Etymotic Research EVO impressions and discussion thread
Mar 27, 2021 at 8:56 AM Post #151 of 1,198
Imaging for me is instrument separation.
Soundstage is how far out from my head it sounds.
The only time I have appreciated soundstage is from my HD800S. I have had to remove them off my head a number of times to make sure the sound I was hearing was not from inside the house. Never had that issue with IEMs.
That is what it should be but more than just instrument separation imaging is also about the proper placement direction and distance. Things can have separation and be distinct but not be in the same places in two different earphones with good amount of separation so they differ in their imaging. :) Ety are good at imaging but not so good at soundstage. As monitor that is usual cause you want things to be accurately placed when monitoring and a bigger soundstage is not so good or desired on that front. I used to mod my ER4 with tip adapters and wear them not so deep with wide bore tips but they will never win a soundstage contest.

I had a couple that were great but it is hard to find huge soundstage in earphones. I had an original Japan JVC FX55 and it was huge. Love the walking around and it seemed like it went on to the end of the block like you had your own soundtrack playing. Even comparing to my AKG cans straight out of the back of a receiver to be sure they were powered enough and they couldn't beat them. A modded pair of early version super.fi 3 Studio I also got to have quite a large stage but some more quality. Those would alawys have me checking what was real sounds or in the music. Only thing that ever gave me behind the head. Crazy going and checking out a window cause it was 10 feet behind me and 8 to my left but turns out it was something I had just not heard quite that way before in that song. I did have my first ER4 at that time so same devices and files and the ETY was pretty small in comparison stage wise. The width was a bit competitive. Otherwise it was huge vs. average. Some people don't even like a huge stage but I love it. Love just holding the things in your hands and being like What. esp. with good quality and realistic transparency so it is more like real life and that size puts you "there" way more than when you don't have it.
 
Mar 28, 2021 at 4:33 PM Post #152 of 1,198
Separation and imaging are poorly defined because nobody--publicly anyway--knows how to interpret those differences from recorded frequency response data, but whether they're something distinct or primarily a trick of frequency tuning like 'soundstage' largely is, they exist.

Go from most IEMs, including good ones like the ER series, to an IER-M9 and even ignoring the larger sounding 'stage' which is largely an illusion created of the tuning there is a very discernible difference in how well they handle extremely busy passages in music or games with regard to separating sound sources rather than smearing them all together. Likewise going from something like an HD600 to a Focal Clear won't massively increase the perceived 'stage' size you hear with stereo recorded music, but there is a readily apparent difference in overall clarity and the distinction between sounds that even friends who've never used and don't care about audio gear immediately recognize.

My hope for the EVO is technical sound quality on a level with higher-end BA IEMs such as the aforementioned IER-M9, but with the superior accurate tuning of Etymotic. Whether that's possible with Etymotic's target response is something I don't know, I just want the IEM equivalent of that clear step in quality and clarity you get from the example of HD600 to Clear above, and nothing I've yet heard in IEM-land does that while retaining good tuning.
 
Apr 2, 2021 at 10:27 AM Post #156 of 1,198
Separation and imaging are poorly defined because nobody--publicly anyway--knows how to interpret those differences from recorded frequency response data, but whether they're something distinct or primarily a trick of frequency tuning like 'soundstage' largely is, they exist.

Go from most IEMs, including good ones like the ER series, to an IER-M9 and even ignoring the larger sounding 'stage' which is largely an illusion created of the tuning there is a very discernible difference in how well they handle extremely busy passages in music or games with regard to separating sound sources rather than smearing them all together. Likewise going from something like an HD600 to a Focal Clear won't massively increase the perceived 'stage' size you hear with stereo recorded music, but there is a readily apparent difference in overall clarity and the distinction between sounds that even friends who've never used and don't care about audio gear immediately recognize.

My hope for the EVO is technical sound quality on a level with higher-end BA IEMs such as the aforementioned IER-M9, but with the superior accurate tuning of Etymotic. Whether that's possible with Etymotic's target response is something I don't know, I just want the IEM equivalent of that clear step in quality and clarity you get from the example of HD600 to Clear above, and nothing I've yet heard in IEM-land does that while retaining good tuning.
The smearing was definitely the biggest gripe with the ER4XR. It definitely wasn't anywhere close to bad, but it did left a little to be desired especially after I made the unfortunate mistake of listening to a HD800s setup. I do agree that I miss the tuning of the Etymotic. Something about the way mids/lower treble are presented just sounds so right to my ears. Thats not to say I think the tuning on my IER-M9 is bad. The warm neutral stock or slightly bass/bright with final tips is just noticeable.
 
Apr 2, 2021 at 11:24 PM Post #158 of 1,198
April finally arrive, my ER4S/ER4B will be 15 years young this June. I truly cannot wait to preorder EVO.
You can throw a grand retirement party!
 
Apr 7, 2021 at 11:13 AM Post #160 of 1,198
ER4S vs ER4SR.jpg

When I was in long hiatus from Audio, I was already a self styled Etymotic zealot fiercely devoted to ER4S. Time warp ahead and I am back in the game. First thing I did was to rekindle that emotional connection with the very IEM I so very dearly loved. And when I checked online, ER4S apparently has been transformed into a newer gen in the form of ER4SR and XR. Not long after that, I have my ER4SR accompanying me again on the audio indulgence adventures.

Here I would like to share my impressions on the variance between these two generations of ER4, the venerable pioneer of ALL consumer In Ear Monitors.

Other than the much more appealing decals and chassis, ER4 now comes in fixed 45 Ohm impedance configuration with the resistors integrated directly into the BA itself. While the older ER4 actually don't have any resistors in the driver housing, which makes it possible to configure it as ER4-P (25 Ohm), ER4-S (100 Ohm) and ER4-B (Binaural) by just swapping the main cable. The resistors residing in the middle pod. So in a way the newer gen ER4 are not exactly the same in the manner they are being constructed. And keeping tradition with the old cable Etymotic was already using silver plated cable with ER4, now packaged even neater with the newer twisty design.

Sonically, yes the old and the new sounds the same, EXCEPT there's some subtle (or not so subtle) sound characteristics which I will describe shortly. Timbre presentation, they remained the same, highly transparent, analytical, sparkly, resolving and speedy.

The difference:
- Treble Edges, without a doubt now I will say that the older ER4S is stronger in this aspect. And this has always been the Achilles heels of ER4S which many described as sibilant much similar to Beyerdynamic DT series sort of thing. So with ER4SR what Etymotic has finally succeeded to implement was the tight control of this sharp edges of Treble frequencies. And I will openly admit I love this, despite knowing that also means treble decays has been forced to end earlier as compared to ER4S. More realistic as I would console myself haha....

- Mids presence. Simply put, the older ER4S was straight out utterly flat, the kind of flat that makes any Flat Earth lunatics proud😂😅. The ER4SR on the other hand have managed to sneak in a very subtle nudge on Mids which to my ears help with establishing velvety intimacy to what was originally perceived as dry. And I love this too.

- Slam/Impact. And without a doubt now, I can audibly register that ER4SR has also improved on this front. You have no idea the amount of amping needed to make that old ER4S to dance haha. The pursuit of this has led to legendary amp makers like Dr Xin (USA) and Three Stones (Minibox China) to produce legendary portable amps highly optimized for ER4S. If you ever find a used Xin SuperMini IV, SupeMicro IV or MiniBox E+, grab them like holding to your dear life, those are designed for Etys. Good thing is I have found a worthy succesor in this time and age in the form of Cayin, whose house sound seems to synergize with Etys exceedingly well. Btw, you can still get the latest iteration of MiniBox E through Hifiman line of modular DAPs. Their modular DAPs have optional offering of MiniBox Gold module which is apparently designed and built by Three Stones. But these don't come cheap, the DAP and Amp module will cost you a whopping $1000😅😅

Surprisingly (or NOT surprisingly) bass segment remained exactly the same, which is described as anemic to any Shure basshead. But those who know how to appreciate tightly layered and extended bass of STAX electrostatics will find similarities here.

And so there you have it, the ER4SR and XR continuing the BA legacy well over 30 years and beyond. I am personally ecstatic with this as my emotional attachment to Etymotic will remain strong with the kind of progress that I have hoped for them to attain many years ago.

PS: Experimenting with inline resistors bringing the ER4SR closer to 100 Ohm territory has helped to attune the sonic bias quite identical to the old ER4S, minus the sibilance
While I like your story, I cannot see how this connects to the EVO. Maybe you wanted to place it in the ER4-thread instead where I have seen you around recently as well?
 
Apr 7, 2021 at 11:28 AM Post #161 of 1,198
While I like your story, I cannot see how this connects to the EVO. Maybe you wanted to place it in the ER4-thread instead where I have seen you around recently as well?
Thanks for the heads up, I thought I was in the right place but apparently no. No worries it will be deleted shortly
 
Apr 12, 2021 at 1:11 PM Post #164 of 1,198
Will Etymotic publish the frequency response of this IEM at some point? That would be interesting given that the company has made comments about the midrange tuning and stuff when the earphone was announced.

I've had a pair of more expensive multi-driver in-ears recently but I found that while they had somewhat improved tuning and detail they actually had some strange behavior in the upper treble, something that I did not experience on Etymotic IEMs thankfully.
 
Apr 12, 2021 at 4:19 PM Post #165 of 1,198
Will Etymotic publish the frequency response of this IEM at some point? That would be interesting given that the company has made comments about the midrange tuning and stuff when the earphone was announced.

I've had a pair of more expensive multi-driver in-ears recently but I found that while they had somewhat improved tuning and detail they actually had some strange behavior in the upper treble, something that I did not experience on Etymotic IEMs thankfully.

Well, in any case, basically all major reviewers have an IEC711 coupler nowadays so it wouldn't take 1 week for an FR graph to show up.
 

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