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If you still love Etymotic ER4, this is the thread for you...

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  1. Degru
    Alright, good to know. Was arguing with this one guy on er4s vs b sound and he was being all dismissive of my arguments when he learned that I actually had an er4pt, er4s 100 ohm mmcx adapters, and the er4b cable you built me when he had tried stock pairs of each lol

    He was sure the physical damping on the BA was somehow different :rolling_eyes:
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  2. ClieOS Contributor
    If you think about it - Etymotic has been selling damper / filter for ER4P/S/B all these years and there is always just one option (green/1500ohm) for all three models, so that should have been a big indication. The driver themselves has been cracked open many times and all of them are solid plastic molded inside, so nothing is different as well.
  3. castleofargh Contributor
    hold on, the high pass thingy in the B was in the cable all along like an obvious way of doing it? who made me believe the high pass was in the shell? I've been thinking that it made no sense from the start to design them that way, but as I never owned a B, I just went with the flow.
    TBH I thought I learned it from you(as you're one of the few people I would just trust on IEMs without fact checking), but looking at even old reviews, you've been clear about it for a looong time. so who convinced me of that crap? show yourself!!!!!!

    @Degru sorry for the false information.
    I've edited my previous post.

    he wrote
    I may have gotten the idea from something as silly as this. :sob:
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  4. ClieOS Contributor
    Can't help you there :laughing:

    Etymotic is one of very few (if any) companies that will apply patent for most of their IEM, and the original 1999 patent on ER4( = 4B) can still be easily found with Google patent search. Most of the detail is already in there. If anything, ER4 is probably the most well-understand of IEM in the history.
  5. Degru
    I've been comparing S and B for a while now, and after the new toy syndrome wore off, I've come up with some more sober impressions of the sound, and would like to see what other people think.

    FR differences aside, the ER4B is a LOT more dynamic than the ER4S. Just looking at bass, it takes like 5dB of bass boost on the ER4S to achieve anywhere near the level of bass impact that the ER4B has, and it's still not quite there. And this applies to the entire frequency range; the ER4B is just able to produce much more natural depth and imaging than the ER4S, which sounds flat and shallow by comparison. Playing back the extremely high dynamic range cannon blasts from 1812 overture (cincinnati pops/erich kunzel) with the orchestra turned up to about the same volume on each, with ER4S i didn't even flinch at the blast, while with ER4B I nearly jumped out of my seat. There's also a fantastic recording of Sarasate's Navarra on Youtube (Paul Huang) where the ER4B really excels on the dynamic shifts and separation between the two violins.

    However, after also EQing one into the other and comparing to the real thing, I am getting the feeling that the ER4S is overall more detailed and cleaner in the mids and highs. It's like the ER4B is starting to push the BA to its limits, and it shows. ER4S reveals more texture on cymbals, more "atmosphere" of the recording, and on fast metal it is less harsh and more coherent, even when I apply EQ to change it to approximately ER4B response. But it really noticeably lacks in dynamics, with everything sounding flat and boring, without all that much distinction between a fairly compressed metal track and a well recorded jazz album.

    But I'm not certain that er4b=less detailed impression im getting isn't just some weird psychoacoustic thing so I figured I'd ask around, specifically for impressions about the detail resolution of S vs B as well as the overall presentation and dynamics (not frequency response/tonality). One possible alternate explanation is that the better dynamics on er4b would tend to mask some of the low level detail because the fundamental sounds are that much more forward. But I'm no expert.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  6. JohnYang1997
    Actually you shouldn't hear difference if you did eq correctly. The result should be still from the difference of fr. While it's true that capacitors can have distortion but considering the distortion of the BA driver itself it makes little difference.
  7. Degru
    I EQ'd as close as I could from Rinchoi's measurements. The difference is most certainly not just FR, and it is obvious even when comparing without EQ. The electrical compensation of the ER4B lets it produce far better dynamics. If it was only FR, the ER4B would sound thinner in the bass, not much more substantial like I am hearing. Indeed, ER4S -> B EQ does sound thinner like you would expect if it was only an FR difference.
  8. JohnYang1997
    That's still fr. The rc network is just an physical eq. There is no reason to change sound in any other way. 1db of change in fr will result in huge difference. Only when it's matched under 0.2db then it's difficult to tell the difference. Are you sure you eqed to that precision. Even two pairs of er4s can sound different. +-1db is not small to make audible difference. Just remember, until you completely eliminate the effect of fr, you can't say it's something else.
  9. Degru
    By this logic, the er4b in stock form should have thinner sounding bass because it has more treble/less bass quantity, right? Well, in reality it is quite the opposite. B is brighter in tonality yes but the bass is much more full bodied and impactful compared to the S. Frequency response and distortion are not even close to fully describing how a headphone actually sounds, they're just the easiest parameters to measure. We still don't have a quantifiable objective measurement of detail resolution, yet it's obviously a thing that we can hear.

    And hardware filter based equalization applied directly to the headphone is most certainly different from software EQ, because it interacts with the electrical characteristics of the driver and affects how it behaves. Software EQ is still putting signal into the same topology and would not make any difference besides FR. If they were the same, we would be able to EQ any headphone into any other headphone using software, and that is certainly not something we can do.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  10. JohnYang1997
    Well they do. It's actually well established fact in audio science. Fr include almost all details of a device. In signal processing any linear system can be described with a impulse response which is equivalent to fr. In control system, a system can be modeled with a step/bump input signal. In audio research, one can't reliably tell distortion under 0.1% while for all trained listeners 0.2db difference is very easy to tell. To put into perspective 0.1% is 0.008dB. For any given system, it can be seen as a linear system + nonlinearities. Nonlinearity = distortion. Just accept the fact that your eq wasn't perfect. Hence causing issue. Also what kind of eq were you using. You have to use minimum phase eq otherwise will cause excess phase which can be audible.
  11. Degru
    I would encourage you to attempt to EQ S to B or the other way in software only to however exacting spec you desire. You will realize rather quickly that your assumption here is wrong.
  12. JohnYang1997
    I have done these two years ago. I can match response between p s and b. If you conduct a well controlled test, you won't hear a difference. I'm not saying you are not hearing a difference but it's the eq that's causing the issue. It's simply not good enough.
  13. JohnYang1997
    Meet these requirements:
    1 Using the same measurement equipment with same insertion depth when measuring the drew response.
    2 Measure the exact drivers not only the same model.
    3 Use minimum phase eq.
    4 Eq to less than 0.2dB difference.
    If you cannot meet every single requirement above of course you will hear a difference. Very simple.
  14. Degru
    I would appreciate if you could provide exact PEQ or Equalizer APO graphic EQ settings between S and B so I could test this myself.
  15. JohnYang1997
    Equalizer APO should work. I'll try to get you a few eq settings as I don't have er4b anymore. You need to make sure the output impedance of your amplifier is low. Otherwise there will be difference with er4b (higher output impedance = darker sound for the rc network). And the difference between each pair is large enough to be audible. Keep that in mind.
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