• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Etymotic ER4XR IEM Review

Rate this IEM:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 39 24.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 71 45.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 32 20.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 15 9.6%

  • Total voters
    157
A question I’m really curious about: what’s the *#*%¥ about bass and Ety’s deep insertion?
I’ve read eternal flames theories about: deep insertion = better contact with the “bony” part of the ear canal = no need for that much bass…

Is there any truth to that? Is it flat out wrong and it’s only about noise isolation? Or is it some trade secret you can’t discuss? :D
In my experience with a flat Ety and a bass-shelf Ety, it's pure wishful thinking.
 
For those troubled by the deep insert, I used to use the foam inserts but switched to the silicon with one modification: with an exacto knife, I cut the tip off - the smallest of the three flanges, The wider two still give a proper seal and by removing the tip, the insertion is not as intrusive. Works great for my ears.

Also, one thing that is forgotten here is that these are some of the best exercising headphones as once inserted for running or cycling, they do not fall off. Now that everything is wireless, I use them with a Qudelix 5K.
 
A question I’m really curious about: what’s the *#*%¥ about bass and Ety’s deep insertion?
I’ve read eternal flames theories about: deep insertion = better contact with the “bony” part of the ear canal = no need for that much bass…

Is there any truth to that? Is it flat out wrong and it’s only about noise isolation? Or is it some trade secret you can’t discuss? :D

The deep insertion is for better isolation, but you do need a good seal as leaks will cause a low-frequency roll-off. Any verbiage I've ever seen about the bony portion of the ear canal was in reference to isolation, of which Etymotic does get a bit more (verified by third party labs).

As far as frequencies go, deep insertion will have a pronounced effect on the upper mids and high frequencies, however. Insertion depth makes a big difference. Shallow insertion will yield an overall frequency balance that is different than you would get with a deep insertion (and different from our published graphs). So the tonal balance does shift when it's pushed in deeper, which may be what some folks are describing.

When I was at Etymotic, one of the primary complaints we got from customers was that it didn't have enough bass. Many of these customers simply weren't getting a good seal, so I am sure it did sound pretty bad. Many, if not most, were happy once they figured out how to get a good, deep seal. Of course, some folks understandably want more bass, even when they do achieve a seal, which is fine as well.
 
The deep insertion is for better isolation, but you do need a good seal as leaks will cause a low-frequency roll-off. Any verbiage I've ever seen about the bony portion of the ear canal was in reference to isolation, of which Etymotic does get a bit more (verified by third party labs).

As far as frequencies go, deep insertion will have a pronounced effect on the upper mids and high frequencies, however. Insertion depth makes a big difference. Shallow insertion will yield an overall frequency balance that is different than you would get with a deep insertion (and different from our published graphs). So the tonal balance does shift when it's pushed in deeper, which may be what some folks are describing.

When I was at Etymotic, one of the primary complaints we got from customers was that it didn't have enough bass. Many of these customers simply weren't getting a good seal, so I am sure it did sound pretty bad. Many, if not most, were happy once they figured out how to get a good, deep seal. Of course, some folks understandably want more bass, even when they do achieve a seal, which is fine as well.
You did a decent job on them. I really liked the midrange when I had them. I found it to be smooth and clear and also good decision on bringing the treble down that certainly helped the overall tone. They were slightly bass light, but they did have an effortless clarity that I enjoyed very much. Thank you for making this iem.
 
No idea why people are freaking out that the ER4XR is 0.98 ~ 1.6% at 1KHz/104db. When the ER4SR is 0.2 ~ 0.5% at 1KHz/104db can handle a full 12db bass lift(on 4XR that 6db 105Hz low shelf) no issue.

ER4SR is much better showing for what a Single BA can do. My ER4SR unit rates <0.4% at 1KHz/104db.
 
IMO one of the better sounding IEMs if not the best. I personally place more importance on hearing an accurate reproduction of the recording rather than "seasoning" the sound to my taste. I want to hear what the engineer intended rather than taking a recording and saying, it needs a little more salt or more pepper. One of the benefits of high isolation IEMs is you can listen at low levels because they are literally earplugs and block outside sound. The distortion numbers are meaningless because no one listens to it that loud without damaging their hearing. We are living in an age now where it's time to start balancing the left and right sides of the brain and stop being over-reliant on the left side and placing so much weight on numbers and graphs.
 
Got a real soft spot for Etymotic. The ER4P/S were my first "real" IEMs and served as my standard for years. It wasn't until Shure released the E4C that I found an IEM I liked better overall. Since then I've been in the Shure camp with the SE846 w/ TW2 as my workout/travel set and KSE1200 as my reference IEM.
 
IMO one of the better sounding IEMs if not the best. I personally place more importance on hearing an accurate reproduction of the recording rather than "seasoning" the sound to my taste. I want to hear what the engineer intended rather than taking a recording and saying, it needs a little more salt or more pepper. One of the benefits of high isolation IEMs is you can listen at low levels because they are literally earplugs and block outside sound. The distortion numbers are meaningless because no one listens to it that loud without damaging their hearing. We are living in an age now where it's time to start balancing the left and right sides of the brain and stop being over-reliant on the left side and placing so much weight on numbers and graphs.
Yeah the ER4XR I've got rates 1.2% at 1KHz/104db which means nothing since It rates 0.58% at 1KHz/94db. It still sounds/performs like planar HP's like the LCD-X and others in IEM form.
 
Back
Top Bottom