Etymotic Research ER2XR


Headphoneus Supremus
Etymotic ER2XR Detailed Measurement & Review
Pros: Very high passive noise isolation, almost ruler flat impedance.
Cons: Deep insertion design that might suite everyone.
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Etymotic ER2XR (Extended Response) is one of my favorite IEM from Etymotic that doesn't need any introduction. I bought this pair from a local shop around 2 years ago. It is a deep insertion micro dynamic driver design with almost ruler flat impedance across the audio band. And the most important feature is, it sounds pretty good.


ER2XR has 2 essential features for pro audio and on-stage applications:
  • Very high passive noise isolation (35-42dB) from the deep insertion design. Essential as hearing protection for an on-stage performer.
  • Close to ruler flat impedance (15 ohms) ensures consistent tonality with various audio equipment regardless of the headphone output impedance.


  • Designed for deep insertion into the ear canal, may not be suitable for everyone.
  • Very difficult to identify the Left and Right channels in a dimly lit environment. Very small black on black L/R sign on the Left and Right channels. There is no 'Left Dot' indicator on the Left channel connector.
  • Total harmonic distortion is on the higher side of average THD from all the IEMs that I’ve measured.


  • On tonality, to add a slight bump around the 4.5kHz treble area to improve perceived clarity, and to increase the overall upper treble response to improve perceived transparency and spaciousness.
  • To add 'Left Dot' on the left channel connector for easy channel identification.

Sound Quality​

M01 ER2XR - EITC-2021 - Delta v2.png

*EITC-2021 is my frequency response target curve. More info about it here.

M02 Slide1.PNG

*Note: When there is no obvious treble peak (T1p) around the 4-5kHz area, SPL at 4400Hz is used as T1p value.

Bass to mids tonality sounds good, clean, balanced, and pretty close to my perceived neutral. Treble is good but can be improved. Treble is a tad on the softer side of neutral and sounds very smooth. Sometimes with a certain recording, it may sound a tad dull for me. I prefer the treble area around 4-5 kHz to have a slight peak like the ER4XR, as it will improve the perceived clarity. And the upper Treble extension is also a bit too soft for my taste and slightly lack the perceived airiness and spaciousness.

Overall, it sounds quite natural and balanced but frequency extensions at both ends, sub-bass and upper-treble, sound a bit too soft. That’s the main reason I rate it 7/10. If ER2XR has a better-perceived frequency extension at both ends I will rate it higher on tonality.

Perceived detail and clarity are ok, but not great. It doesn't sound dull or muddy, just lacking a bit of transparency and airiness. Dynamic is quite decent with good and clean-sounding bass. Pretty good bass attack and impact but lack a bit of sub-bass rumble. Overall, I do like the sound quality of ER2XR.

Comparisons to Etymotic ER4XR and ER2SE:
M03 Etymotic ER2XR, ER4XR, ER2SE - T1p.png

The hump around the 5kHz could be the reason for the better-perceived clarity on ER4XR.

Equalization to Match EITC-2021​

One of the objective of my EITC-2021 target curve is that it is a realistically achievable target curve by my measurement equipment, based on the real measurement and not just as an estimated target curve. To really test and experience an IEM with matching frequency response to EITC-2021 sounds like, I created an equalizer profile for ER2XR to match EITC-2021.

EITC-2021 (Blue curve) and Etymotic ER2XR (Right channel) FR after equalization to match EITC-2021 target curve (Red curve):
M04 Etymotic ER2XR equalized to match EITC-2021.png

To my ears, EITC-2021 equalization improves ER2XR perceived clarity and frequency extension at both ends. I use REW to create the equalizer profile based on the difference between ER2XR average response and EITC-2021. Then exported the equalizer profile as a text file to be loaded to Equalizer APO.

M05 Equalizer APO - Setting Steps.png

Below is the link for the equalizer profile for ER2XR to match the EITC-2021, so anyone who would like to try EITC-2021 on their ER2XR can load it to Equalizer APO to test it. Please apply a -3dB gain to avoid clipping.
Etymotic ER2XR - EITC-2021 - EQ APO Profile

Engineering Quality​


Disclaimer: The measurement results of the engineering quality measurement in this review represent only the pair of IEM that was measured for this review. It doesn’t represent the overall quality control of the factory.

Excellent left and right channel tracking. My unit has an overall 0.2-0.3dB matching from 20Hz-10kHz, with only 0.5 dB maximum at 5kHz.

M07 Etymotic ER2XR - LR Match.png

The impedance curve is almost ruler flat, with only a shallow bump, around 0.5ohms increase at 2580Hz.

M08 Etymotic ER2XR Impedance.png

Overall THD level of the Etymotic ER2XR is a bit higher than most IEMs that I’ve measured. Please take note that distortion measurement is not part of sound quality evaluation. It is only used to observe the engineering quality of the IEM.
Distortion measurement at 94 dB SPL at 500Hz:
M09 Etymotic ER2XR - Left - THD at 94 dB SPL.png

M10 Etymotic ER2XR - Right - THD at 94 dB SPL.png

Distortion measurement at 104 dB SPL at 500Hz:
M11 Etymotic ER2XR - Left - THD at 104 dB SPL.png

M12 Etymotic ER2XR - Right - THD at 104 dB SPL.png

The following is my rating criteria:
M13 Earfonia Rating Criteria.png

Fit, Comfort, & Build Quality​

All test is done using the ER2XR default medium triple flange ear tip. To me the fit and comfort are ok. The deep insertion design is surprisingly quite comfortable. What I mean is, I definitely feel something is stuck in my ear canal, but it doesn’t cause any pain. Even for a long session like an hour or more, I only need to readjust the position of the IEM a little bit every half an hour or so, but it doesn’t cause any discomfort until I must unplug it from my ears. I would say the level of comfort is around 7/10.

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Build quality is generally good. I haven’t had any problem with the build quality. The cable is soft and flexible with sufficient thickness. The connector is custom MMCX so most 3rd party cables with MMCX won’t fit. Etymotic provided two spare green tuning filters (1500 Ohms) and the tool to replace it. Etymotic also sells a tuning kit for users to experience different FR with different tuning filters.

My biggest complaint is the left and right channel marking. It is almost impossible to see the marking in a dimly lit environment. The left dot as shown in the picture below has been implemented on many IEMs for many years, and I’m quite surprised why not all companies use this useful feature on their IEM cable.

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Metal Shell to Ground Pin Connection: No connection​


Suitable for applications where high level of noise isolation is important.

More information about my IEM Measurement Setup & Methodology:
Earfonia IEM Measurement Setup & Methodology

Advertised Technical Specifications:​

Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 16 kHz
Transducers: High performance moving coil dynamic driver
Noise Isolation: 35dB using silicone ear tips, 42dB using foam ear tips
Impedance: 15 Ohms @ 1kHz
Sensitivity: 96 dB @ 1kHz, 1mW
Maximum Output (SPL): 120 dB
Cable: Detachable 4 ft cable with MMCX connectors
User Replaceable ACCU-Filters: Yes
Warranty: 2 Years
Custom-Fit Option: Yes

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Szymon The Crackhead

New Head-Fier
ER2XR Review - The Penetrating Recommendation
Pros: Great tonality
Fun, punchy bass, but no bleed
Good bass texture
Good midrange detail
Cons: Awful fit
Sound gets worse if you don't insert them deep enough
Certain blurriness to the transients
Non-existent soundstage and poor imaging
Dull treble
Sometimes shouty
Hello there!

This is my review of the Etymotic ER2XR. The ER2 series tends to be one of the default recommendations around its price range, considered by many simply the best IEM under $100. I myself bought it for this reason exactly - a year ago, when I was still very new to the audio hobby and had just got my first ever pair of IEMs - the KZ ZSN Pro X - I was looking to upgrade upon them, and the default recommendations in my price range seemed to be the ER2XR and the Moondrop Starfield. After a solid couple of months considering them and some other options, I stumbled upon @MRSallee 's livestream and asked him which one he would pick between the 2. He picked the ER2, and in turn so did I.

Well, it's been a long while since then, my collection grew to include over 20 IEMs, and I've managed to try some "legendary" pairs like the ThieAudio Monarch and the holy grail of the IEM world - the Sony IER-Z1R, as well as a few other pairs in the same price range as the Etymotic. So why did I wait so long to review these? I'll tell you in a while, but since it's my first review here, I'm going to introduce myself. (You can skip that part if you're only interested in the earphone, but I'd encourage you to read it if you want some perspective on how I rate things.

Who am I, how do I rate things, and why should you care?

So, as you might have guessed from my username, my name is Szymon (If you don't know Polish, just pronounce it "Simon"), and I hail from Poland. I got into the audio hobby about 2 years ago, as one of Dankpods' first subscribers. First I just watched him since I was an Apple fan and loved iPods, but then I thought about getting one for myself. And I needed headphones to go along with it. At the time, my audio "collection" consisted of:

- AirPods
- Razer Kraken Pro
- B&O H9i

The last one actually sounded fantastic. Back then I also loved the AirPods for not being super bassy and muffled like most other headphones I tried. But I wanted to try more. First came the Beats EP! - as I'm a huge Apple fan and a sucker for great design, and I heard these aren't nearly as bad as most Beats headphones. Then I wanted more, so I started searching more audiophile corners of the internet for cheap recommendations - and I bought the Koss Porta Pro. And then I loved it so much... That it spiralled out of control.

And here I am today, with a collection that consists of I don't even know how many things.

-Over 20 IEMs
-About 10 full-sized headphones
-8 or so open earbuds
-Some Bluetooth sets
-Whatever the KSC75 is

I've also been able to demo even more stuff, including some summit-fi gear and popular favourites. Since September, I have also been cataloguing all of it in a Google Sheets document, which has since grown into quite a sizeable database, if I might say so myself.

My Sound Tier List

I've also been very active in some Discord communities (that was the main place where I shared my reviews and impressions until now), as well as published a few videos on my YouTube channel.

This might be a good moment to explain how I rate things.

In my tier list, you will see two rating systems:

The Sound Tier

This rating is based entirely on sound. I'm trying to make It as objective as possible (transducers that are higher up are better than ones below it), but in a hobby as subjective as this, it of course ultimately comes down to my own preference and how much I like something. There's also two further components to the rating - the tuning tier and the technicalities tier (inspired, of course, by Crinacle). I plan to overhaul this system soon, but for today, it will do. My tier list goes from F to A, with the particular tiers meaning:

F - Absolutely unlistenable, borderline broken.
E - Simply put, bad.
D - Alright. Items in this tier do not stop me from enjoying music, but also don't really add anything to enhance the experience. This should be the baseline, below which you do not venture.
C - Good. This is where I'm going to start recommending some things. If something gets to C Tier, it means that it either has no glaring weaknesses, or does something so well that you're able to excuse those.
B - Really, bloody good. If something is in B Tier, congratulations! It means that I actively enjoyed listening to music on it.
A - Fantastic. To get here, a headphone must not only not have any critical flaws, but also do something that makes me actively go "wow".

There is also the elusive S Tier, where reside only the absolute best transducers I have ever tried. To belong in S Tier, the worst part of the item must still be good enough that it would land another item in B Tier, and the best parts of it must be downright enchanting.

Over time, as I try new stuff, the ratings of some items might change - mainly downwards. I don't expect to promote many items upwards, unless I find something about them that eluded me during the review process, which is very unlikely, and only ever happened with one thing - the ER2XR itself.

The Star Rating

Whereas my Sound Tier is based entirely on, well, sound, I wanted a way to indicate how much I like an earphone overall, taking into account things like price, competition, comfort, design, build quality and accessories. This rating is on one hand more subjective, but on the other, aimed towards you. Where the Tier tells you how much I enjoyed something, the Stars tell you if I recommend it to you. It's also quite simple.

* - Do not buy, under any condition.
* * - Not a good purchase, but I can see situations where you might like it.
* * * - Good purchase. If you buy it, you should be happy.
* * * * - Great purchase. One of the best in its price range, so outside of edge cases, you should love it.
* * * * * - Insane. If it fits within your budget, you should buy it, and I'm fully confident you'll be blown away.

You might have noticed that 2 Stars are quite negative, while 3 Stars are already quite positive, and there is no "meh" option. I did that on purpose, not to give myself a cop out. It's your money I'm having influence on, I don't want to be able to say "yeah, it's okay I guess, click my
affiliate link and buy it to see if you like it".

Can you trust me with your money?

No. Not really.

I don't know your situation. I don't have your ears. I do not listen to your playlist. I may not have the same preferences as you. Hell, the language of the audio hobby is so subjective that you might have a totally different idea when reading my words than what I meant while writing them. I try to be clear, articulate and use intuitive language instead of overly technical terms, but even still, what I think when I say that something sounds bloated (a boosted and slow bass response, crowding out other sounds) is not the same that someone who calls all mid-bass "bloat" would interpret it as.

However, I can promise you that I will never take money from someone to say something positive or negative about a headphone, will always clearly state whether I have received a review unit from someone or bought it with my own money, and will always clearly label affiliate links (if I ever decide to use them).

I will also let you know what my preferences are. I noticed that so many reviewers in this hobby listen to the same kinds of music (k-pop, anime soundtracks and/or classical), people then buy headphones based on their recommendations, and wonder why the headphone doesn't work remotely well for, for example, Trap and EDM.

I personally listen mainly to classic rock, modern metal, emo, acoustic, british pop and rap. I sometimes delve into other genres such as alternative, EDM, jazz, classical, Kpop, etc., but spend 95% of my time listening to the first few. For this reason, I mostly prefer headphones and earphones with a neutral or warm tonality with a relaxed upper midrange, and I like having good treble extension, but not necessarily a boosted treble response. For the graph whisperers among you, my IEM target looks like this:

Screenshot 2022-01-06 at 21.39.34.png

(Crackhead Target is based on my favourite IEMs: Sony IER-Z1R, Blon BL-03 and modded KZ DQ6. Cheers to @RikudouGoku for helping me create my target and hosting my graph!)

The things I mainly listen to when evaluating gear, are in rough order: male vocals, resolution (instrument separation), electric guitar tonality, acoustic guitar timbre, female vocals, string instruments, drums. For this reason, my favourite transducers are Sony IER-Z1R, Sennheiser HD600, Modded KZ DQ6 and Blon BL-03.

With all that being said...

Just review the ER2XR already mate!

Alright, alright.

Thanks for reading my long-winded introduction, I hope it gave you a lot of perspective on how I evaluate stuff. So, why did I wait so long with reviewing the ER2, and with starting to review stuff in general?

Well, because the ER2XR was the default recommendation around the $100 price point, and I... Hated it.

I argued with many people in many Discord communities, that the midrange tuning is awful (makes male vocalists sound like they're singing with a stuffed nose), there is too much bass, and there is 0 treble extension past 10k. I have later bought, EQed and demoed a lot of different transducers trying to figure out what it is that makes the ER2 sound so bad, but couldn't find an obvious answer. I did find a lot of people who were as disappointed with it as I was, but they didn't know either. Were my ears just weird? Was my unit broken?

Turns out, no, it was just...

The Fit

Alright, let's get the elephant out of the room. If you have never seen a pair of ER2XR, well, this is how they look like:


(Picture credit to @Precogvision)

Yeah. They go DEEP into your ear canal. So deep, in fact, that I've always found them extremely uncomfortable to wear for longer than 30 minutes. And you want to know the best part?

The weird sound issues were resulting from the fact that I wasn't fitting them deep enough. The proper way to fit them is to push them in until it starts feeling uncomfortable... And then push them in even deeper. Only the cable connector should protrude from your ear canal, the entire blue part should be in there.

The fit is atrocious and - spoilers! - will be one of the main reasons why I can't recommend them.

Build and Accessories

You have to hand it to Etymotic - these look and feel great in the hand. The earphone is made out of metal that feels really premium and is always cold to the touch. The included accessories are also exquisite - the ER2XR come with a well-behaved silicone cable, three kinds of tips (triple flange, double flange, and foam), a wonderful soft pouch and a Lightning to 3.5mm dongle - which, in my testing, sounds just as good as the Apple one! Props on that.


The sound signature here is neutral with a bass boost. Once you fit it deep, vocals sound very realistic, though some bands' male vocals (for example, The Lumineers and Muse) come off a little thin and shouty due to an upper midrange tuning that's just a touch too forward around the 2.5k-3k region, where these vocalists' harmonic frequencies resonate. The bass boost is isolated to the sub-bass only, with a perfectly neutral mid-bass and lower midrange response. This causes the punch and slam of drums to be strong, but does not bring bass guitars forward or add warmth to electric guitars the way I'd like. I still consider the tonality very balanced, and a strong point for the Etymotic overall.


As mentioned, the bass here is mostly isolated to the lower frequencies. It's also VERY physical, sometimes too much so for my taste when combined with the deep fit (an example of a song where it distracted me too much would be Be My Mistake by The 1975). This is good news if you're a basshead, as these work great for rap and R&B - they played back E-Girls Are Ruining My Life by Corpse, No Name by NF and Drum Go Dum by K/DA splendidly, and I had a ton of fun listening to these tracks. The bass quality is also quite good - there is texture to it, it's not just rumble and slam like it is on some cheaper sets. However, if good bass texture and detail is what you're looking for, a much better alternative for a third of the price would be the KZ DQ6 with foam tips. As good as the bass on ER2XR is, the DQ6 is on another level. In Girl Like Me by Black Eyed Peas and Shakira there is a ton more detail in the bass, in Sleep On The Floor by The Lumineers the bass feels much more grandiose, like a blanket of sound enveloping you - something that does happen on the ER2, but to a much lesser extent.

Thankfully, the bass detail, texture and physicality is good enough to make up for the lack of warmth in some metal tracks - like Kingslayer by Bring Me The Horizon - as well.


The tonality and detail is very good in vocals, from the lowest ones, like Corpse's in E-Girls Are Ruining My Life to those higher-pitched, like Cyn's in Drinks. One issue I observed here, though, is a certain lack of crispness to transients - the attack seems too slow, and the decay seems too fast. As a result NF's bars in No Name didn't sound as crisp as they should, and neither did the cymbal's in Supremacy by Muse, which I found particularly blurred (the guitar solo on that track, though... nailed it).


The best thing you can say about ER2XR's treble is that it is there. It never draws attention to itself (which can be good in tracks like Letter by Yosi Horikawa, which can easily get sharp and unpleasant with a poorly executed treble response, but did not do so here), but the extension and level are just too low, and as a result cymbals in Cyn's Drinks don't shimmer like they should, and electric guitars (as well as Oli Sykes' vocals) in DiE4u or Kingslayer by Bring Me The Horizon sound kind of dead and lacking in energy.

Soundstage and Imaging

Easily the worst part of these, and, along with the fit, the second dealbreaker. Most of the time, I'm of the opinion that soundstage is a meme, and it only matters when it's either really impressive, or really bad - like here. Everything sounds very 2D, which is a pain in songs like Drinks by Cyn or Letter by Yosi Horikawa, both of which tend to benefit from soundstage. Especially Letter - the whole song is based on a great binaural effect, and the ER2 completely ruins it by displaying it as just a collection of random sounds.

The soundstage also hurts some metal tracks, like the aforementioned ones by Bring Me The Horizon or Starlight by Muse. These tracks have a lot of things going on at the same time, as metal songs tend to, and while the ER2XR resolves them really well, separating different instruments and not letting them turn into a soup of sounds, there is just not enough stage to let each sound have its own space, resulting in a really garbled, clamped experience.


I just can't really recommend the ER2XR to anyone who can't handle its two biggest flaws - the fit and the soundstage. If you can manage the fit, and the music you listen to is usually quite simple and does not require a huge soundstage, you'll get a really nice, well tuned IEM with strong, punchy bass.

However, I think a much better option for this kind of tuning in a similar price range are the Galaxy Buds+ from Samsung. Though wireless, these bad boys fit way better, have a similarly punchy, but clean bass and a typical IEM soundstage, rather than ER2's cramped one. The midrange is a toss-up, with Buds+ offering a less shouty experience, at the expense of thinner vocals. The only win for the ER2 is its treble response, which can be a little metalic on the Buds, but I do not think the treble outweighs how much better the Samsung product is at other parts of music.

And if you are one of the weirdos looking at the ER2XR with no preference for a neutral-ish tuning... Just get yourself a pair of KZ DQ6 and a nice set of foam tips to tame the KZ's infamous treble peaks. You will get an even better bass response, a lush, warm midrange, a very similar treble, and - key point here - a soundstage that is the complete opposite of what Etymotic offers. Going from ER2's soundstage which is terrible even for IEM standards, to DQ6's, which is some of the best you can get in any IEM period... Yeah mate, unless you REALLY don't like a warm tuning, just save your money.


Tier: B
(Tuning: A, Technicalities: B-)

* * * * *

Video Review
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Brave soul who dare to criticize ER2SE/XR. I completely agree with the cons that you raise, though. This pair of IEM relies on deep insertion to do its trick, but if you do in deep, even the soundstage width is gone.

Great effort in setting up the infrastructure for review, btw. Hope to see more from you in the future.
Szymon The Crackhead
Szymon The Crackhead
Thanks @o0genesis0o!

I'm certainly not going anywhere, I have a ton of stuff in here waiting to be reviewed (and a ton of fun discovering new things in this hobby). :D

By no means do I hate the ER2XR, I think it does the things it does well extremely well and I still like listening to it sometimes... But the truth is, it's a hard sell when Buds+ do a similar job with fewer compromises, and there are a bunch of cheaper IEMs that are plain more fun to listen to.


Etymotic ER2XR: An Enduring Reference
Pros: Superbly Executed Balanced Tuning
Excellent Technical Performance
Class-Leading Isolation and Good Build Quality
Cons: Etymotic Fit
Compressed Soundstage
At a Glance:

Overall Rating: S (S+ to C-)

Category: C (20-100 USD), MSRP: 100 USD, (Personal Unit)


The ER2XR is one of the budget models in Etymotic’s famed deep-fit lineup, slotting in between the 60$ MK5 and below the ER3SE/XR. It features a single “High-Performance Moving Coil Dynamic Driver” housed in a CNC machined anodized aluminum housing. The ER2XR is tuned to Etymotic’s neutral signature in the midrange and treble but with a boost in the bass region for a more enjoyable listen.


Inclusions: S-

The ER2XR comes in a decently sized cardboard box. The white outer sleeve features quite a few graphics of the IEMs and information on the specifications as well as the inclusions. Sliding the sleeve out to open the box reveals the IEMs themselves presented in some cut foam with the cable hiding underneath. Further under are some paperwork about the IEMs like a guide for how to wear them. The bottom of the box reveals a rather nice faux leather and cloth carry pouch for the IEMs, and a very generous 8 sets of eartips to fit the special nozzles of this IEM, a S/M/L/XL set of dual flange eartips, a standard and large set of 3 flange tips and 2 sets of foam tips for maximum noise isolation. The package also includes spare nozzle filters and a removal tool for the filter, as well as a shirt clip.


The included cable for the ER2XR is a rather bad affair however. It is a 4 foot rubber cable terminating in a 3.5mm single ended plug, with a special notch locking angled MMCX connector for use with the IEMs themselves. The 3.5mm plug is made out of a hardened rubber material, the splitter is made out of the same blue anodized aluminum as the driver housings of the IEM. The chin slider is made of a similar hardened rubber to the 3.5mm plug, while the MMCX connectors are made of what seems to be a slightly harder plastic rubber material. The cable decently soft feeling, however a combination of the shell design and the design of the cable mean that it is quite microphonic when worn connector down, though wearing it over ear does help mitigate this issue. The cable also has quite a bit of shape memory, that does not seem to straighten out over time.

Overall inclusions for the ER2XR are still excellent, with plenty in the way of tips to get the correct, tricky fit for this IEM and some good accessories and packaging. If it weren’t for the sub par cable, this would have received my S+ rating for this price bracket.


Build: S-

The IEM shells are made of a rather precisely finished CNC anodized aluminum, which makes the shells light but durable feeling nonetheless. The shell features many oddities, like an incredibly small nozzle for mounting the eartips, making tip rolling with normal 3rd party tips practically impossible. Additionally, the MMCX connector at the back of the driver shells is rather recessed, making it impossible to plug in most aftermarket MMCX connectors, notch locking feature or not. Additionally, the included nozzle filters are tiny and seem to be proprietary, making it seem like finding replacements will be quite a headache. Sketchy design decisions aside, the actual build quality is great, with nice finishing and tolerances on the aluminum. Overall build could’ve been improved with an easier to cable roll MMCX connector, but the other issues are just unfortunate catch-22s.

Sound Review Conditions:

  • Stock Etymotic locking MMCX Connector
  • Stock Silicon Tips, 2-Flange and 3-Flange
  • JCALLY JM20, CX-PRO dongles, Topping L30, KGUSS GH-3 Desktop
  • Deezer HiFi, Foobar 2000, Signalyst HQ Player



Bass: S

This IEM’s bass region features an elevated bass region with emphasis on the subbass, as well as slight midbass elevation in relation to the remainder of it’s rather flat frequency response. The bass tonal presentation leans towards a cleaner slam sound rather than a looser, more thumpy bass that most budget IEMs have. Additionally, thanks to excellent driver speed, especially for a Dynamic Driver, the ER2XR’s have a perceptively more present bass than one would consider. The transient impact and weight lends itself extremely well to bass heavy tracks but once again the focus on subbass and minimal midbass elevation ensures that it remains clean. However, despite a focus on the subbass, overall bass texture does not suffer, with thumps and booms sounding sufficiently thick to give texture and act as a foil to the clean slam of the rest of the bass region. Overall, excellent bass performance, somewhat neutral still, but still loads of fun nonetheless.

Mids: S

Etymotic has a reputation for having uncolored, near reference grade midrange and this IEM is no exception to that rule. It is not ruler flat, however the overall tonal balance melds together to give it an incredibly faithful and realistic sound presentation. The lower midrange, while not having any outright bass bleed despite the bass elevation when compared with the ER2SE is still marginally affected by the bass, taking on an ever so slightly thicker tonal quality to them, and giving extra body to male vocals in particular. On the same vein, the upper midrange seems to have the typical Diffuse Field target hump, which I personally do not enjoy as much on similar IEMs like the Moondrop SSR, which I found to be shouty on tracks that were not mastered amazingly well. However, what the extra bass tilt means is that this upper midrange energy is balanced by some extra energy on the opposite spectrum, but this IEM does so in a way that does not result in the typical severe midrange recession that occurs on other, typically V-shaped IEM. Overall, this IEM’s midrange performance is fantastic, and truly an appropriate reference. It was less amazing for actual music listening where vocal timbre and some body might have been missing, as well as a certain je nai se quoi to their character. Nonetheless, as a package, great performance.

Treble: A+

This IEM features a marginally recessed treble region with very little distinguishing characteristics. It is extremely neutral and fairly inoffensive in terms of having energy peaks. However, the extension is rather mediocre, likely thanks to the fact that the nozzles and driver chambers are so small (Treble naturally likes open, airy spaces). This is perhaps the area where the ER2XR lags behind it’s Balanced Armature-equipped older brothers. On the other hand, treble is quite good at it’s other main purpose aside from being tonally good, it helps render out the smaller micro details buried within the song, and gives this IEM a good sense of clarity to piercer through the rest of the frequency range, especially considering the elevation in the lower region. Overall, the treble is very much good, and I daresay great in the context of the tuning, it does a good job by not standing out and simply being there when called for. Nonethless, better extension and maybe a tiny amount more presence would have helped this score

Technicalities: S

A fellow HiFi enthusiast once told me “You must abandon all notions of soundstage when using Etys” and he definitely right. These IEMs have an extremely closed in your head sounstage. However, in terms of actual usable area, these IEMs beat out quite a lot of others by being able to stage elements and present them in more areas than the competitors thanks likely to the good resolving ability of it’s drivers. Speaking on separation, this IEM does a great job. Aided by a clean tonality and good driver resolution this IEM works on the most crowded of tracks. In terms of imaging, this IEM is rather unique in that it’s presentation occupies a space in the stage rather than a pinprick sound, which to some people is a more convincing way of presenting it rather than bullet like accuracy. As touched upon earlier, detail retrieval and clarity is excellent on this pair with resolution that beats out a lot of it’s more “Fun” sounding competitors. Overall technical performance of the ER2XR is excellent, and near class leading.



Etymotic has their niche in the market. They know what they’ve been making, they know how to make their product, and people have come to expect both a certain tonal signature and standard from their brand. This is a rather old IEM in what is an incredibly crowded market. However, Etymotic has their style, and I think to this day, this IEM is a very capable musician’s device, and still even a relevant IEM to the public regardless. Highly Recommended



New Head-Fier
Pros: Build Quality, Detail Retrieval, Quality Mids Presentation, Unbeatable Value
Cons: Fit (YMMV), Microphonics



Disclaimer: I purchased the ER2XR with my own money and this review is written of my own accord and all thoughts here are my own. For more reviews like these, drop by our site:

Years into the hobby, I have finally owned a pair of Etymotics. Hearing so many rave reviews of the ER2 and how they break the expectations of their price bracket, how could I resist not checking them out myself?

Accessories and Build Quality (Score: 8/10)


Accessories are decent and cover all your basic needs for under a $100 IEM. It comes with a soft pouch, spare filters and a combination of triple-flanged, double-flanged and foam tips. The cable is a rather springy and light cable that really is the bare minimum. I soon swapped out to a third-party balanced cable.


Fit (Score: 7/10)


Fit for the Etymotics really depends on you. Despite a few weeks of trying to get used to them, I never dared stuff these too deep and they always felt so intrusive. Nonetheless, they did stay in my ears when properly inserted and isolation was stellar. If you are used to deep in-ear insertion, these would fit well. I enjoyed the double flange tips provided much more than the triple-flanged ones and they struck a nice balance between isolation and comfort.

The biggest problem for me was microphonics when I walked around. Microphonics was significantly increased when I swapped out for the heavier third-party cable.

Sound (Score: 8.6/10)


Frequency Response Graph of the ER2XR (measured with Dual Flange Tips)

Sources Used
  • Hiby R5
  • Lotoo Paw S1
Albums and Tracks tested with
- Itzhak Perlman
- Broods – Free
- Why Don’t We – The Good Times and The Bad Ones
- 10cm – 4.0
- Michael Bublé
- Gryffin
- Scary Pockets - Agoraphobia
- James Bay – Sing Up, Sing Out
- Noah Kahan
- Galantis

Bass (Score: 8.5/10)

The bass on the ER2XR was really refreshing. This is my first time owning a pair of Etys, and prior to this, my experience with the older models like the ER4 has left me with the stereotype that they tended to be a little sterile and lean in the bass. Hence, the bass quantity and extension on the ER2XR really came as a surprise. Listening to tracks from AJR, the bass subbass had good extension and a clear rumble. There was no ugly bass bleed or bloating despite the elevated response. On EDM tracks by Galantis, the layers came together in a really engaging presentation.

Mids (Score: 9/10)

The mids were also where I thought the ER2XR did a fantastic job. I really enjoyed the way male vocals sounded. They had a very pleasant broad yet firm sound, especially on tracks by Noah Kahan and The Lumineers and I liked how the lower mids weren't overly recessed. Female vocals and horn instrumental sections of tracks by Scary Pockets were crystal clear and very well textured. In general, vocals are positioned forward a little but not too overpowering, giving it a nice amount of strength and presence without ever coming close to becoming shouty. Combined with the stellar detail retrieval, everything comes together nicely to make vocal-centric tracks a drug I keep coming back to the ER2XRs for.

Treble (Score: 8/10)

Treble takes a backseat but does its job in complementing the sound signature well. It doesn’t extend very high but does have a good amount of micro details in the treble, enough to make the ER2XR a competent sounding pair of monitors. Treble performance has a mature tonality that definitely exceeds the expectation of a pair of sub-100 monitors.


The soundstage can get a little small due to the deep insertion of these IEMs, however, they didn’t feel overly claustrophobic due to the rather accurate imaging and presentation. There was a very good separation between musical layers as well. The bottom line is the ER2XRs are not your typical “reference-tuning” monitors you expect from Etymotics.

Conclusion (Overall: 8.8/10)


The ER2XR is a very exciting release from Etymotic at this price point. It has a superb build quality and packs a lot sonically in such a tiny package. Etymotics took a chance by deviating from their usual reference-centric tuning and really surprised us pleasantly with the performance of these. I envision myself using these a lot for study sessions for their very fun yet clean tuning combined with excellent isolation. All that’s left is getting used to the fit!
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Will it connect to a Shure or Westone Bluetooth cable?

CK Moustache

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Etymotic ER2XR


Review sample.


Just like on the ER3XR as well as ER4XR, "XR" stands for "Extended Response", indicating a moderately boosted bass compared to the flatter tuned SE (respectively SR) models.

One dynamic driver per side; closed shells.

Come with the same accessories as the ER3XR (almost the same small pouch case as that of my ER-4S and the ER3 series, one pair of green replacement filters along with a filter removal tool made of metal, one shirt clip, one pair of cylindrical foam tips, and last but not lest two pairs of differently sized silicone tips – that’s definitely a bit disappointing compared to the ER4 series’ amount of accessories, but still okay).
Same black cardboard case inside the outer paper sleeve. Somewhat rubber-like surface finish as known from the ER3 series, however without any shiny black “ER2” written on it.

Small blue shells that are made of metal. Same size as those of the other new ER series in-ears. Very beautiful blue colour – personally, this is definitely my favourite colour among the various new ER series in-ears.
Good build quality.
It’s nice that each shell has the serial number as well as model number on it in white (the same is true for the ER3 and new ER4 series in-ears).

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


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


Sub-bass elevation with diffuse-field-oriented midrange and treble neutrality. In other words, neutral midrange as well as treble combined with a really nicely integrated elevation of the lower midbass and especially sub-bass that the lows’ main focus lies on. Harman-like, if you will.

In the midrange and treble, the ER2XR follow the ER2SEs’ tonality almost exactly, which means that the ER2XR are highly linear and realistic sounding, which I cannot only confirm by listening to music (and performing acoustic measurements) but also when listening to sine sweeps that reveal a very even, linear tonal response without any unevenness, sudden peaks or dips; instead, the ER2XR, just like Etymotic’s other models that I am familiar with (ER-4S, ER4SR, ER4XR, ER3SE, ER3XR, ER2SE), show remarkable upper midrange and treble neutrality and evenness to my ears that is only very rarely achieved by other in-ears, resulting in a highly natural and realistic treble timbre reproduction (which is also the reason why I prefer my ER-4S and the ER4SR over the various other, much more expensive, technically more proficient in-ears that have a more or less neutral sound signature as well, for stationary music listening).
Therefore the ER2XR also closely resemble the ER4XRs’ midrange and treble tuning, with slightly greater upper midrange and treble quantity compared to the ER3XR, and slightly less upper midrange/presence range quantity compared to the ER4SR.

While the ER2XR have got a bass elevation, it is implemented extraordinarily well, as it avoids bleeding into the midrange and instead mostly stays out of it (it starts to climb around 600 Hz and reaches its climax nicely low, in the true sub-bass).
Compared to the ER3XR, the ER2XR have got a smidgen less lower midrange/upper fundamental range warmth, while they are just a tad warmer in this range than the ER4XR. Generally, it is quite remarkable how close all of the three XR in-ears are tuned between 100 Hz and 500 Hz, with a tuning difference of only between around 1 dB (ER2XR compared to ER3XR / ER3XR compared to ER4XR) to around 2 dB (ER4XR compared to ER2XR) between each other.
The bigger differences in the bass start below 100 Hz – while the ER3XR and ER4XR show a more or less similar response between 20 Hz and 90 Hz, the ER2XR add a few decibels on top and have got their highest bass amplitude at a lower frequency than the two other XR in-ears (the ER2XR peak really nicely low at around 30 Hz with an elevation of around 8.5 dB compared to the ER4SR/my ER-4S), which makes them the bassiest and especially most sub-bass oriented in-ears out of the three.
While there is fortunately no bass bleed into the midrange, there’s nonetheless a bit of gentle, pleasant warmth/body that doesn’t interfere with the midrange but stays mostly out of it, added to the lower fundamental range. Sure, the elevation is not exclusive to the sub-bass (almost no in-ears’ bass elevation is truly sub-bass exclusive, and out of those I have, the closest to that would be my Earsonics ES3) but already features an upper bass elevation of around 5 dB at 100 kHz compared to the central midrange at 1 kHz, however the ER2XR already do such a tremendously great job and come nicely close to a “true subwoofer effect” by peaking no higher than at around 30 Hz wherefore they do not sound thick or midbassy and also do not have an unnecessarily strong upper bass kick or punch, but a nice, “driving” sub-bass elevation from down below that really only shows up when the track actually reaches this low.

As a result of all, the ER2XR sound highly natural, realistic and accurate, but also feature a really nicely implemented elevation of the lower bass on top.

On a personal note, before I ever listened to the ER2XR for the first time, I didn’t expect too much from them but thought that I would prefer the ER2SE for recreational, non-flat-neutral listening, so the question was: is a sub-bassy model from Etymotic really necessary?
The ER2XR would not serve me as some of my main in-ears for stationary music listening anyway (in-ears such as the Etymotic ER4SR, my ER-4SR, InEar ProPhile 8, Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors and few others take this spot), as I prefer a flatter, more neutral presentation for that.
For recreational music music listening and recreational in-ear use, however, Etymotic’s bass-elevated ER2 model is simply fantastic; yep this is exactly the right word for these in-ears. They deliver that high midrange and treble neutrality and realism but at the same time, of course only when the audio signal reaches that low, provide a pleasant, fun sub-bass boost that doesn’t interfere with the midrange.
So, coming back to the initial question – are sub-bassy Etymotic in-ears really necessary? I think they definitely are; they are not simply just a comparably tuned alternative to the ER4XR or ER3XR, but are instead absolutely a fully qualified stand-alone alternative with that extra sub-bass lift. And I have to admit that I like and enjoy them much more than I had thought, in fact to the point that I would go even further to say confidently enough that regardless of price, the ER2XR have become some of my all-time favourite in-ears for non-neutral, recreational listening due to how well their fun sub-bass elevation is implemented, while the lower midrange, midrange and treble feature the high Etymotic neutrality that I am familiar with and personally hear as the closest to my perception of “flat neutral”.

Frequency Response:


The ER2XR were measured with the non-modified triple-flange ear tips in both graphs as I did not save the other measurements and didn’t bother to re-measure them. Due to the resulting slightly different insertion depth into the coupler, the graphs shows a bit less upper treble quantity than the ER2XR would actually have.

ProPhile 8-Compensation


Very nice, natural timbre and note decay.
Very coherent, but that’s not really a too big surprise given they are single-driver in-ears and since the ER4 and ER3 series in-ears as well as the ER2SE and my ER-4S sound very coherent, too.

High midrange resolution and speech intelligibility. Fine details are revealed nicely.
Clean note and treble separation, although ultimately not fully on the same level as that of the single-BA Etymotic models from the ER4 and ER3 line as well as my ER-4S. This, however, gives the ER2XR a bit more “character” rather typical for dynamic driver in-ears, and sounds highly natural while still clean and precise.
Despite being subjectively just a bit less resolving than the single-BA Etymotic models, the ER2XR do not have any “grain” in the midrange when compared to them – something that’s also true for the ER2SE, and is probably due to that the dynamic drivers used in the ER2 series have less distortion than the BA drivers in the other Etymotic models (not that they had high distortion either, but perhaps that is the reason for this perception – not that the BA model Etymotic in-ears sounded grainy in the mids (they are far from that), but in a direct side-by-side comparison, there is just that extra “something” to the ER2 series’ dynamic driver midrange presentation).
Perceived lower midrange and fundamental range as well as bass resolution slightly behind that of the ER2SE to my ears; otherwise they resolve pretty much similarly well.

The bass softens just a bit towards sub-bass and loses a bit of texture, but doesn’t really lose any control.
The lows are precise and generally pretty tight and fast, but ultimately a bit less tight than Etymotic’s bass-elevated BA models (ER3XR and ER4XR), with transients that are generally just a bit on the softer side in direct comparison. The ER2XRs’ subjectively perceived bass “texture”, however, even in the bass range where the three XR models are mostly similarly tuned, is more perceptible and feels different; the general presentation of the dynamic driver is just a bit different and adds a slight “something” to the ER2XR that could be described as having more “character”, something that could be definitely perceived as more “natural” by many people.
Either way, just as with the tuning, in terms of technical qualities, the ER2XR deliver extraordinarily high performance.


Compared to Etymotic’s other single-BA in-ears from the ER3 and ER4 line as well as my ER-4S, the ER2XRs’ soundstage appears subjectively larger in all dimensions to my ears, especially in terms of perceived spatial width (not by much, but still).
It sounds generally three-dimensional and therefore authentic as well as realistic with a believable front projection. (The ER2XR are even also good with the portrayal of elements that are behind the listener – if they are present on the recording.)

When it comes to imaging and precision, the ER2XR do not show any real weakness either and place instruments and tonal elements accurately on the imaginary stage, with clean instrument separation and a soundstage that still remains mostly intact even with busy, fast and dense music material, even though the ER2SE’s stage remains just a tiny bit cleaner in comparison due to their flatter, more neutral bass tuning that puts less “stress” on the driver in busy and demanding situations (in addition, due to their flatter tuning, there is of course also less subjective frequency masking, which is the main reason for this impression). Nevertheless, the ER2XRs’ imaging is precise as well, although when compared to the single-BA Etymotic in-ears, both new ER2 series models give in just a little earlier with very densely arranged, busy tracks.

Largest and most three-dimensional soundstage among all Etymotic in-ears to my ears (pretty much similarly perceived spatial width as the ER2SE, however more perceived spatial depth, probably an impression that’s caused by the sub-bass-focused elevation in the lows).
Almost perfectly circular to my ears; just a little wider than deep (slightly oval).

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


Shure SE846 (white Treble Filters):

Both in-ears have got a comparable tuning and clearly head into a similar direction in terms of sound, but still have some differences in their tonality.
While the upper bass presence at 100 Hz is almost identical on both in-ears, the ER2XR have got slightly more quantity in the root above it up to around 450 Hz, and have got a sub-bass boost that is a bit stronger and peaks a bit deeper, giving them an even somewhat stronger “subwoofer effect” than the SE846.
The Shures’ upper mids and presence range are somewhat more in the background wherefore their upper mids are a bit darker than the Etymotics’.
To my ears, the Shures’ middle treble around 5 kHz is more in the background in comparison, which gives them a more relaxed presentation. The upper treble (cymbals) are somewhat more forward on the SE846. Super treble extension past 10 kHz is definitely better on the Etymotic.

The Etymotic beat my Shure when it comes to upper midrange and treble linearity as well as realism and timbral accuracy.
Voices are more realistic on the Etymotic whereas they have a more relaxed, darker character on the Shure due to their comparatively more relaxed upper midrange, presence range and middle treble.
The biggest difference however is the upper treble – while the Shure render cymbals brighter than the ER2XR, they don’t sound fully right, and that’s not because they are brighter, but because they appear as if they decayed faster (over-dampened), since they lack the upper tones and reverb as the SE846s’ super treble extension is pretty limited; in comparison, cymbals appear to decay correctly on the ER2XR and have got that reverb, decay and the upper tones that they are supposed to have, as the Etys’ super treble extension is better.

Bass tightness and sub-bass definition are ultimately superior on the Shure when both in-ears are compared directly, but surprisingly not by much.
If fast music tracks are played, the Shure remain a bit better controlled and more focused in the bass and mids than the ER2XR, although the difference is smaller than one may expect.
In terms of speech intelligibility, the Ety are ahead due to their tuning as their entire midrange is more neutral, however the Shures’ retrieval of micro details in the mids is better in direct comparison.
It is a different story, though, when it comes to treble details: here, the Etymotic are audibly somewhat ahead, as the Shure simply lack information and sound softer, less precise and less clean when it comes to treble separation.

The Etys’ soundstage appears subjectively larger to me. The Shures’ is more circular to my ears while the Etys’ is slightly more oval in comparison.
In terms of imaging, the Shure are only minimally more precise in direct comparison. With dense, fast and complex music material, the Shures’ stage remains a bit more intact.

While my Shure are a bit ahead in terms of technical performance in the lows and mids (but lose in the treble), the ER2XR beat them when it comes to midrange and treble accuracy, linearity as well as timbre in these frequency ranges, and are generally not that far behind at all when it comes to technical performance, so I personally ultimately prefer the Etymotic (more than “just slightly”) and also think that generally, as a whole package, they are the better in-ears (and this even while neglecting the fairly big price difference between the two).

Etymotic’s Single-BA In-Ears (ER-4S, ER4SR, ER4XR, ER3SE, ER3XR):

A lot has already been written in my main review and sound analysis above, so here is just a small summary:

Identically great, highly linear and flat-neutral midrange and treble response with realistic timbre – no sudden dips or peaks wherefore the sound is highly authentic and realistic.

In terms of technical perception, the dynamic driver Etys are just a smidgen behind the BA Etys to my ears when it comes to ultimate note separation, but this only shows rarely when the in-ears are stressed by very busy, dense and bast sound material. Most of the time, they are remarkably close to the point of being near-indistinguishable.
Slightly “softer” bass presentation compared to the BA Etys but on its own very tight and controlled. Attacks and impact better/easier perceived when compared to the single-BA Etys.
In direct comparison, the single-BA Etys appear to have a bit of “grain” in the midrange compared to the dynamic driver Etys that do not.

Larger perceived soundstage than the single-BA Etys and highly precise as well, but starts to become “foggy”/gives in earlier with spatially very crowded, densely arranged tracks with many tonal elements at the same time.

Moondrop Starfield:

My Starfield sound somewhat bassier and warmer to me but are generally heading into a highly comparable direction when it comes to tuning.
As such, the Moondrop have a slightly more relaxed presence range in comparison while they sound highly authentic in the mids as well, although with some more lower midrange/fundamental range warmth than the ER2XR, but are a bit brighter in the middle treble than the Etymotic.
In terms of treble extension past 10 kHz, the ER2XR offer more subtle “air”.
While far from “wonky” or bad, the Starfield appear to be just somewhat less linear and refined in the treble tuning than the ER2XR.

Technical performance is close enough but I would ultimately place the ER2XR just somewhat higher than the Starfield. While their advantage in the treble is only fairly small, the biggest difference is in the lows where the Etymotic in-ears are less soft whereas the Starfield have got the slightly softer bass attack and slower, more lingering decay in comparison, wherefore they start to give in/show their limits just a bit earlier on tracks that are demanding and fast in the bass, while most of the time the performance is close enough.

Generally, I hear the ER2XR as the slightly more refined, more linear, more authentic sounding version of the Starfield, and would place them ultimately somewhat higher, whereas the Starfield have got the advantage of a more common, less deep insertion/wearing style (for what it is worth, the vented Starfield naturally offer audibly lower passive exterior noise isolation than the closed shell ER2XR).
Simply put, while the Starfield get a “Recommended”, the ER2XR place the bar just a bit higher and get that rare “Highly Recommended”.


Highly Recommended.

The ER2XR just do so much right in terms of tuning, frequency response evenness and therefore perceived realism/authenticity, and soundstage, to the point of being pretty much flawless:
Very high midrange and treble accuracy as known from Etymotic and loved by me, combined with a fun bass elevation that concentrates mainly on the true sub-bass and doesn’t interfere with the midrange, which is something that not many in-ears achieve. This all, combined with the good technical performance as well as the subjectively most three-dimensional soundstage among the ER-4S, ER4, ER3 and ER2 line, make the ER2XR a fantastic choice of in-ears and even places them among my personal all-time favourites for non-flat, recreational use regardless of price.


Will it connect to a Shure or Westone Bluetooth cable?
CK Moustache
CK Moustache

I don't know as I don't have any of them. Best to ask in the Etymotic or Westone thread, especially since Westone was, just like Etymotic, acquired by Lucid Audio as well.


100+ Head-Fier
Best Value Neutral IEM
Pros: -Fantastic detail and mids
-Great Price-to-performance ratio
-Top of the line isolation
Cons: -Clinical, cold sound that isn’t ideal for everyone
-Fit may be an issue for some (though I think it’s an overrated issue)
Design and Fit

Etymotics are famous for their deep insertion IEMs, which provide the best isolations out of all IEMS. This comes at a cost of comfort for some individuals. However, I will say that for me and a few other individuals who tried my ER2XR, they fit surprisingly well and I was able to wear them for 1+hour without discomfort. The ER2XR comes with two sizes of triple flange eartips and foam eartips to help find the best fit. If the included tips do not work well, a lot of people have had good success with the more recent Etymotic double-flange tips.

The cable has some microphonics but the included shirt clip greatly reduces it. The included soft storage pouch is a great way to travel with the ER2XR. A small con is that the nozzles have plastic filters that eventually get clogged by earwax and moisture. Rather than being able to clean the filters like many other IEMs, they must be removed by the included filter removal tool that destroys the filters in the process of removal. Two extra filters are included, but replacement filters run at $12 for 4 filters on Amazon.



The ER2XR have a very clean, neutral sound that is highly detailed. Mids are fantastic, especially vocals. Listening to indie rock, jazz, and acoustical music with the ER2XR is very enjoyable as they create great instrument separation, detail, and clarity. I own the HE400i, FiiO FH3, Grado SR60, ATX MTH-50, and these IEMs beat them all when it comes to detail and clarity.

XR version is tuned with slightly more bass than the ER2SE variety, and gives music a good punch. If you love bass, stay away, as these will never give you thumping low-end. However, I am a big believer in “mental burn-in” and that our brain adjusts to the sound signature of our headphones. At first, I thought that electronic, R&B, rap, and other bass-heavy music sounded boring on the ER2XR. But after about a week of use, music that at first sounded quite boring in the low-end (Kendrick Lamar’s Damn and Grimes Miss Anthropocene for example) had more impact and felt “sufficient”, though never blew me away.

Soundstage is narrow and makes the music sound inside your head, although I didn’t find it to detract from the experience at all.

My biggest criticism with the sound is that they do have a bit of a clinical, cold sound to them that can be boring or that I am not always in the mood for. But, at the sub $250 price point, pretty much any pair of IEM is going to have weaknesses. The ER2XR sound fantastic for the price (often on sale between $60-$80 USD on sale) and excel in detail and the midrange.


If you are looking to get a solid bang for your buck for a neutral IEM, the ER2XR is one of the best choices. I was able to score a pair for $60 on Amazon and, for that price, I cannot stop listening to these IEMs. Even though they have a clinical sound, I keep finding opportunities throughout the day to listen to them because the detail is just so darn great. If you can fit them comfortably and give some time to adjust to their sound, the ER2XR are addictive and a great entry-way IEM to get hooked into the audiophile world.

Last edited:
Yasin Caliskan
Yasin Caliskan
Cool review. Concise too.

They were tools, not iems :) Tool to dissect the music you hear.
for earth shaking sub bass is fiio fh3 your recommendation or is there something out there you prefer at sub $150 price point ?
amanieux--I haven't tried many iems at the sub $150 price point. I don't have the fh3s anymore but I remember them having fine sub bass but nothing I would call earth shaking. they were certainly a fun pair of earbuds though


Reviewer at
Pros: - clean, engaging bass response
- natural, dynamic timbre
- excellent cohesiveness and presentation
- isolation
Cons: - narrow staging
- treble roll-off
- can be harrowing on the ears first time
Special thanks to Anthony of Audio Discourse for sending these out for me to play with. Be sure to check them out herefor more great audio reviews.

When the notion of value comes up in the IEM world, the word “Chi-fi” is generally what follows – but screw that. Instead, let me introduce to you Etymotic, a renowned hearing-aid and IEM company based out of the good ‘ol USA. I’ve avoided the Etymotic lineup for some time because of their, let’s just say, unique form factor. They insert deep into your ear canals, and I mean real deep. People even joke about losing their ear’s virginity to Etymotic’s infamous triple-flange tips; frankly, the thought revolted me. But I have zero regrets having taken the plunge with the ER2XR – let’s discuss why.

  • Drivers: Dynamic
  • Frequency response: 20 – 16kHz
  • Impedance : 15-ohm
  • Sensitivity : 96 dB
  • Noise isolation : 35 – 42 dB
  • Weight: ±2g per earpiece
  • MSRP: $170
The Tangibles
Yeah, I ended up buying my own. Nothing’s really given me that itch since the Moondrop Blessing 2, so I guess that’s saying something, huh?




Fit, Isolation, and Comfort
I’ve skipped this section in a lot of my previous reviews. Fit is generally 100% subjective to an individual, but I need to make an exception here. You will need to get accustomed to the way these fit because of how deep they go. A good seal is also crucial; it’ll sound like you’re listening to music out of a telephone and the bass will be attenuated without it. A nifty trick is to “twist” them as you insert them into your ears. While I initially had some trouble inserting the ER2XR, once I figured it out, I’ve never had any comfort issues – the stellar isolation is just the icing on the cake.

There are some people who can cram the ER2XR all the way up to the wire. Unfortunately, I am not blessed with such “chad”, blackhole ears and this is where ends meet.

I will note that I intentionally use the larger, triple-flange tips (and they stick out even more than what’s pictured). This is because the soundstage depth seems to collapse somewhat with the smaller ones, likely a product of the insertion depth changing.

Sound Analysis
The juicy, juicy stuff. Sound is what matters most to me, and if the lackluster accessories or the fit seem daunting, fret not. The ER2XR’s sonic qualities more than make up for it. Etymotic is following the Diffuse-Field target curve, and I hear the ER2XR as being slightly dark and warm.

Starting from the low-end, it’s quite good even by DD standards. I’m no expert on graphs and all that stuff, but I think that this is technically more bass than Diffuse Field is normally known for – this is also the “XR” model after all. Anyways, count me in. It extends well with a tight, controlled attack. Smearing is minimal, and “clean” is really the only word that comes to mind. I’ll note that it’s lacking some texture, but seriously, this is a breath of fresh air from a lot of the stuff I’ve heard lately. The ER2XR punches well-beyond its price point here.

Moving to the midrange, there’s really nothing praiseworthy, but it doesn’t do anything wrong either. That’s basically a complement at this price point! To this effect, I’ve never noticed any sibilance and it’s fairly natural.

But where the ER2XR falls short is in the treble. It sounds eerily similar to the Apple AirPods Pro’s, and a quick look at their frequency response graphs confirmed my suspicion. It’s certainly smooth and doesn’t offend, but there’s a lack of weight, a hollowness to it, that robs the ER2XR of detail. Extension also seems to be an issue, hence the aforementioned smoothness. And as a result, for some, the ER2XR might come off as boring or lacking engagement.

Let’s talk technical performance. First, it’s not lacking depth – not by a long shot. The vocalist and the center diffuse reliably from the the head-stage for me. A good example is Sawano Hiroyuki’s “e of s”. Its opening percussive hits and when the vocalist, Mizuki, briefly enters at 0:38 really make clear how deep the stage extends. I’ve found few IEMs – even those many times the ER2XR’s price – with so much depth. This is a distinction of that engagement factor I often write about.

But the soundstage itself is very, very narrow width-wise. It too often feels like you’ve been placed smack-dab in a hallway. As a result, the ER2XR struggles to create that elusive, “holographic” image that so many seem to love. And unfortunately, I’m assuming that this is just a consequence of how deep these things go in your ears.

The other drawback, of course, is going to be pure resolution. This isn’t a very fast IEM, and notes tend to come off with a little less edge than I’d like. But seriously, a little. There’s a plethora BA IEMs that are resolving and fast, but simply don’t sound natural. And to this effect, the ER2XR’s DD timbre mitigates a lot of the things that I would normally nitpick. The dynamics are also pretty darn good for the price, it layers well, and it has no issues with coherency. So for what it is, I’m not going to hold it against the ER2XR.

Select Comparison

The ER2XR’s brother, the ER3XR, uses a single BA instead. They follow a similar tuning, so how different could they be? Turns out quite a bit in practice. The ER3XR is darker with a slight edge in speed and resolution. But as I alluded to earlier, the hallmarks of a BA are all too present: Namely one-note bass that lacks dynamic slam and a slight plastickyness to the timbre. To be fair, I’ve heard much worse when it comes to these issues. But take my praise of the ER2XR’s depth and flip it. The ER3XR hits the sonic wall far too quickly; vocals sound like they’re coming from inside your head, and imaging severely lacks dimension as a result. While the ER3XR’s still pretty alright, it’s also more expensive than the ER2XR. So no thanks.

The Verdict
Cheaper IEMs have taken a backseat for me these days because, well, they’re often disappointing. Every time I review one, I have to temper my expectations and keep the price in mind. But how can I when there’s stuff like the ER2XR? It takes the aforementioned notion of “value” and simply knocks it out of the ballpark. Slap on the fact that you can buy a pair for ~$100 off of Amazon, and it isn’t even fair.

Of course, this isn’t the end-all, be-all for IEMs at this price point. I’m sure there are things that one could take issue with given personal preference. And hell, maybe you just don’t take kindly to having your ears violated. I don’t blame you. But just in general? The ER2XR should be the first IEM on your list if you want price-to-performance.
any compatible mmcx cable with mic for it?
Yasin Caliskan
Yasin Caliskan
The world ain't disappointed with Etymotic for 35 40 years since the first iem of the line. This iem can't be disappointing too.

My personal experience backs my words up.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: + Allrounder tuning
+ Clarity and detail retrieval
+ Tight yet impactful bass
+ Nicely balanced mediums
+ Extended treble
+ Great imaging
+ No sibilance or harshness
+ Price
+ Fit (a con for some) and noise isolation due to deep insertion
+ Once more, less is more :-)
Cons: - Stock cable and specific MMCX connectors
- Not the most spacious soundstage
- Need more than a smartphone to be properly driven
What follows are my short impressions of the Etymotic ER2XR, after 1 month of intensive use with my 2 DAPs of choice, the Dethonray DTR1 and the Calyx M. I also will make a rapid comparison with the BL-03 and the Final E5000, both being single DD IEMs, albeit with a different sound signature. It's not really a review, but more a short summary about this very capable and surprising IEM.

I purchased the Etymotic ER2XR at the very beginning of April, just after having taken possession of my first custom IEMs, the P-EAR-S UT-3. Why buying the USD 199.- ER2XR, when you just got a pair of tailor-made CIEM? Well, I read some many great things about it and I really wanted to give this little boy a try. A very good decision indeed.


I bought the Etymotic ER2XR with my own money in my favorite audio store (K55) in Zurich. No biased opinion of any kind here. This IEM deserves a 5 stars rating just because of the insane price/performance ratio. All shortcomings are more than compensated by its strengths and, once more, your well-invested $$$. Electronic-based music I listened to during the last month can be found on my Bandcamp profile (F700) or in the description in my last "reviews". In a nutshell, OST, Female and Male vocalists, Pop, Rock from the 80's and the 90's, a bit of Jazz and Classical. As always, my english is far from being perfect and my pictures are pretty blurry and dark. But, you will forgive me, don't you :wink:

As stated before, I won't go much into details and reading what follows will just take 5 minutes of your precious time... just some thoughts and pictures, not that the ER2XR doesn't deserve an extended review, on the contrary actually, but at the moment, I don't have very much time unfortunately. In my country, the lockdown has been softened and there's a lot to do.

The package is quite simple yet absolutely in line with an USD 200.- IEM being produced by professionals. No useless accessories or shiny things to catch the eye. I am ok with it. Less is more, round 1.

The Etymotic ER2XR is a single DD IEM whereas his older and more expensive siblings, the ER4XR & ER4SR, are equipped with a full range single balanced armature. Its cheaper doppelgänger, the ER2SR, also sports a single DD, but with a Studio Reference (SR) tuning, the bass being flatter and the highs maybe a tad more clear and extended. I say maybe, based on the graphs I saw from well-known and respected Head-Fier(s). I never heard the rest of the Etymotic offering, just to be clear about that.


So, a single DD? Yes, and a pretty good one. No fancy armatures, revolutionary pentabrid structure or precious metals used in here. And you know what? It sounds fantastic. Less is more, round 2.

It requires a bit of juice, it's a dynamic driver made by pros, people! Give the baby some current, so the sound can properly grow as it should between your ears. The weapons of choice are the Dethonray DTR1 (helped by the HA-2 amp, eventhough the standalone DTR1 is great enough) and the Calyx M. These are real good sounding hardcore DAPs. You are in portable audio and sound quality is your absolute priority? You might want to check both. Smartphones most likely will allow you to enjoy the ER2XR, but I advice to get a dedicated DAP or a DAC/AMP for your phone, in order to give this IEM's potential real justice.


The DTR1


The Calyx M

Soundwise, no time to waste. Check the graph and take it from there. Bass is slightly emphasized but remains very tight yet impactful. I am a entry-level basshead and I love my E5000, but the ER2XR's bass is the perfect mix between impact and refinement, at least for me. For those searching for reference sound, follow another path, namely the ER2SR's one, which offers a flatter FR. I need my bass, especially with a single DD. Otherwise, I am going BAs.

Mediums are the star of the show, as we say. Vocals are clear and full at the same time. You like vocals? Well, stop reading and get a pair. Even with instrumental tracks, the mediums have presence and bite. This IEM is fast and accurate. No time to waste, once more. You get into your music, quickly and with punch, yet without harshness or sibilance.

The treble offers a natural extension with premium level of detail retrieval, never hurting your precious ears, if the recording doesn't call for it, as always. I am quite treble sensitive, if it can be of any help.

But, what's wrong then? Only positive things to say? No, the soundstage is average, sound being in our head or between your ears. Not a real con, but I know that so many listeners like their soundstage, so it's worth mentioning. What you are sacrificing in soundstage, you get it back in the imaging. Good little single DD, which learned its lessons well. Less is more, round 3.

The cable also is subpar. You have to take real good care of your IEM. Don't pull them out of your ears by the cable or the connectors. Gently pull them out by the small portion of the cylinder that remains out of the ear. The replacement cable costs USD 59.- (!) and Etymotic uses their own iteration of MMCX connectors. The real con lies in here.


A rapid comparison (Final E5000 / Etymotic ER2XR / Blon BL-03)

Let's take it the other way around. Which is the best?

1) Etymotic ER2XR
2) Final E5000 (yes, I have to admit, as a Final fanboy, there is something cheaper and better)
3) Blon BL-03

But why?

The Blon BL-03 remains a very strong offering at USD 35.-. Timbre is seductive and the slight V-shape is very enjoyable, also being the easiest to drive from the bunch. USD 35.- is the investment to get the drivers. Getting a decent cable and tips will add min. USD 15.- to the bill. I spent a lot more, namely USD 50.-, but I use them so much, that the USD 85.- has been more than amortized within the last months. Still, the BL-03 is beaten by the ER2XR and the E5000 in every register, sometimes not by much, especially in the midrange. The soundstage is almost on par with the E5000.

The Final E5000, a long time favorite in my books, is my way to go with pounding Electronics and Hip-Hop. Some old recordings with nice vocals also sound glorious with it. Even good recorded tracks sound amazing through the Finals. The Etymotic brings so much more clarity into play, it cannot be ignored at the end of day, at the detriment of the E5000. The pounding but somewhat slow yet orgasmic bass (don't remove this mods!) and the smooth treble coming from this little japanese cylinder still are making my days. The E5000 always will be in my collection. The real first love you cannot and won't leave for good.

Last but least, the fit. Follow the instructions in the manual (no, don't throw it right away, you animals :wink: ) and the fit should be perfect with a large majority of ears. The IEM is so small that a deep insertion should be possible for almost everyone. It might feel invasive at the beginning, but for me it was a matter of some hours. Then, the IEM disappears into your ears and you are isolated from the outside. Music is playing so naturally and so clear, without harshness.

End words
Taken by surprise, to say the least. What USD 200 can buy nowadays... impressive. The ER2XR is an allrounder IEM, which deserves more exposure. I would like to thank @toranku, because he was the guy who led me to the ER2XR. Believe the "hype", this IEM plays music like a boss.

Was it too short? Sorry for that. Less is more, round 4.

Stay safe and take care :)
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is there any compatible mmcx cable with mic for it?
I am not sure. Maybe some HK or CN cable boutiques are able to do this. I doubt it, though.
price is $76 today on amazon but i read it sometimes goes as low as $60, updated price is worth mentioning i guess


New Head-Fier
Pros: Tons and tons of details.
Nice natural Sound and tonality.
Good texture
Nice coherent Sound across the Freq. range
Great passive isolation.
Cons: Very Basic cable
Proprietary MMCX
I wanted to replace my daily drivers for quite some time now, after looking at most of the other options, finally decided to pull the trigger on these. These are my 1st Ety’s. I was little sceptical about the fit, but the stock small sized triple flange fit my ears really well. Glad that I bought these.


Etymotic Research is very well known in audio world. They are pretty well known for their venerable single BA design. I always wanted to own one. But couldn’t bring myself to buy one earlier. But this all changed when they launched these at the sweet price point.


Packaging and build quality

It comes standard black box with small triple flange fitted on to them. You will get a set of foam tips, pair large white coloured triple flange tips, 2nos. green filters, filter removable tool and a shirt clip.

The housing is made of metal and the blue colour looks really cool. I think the size of the iem is similar to their more expensive siblings – ER3 / ER4 series. The housing has proprietary MMCX connector, so it may be difficult to find 3rd party cables. The cable is really basic one which is kind of let down. But can’t really complain at this price point as it serves the purpose. Also it has bad micro-phonics. So wrapping it around the ears, adjusting the chin slider and using the shirt clip will really help to reduce it.


Fit, comfort and isolation.

The fit is the most important part of these. You need to have proper deep fit to get them sound their best. If this is your 1st time using Ety’s then it will definitely take time getting used to the ear invasion (refer the video on their website to get the best fit). But once you get past that the comfort and the passive isolation is next to barring may be custom IEM’s. For me the stock small triple flange fits the best with great isolation. They very light weight, so very very comfortable.


Sound Impression

The following chain was used to listen all my songs with these

LG G7 > UAPP Pro (bit perfect output) > Fiio Q5 modded with 2156 opamp > Am5 module.

In terms of overall sound quality, I was stunned by the detail retrieval, tonality and the slightly warm but natural sound with little heft at the bottom end.


Lows / Bass,

Being a Single dynamic driver and boosted low end, these are the ety’s with noticeably thick bottom. The sub bass has nice thump to it, the drums / beats have nice heft to it. But it definitely not overly boomy or muddy and does not creep into lower mids at all.

The Rasputin (Boney M) , Lose yourself to dance (daft Punk) had nice thump and details.


The mids have nice natural texture to it. All kind of male, female vocals and instrument; these make them sound really good. The transition from upper midrange to treble is really nice. I simply love the mids on these.


The treble on these are smooth. No sibilance or fatigue. Also no special sparkle as well. These sound more even with slight roll off.

Sound stage and imaging

This being a deep fit IEM the staging is pretty intimate and two dimensional, don’t really expect 3D holographic kind of soundstage here. But the imaging is quite precise. You can easily pick out instrument locations.

The detail retrieval on these are simply exceptional. There tons and tons of details available with excellent layering and the whole range sounding so coherent. It is really difficult to find anything equally good at this price point or even higher ones.

Final thoughts

This is a steal at $120. A stunner from Etymotic. The thumping bass, the humongous detail retrieval , nice smooth top end makes it a favourite IEM for me. It simply beats anything in that price range to likes of F9 pro, Tin T4, Kanas Pro etc.

I really recommend everyone to at least try these and see for themselves how awesome they are. Now I really need get ER4XR for myself.

This is my 1st review. Pardon my English.
I really enjoy the Q5 (with bass boost) and ER2 XR combo. What surprises me most is the lovely tone. Thanks!
For me the Bass boost is bit too much. I like the paring with AM3 / AM5 module. with Modded Q5, the tonality is absolutely beautiful. I do agree.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Isolation
Good bass response
Detail Resolution
Natural Timbre
Cons: A little warm at times

Etymotics Research is a well-established company researching and developing products and tools for safer hearing and their ER4 series of in-ear canal phones have been around for a very long time with great popularity and success.

A few years ago, they released the latest ER4 series, the ER4SR (Studio Reference) and ER4XR (Extended Response), using their latest balanced armature driver. This was soon followed by ER3 series, which reduced the impedance and moved its production from the USA to China and reduced the price by half while providing similar sound profiles in both the SR and XR versions, named ER3SE (Studio Edition) and ER3XR (Extended Response).

Earlier this year, the ER2 series was released to market. The unique different between the ER3 and ER4 with the ER2 is the balanced armature style driver has been replaced with a more traditional dynamic driver, in a tiny micronized fashion to fit in the same shell design as the ER3/ER4 series.


The ER2 series comes with the same accessories as the ER3 series – a carrying pouch, a set of small and large tri-flange silicone tips, a set of foam tips, and an extra pair of filters and a tool to remove them. Like the ER3/ER4, the cable is detachable and features an mmcx connection just like the formers. The housing and cable split are now in a royal blue color as opposed to a more traditional black and gunmetal colorway.


Users of the BA versions of the Etymotics will be right at home with the Eytmotics house sound – a Diffuse Field signature that essentially puts every frequency on a level playing field – some may call it neutral. It’s a great reference sound signature that is easily appreciated and maybe somewhat boring.

The dynamic driver versions are actually quite nice. They add a more natural tonality to them, with ever so subtle changes in how the ear phones sound in your ear, despite measurements of the ER2 and ER3 Studio Editions being quite similar. The ER2SE does have a slightly warmer sound than the respective ER3 and ER4 siblings, and this does help make the organic sound of the dynamic driver shine a bit. The slight bass boost also gives a little more energy all around, while still being a bit sterile in nature.

The XR version features a bigger bass boost than the XRs of the BA variety and with the dynamic driver in tow, the warmer, richer sound is very engaging and just the right amount of gain that is needed to turn the sterile SE version into a musical gem. The ER2XR also has a slightly more noticeable wider soundstage, which helps a little bit with congestion.

The XR and SE pack a lot of detail retrieval and resolution into a small form factor, and outclass anything at $129 and easily above other price points until you, of course, reach its older siblings. And while the BA versions do have quite good technicalities and an airy sound to them, I still prefer the dynamic ER2 over them for their more natural tonality and timbre and their improved bass and low-end performance.

The XR in particular has a thicker sound than what I was expecting, and even has some subbass rumble to it. The mids aren’t quite as forward and clean as the SE model, but both still perform will with respect to their traits. The dynamic driver is quick and fast, and cleaner than I would ever expect one to be at the price point it’s selling for, especially for a well-established respected company like Etymotics.


For isolation, I put the ER2 to the test on the Fourth of July. With fireworks booming and blasting everywhere around me outside, I stuck the ER2, tri-flange tips, in and it muffled all but the most loudest and most illegal of fireworks. And that was with no music playing! These are great for noisy environments. They won’t cut out everything, but they’ll do a lot better job than most passive and active noise cancellation systems. With a little faint volume music playing, all the fireworks celebrations vanished. Magic.


I wanted to touch base with a few other IEMs in this price range that I really like a lot. Namely, the Moondrop Kanas Pro and the BGVP DMS. They are considerably different than the ER2 but worth looking at.

Moondrop Kanas Pro
First the Moondrop Kanas Pro is a more Harman Tuning than the Diffuse Field tuned ER2SE, so right off the bat, you’re going to hear a lot more bass quantity and more recessed mids in the Kanas Pro than the ER2SE. The XR variant, however, does have a warmer bass boost, and actually results in a richer mid section that’ll make male vocals more thick and natural. The Kanas Pro will beat both variants in terms of soundstage and air, and gives it a much more open space. That said, the ER2s meet or exceed the Kanas Pro in details and just general tonality.

The BVGP DMS is almost the complete opposite, but I really like it. It’s open-back and does not seal at all. So that’s a night and day difference from the Etymotics. But the DMS has a lot more “fun” factor in that it boosts both the bass and the treble response and provides a very open soundstage that can make your feet move, much more easily than the more sterile and toned down ER2 series. This is a complete 180 from the ER2 series and both would compliment each other quite well for a fun and an analytical IEM duo.


At the end of the day, this review has kind of gone a little bit all over the place, and maybe I can blame that for writing bits and pieces of it over a week’s time instead of coherently writing it in a shorter period of one or two sittings. Luckily, I don’t need to say a whole lot more other than that everyone should try one of these models out. They may surprise you with how much better they work than many active noise cancellation headphones out there, and then shock you again with how good they actually sound for a great price. They do go heel to heel and perhaps best the ER3, and could even be preferred to the ER4, depending on sonic preferences.

You may ask, which do I prefer?
I prefer the ER2XR over the SE. The bass boost provides are more enjoyable warmer experience that I think will benefit for plane and train travel, as well as just giving a more relaxing listen. The SE does a lot of things right however, and I think many will enjoy the more analytical nature of it as well.


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: One of the best value-for-money IEMs on the market
Maintains the clarity Etymotic is known for
Weightier in the low end than its BA counterparts
Cons: Cable sucks
Proprietary MMCX connector
Etymotic's new ER2 series

Etymotic has released two new IEMs. The ER2-SE (studio edition) and ER2-XR (extended response with a tiny bit of extra bass). Today, we're looking at the ER2-XR. Price is $160 (RRP) at the time of testing. Purchased with my own money.

IMG_3389 copy.jpg

Etymotic has been doing research on hearing aid and in-ear monitors (IEM) for decades so it needs no introduction. Its latest products include the ER3 and ER4 (XR & SR) series, all based on a balanced armature (BA) driver. While Etymotic has previously made some dynamic driver (DD) earphones, such as the MK5 and MC5, these models have been priced relatively affordabe and have not been able to compete with their flagship ER4 series. The new ER2 series, priced at $160, are based on a dynamic driver and are perhaps their first serious attempt to make a solid mid-range DD offering. If you are new to DD vs BA drivers, you can find some basic details here.


The ER2-XR's housings are metal earpieces with anodized finish, identical to the ER4 and ER3 series. The build is sturdy and I have no complaints here. However, the cable, which seems to be identical to the ER3's, is quite thick around the ear and generally not very comfortable for over-the-ear use. I would suggest getting a ER4-06 cable - the one that ships with the ER4 series - as a replacement. Please also note that Etymotic uses a proprietary MMCX connector and this will not directly work with any MMCX cable. A final thing to note here is that the ER4 (XR and SR) series are made in the US, while the ER2 and ER3 are made in China.


Identical to the ER3 series. Less accessories than the ER4 series but still adequate. Includes both small and large tri-flange clear silicone tips and Comply foam tips. I personally prefer the large silicone ones as this allows me to get a good seal. The ER4 series come with a personally signed copy of the IEM's individually tested frequency response, channel matching, THD, etc, which you don't get with the lower priced ER2 series.


If you are a new Etymotic user, these may not be very comfortable during the first few weeks. Applying a bit of lubricant to the tips may help a lot in terms of putting them in and getting a good seal. Once you get used to that, comfort is unlikely to be an issue. However, sleeping with them will not be ideal, given the fit. Wearing them over the ear completely eliminates microphonics so I highly recommend that, despite the fact that they are seemingly not designed for such use. I personally use the ER4 series cable on the ER2-XR as it's longer and considerably more comfortable when worn over the ear. A final thing to note is that sound is heavily dependent on fit. Make sure you select the right tips and you get a good seal. The way I do it is I push the tips as deep as possible and then drag them back a little bit until I hear a popping sound.


As good as it gets. Etymotic lists the ER2's external noise isolation as 35-42 dB and I found no difference between these and the ER4 series. Etymotic has confirmed that despite these being DD, there are no external vents to the outside world. Completely blocks all sound around me when I get a good seal. No sound leakage to speak of. If you are like me and you are overly concerned about disturbing others, these would be great for you.


Very easy to drive. Bassiest Etymotic IEM I've tried to date - this includes the ER4-XR, ER3-XR and MK5. It is warmer and has considerably more sub-bass than its higher-priced BA counterparts (worthy of the Etymothicc label). That said, as the old saying goes, don't expect a bass-heavy Etymotic and this added bass is all tastefully executed -- well controlled and there's little or no bleed.

The rest of the frequency response is quite typical for an Etymotic earphone and you still get a ton of detail and good separation, plus the clarity Etymotic is known for. The treble is perhaps a touch more recessed compared to the ER4-XR. Relative to the ER4, the ER2 may sacrifice a tiny bit of detail in the upper range -- but don't expect a really obvious difference. On the positive side, the ER2-XR is arguably more enjoyable on bass heavy tracks due to the extra punch in the low end and the natural feel of the dynamic driver. Soundstage is adequate but don't expect too much from an Etymotic in-ear in this regard. Overall, I have very little to complain about, given the price.


Frequency response and comparison with ER4-XR. Source: csglinux


For $160, the ER2XR is a steal. This is a very competent IEM with significant amounts of detail and it's arguably better value for money than the ER4 series, considering the massive price difference. Its low end is punchy and engaging, making it well suited for modern music. If any Etymotic IEM I've tried so far deserves the 'fun' label, the best candidate for this would be the ER2-XR. Despite the cable not being ideal, the ER2-XR definitely gets my recommendation as one of the best IEMs in this price range.
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