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ER4XR is the earphone for music lovers and hi-fi enthusiasts who want uncompromising accuracy in...

Etymotic ER4XR

Rating:
4.7/5,
  • ER4XR is the earphone for music lovers and hi-fi enthusiasts who want uncompromising accuracy in the midrange and high frequencies, but appreciate a bit of extra presence in the lower end. Like the ER4SR, the ER4XR is built with precision machined, anodized and laser-etched aluminum bodies and features user-replaceable detachable cables. The ER4XR also incorporates the stringent channel-matching standard used in the ER4SR. The ER4XR is ideal for anyone looking for exceptional sound quality with just the right amount of low-end enhancement.
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Recent Reviews

  1. Dobrescu George
    Etymotic ER4-XR - Precision, Performance, Power!
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Sep 27, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Precise Sound, Good Package, Good Price, Sweet Midrange, Smooth Treble, Tight Bass, Excellent ADSR, Isolation
    Cons - Mid-Centric, Smooth Treble, Deep-Fit, Intimate Soundstage
    Etymotic extended its range of products with the newly released ER4-XR (Extended Response IEMs). They promise to bring a few improvements to the well-renown ER4 series, leading to a new experience!

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    Introduction

    Etymotic has been known for a long time throughout the audiophile community for their extreme precision in sound, creating IEMs for both musical professionals and music lovers. Etymotic are known to have refined the BA (Balanced Armature) technology to a state of art, and they are also known throughout the musician/composer communities for providing high quality tools for both recording and performance.

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    While BA drivers are nowadays found in thousands of products, Etymotic employs an entirely unique approach. They rely on a single BA driver enclosed within a tiny enclosure, along with a very deep insertion depth, ensuring both a tight fit and extreme levels of isolation from the outside noise. This makes them a great companion for both musicians and music lovers, the sound being one that is unique to their line of products.

    I have absolutely no affiliation with Etymotic research, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review will be as objective as possible and it reflects my personal experience with Etymotic ER4-XR. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in ER4-XR find their next music companion.



    About me

    My name is George Dobrescu and I am the Director of the Seventh Heart Studios game studio. I work as one of the main programmers for the company, and I am the writer for Quantum Magica and Falsetto Memories projects. I spend eight – twelve hours a day working on a computer, writing and sometimes drawing. I also take care of administrative work which means that I require a portable setup so I'll be testing the portability of iDSD as well.

    Music is present all around me for a big part of that time as working with music is always more fun. With all the devices I own, I need great sound, comfort and ease of usage, not to mention that my listening volume ranges from "please stop that, it's far too loud" to "I can't even tell that you're listening to music".

    My collection includes everything from Classical to Metal, from Rap to Pop, from Punk to Cabaret and absolutely everything in between. There are great artists from every type of music, and I'm one to collect their albums, and keep a tidy order for my files.

    You can check out more about our games on our pages https://www.facebook.com/seventh.heart.studios/ and https://twitter.com/7heartstudios .

    At Seventh Heart Studios, we all love music and this has had an impact on our games as we hold the music close to our hearts and we are committed to only use ogg -q10 as the encoding format for our music since it offers the best disk space to sound quality ratio, OGG -q10 being closest to audibly transparent when compared to FLAC encoding.

    Personal philosophy: Music is more than a hobby or sound. Music is inspiration. Music is life. Music has meaning by itself, being the one thing that can define one's life while shaping one's imagination and creativity. Music can open doors to new plains and music can change one's mood. Music can rest the mind better than days of sleep or can give one energy better than a thousand cups of coffee. Music can be anything we want it to be and the music we experience using professional audition tools is more but at the same time it is nothing more than our way of enhancing the emotion we get from music. Love is a concept too shallow, unable to encompass what music really means to a music lover.



    First Impression

    I never owned a deep-insertion fit IEM, nor an Etymotic IEM before, but I’ve heard stories and read reviews about the great things they managed to achieve through the years, so I became quite curious to hear one. Sadly, at the moment there is no official Etymotic reseller in Romania, so I contacted Etymotic directly to get a pair of their ER4-XR IEMs. They have been quite friendly and they managed to answer quite a few of my questions. By this time, I heard a few BA IEMs already, but I still had a few questions about this model in particular. Etymotic has answered all questions quickly and it is easy to tell that they also have a very solid warranty and service, providing an excellent service all around.

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    I have owned quite a few IEMs and headphones before, Ultrasone DJ One Pro, Meze 99 Classics, Ultrasone Signature Studio, Dunu DK-3001, Sennheiser ie800, HiFiMAN RE-2000, Oriveti New Primacy, Kinera H3, and a few others. I also owned high end sources like DAPs (Opus #3, iBasso DX200, Opus #2), and high end DAC/AMPs (iFi iDSD Black Label).

    When it comes to receiving ER4-XR, I actually received ER4-XR suddenly. This has been one of the very few IEMs that I didn’t track, I didn’t know when to expect, and it arrived much faster than I’d have guessed.

    It was a torrid Summer day and I was just waking up from a rather restless sleep, when I noticed a missed call from an unknown number. I didn’t know who called or why, so I quickly washed my face and called back to see what was going on. The person on the other end told me that they have a package for me and asked me when and where we can meet. We agreed to meet in a few minutes outside of my place, since they were still in the area.

    I left my room and went ahead to pick up the package, since it really piqued my curiosity. The driver handled me a box, nicely packaged and labeled, and the delivery process only took a few minutes. Although I got home quickly, I only got to have a proper listen to ER4-XR a bit later as I had a lot of work to do that day.

    It was a lonely evening and I was playing some games, relaxing after a day of work, when I noticed ER4-XR smiling at me from my desk. I thought that it is the right moment to give them a try and I plugged them in without a second though. The first thing I heard was the amazing soundtrack of the game I was playing. Since before plugging them in, I was using my laptop's speakers, it was an amazing explosion of details and intrigue when I first heard that game's soundtrack with ER4-XR. I had to stop from playing for a few minutes, just to listen to this new experience, to truly feel like I am within the world of that game.



    Packaging:

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

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    Etymotic ensures that their users will have a professional experience all-around, the packaging feeling solid and comes with a uniquely designed case.

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    ER4-XR includes a lot of accessories, and while this might be necessary, due to the unique design and especially bore size, it is really nice to see that ER4-XR comes with almost everything one could wish for to enjoy it.

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    In their box, you'll find ER4-XR snuggly sitting in a foam cutout, next to their carrying case. Their carrying case has enough space inside to fit your favorite DAP, and a few other accessories (cables, adapters) as well.

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    The ER4-XR package is themed on black and green, giving an electric and lively feeling all around. The inner box is coated in a glossy black and comes with a cool-looking model printed on it. The box feels solid and the whole unpacking / unboxing experience is fun and intriguing.

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    Etymotic includes quite a bit of technical information with their ER4-XR, such as Channel Matching, Frequency Response, THD (Total Harmonic Distortion).

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    If you're new to Etymotic, the user manual comes in very handy. The cable ER4-XR comes with looks and feels far more solid than I'd have expected, and they also come with:

    - Foam tips
    - 3.5 to 6.3mm Adapter
    - Shirt Clip
    - 3-Flange tips
    - Filter replacements, and the tools necessary to perform the replacement.
    - ER4-XR units
    - Detachable cables
    - Storage hard carrying case

    The manual also includes instructions on how to properly fit the tips, and how to properly insert ER4-XR to achieve best fit with them.



    What you should look for when considering a IEM (In-Ear Monitor)

    When purchasing an IEM, there are a few factors you should take into account to ensure that you’ll have the experience you wish for. Sooner or later, all those factors will come into play one way or another:

    - Sound quality – This is, by far, the most important aspect of every purchase when you invest in high end audio products. The sonic abilities along with the frequency response / sonic signature widely differs from IEM to IEM.

    - Comfort / ergonomics – The fit and comfort are quite important, especially if you plan on using the same IEM for hours in a row, or in a live performance.

    - Isolation – Every IEM will offer some degree of isolation, but there are both models that focus on ultra-isolation from the outside noise, and open models.

    - Good Value – Always nice to have

    - Interesting/Intriguing design – Every user will have a personal preference and taste for what an “interesting design” is, but it is generally recommended to pick a IEM which you consider to be aesthetically pleasing, or in simpler words, Good Looking.

    - Drive-Factor – How easy it is to drive and how prone to hissing it is, since certain IEMs and headphones will require special sources to offer the best performance.

    - Accessories included – It is better to have a large selection of tips and accessories included with a IEM, especially for those that feature unique tips or require their own accessories.

    - Build Quality and Warranty – While it is good to have a solid warranty included with Every IEM, having a solid build quality is far better.



    Technical Specifications

    Impedance: 45 Ohm

    Connector: 3.5mm / 6.3 mm

    Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 16.000Hz

    Rated Power Efficiency: 98 dB / 0.1V

    Maximum SPL: 122 dB

    Cable length: 150 cm / 3.5mm Jack

    Driver Type: BA, Ultra Isolation

    Coupling Type: In-Ear, Deep Insertion Fit

    Headphone to cable connector type : MMCX

    Low Magnetic Emissions: Yes



    Build Quality/Aesthetics

    ER4-XR is a IEM that fascinates and intrigues at first sight as they look more like precision instruments rather than In-ear Monitors. Being almost the only IEM I have or had with a triple flanged tip, and coming with those tips by default, they look (and feel) different from most IEMs out there. The bodies of the IEMs are very supple, but very well build, the IEM enclosure being made out of metal. The cable connectors are quite snug, but they aren't impossible to disconnect. There is a good sense of wonder and elegance with ER4-XR's body.

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    The serial number of each piece is etched on its body, and the color of the body is a dreamy dark violet. The connectors make a soft L-shaped turn, and continue with a supple, rubbery braided cable. The bore is very small, and longer than it is with most IEMs I tested to date, ER4-XR being the first IEM I test to have deep insertion. The cable becomes a bit thicker under the Y-split, but Etymotic included a shirt clip, in case the cable feels heavy, or in case the user moves a lot while wearing ER4-XR (for example, during a live performance).

    The carrying case is made out of a textile material, with a very soft texture, with the name Etymotic written on it. The zipper feels and acts solid and fairly smooth, and the inside does an amazing job at protecting ER4-XR, and at allowing enough space for keeping your favorite DAP within (the case works just fine with Opus #3, Opus #2, iBasso DX200, FiiO X5ii, Shanling M2s and with AP200 from Hidizs)

    All in all, ER4-XR provides a very solid build quality, and a technical, yet elegant appearance, being on the edge between a technical instrument and an elegant device made to listen music with.



    Fit / Comfort

    Etymotic ER4-XR is a deep-fitting IEM and this influences the fit / comfort a lot when using them. The first time I placed them in my ears, I was under a bit of surprise as I wasn't used to this type of feeling. You know that they are there, and you can feel that they aren't open back, but after about five minutes, the ear accommodates to them and they become really comfortable. Most of the IEM's body disappears while it is placed in one's ears, ER4-XR looking far more elegant when worn than while it is placed on a table. I haven't lost the seal once with them, but it is good to mention that you shouldn't just pull ER4-XR out of your ears, and they should be both inserted and taken out slowly and with care.

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    Everyone has a unique ear shape, and deep fitting IEMs can potentially cause more problems than shallow fitting ones, but ER4-XR's tips are fairly soft and while they can look large in photos, they are pretty small in reality and shouldn't cause problems for most people.

    During my walks through the lonely streets of Bucharest, I haven't lost the seal once with ER4-XR, they just sat there after being inserted, and there was no problem wearing them.

    The upper part of the cables is slightly microphonic, especially since ER4-XR is supposed to be worn straight down, but bringing the chip separator up will help solve this problem entirely.



    Testing

    Etymotic ER4-XR has been tested with Xiaomi Mi Max 2, FiiO X5ii, Opus #3, Opus #2, iBasso DX200, Hidizs AP200, Shanling M2s, and with the benchmark DAC/AMP we have, iFi iDSD Black Label.

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    ER4-XR is very revealing and they will react to changes in source, but due to their rather high impedance, they are less sensitive to source changes than other IEMs, like ie800. Usage of a high-end DAP (Digital Audio Player) is advised for best results, but in all fairness, ER4-XR can be driven well from a portable source like a smartphone. It should be noted that due to their rather high impedance and rather low efficiency, they might require a bit more power than most IEMs out there, but they are still within the realms of IEMs and are still meant to be portable.



    Sound Quaity

    ER4-XR has a unique signature that is quite different from most IEMs and headphones out there. Instead of going for something like a bassy signature, or a U/V shaped signature, ER4-XR goes for a fairly mid-centric signature (some might say neutral even), with a very forward and revealing midrange, neutral yet very tight and precise bass, and a rather smooth and non-fatiguing top end.

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    If one wants to describe ER4-XR in a few words, those would be mid-centric, detailed, tight, ultra-isolating and smooth.

    With the rain of details that ER4-XR brings, it feels like it has been designed more like a precision tool rather than a IEM, but I find them to be fairly musical and enjoyable, especially with music that might otherwise sound harsh, and with guitar solos.



    Little disclaimer

    All sonic impressions for ER4-XR have been taken with DX200, Opus #2, M2s, and iDSD BL, all of those being impressive audio devices, each having a signature of its own. All sources will influence the sound more or less, but ER4-XR has a certain sonic character that is present with all sources.



    Equalizing ER4-XR

    I am an amateur of V-shaped / U-shaped sounds. Adding a bit of treble, and a bit of bass to ER4-XR is advised if you're looking for a more "fun" signature rather than a reference one. ER4-XR has an excellent natural sound by itself, but with metal music, adding a bit of treble and a bit of bass might make one feel more engaged with the music, the main EQ profile I'm using being one that adds +7dB at 16 kHz, +3 dB at 10 kHz, +3dB at 100Hz, +3dB at 63 Hz, and +7 dB at 33 Hz. This way, ER4-XR sounds much closer to my personal ideal signature, being more energetic in the treble and having a larger bass, yet never losing their precision and utmost mid detail.



    Channel balance

    Not only ER4-XR has a very well-matched loudness between its left and right sides, but Etymotic also tests them for channel matching and they include a result of the test with every ER4-XR.



    Bass

    The bass of ER4-XR is deep, very deep, but tight, precise and solid. The precision of the whole sound is also present in bass, ER4-XR rendering even the finest textures with utmost precision and delicacy. Even so, the sound doesn't lack depth and impact, the bass is there when it is asked for. The forward midrange might give the impression of a bass-light IEM, especially if one is accustomed to bass-heavy signatures, a little bit of EQ helping greatly with this issue.

    It is not my place to question whether one wants to hear the absolute best precision out there, or if one wants to indulge in flows of explosive bass, being a little bit of a bass-head myself, but it is fair to notice that ER4-XR responds very well to EQ, the bass doesn't distort and it doesn't slow down, even with a lot of it added by EQ.

    The Glitch Mob feat. Aja Volkman – Our Demons – There is a nice and impactful start for the song, the cymbals are clear and smooth, while bass notes are played quickly and placed with great care right pace. The voices bear amazing naturalness and texture. All symbols and small changes are easy to notice, and there is an amazing sense of space with every note that is played. The bass is always very deep, but it is also extremely fast, being precise rather than enhanced. The whole song feels vivid and lively, although adding a few dB in the treble and bass by enabling an EQ profile helps bring a bit more spark to the treble. In moments like this I feel that maybe ER4-XR is what would be a truly neutral sound, and I am just into V/U shaped signatures and I can't let go of those. The story of the song is vivid, and one can feel that he travels through eternities of space of energy while listening to this song using ER4-XR. Every single detail is rendered, every small discrepancy and every small piece comes together with the rest to bring forward an awesome experience for the listener.

    Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc – The song starts with a great few bass notes accompanied by clear and lively guitar tones. The cymbals sound rather subdued and smooth, and the soundstage feels pretty big, especially considering the size of ER4-XR. There is an amazing sense of detail and life with ER4-XR. Adding a bit of EQ to the mix will make the sound far more sparkly, keeping the tight, musical and detailed element, but bringing more realism to the cymbals and pushing the mids a little less forward, feeling more natural to those ears. The story of the song, of the lost lovers, is expressed very nicely, the melodic guitar notes combining amazingly well with the synth notes and the voices.

    Thousand Foot Krutch – the Flame in All of Us – The song starts with good impact, and the guitar notes are woven nicely with the cymbal notes and with each other. The voices feel natural, and there is a good sense of space to the whole sound. The high level of details helps understand the work of TFK much better. All stringed instruments are audible during the bridges of the song, and there is a good sense of emotional attachment and impact to each word. The story of the flame that burns in everyone is sent vividly, and it is easy to start singing along and to move one's head to the beautiful rock composition sang by TFK.



    Midrange

    The Midrange of ER4-XR is where things get interesting because it might be a very polarizing aspect of ER4-XR. Without any EQ, it sounds very forward, but on paper, it looks like it is just neutral. Most IEMs and headphones will have their midrange recessed, at least a bit, so ER4-XR will feel fairly forward by comparison. This will also have an impact on the stage, because with a very forward mid-range, ER4-XR doesn't have a very expansive soundstage, but will feel rather intimate, a bit of EQ helping immensely with this.

    Certain sources are quite good at painting a larger soundstage, for example Shanling M2s works really well with ER4-XR, the synergy between the two making the midrange sweet and musical.

    Higher End DAPs like iBasso DX200 or Opus #2 will further enhance ER4-XR's revealing abilities, music becoming even more vivid and coming through with even more details and fine subtleties but nevertheless, ER4-XR sounds amazing driven even from an ultra-portable DAP like M2s.

    Connecting ER4-XR to iDSD BL yields amazing results as iDSD BL has a 3D enhancement option which comes in quite handy for powering up ER4-XR's top end, giving them more energy, and increasing the width of the soundstage, providing a more realistic and well-rounded sound.

    Skillet – The Resistance – The song starts strong and with a great presentation of the guitars played along the other instruments. The voices bear amazing detail and emotion to them, the bass effects and synth keys being played nice and lively. The top end is smooth and presented friendly, most cymbal hits being somewhat of a recessed sound, but still bearing good details. The story of the ones who keep resisting is touching while listening to The Resistance through ER4-XR, the listener easily getting the "goose bumps".

    Set It Off – I'll Sleep When I Am Dead – The song starts with a tense and intriguing build-up, the bass notes being woven nicely with the voices and the guitars. The keys and effects are played pretty forward and the cymbals, while subdued by the smooth nature of ER4-XR, are played with good detail and have enough space to breathe. It should be noted that ER4-XR has an intimate presentation with this song, and although there is a fair sense of separation between the instruments, the soundstage is rather intimate. The story of the insomniac, who knows that he'll sleep only after he died is presented nicely and bears good impact on the listener.

    Rings of Saturn – Peeling Arteries – The song starts with a clear and crispy impact and playthrough of fast drum beats and patterns woven with the crazy fast guitar notes. The voices are as they should be, bearing good impact and force, but staying bellow the limit of harshness and absolute aggressiveness. It is really nice to hear how multiple guitar layers are played at the same time without much issue and how they are presented in a clear yet musical manner. When it comes to the story, Rings of Saturn tends to have pretty morbid and dark stories, ER4-XR's smooth top end actually making the story sound less dark and less menacing when compared to a more energetic presentation.



    Treble

    The treble of ER4-XR is clearly a smoother treble, and even though the midrange, treble and bass of ER4-XR have extremely good detail retrieval and presentation, the top end is smooth, and I honestly feel that ER4-XR needs a bit of treble enhancement to sound natural / to sound more energic. Something like adding 7-11 dB on the last slider of most EQ found in most apps will make the treble much more energetic and balance out the forward midrange of ER4-XR, and although this might change the tonality of ER4-XR's mids, I feel that it changes the mids for the better, providing a bit more bite and sparkle all around, the sound becoming more engaging and aggressive this way. Since my listening habits revolve heavily around Rock, Metal and aggressive music in general, I think that people who enjoy a smoother kind of music will find ER4-XR very good in their default state, without any EQ.

    By default, the cymbals have a soft and friendly presentation with ER4-XR, and one can listen to music that is usually aggressive for an entire day without feeling any kind of fatigue from the treble, and instruments like trumpets are presented with a good level of detail, although a bit soft. Acoustic guitars have a good and forward presentation of each note, but higher notes are missing the typical bite with metal strings, being presented, again softly and in a friendly and playful manner. ER4-XR is an amazingly good fit with all slower and more relaxing music, and with a bit of EQ, they are a very good fit for more aggressive music as well.

    Leningrad – У меня есть все – This avant-gardist composition skillfully composed and played by Leningrad is a great track to explore the top end of ER4-XR and how it works with acoustic music. To my amazement, the cymbals are actually vivid, clear, and have enough bite and hit with this track, being presented rather clean and lively. The trumpets lose a lot of their harshness (trumpets are very strident and harsh instruments in real life), ER4-XR rendering them in a friendly and playful way. Special instruments have the right tonality and this song in particular doesn't require any kind of EQ for ER4-XR to shine. I have to say, I rather enjoy this musical and playful presentation of Leningrad's music, being easy to move my head and tap my hands with the DX200 + ER4-XR combo.

    Veil Of Maya – Mikasa – A very interesting track from Veil Of Maya, the entire Matriarch Album is known to be more dynamically compressed than their previous works, Mikasa being one of the best songs from this album. There is a very quick and aggressive start to the song, bearing good impact, the guitar riffs being played with a gentle musicality, similarly to the clean voices. The screamed parts have an interesting texture and the whole song feels rather well presented in the listening space. ER4-XR does a great job at presenting the song with impact and speed, and even though it is dynamically compressed, it sounds very lively and dynamic with the DX200 + ER4-XR combo. The story of the "search for the hidden message in the sand" is presented in a vivid matter, the listener having a good involvement with the whole landscape painted by Veil Of Maya.

    Mindless Self Indulgence – Stalkers (Slit My Wrist) – This Industrial composition is a great choice to test any kind of equipment, Mindless Self Indulgence being one of the very few bands to employ truly new and exciting effects and synths in their songs. The first thing that hit me when the song started to play is how large the space it is played in sounds. I was expecting it to be more intimate, but there are effects and musical notes hitting the listener from every direction. Every note played, every synth has a very vivid and clear texture along with a very nice lively presentation. The smooth top end of ER4-XR works well with this song, providing a hassle-free experience. The message of this song is rather obtuse and negative, but the way ER4-XR presents it, the song sounds rather playful and jumpy.



    Soundstage

    ER4-XR has, by default, a more intimate soundstage, presenting music, as if it is being played in the same room as the listener, all details and instruments having a very precise spatial positioning, but extending as wide as a room would go. This can be attributed to two things, the first being the smooth nature of ER4-XR's treble, and second, the rather forward midrange of ER4-XR. The single BA design with deep-fit insertion also has an impact over the way the soundstage of ER4-XR is presented, and while many people will love this type of presentation, for those who might prefer a wider presentation, adding a bit of treble and bass via EQ will surely help ER4-XR gain a much more spatial sound. Engaging the 3D surround setting on iFi DSD BL also has amazing results with ER4-XR, providing a soft and playful, yet more expanded sound.

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    Regardless of whether EQ is applied or not, the instrument separation and definition between instruments is excellent with ER4-XR, the very resolving nature of them being one of the most prominent characteristics of ER4-XR.

    There is also a clear sense of space between instruments, and even with the default presentation of ER4-XR being intimate, the instruments have enough air to breathe and don't feel constrained, but rather are presented as entities of their own in a very well-defined space.



    ADSR/PRaT

    Etymotic ER4-XR has excellent ADSR (Attack Sustain Decay Release) and PRaT (Pace Rhythm and Timing) characteristics, the rather quick and light nature of their BA drivers allowing an excellent performance when it comes to presenting every musical note the way it would sound in reality.

    Some musical notes might feel as if they are presented very quickly, especially if compared to IEMs or Headphones that feature a slower driver, and at times, ER4-XR might feel like one of the quickest IEMs out there, but the perceived speed doesn't have a negative impact on any type of music, instead, providing a very precise presentation, comparable to high-end speakers and Headphones, along with a musical way for every note. This is good especially for voices and for voice-drive music, since with the quick driver, many voices sound very natural and have a naturalness and fullness to them that can be missing with slow drivers.



    Portable Usage

    ER4-XR has an excellent portable usage, being one of the rather light and comfortable IEMs I used. Etymotic even includes a shirt clip, in case the cable or the Y-split feels to heavy, and the general comfort while walking (or even dancing) is very good. Due to their deep-fit design, ER4-XR will never fall out of one's ears and they tend to keep their fit through many hours of usage.

    One thing that is really different between ER4-XR and many other IEMs is their isolation, which is really high. ER4-XR are probably the best isolating IEMs out there, and it is almost impossible to hear someone, even if they are shouting at you, while wearing ER4-XR. This comes in very handy if trying to listen to music, in a silent space, especially because ER4XR don't leak sound at all, but this also comes in handy when having to perform live since ER4XR have the almost the level of isolation of a professional custom IEM. On the other hand, I'd recommend caution if walking with ER4-XR since it will be almost impossible to hear things around the lonely walker.



    Drive factor

    ER4-XR is fairly easy to drive, especially if compared with harder to drive headphones. They are some of the harder to drive IEMs, having a low SPL, and a somewhat high impedance, but they should be drive-able from almost any portable source, starting with Shanling M2s, Hidizs AP200, HiFiMAN Megamini, FiiO x5ii, Opus #3, iBasso DX200, Opus #2, iFi iDSD BL, etc.

    When tested if they are drive-able from a Xiaomi mi Max, ER4-XR provided interesting results, as the loudness was most surely enough, and the sound was not bad at all, but higher end sources and dedicated DAPs (even Shanling M2s) will provide a much cleaner output, with better bass depth and impact, better dynamics and more layering of the soundstage. Even so, ER4-XR surely works and sounds good from a good smartphone, but like any other IEM, adding a dedicated source with better sonic characteristics will help ER4-XR reach their full potential.



    Select pairings

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    ER4-XR + iBasso DX200 – This is one of the most recommended pairings I have. ER4-XR and DX200 both have a very detailed, fast and neutral character, DX200 enhancing both the detail revealing abilities, and the musicality of ER4-XR. The soundstage is pretty good with this combo, as is the instrument separation.

    ER4-XR + iDSD BL – This is another great pairing since iDSD BL has a tad stronger top end and it will provide a bit more life to ER4-XR. iDSD BL also has a very useful 3D button which will give ER4-XR an even more spatial and vibrant sound. iDSD BL also comes with an X-Bass switch that might come in handy for ER4-XR users who want to bump the bass a bit more.

    ER4-XR + Opus #2 / Opus #3 – Both Opus DAPs are excellent with ER4-XR as they provide a deep and spatial sound along with a brilliant top end. Opus #3 tends to have a bit more bite up top, while Opus #2 tends to be a bit more musical and natural, but both are excellent DAPs to drive ER4-XR.

    ER4-XR + Shanling M2s – This is an intriguing pairing because while M2s is an ultra-portable DAP, it tends to have a pretty dynamic and lively sound, especially considering its price and size. While M2s won't have the detail enhancement of DX200 or Opus DAPs, it surely has good musicality and gives a bit more spark to the top end of ER4-XR.



    EMI

    ER4-XR have been tested against almost all types of EMI possible, they have been used under high tension power lines, used right next to a wifi router, and used to multiple devices while music was streaming, but there were no traces of EMI in the sound.



    Comparisons

    ER4-XR, while priced very sanely, has characteristics that could easily compare even with high-end IEMs, like HiFiMAN RE800, or Oriveti New Primacy, especially because ER4-XR comes with their very revealing signature.

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    ER4-XR vs Dunu DK-3001 – There is a clear difference in price, DK-3001 costing a bit more, but DK-3001 is still a very budget oriented IEM, so this makes this comparison far more interesting. Starting with the bottom end, ER4-XR has a much tighter bottom end, with a lower amount of bass, DK-3001 providing more bass, more impact and depth. The midrange is quite natural on both, but ER4-XR feels more revealing, while DK-3001 feels more natural and relaxed. The top end is fairly smooth on both DK-3001 and both feature a very good level of treble detail, although DK-3001 is probably smoother while ER4-XR is still closer to a natural / neutral presentation. The ergonomics of both are user-dependent and some users will have a very good fit with each, but it is best to try both ER4-XR and DK-3001 before buying to ensure best results.

    ER4-XR vs Oriveti New Primacy – ONP is a newly released IEM that is priced quite similarly to ER4-XR and which provides an excellent sound all-around. Starting with the bass, ONP provides slightly more bass, while ER4-XR goes slightly deeper despite the tighter character their bass have, both being quite quick and providing a good level of detail. ER4-XR is more revealing in the mids, having a more forward midrange, while both ONP and ER4-XR have a fairly natural and honest representation of the midrange. Both are quite musical. On the top end, ER4-XR is smoother and provides a slightly friendlier presentation, being a very good pairing with poor recordings and a more relaxing listen, while ONP can be called more energetic, especially by direct comparison.

    ER4-XR vs HiFiMAN RE-800 – Re-800 is priced considerably higher than ER4-XR, but both provide an excellent level of details, while going for polarizing, different signatures. Starting with the bottom end, ER4-XR is tighter, quicker, more precise, while RE-800 has a bit more impact and a slower decay to every bass note, while providing a similar level of depth and detail as ER4-XR. ER4-XR provides a considerably more forward midrange, and RE-800 provides a considerably more forward top end. If compared side-by-side, ER4-XR is smoother, a relaxing listen, while RE-800 is a very healthy energy dealer for those looking for a bit more rush and engagement. ER4-XR is generally more natural and neutral, while RE-800 is geared more towards those who are looking for a V-shaped and a "fun" signature.

    ER4-XR vs Kinera H3 – Kinera H3 is considerably less expensive than ER4-XR, but this doesn't mean that the comparison isn't fair. When it comes to their sound, I'd say that H3 performs way above their price point, but this comes at the cost of some brightness, H3 being one of brightest IEM I heard to date. This is not something negative as I like bright signatures, but it is good to keep this in mind if you're sensitive to treble. Starting with the bottom end, both H3 and ER4-XR have very good precision and speed, but ER4-XR is tighter and tends to have a more neutral bass, with quicker response, while H3 has a slightly enhanced bass. When it comes to the midrange, they are more on polarizing ends rather than similar, Kinera H3 being recessed, and ER4-XR being forward in their midrange. The top end is another chapter where they are different, because while Kinera H3 is vibrant, energetic and could be bright for some, ER4-XR is smooth and the top end is rather friendly with every material thrown at it.

    ER4-XR vs Sennheiser ie800 – This is a fun comparison because ie800 is the benchmark IEM I have and it has pretty much the closest to my ideal response. Although it is considerably more expensive, I think that ie800 is well worth the asking price, but this is where things get interesting, because ER4-XR has a somewhat similar amount of detail in the mids, being a very resolving IEM. When it comes to the bottom end, both ie800 and ER4-XR have amazing detail retrieval and precision, but ie800 has a considerably more enhanced bottom end with considerably more impact, while ER4-XR is quite neutral, tight and precise in their bottom end response. When it comes to the midrange, ie800 has a somewhat recessed midrange, especially when compared with the very forward presentation of ER4-XR. The top end is smoother on ER4-XR, while it is enhanced on ie800, ie800 being quite V-shaped while ER4-XR is quite neutral / flat in its response.

    ER4-XR vs Beyerdynamic Xelento – This comparison is already a bit unfair since we're Xelento and ER4-XR are in very different price brackets, but it is interesting to see how ER4-XR performs when compared to another smooth TOTL IEM. Starting with the bottom end, Xelento has a fuller bottom end, with more depth and impact while ER4-XR has a tight bottom end with precision and lightweight attack. The midrange is forward on both Xelento and ER4-XR, but it has a bit more aggressiveness on Xelento, while it has a more solid character on ER4-XR. The top end is smoother on ER4-XR, but Xelento is pretty smooth as well, both being quite friendly with the music they are playing.



    Value

    Etymotic ER4-XR retails for about 400$ in Europe, give or take, and at this price it is a very interesting offer. The package feels very professional and complete, and the sound could easily compete with IEMs from the 700$ - 800$ price range, when it comes to detail, precision and general revealing abilities of ER4-XR. The package includes everything one might need to be able to enjoy ER4-XR out of the box, ER4-XR has detachable cables, and there is a lot of testing and Q&A going on at Etymotic, ensuring that L and R sides are well matched and that you're receiving a complete and well working package.

    [​IMG]

    ER4-XR can only use the tips it comes with, having very thin nozzles, but the box includes both foam and silicone tips. They require specific filters, which also have spare sets included in the retail package.

    The carrying case and the well-made cable also add to the value of the whole package when ordering ER4-XR.



    Conclusion

    Etymotic ER4-XR is surely an interesting IEM and a very nice take on the IEM market, being both a precision tool, and a nice IEM to help one enjoy their music. The sound is flat, natural, mid-forward, solid and it is extremely resolving. One could say that it will please many who are seeking the sweet guitar riffs and voices as they are played by ER4-XR, but it should be noted that the bass and the treble will have less energy than the midrange, even though they have very good detailing and precision as well.

    [​IMG]

    If there is one thing one has to wonder about when it comes to ER4-XR, it probably is the fit, which is a deep-insertion fit, and this will be quite personal, everyone having a different ear shape. I can only say that ER4-XR works very well for me, and I can easily recommend them, but it would be best to test ER4-XR before ordering, if you want to make sure of how they'll fit for you.

    All in all, at their rather friendly price point, it is easy to recommend ER4-XR to both music enthusiasts, music lovers and to performing artists who are looking for the utmost precision, delicate detail and fine musicality in their music. With an excellent isolation and a professional sound, ER4-XR will surely impress anyone who hears their magical midrange for the first time.

    Thank you for reading! I hope that this review is of help to you! Stay safe, and please remember to have fun while listening to music!

    Link to the review on Audiophile Heaven: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.com/2017/09/etymotic-er4-xr-precision-performance-power.html

    Link to the official Thread on Head-Fi: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/if-you-still-love-etymotic-er4-this-is-the-thread-for-you.538615/

    Link to the official product page: https://www.amazon.com/Etymotic-Research-ER4XR-Extended-Monitors/dp/B01GW786B4

    Link to the writer’s head-fi page: https://head-fi.org/members/dobrescu-george.170938/

    Audiophile Heaven: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.com/

    Audiophile Heaven on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AudiophileHeaven/



  2. SOULSIK
    If angels were to sing you a song
    Written by SOULSIK
    Published Apr 15, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Unique, great sound, interesting, detailed, very clear
    Cons - Comfort & fitting can be an issue
    [​IMG]

    INTRODUCTION

    Etymotic builds a story here. I will tell you that story. In this planet called “earth,” there are various people with various tastes for music. It is just simply impossible to target everyone with a single product. With that being said, the current generation loves bass, it’s all about that bass. However, there are times when bass does not matter as much because of the how well neutrality and harmonic acclimatization is presented. I would like to introduce you to the Etymotic ER4XR – slightly bass boosted version of the ER4SR. Due to the demand of “more bass” while retaining that beautiful neutrality and harmonic sound signature, the ER4XR was created and it worked. The viewer that sent this to me told me that 4 people bought the ER4XR while only 1 person bought the ER4SR on the day he purchased these.

    DISCLAIMER

    Etymotic ER4XR was sent to me by a viewer just like you for this review and as always, I am fully committed to doing unbiased reviews.

    ABOUT Etymotic

    The name “Etymotic” (pronounced “et-im-oh-tik.”) means “true to the ear.” Mead Killion, Ph.D. founded Etymotic Research in 1983 to design products that accurately assess hearing, improve the lives of those with hearing loss, protect hearing, and enhance the listening experience of musicians and music lovers everywhere. Etymotic invented insert earphones in 1984. Etymotic’s original earphone design used balanced armature receivers. The first versions were used for diagnostic testing and precision auditory research (ER-1, 2, 3). Etymotic produced the first noise-isolating high-fidelity in-ear earphone, the ER-4 (1991), which became the basis of all subsequent in-ear earphones and in-ear monitors worldwide, and created an entire category of consumer electronics. The ER-4 earphones are still produced and channel-balanced to within 1 dB in Etymotic’s labs in the US.

    SPECS

    Frequency Response20 Hz – 16 kHz
    TransducersHigh performance, balanced armature micro-drivers
    Noise Isolation35-42 dB
    Impedance (@1kHz)45 Ohms
    Sensitivity (@1 kHz) SPL at 0.1v4XR (98 dB) 4SR (98 dB)
    Maximum Output (SPL)122 dB
    Cable5 ft Detachable
    User Replaceable ACCU-FiltersYes
    Warranty2 Years


    WHERE DO I BUY IT?


    Buy it here !

    [​IMG]

    BUILD QUALITY

    The Housing: The housing is a bullet like straight configuration for deep insertion into the ears and is made of metal.

    [​IMG]

    Cables: ER4XR comes in a 5 ft detachable cable. Pass the splitter, it is braided and below the splitter it is a rubbery plastic cable that terminates in 90 degrees 3.5mm jack. Cable may cause microphonics when in contact with other surfaces however, the shirt clip is included to reduce this phenomenon.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Accessories: it comes with quite a few types of tips but may not be for everyone’s perfect fit due to how these are “supposed” to be worn. It does come with extra filters in case you damage the old ones with your earwax accumulations.

    [​IMG]

    Case: It comes with a big case for an in-ear monitor and many different pockets inside to hold other things. The practicality is questionable as to if these will be used due to the fact they will not fit in your pocket

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    NOTE: some accessories may be missing due to the fact that I’ve received these from an individual who has been using it for some time.

    PRACTIALLY

    These IEMs are worn in a straight deep insertion configuration. This leaves some of the housing hanging in a 75 – 90-degree fashion in reference point with the gravity pull. This may lead the IEMs to fall off your ears or leave its perfect fitted position overtime during long listening session. This also means that it is not probable to wear these for exercises involving up or down movements. Sound isolation can be quite good however, this is only if you can get a good insertion fit.

    SOUND QUALITY

    For the purpose of this review, this iem was using with shanling m1, fiio x1 and oppo ha 2 se.

    Driving these IEMs require more than your typic 16 ohm IEMs but not by much.

    Lower Frequencies: There is not much to expect in the lower frequencies if you are a bass head however, there is enough bass for someone looking for neutrality. XR version has about 3 db of bass increment, which may benefit and please some individual’s preferences. Nevertheless, the bass given is a very pleasing clean bass.

    Mids/High Frequencies: these two are clumped together because of how redundant I will be explaining each one. To put it simply, you get these for this frequency range. These are neutral in this frequency range while not being “boring.” Neutrality can be a double-edged sword because it can be terribly boring and common OR pleasant and harmonic. In this case, it is the later. The details are there although I felt recessed 7 to 8 khz in some genres of music. However, this is something I heard personally and cannot be confirmed. There is absolutely no unpleasant spikes or sharp sounds coming out of the trebles. The separation between instruments in this frequency range is outstanding to the point of transparency.

    Soundstage: It would have been interesting to get more soundstage out of these IEMs. These IEMs do not lack soundstage but can be defined as more intimate compared to other IEMs in this price bracket.

    Final Thoughts

    For $500, It is quite remarkable and unique what Etymotic has achieved here with a single armature driver. But the fit and comfort may not be achieved for everyone. It would be nice to see a better fit with the sound engineering that has been done here.

     

    Review provided by soulsikreviews.com

     

    Video for reference

    [​IMG]

      Dobrescu George and peaches like this.
  3. HiFiChris
    Etymōtic ER•4XR: "A Bit of Bass"
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published Mar 23, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - the in-ear for those who find the S/SR just slightly too bass-shy, coherency, realism, isolation
    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 Etymōtic IEM
     ​
     ​
    DSC00998.jpg
     
     
     

     
     
     
    Preamble:

    Etymotic Research, founded in 1983 in the USA by Mead Killion (http://www.etymotic.com/about-us/interview-with-mead), a man that I highly respect, is widely known for their ER•4 series in-ears that deliver accuracy and neutrality for now over 20 years.
    So when I read on the CES exhibitor page in late 2015 that Etymotic Research would be on location and also present an updated line of their ER•4 series, you can believe me that I was quite excited. And so it happened that the ER•4SR (“Studio Reference”) and ER•4XR (“Extended Response”) were released as the successors of the ER•4S and ER•4P, with the first being just a small facelift on the sound side, whereas the second turned out to be more than just a facelift of the ER•4P, delivering what many customers were craving for – an Etymotic in-ear that still sounds balanced and widely neutral but carries just a bit more bass and warmth than the ER•4S.

    How the ER•4XR fits in and if it is worth as a side-grade to the ER•4S or ER•4SR will be found out in the course of this review.


    Before I continue, I want to give out a huge “thank you” to Etymotic Research who agreed to send samples of the ER•4SR and ER•4XR to me free of charge to write these honest reviews that represent nothing less than my honest and unfiltered opinion on the products.



    Technical Specifications:

    http://www.etymotic.com/consumer/earphones/er4-new.html
    MSRP: $349
    Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 16 kHz
    Transducers: high performance, Balanced Armature micro-drivers
    Noise Isolation: 35-42 dB
    Impedance (@1kHz): 4XR (45 Ohms) 4SR (45 Ohms)
    Sensitivity (@1 kHz) SPL at 0.1 V: 4XR (98 dB) 4SR (98 dB)
    Maximum Output (SPL): 122 dB
    Cable: 5 ft, detachable
    User Replaceable ACCU-Filters: Yes
    Warranty: 2 Years
    Custom-Fit Option: Yes


    Delivery Content:

    The in-ears arrive in a nicely designed packaging that contains a large zippered storage case that has got enough space for the in-ears as well as an audio player/DAC/amplifier inside, and has even got pockets to store the included accessories which are a 6.3 to 3.5 mm adapter, a shirt clip, spare ACCU filters with a removal tool, two pairs of small/medium triple-flange silicone tips, two pairs of medium/large silicone tips and two pairs of grey foam tips. What I find really nice is that a “certificate of performance” that shows the frequency response, channel matching, serial numbers, sensitivity and total harmonic distortion of both ear pieces, is included as well.

    While I wouldn’t mind if a smaller storage pouch like the one that came with the ER•4S was included, too, the one included isn’t much larger than a Pelican 1010 case which is still quite reasonable in size.
     

    DSC00973.jpg DSC00974.jpg

    DSC00976.jpg DSC00978.jpg
     ​
    DSC00981.jpg



    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    Compared to the previous generation where they were made of plastic, the new ER•4 series’ housings are made of metal and gain a more premium appearance due to this. The unique serial number is still engraved into each individual housing, but now there also is the model-specific labelling that tells you which in-ear you have.
    The old 2-pin connector known from Sennheiser’s HD 6X0 series has been dropped and now there are rotation-locked MMCX connectors instead. They seem quite reliable, however only time will show how reliable they really are (in a scenario where I don’t remove the cable unless I have to).
     

    DSC01000.jpg DSC01003.jpg


    The cable is an improvement over the older one, as it is more flexible and softer while it is still sturdy and looks overall quite similar. What I really like about it is that a chin-slider has finally been incorporated, compared to the ER•4S where it was unfortunately missing.
    Although the y-splitter doesn’t contain any resistors anymore, it has still got that cylindrical shape as an homage to the previous generation where the bulky shape was necessary to carry the resistors (and in case of the ER•4B also the capacitors).
     

    DSC00997.jpg


    I’d personally like coloured side markers on the cable, because apart from the small black letters on each side, there are none. Knowing that the old ER•4 generation underwent some cosmetic changes, I wouldn’t be surprised though if the side-markers were changed some time in the future.


    Comfort, Isolation:

    The ER•4 series in-ears need to be inserted really deep, passing the ear canals’ second bend, else the sound is likely incorrect. This might be irritating or even slightly painful at first if you aren’t used to in-ears that are inserted as deep, however I have no problem with this and don’t experience any pain at all.
    Best insertion works with the cables down, so you automatically know when you have reached the correct insertion depth. Right afterwards, the cable can be guided around the ears, which is also how I do it, which will also audibly reduce cable noise (microphonics) to a tolerable level (less microphonics are barely possible because of the deep insertion, however with the over-the ear wearing style and using the chin-slider, they can be reduced well).
     

    DSC01005.jpg


    I have got quite large ear canals wherefore I had to modify my ER•4S’s tips in order to get a consistent seal with it.
    The new ER•4 series in-ears however come with ear tips that have got the same dimensions but are made of a different material. To my surprise, I get the large ear tips to seal in my large ear canals with them, as they are more stable and also stickier. Nonetheless, I still need to adjust the fit from time to time, wherefore I modified the tips the same way I did with the old ones (I cut the smallest flange off, put it on the nozzle first and then attached the now double-flange tip to it – with this, I get a very good seal in my large ear canals but the length of the ear tips remains identical to prior to the modification).

    If properly inserted and sealed, noise isolation 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.


    Sound:

    Sources I used for listening were mainly my iBasso DX90, the Cowon Plenue M2, and my Chord Mojo plus Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII stack with the Shinrico SHD5 as source device.

    To get the correct sound, the correct eartip length and correct insertion depth are important. That the end of the sound outlet should be inserted very deep in one’s ear canals, past the second bend, should be clear after he “Comfort, Isolation” section.
    The correct length of the ear tips however is at least just as important. As described further above, I am using the ER•4XR (as well as the 4SR and my 4S) with the largest stock triple-flange tips that I have modified to seal well in my large ear canals while maintaining the same length as before. With other tips (single-flange or Shure Olive Foamies that are shorter than the Etymotic ear tips), the sound was not as accurate in my ears and deviated from the correct sound I am getting with the correct insertion depth and eartip length (solely Etymotic’s cylindrical foam tips generate pretty much the same sound as the stock triple-flange tips in my ears).

    Tonality:

    The ER•4XR is exactly what some sometimes not fully happy owners of the ER•4S/SR desired – an in-ear with Etymotic’s very neutral and harmonious, coherent and natural midrange and treble, however with a bit more bass presence compared to their reference-flat and uncoloured, sterile reference-grade in-ear monitors.

    What you basically get is a flat, neutral midrange and treble, along with a bass emphasis that starts in the middle root and gradually gains quantity towards the sub-bass where its climax is at. Nonetheless, it is far from being a bassy in-ear, and doesn’t even have more or much more overall bass quantity than other in-ears that are widely accepted as being neutral but don’t sound or measure flat in the lower registers (not necessarily because their creators don’t know what a really flat signature is, but more likely due to other reasons like a slight compensation for the lack of mechanical vibration with headphones).

    Before I get more precisely into that very well-made bass emphasis, let’s talk about the treble and midrange: these areas sound very neutral and flat to me and also measure like this. The mild lift in the presence range known from other Etymotic in-ears also appears a little less present to me. Doing sine sweeps and listening to music, nothing in the midrange or treble sticks out and nothing seems to be lacking either except for a minor recession around 7 kHz that is however anything but easy to make out. Due to this, the timbre is extremely natural and all instruments as well as vocals sound ideally neutral and straight to the point uncoloured to my ears.

    Now to the bass: listening to sine sweeps, I hear that its emphasis starts around the 500 Hz mark, and then gradually climbs down to the sub-bass where its climax is reached. As I said, the emphasis is however not that much at all – compared to Etymotic’s diffuse-field flat in-ears in the lows, the ER•4XR has got 3 dB more quantity at 100 Hz, ca. 4 dB more at 50 and a bit less than 5 dB at 30 Hz and below, which is not more than other in-ears that are widely accepted to sound quite neutral have.
    The implementation is really well made and as it rises gradually, so the bass blends into the other frequencies extremely harmoniously without masking of colouring them. Vocals are also widely unaffected by the lift and only very low vocals in the lower fundamental range gain a little more body without sounding coloured or artificial – the tonal balance is still great and the ER•4XR sounds still very balanced without being as “sterile” or flat and entirely uncoloured as the ER•4SR.

    As for a take on a compensation for the lack of the presence of mechanical vibration/body-borne noise with in-ears, this is a very good outcome. And I have to say that the implementation of that moderate and overall still pretty mild emphasis is also quite addictive and something I also really like.

    Resolution:

    That it doesn’t necessarily need a multi-BA setup to get great sound quality in the price range around $500 is what Etymotic has showed once again with their new in-ears. The sound is very nimble, fast, coherent and very resolving as well, something that one probably wouldn’t expect from a single-driver setup.
    Especially commendable is the ER•4XR’s excellent transient response over the whole frequency range – everything sounds in place and doesn’t lose direction at any frequency band.

    It is quite remarkable what the ER•4XR puts out in terms of tonal range/extension, bass quality, resolution and authenticity – just like its quasi-predecessor, it shows that a well-implemented and -tuned single Balanced Armature driver in-ear doesn’t really lack behind its similarly priced competitors.
    In some categories, there are multi-driver in-ears that can somewhat beat the Ety in terms of partial resolution or bass speed, however there are very few in-ears at this price point that deliver such an excellent overall package where nothing lacks behind – there is hardly any flaw in terms of resolution at all.

    Besides the excellent coherency and authenticity, the ER•4XR puts out a very detailed and well-separated treble along with a highly transparent midrange. Its bass response is really fast as well, and it outperforms some other single-BA in-ears, too terms of speed and tightness. Compared to some of the higher-priced multi-BA in-ears though, while the bass speed might be comparable, the ER•4XR’s bottom-end will appear a bit softer but nonetheless highly controlled and therefore a bit better visceral. Together with the well-implemented emphasis in the lows, this makes the bass quite dynamic and also, at least to me, addictive, as it is fast but gives a visceral impression.

    Soundstage:

    The soundstage surely isn’t the largest in all directions, however just as with the ER•4S, I have never perceived it as small or congested at all but averagely large with a very good width-to-depth-ratio and an almost perfect spherical and three-dimensional illusion with just slightly more spatial width than depth.
    Instruments are very precisely placed in the imaginary space and layering is precise as well, without any fogginess. Separation is really good, too, and instruments don’t blend into each other but are separated with even some empty space between and around them. In this regard, the ER•4XR has even slightly improved over the ER•4S to my ears, as with more complex and faster recordings, the ER•4XR sounds slightly better separated and caves in less but remains very controlled while I find that the ER•4SR does this even a slight bit better.

    Personally, I really love the ER•4SR’s spatial presentation, as it manages to convince me in terms of authenticity and three-dimensionality while not being extra wide or deep. Therefore, the Etymotic also counts to my personal favourites when it comes to soundstage.

    ---------

    In Comparison with other In-Ears:

    DSC00992.jpg
     
    Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors:
    The general tonal direction in the lows is widely similar among these two in-ears – the only real difference is that the ER•4XR’s bass emphasis starts a little lower wherefore its middle root is slightly less warm compared to the UERMs’. Both have got identical amounts of midbass quantity while the Ety has got slightly more presence in the lower midbass and sub-bass. Except for the presence range that is just slightly forward on the ER•4XR, both sound comparable to me in the midrange. Going up with the sine sweeps, I can hear a dip in the UERMs’ middle treble along with a narrow peak around 10 kHz that can sound a bit harsh if a single note hits it exactly.
    In the treble, the ER•4XR is more linear and even in comparison, wherefore it also sounds more authentic and realistic here to me.
    In terms of bass speed and control, as well as detail retrieval and instrument separation, the UERM is ahead, however the difference in terms of instrument separation has become smaller than compared to the ER•4S.

    Etymotic ER•4S:
    The ER•4XR’s cable is softer and more flexible. It has also finally got a chin-slider above the y-splitter wherefore microphonics can be lowered, too. And while the new silicone tips have got the same diameter as the older grey ones, they seal easier in my ears and I probably wouldn’t even have to necessarily modify them.
    The ER•4XR’s sensitivity is higher wherefore it needs less voltage to reach the same volume level as the ER•4S.
    Being used to speakers, in-ears and headphones that head into the flat/neutral direction, I never found my ER•4S or the ER•4SR to lack bass or sub-bass at all, it just wasn’t emphasised and spot-on flat to the diffuse-field target. Some people however, who really liked the ER•4 series’ midrange and treble, wanted a little more bass impact at times. And this is exactly what the ER•4XR gives: greatly the same sound signature as the ER•4S and ER•4SR, however with a bit more bass.
    Beginning in the lower root, the ER•4XR’s bottom-end evenly rises towards the sub-bass where its climax is at. Nonetheless it is no bassy in-ear at all and just adds a bit more level to make those who want a bit more compensation for the lack of mechanical vibrations happier.
    According to what I am hearing (equalized comparisons to determine the exact level difference at a certain point) and measuring, the slight boost isn’t more than 3 dB at 100 Hz, 4 dB at 50 Hz and a bit less than 5 dB at 30 Hz and below compared to the ER•4S, which is not much but enough to give the ER•4XR a bit more sub-bass and midbass quantity along with a little more warmth in the lower root without affecting the midrange balance. Speaking of the midrange: both my ears and my measurements tell me that the ER•4XR has got a bit less of a presence range emphasis compared to the ER•4S wherefore it will be perceived as being a little less fatiguing over time. It has also got slightly less level than my ER•4S around 10 kHz and between 10 and 20 kHz, wherefore its treble is a little less present than the ER•4S’s to my ears but not to the extent of where we could really speak about an emphasis for any of the two (there might also be some small production tolerance in place), as the difference is quite small actually and both mainly differ in the bass.
    Both in-ears sound equal to me when it comes to detail retrieval while the ER•4S has got the slightly tighter bass.
    The ER•4XR has got a comparable soundstage size to my ears with slightly better separation and placement.

    Fischer Amps FA-3E:
    Bass quantity is largely similar with slightly more quantity in the lower midbass and sub-bass on the Ety’s side. The Fischer Amps has got less quantity in the middle highs around 5 where it has a dip, however more quantity in the upper treble.
    The ER•4XR’s bass appears more visceral and engaging because it is a bit softer and dynamic while speed and control are similar.
    In terms of soundstage size, I hear both as being comparable while the Etymotic has got the somewhat more authentic and slightly better separated soundstage reproduction.

    InEar StageDiver SD-2:
    The SD-2 has got the fuller and warmer root as well as midrange in comparison as well as a little more overall bass quantity. The SD-2’s treble is one of the few in-ears’ upper ends that sounds almost as even and authentic as the Ety’s while the StageDiver has got a little less overall treble quantity and takes it to a smoother and more laid-back level.
    The ER•4XR’s bass is a bit faster and less soft than the SD-2’s.
    The InEar’s soundstage is larger in all directions and more three-dimensional while instrument separation and spatial authenticity are comparable among the two.

    Etymotic ER•4SR:
    Being used to speakers, in-ears and headphones that head into the flat/neutral direction, I never found my ER•4S or the ER•4SR to lack bass or sub-bass at all, it just wasn’t emphasised and spot-on flat to the diffuse-field target response to my ears. Some people however, who really liked the ER•4 series’ midrange and treble, wanted a little more bass impact at times. And this is exactly what the ER•4XR gives: basically the same sound signature as the ER•4SR, however with a bit more bass.
    Beginning in the lower root, the ER•4XR’s bottom-end evenly rises towards the sub-bass where its climax is at. Nonetheless it is no bassy in-ear at all and just adds a bit more level to make those who want a bit more compensation for the lack of mechanical vibrations happier.
    According to what I am hearing (equalized comparisons to determine the exact level difference at a certain point) and measuring, along with the graphs on the certificate of performance, the slight boost isn’t more than 3 dB at 100 Hz, 4 dB at 50 Hz and a bit less than 5 dB at 30 Hz and below compared to the ER•4SR, which is not much but enough to give the ER•4XR a bit more sub-bass and midbass quantity along with a little more warmth in the lower root without affecting the midrange balance. Speaking of the midrange: both my ears and my measurements as well as those on the included certificates tell me that the ER•4XR has got a little less of a presence range lift compared to the ER•4SR wherefore it will be perceived as being a little less fatiguing over time. It has also got slightly more level than the ER•4SR I have on hand around 10 kHz and between 10 and 20 kHz, wherefore it is a little brighter than the ER•4SR to my ears but not to the extent of where we could really speak about an emphasis or greater difference (there might also be some small production tolerance in place), as the difference is quite small actually and both first and foremost differ in the bass.
    Both in-ears sound equal to me when it comes to detail retrieval and bass quality.
    The ER•4XR has got an almost identical soundstage to my ears that is just ever so slightly less deep with the minimally less precise separation.


    Conclusion:

    You have heard the Etymotic ER•4SR or ER•4S and found them great but want a little more bass quantity?
    Or you want a balanced sounding in-ear that heads into the neutral direction with just slightly more quantity in the bass?
    Your search might be over with the Etymotic ER•4XR that combines everything to love about the ER•4S/SR with a stronger bass impact with a well-implemented emphasis that is still far from being overdone and certainly won’t please those who want a stronger bottom-end.
     

    DSC00994.jpg   DSC01002.jpg


    The ER•4XR is definitely a great addition to Etymotic’s line-up and the only thing that I could wish for are coloured side-markers on the cable connectors, however given that the old ER•4 line also underwent some cosmetic changes over the years, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the ER•4SR and ER•4XR with colour-coded side-markers in the future as well.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. HiFiChris
      @Wyd4
       
       LCD-X: More warmth and fullness; darker in the highs.

      BASIC: ~ 7 dB bassier in comparison, also a bit warmer and darker but not necessarily much fuller (the ORIVETI's bass ebbs down to the fundamental range quite nicely, avoiding some bloom).

      IE 800: v-shaped; ~ 6 dB more bass, more fullness; recessed middle highs (~ 3-5 kHz) & forward, metallic upper highs (~ 10 kHz).
      HiFiChris, Mar 29, 2017
    3. nellsworth
      Thanks for your review. How would you compare these to the Etymotic hf3, which I have and really like? I would like some more bass but I am not sure I can justify spending more than 2x for the ER4XR to get it.
      nellsworth, Apr 21, 2017
    4. HiFiChris
      @nellsworth
       
      Sorry, I have never heard the HF3.

      Just an idea: Depending on what audio player you are using, adding a little more bass via EQ could be something to consider too as long as you are otherwise satisfied with your HF3.
      HiFiChris, Apr 21, 2017
  4. leaky74
    Review: Etymotic ER4-XR
    Written by leaky74
    Published Dec 4, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Stunning levels of real detail, clarity & separation.
    Cons - None to speak of; maybe a little clinical for some.
    First of all, thanks 
    to 
    hifiheadphones
     for the review tour invite.
     
    Secondly and mainly because I believe the ER4SR & XR are worthy of the praise he 
    showers upon them
    , I feel duty bound to refer you to the reviews of mark2410. Finally, because these are my first reviews (& I'm devoid of creativity), I'm also going to crib from his review structure (thanks mark2410, I hope you don't mind)?! 
     
    Before I move on, I must admit I'm not fluent in 'audiophilese' and my experience of quality IEMs isn't particularly extensive or recent! My current set up up at home is mainly Tidal HiFi (via Mac), Chord Mojo & AQ Nighthawks (which I love!). Out and about I tend to stick to a pair of wireless Momentums (and I do have a pair of rarely used In Ear Momentums). 
     
    I have, in the very dim & distant past, owned a pair of Shure SE 5..'s (530's I think - the 'Push to Talk' ones?), and whilst I thought they were good, I don't remember thinking I'd be happy with them as my main/only headphones. I've also had previous Etymotics - the HF3 & 5 when I first began experimenting with how I might get better performance from iPods & early iPhones. My abiding memory of them is of the pleasing levels of detail & clarity they used to reveal. More on that to come.....       
          
    Anyway, on to these Etymotics:
     
    Price:  £330. I must admit, I have a bit of a mental block, based purely on their physical size, when it come's to paying as much for IEMs as I might for on/over ears. Daft, I know! Looking at what's out there in terms of the market though, I can only assume it must be diminishing returns over & above what these little beauties offer.  
     
    Specifications:  
    Frequency Response 20 Hz-16 kHz, Accuracy Score 4SR (92%), Transducers High performance balanced armature micro-drivers, Noise Isolation 35-42 dB, Impedance (@1 kHz) 4XR (45 Ohms), Sensitivity (@1 kHz), SPL at 0.1V 4XR (98 dB), Maximum Output (SPL)       122 dB, Cable 5 ft. Detachable, Warranty 2 years
     
    Accessories:  Standard assortment of silicone tips and a big old case! As someone who tends to bundle IEMS up into a coat pocket, I'd probably only keep the case in my work bag & use it when travelling. For that, I think it's pretty handy. For daily use; yeah, it's not something you're going to fit in a pocket! 
     
    Build Quality:  It's simple structure, extremely well made. My only gripe was the only easy way (out of the box), to determine which unit was left or right was by the orientation of the logo on the housing (the cable plugs are embossed but the text is small & difficult to pick out. Overall, the build has a premium look & feel.
     
    Isolation:  Regardless of tips, you'll struggle to find much (that I'm aware of), that will passively isolate to the same level as the Etys. 
     
    Microphonics:  No getting around this one, this one takes a bit of management. You can wear them up but as they're not strictly designed for it, they do stick out a little. The chin slider and shirt clip do help a lot though. Furthermore, and it's a nice touch, the clip easily attaches to the cable bridge/Y junction. Nothing noteworthy on the surface but on the couple of occasions I did snag the cable, rather than the first point of resistance being my ears (if you're wearing the flanged tips - this hurts!), the cable just disconnects from the clip alerting you to a problem.  
     
    Comfort/Fit:  I can only speak from personal experience but I get on best with the bigger, triple flanged tips. There's no way to make the procedure I've adopted for fitment look attractive. It involves pulling up on the earlobe whilst opening my jaw & inserting the tip to the point a vacuum's created and it feels like your ear is trying to suck the thing in!! Disconcerting at first but my favourite tips in achieving the best seal & sound. I think your ears do toughen up &/or the tips soften with only a little use. I've tried the other tips & Complys in the past but stand by these. Complys I like but part of the attraction of an IEM for me is being able to quickly insert & remove them which I always find slightly fidly with Complys  
     
    Aesthetics:  They look premium but are pretty much swallowed in their entirety by your ears anyway!
     
    Sound: I'll admit, my (mis?)memories of the HF5 had me expecting something very detailed but potentially bright & fatiguing. I needn't have worried; these provide an insight and detail retrieval I've never encountered in any headphone before. It's not achieved by boosted treble or tricksy tuning either; it's actual real life, genuine detail - and it's addictive!! It's cliche but I enjoyed re-listening to tracks not necessarily to discover hidden depths or detail (which they do provide, in spades), but just because of the sense of reality they provide. Instruments (in particular electric acoustic guitars), actually sound life like; as if you were stood close enough to pick out granularity in tone and texture of the instruments. Separation is excellent and I also found the soundstage and depth that these present convincing too.
     
    These are a serious effort at providing the user with the means of being able to easily pick apart a track. As such, it's safe to say that they could be perceived as being a little overly clinical. They handle bass well both, technically, in terms of quantity & quality but not in an overly pronounced and impactful manner. As a former bass player, I must admit, to a preference for the XR's over the SR's They're identical in every way but with just a little (I mean a little), more grunt over the lower frequencies.      
     
    These sound good straight out of my iPhone 6S Plus (& I could live with them as is), but throw the Mojo into the equation and they do what they do well but even better! MacBook, Mojo and a couple of AQ Jitterbugs nudge a little more performance out of them too. Amping certainly helps bring a little more to the lower frequencies and just 'peps' them up all round! 
     
    Value:  For me; the biggest compliment I can pay these is that I'd be happy with them as my only pair of headphones. They've awoken in me a realisation of what IEMs are capable of to the extent I'm seriously considering downsizing to an IEM only inventory!
     
    Pro’s:  Stunning levels of real detail, clarity & separation.  
     
    Con’s:  None to speak of but what these are designed for and deliver on (& then some), might be perceived by some as lacking an element of 'fun'. Those same people may potentially find them a little bass light too (even the XR's). 
    1. View previous replies...
    2. havagr8da
      ER4 XR - Reference Quality with a three mile smile. Great Review!
      havagr8da, Dec 14, 2016
    3. Larethio
      @Hi-Fi'er Youve been on this site since 2009 and you say that Etymotic doesnt have a big following? You probably have been stuck on bloated iem threads the whole time. The er4 is one of the most popular iems on head fi. The only people who dont like it are the ones that are used to inaccurate bloated sound signatures.
      Larethio, Jan 20, 2017
      Nani900 likes this.
    4. Lulu800
      @Larethio Yeah allot $500 and summit-fi IEM's are V/U shaped. Often have worse detail/clarity, with only a few gem's. The ER4S and SR/XR, are pretty much a in ear version of the HD650 with better detail/clarity and great soundstage vs overkill soundstage. It's funny how the SE846/IE800 cost a grand yet were ranked lower than the XR on crinacle(sp?) list.
      Lulu800, Sep 23, 2018
  5. mark2410
    Etymotic ER-4XR Extended Response Earphone Quick Review by mark2410
    Written by mark2410
    Published Nov 10, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - If the world could only have 1 IEM in existence, this should be the one.
    Cons - Wallet ouchy. Still won’t have enough bass to please many. Wallet ouchy.
    Etymotic ER-4XR Extended Response Earphone Quick Review by mark2410
     
    Thanks to hifiheadphones for the loaner.
     
    Full review here http://www.head-fi.org/t/825419/etymotic-er-4xr-extended-response-earphone-review-by-mark2410
     
    Brief:  An Ety with a more shapely bottom.
     
    Price:  £330 or in Americaland US$350.
     
    Specifications:  Frequency Response 20 Hz-16 kHz, Accuracy Score 4SR (92%), Transducers High performance balanced armature micro-drivers, Noise Isolation 35-42 dB, Impedance (@1 kHz) 4XR (45 Ohms), Sensitivity (@1 kHz), SPL at 0.1V 4XR (98 dB), Maximum Output (SPL)       122 dB, Cable 5 ft. Detachable, Warranty 2 years
     
    Accessories:  You get an assortment of tips and a gigantic case.  Both of which I think should remain in the box.  Expect to order a usable case and comfortable tips yourself.
     
    Build Quality:  Etys had a stellar build quality reputation when they were plastic, these are now metal and will likely out live you.
     
    Isolation:  Etys are the kings of isolation, they are rated at up to 42dB reduction.  No other earphone or headphone can match them nor can any earplugs.  The things you hear are because the sounds have travelled through your jaw rather than in your ears.
     
    Microphonics:  If you wear them up nothing but they are angled so you probably will want to wear down where the chin slider and shirt clip will help there.
     
    Comfort/Fit:  A contentious issue.  The included tips all suck, pick up some small olives or Comply’s and then with a little lick for lubrication you can insert them.  You will feel violated the first time you do this.  However once you get used to the strangeness of it they are actually comfortable.  I can wear them for hours and hours with no issues so long as I don’t have to repeatedly take them out.  That is very wearing on the ear.
     
    Aesthetics:  They look not bad, though they sit entirely internally in use so who cares, no one can see them.
     
    Sound:  They are the ultimate in benchmark, reference setting, proper In Ear Monitors.  They are reference flat acoustically while many wont love it as you cannot feel the lows with your whole ear and whole body.  If you like Beats, these are not for you.  These are massively isolating, acoustic analytical tools more than they are what people think of as earphones.  They aren’t listening devices but tools of acoustic examination.  Outstanding detail levels, everything deadpan presented before you is a coolly detached manner.  Feed them stunning, flawless, beautifully recorded and produced music and you will be highly rewarded.  Feed them crap and they expose every shortcoming, it will be extremely apparent too and this can ruin a well-loved old track.  You can’t not hear the imperfections with them.  While they are the more bassy version, don’t think for one second that these are bassy IEM’s.  They are comparatively bassy for an Ety but will not offer the scale of bass enhancement that many might look for.  The bump is there and if you A/B them with the SR you can hear it noticeably but they are still far more light in the bass than most things out there.
     
    Value:  Well, you want true reference grade stuff that’ll be around in 30 years’ time probably, your wallet will be just as violated as your ears will be by it.
     
    Pro’s:  If the world could only have 1 IEM in existence, this should be the one.
     
    Con’s:  Wallet ouchy.  Still won’t have enough bass to please many.  Wallet ouchy.
    1. WhatToChoose
      "An ety with a more shapely bottom"

      Quite accurate...can't have a chalkboard flat backside, gotta have zome luscious curves...no badonkadonk though, thats when it gets crazy
      WhatToChoose, Nov 10, 2016

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