Etymotics ER4P: First Impressions
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Joe Bloggs

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My ER4P arrived yesterday. They blew me away. What more can I say?


(a lot, actually; 'complete' first impressions coming)
 
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MooGoesTheCow

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so i take it you've realized you can't emulate the 4p's with eq'd ex70's?


let's hear those initial impressions!
 
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Eagle_Driver

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*here's another person who has tried an Ety*

PLONK! (jaw hits floor)
 
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Joe Bloggs

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As they only started shipping this Monday it was a complete surprise to see a big brown parcel sitting on my desk when I came home yesterday night. I stripped layer after layer of packaging to find a much-smaller than expected case holding the actual earphones. (from pictures I thought it was the size of a small suitcase!)

Well I cleaned out my ears with a cotton swab and a certain wooden stick (
)--don't want to clog my etys the first time I put them on


It was easier to obtain a seal with the etys than I thought--not a completely trivial matter, but easy nonetheless. The first time I tried it I just stuffed the two plugs into both ears at the same time with both hands. They stayed sealed for a while that way, then the seal on the right ear broke. Then I inserted them again one at a time, one hand stuffing it in and the other hand pulling the ear up, and it was done.

Comfortwise the etys are not as good as the EX70 (they pushed harder against the walls of my ear canal of course) but still quite good--I'd rank it above the Senn HD580.

Before I played any music I heard what sounded like some kind of laser fire--turned out this was the sound of the cable thumping against the smooth table edge! lol
Gotta be careful not to thump yer ety cables


(BTW, the music I've listened to on the etys so far is all Iron Maiden. kelly would understand this review the most I think
)

I plugged them straight into my Sony D-EJ725 pcdp and played Iron Maiden's Live After Death. At first listen I was overcome by what sounded like white noise--seems my ears haven't adapted to the etys' sound and couldn't quite make out it was hearing. I also didn't feel I had the same level of seal and volume from both ears. So to get my bearings and check the channel balance I listened to a more familiar setup--I swapped the etys for EX70s and listened to the EQed version of the album. Thus the ER4-EX70EQ showdown was brought to an early start...

Having found that the left ear dominance was part of the recording (and not a result of me not getting a good seal with the right ear), I swapped back to the etys and the original CD. I was listening to 'The Trooper'.

As my ears started getting used to the etys, I started picking out a cymbal line that I never heard before, starting at about 1:15. (edit: listening to it again now, I realize that the cymbal line was there from the start--but that's when it first caught my attention last night.) After listening to the whole track, I wondered if it was because I listened to it loud (the ER4P is indeed VERY efficient--I started off at 11-12/30 and ended up going down to 9/30 at the end of the night), so I went back to the EX70/CD+EQ combo and tried to match volumes (up to about 18/30). Sure enough, I could pick out the cymbal line, but with the EX70 I could just register the existence of the cymbal line, whereas with the ER4P I imagined that if I were a drummer I could have visualized exactly HOW the Iron Maiden drummer was hitting and playing with the cymbals.

This was only a hint of things to come.
 
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Joe Bloggs

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When I went to bed that night, I played the Brave New World album from end to end. WOW!


And I *thought* I knew this album from end to end... I'd listened to this in bed before, with the EX70EQ and Porta Corda amp... (I'm still listening to the 4P straight out of the pcdp. But then again, from what you hear on the forum these days this might be the best configuration for the 4P anyway... will try plugging into the PC with 120 ohm adapter later on.)

To describe the increase in detail, let's just say it sounded like the mixing engineer and the band spent an extra 10 hours adding more effects and sounds into the mix


I heard cymbals where I never heard cymbals before. I heard voices where I never heard voices before. I heard extra guitars where I never heard extra guitars before. I heard tuneful bass lines where I heard rhythmic thumps before.
(from frequency sweeps I had always known that the EX70 suffered from One-Note-Bass disease to some extent. How much it suffered from this in actual music I never knew until yesterday
)

Some examples:

In track 6, when the music changed from the main 'dream in black and white' theme to the twisting, surreal 'lost' theme, I felt like my head was going into the blender with the time-space anomaly created by the music


In track 7, instrumental interlude at around 3:00, there's two parts, one single electric guitar and another guitar playing in unison with drums. In the past I'd always thought that they played in turns. Last night I realized that the first electric guitar player never stopped playing when the drums+guitar came up.

In track 8, 'the Nomad', there's a whiny high pitch sound going with the guitars at the start of the track. With the EX70, I picked it up only after several listens and thought it was something to do with how they plucked the electronic guitar; with the ER4, I realised it's a separate instrument entirely.

In track 9, I'd always known that at times there were more than one voice singing, but that's all I knew. Last night I could clearly pick out the voices one by one, when each voice joined in and went out, and I swear I could have counted how many voices there were at all times (2 or 3) if only I'd known what the mixing engineer did to them pre-production.


There were new discoveries at every turn, but that's all I can remember, but you get the idea


And all this, out of the pcdp phones out. I layed in stunned silence when the music finally stopped.

A few seconds later I pulled out the plugs and realized that I was actually lying in stunned deafening air-conditioner noise


Etymotics ER4. Go buy one already!
 
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Joe Bloggs

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Going through all of this, I completely forgot that I'm supposed to break in the etys
Is that quite necessary, really?


Tonal balance: as of now the etys are somewhat brighter than the EX70EQ. I can't decide what's the difference between them on the bass side. Are the etys thinner or just more accurate? It's more accurate, that's for sure
but is it also thinner?

I don't find the ER4P bass-heavy *as of now, not broken in*, as others here claim. I do think I have a complete seal. I don't find it thin either. If there's any bass deficiency as of now I have no time to notice it between the intense listening and detail overload
 
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AngusMcToon

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Well, what would be the recommended break-in for a new pair of Etys? I got 4Ps this week too...

So far, I am digging them, but I'm still hung up a bit on the logistics of fit and comfort....pressure building up after sealing, e.g., soreness a bit, though continued use is helping on that front. Tips here about inserting them slightly upward helped immensely.

And well, they are revealing and sound great once you've got the seal.
 
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shafu

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After about a week and a half, I started to notice that the ER4P started to sound much fuller, and wider. At first I thougth it might have been the recording I was listening to (Gipsy Kings, the best of) and then I noticed it on all of the recordings. It was the "ah-ha" moment for me with the ER4P. I liked it at first, but thought it was very analytical. Then once that moment hit, it sounded really musical to me.

I initally thougt the ER4P had too much booming bass at the beginning, but as they burned in, it sounded a lot smoother to me. Don't know if I am getting a better seal or what. I did spend some time early on going back and forth between the silicon and foam tips - I've decided the silicon gives the best comfort, isolation, and most importantly, sounds.

Gotta dig the isolation. I've listened quite a bit on the plane (traveled across the Pacific) and once I took them out, I was amazed at how loud everything was. Almost hurt my ears after the releative quiet musical silence I had with the ER4P.
 
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Joe Bloggs

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Hey how does The Hunt for Red October sound on the etys shafu? Be getting around to that one myself
 
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"Booming bass" on the ER4P?
 
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shafu

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Booming bass is all relative. At first, the bass sounded much heavier than what I expected. All the reviews I read about the Etys were the thin sound if you don't get a good seal and the analytical nature of the headphones. That's why I was surprised. I think there's someone else on the forum that opted for the ER4S (unamped) because they thought the bass was too pronouced for his music taste.

Joe - I haven't listened to the soundtrack of Red October on these yet. I have the DVD, but a friend has been borrowing it for the last couple of months. Need to get it back from. Can't wait to listen to the Soviet National anthem sung by the sailors. "I thought I heard singing, sir..."
 
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Joe Bloggs

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Well, I have the CD, no DVD. Love that movie though, gotta buy the DVD sometime...

Quote:

"I thought I heard singing, sir..."


LOL!
 
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Duncan

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Joe...

First of all, I'm glad you're liking your ER4Ps


Secondly, I must confess that I too suffer every now and then with an imbalance... you have to make sure you don't push the ETYs TOO far into your ears, else the sound goes really lumpy and mediocre...

As to bass, these have got the cleanest bass i've EVER heard.. often, with heavy bass notes - there is almost a sound like the diaphragm vibrating TOO much with 'normal' headphones, this is NOT the case with the ETYs, just sounding crisp, and pure...

As to the tips, I've (since my thread last week) decided that the foam tips are for me... they seem to make the sound slightly warmer to my ears



Duncan
 
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Eagle_Driver

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Quote:

Originally posted by shafu
I think there's someone else on the forum that opted for the ER4S (unamped) because they thought the bass was too pronouced for his music taste.


Heheheh. It was ME who did that - but since then I bought a Headroom Total Airhead 4.5V amp. Now I almost always commute to and from work with the ER-4S/TAH/D-EJ1000 rig. The ER-4S sounded okay (but a little thin) unamped, but I recommend an amp with the ER-4S.
 
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Joe Bloggs

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I don't think 'musical' usually stands for this but the etys are musical in the sense that it allows me to pick out the tone of all the sounds I'm hearing much better. The EX70 in comparison sounds like it's making me tone deaf
 
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