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Etymotic ER2XR Review (IEM)

Earfonia

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01 P1430303a.jpg


02 P1430309a.jpg 03 P1430325a.jpg 04 P1430311.jpg 05 P1430336a.jpg 06 P1430332a.jpg 07 Box.jpg

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Etymotic ER2XR (Extended Response) is one of my favorite IEM from Etymotic that doesn't need any introduction. I bought this pair from a local shop around 2 years ago. It is a deep insertion micro dynamic driver design with almost ruler flat impedance across the audio band. And the most important feature is, it sounds pretty good.

Pros:​

ER2XR has 2 essential features for pro audio and on-stage applications:
  • Very high passive noise isolation (35-42dB) from the deep insertion design. Essential as hearing protection for an on-stage performer.
  • Close to ruler flat impedance (15 ohms) ensures consistent tonality with various audio equipment regardless of the headphone output impedance.

Cons:​

  • Designed for deep insertion into the ear canal, may not be suitable for everyone.
  • Very difficult to identify the Left and Right channels in a dimly lit environment. Very small black on black L/R sign on the Left and Right channels. There is no 'Left Dot' indicator on the Left channel connector.
  • Total harmonic distortion is on the higher side of average THD from all the IEMs that I’ve measured.

Suggestions:​

  • On tonality, to add a slight bump around the 4.5kHz treble area to improve perceived clarity, and to increase the overall upper treble response to improve perceived transparency and spaciousness.
  • To add 'Left Dot' on the left channel connector for easy channel identification.



Sound Quality​

M01 ER2XR - EITC-2021 - Delta v2.png

*EITC-2021 is my frequency response target curve. More info about it here.

M02 Slide1.PNG

*Note: When there is no obvious treble peak (T1p) around the 4-5kHz area, SPL at 4400Hz is used as T1p value.

Bass to mids tonality sounds good, clean, balanced, and pretty close to my perceived neutral. Treble is good but can be improved. Treble is a tad on the softer side of neutral and sounds very smooth. Sometimes with a certain recording, it may sound a tad dull for me. I prefer the treble area around 4-5 kHz to have a slight peak like the ER4XR, as it will improve the perceived clarity. And the upper Treble extension is also a bit too soft for my taste and slightly lack the perceived airiness and spaciousness.

Overall, it sounds quite natural and balanced but frequency extensions at both ends, sub-bass and upper-treble, sound a bit too soft. That’s the main reason I rate it 7/10. If ER2XR has a better-perceived frequency extension at both ends I will rate it higher on tonality.

Perceived detail and clarity are OK, but not great. It doesn't sound dull or muddy, just lacking a bit of transparency and airiness. Dynamic is quite decent with good and clean-sounding bass. Pretty good bass attack and impact but lack a bit of sub-bass rumble. Overall, I do like the sound quality of ER2XR.

Comparisons to Etymotic ER4XR and ER2SE:
M03 Etymotic ER2XR, ER4XR, ER2SE - T1p.png


The hump around the 5kHz could be the reason for the better-perceived clarity on ER4XR.


Equalization to Match EITC-2021​

One of the objective of my EITC-2021 target curve is that it is a realistically achievable target curve by my measurement equipment, based on the real measurement and not just as an estimated target curve. To really test and experience an IEM with matching frequency response to EITC-2021 sounds like, I created an equalizer profile for ER2XR to match EITC-2021.

EITC-2021 (Blue curve) and Etymotic ER2XR (Right channel) FR after equalization to match EITC-2021 target curve (Red curve):
M04 Etymotic ER2XR equalized to match EITC-2021.png


To my ears, EITC-2021 equalization improves ER2XR perceived clarity and frequency extension at both ends. I use REW to create the equalizer profile based on the difference between ER2XR average response and EITC-2021. Then exported the equalizer profile as a text file to be loaded to Equalizer APO.

M05 Equalizer APO - Setting Steps.png


I attached the equalizer profile for ER2XR to match the EITC-2021 here, so anyone who would like to try EITC-2021 on their ER2XR can load it to Equalizer APO to test it. Please apply a -3dB gain to avoid clipping.



Engineering Quality​

Slide2.PNG


Disclaimer: The measurement results of the engineering quality measurement in this review represent only the pair of IEM that was measured for this review. It doesn’t represent the overall quality control of the factory.

Excellent left and right channel tracking. My unit has an overall 0.2-0.3dB matching from 20Hz-10kHz, with only 0.5 dB maximum at 5kHz.

M07 Etymotic ER2XR - LR Match.png



The impedance curve is almost ruler flat, with only a shallow bump, around 0.5ohms increase at 2580Hz.

M08 Etymotic ER2XR Impedance.png



Overall THD level of the Etymotic ER2XR is a bit higher than most IEMs that I’ve measured. Please take note that distortion measurement is not part of sound quality evaluation. It is only used to observe the engineering quality of the IEM.
Distortion measurement at 94 dB SPL at 500Hz:

M09 Etymotic ER2XR - Left - THD at 94 dB SPL.png


M10 Etymotic ER2XR - Right - THD at 94 dB SPL.png


Distortion measurement at 104 dB SPL at 500Hz:

M11 Etymotic ER2XR - Left - THD at 104 dB SPL.png


M12 Etymotic ER2XR - Right - THD at 104 dB SPL.png



The following is my rating criteria:
M13 Earfonia Rating Criteria.png



Fit, Comfort, & Build Quality​

All test is done using the ER2XR default medium triple flange ear tip. To me the fit and comfort are ok. The deep insertion design is surprisingly quite comfortable. What I mean is, I definitely feel something is stuck in my ear canal, but it doesn’t cause any pain. Even for a long session like an hour or more, I only need to readjust the position of the IEM a little bit every half an hour or so, but it doesn’t cause any discomfort until I must unplug it from my ears. I would say the level of comfort is around 7/10.

09 ER2XR in my ear.jpg


Build quality is generally good. I haven’t had any problem with the build quality. The cable is soft and flexible with sufficient thickness. The connector is custom MMCX so most 3rd party cables with MMCX won’t fit. Etymotic provided two spare green tuning filters (1500 Ohms) and the tool to replace it. Etymotic also sells a tuning kit for users to experience different FR with different tuning filters.

My biggest complaint is the left and right channel marking. It is almost impossible to see the marking in a dimly lit environment. The left dot as shown in the picture below has been implemented on many IEMs for many years, and I’m quite surprised why not all companies use this useful feature on their IEM cable.

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Metal Shell to Ground Pin Connection: No connection​



Recommendation:​

Suitable for applications where high level of noise isolation is important.


More information about my IEM Measurement Setup & Methodology:
Earfonia IEM Measurement Setup & Methodology


Advertised Technical Specifications:​

Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 16 kHz
Transducers: High performance moving coil dynamic driver
Noise Isolation: 35dB using silicone ear tips, 42dB using foam ear tips
Impedance: 15 Ohms @ 1kHz
Sensitivity: 96 dB @ 1kHz, 1mW
Maximum Output (SPL): 120 dB
Cable: Detachable 4 ft cable with MMCX connectors
User Replaceable ACCU-Filters: Yes
Warranty: 2 Years
Custom-Fit Option: Yes
 

Attachments

  • Etymotic ER2XR v1.1.txt.zip
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Vict0r

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Thanks for the review of these classics. They're not the best IEMs ever made, but they sure are the best ear dildos ever made.
 

JJB70

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Etymotic IEMs aren't for everyone, putting aside sound quality the deep insertion is not for everyone. However if you are OK with the insertion I find them truly superb, the ER4SR is my main listening tool though as can be seen I prefer the SR tuning. I find these better than ANC for flying etc, passive noise isolation is outstanding.
 

Merkurio

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Although better than the vast majority of IEMs out there, I don't like the ER2XR to be honest, very noticeable bloated bass with no so much air above to compensate.

Vastly prefer the ER2SE and of course, the ER4SR (which has been my main wired IEM for the last year, even though the fit tolerance is an acquired "sin").
 

2M2B

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Odd how the ER2XR is higher THD wise than the ER4XR, 0.7% vs 1.6%. I had the ER2XR the bass is quite muddy and the detail is weak compared to the ER4XR.
 

Fregly

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Er2se is actually closer to true neutral. The xr is bass heavy, though would be the preference for many, and is the least Etymotic of the Ety sound.
 
OP
Earfonia

Earfonia

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Odd how the ER2XR is higher THD wise than the ER4XR, 0.7% vs 1.6%. I had the ER2XR the bass is quite muddy and the detail is weak compared to the ER4XR.

If you don't mind, could you please try the equalizer profile that I made for the ER2XR and let me know what you think about the target curve?
Thank you!
 

Attachments

  • Etymotic ER2XR v1.1.txt.zip
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OP
Earfonia

Earfonia

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Er2se is actually closer to true neutral. The xr is bass heavy, though would be the preference for many, and is the least Etymotic of the Ety sound.

I'm not sure about it. I had ER2SE for few months and to me the bass level is below neutral.
I do recording weekly, mostly piano and vocal. When listening to raw recorded file of piano, without the boosted bass like shown in my target curve, the piano doesn't sound like piano. Without the bass elevation, the raw piano recording sounds so thin lacking the weight and size of real piano sound. This I'm talking about raw recorded track without post processing. And I already use large diaphragm condenser to capture the bass frequency of the piano. For post processed recording, yea bass level is a matter of personal taste.
 

2M2B

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If you don't mind, could you please try the equalizer profile that I made for the ER2XR and let me know what you think about the target curve?
Thank you!
I've got a ER2SE & ER4XR, Will try It when I'm not busy offline. Gonna use the ER4XR since the BA driver still sound very detailed even with the 2XR bass boost if I'm being honest.

Going back to THD It weird how 2XR rates at 2.5% at 104db & 1.2% at 94db, When the vast majority of Reddit just assumed cause It DD it will be <0.19%.
 
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OP
Earfonia

Earfonia

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I've got a ER2SE & ER4XR, Will try It when I'm not busy offline. Gonna use the ER4XR since the BA driver still sound very detailed even with the 2XR bass boost.

The main correction is actually on the 4-5kHz treble peak which is already present in ER4XR but absent on ER2XR and ER2SE. So I guess it will make more sense to try it on the ER2SE instead. Thanks!

M03 Etymotic ER2XR, ER4XR, ER2SE - T1p.png


So the EQ profile will actually make the ER2SE sounds more like the ER4XR.
 

2M2B

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The main correction is actually on the 4-5kHz treble peak which is already present in ER4XR but absent on ER2XR and ER2SE. So I guess it will make more sense to try it on the ER2SE instead. Thanks!

View attachment 178198

So the EQ profile will actually make the ER2SE sounds more like the ER4XR.
I try that soon since the ER2SE Is what I use when outside, Since the driver in seems to sound better than the one in the 2XR.
 

Dealux

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There is no lack of air actually. I think the lack in treble response is between 5-8K which is why they sound kinda thin and like the edges of instruments are trimmed off. You can get more air in the treble with the right insertion depth than most IEMs but you can't fix the lack of lower treble amount unfortunately. EQ might help but sometimes that can add harshness.
 

Fregly

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I'm not sure about it. I had ER2SE for few months and to me the bass level is below neutral.
I do recording weekly, mostly piano and vocal. When listening to raw recorded file of piano, without the boosted bass like shown in my target curve, the piano doesn't sound like piano. Without the bass elevation, the raw piano recording sounds so thin lacking the weight and size of real piano sound. This I'm talking about raw recorded track without post processing. And I already use large diaphragm condenser to capture the bass frequency of the piano. For post processed recording, yea bass level is a matter of personal taste.
I don't doubt you are hearing what you are hearing. My ears get bass enhancement from Harmon curves, across recordings and raw mic feeds. Even with the Er2se and Er4sr if I turn up the sound just below too loud, with proper insertion depth, the lows seem a litttle north of neutral. Is it just my physiology? When Amir does eq correction of headphones -- I would not be able to listen to that preference......
 
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Earfonia

Earfonia

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I don't doubt you are hearing what you are hearing. My ears get bass enhancement from Harmon curves, across recordings and raw mic feeds. Even with the Er2se and Er4sr if I turn up the sound just below too loud, with proper insertion depth, the lows seem a litttle north of neutral. Is it just my physiology? When Amir does eq correction of headphones -- I would not be able to listen to that preference......

Right. I observed quite a big discrepancy on bass level preference between individual. Really interesting to know the science behind it. Basically the science of HRTF.
 

2M2B

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Woah that EQ bit freaky, The ER2SE sounds like the ER4XR detail wise in mids/treble with bit more meat in bass from It being DD based.

ER2SE = Seems to respond to the EQ, But still has that DD decay and the still has a weird timbre in the upper mids to treble(17KHz). Fine for a casual IEM but the ER4XR sounds like a planar HP bass decay wise & wins on pure treble detail. Don't think there a real 7KHz dip but the ER4XR/SR seem to respond well to a 6KHz High shelf of 3db better.

The ER4XR only sounds leaner because It doesn't seem force bass quantity on everything & doesn't seem to choke when things get very fast(over 220 bpm) like with Dynamic drivers.
 
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MRC01

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I recently measured my old Etymotic ER6 with a MiniDSP EARS. Interesting to compare results:
Subjectively, I find them to have a midrange focused voicing attenuating both the bottom & top octaves. Great clarity yet lacking "air". The term that comes to mind is "analytical". They have low distortion and respond well to EQ, especially a gentle bass lift; the bass is all there and clean, just attenuated and when you boost it, it doesn't get wooly or soft like it does with most other headphones.
 
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Earfonia

Earfonia

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Woah that EQ bit freaky, The ER2SE sounds like the ER4XR detail wise in mids/treble with bit more meat in bass from It being DD based.

ER2SE = Seems to respond to the EQ, But still has that DD decay and the still has a weird timbre in the upper mids to treble(17KHz). Fine for a casual IEM but the ER4XR sounds like a planar HP bass decay wise & wins on pure treble detail. Don't think there a real 7KHz dip but the ER4XR/SR seem to respond well to a 6KHz High shelf of 3db better.

The ER4XR only sounds leaner because It doesn't seem force bass quantity on everything & doesn't seem to choke when things get very fast(over 220 bpm) like with Dynamic drivers.

Thank you! So the effect of the EQ sounds quite positive?
 

2M2B

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Thank you! So the effect of the EQ sounds quite positive?
Yeah really helps the mid range, Noticed before the 4.5KHz area and above 10KHz seems to be lacking despite FR charts saying the ER2SE should be brighter than the ER4XR?. Also It seems like ER4XR/ER2XR are proof THD doesn't really mean much since I never noticed any issues on both.

The ER4XR still sounds crystal clear like the ER4SR in the mid range.
 
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thunderchicken

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I've had a bunch of Etys over the years, from the HF5 to the ER2, 3, and ER4XR. Nothing else comes close to the isolation and the sound quality is excellent. My only real complaint is a lack of bass compared to other IEMs, but that's easy enough to fix with EQ. For riding motorcycles, these are the best possible solution for hearing protection and music/navigation/communication. Would not trade them :)
 

2M2B

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I've had a bunch of Etys over the years, from the HF5 to the ER2, 3, and ER4XR. Nothing else comes close to the isolation and the sound quality is excellent. My only real complaint is a lack of bass compared to other IEMs, but that's easy enough to fix with EQ. For riding motorcycles, these are the best possible solution for hearing protection and music/navigation/communication. Would not trade them :)
I love how well they respond to a bass boost you can do 4 ~ 8db they sound fantastic for Electronic, Dark ambient, metal while being Single BA.
 
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