If you still love Etymotic ER4, this is the thread for you...
Feb 8, 2011 at 7:45 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 19,241


Headphoneus Supremus
Jan 3, 2007
After over 4 years on head-fi, I finally bought a pair of Etymotic IEMs - the ER4 P/S. I've auditioned the ER4p, HF2 and ER6i before and they all impressed me a lot, but for some reason I never actually bought a pair to spend my time with it and to analyze it properly. I guess this was because the Etys became overshadowed by a large number of IEMs by other manufacturers in the past few years and by the hype surrounding many of them. So every time I thought I might pick up a pair of Etys, I always ended up being caught in an all new FOTM IEM and bought that instead, only to sell it later because it didn't satisfy me in one way or another or because an even more drooling-inducing IEM came out which forced me to sell whatever I had to fund that one.
So anyways, after these 4 years of switching headphones like clothes and constantly getting caught in a whirlpool of never ending hype. I finally got tired of it and even became a bit depressed. I tried almost all top tier universal IEMs and non of them truly satisfied me. Yes, they all had certain strengths that I appreciated, but most also had fatal flaws to my ears which I just couldn't accept and ignore.
Enter the ER4: The first few minutes that I listened to it when I received it, I actually didn't think it was all that great. A bit flat and boring sounding with too much emphasis on the mids and not enough treble. However, the more I listened, the more I began to realize that it just reproduces sound honestly with very little coloration. I was not used to that. Most headphones I had before and also the Fischer Audio DBA-02 that I also just got a day before the Etys arrived sounded colored in one way or another. The ER4, on the other hand, sounded calm, controlled and seemingly without anything in its sound that really caught my attention. As I listened, I suddenly started to understand what they are all about - I started getting the sensation of some serious accuracy in the midrange and bass. Now, after a couple of days, I absolutely love my ER4 - the timbre in the midrange and bass is the most accurate I've ever heard in any IEM and the highs that sometimes seem a little too laid back and lacking compared to mids and highs are actually wonderfully detailed. At the beginning I also felt that ER4 was too dry, but this no longer bothers me now and I realized that this is simply a part of the presentation and allows the sound to be more articulate and clean without any extra smoothness that is not there in the recording and/or source. I also feel that the bass is the most detialed, deepest and tightest I've ever heard in a headphone and is perfectly balanced with the mids and the treble. Call me crazy, but I love listening to trance music through the ER4 without any EQ added.
I now like my ER4 so much that I decided to create this thread in order to share my love for this IEM with other Ety users on the forum who still own and love theirs. I feel that nowadays, the ER4 is perhaps one of the most underrated, if not the most underrated IEM on the market. The main complaints are usually that it lacks bass and/or sounds too clean. Personally, I completely disagree with both of these views. I don't think ER4 lacks bass at all and I also don't think that sound can be too clean. In my opinion, the cleaner and more accurate the sound is the better, because it brings you closer to hearing music the way it was recorded. I may be terribly wrong, but I am sure some people will agree and if you do agree with what I wrote above regarding the ER4 and/or want to share your own positive experience with them, this thread is for you!
I haven't heard a high end custom like JH13, but in my humble opinion, the ER4 blows away pretty much every IEM I've heard, including Westone ES3X in timbre accuracy and overall sound quality. I am starting to doubt the need for multi driver IEMs.
Feb 8, 2011 at 9:47 PM Post #2 of 19,241
Despite of having a different perception of the ER4's general sound signature, I am definitely really satisfied with my purchase with my ER4. I have the MC5 before that and still use it, but the ER4 is a different beast all together.

Feb 8, 2011 at 10:22 PM Post #3 of 19,241
Do the HF5s count? :wink:
Feb 8, 2011 at 11:14 PM Post #4 of 19,241

Do the HF5s count? :wink:

They're actually pretty close...with a little help. I've got the ER4S and the HF5. I used the HF5 with a 100 ohm impedance adapter, and it was pretty close to the ER4S. Just a tad warmer with a tiny bit more bass and a tiny bit less detail. But I really like the way my ER4S doesn't fall apart at the seams like my HF5s did... They're still better overall, but the HF5s are still great if you don't pull them out of your ears by the strain relief like I did for the longest time. Maybe I should get them remolded into customs...
Also, I should note that I've been running my ER4S straight out of my Clip+. The Clip+ drives them just fine, and though I do miss the analog volume knob, I think it sounds slightly better than my Rockboxed iPod 5.5G and mini3 rig. With the 5.5G, some drum cymbals just never sounded right for some reason (a "warm" DAC?).
If you want a real treat, try the ER4S with the Meier crossfeed option in Rockbox.
Feb 8, 2011 at 11:23 PM Post #5 of 19,241
If it helps, both Noel Lee, head of Monster Cable (in an interview) and Marty Garcia, owner of Future Sonics, (in a conversation with me) have said that they admire the Etymotic ER4.
Feb 9, 2011 at 1:38 AM Post #6 of 19,241
Several years ago, I bought a set of Livewires custom molded IEM's and gave my ER4's to my wife.  While I can't say I dislike the Livewires, I can say I miss the ER4's and lately have been scheming on how to get them back.  The ETYs are just more accurate, and even though I was initially seduced by the extended range and punch of the Livewires, I ended up missing the accuracy of the ETYs.  
Years ago, back when the ER4's ruled, whenever a new IEM would be introduced eventually somewhere in either the adds or reviews, a comparison to the ETYs was alway made.  They were the standard to which all IEMs were compared, or at least that's how I remember it.   Now?  I don't think there is such a standard anymore.  There a lot of really good IEMs out there.  But to me, the ER4 is still in the hunt, still near the top in SQ, still a standard for accuracy.
Feb 9, 2011 at 1:48 AM Post #7 of 19,241
I've had my ER-4P's longer than I remember, literally.  I think I bought them 8 to 10 years ago back when Creative Labs was blazing a trail in MP3 players.  Anyone recall the portable CD-player sized Nomad Jukebox (6 GB hard drive inside) and the much more portable Muvos?  I still have them.  The iPod was maybe 1st to 2nd gen then.  I don't remember too many IEMs on the market back then, if there were any at all, unlike now as anyone viewing this site can attest.
The original style cable finally went on me about 3 years ago (lasted a long time!).  Yes, it was very microphonic but I didn't care, not like I was running around with them in my ears.  Before I sent it to Etymotic for repair, I purchased a second pair of 4Ps because, well, I couldn't go a week or two without a pair!  When my original 4Ps came back, they were fitted with the latest cable (twisted pairs into the earpieces).  I gifted them to my wife so she could throw away her crappy Apple earbuds and actually enjoy her music.
The newer cable is less microphonic, but right now I'm having issues at the Y junction, so I'm going to have to send this pair back, too.  But of course, before I do, I need another pair of IEMs.  So why is my avatar a pair of Westones?  I finally decided to try something different, and used a coupon to pick up a pair of W3's at a good price.  They're not here yet, and I've never heard them before, but I sure hope I'll enjoy them as much as I have the ER-4Ps.  I'm worried the isolation and fit of the W3's won't be as good as the 4Ps but I guess we'll see.  The cable over the ear thing will certainly be new for me.  No worries, though, I'm holding on to my 4Ps after they are recabled and maybe swap between them to suit the music and mood.
Here's to Etymotic for creating the fine instrument that I've enjoyed so much over the years.
Feb 9, 2011 at 11:19 AM Post #8 of 19,241
YES! YES! I had the exact same experience!
When I first heard it (second hand, all run in), I was underwhelmed. It sounded cold and boring and bassless. After a few days, WOW I began to realize how much detail there is, and now, I like pop songs on it without EQ! The bass sounds VERY adequate. I'm quite amazed. They're a great listen
Feb 9, 2011 at 11:51 AM Post #9 of 19,241
Same... I've had mine for over 6 years now.  When I first joined here I bought the ER-6 and liked them enough to warrant an upgrade to the big dogs.  Never looked back.  I should have some ACS custom sleeves coming for the ER-4 this week (unless the weather delays it another day or two).  That'll probably be the icing on the cake to keep them with me for another 6 years.  :)
I've tried several in the meantime and, like the OP, I just can't hack the lack of detail and cleanliness I get from the ER-4... yeah, occasionally bad recordings are unlistenable on them, but I tend to hate bad recordings anyway even if the music is good.  Oddly I find them a perfect portable companion to my HF2s I use most of the time.  They sound quite different, but both share an amazing ability to show details you never heard before. 
Feb 9, 2011 at 12:09 PM Post #10 of 19,241
I've written this before, my quest is over since I have my ER4's.
I've tried quite a lot of IEM's lately, TripleFi 10, DBA-02, RE-Zero to name a few. none of these satisfied me because of several reasons. Most of the reasons could be brought back to bad fit I think.
With the ER4's I'm completely satisfied. I listen mostly to rock, pop, female voices and I get goose bumbs all the time. I listened to Madonna's song " Music" last night and at 40 seconds, when the bass kicks in, ................ awesome bass, honest. People complaining that these produce not enough bass must do something wrong.
Nora Jones, Rebecca Pidgeon to name a few sound fantastic. Dolly Parton (I know, I know) has a special way of breathing when she sings, I can hear every detail of it! 
So yes, I'm very satisfied with my ER4's (but you already knew this Pianist LOL) 
Feb 9, 2011 at 12:23 PM Post #11 of 19,241
I currently own and use a pair of MC5's, and I have been enjoying them a lot. I do however feel I want to move up a bit in quality, so the questions is, would upgrading to the ER-4P(T) be worth it for me? The price for a pair is around $300 USD where I live (the store offering them for that price also gives you a 3 year warrant period, which I found attractive).
Feb 9, 2011 at 12:25 PM Post #12 of 19,241
From my own experience, I don't doubt that transition at all. I'd say go for it... but $300USD seems a little high for the ER4. I got mine for $200USD with two years warranty.
Feb 9, 2011 at 12:26 PM Post #13 of 19,241
Thanks for all the contribution to this thread guys. I like to see that there is still love for the Etys around here and that I am not alone in my view on them. Keep it coming!
And yes, of course you can discuss other Etys in here as well, not just the ER4. Sorry, I should probably remove the ER4 from the thread title. All Etys I tried were great.
Feb 9, 2011 at 12:28 PM Post #14 of 19,241
From my own experience, I don't doubt that transition at all. I'd say go for it... but $300USD seems a little high for the ER4. I got mine for $200USD with two years warranty.

Honestly, for someone like me who likes the signature of the Etymotic and the technicalities that they project, even $500+ won't be too much. This is also considering how durable the Etys are. At least the ER4. They are built like tanks!
Feb 9, 2011 at 12:37 PM Post #15 of 19,241

From my own experience, I don't doubt that transition at all. I'd say go for it... but $300USD seems a little high for the ER4. I got mine for $200USD with two years warranty.

Honestly, for someone like me who likes the signature of the Etymotic and the technicalities that they project, even $500+ won't be too much. This is also considering how durable the Etys are. At least the ER4. They are built like tanks!

That's true. I personally have been playing with the idea to have customized tips for them. It is really tempting! But you know, if you could go for a better deal, then you should.

Listening to my ER4 while reading this thread probably makes that idea even more tempting.

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