If you still love Etymotic ER4, this is the thread for you...
Jun 11, 2015 at 8:57 PM Post #6,136 of 17,321

gnarlsagan

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Hi all, have been reading this thread for a while and now decided to jump in. I've had my ER4P for more than 10 years. Didn't use it much until I bought a DX90 a couple of months ago and as a portable setup they sound really good! About a mont ago bought the P to S converter and I really enjoy the subtle change in sound (cleaner, more airy, better definition). A few days ago I added a RSA SR71a to the setup and wow, the extra definition is amazing, together with an expanded soundstage. I'm very happy.

Now two questions. I prefer the old black foam tips much more than the silicon 3-flange in terms of both sound and comfort. However they cannot last for more than 2 weeks (I use them a lot, several hours everyday). Is there other more durable option that is comparable to the old black foam? The glider tips? Or those from other companies?

Second question is my upgrade bug is here again, and I wonder what is the next step up from the ER4. I did a bit of research and a lot of the top tier iems are not that neutral, very often they are tuned to be bassy with rolled of treble. I can live with a warmer a little more bassy sound but a dark rolled off treble is a definite no. Based on this do you guys have any recommendations on a possible upgrade? Needs to be quite neutral (I don't expect there will be many other as neutral as the ER4). Universal or custom are both ok.

Cheers, Phil

 
  Hey Phil,
 
I use the Shure Olive tips. They are similar to foam but different. You might consider those. But others will probably have a flood of options as well.
 
Regarding an upgrade. I just bought the AKG K3003i for this very reason. I haven't received or heard them yet, but from everything that I've read, they seem to be very neutral and clean sounding with a very extended treble. We'll see. The UERM comes up often as well, but I haven't heard those either.

 
The K3003 is close to neutral, but some might experience a little brightness in the upper-mids/lower-treble. Overall I wouldn't consider it an ER4S upgrade as much as alternative.
 
The UERM is closer to the ER4S, with a little more treble and bass to my ears, but sources I trust have told me that the custom version has very neutral treble.
 
I enjoy the Aurisonics Rockets as something that sounds close to the ER4S to me, but the required shallow fit has varying effects on different ears.
 
I recently heard the Noble Audio Savant, and thought it sounded close to the ER4S with slightly more bass and treble, but treble quantity (as with most shallow fit iems) varies per ear.
 
Other than those, I'm not aware of anything close enough to the ER4S sound signature to be called an "upgrade" as opposed to a side-grade or complimentary pair. And we've been looking, believe me. I may shortly make the jump to full-size cans, because nothing in the iem world seems to be able to replace my current set-up.   
 
Jun 11, 2015 at 9:11 PM Post #6,137 of 17,321

robm321

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For the things that the ER4S does well, there's really no upgrade. But bigger sound stage, and bass extension can be improved. The ER4S is really a tremendous value.
 
I was interested in the Rockets at one point, but I've read a lot about it being dark (rolled off treble) and a hump in the mid bass. I'm surprised you found them similar. Although, I've read about so many IEMs its possible I got those confused with something else.
 
Jun 11, 2015 at 10:19 PM Post #6,138 of 17,321

gnarlsagan

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For the things that the ER4S does well, there's really no upgrade. But bigger sound stage, and bass extension can be improved. The ER4S is really a tremendous value.

I was interested in the Rockets at one point, but I've read a lot about it being dark (rolled off treble) and a hump in the mid bass. I'm surprised you found them similar. Although, I've read about so many IEMs its possible I got those confused with something else.


No you're right about the Rockets. Many people do hear them that way. Being a shallow fit iem however, they vary a lot between ears. I'm lucky in that a shallow fit brings the treble in line with what I hear from the ER4S, and the bass roughly at the emphasis that I remember from the UERM. I hate extra mid-bass, and I can honestly say mid-bass emphasis is not a problem for me on the Rockets. Just my ears though. They're worth a look imo if your ears tend to accentuate treble on shallow fit iems.
 
Jun 12, 2015 at 4:44 AM Post #6,139 of 17,321

HiFiChris

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@gnarlsagan:
 
I neither possess the K3003 nor have I heard it, but according to HeadRoom it has definitely got a fair bass emphasis.
 
 
The ER-4S and UERM (custom) sound both fairly neutral but I consider the ER-4S to be closer to neutral than the UERM which has less lower and mid treble than the Etymotic, but a very steep peak in the upper treble. To my ears, the Etymotic has got the more natural/authentic and neutral treble than the UE.
 
Jun 12, 2015 at 4:48 AM Post #6,140 of 17,321

castleofargh

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when I tried the rockets (short listening in a rather noisy place), the first thing that came to my mind was "hey that's a SE535 copycat!!!"
to me it's a very flattering comparison, without EQ or filter or anything, I much prefer the 535 to the er4s. so I did find the rockets to be a great value in sound/$ compared to the 530/535(that were never worth the asking price IMO).
I found both not to be comfy, but for people who can live with an ER4 it's probably not the main concern ^_^. I can't stand the rotating cable on the shure, same thing with a default custom cable I would love it. and maybe with the looping plastic stuff the rockets becomes better to wear, but straight out cable is a dumb thing to create, however you look at it.
anyway ER4 didn't cross my mind. maybe with the red filter it would make for a closer sound, but not as is to my ears.
 
Jun 12, 2015 at 6:47 AM Post #6,141 of 17,321

strrstarrynight

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Own both the rockets and the er4s, imo the rockets is a rather dark sounding iem, with a very rolled off treble,
Bass sounds more punchy, slightly muddy on the rockets, but more detailed, quick and but less impact (quality over quantity).
Mids the rockets sound really smooth and warm, there are more details in the mids, and overall details on the er4s.
Treble on the rockets is just rolled off(imagine a sharp sword with its tip shaved off), the treble on the er4s is detailed clear.
Overall sound stage, rockets is better than er4s, but instrument separation is better on the er4s
 
Jun 12, 2015 at 7:26 AM Post #6,142 of 17,321

uchihaitachi

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  when I tried the rockets (short listening in a rather noisy place), the first thing that came to my mind was "hey that's a SE535 copycat!!!"
to me it's a very flattering comparison, without EQ or filter or anything, I much prefer the 535 to the er4s. so I did find the rockets to be a great value in sound/$ compared to the 530/535(that were never worth the asking price IMO).
I found both not to be comfy, but for people who can live with an ER4 it's probably not the main concern ^_^. I can't stand the rotating cable on the shure, same thing with a default custom cable I would love it. and maybe with the looping plastic stuff the rockets becomes better to wear, but straight out cable is a dumb thing to create, however you look at it.
anyway ER4 didn't cross my mind. maybe with the red filter it would make for a closer sound, but not as is to my ears.

What genre of music do you normally listen to?
 
Jun 12, 2015 at 8:40 AM Post #6,143 of 17,321

castleofargh

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  when I tried the rockets (short listening in a rather noisy place), the first thing that came to my mind was "hey that's a SE535 copycat!!!"
to me it's a very flattering comparison, without EQ or filter or anything, I much prefer the 535 to the er4s. so I did find the rockets to be a great value in sound/$ compared to the 530/535(that were never worth the asking price IMO).
I found both not to be comfy, but for people who can live with an ER4 it's probably not the main concern ^_^. I can't stand the rotating cable on the shure, same thing with a default custom cable I would love it. and maybe with the looping plastic stuff the rockets becomes better to wear, but straight out cable is a dumb thing to create, however you look at it.
anyway ER4 didn't cross my mind. maybe with the red filter it would make for a closer sound, but not as is to my ears.

What genre of music do you normally listen to?

 
pretty much everything but reggae, jazz, EDM, and celine dion( celine labelled as WMD by GW bush's administration). and most of my favorite albums are pre 1980 stuff. I'm a bad deal for modern artists expecting to make a living.
biggrin.gif

 
 if like any ER4 lover you value treble extensions, then the 535 aren't it. they roll off pretty hard. after all trebles are the core strength of the er4.
 
Jun 12, 2015 at 9:31 AM Post #6,144 of 17,321

uchihaitachi

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pretty much everything but reggae, jazz, EDM, and celine dion( celine labelled as WMD by GW bush's administration). and most of my favorite albums are pre 1980 stuff. I'm a bad deal for modern artists expecting to make a living.
biggrin.gif

 
 if like any ER4 lover you value treble extensions, then the 535 aren't it. they roll off pretty hard. after all trebles are the core strength of the er4.

Makes sense, I listen to mostly classical and jazz, had the 535 a while back. Always felt they distorted singular instrumental performances quite a lot. Lovely mids and beautiful for vocal music, so for that reason I prefer the ER4 for classical.
 
Jun 12, 2015 at 11:10 AM Post #6,145 of 17,321

sanakimpro

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I had a 1 hour train ride today. Used my new DX-90 Line Out -> Cayin C5 (Low Gain, No Bass Boost) -> ER4S and listened to Metallica's Through the Never album on gapless. Whoa! No muddy bass, very good instrumental separation, could feel James Hetfield's adrenaline rush, WOW. 
I kind of get why Etymotic Research says that these are 92% accurate. I'm not sure they are really 90%, someone can share more on that, but I really love the way these sound for recorded performances. :) 
Thanks for reading, and thanks to all these companies!
 
edit: for those interested, volume pot was on 6 out of 9 on Low Gain ER4S is 100 Ohm Impedance, 90dB @1kHz Sensitivity.
 
Jun 12, 2015 at 11:21 AM Post #6,146 of 17,321

robm321

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Agreed about the 535. It's a good compliment to the etys. Its a bit overpriced. It's got a nice midrange. The treble is too rolled off though for classical. It's good for rock. It's warm and the etys are neutral. I still have mine.
 
Jun 12, 2015 at 11:23 AM Post #6,147 of 17,321

H20Fidelity

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  I had a 1 hour train ride today. Used my new DX-90 Line Out -> Cayin C5 (Low Gain, No Bass Boost) -> ER4S and listened to Metallica's Through the Never album on gapless. Whoa! No muddy bass, very good instrumental separation, could feel James Hetfield's adrenaline rush, WOW. 
I kind of get why Etymotic Research says that these are 92% accurate. I'm not sure they are really 90%, someone can share more on that, but I really love the way these sound for recorded performances. :) 
Thanks for reading, and thanks to all these companies!

 
 
I've paired ER4S with Cayin C5. It was a memorable pairing. 
 
I'm using my Ety with Pono Player again, just wish it had a little more power to push it to the limit.
 
*ponders back on JDS C421 experiences*
 
Jun 12, 2015 at 12:14 PM Post #6,148 of 17,321

luisdent

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  Other than those, I'm not aware of anything close enough to the ER4S sound signature to be called an "upgrade" as opposed to a side-grade or complimentary pair. And we've been looking, believe me. I may shortly make the jump to full-size cans, because nothing in the iem world seems to be able to replace my current set-up.   

 
I'm thinking the same thing. In fact, I found a really cool site recently where cards are made for a DIY amp that "neutralize" some reasonably flat headphones. I'm actually talking to the guy now that does some of the filters to get him to do an er4s filter. He seems like he's up for it. It wouldn't perfectly correct all the frequencies, but it would probably be able to boost the bass and lower the 2-3khz hump a bit, overall smoothening out the er4s and giving a better bass realism.
 
But the hd600 is my goal again and was already great. And they are less than $300 right now!!!
http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-Dynamic-Professional-Stereo-Headphones/dp/B00004SY4H/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434125565&sr=8-1&keywords=hd600
 
I was one of the people that still used EQ with it, because nothing is perfect. I wouldn't "need" EQ with them, unlike most headphones, as they were very good to begin with. However, I always prefer that ultra transparency you get with a reeeealllly neutral response. And this kameleon amp with an hd600 filter graphs extremely well.
 

 
Jun 12, 2015 at 12:59 PM Post #6,149 of 17,321

castleofargh

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trying to nullify completely the roll off of the headphone even as low as 10hz, to me that seems totally unreasonable. how much distortions would result from pushing the headphone up that much?
 
Jun 12, 2015 at 1:37 PM Post #6,150 of 17,321

takato14

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Hell, probably.
Just got them.
 
Fantastic clarity and imaging. Wow. The "in-ear HD800" people weren't kidding. The closest I've heard to the HD800 in clarity so far. Separation, control, everything "technical" about these is remarkably well refined. Midrange tone is dead-on accurate and extremely smooth. Bass drops off sooner than I'd like, but not to the point where it's problematic. 
 
Same balance issue I had with the K1000 and Q701 in the upper ranges. I don't know what it is, but something sounds "off" -- not too bright, the opposite. Like the upper ranges aren't fleshed out properly. It seems to make things sound dead, uninteresting, non-engaging. In order of decreasing prominence, it goes K1000, Q701, ER-4S. It's only minor with the ER-4, to the point where I'm sure I could get over it, but the K1000 and Q701 were another story. Neither of those ever sounded right to me. It was like my music was trying to bore me to death, and in the case of the Qs, also stab me to death with sharp 2kHz distortion.
 
Compared to my Sansui SS-100, these are slightly more detailed and duller sounding. The Sansui's are more enjoyable and sound more natural to me. Conversely, the ER-4 slaughters pretty much all of the other headphones I have. 
 
In terms of actual problematic issues, oh my god, **** these microphonics with a rake. The shirt clip helps a bit, but I am genuinely afraid of whats gonna happen when I try to use these while moving around in the soda cooler at work. Fit was also a bit annoying; there was a "sweet spot" I had to spend a bit of time trying to find, and I'm still not finding them particularly comfortable. But I was never an IEM guy.
 
This is with the S adapter. Without it, they sound pretty damn awful. Also, I'm using with the smallest triflange tips, the clear ones that come on the IEM out of the box. The other two pairs of triflanges are way too large and hurt my ears. The round/"glide" tips hurt too, and don't have enough bass. The foams are pretty comfortable but they're extremely bassy, not necessary a bad thing always... but still not accurate. The frost triflanges sound the best to me.
 
All of these impressions are from my home rig. I'm scared to plug these into a portable player... probably gonna sound dreadful.
 
TL;DR: Good. Cleanliness and clarity to rival high end headphones. Bass extension isn't the best, and the upper ranges sound a bit dull for my preferences. I like them, but they did not dethrone anything I currently own.
 

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