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Just heard back from their customer service that the balanced cables (2.5mm version at least) SHOULD hopefully be available within 3-4 weeks.
Thanks for the update. I don't believe it till I see it....
I've bought the ER2XR, waiting for them to ship so I can compare against the 2SE as well as against the ER3 and ER4 series. Hoping the 2XR would address my personal gripes with the 2SE at the subbass regions
I tried out the er3se yesterday, running through my pixel only. I must say I am shock of the sound quality it puts out. Pretty damn amazing to be quite honest. Even comparing it to my full size focal elex it's not that far off. I had the hf3 still and it is no comparison whatsoever. I have the er4xr coming in today and I'm sure I'll be amazed. But still waiting for my balanced cable from Plussound so I can hook them up to my dx220. Oh I can't wait. I'm sure these will be my endgame iem.
Edit: After a short session with the er4xr I am very impressed too. I definitely had to swap out a few ear tips to get the right seal. None of the included ones gave me the correct seal, except for the foam tips. But even though the foam tips gave the best seal for me, it rolled off the highs too much. Losing too much detail in the high frequency. The gray non-transparent on my old hf3 gave an excellent seal second only to the foam, but it keeps a lot more highs than the foam tips.
When comparing the er4xr to the er3se. Sound is so slightly learner, but clearer on the er4xr and more articulate as well. But the er3se is a bit smoother and easier to listen to.
To sum it up, I like both. But for value alone, the er3se is hard to beat. Overall the Er4xr is probably about 5% better. If you're on a budget, get the er3se and you'll surely be very happy. But if you absolutely just want one of the best then get the er4xr.
Edit: After 2 days of comparing, my opinion has changed quite a bit.
If anyone is interested in improving the bass and holographic response (layering? imaging?) of the ER4XRs, I'll go ahead and recommend the Silver Dragon V1 cables for ya (Specific pros and cons listed at bottom of this unnecessarily long post)
I got the V1s to test for myself if I could hear a difference with cables or not. Skeptical but open-minded was my approach. I got the V1s as a test sample, and tested them with the XBA N3s and ER4XRs. Low and behold, they did indeed make a very significant improvement for the ER4XRs, but minor to no improvement with the XBA N3s. Probably something to do with impedance matching, but I'll leave that discussion for more experienced people.
I got the cables a few months back, but held back on recommending them until I tested them for a significant period of time, so new toy syndrome did not take effect. I went back and forth between the stock Etymotic cables and the V1s, sometimes in the same session, sometimes trying each individually for a week. I also ensured the pressure in my ears was normalized, which for these ER4XRs subjectively affects about 15% of the sound experience.
After at least 3 months of testing, from multiple sources, and eliminating as many other variables as possible (fit, mood, time of day, etc) to ensure the comparison was solely between the ER4XR stock cables and the Silver Dragon V1s, I can confidently say that the Silver Dragon V1s are a definite and significant improvement in sound quality, from my subjective point of view.
To my ears, the Silver Dragon V1 improves the following areas of the ER4XR (subjective impressions!):
+ Bass quantity (~5-10%)
+ Bass clarity (~15%)
+ Overall clarity (~5%)
(Mids and Highs in terms of frequency response seem about the same)
+ Holographic response (layering) (~20%) - these cables feel like taking the stock cable sound, converting it from 2D to 3D, and then wrapping that 3D orientation of sound in a sphere around your head (this effect is accentuated by pressure normalization, and for me, letting the IEMs "sit" as far as possible from the eardrum instead of inserting as deep as possible, but still forming a tight fit provides the best fit. Too deep reduces the holographic effect).
+ Imaging (mostly due to clarity)
- Fit (silver dragon cable as far as I know does not have angled MMCX: with the Etymotics, you look like you're wearing a stethoscope)
- Potentially comfort due to fit (looping the cable back unto itself helps immensely with comfort and fit, but then you look like a new recruit of the Borg)
I tried my best to detect placebo or fit adjustments or anything that could lead to a false positive, but this V1 cable is legit.
Potential sludge aside, if this post helps at least 1 other person obtain an ethereal listening experience, then I have done my job. Happy listening everyone
I'll leave aside all the stuff that annoy me in this post from unjustified confidence to the weirdness of quantifying feelings like that. and instead just say that IMO this cable is too stiff for IEM use. as for the audio qualities, I had it a few years ago so obviously I didn't try it with the new er4 series, but from memory, I can confidently say that it was a cable.
Just made this: SPOFC with a balanced 3.5mm plug that goes nicely with iFi xDSD, and most likely doesn't in itself enhance SQ
As an electrical engineer, I can tell you that a cable is not a pure resistor. It "always" has some amount of inductance, and there is always some amount of capacitance as well. The whole purpose of a cable to is to transmit power (Voltage x Current) from one point to the next. Given the "very" short distances in this case, these R, L, and C values are very small, the resistance by far being the largest contributor. In addition to the inherent LRC from the cable, you also have 2x additional resistances to account for: one from the stereo connector to the source and then again from each channel into each driver. A fellow EE measured these a while back with lab equipment when trying to see how much voltage loss we had when pushing 10Amps, and he found that in most "friction" connections (like all of the ones in these case, since they are not soldered, but held by friction), the resistance was about 50mOhms (0.050 Ohms). So for each channel you have:
- stereo connector resistance and capacitance
- cable resistance, capacitance, inductance
- cable to driver resistance and capacitance
Again, all of these values are "tiny", and to measure properly (even the resistance) you can't use a standard multi-meter: you need a 4-wire resistance measuring device, typically lab-only equipment (doing a zero in a hand-held meter is "not" the same and only an approximation). And since a cable is a passive electrical element, and these value so tiny, their actual effect on the music is hardly measurable at all. Hence, why I align with the idea that for our use in music, and these low voltages (literally miliVolts), a cable is simply a cable.
Nice job as always man
Apologies if my assertiveness and energy upset you, I tried to make it clear in the post that my results were purely subjective. I still stand by my assertion that the Silver Dragon V1s do improve the ER4XR sound, precisely as subjectively described in my first post. I invite evidence to the contrary. If someone provides solid evidence to the contrary, I will more than happily accept defeat.
Thanks to @wquiles for providing a scientific explanation from a fellow EE, but it has already been established that the parasitic inductance and capacitance of headphone cables only appears to affect the signal at RF frequencies, not audio frequencies. Impedance seems to be the biggest culprit, but more testing is required.
Someday I will do a detailed study of cables and the entire audio signal path, and post the results in the science section, but that day is not today!
Isn't a volume knob just a series impedance? That means it adjusts the amplitude of the signal across all frequencies equally. Then simply turning up the volume would compensate for any additional impedance.
Yeah I was wondering about volume changes, I am not sure how volume knobs are calibrated with respecte to the Harman curve. If the volume knob adjusts all frequencies equally, then middle frequencies would overpower lower and higher frequencies (in general) as the volume is increased due to the Harman curve nonlinearity (since the human ear's sensitivity is not equal at all frequencies). This would be very interesting to test as well!
Etymotic and audio in general is one of the reasons I studied EE, even today is is still such a rich topic to make discoveries.
Typically a volume knob is not a series impedance on the output. Typically it instead adjusts the level of input sent to an amplification or output stage, and the output stage provides low output impedance power to the headphone or earphone.