Etymotic Research ER-4PT In-Ear Earphones

General Information

Meet the Nexus S with Android 2.3. Samsung and Google deliver Nexus S, the world’s first handset to feature the latest version of Google’s Android™ platform. Powered by Android 2.3, Gingerbread, this smartphone is packed with powerful technology and the latest in hardware features. Featuring both superior functionality and a stunning user-experience, the Nexus S has a brilliant Super AMOLED touch screen that provides a premium viewing experience. The 4-inch Contour Display has a curved design for a more ergonomic style and feel when held to the user’s face. Powered by a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor, Nexus S produces rich 3D graphics, faster upload and download times and supports HD-like multimedia content. In addition, Nexus S features a gyroscope sensor to provide a smooth, fluid gaming experience when the user is tilting the device up or down or panning the phone to the left or right. It also comes with 16 GB of internal memory. Nexus S features Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which allows users to read information off of everyday objects like stickers and posters that are embedded with NFC chips. It’s also equipped with a 5 megapixel rear facing camera and camcorder, as well as a VGA front facing camera, and features a new and improved keyboard with multi-touch support, Internet calling (VoIP/SIP support) and a clean new user interface.This powerful smartphone also includes popular Android features such as portable Wi-Fi hotspot, true multitasking and access to Google mobile services such as Google Search™, Gmail™, Google Maps™ with Navigation, Voice Actions, Google Voice™ and YouTube™, and access to over 100,000 apps and widgets on Android Market™.

Latest reviews

Pros: superior clarity and detail; timbre fidelity; neutral signature; pace; imaging; versatility; great isolation; build quality; comfort; value for money
Cons: heavy cable; comfort
Design/durability: The ER-4 have a robust feeling that reminds me of my old and faithful HD25. The earpiece is small and light, its housing is made of rugged plastic. The braided cable looks sturdy and is replaceable (with Westone cables for instance) with the use of an adapter. The stock cable is a bit heavy and a tad long for portable use. It is stiffer than most braided cables I've tried so far, and doesn't tangle much. Microphonics are low, considering that the ER-4 has to be worn down. Overall it has a very good and functional design, that can easily last a decade or so. And last but not least, there are plenty of accessories (adapters, foam/silicon tips, several travelling cases, cleaning tools, filters, etc.) included in the bundle. The package is very, very complete.
Fit/comfort: These little buddies sit deep inside the ear canal. Might be bothersome for some people. No discomfort for me though. I use Comply foams and small Shure olives most of the time, and they really fit the bill with excellent isolation, comfort and sound. They are like part of my ears now, though I can understand how some people might find their fit bothersome, especially with stock tips such as tri-flanges. Also keep in mind that these are not earbuds you can put in and out in instantly: fit needs time.
Isolation: Most effective passive isolation ever. Blocks out pretty much all the noise on transportation, including big and noisy jet planes. Considerably better than Shure/Westone type isolation, and miles ahead of the IE 80. The ER-4 leaves you with your music, just as if you were in another world (be cautious on the road though). 
Sound: Saying that the ER-4 sound impressive is an understatement. These are precision tools, with breathtaking clarity and accuracy. Every detail, no matter how tiny just flows into your ears, like by magic. The resolution is just that good. Imaging is very satisfying, making it is easy to distinguish each instrument, each voice, with accurate positioning. Soundstage is just alright for my tastes, it could be better though. It feels fairly wide, but not deep (very upfront) if it makes sense. Despite that, the whole presentation feels very airy. Speed is also excellent. Punchy and dynamic with quick response and superb pace.
The frequency response of the ER-4 is flat at best without implying a boring sound. Lows, mids and highs are all put at the same level. Very neutral and balanced, with no emphasis so to speak.

The bass might sound a bit recessed, especially compared to the ongoing trend, although it has very good definition and extension along with powerful impact. Bass texture is excellent, it has body and is very tight. Drum kicks are aggressive the way I like them. The mids are lush, even sounding and very refined. Vocals are very articulate and smooth, with a truly realistic feel to them. The sound of the saxophone is immersive, piano sounds realistic and acoustic guitar is a bliss. The treble is crystal clear to say the least: rich, crisp and articulate without being ear piercing, with great extension capabilities, making strings, bells and cymbals sound magical, as if all that sparkle was beaming into your head. All sounds, all instruments and voices have their timbre replicated with excellent fidelity and accuracy, with no coloration nor bias, making the sound natural and revealing without being fatiguing.

The best thing about the ER-4 is that it is very versatile. The sound suits pretty much any genre very well and it is easy to tweak the signature to suit your needs (colder/warmer). Good for classical, jazz, rock, electronic music, basically anything you throw at them. It can handle slow paced, basic vocal tracks as well as fast paced, complex ones, such as orchestral with ease. I'd say that the ER-4 is the jack of all trades, and the master of most of them: Suitable for critical listening, but lively enough for personal enjoyment.
With its very coherent and realistic sound signature and effortless musicality, the ER-4 easily surpasses hands down most IEMs I've owned until now, including more expensive, technically more advanced multi-drivers. The single fact that these buds have been on the market for more than 20 years without heavy modification is a testimony of their numerous qualities. If you had to pick one single IEM, I would advise you to check these bad boys out.
Bottom line: A living legend with very little left to be desired. Thoroughly recommended.
Nice review.
I think it's also important to emphasize how durable they are. I just sent my pair in to be re-cabled by Etymotic (which they will do for only $50 – customer service is also great). The cable finally developed a short near the strain relief next to the plug.
I went back into my email inbox and checked. I bought these puppies in 2009! So they have functioned flawlessly for around seven years. How many other earphones are built that well?
Pros: Very clear, precise and flat sound, speed and response. excellent isolation, build quality and warranty.
Cons: ergonomics, cable microphonics
let's keep this short, simple and sweet-just like the earphones being reviewed.
Why are these things so good?? could it be the superb balance between lows, mids and highs? or the excellent isolation, that lets you enjoy your music at lower volumes while not skipping any of the details?? Are they deserving of the near-legendary status that has kept these phones relevant in today's $1000 dollar IEM world??
Let's talk about our worst fears regarding the ER-4PT - the alleged lack of bass, the lifted treble, the 'boring, analytic signature'. All of these assumptions are total bunk. Absolute nonsense. We've been misled by earphones that push up the lows and try to pass off as true High Fidelity devices. This is not what High Fidelity means - it means being as true to the source as possible, and not adding your own 'special sauce' to the mix. This is the end pursuit of all audiophiles, but our vision (ears?) often get clouded.
The ER-4PT breaks through the clouds like a ray of sunshine, bathing everything in brilliance. It reproduces sound, and that's all it does. If the ER-4PT's sound boring to you, that's just your music being boring, man. Deal with it. take a break, get some water and listen to something else, because music is meant to be felt, and you are just not feeling it right now.
The Bass on the ER-4PT is superb - it is routine for most earphones to do the midbass hump from 80-100Hz to 150Hz - and most casual listeners are easily wowed by the impact this provides. Bass on Earphones will never feel the same as loudspeakers, because bass is a very visceral feeling, almost physical thing. it rumbles and slams and hits and drops, but to get this sensation, you need to move a LOT of air. Earphones don't move a lot of air, so they compensate by adjusting the response of our earphones to lift the midbass, giving a perception of a bassy sound.
The ER-4PT does not play this game. It instead extends all the way down to the sub-bass, and goes ruler-flat all the way to the mids. You hear everything, just as the recording engineer intended, and nothing gets special treatment. it is fantastic.
The Mid-range is equally Impressive - tonally neutral, you will strain to hear any honkyness or tilt in frequency. the ER-4PT just refuses to play favorites with genres and vocal styles.
The Treble was actually a bit underwhelming - maybe i've been conditioned to expect a heavy hand with the treble after reading all the reviews, but for me, it was just right-the high notes came in exactly where they were needed, and did not smear over to the vocals. this is what good treble should sound like. A perfect sense of timing and precision, while being able to hit all kinds of notes at the same time.
Does it need more treble?? Absolutely not. That would be missing the point of the ER-4PT - which is to reproduce sound accurately. The sense of transparency and openness these phones have is simply fantastic.
I've been powering the Earphones with my LG G2, a smartphone held in high regard around these parts - I am happy to report that work well together, and the volume level achievable is far more than what you will want for an extended time.
Comfort and fit are very personal choices - the driver housings are among the smallest I have seen, and I use the smallest triple-flange tips. Microphonics are a minor annoyance, but the cable is very well made. 


Suggested alternative cables to increase comfort?
And cables with micro for mobile usage?