- Oct 17, 2014
Hi @Zachik. Just curious when you said you work with Etymotic did you mean you actually work for the company or is it like a volunteer partnership thing?
has the space at the EVO improved? The sound stage (especially the depth) has always been a weak point of Etymotic.
I am not an Etymotic employee, but I am not volunteering either.Hi @Zachik. Just curious when you said you work with Etymotic did you mean you actually work for the company or is it like a volunteer partnership thing?
Nice. How about I give you a million bucks and you give me your soul?I am not an Etymotic employee, but I am not volunteering either.
I was trying to be very honest and upfront about it. In fact, I added a comment about it at the beginning of my EVO impressions letting the readers know and make their informed decision of whether or not to continue reading.
My reputation in general, and in this wonderful community in particular, is very important to me. I will not "sell out" my integrity for Etymotic or any other company!
I will tell @EtyDave next time I chat with him, but for all I know (and again, I do NOT have any insiders info on that one) - this future product design / features might already be a done deal...Yes, LDAC support would surely get me scrambling into buying this one. Tell them Zachik, it's really worth it to go LDAC. My own extensive tests with N3 Pro and Android with 990kbps LDAC running 44.1/16bit FLAC, I honestly cannot discern any worrying degradation in SQ
I feel the strong suite of ER2SE is being smoother and having more weight to the notes. So, depending on your source and music - ER2SE is more forgiving to bad quality recordings, like 80s pop for example. If you're into classical music - probably you'd like ER3SE better.Thanks for the insight Zachi. So it does makes more sense for my preference now to get ER3SE over the ER2SE. I agree with you that BA remains superior when it comes to speed - but having said that Etymotic tuning of the DD is still the fastest I have heard so far.
Love my Etymotion cable as well and echo the sentiments that either LDAC or an LHDC variant should be pursued in a future generation, but I do understand the tradeoff in battery life. That being said, it's an impressive piece of hardware and I've grabbed it on plenty of occasions when I just needed to clean the house. Great companion to the OnePlus 8T, which doesn't have a headphone jack of its own.Etymotion BT – impressions:
Let me start with a caveat that I am now working with Etymotic, and the Etymotion BT was provided to me by Etymotic. That said, my personal integrity and reputation are very important to me, and I am sharing my honest opinions! Those who might think that my impressions are biased and only serve as “infomercial” for Etymotic are welcome to stop reading...
OK, let’s get started!
Etymotion BT is not as well known as the Etymotic ER2/3/4 IEMs. It is Etymotic’s Bluetooth “cable” which includes a BT receiver, DAC and amp. The MMCX connectors will be used to attach your favorite ER2/3/4 IEMs. Here is the Etymotion with my ER3SE attached:
As can be seen in the photo above, the main “box” includes the battery, circuit board (with the BT receiver, DAC and amp) and the micro USB charging port. A remote or controller with microphone is located close to the right IEM, and includes 3 buttons to control volume and playback.
Let’s start with some specs first:
- Bluetooth chipset: Qualcomm Bluetooth 5.0 chip
- Codecs supported: AptX and AptX HD up to 24 bit/48khz
- DAC & Amp: AKM AK4331 chip with Velvet Sound Technology
- DAC: 32-bit (limited by AptX HD to 24bit/48Khz)
- Amp output power: 70mW @ 8 Ohm
- AK4331 datasheet (for the curious souls): https://velvetsound.akm.com/content...udio-dac/ak4331ecb/ak4331ecb-en-datasheet.pdf
- Battery life: Etymotic claims 8 hours. I did not perform battery life tests, so cannot confirm or dispute that number.
Package & Accessories:
The Etymotion comes in a package not unlike ER2/3/4 IEMs. Simple, nothing fancy, and includes the following accessories:
The zippered case is the same used for the ER2/3/4 IEMs. The 2 included shirt clips are used to prevent the main module from flapping and bouncing around (see the 2 diagrams in the next section). Included are also a micro-USB cable for charging, and the printed user’s manual. You will not get a Funko Pop hockey player...
Build Quality, Look & Feel, Fit and Comfort:
Unlike the ER2/3/4 (and EVO) IEMs – the Etymotion body or main module (as well as the remote/controller) is made of plastic. That helps reducing the weight, but it does feel less premium. The recommended way to wear it is with the main module on your upper back / behind your neck, as seen in these diagrams:
The 2 options refer to the way you should use the included shirt clips. I think option 1 might require a buddy’s help (unless you’re quite flexible and use mirrors… )
The plastic body and its very light weight made me forget I have anything on the back of my neck very quickly!
The last comment I will add on the fit and comfort: due to the short wires and to the remote on the right side – it is impossible to wear the cable looped around the ears. The Etymotion BT cable is meant to be worn straight down, and that is your only option. Since I have been wearing my ER2/3/4 that way anyhow – I did not find it to be a real limitation but thought it is important to mention.
One of the downfalls of BT cables/receivers is hiss, due to the amp’s noise floor. For that reason, I decided to use the ER3SE since it is the most sensitive IEM in the ER2/3/4 lineup. Let's challenge the Etymotion and its noise floor!
As for source, I used my Samsung S6 tablet running Android 11. The connection between the S6 and the Etymotion has been utilizing AptX codec, which promises high bandwidth (and therefore audio quality) as well as low latency.
For music – I used the S6 to stream lossless music from Tidal.
I also tested with YouTube videos, mostly focused on testing lag/latency/lip-sync, which is the 2nd downfall of BT (from my past experience).
Bluetooth connection stability & latency:
Pairing Etymotion to my S6 tablet was quick and seamless. After pairing this once, I had no Bluetooth connection issues. I have not tested the range, but placing the tablet on a table and walking around the room (up to 15 feet / 5 meters away from the tablet) – I experienced no disconnects, no hiccups, no dropouts – everything worked flawlessly.
As for latency / lag - I watched several YouTube videos, looking for lag manifested in lip-sync issues. At first, it seemed there is no lag at all. Looking more closely, I could detect a VERY slight delay (manifested in very minor lip-sync issue). The latency was so minor, that it was only detectable when I looked for it, and did not prevent me from enjoying watching a movie. YMMV depending on BT codec support and implementation of your source. At least for me - Etymotion passed this test.
Built-in microphone and phone calls usage:
During my audition – my focus has been on using Etymotion for listening to music and for watching videos on YouTube. The microphone was neglected by me for the most part.
To check the microphone, I did make a couple phone calls (paired to my Samsung S10e phone). According to the people I tested the microphone on - my voice sounded normal although "different" compared to the phone's mic. I was told they heard me fine. There is no background noise filtering, as far as I know, so the other side got my voice along with whatever ambient noise was present.
The 3-button remote / controller:
Personally, I prefer to control the volume and playback from the source (phone, tablet, etc.). For that reason, most of the time I just ignored the 3-button inline remote on the cable.
You can use the 3 buttons to answer and decline calls, change the volume or skip to the next or the previous track, as well as play and pause tracks. I briefly tested it, and moved back to my preferred way of doing all that on the source… Nothing to report other than it is working as advertised.
Before I get to the actual sound impressions… as mentioned before, I chose the ER3SE since they’re the most sensitive of the bunch. Not because the Etymotion lacks on power, but because I wanted to make it harder for the Etymotion to pass on the hiss test
The good news: unlike some other BT cables / receivers I tested in the past – I could detect no hiss (others call it waterfall noise). The hiss (if it’s present) can be heard during very quiet passages or between tracks. No hiss - very good starting point!
As for the sound itself - having a dedicated DAC/Amp chip by AKM means that (as expected) the sound is better than connecting the ER3SE directly to my phone (which still has 3.5mm jack). Instrument separation is a little better, dynamic range feels wider thanks to better bass and treble.
Now, is it better than connecting the ER3SE wired to a dedicated mid-range DAP (like my Cayin N3Pro or FiiO M11)? No. But I did not expect it to be! Mid-range (or better) music sources have better DACs and Amps. However, if your smartphone or tablet have no headphone jack, or even if they do - Etymotion would provide better sound quality that ER2/3/4 connected directly. Counter intuitive? Maybe. Keep in mind today's Bluetooth (BT 5.0 with AptX and/or AptX HD) is not nearly as bad as BT used to be only 3-4 years ago. I strongly recommend giving BT a fair chance if you have not done so with BT 5.0 and AptX.
So, who is Etymotion made for?
I kind of already answered that in the paragraph above. Etymotion is made for the person who would like to enjoy his or her ER2/3/4 IEMs, but prefers or is forced to use wireless connection. Most new phones and tablets do not have a 3.5mm headphone jack any longer, and so Etymotion is the perfect solution to watch YouTube / Netflix / Hulu / Amazon videos or to stream your favorite music from Tidal, Qubuz, etc. Even if your phone / tablet / PC still have 3.5mm jack, the built-in DAC and Amp are very likely inferior to the AKM DAC/Amp chip used inside the Etymotion!
My personal wish-list for the next Etymotion:
I do not have insiders knowledge of future Etymotion products. At least not as of writing these impressions.
So, if I were the product manager defining the next Etymotion - here is what I would improve on:
- LDAC codec support: that would allow for 24-bit/96kHz playback (compared to 24-bit/48kHz)
- T2 connectors: to accommodate for the new EVO
- USB-C charging connector
Conclusion and final words:
I was truly impressed by Etymotion. No, it is not quite a replacement for high-end or even mid-range dedicated DAP (and wired connection to it). However, if you mostly stream your music using a phone (or tablet) with AptX (or AptX HD) support – pair Etymotion to your phone (or tablet) and stream away. Same goes for watching movies / TV shows / videos, be it from YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc. - you'll get better sound than your phone / tablet / PC built-in 3.5mm headphone jack (if it even exists).
At the time of writing these impressions – Etymotion is available for purchase on amazon for significantly lower price than the official MSRP. Quite a steal at this price, IMHO.