Etymotic ER4-XR – Precision, Performance, Power!
Etymotic extended its range of products with the newly released ER4-XR (Extended Response IEMs). They promise to bring a few improvements to the well-renown ER4 series, leading to a new experience!
Etymotic has been known for a long time throughout the audiophile community for their extreme precision in sound, creating IEMs for both musical professionals and music lovers. Etymotic are known to have refined the BA (Balanced Armature) technology to a state of art, and they are also known throughout the musician/composer communities for providing high quality tools for both recording and performance.
While BA drivers are nowadays found in thousands of products, Etymotic employs an entirely unique approach. They rely on a single BA driver enclosed within a tiny enclosure, along with a very deep insertion depth, ensuring both a tight fit and extreme levels of isolation from the outside noise. This makes them a great companion for both musicians and music lovers, the sound being one that is unique to their line of products.
I have absolutely no affiliation with Etymotic research, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review will be as objective as possible and it reflects my personal experience with Etymotic ER4-XR. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in ER4-XR find their next music companion.
I never owned a deep-insertion fit IEM, nor an Etymotic IEM before, but I’ve heard stories and read reviews about the great things they managed to achieve through the years, so I became quite curious to hear one. Sadly, at the moment there is no official Etymotic reseller in Romania, so I contacted Etymotic directly to get a pair of their ER4-XR IEMs. They have been quite friendly and they managed to answer quite a few of my questions. By this time, I heard a few BA IEMs already, but I still had a few questions about this model in particular. Etymotic has answered all questions quickly and it is easy to tell that they also have a very solid warranty and service, providing an excellent service all around.
I have owned quite a few IEMs and headphones before, Ultrasone DJ One Pro, Meze 99 Classics, Ultrasone Signature Studio, Dunu DK-3001, Sennheiser ie800, HiFiMAN RE-2000, Oriveti New Primacy, Kinera H3, and a few others. I also owned high end sources like DAPs (Opus #3, iBasso DX200, Opus #2), and high end DAC/AMPs (iFi iDSD Black Label).
When it comes to receiving ER4-XR, I actually received ER4-XR suddenly. This has been one of the very few IEMs that I didn’t track, I didn’t know when to expect, and it arrived much faster than I’d have guessed.
It was a torrid Summer day and I was just waking up from a rather restless sleep, when I noticed a missed call from an unknown number. I didn’t know who called or why, so I quickly washed my face and called back to see what was going on. The person on the other end told me that they have a package for me and asked me when and where we can meet. We agreed to meet in a few minutes outside of my place, since they were still in the area.
I left my room and went ahead to pick up the package, since it really piqued my curiosity. The driver handled me a box, nicely packaged and labeled, and the delivery process only took a few minutes. Although I got home quickly, I only got to have a proper listen to ER4-XR a bit later as I had a lot of work to do that day.
It was a lonely evening and I was playing some games, relaxing after a day of work, when I noticed ER4-XR smiling at me from my desk. I thought that it is the right moment to give them a try and I plugged them in without a second though. The first thing I heard was the amazing soundtrack of the game I was playing. Since before plugging them in, I was using my laptop’s speakers, it was an amazing explosion of details and intrigue when I first heard that game’s soundtrack with ER4-XR. I had to stop from playing for a few minutes, just to listen to this new experience, to truly feel like I am within the world of that game.
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
Etymotic ensures that their users will have a professional experience all-around, the packaging feeling solid and comes with a uniquely designed case.
ER4-XR includes a lot of accessories, and while this might be necessary, due to the unique design and especially bore size, it is really nice to see that ER4-XR comes with almost everything one could wish for to enjoy it.
In their box, you’ll find ER4-XR snuggly sitting in a foam cutout, next to their carrying case. Their carrying case has enough space inside to fit your favorite DAP, and a few other accessories (cables, adapters) as well.
The ER4-XR package is themed on black and green, giving an electric and lively feeling all around. The inner box is coated in a glossy black and comes with a cool-looking model printed on it. The box feels solid and the whole unpacking / unboxing experience is fun and intriguing.
Etymotic includes quite a bit of technical information with their ER4-XR, such as Channel Matching, Frequency Response, THD (Total Harmonic Distortion).
If you’re new to Etymotic, the user manual comes in very handy. The cable ER4-XR comes with looks and feels far more solid than I’d have expected, and they also come with:
– Foam tips
– 3.5 to 6.3mm Adapter
– Shirt Clip
– 3-Flange tips
– Filter replacements, and the tools necessary to perform the replacement.
– ER4-XR units
– Detachable cables
– Storage hard carrying case
The manual also includes instructions on how to properly fit the tips, and how to properly insert ER4-XR to achieve best fit with them.
What you should look for when considering a IEM (In-Ear Monitor)
When purchasing an IEM, there are a few factors you should take into account to ensure that you’ll have the experience you wish for. Sooner or later, all those factors will come into play one way or another:
– Sound quality – This is, by far, the most important aspect of every purchase when you invest in high end audio products. The sonic abilities along with the frequency response / sonic signature widely differs from IEM to IEM.
– Comfort / ergonomics – The fit and comfort are quite important, especially if you plan on using the same IEM for hours in a row, or in a live performance.
– Isolation – Every IEM will offer some degree of isolation, but there are both models that focus on ultra-isolation from the outside noise, and open models.
– Good Value – Always nice to have
– Interesting/Intriguing design – Every user will have a personal preference and taste for what an “interesting design” is, but it is generally recommended to pick a IEM which you consider to be aesthetically pleasing, or in simpler words, Good Looking.
– Drive-Factor – How easy it is to drive and how prone to hissing it is, since certain IEMs and headphones will require special sources to offer the best performance.
– Accessories included – It is better to have a large selection of tips and accessories included with a IEM, especially for those that feature unique tips or require their own accessories.
– Build Quality and Warranty – While it is good to have a solid warranty included with Every IEM, having a solid build quality is far better.
3.5mm / 6.3 mm
20 Hz – 16.000Hz
Rated Power Efficiency
98 dB / 0.1V
150 cm / 3.5mm Jack
BA, Ultra Isolation
In-Ear, Deep Insertion Fit
Headphone to cable
Made in USA
Low Magnetic Emissions
(Build Quality, Sonic Quality & Usage Next Page)