Customer Review

74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best portable headphones in their class, February 7, 2006
This review is from: Etymotic Research ER6 Isolator In-Ear Earphones (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I bought these phones approximately 18 months ago when they cost 20% more than do today, and I never regretted the purchase. My upgrade path took me from the standard Sennheiser earbuds that were (at the time) bundled with various MP3 players including ones manufactured by MPIO, Rio, and Apple; then to a set of Sony in-ear headphones; then these Etymotics. I like the cheaper Sony's price and sound isolation, but not the asymmetric headphone cable or the boomy bass. The Etymotics brought even better sound isolation, smoother sound (with ample, if not accentuated bass) and better detail. For my buck, these headphones inhabit the sweet spot where improved sound quality/isolation begin to encounter the law of diminishing returns. I.e., the ER6 are a lot more of an improvement over the Sony in-ear phones, or stock earbuds, than the Etymotic ER4 or Shure E4c/5c are over the ER6's.

Sound isolation with the ER6 is extremly good -- I use mine daily on Chicago's mass transit system (buses and subways) and routinely for airplane flights. Notwithstanding the soundproof fit, they are comfortable to wear. I haven't experienced sore or uncomfortable ears using the Etymotics, even on long transatlantic flights.

These are not the best choice for working out because the cables rub against your clothes and transmit vibrations as sound right into your ear. In practice, when walking or commuting you can easily drape the cables in a way where this doesn't occur. But running around, leaning up and down, and changing positions frequently, I don't think you could escape the issue entirely. In that case, I'd hypothesize you might want in-ear headphones that drape over the back of the earlobe, which might prevent this from happening.

I couldn't help noticing that a small number of people have suddenly posted strongly negative reviews of these headphones, making implausibly strong claims about how bad they allegedly sound, lacking bass, or falling out of their ears despite the reviewer's claim that s/he inserted the according to directions. These reviews are so far against the manifest weight of numerous other reviews (and, more importantly, my personal experience) that I simply cannot fathom how any of these 1-star reviews have a basis in reality. The ER6 is not hard to use, not hard to insert, and does not produce bad sound, as tons of independent reviewers agree. Maybe, despite their belief to the contrary, these reviewers aren't doing as good a job reading the instructions as they think they are?

My last comment relates to a few people out there who seem to think that you need an external portable headphone amplifier to make these things really sound good. To that, I have a three word reply: "hogwash" and "snake oil". I tried a popular external amp with these phones, and after extensive testing (and single-blind testing with my wife to ensure I hadn't suddenly gone deaf) concluded that they make no audible difference, on any genre of music I own from classical to hip hop to alternative, on any bitrates from 160 to lossless. So save your money, save some space, and just jack the Etymotics right into your portable player. If you want more than that, go buy a higher model headphone; don't think that an amp will make any difference beyond the placebo effect.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 12, 2007 11:47:01 AM PST
S. Cintron says:
Thanks hor the review I can't understand what people say about the base's incredible. And I listen to hip hop with those banging beats and I love it. And you don't lose the highs like you do with the Bose earbuds.

Posted on Jun 7, 2007 4:01:14 AM PDT
J. Thompson says:
Thank you for this wonderful review! These earbuds are now in my shopping cart because of you!

Posted on Dec 13, 2007 10:53:37 AM PST
There is a trend of people putting in false reviews to boost a product. It's quite possible that the same is now true to denigrate competing products.
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Review Details



J. Gitzlaff

Location: Chicago, IL United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,987