Kings of readability: Etymotic ER4 in-ear headphones

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Etymotic pioneered in-ear headphones within the mid-1980s, many years earlier than different headphone corporations adopted its lead. Its ER4 mannequin debuted in 1991, and it remained the corporate’s flagship mannequin, with solely slight modifications, till lately. The all-new ER4 SR (Studio Reference) and ER4 XR (Prolonged Response) construct on the unique’s strengths, however they nonetheless sound very very like the sooner ER4s, and that is a superb factor.

The Etymotic ER4 XR in-ear headphones 


It is a full redesign, the ER4 SR and ‘XR’s single balanced armature drivers are all-new, CNC machined metallic earpieces have changed the outdated molded black plastic ones, and the headphones now sport user-replaceable cables fitted with MMCX connectors. Impedance is rated at 45 ohms. The ER4 XR and SR are made within the USA, they usually include two yr warranties.

Earlier than I get to the sound. I’ve to let you know the ER4 SR and XR ($349, £360, AU$599) are absolutely the champs at blocking exterior noise. They’re not noise-canceling headphones that use electronics (and due to this fact batteries) to hush noise. No, the ER4s’ silicone or foam ear suggestions quiet the exterior racket by creating a greater, deeper-in-the-ear seal than different common match in-ear designs. I discover the noise hushing on par or higher than earphones which can be customized molded to my ear, Etymotic claims as much as 42dB of noise isolation!

Some customers could discover deep insertion uncomfortable, I don’t. The opposite massive benefit of deep insertion is that the match is remarkably safe. Throughout all my years of sporting ER4 headphones they by no means as soon as unintentionally fell out! So the ER4 is a superb headphone to journey with — from the noisy New York subway to once I fly, the ER4 does an awesome job hushing the din. Oh, and the ER4 SR and XR additionally sound higher than any noise-canceling in-ear headphones I’ve heard so far.

Evaluating the ER4 SR and ER4 XR, the sound variations between the 2 with Badbadnotgood’s “Bitter Soul” album of moody/jazzy instrumentals was apparent: the ER4 XR gooses up the bass a wee bit. The ER4 SR is extra neutrally balanced, and if you happen to plan on listening principally at house, its benefit of a straight-down-the-middle frequency response will come into play. That’s, the ER4 SR is the extra correct of the 2 headphones. Exterior, when touring or on the road, the ER4 XR’s richer steadiness sounds higher to me than the SR’s. Each fashions rating massive with decision; they’re extraordinarily clear.

I picked the Logitech UE 900 in-ears for an additional spherical of comparisons. This mannequin has additionally been round for some time for good purpose, it is an awesome headphone. It has 4 balanced armature drivers per earpiece whereas the ER4 XR has only one, so I used to be anticipating the UE 900 would clobber the ER4 XR’s bass oomph and fullness. It did, however not by all that a lot, and it could not contact ER4 XR’s readability — the UE 900’s total sound was softer and blurrier. The UE 900’s sound was additionally much less open, extra caught inside my head than it was with the ER4 XR. Stereo imaging was additionally extra exactly centered than the UE 900s. 

The Etymotic ER4 SR and XR in-ear headphones will enchantment to audiophiles, or anybody with a hankering for readability that is simply not accessible from different equally priced in-ear headphones. Etymotics are additionally constructed to final. I do know people nonetheless utilizing ER4s they purchased 10-plus years in the past!

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