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Despite the beefed-up bass, the midranges still appear nicely linear with a seamless extension into energetic upper highs that’s among the most dynamic we’ve heard. Vocals are crisp and earthy with an exceptional clarity of acoustic/electric guitar tones and brass/horn line textures. If anything given the ‘Extended Bass’ moniker, we actually would have wished for a bit better bottom-end evenness with a more assured extension into the deepest lows. Our review team detected a slightly boomy tendency in the low bass that felt somewhat unresolved at times. That being said, its completely remarkable how the Etymotic ER4XR stays in league with some in-ear headphones at 2X and 3X its price including even some very pricey custom-molded in-ears.
The Etymotic ER 4XR employs machined, anodized laser-etched aluminum earpiece housings that are 100% engineered and manufactured in the USA. True to Etymotic origins, the design remains a balanced armature construction utilizing a single microdriver which Etymotic audio engineers claim to be more seamless and cohesive than multiple driver designs given their complex crossover networks and time-phase alignment bugaboos. The ER4XR sound is indeed highly competent and effortlessly coherent with a slightly V-shaped curve that places a mild emphasis at the upper and lower parts of the frequency spectrum. Again, the lowest part of the sub-bass response can become slightly undefined at times but we feel the added low end heft improves the tonal warmth of the headphones without subtracting too much openness or negatively impacting the clarity of the mids or highs. So for modern listeners wanting a full punchy bass presentation, the ER-4XR represents a noticeable improvement over the more aloof, drier sound of the old ER-4P.
We will again mention that these 100% made-in-the-USA Etymotic in-ear headphones offer perhaps the best audiophile bang-for-the-buck value in all of in-ear headphone land. At this affordable price, we think discerning listeners seeking a serious high-fidelity sound with utmost mids/highs clarity and a lively, cheerful tone will be shocked when comparing these against more expensive earphones in their collection. Keep in mind the ER4XR earpiece snugs fairly deeply into the ear to provide superb noise isolation, but some listeners may also find the precise insertion depth to be a bit uncomfortable after a few hours. It’s important to try all the various eartips provided in the box to determine which set offers the most comfortable fit and best sound quality. Remember that a good eartip fit into the ears will also deliver the best bass presence!
The updated Etymotic ER4XR in-ear headphone features the same industry-exclusive exacting 1dB match between left and right channels across all audible frequencies to ensure the most perfectly balanced audio performance possible. Individual channel-matching performance charts signed off and dated by Etymotic technicians are included with each pair of new Etymotic ER4 series earphones. Also included in the package are five sets of eartips (2 grey foam sets, 3 silicon triple-flange tips in S/M/L sizes), an eartip filter removal tool, sets of replacement filters plus a soft travel/storage case. The free 2-year Etymotic manufacturer’s ‘repair or replace’ product warranty remains in place with your headphone.com authorized dealer purchase.
We know it’s not easy deciding among all our ridiculously great in-ear headphones, so feel free to give our expert headphone.com team a call and we’ll be glad to attempt to break it down even further. And keep in mind our easy 30-day return policy ensures you’ll love what your ears hear - or your money back!