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UM2 vs ER-4P

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by donaldekelly, Mar 31, 2005.
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  1. donaldekelly Contributor
    With summer coming on I am not sure my HD280s are going to work outside very well. Any preferences between these two or similar canal phones?

    I like classical and rock and some folk music - no real preferences. I think I like brighter headphones as opposed to laid back phones. But bass is important, too.

    **Source is an IRiver 320. It has some equalizing capabilities bass, treble, pinpointed bass (40 or 60 or 80 or 100 Hz) and a lot of preset settings.**

    USD prices:
    Etymotic ER-4P $239 at headroom
    Westone UM2 $275 on ebay

    I did some searching. Anything to add to the quotes below?

    Catscratch back on 3-19-05:
    "Maybe you can try the UM2. It'll be a bit warmer with a bit more bass, though less detail and instrument separation. Not better than the ER-4, but a different sound."

    and on 3-21-05
    "If you want an unamped system, go for the ER-4P. It will have some problems - it's treble is a bit too bright and sparkly and it has some upper midrange glare that I really don't like - but on the whole it's the best unamped portable for acoustic music. The e5c has a tonal balance that's more suited to heavier, electronic or electronically amplified music like rock, while the UM2 is somewhere in between the ER-4P and the e5c."

    Benjamind 3-25-05:
    "You should save up and get Westone UM2, which go for $329. These are majestic sounding canalphones. In my canalphone experience, the Shure and Etymotics can't touch the Westone UM2."

    and on 3-23-05
    "For me, the UM2 came the closest to the audiophile quality sound while maintaining complete and total musicality, with a rich balanced sound, without being too bright or too warm. The ER-4P and ER-6i and E5c had some sort of deficiency, to my ears the UM2s had the most complete sound and top-notch frequency response. From the lowest lows, to the highest highs. The very top-edge of the high-end does roll-off but it wasn't noticeable to me. Percussion just never sounded so good!

    The ER4P and 6i suffered from a lack of bass depth and richness and the sound was sort of cold and sterile in comparison to the UM2s, and I was getting a decent seal with the Etymotics. The Etymotics are still top-notch earphones, but the UM2s will chew them and spit them out. The E5c had noticeably rolled-off high end, and also suffered from an emphasised midrange which seemed to come out too much. The UM2 chews the E5c and spits it out too. UM2 simply has better midrange and treble than E5c because it's more balanced, there is no emphasis at all that I detected with my ears and I ran all sorts of instrument sample tests. Nothing was exaggerated or recessed, it was almost flawless. The bass was as good as it gets with canalphones, at least the ones I tested."

    Steel102 on 3-21-05
    "...For classical music, you should be fine with either the er-4p, or the er-4s(if you want to invest in an amp..). Ety's excel at classical music. chances are you won't like the e5's because of the lack of highs. the um2's also exhibit this to some extent."

    Dotyman on 3-22-05
    "btw, I demo'd the Etys against the E3Cs, E5s and the UM2s before buying and the Etys are much better suited to audiophile sound. The Shures and the Westones (original maker of the Shures) have intentionally rolled-off highs for professional musician applications."
     
  2. donaldekelly Contributor
    Maybe - to be more specific:

    Is the bass missing too much in the ety 4Ps?

    Is the treble missing too much in the UM2s?

    How do the mids compare?

    Detail and separation seem to favor the etys, as does price.
     
  3. Imyourzero
    I found that you can EQ the UM2s to sound more Ety-like, but I was never able to EQ the bass of the Etys to be as present and visceral as that of the UM2s. The Etys have decent (and very musical) bass when you get a good seal, but the fact is that the UM2s are much warmer sounding canalphones. Their bass is more subwoofer-like, if you will, and the highs seem recessed due to all this additional warmth. You can bring them out again with the EQ, though.
     
  4. Jmmmmm Contributor
    It also depends on your source. I found the um2's the best with the treble booster on the ipod, while I am not able to get as much ("good") treble using the karma, imo. Perhaps a better source will be able to bring out the treble more on the um2's. I haven't used the er4's, but if someone said detail favors the etys, while bass favors the um2's, I wouldn't be surprised.
     
  5. Imyourzero
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Jmmmmm
    if someone said detail favors the etys, while bass favors the um2's, I wouldn't be surprised.



    That's pretty much the truth. And I agree that the source will affect the overall sound...
     
  6. hackeron
    Well, on the E5:
    1) Emphasized subwoofer-like bass, no mid bass hump like the E3.
    2) I dont notice an emphasis on the mids like with the E3
    3) Crystal clear highs on an envy24HT based sound card, too bright on an Iops MPF350.

    While I agree the highs seem very rolled off on a crap source, *cough*ipod*cough*, I noticed things sound very atmospheric and open on an m-audio sound card - soundstage is huge as apposed to non existent on the sblive.

    The headphones are coloured in the bass, so I wouldnt call them balanced, but they are as musical as they come without sounding fake.

    Other than that, they capture air unlike the etys that just sound too sterile. Havent heard the westones, but those seem to be recommended over the E5s by many because of 1) a more neutral sound 2) more flexible chord. Beware about them not being as durable however.
     
  7. MKAL Contributor
    I really cannot understand the UM2 craze. I started with the ER-4 and thought that I was missing something after hearing all the UM2 hype, so I ordered a pair. While there is certainly more bass, it seems less textured. The whole presentation is fuller while at the same type less lively. It sounds like a monitor rather than a headphone. This is with the Karma, sometimes used in combination with an SR-71.
     
  8. Imyourzero
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MKAL
    I really cannot understand the UM2 craze. I started with the ER-4 and thought that I was missing something after hearing all the UM2 hype, so I ordered a pair. While there is certainly more bass, it seems less textured. The whole presentation is fuller while at the same type less lively.



    I agree, and to me they sounded more congested. Voices sounded more muffled and like I said, things in the high end like cymbals weren't as detailed or as prominent.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MKAL
    It sounds like a monitor rather than a headphone.



    It IS a monitor. Westone doesn't call them canalphones, they call them "in-ear monitors" or IEMs. [​IMG]
     
  9. robk
    If you are willing to add an amp, the SM3 really brings the ER-4Ps to life. I liked my Etys before I got the amp, but I LOVE them with it. To be fair, I have not heard the UM2, but I like the detail of the ER-4Ps too much to give that up.

    rob
     
  10. boodi
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MKAL
    ..after hearing all the UM2 hype, so I ordered a pair. While there is certainly more bass, it seems less textured. The whole presentation is fuller while at the same type less lively. It sounds like a monitor rather than a headphone.



    ...your own words.. and then you ask why they've been hyped..
     
  11. MKAL Contributor
    Boodi, I am not quite sure what you are are referencing, but I am guessing it is monitor. By this I mean something that is geared more towards a live performer rather someone who is simply trying to enjoy music. My comments are made taking into consideration the price tag of the UM2, for which I feel one can do better. IMHO the ety's finer points are more special than those of the UM2.

    Edit: Yes I realize that Westone calls them a monitor and not a canalphone. As a relative newbie to the headphone world, I thought the term was more of a nominal distinction than a real one until I heard the UM2 in comparison to the Ety. I guess it just depends what you are looking for, as there is certainly a difference between canalphone and monitor in terms of these two.
     
  12. boodi
    Hi MKAL

    I'm not going into subtilities about Um2 , since I have them from 3 weeks now and still can't express and fullfill a definitive opinion on.. anyhow , for me and imo , Um2 are really worth near double the price I paid for them at this point.
    I know I am one of the most positively impressed persons here about them , and I don't have a long canalphone journey too ( just er4 and sharp md33 ) .
    Um2 properly equalized through the Karma can reach a detail level on high frq.s that is close to the one offered by er4, having the er4 still the edge on this. Anyhow what the Um2 offer more is another world - that is : a rich and full frq. answer, a very neutral and forgiving presentation that preserve some fine/texturing details, a good musical stage ( bass go low and expand very well the space).

    The sibilants referring to Um2 .. well I can see where they point but man , I wear this headphones for hours with joy and when i get them off after hours I'm not fatigued ..so it's not a serious point to take in conisderation imo , probably people noticing the sibilants have had a bad synergy ( I've used Um2 with 4 sources now and with amp/no amp and really hardly noticed fatiguing sibilants )

    If i didn't knew there were UE pro 10 / Westone ES3 / Sensaphonics 2x pro somehwhere wiating for me my quest for quality portable after trying some nice portable cans would have probably ended here , and nearly very happy.

    Anyhow what do you source the Um2 from ?
     
  13. MKAL Contributor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MKAL
    This is with the Karma, sometimes used in combination with an SR-71.



    Boodi, I am glad you found a sound that works well for you. It sounds like a lot of other people are similarly satisfied. For me though, I am more of a Grado and Ety man.
     
  14. boodi
    just to give a point of reference ( my point ) for Um2 , I'd say the best virtue they have is the balance among details/stage/bass/ and naturality.

    I really couldn't expect more from them in terms of general audio satisfaction , plugging them on my Karma , equalizing the forw. middles of the Karma and giving the extra edge a nice ppa can add give an audio experience that's not very distant from sitting, wearing hd650 for a time and being stucked there linked to your source - great audio , but when you can have probably 80% of that greatness on the go you easily choose the compromise. At least for me the decision is easy, and seeing how much portable gears are improving lately my direction on portable audio gears is marked quite clearly; and happily too since I'm much more on the go then static currently in my everyday life .

    Another thing I'd like to point : the kind of details the Um2 are capable is not on the level od hd650 but not so incredibly far from too . Hd650 excel on stage , positioning , naturality and warmness of tone. All this things are done with the extrafine warm nuances and details they're capable of in all the regions , bass middles and highs.
    Again the balance the Um2 expose , united to portability , united to the great bass they're capable of ( and only when bass is recorded in the recordings ) that can at your liking be tweaked and reach enormous dimensions with a bass boost ppa -and this is possible because of the cans that can reach there low and nicely- , again united to the fact they do create a stage to my ears, and that's quite an impressive stage on some tracks where's supposed to expand, like in electronic ( for ex. Vangelis Blade Runner OST , or Depeche Mode SOFAD which I'm listening lately - and quite many other electr. tracks I've gone through )
    - all this , and I'm not saying they're perfect .. just I really can't see how much can a 270$ portable headphone set be a much better choice , again for my ears , in my opinion and for the price.
     
  15. boodi
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MKAL
    Boodi, I am glad you found a sound that works well for you. It sounds like a lot of other people are similarly satisfied. For me though, I am more of a Grado and Ety man.



    I well understand this ..
    in fact I'm not much a grado-man while I can see how people might like the grado sound , and I well understand that some ears can need gradoesque presentations while others are in search for something different on the long term ..for ex. neutralizers cans wich still offers a great musicality..

    it's probably both a matter of expectation and of personal likings

    for example , take classical , I can't stand the lack of 3d dimensions the grado line ( generally speaking of sub rs1 models ) suffer from - while I definitely can see how some ears are not interested in any way in having dimensions , and maybe nor are interested in classical.

    But while I know of a bunch who fully enjoy rocks / electronica and other music on Senns ( and on UEpro10 just to give another example ) I'm still missing the person who enjoy classical better on grados then on Senns.
    In the same way I understand why one can be used to that extra enjoyment the grado give on some kind of fast prat music.
     
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