105 of 110 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2011
First, a little background: I've just came from SE535, CK10, GR07, EX600, IE7, Turbine Pro Copper, and Triple Fi10. These are a few of the IEMs I bought this year, excluding past stuff, and I'll leave the less worthy-of-mentioning IEMs that I've auditioned out.
Most of these have either a higher price tag or is technically superior than the ER4-PT. (dual/triple-BA drivers)
When I took a trip to China earlier this year I had the chance to visit a Jaben store, and audition quite a few higher-end IEMs, including the JH-16 Custom (close to one thousand dollars). Amongst them was the ER4P, which was the one pair of IEMs that impressed me. After the trip I just could not stop thinking about them, and when amazon's price dropped to $192, I pulled the trigger.
I am happy to report that after getting the ER4-PTs, I've been slowly selling off my IEM collection. They are all gone now. I have no interest in my other IEMs any more and barely touched them after my ER4-PTs arrived.
The ER4-PT (Or any of the ER4 series) is a must have in anyone's collection. It has unmatched clarity and accuracy in all universal IEMs, and most custom IEMs.
If you are just starting out with IEMs, you will probably not appreciate what the ER4s have to offer. All the time I hear stories of newbies acquiring ER4s early on their journey, left unimpressed, but then a dozen other IEMs later, they suddenly regret letting them go. But anyone who's had his worthy share of high-end IEMs would be surprised at how pleasing a $200 single BA IEM can sound, even in comparison to SE535 which is double the price.
Let me get the cons out of the way:
- These things have horrible microphonic. Worst of any IEMs I've owned, especially considering the price tag. I think the cheaper HF series do better with microphonic than these because of their rubber cable coating. The shirt-clip helps a lot and is essential when using the IEM. However, when the cable scrapes against the collar or my face, I can still hear terrible microphonic. Suffice to say, you don't want to be running with these on.
- Long earpiece do not sit flush in ears. This poses a major problem when I'm on the bed or laying on the couch. I love these so much I listen to them before I go to bed. However, the tubes stick out quite a bit, making my ears hurt when I lay on my side.
While these flaws aren't exactly minor, and if this was any other IEM I'd totally destroy the rating for that. But the ER4-PTs offer so much in pure audio bliss that the flaws can be easily overlooked and bore with.
- They are still handmade in the USA. The build quality is typical of IEMs made in the USA: rough around the edges. You'll see unclean cuts, plastic stubs in one or two places. They don't affect the durability or sound in anyway, but a pair of $100 Japanese IEM from the likes of Audio-Technica or Sony will have perfect finish in every little detail.
- These are plastic through and through, and it's just painted pitch black, no gloss finish or color, and looks understated. However the earpiece tubes feel solid enough, and cable appears to be robust. Should last for a few years.
- To me, they are very comfortable. Many people, who haven't had much time sealing their ears with tiny speakers, dislike the long tubes and deep insertion. But I find the fit more secure and comfortable than even Shures and CK10. I use the smaller, transparent triple-flange tips. I can wear these for hours on without fatigue. I cannot say this for any of my other IEMs.
- Included there are also the comply foam tips, a pair of bigger sized tri-flange, and a weird-looking, phallic shaped foam tip called the glider tips. The glider tips work very well. As the name implies, they just glide into your ears and create a good seal. But the insertion is not as deep as the small tri-flanges that I prefer.
- Isolation is one of the best in passive noise isolation earphones, thanks to go deep insertion. You'll definitely be able to block out annoying parents, obnoxious roommates, etc. You'll still hear the rumbles of an airplane engine on an airplane, but it'll be muffled.
This is the most complicated and unique thing about the ER4s. But for the subjectivity of sound perception and preference, I'll just touch lightly and encourage you trying them out yourselves.
For me, I was 100% satisfied with the sound. I could ask for nothing more. Everything is as it should be. These IEMs are accurate, neutral, and accurate.
- They are very revealing of the source material. You'll notice a huge difference between MP3 files ripped at 192Kbps and 320Kbps. Of course, if you go Apple lossless or FLAC or WMA Lossless, you'll notice even bigger changes.
- Not a bass monster! BAs have always been weak on bass. No matter how many drivers there are, the kind of texture and feel of bass out of BA phones just can't compare with Dynamic drivers. So if you want oomph, look elsewhere. These have very clean, punchy bass. A little dry, not very fluid. Extension is very good, and the notes linger as long as they need to be. They also don't overwhelm or intrude the other frequencies.
- Mids - plain, flat, accurate. There really is not much to say about mids. Vocals are as they should be. There is not special coloration to make female vocals sound sweeter than originally recorded, like with more Japanese earphones. Nor is the midrange recessed like with TF10 or Monster Turbine Pro Copper
- Treble is limitless. Notes go as high as they need to be and beyond. It's just so crystal clear. But they are never shrill. My brains get scraped out every time I listen to my CK10s because there is a mid-treble bump in frequency response, which was done on purpose to flesh out little details in sound but makes it fatiguing to listen to. The ER4-PT never have this problem. It is awesome to listen to these when sleeping, because the crystal-clearness gives you peace so alluring you will be falling asleep in no time.
- Soundstage - not huge. You have one tiny little speaker in a little plastic tube - the soundstage is not supposed to be huge. I cannot stand those IEMs that purposefully tune their sounds to sound grand and enormous. It's fake and make the music sound bloated. Not to say the ER4-PT has small soundstage. For example, if you have a recording done in a large concert hall and properly recorded, you will hear all the soundstage, the echoes and the acoustics of the chamber, as they have been recorded.
Anyway, they have been my go-to pair of IEMs since the day they arrived. Ety also hand-match the earpieces, and includes a frequency response graph with technician's signature. This is a very pro feature that not many companies offer.
I think anyone who's looking for an awesome pair of IEM should get these, unless you specifically want bloated bass, warm vocals, etc. It's amazing that in a world of companies coming out with triple, quad driver universals, Etymotic still sticks to their original, 15-year-old design, and that design still beats some of the most expensive and technically advanced IEMs on several aspects.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
It took me a while to figure out how to pronounce Etymotic (eh-duh-moe-tick) correctly but not as long to realize just how amazing their earphones are. The pioneers of in-ear monitors (IEM), Etymotic has methodically been adding new products to compliment their award-winning, gold-standard, ER-4 earphones. The ER-4PT is Etymotic's latest ER-4 model, joining the ER-4P, ER-4S, and ER-4B.
- Incredibly accurate sound
- Detailed mids and highs
- Tight bass
- Great noise isolation
- Ideal for portable use
- Partially braided cable inhibits microphonics
- Oodles of accessories included
- Thick plug may not fit on smartphones with cases
Did you know that it's hard to type while shaking your hips and moving your head from side to side, sitting in an office chair? That's the challenge I'm facing right now trying to write this review. I spent about a month listening to the ER-4PT off and on and spent the past two evenings listening to them very critically. Here are my observations:
They are by far the best sounding headphones I have ever heard. The treble and mid range were crystal clear. I could distinguish vocals and instruments very clearly and they all sounded crisp. Bass response was good and tight, though not thumpy like Monster Cable earphones. Every type of music I threw at the ER-4PT sounded fantastic. Aerosmith, Tom Petty, Lily Allen, Liz Phair, Eminem, Olivia-Newton John, Pet Shop Boys, Katy Perry, Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, AC/DC, Smashing Pumpkins, and Metallica all sounded great. For some hip-hop and rap, I did think more low end response would have increased my listening enjoyment but for a single pair of earphones to handle such a wide range of music genres so well is a testament to their high-performance tuning.
Amazingly, the ER-4PT reduces outside noise by 35-42 dB. This means with music playing, you aren't likely to hear *any* outside noise. That level of noise isolation is great for personal enjoyment and airplanes, but dangerous when riding bikes or walking home at night.
[My Testing Equipment]
Source audio: Lossless FLAC format
PC sound card: Asus Xonar DX
Portable music player: Sansa Clip+ and Motorola Droid X
To achieve the best sound quality, Etymotic and other IEM's require a proper seal inside your ear canal. A proper seal is *critical*, and achieving it can be a harrowing experience for some. It was for me at first, but I've grown used to them now. I can wear them for a few hours at a time with only a slight amount of discomfort. From my experience with other Etymotic earphones, I knew that the glider eartips would work best for me. I recommend new owners try every eartip included to find the best balance of seal and comfort.
BUILD & DESIGN
The overall build quality of the ER-4PT is outstanding. The 5-foot cable is thick and smooth--keeping the ER-4PT from becoming a tangled mess. The twist with the ER-4PT is that the top 12 inches or so are braided to help alleviate microphonics. Microphonics is the noise that is heard when the cable rubs or hits against an object. Nearly every IEM is susceptible to microphonics because IEM's rest inside your ear canal. Some companies have battled microphonics by designing the cable to be wrapped behind the ears. The way Etymotic designed the cable works fairly well but doesn't completely eliminate it.
The only design problem I found was the size of the plug cover; it was too thick to insert into my Motorola Droid X smartphone with a thin case on it. I didn't experience this with the Etymotic mc5 or hf5 so I was a little surprised to run into this little problem.
The only difference between the Etymotic ER-4P vs. the ER-4PT are the accessories. The ER-4PT comes with an airline adapter and a "Channel-Matching Compliance Graph." That's it. Physically and sonically, they are identical. The ER-4PT also comes with an assortment of eartips, filter removal tool w/extra filters, 1/4' adapter plug, shirt clip, storage box and travel pouch.
Etymotic ER-4 MicroPro series earphones are the gold-standard of IEM's. The ER-4PT is an amazingly accurate earphone that handles a wide range of music genres remarkably well. The included accessories add value while the channel-matching compliance graph gives the entire package a nice personal touch. If you're looking for the best sound quality, you owe it to yourself to start with the Etymotic ER-4PT.
* Review sample courtesy of Etymotic Research, Inc.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2011
First off, I have a collection of headphones that would make most audiophiles blush. I can say without a doubt that these are the best noise isolating headphones I've ever heard/owned. I'm currently in Afghanistan and noise is a constant issue over here (i.e. generators, engines, rocket attacks). These environmental factors render most of my headphones useless, because I have to turn up the volume immensely to compete with ambient noise. That is a battle with no winners, because if I do drown out the world around me the volume is so loud that hearing loss is certain. These provide me with audiophile quality sound and the ability to listen to my music at a reasonable volume.
I wouldn't recommend these headphones for everyone though. They're very flat sounding (which is what there intended to be), but I've noticed that most people don't like flat sounding headphones. If you're looking for someone with a lot of low end, again look elsewhere (monster's ear buds aren't a bad choice). If you're in the market for some very balanced, no BS, noise isolating earbuds made with audionerds in mind than this is your best bet!
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2011
Excellent sound quality. Extremely comfortable fit, especially with the black foam tips. If the price doesn't scare you away, these are VERY nice headphones. My only negative comment turned into a positive in the end: they are quite small and slightly fragile. I wear these headphones at least five hours a day at the office. Once, when I hadn't changed my foam tips soon enough (the tips became hardened), I managed to break the tube that runs into the foam tip when changing tips. In hindsight, I probably should have been a little more gentle and not twisted the tip quite as hard as I did. Fortunately, my headphones were still under warranty (which I believe is two years?). I called Etymotic and reached a customer service person with no problem. The CSR was American, polite and knowledgeable. How great is that these days? She had a replacement headset shipped to me which arrived in two days after my call. Fantastic customer service. I highly recommend the product and company.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2012
I actually owe Etymotic Research an apology for my earlier, one-star review. There is NOTHING wrong with my ER-4PT MicroPro Noise-Isolating In-Ear Earphones. They are superb, and I change my rating from one star to five stars.
Under the mistaken impression that the left channel had stopped working, I was about to throw these out. As I looked through the original packaging, I espied a tiny pack of ... FILTERS. So I replaced the filter in the left channel and - ta-da! - these earphones are back to perfection.
Again, if you like thumping bass, these are not for you. But if you like crisp, clear, realistic sound, as well as near-perfect noise blocking, buy these. ... And change the filters if it seems as though a channel has stopped working.
Again, my sincere apologies to Etymotic Research. Five stars!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2012
I've been using Etymotic Research ER-15 Musician's plugs since the mid 1990's and have had a set of ER-4PT for a year and a half now. I knew from using the ER-15's, that the 4PT would be a good product. Honestly, I can't think of a better product in terms of ear phones. My initial experience with stock earbuds and a Sony Discman was on a jet flight. I couldn't hear the music. Just the engine hum and the high pitched air hiss that all jets have. I'd have had to crank the music up to deafening levels. My experience with the ER-4PT on jets is quite the opposite. Last flight I took, I was listening to John Denver at quiet soothing volume. Jet and air noise is virtually eliminated.
The noise isolation in these is very surprising. It completely drowns out my wife. So much so, that I've turned to her, only to see her waving her arms in the air at me. With so many people walking around these days with their MP3 players cranked up, I'm not sure why more companies haven't come out with good noise isolation.
Most people use $300 telephones and $10 earphones...I use $300 earphones and a $10 CD player. I have the advantage in this regard. Some reviewers complain that the ER-4PT stick out too far from the ear. But I actually LIKE that, because with the shirt clip attached, nothing touches your head or shoulders. It's like wearing a wireless earphone. There is something neat about walking around with high end earphones on, that 99% of people around you have no idea how good the quality is. I'm hearing stuff with these that I'd never heard before. The frequency response is flat. Very very flat. Just the way I like it.
ER-4PT vs Bose QC15
I bought a pair of Bose QC15 headphones a few months later. But they are not in the same category as the ER-4PT in any regard. They have an increased bass presence. But it's a boomier bass. The ER-4PT has tight bass. The QC15 have what seems like dulled vocals. They're more in the background. The ER-4PT has vocals right where they should be. I'd expected that the QC15 would have better noise reduction. But I was wrong. The ER-4PT (with black foam plugs) reduces sound everywhere. The QC15 reduces "most" frequencies. But not all. For example, sitting on a bus, the QC15 is very good at noise reduction. But sitting at a bus stop, the QC15 doesn't reduce cars driving by as well. (It makes a whoosh"ing sound much like ocean waves rolling in). On a windy day, the QC15 picks up the wind noise with it's built in microphones and amplify it into your ears. And going over a pot hole, you get a jarring noise with the QC15.....The ER-4PT in comparison drowns out car noise better. Doesn't have any jarring vibration issues. And best of all, you don't have to worry about the battery going dead during your bus/jet ride like the QC15 has. I also really like that the ER-4PT easily fit in a shirt pocket. A pants pocket. Or simply let them hang from your shirt clip while not in your ears. Full size headphones on the other hand are an annoyance to carry around when you're not using them. For long term usage (over an hour), I prefer the ER-4PT because the QC15 has a "pressure" that seems to tire the ear. Even with no music coming out.
I think the Bose were made specifically for jet travel. As such, they block out jet noise very well. BUT, I still end up taking my ER-4PT on flights instead because they're not bulky. I don't have to put them in my carry on when not in use.
I must have larger ear canals than most. Both the small and normal sized triple flange don't fit. The glider tips do fit. But they get uncomfortable after a short time. The black foam tips fit nicely, are more comfortable, and block out more noise. After about a month of wearing these 5 days a week for my 2 hours of work commute, I'll put a new set of black foam tips on. I really should get a set of custom made ear molds made. I know from using the ER-15 Musician's plugs that they are comfortable, last forever, and offer a consistent seal. I tried buying the large yellow foam tips that Etymotic sell. But the yellow ones were too big. They do fit. But it's not as nice a fit for me as the medium black foam plugs.
It depends. Yes, it is there. But it depends how you use these. For sitting or walking down the street. No problem (with the shirt clip). For jogging or working out, I wouldn't use these. For me, it's no biggie as I use these at home when my wife is around. As well as the bus ride/train ride/walking to/from work. Occasional jet flights. The cable length is just right on the ER-4PT. It's 5 feet long. My stock earbuds were 3 feet long (too short to use with a desktop computer). The QC15 are 6 feet long (just a tad too long for carrying out during portable use)
There are several websites that offer these for cheaper than Etymotic's own webpage. Though I would strongly recommend checking out Etymotic's list of authorized online sellers from their own webpage. Buying from an unauthorized seller means no warranty.
43 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2012
It pains me to have to write this review, but I felt it was my duty to warn people about the poor build quality of these headphones.
Sound wise, honestly, they are great.
However, trust me when I say that these WILL BREAK and stop working within two years.
I have personally purchased 4 sets of these over the years because the sound quality really is great, and the isolation effect means that you can comfortably use them on the train or at the gym (though they do have a noticeable microphonic effect if you touch the cord, which Etymotic have never fixed, and which is quite annoying).
However, the build quality is CONSISTENTLY POOR.
I have NEVER owned a pair of these that has lasted longer than 2 years without either the cord having problems, or more commonly, one or both of the ears totally giving up the ghost.
The last pair only just made it over the 12 month mark, and a pair my dad had failed in one ear after about 10 months if memory serves.
It used to be that these headphones cost considerably less money, and so because the sound is good, I would end up puckering up and buying a new pair.
(They used to cost about $100 less. See another review on here from Sept 2011, where they were $192... $192 to $279.88... Nice price hike Etymotic!)
However, enough is enough.
Having owned four pairs I can conclusively say these headphones must be designed by Etymotic to fail within a short time frame.
I contacted Etymotics customer services department directly by email to ask them about the build quality, but they never bothered to reply.
So you can draw your own conclusions from that, and the fact that they seem to be doing a thriving business in "$120 repairs"
The fact is that these are expensive $300 headphones and one pair ought to last a minimum of 5 years under normal use.
But they simply don't.
Overall, I would reluctantly have to recommend that you no longer buy these headphones, or that if you do you set aside another $300 for the new pair that you will inevitably need to buy when this pair fails.
It genuinely saddens me to write this review, because the sound is great, but the build quality is very poor and for this money the customers deserve better.
Come on Etymotic. Raise your game!
You have raised your prices. How about now improving the standard of the components in these headphones so they don't consistently fail?
You are letting your customers down.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2011
I'll keep this short & sweet, since there are already tons of reviews singing the praises of the ER-4P's.
What I love: the balance. They are incredibly accurate, but just that little bit warmer than my overly-analytical ER-6i's, and with a bigger sound-stage than my (broken) hf5's. They really don't emphasise any part of your music over any other, and so you don't have kick-drums overwhelming your guitars or vocals. You just get this great, ear-filling bass (and that's how it should be).
What I like: the glider tips are easily my favorite. I used them on the hf5's and loved them, since the foam tips (even with clean ears) simply just don't retain their shape (and therefore don't isolate as well).
What I don't like: the bottom half of the cable. It's too thick and Shure-like. The actual plug is fine (it's an L-plug, but it's not bulky) and the braided cables from the drivers themselves are great (very resistant to microphonics), but the thick cable just loops too easily and doesn't like staying straight.
Overall, I love them, and the small downside in form is overwhelmed by the upsides in fuction (sound). Can't go wrong.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2011
These IEMs have been around for ages and yet their simple single balanced armature design is still among the best. For reference, I have Westone 4s, Ultimate Ears TripleFis, Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors (custom), and Klipsch x5s, among others. These have a very balanced sound- nothing sticks out. If you are a bass head, you probably won't love these. Otherwise I'd recommend them to everyone else based on sound quality. As for comfort, these go pretty far into your ear using the triflange tips which to me sound the best and have the best isolation from outside noise. If you've never used IEMs before, you might have to get used to this (usually only takes a few hours). You can easily spend more on IEMs if you're looking for a different 'sound'. But if you want relatively flat sound (no particular area of sound accentuated), these are your best bet without going to $600+ custom mold IEMs.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2011
I bought several IEMs over the years, including multiple drivers ones costing twice as much. To my ears, the ER-4PT are the best. They are not as exciting as other earphones, but the sound signature is very revealing, transparently exposing the quality of the recording. It also exposes a lot of details towards the bass region, exposing which recordings truly have audible bass extension. They isolate the best because the fit goes deep into the ear canal which might cause discomfort for some people. They are built like tanks and the wiring is quite rugged. I am very sensitive to stereo balancing, so I decided to buy the ER-4PT with the hand-matched drivers instead of the normal ER4-P. I think the travel adapter might be mostly useless because all of the newer airplanes I have traveled on have used normal stereo jacks, plus the more customer-friendly airlines encouraged people to use their own headphones. I rather see the ER-4S upgrade adapter to be included in this package instead of the travel adapter.