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

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  1. WilcoRoger
    I'd say the ER3 series offer the best bang for the buck.
  2. Killcomic
    How much better would you say the ER4XR is over the ER3XR?
    Although I wasn't quite thrilled with ther ER3XR to start with, I'm kind of in love with it now.
    I'm really curious about ther ER4XR now.
  3. episiarch Contributor
    I think amplification is a big part of the picture. In my experience (longtime desktop amp user) Etys benefit from from good driving power much more than one might expect given that they’re BA IEMs. So my ranking of which is better is it depends.

    From a weaker source (for me phones and BTR3 are in this category) IMO ER2SE > ER3SE >> ER4SR. ER2SE sounds just great. There's just not the power to bring 3 fully awake, and 4 just really isn’t its full self at all.

    From an “in between” source (specifically my current-model MacBook Pro) IMO ER3SE is the best. ER4SR still isn’t fully awake. ER2SE is still great, but IMO not as good as a properly driven ER3SE.

    From a real amp (doesn’t have to be exotic, just good linearity, full bandwidth and a bit more driving power – even a Fulla 2 or a BTR5 (though I only heard a prototype – will do), ER4SR takes the crown for me. ER3SE is next, but it’s a matter of taste – I hear ER4SR as more “correct” but ER3SE as slightly sweeter and more relaxing. And ER2SE is still great, but for me it’s not at the same level as 3 or 4 when they’re properly driven.

    (I know this was actually an XR question, but the 4XR Just Sounded Wrong to me (as did the old 4P) so I don’t own any X models.)
    Killcomic and G_T_J like this.
  4. G_T_J
    Agree with Michael. My ER4XR are quite picky with amplification and need a fairly powerful output to shine.
    episiarch likes this.
  5. Killcomic
    Cool, thanks for that!
    episiarch likes this.
  6. luisdent
    Deeper.... deeeeeeper.... ! :wink: :wink:
  7. castleofargh Contributor
    No they don't!
    When audiophiles are in the market for a new amp, they usually look to get something that will be able to handle at least 115dB SPL into whatever transducer they plan to use with it. they do that because there is almost no situation that could require more. For the er4sr 115dB SPL that's about 11mW into 45ohm at 1kHz. POWER!!!!!!!!!
    While you can find a few old devices(at least 1 or 2 Sony DAPs) that can't even get 11mW per channel into that load, such stupid devices are hard to find nowadays. Almost any audio device, cellphone, portable amp you can purchase will handle 11mW into 45ohm like it's nothing.
    And that's the power to get 115dB SPL at 1kHz. With Ety, 3kHz is going to be like 10dB louder. Who wants to listen to music with 125dB peaks? Not me. Most people will use their devices to listen at levels that will massively reduce the actual power flowing into the IEM. On my DAP, set as I just used this afternoon with the er4sr, I land an impressive 0.13mW(yes, milliwatt) at 1kHz. And again it's 45ohm, not a difficult load at all. Most portable devices will have a perfectly fine damping ratio into this. So maybe you can understand why my head blows up when I read your post trying to emphasize power for that IEM? Because it's crazy.

    If you mean something like keeping the signal linear thanks to good damping, stable amp output or whatever idea like that, the correlation you're looking to establish is probably about distortions instead of power. If you think about noise, say noise. If you have no idea what's actually causing your subjective impressions, say that. Most people don't know jack crap about electricity or other objective audio stuff, and they live very well that way. Or IDK, say how in your opinion better devices are better. We won't be learning much but at least it's a statement I can stand behind.
    hsdw, briank996 and royneo like this.
  8. guicnovaes
    Great explanation. Very good to see people like you knocking down myths like this.
    Just for add: An amp only will improve the sound of Headphone/IEM when supply the need power by it. This is very simple. There are calculators on sites to do this.
  9. headenvelopedinsound
    Yup agreed to all of the above. I like this one as it gives some examples at the bottom of some common devices. https://www.headphonesty.com/headphone-power-calculator/

    I think the main issue with determining sufficient power/voltage is knowing what the sensitivity is speced as. If it’s MW or Vrms. Most will post this but some just leave you guessing.

    to my understanding er2/3/4 are all measured in vrms. If I am incorrect freely correct/educate me. That piece to the puzzle is vital to using these calculators and getting a solid estimation.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
  10. TheoS53
    I usually find that when people hear drastic differences between amps they have either not properly volume-matched them, or they haven't accounted for the fact that the frequency response of the headphone/iem could change substantially due to the effect that the output impedance of the amp could have on the driver/BA.
    Or, I suppose all else being equal, a more powerful amp should be able to handle the bass frequencies (especially the really low sub bass) a bit better considering that those frequencies would, relatively speaking, require the amp to output x amount of power for a longer period of time than what would be required for higher frequencies.
  11. episiarch Contributor
    SPL is a poor metric for whether enough power is being supplied to drive a transducer accurately.

    Statement: in my experience Ety sound quality is strongly correlated with amp driving power up to a point (which seems to be a little above 100mW for ER4SR, but opinions may differ). Thoughtful listeners can try the experiment themselves and see if it holds true for them. In the meantime, I've been trying to provide a possibly useful guide to a prospective Ety purchaser who is unsure which model will work for them. They are of course best served by hearing the differences for themselves. Absent that, it's worthwhile for them to hear a variety of opinions – even those that don't accord with your (notably high SPL) opinions.
  12. castleofargh Contributor
    The SPL output at the IEM is literally how a listener decides the amount of power being used. You call the starting point of knowing anything about power requirements, a poor metric. That's not good.
  13. castleofargh Contributor
    By "people like you", you mean left handed and bald? :deadhorse:

    Not all amp sections are equal or even designed for the same range of loads and power outputs. So differences into a given load at a given output can happen and will be whatever the laws of physics make them. If it's audible, then it is.

    But an IEM that needs very little power even to be loud, will use very little power even to play music loudly. That part probably won't magically change. So concerns over power suddenly seem less relevant while other factors simply tend not to be called power ^_^. Let's remember that we're discussing with people who use completely different amps or a DAP vs a DAP+portable amp. Just because some decide to jump to conclusion about max power output correlating with sound changes, doesn't means we can't find 3 dozen at least as valid correlations within the potential hundreds of differences between amps. And the smaller the number of amps tested, the more correlations we'll find with close to zero statistical value. But we can still find them and also decide to arbitrarily make them significant for the wrong reasons.

    Obviously as a left handed guy, I'm highly skeptical of the listening experiences that allegedly revealed those correlations between power and sound. I can't say that I have seen members of this forum spending too much time sharing their tips about the best ways to level match devices and run controlled listening test. :imp:
  14. headenvelopedinsound
    Well I didn’t mean to take part in a big distracting subject. But overall I only listen to music at around 75-85db and my Focusrite Forte drives all my headphones and iems appropriately both mW and Voltage wise.

    Now onto something totally different. A tip on Tips. I have tried all the stock tips the Etys come with. They are good and all but I was experimenting and found that my set of Westone green foams work amazingly well. The are some of the most comfortable foams I’ve tried anyway but they allow me to insert them fully just like the tri-flange. Just putting it out there. If you have a pair around give them a go. Very comfortable, able to fully insert, and serious noise isolation.
  15. Killcomic
    To be honest, the only thing I found to make a difference with IEMs is impedance and how noisy the source us.
    Amps only affect loudness, unless the amp is colouring the sound somehow.
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