Etymotic ER-6i Review

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by inlimbo, Oct 8, 2005.

  1. inlimbo macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    So I broke my Ipod earphones a month ago and decided to get some new but good quality (and therefore expensive) earphones. I decided to look into the in-ear earphones offered by third party producers as the consensus seems to be that the Apple in-ear earphones are rubbish. I decided against headphones only because most are big and bulky and don't offer great sound isolation.

    Etymotic ER-6i Review:
    These phones are great. You can hear the start and end of all the notes. Its a beautiful thing. You can hear sounds that u didn't even know were there before. It really makes you appreciate your music more than you did before. There is lot more depth and clarity. Its like having surround sound in between your ears.

    The first thing I noticed when I opened the packaging is their size. They are really small. They come with a cute little case to hold the earphones. The ER-6i's come with 2 types of eartips. I find the flange eartips are the best. I find that they give a better seal and are more comfortable. I find the foam eartips a bit uncomfortable - they feel like they are expanding in my ear (which they probably are - they are pliable). The rubber flange eartips are fine. I wore them on my 2 hour train trip home and they didn't hurt or feel uncomfortable. You can order different sized tips from Etymotic's website if you need to.

    The isolation is also great. They block out just about everything - u just have to make sure you insert them properly. I use them on my 2 hour train trip from home to university. It blocks out the rattle and hum of the train and the incessent chatter of school children and people asking for money and the insane and the drunk and the mad and ..... u get the idea.

    With the ER-6i you get:
    * ER-6i Isolator earphones
    * 5 ft. cord with 3.5 mm stereo plug
    * 1 pair 2-flange eartips
    * 1 pair foam eartips
    * 2 replacement filters
    * Filter changing tool
    * Shirt clip
    * Pouch

    The cord is quite long at 5 ft. I will need to get a Sumajin Smartwrap to wind the cable around otherwise it will be incredible annoying and damaging to the earphones. Anyone use the Smartwraps? Are they good? They are availabe on the Apple online store.

    When to use them:
    They are great for public transport and (I would imagine) when traveling by airplane. Also good for blocking out noisey co-workers or bad music played over speakers.

    When not to use them:
    I wouldn't use them when walking, jogging or riding a bike or driving. These might be reasons not to be in-ear earphones. Its hard to function when u loose one of your senses.

    Q1. Etymotic ER-6i v Shure E2c? A. Both are great.
    So I had to make a decision between the Etymotic ER-6i's and the Shure E2c's. Everyone raves about the E2c's - they sound like a great pair of 'phones. So why did I buy the ER-6i's? With the Shure's you have to loop the earphone cable behind your ear and down your back. Im sure it is not that much of a hassel but I just want some earphones that I can easily pull in and out. Plus the ER-6i's are in white to match the iPod. The E2c's are a bit cheaper too.

    You can read some comments on E2c's vs ER-6i's in a thread here and at Head-Fi here . Sorry I can't do a direct comparison for you.

    Q2. So do the ER-6i's lack bass? A: No
    I read a couple of reviews here and elsewhere that people didn't like the ER-6i's because they had no bass. Some people even claimed they had less bass then the regular iPod earphones. :eek:

    None of this is true. I found that the ER-6i's have the perfect balance of bass. Just the way the music should be. i.e. no boomy bass distorting the music but at the same time not lacking bass and thus destroying your favourite tunes.

    They will only lack bass if you don't insert them deep enough. I really don't know how these people inserted their earphones. I just put them in and the bass was great - i don't know what they were doing wrong, it isn't difficult.

    The example I can give you is the track 'All the love in world' by Nine Inch Nails off the new album 'With Teeth'. I had been listening to this song with my regular iPod earphones and was thinking 'geez Trent (Reznor) could have put some other instrumentation at the start besides the electro-drums and vocals.' So I get my Ety's and listen to 'All the Love in the world'. Lo and Behold there is this bloody awesome bass part at the start that the regular iPod earphones didn't pick up. (I should note that my iPod earphones were pretty dead).

    If you like big boomy bass and only listen to hip hop then these phones are not for you. But otherwise they are fine - especially for those with an eclectic music taste.

    Music that sounds awesome with the ER-6i's.
    Basically electronic music and any type of acoustic music and jazz sounds awesome. Any record that is lauded because of its production you will appreciate much more with these earphones. Songs that are just acoustic piano sound amazing! You can hear the keys moving and the foot pedals. It is ear-gasmic as Black Francis would say.

    Songs in my collection that took my breath away with these new earphones (I still have to go through the rest of my collection):
    Aphex Twin - Avril 24th (beautiful solo piano track) [Album: Druqks]
    Massive Attack - Angel (listen to this track with the ER-6i's - the bass at the start was deeper and sexier than I have ever heard it) [Album: Mezzanine]
    Bjork's albums also sounded great.

    I didn't find any notable difference in some rock and indie albums. For example a listened to Silent Alarm by Bloc Party and didn't find any noticeable improvement. So if you only listen to rock and indie music well the ER-6i's aren't for you.

    Where I got them from
    I got them from Rule Britainia through ebay here . He seems to sell them regularly. Even though I live in Australia and had to suffer the exchange rate they were still a lot cheaper than in Australia including postage. I got them for $140 AUD when they normally retail for about $220AUD!

    The verdict
    They are excellent! But more for the audiophile then the casual music listener. Hope this review helps some people in making the decision to switch to in-earhones. I can't imagine ever using normal earphones again!

    If any has any questions please post 'em. Sorry this review is so long.

    I will post some pictures later.
  2. DaftUnion macrumors 6502a


    Feb 22, 2005
    That's the headphones I'm probably gonna get when I decide to drop $100 on the headphones. They look great, and probably the best deal for the price. I have some $40 Sony in-ear headphones right now, but these def. aren't up to my standard, so I guess Etymotics it is.
  3. Sol macrumors 68000


    Jan 14, 2003
    ER6i good but not worth the price

    I have owned the ER6i since December 2004. I agree that they sound great but they are definitely not "surround sound in between your ears." I am not sure why you wrote that; the iPod and the headphones output in stereo.

    One thing that must be emphasized in a review of these headphones is that the ear-tips and their filters have to be replaced on a regular basis so their cost is on-going. The foam tips did not last me a month but maybe that has a lot to do with me living in a hot and humid part of the world.

    Another thing that must be noted about these headphones is that they have a very thin and fragile cord. Three months after my purchase my ER6i were losing the audio signal on the left headphone depending on the angle of my head! I did not have any accidents with these headphones so this was a shock to me; I definitely expected better from the most expensive headphones I ever paid for. I sent them to Etymotic for an evaluation and they sent me a new pair in return but now I am experiencing the same drop outs from the right headphone.

    For this reason I would discourage anyone else from buying these particular headphones. Expensive headphones should not only sound great but also last a long time. My recommendation now would be to buy SONY's in-ear headphones. They block ambient noise like the ER6i do, they sound better than the standard Apple headphones, they have no on-going cost like filters or ear-tips that need replacing and they cost a very acceptable AUD $100; not cheap but not so expensive that you would regret the loss if they break at a later date.
  4. inlimbo thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    I just meant that they give more depth to the music - u can hear each individual instrument clearly. Sorry for the confusion.

    I agree with you there. You defintely have to take care of them.

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