original ear tip length (achieved by cutting off the smallest flange and putting it onto the nozzle first, followed by the remaining double-flange rest of the tip).


Gentle bass elevation with fairly diffuse-field-oriented (but slightly milder) midrange and treble neutrality.
Basically just like the ER4XR, albeit ultimately slightly warmer in the fundamental range and slightly darker in the treble.

Flat and neutral midrange and treble along with a bass elevation that starts in the middle root around 600 Hz and climbs gradually towards the midbass and sub-bass where the highest quantity with about 4.5 dB higher level compared to the ER4SR is reached. Therefore the lows carry a mild warmth without really adding any colouration to the midrange yet.

Performing sine sweeps and listening to music, the midrange and treble sound very flat and even to me, which is something that is rare and achieved by only very few in-ears wherefore the ER3XR, just like the ER2 and ER4 series models, also sound highly realistic. Solely the 7 kHz area features a moderate recession to my ears, but this is something that is not really audible when listening to music.
Compared to absolutely uncompromised flat neutral, the highs are generally slightly but evenly in the background by around 2.5 dB, which is why the ER3XR sound a little darker and more relaxed/less “uncompromised lifeless neutral” in the highs when compared to the ER4SR or my ER-4S.

Frequency Response:


The ER3XR were measured with the non-modified triple-flange ear tips in both graphs as I did not save the other measurements and didn’t bother to re-measure them. Due to the resulting slightly different insertion depth into the coupler, the graphs shows a bit less upper treble quantity than the ER3XR would actually have.

ProPhile 8-Compensation


One could assume that the ER3XR are inferior to the ER4 series in-ears, while in fact they are not and actually perform equally well.

The ER3XR also offer very good speech intelligibility and are capable of rendering small details very well wherefore they sound transparent and are among the very best single-BA in-ears that I know.
Separation of single notes in the high frequency range is precise.
The bass is fast as well as tight; solely fast and complex passages lead to it becoming slightly less clean sounding while separation remains intact and while it doesn’t appear soft yet.

While the resolution, transparency and headroom of some more expensive multi-BA in-ears isn’t reached by the ER3XR, they are nonetheless among the most capable single-BA models on the market and generally don’t need to fear most good multi-BA in-ears in the 500$ range either.


The ER3XRs’ soundstage is neither the smallest nor the largest, but represents average dimensions and appears a little wider than deep to my ears, yet has a good amount of spatial depth and is well-layered. This makes the imaginary soundstage appear realistic and, in particular, coherent to the listener.

The placement of instruments (imaging) is very precise and spatial smear/blur is avoided, although the ER3SE perform even a tad better in a direct comparison.

- - - - - - - - - - - -


Etymotic ER4XR:

The tonal differences between the ER3XR and ER4XR are less pronounced than between the ER3SE and ER4SR (at least when it comes to the units that I have on hand), which is why the ER3XR and ER4XR could be described as almost identical since the tonal differences between the two in-ears are about as small as the channel matching differences between in-ears of most other manufacturers are (and hereby I’m not referring to clearly mismatched models but rather in-ears that measure with a really, really tight channel matching).
That said, in the mid- and low bass, both in-ears’ tuning is the same. Only in the upper bass and fundamental range, the ER3XR have got a little more warmth and impact in comparison.
The ER3XR are only slightly less present in the presence area/upper mids than the ER4XR.
Solely around 6 and 7 kHz, there is a “more obvious” difference between the two: the ER3XR are a bit more relaxed here.
In the upper highs, the ER3XR are again a little more relaxed which can be heard in the reproduction of cymbals, although only slightly.

As a result, I consider the ER3XR the “better” alternative to the ER4XR due to their virtually similar resolution performance and only small tonal differences – solely for users who intend to use the in-ears for actual music production, the higher price for the ER4XR could still be worth it in the end because of their ultimately ever so slightly higher flatness/accuracy in the fundamental range and upper frequencies, provided that what one is looking for is a set of in-ears with a compensation for the viscerally perceived mechanical vibrations in the lows, which the XR models somewhat compensate for with their mild bass elevation compared to the SR/S/SE models that are tuned for an uncompromised flat neutral bass output without any tuning compensation for the lack of perceived mechanical vibrations that are absent on headphones and in-ears when compared to speakers in a room, but in the end that’s definitely a matter of personal perception/preference and how easily one’s brain can adapt to that “lack” when using headphones/in-ears (mine does easily).
So, to summarise, the ER3XR, compared to the ER4XR, are slightly warmer in the fundamental range, and slightly darker in the treble, but otherwise similarly tuned.
When it comes to details and resolution, both in-ears perform on an equal level – the absolutely only difference in a direct comparison is that the ER3XR appear minimally softer in bass, but this impression disappears when one lowers their lower fundamental range and upper bass slightly, which brings them exactly to ER4XR levels in this area.

Both in-ears’ imaging is equally precise and realistic, with equally good layering and separation of the imaginary events.
The ER4XR seem to have slightly more perceived spatial width, but this impression comes only from their slightly louder upper treble compared to the ER3XR.


Highly Recommended.

Generally great sounding and superbly tuned (smooth neutral, even and very realistic with mild bass elevation) single-BA in-ears with high technical capabilities.
I even consider the ER3XR the better/more reasonable alternative to the ER4XR as long as one doesn’t need the slightly higher midrange and treble accuracy (in stock form), more/better accessories and cable, and individually hand-matched drivers that are accompanied by a channel matching/performance certificate.



100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Extremely versatile, beautiful sound, comfy when you get used to it, ultra portable, top level isolation
Cons: Fiddly fitting, stingy package, quality control.
I just wrote a fairly scathing review based on the sound quality. I'm having to rewrite this as I still have fitting issues and this caused my perception of the sound quality to suffer.

Update - I've had my ER3XR for over a month now, and unlike almost every other IEM, it just keeps getting better.
I'm so impressed with the sound quality that it's making me rethink on how I view IEMs in general.


Not much at all.
3 pair of tips. 2 triple flanged silicon tips and 1 pair of what are probably the worst quality foam tips I've ever come across.
Seriously, the foam tips are so bad that they fall apart the second you try to pull them out.

You also get a very, very tiny carry case and a shirt clip.

Build Quality

Oh boy, where to start?

Of course, I can only speak on my experience and your mileage may vary.

The build quality did not inspire much confidence at all.
One of the units would make static noises when pushing in. Thankfully this has not worsen since purchase.
The shirt clip destroyed itself almost immediately and I could swear one side was louder than the other.
As it turned out, the 3.5mm jack died after a week.
I bought a cheap jack and repaired it myself. This also fixed the channel imbalance.

I've been having terrible luck with IEMs lately and this has put me off IEMs permanently. It will be full sized headphones for me from now on.

Sticking Things In Your Ear

It's not bad.
These things go deep into your ear canal. It's a weird, initially uncomfortable, even painful, process/ Once you figure out how to put them on though, they are comfortable and reassuringly snug.
Oh, and when I say 'figure out how to put them on' I mean it, because the instructions and Etymotic's video showing you how to put them on are utterly useless.
I ended up watching a video by 3M on how to use hearing protection to learn how to put this things on properly.
And yes, they do isolate noise very, very well.

Something to take note of...
With IEMs, I need large tips as they are the only one that can give me a proper seal. So, naturally, I went straight for the large triple flanged ones.
When fully inserted, the treble disappeared and the sound was muffled and dull.
As it turned out, I needed to use the standard size, because it's all about the size of your ear canal, not your outer ear. So keep in mind when fitting them.

Sound Quality

Being used to bright gear like the MSR7 and Fiio F9 Pro, I went through a lengthy adjustment period. I was not used to such a full sound.
However, as I started paying attention, I realised how clear and detailed everything was. Yes, the sound is warm, but also very precise.
Songs which were unlistenable before, because they sounded so thin and bright, became full of body.
You will hear people say that the ER3XR is no good with EDM and bass heavy genres. That's total nonsense. There's plenty of kick and thump to the bass.
What you won't get is bloat or exaggeration.
I have yet to come across a genre that doesn't sound good, which makes sense considering Etymotic's commitment to delivering sound as it was recorded.

Bass - Thick and full bodied. Actually, probably my favorite part. It's spot on. Nice visceral hits and provides plenty of body. People say it's light, but compared to the Fiio F9 Pro and even bassy IEMs like the Audio-Technica, you get way more body and thump. It's beautifully detailed too!

Mids - Thick, forward and controlled. Best mids I've heard? Probably.
There's no distortion or bleed. I haven't heard such engaging mids in an IEM since the ATH-IM70, and I loved the mids in those.

Treble - smooth, detailed and controlled.
Don't expect airy high hats dancing around your head, but what you get is accuracy and detail. They are detailed without being sharp. No sibilance at all.
My sibilance test track is Saint Etienne's Slow Down By The Castle, which is murder with the Fiio F9 Pro and uncomfortable with the MSR7.
Not with the ER3XR though!
The guitars are sharp but no peaks

Soundstage - intimate but coherent, there's both width and depth as long as you've found your ear insertion sweet spot (that sounded dirtier than I intended).

My experience with the ER3XR has been one if highs and lows, from fitting to quality control issues, this has soured my experience.
However, the sound. Oh good lord, the sound.
The clarity, body and coherence is astounding, and it's all done with a single BA!
It really makes you question the logic and value of all the multi drive monsters which are so fashionable at the moment.
Just make sure you get a proper fit!
I Bought the Etymotics from them and now they're doing me so bad on warranty claim.
Oh no, running into issues with online stores can tiring and cumbersome procedure, especially headphonezone, I had troubles returning the KZ ZSN PRO, lol but I agter returned them I got to know the excessive sibilance I heard on them was actually a typical kz issue.
Black Sugar
Black Sugar
Hi, i'm just wondering. Are ER3XR still relevant and comparable to the latest IEM nowadays? especially compared to the Chi-fi multi driver IEM? I tempting to get this to replace my RE400.


New Head-Fier
Pros: Speration & Detail (to an extent), Sound isolation, "Flat" response, accurate timbre
Cons: Loud microphinics with stock cable, Bass sometimes gets overwhelmed and bleeds, Sometimes chokes on complex passages (mainly metal/rock/electronic)

This is my first ever IEM review be nice >.<

I've been using the RHA MA750i as a daily portable IEM for over 3 years and is due for an upgrade. I bought this unit for myself intended for portable everyday use and drumming. After years of exploring my IEM tastes I *think* I've finally found it and the ER3XR seemed to offer what I want (portable, noise isolation, non-fatiguing sound sig). The ER3XR were rumored to be 90% of the ER4XR with significant reduction in price made it a no brainer to replace my portable IEM.

Disclaimer & About Myself

This review is based solely on how I perceive music and the headphones themselves. My preferred taste is close to the Harman target, but with a ~4dB boost to the bass instead of the horrifying ~8 dB boost from the IE 2017 target, and a small boost in the 5-8k region. You can learn more about the Harman Target HERE. I am currently a University student with most likely good hearing (no imbalance, can hear ~20-17k Hz), although I've had the occasional tinnitus since middle school (I blame weak genes). Take care of your ears people! I listen to a huge variety of music.

I am also vey direct and critical about stuff, but please don't take it as I hate the products. Just want to make the flaws clear to people/potential buyers.

Please keep in mind I don't own a huge inventory of headphones, so most of my review is based on my experience with the FLC 8s, RHA MA750 and the HD 6XX. I also had a brief experience with the Campfire Comets, Oriveti New Primacy, and the RHA T20i.

Accessories & Build

The ER3XR came with bare essentials and is in a simple box. A bit lackluster compared to Chi-Fi and its ER4 brother but with the price they're charging I guess I'll overlook it. The small pouch is nice with a small extra compartment to put the tools/extra ear tips.

The build quality of the housing is aluminum and is very sturdy. The detachable MMCX cable is a nice touch. The connectors are also sturdy. However, even with the provided clip, microphonics is a huge problem with the cable. The angle of the connectors also don't really allow over-ear wearing which I thought initially would be a problem, but with how sturdy the triple flange "sucks" into the ears I'd say these falling out during a nap on a plane flight isn't a huge worry. However, I can't help but think how much microphonics from the cable will be alleviated if they can be worn so.

20181018_223110 (1).jpg 20181018_223206.jpg

Design & Comfort

As mentioned above, these are not designed to be worn over-ear. They don't fall out easily, in fact pulling these out require you to do so slowly (spinning it might help). I often pull these out quickly to talk to people and they feel like pulling out my innards (don't do it often, it actually hurts!). The sleek rubber finish of the cable felt high quality but probably contributed a significant portion of microphonics.

Initially I feared that the triple flanges might not fit my ears well from all the forum talk, and the deep insertion might cause pain. I mostly use Comply's on my RHA 750, but I really dislike them as they change the sound balance despite being comfortable. To my pleasant surprise, these fit my ears comfortably for a long time, to the point I can say they are close to the Comply's on comfort. I normally can't even wear the JVC Spiral Dots for over 3 hours, and even a shorter time for other lesser quality silicon tips.

Alright, I guess it does sound a bit unbelievable that triple flanges are more comfortable than regular tips so let me come clean -- I've interned in a noisy factory, and for a brief period of my life also handled firearms in the military -- I often had to wear triple flange earplugs for hours so I guess I'm kinda a triple flange "veteran"? Although I do have to say compared to those itchy and bulky earplugs these are way more comfortable.

First Impression

So here are my first impressions notes when listening to it for the first time:

- Surprisingly present bass. Lots of people claimed the XR still sounded "flat" and don't get the SE. I disagree, these are definitely warm IEMs and obviously have an elevated bass (in a good and expected way though, I can't stand those 10+ dB V-shaped IEMs. Seriously what the hell, why are those a thing??).

- Warm, not bright at all. Awesome for long sessions without inducing fatigue.

- Single BA has surprisingly good separation, but starts choking on complex passages whenever heavier bass instruments are involved (mostly rock/metal/electronic)


For those like me who are super technical about frequency curves, here's a frequency graph by a fellow head-fi member: THREAD LINK. I'm not going into detail what the sound signature is like, the graph should tell you about it. However, if I were to describe it in a sentence I guess it would be "Warm IEMs tuned flat with a slight bass boost without fatiguing highs".

I will give each category an arbitrary score on how much value it provides relative to other categories and its price. (Note: I am an extremely critical person. A 3/5 means "acceptable performance".)Without further to do, lets break it down:

Bass (3/5) -- Easily one of the weakest point of the IEM. The ER3XR performs better on simple tracks without fast decaying bass. The lack of a dynamic driver like many multi-drier IEM makes its impact and separation sub-par imo. On simple soundtracks it performs fast flawlessly -- such as a single bass guitar performance, classical piano with simple background music, a drum solo, etc. However, in more complex situations (drum + bass guitar + vocal + guitar + other stuff) the single BA driver starts choking, causing the bass to loose overall quality and bleed into the mids/highs. I would avoid listening to EDM, metal, and more complex rock music with these.

Mids (5/5) -- The mids are intimate and awesome. Piano sounds absolutely amazing. Vocals are perfect. I mean, they are tuned closely to the diffuse field target and close to my ideal sound signature. Nothing to complain here.

Highs (4/5) -- Sometimes I wish the highs could be a bit brighter. From ER3XR and ER4XR measurements, I wish these could be tuned a but closer to the ER4 with a tad bit less bass and stronger highs. I use the grey-grey-gold filters on the FLCs and they sound bright and powerful, especially hearing the details on the trumpets. While details are definitely not lacking on these, the weaker highs make it harder to hear. However, those who are sensitive to sibilance will find the smooth highs perfect.

Soundstage (4/5) -- Soundstage is alright I guess? I do not have similar pricing IEMs to compare. They are definitely larger than the "in your head" RHA MA750s, but do not have the wider directionality my FLCs have. I will say that the soundstage is just right for pianos, as it sounds like you are the player him/herself. Most instruments don't sound like coming afar, but distant enough to differentiate the positions. I guess in terms of a concert hall, the soundstage ability sounds like you sitting in the conductor position, with most instruments no further than 20 ft from you with the exception of percussion effects actually sounding a bit wider. Unfortunately violins sound rather close, but on some tracks the intimacy makes it sound like a private audition which is kinda awesome. The ER3XR definitely has a bigger width than depth.

Separation (4.5/5 Classical; 3/5 Metal/Complex Rock/Electronic) -- I'm going to iterate again, the ER3XR is best not for fast decaying explosive bass, but slow, constant mid-bass focused tracks. On classical music, separation is good. The not rather large soundstage gives an impression things are close together, but I can assure your every single instrument is clearly separate, well represented. On more complex racks such as metal, 80% of the track should be fine. However, when everyone is playing together sometimes the IEM struggles to keep up mushing everything together. On EDM, whenever the heavy bass hits pretty much destroys the detail and separation of the entire spectrum. However, I do want to say that it really isn't as bad as I describe it to be. The bass performance still blew my RHAs out of the water, which bear in mind, was a $130 USD MSRP IEM. I'm just a critical person ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Music Example

In this section I list random music I felt like listening to in my library with a "rating" how well it performs and random thoughts. Use this section as reference to see if the music genre you listen to are suitable for these. I highly recommend reading the commends by order as you can read my flow of thoughts as I progress throughout my library.

Note: At this point my IEM had over 2 weeks of burn-in if that's a thing you care about.
Note 2: A 3/5 rating essentially means it's acceptable performance to me and I don't mind at all listening to such music with these IEMs.

Rating (out of 5):
1 - Poor performance; 2 - Struggling often; 3 - Fair performance; 4 - Good Performance; 5 - Exceeds expectations

Florian Bur - [Lovely #04] Lifelong (5/5) -- The intimacy of the piano was great.
Florian Bur - [Welcome to My World (Single)] Welcome to My World (5/5) -- Surprising impact on the low end. Good separation. Great details. Love the strings. Warm and lush. Snare drums at the end had surprisingly wide soundstage effect.
Florian Bur - [Unique #02] Aurora (5/5) -- The 2nd half of the track proves it easily handles separation with good soundstage on a more classical-styled music.
Tunes of Fantasy - [Dream Once Again #16] We Believe (5/5) -- The percussion portion was well separated. Good details. Bass drum were accurate.
Velvet piano - [Velvet piano #02] Mariage D'Amour (5/5) -- Great piano clarity, the backwound was warm and soft while the piano was impactful.
The Piano Guys - [The Piano Guys #04] Beethoven's 5 Secrets (4/5) -- Overall well balanced. Some stronger bass impact portions of the song briefly muffles the mids/highs. Loved the cello.
The Piano Guys - [The Piano Guys #07] Arwen's Vigil (5/5) -- Very clean piano, cello, percussion and bass. Cello was intimate and great.
Lindsey Stirling - [Lindsey Stirling CD1 #14] Transcendence (orchestral version) (4.5/5) -- The voilin was awesome and wasn't overly bright like my FLCs.
Lindsey Stirling - [Shatter Me CD1 #15] Take Flight (orchestral version) (4.5/5) -- Same as above.
Alexander Borodin - Prince Igor Polovtsian Dances Tańce Połowieckie (5/5) -- OH MAH GAWD classical sounds perfect on these. Impactful when needed, quiet and smooth on other portions. Perfection.
[Piano] Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica - Soundtrack Medley [piano] (5/5) -- Beautiful medley.
[Piano] Studio Ghibli Medley (5/5) -- Again, if you listen to a bunch of piano, these IEMs are literally perfect for it. The boosted mid-bass really makes the accompaniment portion more full.

Alan Walker - [Darkside (feat. Au/Ra & Tomine Harket) - Single CD1 #01] Darkside (feat. Au/Ra & Tomine Harket) (3.5/5) -- Everything was all fine until the bass dropped. The bass felt muddy and felt like overshadowing the mids. Definitely not "horrible" category, would still listen to the track when I feel like enjoying some Alan Walker.
Alan Walker - [Faded #01] Faded (4/5) -- Faded performed surprisingly well. While the bass beat had a hint of muddiness, and definitely did not pack a punch from dynamic driver, it managed to separate the female vocal, bass hit and the other sounds well.
Nitro Fun - [EDM] Soldiers (4/5) -- At this point I'm starting to feel that these IEMs don't sound as bad as I thought they would on EDM. I mostly tested these on metal and I thought it would apply to EDM too.
Marshmello - [EDM] Alone (4/5) -- I stand correct. Unless you care dearly about the explosive dynamic driver +10dB bass impact, if you prefer a clean balanced bass thump like I do these IEMs definitely perform fine.
Scary Noise - [EDM] Reaper (3.5/5) -- Same thoughts as above. The excessive bass thumps do reveal some muddiness in the single BA though.
Virtual Riot - [EDM] Energy Drink (4.5/5) -- The mid-bass focused thumps made the track sound rather clean for an EDM.
Jim Yosef - [EDM] Firefly (3/5) -- The more complex electronic rhythm during the "chorus" definitely didn't fare as well on these IEMs.

Avenged Sevenfold - [Nightmare #01] Nightmare (4.5/5) -- The percussion was clean and performed well. I was surprised how the double bass during the chorus performed well.
Avenged Sevenfold - [Nightmare #02] Welcome To The Family (4/5) -- Whoah the beginning was awesome. However, as it starts getting noisy it definitely struggles a slight bit to retain all details throughout the spectrum.
Avenged Sevenfold - [Carry On - Single #01] Carry On (3/5) -- The beginning definitely struggles a bit, but the rest were much better.
Avenged Sevenfold - [The Stage CD1 #01] The Stage (3.5/5) -- While portions of the track were awesome, some parts it struggles to keep up with the quick lower toms and bass drums.
Metallica - [Metallica CD1 #08] Nothing Else Matters (4/5) -- The percussion was clean. Can't help but think that bass kick was a bit unnatural and un-impactful. Overall the track was well balanced.
Disturbed - [Immortalized CD1 #11] The Sound of Silence (4/5) -- Intimate male vocals.
MASSIVE ATTACK - [Mezzanine CD1/2 #1/6] Angel (4/5) -- Our classic Head-Fi bass performance test track did pretty well. It wasn't until the more complex portion that the bass kick slightly bleeds into the mids.
Nirvana - [Nevermind #01] Smells Like Teen Spirit (3.5/5) -- Good clean percussion. However, complex portions do overwhelm these IEMs a tad bit.

We Are The Fallen - [Tear The World Down #01] Bury Me Alive (2.5/5) -- Ouch. Yeah the amount of stuff certainly did make it struggle a bit. Not that I "wouldn't" listen to this track because of that, but the lost details definitely made it not as enjoyable.
Queen - [Greatest Hits II #01] A Kind Of Magic (4.5/5) -- Most Rock music that are more calming such as queen will perform just fine. Simple beats and rhythm.
Queen - [Greatest Hits II #03] Radio Ga Ga (3.5/5) -- As expected the super hard bass hit does bleed into the mids.
Queen - [Classic Queen #02] Bohemian Rhapsody (4/5) -- Mamaaaa, oooooooOOOOOooooOOOOooo. The old recording is definitely showing its age. The bad part of having a detailed IEM such as etymotic’s, you hear the flaws of the old recordings.
AC/DC - [Highway To Hell #01] Highway To Hell (4/5) -- Again, 30 year old recording, starting to show its age. However, the simplicity of old recordings means that the Ety's dont struggle at all.
AC/DC - [Warning! High Voltage CD1 #01] Thunderstruck (5/5) -- No heavy bass = pure awesomeness.
30 Seconds to Mars - [This Is War #04] This Is War (3/5) -- Not sure if its the recording, but detail is lacking. And dang the middle school feels.
Bon Jovi - [Greatest Hits - The Ultimate CD1 #16] No Apologies (4/5) -- No apologies, but the song performed well.
Bon Jovi - [Greatest Hits - The Ultimate CD1 #01] Livin' On A Prayer (3.5/5) -- This song struggled a bit, although it sounded like it was the recording though. Separation was a bit lacking.
Aerosmith - [Big Ones #06] Janie's Got A Gun (4/5) -- Clean percussion and overall song.

My Chemical Romance - [The Black Parade / Living with Ghosts (The 10th Anniversary Edition) CD1 #05] Welcome to the Black Parade (2/5) -- WE'LL CARRY ONNNNNNNNNNNN!!! Emo childhood flashbacks anyone? Anyone? Jokes aside, kinda sad these IEMs struggled big time on one of my all-time favorite song. The toms/crash/screaming at the beginning definitely showed it struggled, and the chorus didn't help either.

Male Vocal
Mario Frangoulis - [Sometimes I Dream #05] Naturaleza Muerta (4.5/5) -- Overall it was great. Balanced.
Mario Frangoulis - [Sometimes I Dream #09] Hijo De La Luna (4.5/5) -- The male vocals in this was awesome.
Jeff Buckley - [Grace (MOV LP) CD1 #06] Hallelujah (5/5) -- Flawless male vocals.

ZAYN feat. Sia - [Dusk Till Dawn #01] Dusk Till Dawn (4/5) -- Sounds alright to me.
Eminem - [The Marshall Mathers LP 2 #12] The Monster (Feat. Rihanna) (3.5/5) -- I blame the mastering for this song. Separation wasn't great. Percussion felt muffled into the vocals. But then it's pop music...
Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee - [Despacito & Mis Grandes Éxitos CD1/1 #01] Despacito (4/5) -- ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Sarah Brightman - [Symphony #02] Fleurs Du Mal (4/5) -- This one did surprisingly well.
近藤浩治 - [The Legend of Zelda 30th Anniversary Concert CD2 #07] ゼルダの伝説メインテーマ (5/5) -- While the trumpet isn't as bright as I prefer, the overall separation is amazing. Stop hitting the damn chicken!
近藤浩治 - [The Legend of Zelda 30th Anniversary Concert CD2 #03] ゲルドの谷 (4.5/5) -- This one was a bit more complex. Overall it was amazing, but sometimes the timpani goes muddy.

J Pop/Anime Stuff (Insert frustration about loudness war ruminants in Japanese Masterings)
LiSA - [Ichiban no Takaramono ~Yui final ver.~ #01] Ichiban no Takaramono ~Yui final ver.~ (4/5) -- Definitely less fatiguing than my FLCs
HO-KAGO TEA TIME (CV: Toyosaki Aki, Hikasa Youko, Satou Satomi, Kotobuki Minako, Taketatsu Ayana) - [K-ON! MUSIC HISTORY'S BOX Disc-1 “OP & ED Single” CD1 #11] NO, Thank You! (4/5) -- This track sounds piercing on my FLCs. On the ER3XR, hey aren't bright at all, once again proving the warmth of these IEMs.
Ayano Mashiro - [ideal white #01] ideal white (3/5) -- This song sounds partly a mess due to the master (Lookup: The loudness war. Japanese mastering are super prone to this.)
Haruna Luna - [Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau #01] Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau (4/5) -- Percussion hits and separation are on point.
[Anime Orchestra] - [Fate stay night] ★ Ideal White (Orchestra) (4.5/5) -- The separation and detail were great.


At $170, I really can't complain about these. I just really wish that the bass performance could have been better. I've always wanted to own one of the Etymotic’s since forever and imagined them as these perfect detail gods. I guess I was just expecting too much out of these, especially them being the budget version of the ER4 costing only $170.

Overall, I highly recommend them. If your library consists of <20% Metl/Rock/Electronic music, these are definitely worth it. If all you listen to is classical, especially symphony or piano, these are definitely 100% worth its price.

EDIT 1: Fixed missing text from intro. *derp*
EDIT 2: Fixed 100+ typo *oof*

Dobrescu George

Reviewer: AudiophileHeaven
Pros: Calrity, Precision, Analytical Ability, Noise Isolation, ADSR/PRaT (Textures), Build Quality, Sweet Midrange, Smooth treble, Linear Bass, At this price they're amazing even as a price/performance ratio
Cons: Linear Bass and Smooth Treble will work with certain music types and tastes best, How well the deep-fit works is subjective with everyone's ear anatomy
Etymotic ER3XR - Precise Beauty

Etymotic is a pretty well-known company who's an expert in creating and designing in-ear monitors (IEMs), and they made a more affordable version of ER4XR, now named ER3XR. We're going to take a look at this IEM and what it brings to the table.


Etymotic is an iconic company when it comes to IEMs, since they are some of the first who pioneered and engineered the BA (Balanced Armature) design. Etymotic house sound has always been described as very refined, very detailed and quite linear, so in comparison with most other headphones and in-ears, Etymotic has always felt like they are slightly midrange-forward, with voices and the majority of instruments coming forward with excellent power and life. Etymotic also has a signature in using their specific deep-seal, which alloys for extreme amounts of isolation from the outside noise, often being some of the best In-Ears for musicians and performers.

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Etymotic, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by Etymotic or anyone else. I'd like to thank Etymotic for providing the sample for this review. The sample was provided along with Etymotic's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review will be as objective as it is humanly possible, and it reflects my personal experience with Etymotic ER3XR. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Etymotic ER3XR find their next music companion.

About me


First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

The packaging is simpler and less inclusive than that of Etymotic ER4XR we reviewed before, but it has all the necessary items included, like the IEMs, a carrying solution, and a selection of tips and filters included with ER3XR. nIt should be noted that the filters are there to protect the IEM from debris and dust gathering inside, and it is not recommended to use an Etymtoic IEM without its filters.

The tip selection is fairly rich, and we often noticed that especially with Etymtoic IEMs, the medium tips that come installed on them are the tips most people will use with the IEMs.

The carrying solution is a soft pouch, which isn't as protective as the hard carrying case included with ER4XR, but it is more trendy, and it clearly has a nice design, with the name Etymotic embossed there.

It would be quite complicated to complain about the package, and the only thing we feel some users might desire from future iterations is a balanced cable, although that isn't currently easy to find for an Etymotic IEM, but we'll be sure to let you know more about them once they start becoming available.

What to look in when purchasing a midrange In-Ear Monitor

Technical Specifications

Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

The build quality of ER3XR is as good as ER4XR's build quality was, a metallic IEM shell, combined with an MMCX connector for your safety and convenience, and combined with long silicone tips.

Now, the tips are made out of silicone, and they are quite long, making the IEMs look like either professional musician tools, or medical tools, being quite easy to tell apart from your typical IEMs.

The cables included with ER3XR are extremely solid, thick and look reliable for both a more active music listener and for a musician performing live.

The fit and comfort, on the other hand, is quite tricky. The thing is, Etymotic has a very specific deep-fit that you need to take into account before purchasing their IEMs, those IEMs need to be inserted much deeper than the average shallow or medium-insertion depth IEM, thing which can cause some issues with some listeners, depending on the way the inner ear looks like.

Even so, after one has successfully inserted ER3XR, just like other Etymotic IEMs, will find that they become quite comfortable. Although, it should be noted that the insertion process is not quite hassle-free for some users, having to pull the ear while inserting, and inserting them very slowly, the IEM doesn't sit very bad after the process is done.

Now, the whole insertion step is this complicated because ER3XR, like all other Etymotic IEMs, offers an insane amount of passive noise reduction, Etymotic IEMs having a trademark in being the best isolating IEMs out there (at the previously mentioned cost in comfort).

Sound Quality

We need to get a few things out of the way before we start analysing the sound quality and the sonic performance of ER3XR. First, we'd like to note our readers that it has been stated by Etymotic online that ER3 series have a similar performance with ER4 series, but the IEMs themselves are produced in a different factory. This means that the performances are quite close, and that just the margin of errors are larger than those for ER4XR, but those margin of errors should still be quite a bit smaller than the human hearing should be able to pick up.

The second thing is that the ER3XR has an Extended Bass reproduction amount compared to other Etymotic In-Ears. We want our basshead and bass lover readers to keep this in mind, Etymotic IEMs are unsuited for basshead needs, they simply are the bassier versions of Etymotic house sound, not a basshead IEM per se.

Now, the sonic performance is quite close to ER4XR. So close, that we'd have a hard time telling ER3XR apart from ER4XR.

For those looking for a refresh on how ER4XR sounds like, we invite you to read our review here, and we'll try conveying once again what we're hearing.

The bass of ER3XR is quite linear, quite detailed, and quite impressive. With ER3XR, you notice the finer details that it can render in the bass of your favorite songs, the way it conveys certain nuances that otherwise can get subdued, especially by most IEMs at this price point. You get a new sensation of speed as well, as ER3XR has one of the quickest sounds around, you feel every little reverberation in the sound.

The speed of the driver is quite relevant for the midrange as well, which, compared to the bass and the treble, is quite pushed forward. This makes ER3XR a really great performer for vocal-driven music, Jazz, and other types of music where you'd want a less intrusive bass, along with a leaner and smoother treble. The thing that is the most impressive here is the level of clarity and detail, ER3XR is quite close to ER4XR, almost indistinguishably so, so you'll be hearing a whole new level of resolution, especially if you're used to IEMs at this price, or even slightly higher. The speed of the driver means that it has a wonderful ADSR/PRaT performance, so you get to hear and be able to analyse every single detail, every single texture and micro texture, all the things that are normally smooth are now expressed and distinguishable, pretty much the wet dream of an analytic-sound lover. The midrange can feel slightly forward and slightly aggressive, especially with certain types of music, but this makes the songs that are musical be even more musical, the added texturization to a guitar solo makes it even more immersive and vivid to experience.

The treble is quite smooth and lean, especially if compared to the energetic and forward midrange. The detail in the treble is good, and its speed is as quick as the treble and the midrange, but the quantity of the treble is not exactly what we'd go for if you're a metal or rock listener. Instead, of you prefer your treble smoother and leaner, with a presence, but in a non-intrusive manner, then ER3XR should bring you lots of fun and a pretty good experience.

In short, they will work well with vocal-driven music, with Jazz and certain types of pop, but they are smooth and lean, with a linear-ish bass, so metal and rock music will work well with them if you know you like them played like this. The details and textures are still quite amazing, and as good as we remembered Etymotic textures and details to be.


The Soundstage of ER3XR is not the largest one, nor the widest one, but instead, the instrument separation is what they rely on to be impressive. Basically, the soundstage is average in both width and depth, and given the detail they achieve, one's focus will probably be set more on each individual bit of detail, rather than be focused on the scene as a whole (since ER3XR is so great at being analytical), and the instrument separation helps with that, since one is able to easily tell details and textures apart, one is also able to tell instruments apart, the whole image painted by ER3XR being clear, well separated, clearly positioned and detailed.


The ADSR and PRaT (Texturization) of the sound is one of the best there are. Basically, the drivers of ER3XR are exactly what everybody is telling BA drivers to be, quick, light, and super-detailed. The sound is super-analytical, every single minute detail shines and has an excellent place in a song, textures, and micro textures are very well expressed and feel enhanced, and ER3XR will make the textures of Mindless Self Indulgence and Masa works Design feel like macro-textures, adding even more minute details, compared to how other IEMs paint the textures there as micro-details, so the ADSR / PRaT is as good as it can get (especially if you like hearing all the exciting details in the music).

Portable Usage

There's a shirt clip included!

The jokes aside, ER3XR is quite portable. The noise isolation is extremely good, so you will really have to be careful when walking with them, but they don't really get uncomfortable over time, and the tips don't get sweaty, so they won't fall out of your ears after a while.

The cables are not microphonic, and this can further be helped by wearing them over-the-ear and by using the shirt clip.

Both the cable and the IEM body are lightweight and you can easily feel free while wearing them, one can even do heavyweight training, jogging and aerobics while wearing ER3XR, thing which is actually quite great, especially since you're going to see them as a good solution for separating yourself from the world, with all that great isolation.

On how easy to drive they are, they are not quite that easy to drive. They need a bit of power, but still, most mobile sources should do just fine, if not too well. The main thing is that they have a somewhat low efficiency, at almost 103 dB, where most IEMs in this price range might lean to be more around 110 - 115 dB in efficiency. The impedance is not very high though, so they will be easier to drive than the ER4XR, which was quite hard to drive, but was also rated at 98dB of efficiency, and 45 OHM of impedance.

We'd say that something like a FiiO M7 would be an excellent overall choice for ER3XR, although there will also be better (although more expensive) options out there, like Hiby R6, or FiiO X7mkii, iBasso DX150, etc.


Etymotic ER3XR vs Etymotic ER4XR - The main two differences most people are going to notice are that ER4XR are harder to drive in practice, and that ER4XR come with more accessories, and with a better overall package. The main thing that might come as a shock is that ER3XR is more or less the same when it comes to its sonic ability, the differences between the two being really hard to asses, and since the differences in how hard they are to drive are a little large, it is hard to do a proper volume matching. All in all, if you want the ultimate XR experience from Etymotic and if you don't mind spending a little extra, then ER4XR is still their flagship, but if you want to save a few bucks and don't mind a simpler, yet still as useful package, then ER3XR is quite an amazing overall choice. The unboxing experience sure is more fancy on ER4XR, but most people won't unbox them over and over again, so ER3XR, with their simpler package, but very similar sound, does make the better overall deal.

Etymotic ER3XR vs Oriveti New Primacy - Oriveti New Primacy was chosen mostly because they come at a similar price as ER3XR, but the differences in sound are so big that one could say they have nothing in common. Where ER3XR is a midrange-forward IEM with a very analytic and detailed sound, ONP is very natural in both its tonal balance, and its overall texture presentation, the detail revealing abilities of ONP are not the same as those of ER3XR, which are quite revealing in their nature, but the overall sonics feel more natural on ONP, which simply sounds natural. If you have a delight in hearing all the intricacies within a song, then ER3XR is clearly the more revealing and more textured IEM, but the more bass amount of ONP, the more natural overall tonal balance, and the more lively upper midrange / treble makes them a choice suited for those looking for an easier listen and for a more natural experience. Where ER3XR has a deep-fit, ONP has a shallow fit, but also has some driver flex, so which will be more comfortable will be quite subjective. ONP still makes an excellent value, but so does ER3XR.

Etymotic ER3XR vs Dunu DK-3001 - DK-3001 is actually even further away from ER3XR, with an even more natural sound than Oriveti New Primacy, thing which basically means that they have more bass in quantity, less midrange in quantity, and more treble in quantity, along with a slower overall texture, leaner overall sound and presenting music in a more natural overall fashion. The package is quite fancy with DK-3001, and you can tell that you're purchasing a high-end IEM, and they clearly sound more natural, have a wider soundstage, and slightly better instrument separation, but once again, if you want a truly revealing analytical sound, then ER3XR, with its quick response, textured sound, and excellent revealing abilities / detail, will make the more compelling option. The comfort with DK-3001 might be a little problematic because they are on the larger side, and because some users reported having some comfort issues with them, but they also have a detachable cable, and they also have a shallow fit, if you find the deep-fit of ER3XR to not suit your ears very well. On the other hand, both are excellent value, and both IEMs's fit will be quite subjective, so if you can test before purchasing, we recommend testing each and seeing which suits your ears best.

Recommended Pairings

Etymotic ER3XR is somewhat more source-dependant than its bigger brother ER4XR, but it can be driven easier from less powerful sources, making it a more portable and easier to use for a beginner IEM.

Etymotic ER3XR + FiiO Q5(AMP5) - FiiO Q5 is quite probably one of the sources you'll be most inclined to pair ER3XR with, given its sweet price and its even sweeter price to performance ratio. FiiO Q5 has a great overall tonal balance, it gives them a good, larger soundstage, and it helps ER3XR gain even better instrument separation. The fact that Q5 is a DAC/AMP that needs to be stacked with a smartphone might be slightly inconvenient, but then again, you can pick FiiO x7mkii, if you want an all-in-one solution that will surely fit your needs.

Etymotic ER3XR + Hiby R6 - Hiby R6 does a great job at driving ER3XR, and although they are detailed and sensitive enough to tell R6 apart from something more expensive than it, like FiiO Q5 or FiiO X7mkii, R6 sounds plenty good already. With its fluid Android experience, if you're looking for something to help you stream your favorite music and for something to just use without any more hassles, R6 makes a very compelling option. On the other hand, we'd like to note that R6 has this little downside, it has only one microSD slot, compared to FiiO X7mkii, which has two.

Etymotic ER3XR + iBasso DX150 - If you're looking for something to give ER3XR a thicker and more satisfying sound, you should totally consider iBasso's latest jewel, DX150. It comes with all the beauty and power DX200 has, but at a much more accessible price, but still with iBasso's modular AMP design, and the AMP it comes with by default, AMP6 is quite thick and satisfying, providing a IEM with a lot of impact, and giving ER3XR quite a little bit of dynamics and impact, all while making their overall textures a tiny bit smoother and leaner.

Etymotic ER3XR + FiiO M7 - This is an interesting combo because M7 isn't just a sport-sized DAP made to be quite portable, but it is also quite inexpensive and plays well with ER3XR. If you don't require a lot of bells and whistles from your DAP, and if you can do with a single microSD slot, M7 sure is checking out for combining it with M7.

Etymotic ER3XR + Cayin N5ii - This combo works quite well. Cayin N5ii is not only very potent, but also comes at an excellent price for a DAP with two microSD slots, Android and the option to add third party apps as well. If you need streaming, two microSD slots, and a pretty neutral sound, then N5ii may be just the DAP for you.

Value and Conclusion

Reaching the end of our review, we hope you had a lot of fun reading about ER3XR, and we hope that we have been helpful in your decision on whether ER3XR should be your next IEM or not.

If you're looking for an Etymotic ER4XR, but in a less expensive package, then ER3XR should fit the bill quite well, with its similar ergonomic, similar fit and comfort, and similar noise isolation, and even with its similar sonic performance, but with the more pocket friendly price.

The detail and textures of Etymotic are not to be taken lightly and they have proven themselves many times over the ears to be a very capable company worthy of your trust and money, especially if you're one to appreciate a truly clean and analytical sound, with an extremely good detail and revealing ability, along with a very interesting sonic performance and overall price / performance ratio.

Etymotic ER3XR is a IEM with a midrange-forward tuning, so it will work quite well with certain types of music, especially with those that are voice-driven, but should also be heaven sent if you require a IEM to do mastering for an album and if you want to hear the sound down to the most intricate detail.

The package is still very comprehensive, you get all the tips you'll require with ER3XR, you get Etymotic's exemplary work, along with their reliable and lightweight cables, and a trendy, yet not very protective, carrying case. They'll also throw in a shirt clip, which would can come in very handy, especially if you plan on performing and need a tight fit with your IEMs.

At the end of the day, if you need excellent levels of noise isolation, if you need something to sound clear, clean and textured, stellar build quality, and a great overall deal, then Etymotic ER3XR are surely worth checking out and considering, regardless whether you're an avid music lover with a passion for detail, or a touring musician who needs a trusty tool in your arsenal.


Purchase link (Europe -


I hope my review is helpful to you!

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@Dobrescu George thanks a lot for the quick reply, Appreciate it. but is it normal for the vocals to be that harsh. I find some songs having normal reproduction. The instruments seems to be fine, only the voices seems harsh when they pronounce shhh, ssss, zzz,ttt etc.
and I have a doubt that, increase in volume can have that harshness?

Sorry for the dumb questions though. I'm just an entry level listener looking for detail and good instrument separation and trying to be an entry level Audiophile.

Also by acoustic filter you mean the small green replaceable filter that was provided in the package.
Dobrescu George
Dobrescu George
@msvrthexkid - Generally speaking, ER3SE should not be harsh in any way. Yes, there are some acoustic filters in the package, tiny objects that you have to insert in the sound tube for it to sound ok. I am not sure how to insert / take them out, but if it changed sound suddenly, replacing those should fix it.
@Dobrescu George sure, I'll try it. but is is something to be concerned with any manufacturing defect or so?
mine is the XR version and I could see the filter already available in the earpiece. Once again sorry for so many questions. just worried.

I tried it directly with my phones(android/iPhone) - Spotify/ Apple Music.
and also combining it with a portable Sonta TempoTec HD PRO same source.

Example songs:
Without You/ Alone together/ End of Time - Westlife
From Yesterday/ Dangerous Night/ Closer to the Edge - Thirty Seconds to Mars.
Madness - Muse.
Some Green Day Songs where ss, ts, zz like sounds are produced often.
these are the songs I found the harshness sometimes the instruments too.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: •the in-ear for those who find the SE/S/SR line just slightly too bass-shy
•tonal realism
•tonal evenness
•excellent price and value
•very serious alternative to the ER4 line but offered at a lower price
Cons: •deep insertion might require some time getting used to at first for those who are unfamiliar with it
•don't expect a *really* bassy Etymotic in-ear
•less included accessories than ER4 series and less strict quality control; different manufacturing facility

Mit der Auffrischung der ER-4 Serie führte Etymotic den im Bass Diffusfeld-neutralen ER4SR und den im Tiefton im Vergleich dazu etwas angehobenen ER4XR ein.

Nun bringt der amerikanische Audiohersteller, der auch in der wissenschaftlichen Forschung tätig ist, zwei weitere In-Ears auf den Markt, die diesem Schema folgen, und führt die ER3 Serie ein.
Die beiden neuen In-Ears, der ER3SE und ER3XR, stellen damit den Quasi-Nachfolger des HF5 dar, sollen aber als eigenständige Produktlinie etabliert werden.

Nachdem ich seinerzeit meine Rezensionen der beiden 2016 neu aufgelegten ER-4 In-Ears veröffentlich hatte, sagte man mir seitens Etymotic das baldige Zusenden von weiteren In-Ears zur Rezension zu, nämlich zweier Modelle aus der damals noch öffentlich unerwähnten ER3 Serie. Aus „bald“ wurden einige Monate, aber nun sind die beiden ER3 In-Ears endlich auf dem Markt. Und in meinen Ohren zur kritischen Beurteilung.

In dieser deutschsprachigen Rezension habe ich mir den ER3XR näher vorgenommen und kläre unter anderem, wie er sich vom ER4XR und ER3SE unterscheidet.

Erhältlich ist der neue ER3XR mittlerweile übrigens auch bei Amazon Deutschland:

Technische Daten:

UVP vor Steuern: 179$; deutscher Preis inklusive Steuern ~ 229€ (Amazon)
Frequenzgang: 20 Hz – 16 kHz
Geräuschisolation: 35 – 42 dB
Impedanz: 22 Ohm
Empfindlichkeit (bei 1 kHz & 0,1 V): 102 dB
Maximale Ausgangslautstärke: 120 dB
Kabel: austauschbar, 4 Fuß lang
Garantie: 2 Jahre


Im Vergleich zur neuen ER4-Serie fällt der Lieferumfang der beiden In-Ears aus der neuen ER3-Serie weitaus nüchterner aus – neben dem In-Ear selbst und dem üblichen Papierkram findet man nur ein Paar an zylindrischen Schaumstoff-Aufsätzen, ein Paar an großen Tannenbaum-Aufsätzen, ein Paar an kleinen Tannenbaum-Aufsätzen, eine kleine Aufbewahrungs-Tasche, die bereits vom ER•4S bekannt ist, einen Shirt-Clip sowie ein Paar an akustischen Ersatz-Filtern inklusive Werkzeug zum Wechseln dieser vor.

Gegangen ist also im Vergleich zu den Modellen der neuen ER4-Linie das individuelle Performance-Zertifikat, das unter anderem den Frequenzgang beider Seiten darstellt, der 6,3 auf 3,5 mm Adapter, die Hälfte aller Aufsätze und Ersatz-Filter inklusive kleinem Plastik-Röhrchen zum Verstauen dieser, und schließlich das größere Transport- und Aufbewahrungs-Etui.

Optik, Haptik, Verarbeitung:

Die Gehäuse des ER3XR bestehen aus Metall, doch sind diese im Gegensatz zu denen des ER4XR seidenmatt schwarz statt stahlblau seidenmatt glänzend. Hochwertig erscheinen allerdings beide und besitzen neben der Seriennummer auch einen Modellschriftzug.

Auch die In-Ears der ER3-Serie besitzen abnehmbare Kabel mit MMCX-Steckern, die gegen Rotation gesichert sind und dadurch eine ähnlich gute Haltbarkeit und Zuverlässigkeit wie das alte 2-Pin Stecksystem des ER•4S, das von der Sennheiser HD 6x0-Reihe übernommen wurde, besitzen sollten.
Dementsprechend sind die Kabel der ER3- und ER4-Serie auch untereinander kompatibel.

Das Kabel selbst unterscheidet sich ebenfalls von dem der neuen ER4-Modelle, so ist es beim ER3XR nicht nur im Direktvergleich dünner, sondern auch kürzer und besitzt oberhalb des Y-Splitters reguläre Adern anstelle von verdrillten Litzen, weshalb es etwas mehr Kabelgeräusche überträgt. Einen Kinnschieber hat man dennoch glücklicherweise implementiert.
Auch wenn das Kabel der In-Ears der neuen ER4-Serie aus meiner Sicht besser ist, gibt es bezüglich Flexibilität und Weichheit absolut nichts am ER3-Kabel zu beanstanden.

Der einzige Mangel der In-Ears, wie auch schon bei den beiden Modellen der neuen ER4-Serie, besteht darin, dass die Seitenmarkierungen, die aus kleinen Buchstaben auf den Hülsen der Stecker des Kabels bestehen, sehr klein und in mäßig beleuchtetem Umfeld nur schlecht erkennbar sind.

- - -

Bedenkt man, dass die In-Ears der neuen ER4-Serie und die ER3 In-Ears fast identisch implementierte Treiber verwenden und sich dementsprechend tonal sowie technisch stark ähneln (ja, ich greife vor), fragt man sich zwangsläufig, wie der Preisunterschied zustande kommt. Abgesehen vom reduzierten Lieferumfang der ER3-Serie besitzt diese andere Kabel, aber hauptsächlich verantwortlich ist der andere Produktionsstandort (ER3: Produktion in China; ER4: Produktion in den USA) einhergehend mit einer im Verhältnis weniger strikten Qualitätskontrolle und größeren erlaubten Fertigungstoleranzen.
Interessanterweise messen sich beide Seiten des erhaltenen ER3XR Exemplars mit solch geringen Abweichungen, dass sie auch die strengere ER4-Qualitätskontrolle mit Bravur meistern würden (laut öffentlicher und glaubwürdiger Aussage von Etymotic träfe dies auf die meisten Exemplare der ER3-Serie zu, doch könne man dies, anders als bei den ER4-Modellen, nicht garantieren).
Durch seine geringere Impedanz und insbesondere höhere Empfindlichkeit ist der ER3XR übrigens auch bei der gleichen Lautstärke-Einstellung lauter als der ER4XR und kann dadurch mit Leistungs-schwachen Quellgeräten zu höheren Lautstärken gebracht werden.

Tragekomfort, Isolation:

Die In-Ears der ER3 Serie müssen sehr tief eingesetzt werden und die zweite Biegung des Gehörganges passieren, damit der Klang korrekt ist. Anfangs mag sich dies irritierend anfühlen oder gar zu geringfügigen Schmerzen führen, wenn man nicht an In-Ears gewöhnt ist, die so tief eingesetzt werden; ich zumindest habe keine Probleme mit dem tiefen Einsetzen und empfinde auch keine Schmerzen dabei.
Am besten kann man die In-Ears zuerst mit dem Kabel nach unten einsetzen, woraufhin man auch automatisch weiß, wann die korrekte Einsetztiefe erreicht ist. Danach kann man das Kabel um die Ohren legen, was ich auch so handhabe. Dadurch wird die Mikrofonie (Kabelgeräusche) auf ein erträgliches Niveau gesenkt (weniger Mikrofonie ist aufgrund des tiefen Einsetzens kaum möglich, doch in Verbindung mit der Trageweise über den Ohren sowie dem Kinnschieber lässt sie sich gut reduzieren).

Ich besitze ziemlich große Gehörgänge, weshalb ich bereits die Aufsätze meines ER•4S modifizieren musste, um einen dauerhaften Seal zu erreichen.
Die In-Ears der neuen ER3-Serie kommen mit den bereits von der neuen ER4-Serie bekannten Silikon-Aufsätzen, welche die gleichen Abmessungen besitzen, jedoch aus einem anderen Material gefertigt sind. Zu meiner Überraschung dichten die großen Aufsätze in meinen großen Gehörgängen ab, da das neue Material etwas stabiler als auch klebriger ist. Nichtsdestotrotz muss ich den Sitz dann noch immer von Zeit zu Zeit korrigieren, weshalb ich sie ebenfalls modifiziert habe (dazu schnitt ich den kleinsten Flansch der Aufsätze ab, zog ihn zuerst auf das Schallröhrchen und ließ die anderen beiden Lamellen dann folgen – dadurch erlange ich nun einen sehr guten und konstanten Seal in meinen Ohren und die Länge der Aufsätze bleibt praktisch unverändert).

Sofern die In-Ears korrekt eingesetzt sind und abdichten, ist die Geräuschisolation sehr hoch.

Neutral = Neutral?

Bevor ich hier weiter zum „Klang“ Abschnitt schreite, möchte ich mich kurz noch mit der Theorie der Neutralität von Kopfhörern und In-Ears befassen und eine knappe Einführung zu diesem Thema geben.

Ist die neutrale, messtechnisch ideale Referenz-Kurve bei Lautsprechern klar definiert, sieht die ganze Angelegenheit bei Kopfhörern, zu denen auch In-Ears zählen, etwas anders aus, denn ein In-Ear Kopfhörer, der sich nach Lautsprecher-Kriterien neutral misst, hört sich, direkt am Trommelfell gemessen, für unser Ohr anders an: dies liegt daran, dass unsere Ohren und der Oberkörper von außen kommenden Schall (also im richtigen Leben, bei Schallquellen im Raum wie etwa Lautsprechern oder dem Fließgeräusch des Wasserhahns) in bestimmten Frequenzbereichen aus Resonanzen resultierend verstärken. Bei Kopfhörern fällt diese natürliche, anatomisch bedingte Verstärkung weg, da sich die Schallquelle direkt am Ohr respektive im Gehörgang befindet, der Gehörgang also beidseitig geschlossen ist, wodurch der natürliche „Open Ear Gain“ wegfällt.
Um diese natürliche Verstärkung zu imitieren und deren Mangel zu kompensieren, sollte ein Kopfhörer deshalb idealerweise in diesem Frequenzbereich (ca. zwischen 200 und 15000 Hz mit dem Höhepunkt bei etwa 2,7 kHz mit um die 15 dB) eine Überhöhung besitzen – am Trommelfell gemessen ergibt sich daraus resultierend dann ein natürlicher, linearer Frequenzgang. (Siehe zu dieser Thematik auch HRTF und Open Ear Gain.) Von Mensch zu Mensch variiert die Anatomie des Ohrs natürlich, weswegen die Wahrnehmung der durchschnittlichen Diffusfeld-Kompensationskurve individuell auch etwas unterschiedlich ausfallen kann, insbesondere in der Wahrnehmung der oberen Mitten, die bei manchen Kopfhörern von manchen Menschen als etwas zu drückend oder gar schrill empfunden werden, wenn ein gewisser Grad der Ausprägung erreicht ist.
Die meisten Frequenzschriebe von Kopfhörern, die wir online oder in Magazinen sehen können, haben die HRTF-Kompensation bei der Abstimmung der Kopfhörer schon herausgerechnet und geben den am Trommelfell wahrgenommenen Frequenzgang wieder.

Davon abgesehen gibt es noch eine andere Sache, bei der es zwischen Experten teils größere Uneinigkeit über die Abstimmung von neutral wahrgenommenen Kopfhörern gibt: hören wir über Lautsprecher Musik, nehmen wir nicht nur den Luftschall über die Ohren wahr, sondern bekommen auch über unseren Körper taktil den von der Schallquelle wiedergegebenen Körperschall mit, besonders bei höheren Lautstärken und sehr tiefen Frequenzen. Deshalb kann ein neutral abgestimmter Kopfhörer unter Umständen im Tiefton als etwas zu dünn klingend empfunden werden. Manche Menschen sind daher der Ansicht, dass dieser fehlende Körperschall durch eine eher tief angesetzte, geringfügig (!) ausgeprägte Bassbetonung kompensiert werden soll, damit der Kopfhörer „natürlich“ klingt und subjektiv die Wiedergabe über neutrale Lautsprecher imitiert. Darüber, wie die gemittelte HRTF aussieht, herrscht jedoch Einigkeit in den Untersuchungsergebnissen verschiedener Institute und Forscher.

Wie man sehen kann, ist empfundene Neutralität bei Kopfhörern nicht unbedingt zu 100% abschließend definiert und kann je nach Ansicht anders aussehen (keine messtechnische, gering ausfallende Mid- und Tiefbassbetonung vs. gering ausfallende messtechnische Mid- und Tiefbassanhebung, messtechnisch bei der Kompensation neutral ausfallende untere Höhen vs. messtechnisch bei der Kompensation geringfügig zurückgesetzte untere Höhen und so weiter).


Als Quellgeräte für den ER3XR dienten mir hauptsächlich der iBasso DX200 (Standard-Modul AMP1) und HiFime 9018d.

Wichtig ist für den richtigen Klang die korrekte Länge des Schallaustritts sowie die richtige Einsetztiefe. Dass sich das Ende des Schallaustritts sehr tief im Gehörgang befinden muss, nach dem zweiten Knick des Gehörganges, sollte nach dem Abschnitt „Tragekomfort, Isolation“ klar sein.
Die korrekte Länge der Ohrpassstücke ist jedoch mindestens genauso wichtig. Wie bereits weiter oben beschrieben, verwende ich den ER3XR mit den standardmäßig mitgelieferten, großen Tannenbaumaufsätzen, die ich so modifiziert habe, dass sie in meinen großen Gehörgängen eine gute Abdichtung bilden, jedoch ihre Länge beibehalten. Mit anderen Aufsätzen (Einfach-Flansch und somit kürzere Länge des Schallröhrchens) war der Klang in meinen Ohren tonal hörbar verfälscht und nicht so, wie er sein sollte (lediglich die langen Schaumstoffaufsätze von Etymotic klingen so ziemlich wie die Tannenbaumaufsätze in meinen Ohren, doch ich mag Schaumstoffaufsätze bei In-Ears generell nicht so recht).


Wie schon der ER4XR ist der ER3XR wohl genau der In-Ear, den sich manche manchmal nicht gänzlich zufriedene Besitzer des ER-4S/SR wünsch(t)en – ein In-Ear mit Etymotics sehr neutralem und harmonischem, kohärentem und natürlichem Mittel- und Hochton, jedoch mit etwas mehr Basspräsenz im Vergleich zu einem im Bass Diffusfeld-Referenz-neutralen und verfärbungsfrei-sterilen In-Ear Monitor.

Was man im Grunde genommen erhält, ist ein flacher, neutraler Mittel- und Hochton, in Verbindung mit einer Betonung des Bassbereichs, die im mittleren Grundton beginnt und langsam gen Tiefbass ansteigt, wo sich ihr Punkt der maximalen Ausprägung befindet.
Nichtsdestotrotz ist der Klang weit davon entfernt, bassig zu sein, denn der ER3XR besitzt nicht mehr oder viel mehr Quantität im Tiefton als andere In-Ears, die als weitestgehend neutral eingestuft werden, sich jedoch nicht Diffusfeld-neutral messen (nicht zwangsweise, weil ihre Schöpfer inkompetent sind und nicht wissen, wie eine flache Klangsignatur auszusehen hat, sondern viel mehr aufgrund anderer Aspekte wie der Kompensation des Fehlens von Körperschall oder subjektiv empfundener Neutralität).

Fast schon verleitet dazu, den Abschnitt „Tonalität“ meiner ER4XR-Rezension zu kopieren, sehe ich mich doch tatsächlich hier, denn der ER3XR klingt diesem wirklich sehr, sehr ähnlich – die Unterschiede stecken in nur feinen Details, mit einer wirklich nur minimal „wärmeren“ Spielweise des ER3XR, einhergehend mit geringfügig mehr Entspanntheit.
Deshalb verweise ich an dieser Stelle tatsächlich auf meine ER4XR-Rezension und lade alle Leser ein, für einen detaillierten Direktvergleich etwas herunter zu scrollen, denn im Abschnitt „Im Vergleich mit anderen In-Ears“ gehe ich auf die exakten Unterschiede zwischen dem ER3XR und ER4XR ein.


Wer denkt, die ER3-Serie löse schlechter auf als die Modelle aus der neuen ER4-Linie, täuscht sich. Dem ist nämlich nicht so.

Auch der ER3XR besitzt eine sehr gute Sprachverständlichkeit sowie Feinzeichnung kleiner Details, einhergehend mit einer präzisen Trennung einzelner Noten im Hochton und einem guten und insbesondere schnellen als auch trockenen Bass, der allerdings bei komplexen und schnellen Stücken manchmal ein wenig zu sich abzeichnender Unsauberkeit neigt, ohne dass die Schläge und Bass-Lines schlecht voneinander getrennt oder weich wären.

Das Auflösungs- und Headroom-Niveau teurerer Multi-BA Flaggschiffe und In-Ears erreicht der Ety dabei insgesamt nicht ganz, aber das erwartet eigentlich auch niemand von ihm. Beide Arten, Breitband- und Mehrwege-Konstruktionen, besitzen nun mal ihre eigenen Vor- und Nachteile. Und für einen Single-BA In-Ear zählt der ER3XR, Ety-typisch, zu den besseren, wenn nicht gar besten Modellen auf dem Markt.

Räumliche Darstellung:

Die Bühne des ER3XR ist weder die kleinste noch die größte, sondern repräsentiert ein durchschnittliches Mittelmaß, das ein wenig breiter als tief wirkt, nichtsdestotrotz auch ein gutes Maß an räumlicher Tiefe besitzt und gut staffelt. Dadurch wirkt die imaginäre Räumlichkeit für den Zuhörer glaubhaft und insbesondere zusammenhängend.
Die Platzierung von Instrumenten erfolgt sehr präzise und Nebligkeit bleibt aus, wenngleich der ER3SE im Direktvergleich noch eine Spur besser abschneidet.


Im Vergleich mit anderen In-Ears:

Etymotic ER4XR:

Die tonalen Unterschiede zwischen dem ER3XR und ER4XR fallen geringer als zwischen dem ER3SE und ER4SR aus, weswegen man den ER3XR und ER4XR als fast gleich abgestimmt bezeichnen könnte. So sind die Abstimmungs-Unterschiede zwischen den beiden In-Ears in etwa so gering, wie die Seiten-Unterschiede ein und desselben In-Ears bei manch anderem Hersteller ausfallen könnten.

Im Mid- und Tiefbass gleichen sich beide In-Ears. Einzig im Oberbass und Grundton besitzt der ER3XR ein wenig mehr Wärme und Kick (sofern man bei einem Etymotic In-Ear überhaupt davon sprechen kann).
Im Präsenzbereich ist der ER3XR nur minimal weniger präsent.
Einzig um 6, 7 kHz zeigt sich ein „deutlicherer“ Unterschied zwischen den beiden In-Ears: der ER3XR spielt hier etwas entspannter auf.
Im oberen Hochton ist der ER3XR wieder zurückhaltender, wenngleich auch nur geringfügig, was man etwa an der Wiedergabe von Becken erkennen kann.

Davon abgesehen sind beide In-Ears im Mid- und Tiefbass, sowie den zentralen Mittelton und Hochtonumfang betreffend, gleich abgestimmt. Dementsprechend würde ich den ER3XR aufgrund der praktisch kongruenten Auflösungs-technischen Leistung als die aufgrund des günstigeren Preises „bessere“ Alternative zum ER4XR bezeichnen – einzig für Anwender, die vorhaben, den In-Ear zur ernsthaften Musik-Produktion zu benutzen, könnte sich der Aufpreis des ER4XR letztlich wegen seiner etwas höheren Flachheit im Grundton und Hochton dennoch noch lohnen, sofern sie die Kompensation des fehlenden Körperschalls bei In-Ears, die die XR-Modelle mit ihrer moderaten Bassanhebung im Vergleich zum im Tiefton Diffusfeld-neutral abgestimmten SR/SE Modell mitbringen, als „richtiger“ empfinden.

In Sachen Detailauflösung sind beide In-Ears gleichauf – einzig wirkt der ER3XR minimal weicher im Bass, doch der Eindruck verschwindet, wenn man seinen unteren Grundton und Kickbass geringfügig absenkt und somit auf ER4XR-Niveau bringt.

Die räumliche Darstellung ist bei beiden In-Ears gleichermaßen präzise und realistisch, mit gleich guter Staffelung und Trennung des imaginären Geschehens.
Geringfügig mehr Breite scheint der ER4XR zu besitzen, doch kommt diese durch seinen im Vergleich etwas höheren Oberhochton-Pegel zustande

Etymotic ER3SE:

Der ER3XR verhält sich zum ER3SE praktisch wie sich der ER4XR zum ER4SR verhält: etwas angehobener, aber bei vielen Herstellern noch immer als neutral wahrgenommen durchgehender Tiefton zur Kompensation des bei In-Ears und Kopfhörern fehlenden Körperschalls, minimal weniger präsenter Präsensbereich (bei den ER3-Modellen nur mess- und nicht hörbar), ein wenig hellerer oberer Hochton.

Was die Detailauflösung, Sprachverständlichkeit und Instrumententrennung angeht, sind beide In-Ears gleichauf.
Im Tiefton unterscheiden sie sich allerdings – hier wirkt der ER3XR weniger sauber als der ER3SE. An dieser Stelle möchte ich gleichzeitig auch meine Statements in den Rezensionen zu den beiden In-Ears der neuen ER4-Serie korrigieren: auch bei ihnen ist es so, dass das XR-Modell im Bassbereich und Grundton weniger sauber als die SR-Ausführung klingt (in meinen ursprünglichen Reviews sprach ich von gleicher Bassqualität – dies mag zwar auf die Trockenheit und Schnelligkeit zutreffen, jedoch nicht auf die Sauberkeit des Basses).

In Bezug auf die Bühnendarstellung besitzt der ER3XR in meinen Ohren geringfügig weniger räumliche Tiefe bei gleichzeitig geringfügig mehr Breite und einer minimal weniger präzisen Instrumententrennung.


Wie auch schon der ER4XR stellt sich auch der Etymotic ER3XR als Alternative für alle dar, die den Bass des ER4SR und ER3SE als zu flach/langweilig und Diffusfeld-neutral empfinden, und stattdessen die populärere, den Mangel der mit Kopfhörern fehlenden Körperschall-Wahrnehmung ausgleichende, noch immer für viele Probanden als mild und neutral durchgehende, Anhebung des Tieftons als „richtiger“ empfinden.

Wer auf die im Grundton sowie mittleren Hochton nochmal geringfügig „genauere“ tonale Abstimmung des ER4XR, den Produktions-Standort USA, das individuell angefertigte Performance-Zertifikat und den umfangreicheren Lieferumfang verzichten kann und sich nicht an der womöglich verhältnismäßig etwas weniger strengen Qualitätskontrolle stört, findet im ER3XR eine günstigere Alternative zum tonal enorm ähnlichen, ja fast schon gleich abgestimmten ER4XR, der auch technisch praktisch gleich gut ist, was ebenfalls auf die Bühnendarstellung zutrifft.

Anhör- und Geheim-Tipp in Etymotics Produktfamilie.



With the ER-4 series refreshing, Etymotic introduced the ER4SR, an in-ear with a diffuse-field flat bass response, and the ER4XR, an in-ear with a somewhat elevated low range in comparison.


Now the American audio manufacturer, which is also involved in scientific research, has launched two more in-ears following this tuning pattern and introducing the brand-new ER3 series.
The two new in-ears, the ER3SE and ER3XR, are thus the quasi-substitute of the HF5, but are supposed to be established as an independent product line.

After I, an avid lover and fan of the original ER•4S, had published my reviews of the two new ER-4 In-Ears in 2016, Etymotic told me that I would soon receive further in-ears for review, namely two models from the ER3 series, which at that time was were not publicly mentioned. Soon then turned into “some months”, but now the two ER3 in-ears are finally on the market, as well as in my ears for a critical appraisal.

In this very review that is available in English and German language, I have taken a closer look at the ER3XR and explain how it differs from the ER4XR and ER3SE.

Full disclosure: Etymotic reached out to me and told me I was eventually receiving two more in-ears for review, which turned out to be the ER3XR and ER3SE. I received them free of charge for review purpose, nonetheless, as always, my words written above and below remain nonetheless true, unbiased honest and written without any guidelines or requirements for the review, no matter how it would turn out.
The English review was semi machine-translated (each paragraph was translated but manually checked and corrected for significant automated translation errors, which interestingly took longer than expected) since I initially planned to release my review exclusively in German language.

Technical Specifications:

MSRP before taxes: 179$; German price including taxes ~ 229€
Frequency response: 20 Hz - 16 kHz
Noise insulation: 35 - 42 dB
Impedance: 22 Ohm
Sensitivity (at 1 kHz & 0.1 V): 102 dB
Maximum output volume: 120 dB
Cable: interchangeable, 4 foot long
Warranty: 2 years

Delivery Content:

In comparison to the new ER4 series, the delivery content of the two In-Ears from the new ER3 series is far simpler - apart from the In-Ear itself and the usual paperwork, there are only a few cylindrical foam tips, a pair of large triple-flange silicone tips, a pair of small triple-flange silicone tips, a small storage bag that is already known from the ER-4S, a shirt clip as well as one pair of spare acoustic filters along with a tool to replace them.

DSC04834-small.JPG DSC04837-small.JPG

Compared to the models of the new ER4 line, the individual performance certificate which includes the frequency response on both sides has therefore been removed from the included accessories, just like the 6.3 to 3.5 mm adapter, half of all ear tips and replacement filters including the small plastic tube for storing them, and lastly the larger transport and storage case.

Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

The housings of the ER3XR are made of metal, but unlike the ER4XR, they are satin black instead of stainless-steel blue. However, they both appear to be of high quality and, in addition to the serial number, also feature a model engraving.

The in-ears of the ER3 series also have removable cables with MMCX connectors that are protected against rotation and therefore have a similar durability and reliability to the old 2-pin connector system of the ER-4S, which was adopted from the Sennheiser HD 6x0 series.
As a result, the ER3 and ER4 series cables are also compatible with each other.


The cable itself is also different from that of the new ER4 models, as it is not only thinner in the ER3XR in direct comparison, but also shorter and has regular wires above the Y-split instead of twisted strands, which is why it transmits a little more cable noise. Fortunately, a chin slide has been implemented.
Even though I think the cable of the new ER4 series is ultimately a bit better, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the ER3 cable in terms of flexibility and softness.

The only flaw of the in-ears, as with the two models of the new ER4 series, is that the side markings, which consist of small letters on the sleeves of the cable's connectors, are very small and difficult to see in moderately lit environments.

- - -

Considering that the in-ears of the new ER4 series and the ER3 in-ears use almost identically implemented drivers and are similar in tone and technology (yes, I'm anticipating), one has to ask oneself why there is a noticeable price difference between the two product lines.
Apart from the reduced standard accessories of the ER3 series, the ER3 series in-ears feature other cables, but the different production location (ER3: production in China; ER4: production in the USA) is mainly responsible for this, along with a less stringent quality control and larger permitted manufacturing tolerances for the ER3 series compared to the ER4 models.
It is interesting to note that both sides of the ER3XR unit I received however measure with such minor deviations that they would also manage to pass the stricter ER4 quality control standards with bravery (according to Etymotic's public and generally trustworthy statement, this would likely apply to most ER3 series copies, but unlike the ER4 models, it cannot be guaranteed).

Due to its lower impedance and higher sensitivity, the ER3XR is also louder than the ER4XR at the same volume setting and can therefore be brought to higher volumes with low-power source devices.

Comfort, Isolation:

The in-ears of the ER3 series must be inserted very deeply and the second bend of the ear canal must be passed for the sound to be correct. In the beginning, this may feel irritating or even cause slight pain if you are not used to in-ears that are inserted that deeply; at least I have however no problems with deep insertion anymore and feel no pain.
It is best to insert the in-ears first with the cable down, whereupon you automatically know when the correct insertion depth has been reached. After that you can wrap the cable around your ears, which I also do. This lowers the microphonics (cable noise) to a tolerable level (less microphonics are hardly possible due to the deep insertion, but in combination with an over-ear cable fit and using the chin slider, it can be reduced well).


I have got quite large ear canals, which is why I already had to modify the tips of my ER-4S and the new ER4 series in-ears to achieve a proper and long-lasting seal.
The in-ears of the new ER3 series come with silicone tips already known from the new ER4 series, which have the same dimensions but are made of a different material compared to the old ER4 series tips. To my surprise, the large tips seal well in my large rear canals as the new material is a bit more stable and stickier. Nonetheless, I still have to correct the fit from time to time, which is why I also modified the new tips (by cutting off the smallest flange of the triple-flange tips, then pulling it onto the nozzle and then having the other two lamellas follow – that way I get a very good and constant seal in my ears and the length of the ear tips remains practically unchanged).

Provided the in-ears are correctly inserted and sealed, the sound insulation is very high.

Neutral = Neutral?

Before I head over to the “Sound” section of my review, I will take a short look at the theory and research of neutrality with headphones and in-ears and give a very brief introduction to this topic.

With loudspeakers in a room, it is quite easy to define what a measurably neutral frequency response should look like, as it is supposed to be a flat line. The case is different in the headphone realm: A headphone or in-ear that would measure exactly like a flat speaker in a raw measurement would sound different directly at the eardrum – this is because our ears, ear canals and upper body amplify certain areas of the frequency range, which is a totally natural thing. With headphones and in-ears, these natural reflections and amplification disappear as the source of sound is directly at the ear, respectively inserted into the ear, wherefore the ear canal is closed on both sides and the “Open Ear Gain” disappears.
To imitate the natural amplification of the lack of this Open Ear Gain, a headphone should ideally show a boost in this area of the frequency response when an uncompensated frequency response chart is viewed (roughly speaking, the boost should be seen between ca. 200 and 15000 Hz, with the climax around 2.7 kHz with an elevation of around 15 dB here). Measured directly at the ear drum, this would result in a perceived flat and neutral frequency response (important and related key words on this topic are “HRTF” and “Open Ear Gain”).
Of course the ear anatomy will slightly differ among individuals, wherefore the perception of the averaged diffuse-field target might not be perceived equally by everybody, especially when it comes to the perception of the upper midrange and presence area, wherefore some people perceive an in-ear that measures flat in the presence area and lower treble after subtracting the Open Ear Gain from the raw measurement as exhausting or even shrill whereas many other individuals hear the same frequency response as acoustically flat and neutral.
Most frequency responses of headphones one can see in magazines and large online sites are therefore usually shown with the diffuse-field compensation already subtracted from the raw measurement and show the frequency response that is perceived directly at the ear drum instead of the raw measurement that can be confusing at first if one is used to loudspeaker measurements.

Apart from the existence of the Open Ear Gain, there is one thing that has caused some inconsistency among researchers about what the ideal neutrally perceived frequency response for headphones should be: Listening to music, we don’t only hear the sound waves that reach our ear drums, but also feel the mechanical vibration/body-borne noise with our whole body, especially at higher volume levels. With headphones however, there is no mechanical vibration/body-borne noise anymore, wherefore some people might find a diffuse-field neutral headphone to sound too thin although a neutrally measuring loudspeaker in a highly treated might not perceived this way by the same person. Some people and researchers are therefore convinced that the lack of mechanical vibration/body-borne noise when listening through headphones should be compensated by adding a slight (!) emphasis to lower notes in order to get a headphone to be subjectively perceived to sound equally neutral as a neutrally measuring loudspeaker.

As one can see, the perceived neutrality with headphones is a topic where there is no 100% unity even among famous researchers upon what the ideal frequency response should look like, and of course the individual ear and body anatomy might as well contribute to individual variance although major researches have come to the same conclusion of what the averaged HRTF looks like.


The main source devices I used for the ER3XR were the iBasso DX200 (Standard Module AMP1) and HiFime 9018d.
The correct length of the sound outlet and the correct insertion depth are important for the right sound. The fact that the end of the sound outlet must be very deep in the ear canal, after the second bend of the ear canal, should be clear after the section “comfort, isolation”.
However, the correct length of the ear tips is at least as important. As described above, I'm using the ER3XR with the standard large triple-flange silicone tips, which I've modified to provide a good seal in my large ear canals while retaining their length. With other ear tips (e.g. single flange and thus shorter length of the sound tube) the sound in my ears was audibly changed and not the way it should be (only the long, cylindrical foam tips included by Etymotic sound almost identical to the triple-flange tips in my ears, but I generally don’t like to use foam tips with in-ears.


Like already the ER4XR, the ER3XR is probably exactly the kind of in-ear that some owners of the ER-4S/SR who were not completely satisfied with them have always dreamt of - an in-ear with Etymotic’s very neutral and harmonious, coherent and natural midrange and high frequency tuning, but with a little bit more bass presence compared to their S/SR models that are tuned for a diffuse-field neutral bass response.

Basically, what you get is a flat, neutral midrange and treble, combined with an emphasis on the bass range that starts in the middle fundamental range and slowly climbs towards the low bass, where its maximum peak is located.
Nevertheless, the sound is still far from being really “bassy”, because the ER3XR has just as much quantity in the low frequency range as other in-ears that are usually classified as largely neutral, but do not measure with a slightly/somewhat elevated bass response compared to the diffuse-field target (not necessarily because their creators are incompetent and do not know what a flat signature is supposed to look like, but rather because of other aspects such as the compensation of the missing perception of mechanical vibrations in in-ears or the tuning based on subjectively perceived neutrality (that Etymotic also addressed in their “case of the missing 6 dB” study)).

I am very tempted to just copy the section "Tonality" of my ER4XR review right here because the ER3XR really sounds very similar to this one - the differences are only expressed in fine details, with a really only slightly “warmer” character of the ER3XR, along with slightly more treble relaxation.
That's why I'm just linking to my English Head-FI review of the ER4XR and invite all readers to scroll down a bit for a detailed direct comparison, because in the section "in comparison with other in-ears" I'll discuss the exact differences between the ER3XR and ER4XR.


If you think that the ER3 series resolves lesser than the models from the new ER4 line, you are wrong since that is just not the case.

Also the ER3XR offers very good speech intelligibility and fine resolution of small details, accompanied by a precise separation of single notes in the high frequency range and a good and especially fast as well as tight bass which however sometimes tends to become slightly unclean in complex and fast pieces, without the beats and bass lines being badly separated from each other or appearing soft yet.

The Ety doesn't fully reach the resolution and headroom level of some more expensive multi-BA flagships and in-ears, but no one really expects that from it. Both types, wideband and multi-BA designs, have their own advantages and disadvantages. And for a single-BA In-Ear, the ER3XR, typically dor Ety, is one of the better, if not the best, single-BA models on the market.


The soundstage of the ER3XR is neither the smallest nor the largest, but represents average dimensions and appears a little wider than deep, yet has a good amount of spatial depth and is well-layered. This makes the imaginary soundstage appear realistic and, in particular, coherent to the listener.
The placement of instruments is very precise and fogging is avoided, although the ER3SE performs even a tad better in a direct comparison.


In Comparison with other In-Ears:

Etymotic ER4XR:

The tonal differences between the ER3XR and ER4XR are less pronounced than between the ER3SE and ER4SR (speaking of the units I have on hand), which is why the ER3XR and ER4XR could be described as almost similar. For example, the differences between the two in-ears are about as small as the side matching differences of one and the same in-ear from most other manufacturers (and I’m not talking about clearly mismatched models but rather in-ears that measure with a really, really tight channel matching).

In the mid and low bass, both in-ears are the same. Only in the upper bass and fundamental range the ER3XR has a little more warmth and impact (if you can talk about it at all with an Etymotic In-Ear).
The ER3XR is only slightly less present in the presence area.
Solely around 6 and 7 kHz, there is a "more obvious" difference between the two in-ears: the ER3XR is a bit more relaxed here.
In the upper highs, the ER3XR is again a little more relaxed, albeit only slightly, which can be however heard in the reproduction of cymbals.

Apart from that, both in-ears are similarly tuned in the mid- and sub-bass, as well as regarding the central midrange and treble extension. As a result, I would call the ER3XR the "better" alternative to the ER4XR due to its virtually similar resolution performance - only for users who plan to use the in-ear for serious music production, the upcharge for the ER4XR could still be worthwhile because of its ultimately ever so slightly higher flatness in the fundamental range and high frequency response, provided that what you are looking for is an in-ear with a compensation for the viscerally perceived mechanical vibrations in the lows, which the XR models somewhat compensate for with their bass elevation compared to in-ears with a diffuse-field flat bass tuning (that the SR/S/SE models have).

When it comes to details and resolution, both in-ears are equal - the only difference is that the ER3XR appears minimally softer in bass, but the impression disappears when you slightly lower its lower fundamental range and upper bass, bringing it exactly to ER4XR levels.

The spatial representation of both in-ears is equally precise and realistic, with equally good layering and separation of the imaginary events.
The ER4XR seems to have slightly more width, but this is due to its slightly louder treble compared to the ER3XR.

Etymotic ER3SE:

The ER3XR behaves in the same way as the ER4XR behaves in relation to the ER4SR: somewhat elevated, but still perceived as neutral by many manufacturers and enthusiasts, continuous low frequency response to compensate for the lack of viscerally perceived mechanical bass vibrations in in-ears and headphones, slightly less present presence range (only measurable and not really audible on the ER3 models), a slightly brighter upper treble response.

In terms of detail retrieval, speech intelligibility and instrument separation, both in-ears are equal.
However, they differ in the low frequency range - here the ER3XR seems to be less clean compared to the ER3SE. At this point, I would also like to correct my statements in the reviews of the two in-ears of the new ER4 series: again, the XR model sounds a little less clean in the bass range and fundamental range than the SR version (in my original reviews I spoke of the same bass quality - this may apply to the tightness and speed, but not to the cleanliness of the bass).

In terms of soundstage presentation, the ER3XR has slightly less spatial depth to my ears, but at the same time slightly more width and a very slightly less precise separation of instruments.


Just like the ER4XR, Etymotic’s ER3XR can also be seen as the alternative for all those who find the ER4SR and ER3SE to be too flat/boring in the bass and too diffuse-field neutral, and instead regard the more popular low frequency tuning now adopted by the XR series which compensates for the lack of the visceral perception of mechanical vibrations that are lacking in headphones, to be the more “correct” one since it is mild and rises continuously wherefore many people perceive just that as actually “neutral” and more correct as in mimicking the subjective perception of neutral monitoring speakers in an acoustically treated environment.


Those who can get along without the slightly "more precise" tonal tuning of the ER4XR, the production site USA, the individually created performance certificate and the more extensive standard accessories and those who are not bothered by the relatively less strict quality control, will find a cheaper alternative to the enormously similar ER4XR in the ER3XR, which is tuned almost identically with only small differences and very largely shares the same technical performance, also in terms of spatial reproduction.

Listening and secret tip in Etymotic’s product range and highly recommended.


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Thanks for the comparison with ER4XR. I already have the ER3XR and love it, and I was wondering what the differences were between the two. I'll just save my money and be happy with the ER3XR.
This was a great review. I have been in the market to get my first pair of IEMs. I ordered these today. I will have them on Friday and hopefully be able to really check them out over the weekend.
Was there any sibilance or harshness observed when the volume is a bit high?
First two days, it was very well balanced. but suddenly, the vocals and also when they pronounce ss something, it's a bit harsh. I'm not an audiophile or whatsoever, but Previously I owned 1more Quad Driver. this suddenly i'm observing the harshness, is it something to be concerned about?