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Etymotic or Grado?

Wharfedale Diamond 11.2 Speakers

SachinChavan

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Hi guys,

I am looking at buying new IEMs and based on my net research I have narrowed upon two IEMs:
- Etymotic ER4SR, and
- Grado GR10e

Both are armature based. And as you can guess, I am looking for detailed but natural (and hopefully linear) presentation. I am undecided between these and could benefit from those of you who are users/knowledgeable. Remember I am going to be using them mostly outside, during my walks and free times at work. At home I have a desktop system with Beyerdynamic T1 cans and my living room stereo system. So it‘d only be rare that I’d listen to IEMs with a full blown DAC and headphone amplifier. There’s a possibility that I may buy a DAP to run the IEMs on the move, but don’t want that to be a governing factor in making this decision.

My reasons to consider Etymotic is that they are the ultimate reference in sound, almost studio level. And I can imagine how pristine and detailed it can sound. But my concerns are the following:
1. Would they be underpowered with an iPhone 11Pro max? Would I be able to sample the richness of the Etys stll? At 45 ohm impedance and 98 dB sensitivity, what do you think?
2. There‘s concern over safety during walks due to its absolute noise isolation.

Etymotic also has the ER4 microPro model which is the more mobile version of the ER4SR and seems more drivable (27 ohm and 102 dB) and Etymotic says that with the included adaptor you get the 4S signature, but the microPro are in plastic, without detachable cable and I dont feel confident they’d sound as well as the 4SR. Can any ER4PT or ER4microPro user confirm this?

As for the Grado, they too boast of linearity, but with a bit of Grado mids magic. I know they sound better off with 60s and 70s music which constitutes half my listening (the other half is eclectic). Also I feel the iPhone 11 should be able to drive these at 32 ohms and 113 dB sensitivity. I know I’d enjoy their sound, but will they be true to the recording like the Etys? If not totally, with only slight alteration to the frequency curve? Will I have a feeling of missing on the Etys (reference) if I go for Grado? Or will the Grado fun more than compensate?

Both these cost around the same. While Etys would need to be bought from Amazon US (do you know of any official channel here in India? I couldn’t find any), the Grados are on preorder from Headphonezone.

Thanks.
 
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muralimmreddy

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I own ER4XR. All the superlatives like accurate and neutral etc are well deserved for these ety's. ER4SR lacks bass and perhaps more clinical though i have not heard one. I come from Bayerdynamic camp as well use DT-150, DT-1990 quite often and own HD58x as well. Ety's are like clean water once you tasted it everything looks flavoured :) yet atleast er4xr is very euphonic

I think biggest problem more than music, DAP matching etc is how they need deep insertion and how you twist it to form seal. Its hit or miss. You need find the right tips that comforts you. For me it took couple of weeks to feel comfortable with deep insertion and initially it hurt a lot. But after a while i felt sealing and insertion felt normal. It needs careful breaking the seal as well. If you end up accidentally pulling out tips then it will hurt at least that's my experience. Once tips are sealed its pretty much going to block all the ambient noise. If you are careful on how you use and persist with them for few days till you settle down with right tips and let them soften up you will rewarded.

Don't know how it will pair with iphone 11. I was using ety's with vivo nex which has cirrus logic dac, i think iPhone uses cirrus logic but not sure same dac.
 

tcpip

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I have owned the ER4PT. They are very neutral.

I have heard some people say that the 4XR has decent bass and the 4SR had too lean bass. I feel differently. I feel that some of the too-lean feedback comes from flawed seal of the eartips. You lose bass quickly if the seal is not good with any IEM. In addition, the SR has very good bass, but you need to be used to clean and balanced bass to appreciate it. In the world of speakers, those who have heard speakers with large drivers and sealed enclosures know what clean and accurate bass is like. Those who have only heard 6.5" drivers delivering huge bass using bass reflex enclosures have not heard clean bass, because such speakers only deliver the illusion of bass by accentuating certain frequencies. So, if you are after accurate bass, the 4SR is excellent, if you have correct eartips and know what to look for.

Can't comment on the Grado. But left to myself, I'll pick the Etymotics over Grado for accurate reproduction.
 

SachinChavan

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I have owned the ER4PT. They are very neutral.

I have heard some people say that the 4XR has decent bass and the 4SR had too lean bass. I feel differently. I feel that some of the too-lean feedback comes from flawed seal of the eartips. You lose bass quickly if the seal is not good with any IEM. In addition, the SR has very good bass, but you need to be used to clean and balanced bass to appreciate it. In the world of speakers, those who have heard speakers with large drivers and sealed enclosures know what clean and accurate bass is like. Those who have only heard 6.5" drivers delivering huge bass using bass reflex enclosures have not heard clean bass, because such speakers only deliver the illusion of bass by accentuating certain frequencies. So, if you are after accurate bass, the 4SR is excellent, if you have correct eartips and know what to look for.

Can't comment on the Grado. But left to myself, I'll pick the Etymotics over Grado for accurate reproduction.
Thanks @tcpip and @muralimmreddy for your Inputs. I ordered the Etymotic ER4SR yesterday. I surely have a soft spot for Grado, and it could become my additional earphone/headphone later, but I realised that at this point in my audio journey I wanted to listen to sound that was ‘true to the ear’ (that’s actually the meaning of the word Etymotic as well). All that I read about Etymotic only convinced me that it’s a research oriented company for whom this is a passion and not just business, and the loyalty of their customers is undivided over decades. So I chose to ignore the weaknesses (eg cable shorts) and concerns (ear comfort) over the choice, and go for what I could get for sure - true sound. It will help ke develop my ear and build reference For improving my other (home stereo) system. Also I can check how much I get warmed up to linear speakers by spending a small fraction of what I’d need to say spend on ATC speakers. Now awaiting the delivery by Amazon US. Shall update on my experience after a few days of use.

Yes, I do realise that a proper seal is essential to enjoying this phone and I shall try out all the flanges and buds before settling on one.
 
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SachinChavan

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The Etymotic is here. Astounding delivery speed by Amazon and UPS - in under three days from US to home.

Initial impressions:

1. No lack of bass at all. (I am anyway not a bass head).
2. Far less treble roll off as compared to my home stereo system (no wonder as I knew about my Castle Knight’s roll off)
3. Glad to know that the tonality of my home system is right - if the ER4SR is the standard.
4. Delighted to see Etymotic’s passion for accuracy in the customised testing certificate with FR charts and measurements.

3F2333CD-C2D2-4481-9679-074B45373F10.jpeg

I shall reserve any insightful comments on the earphones till the burn in period is over.
 
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tcpip

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The Etymotic ER4 series has always been a sort of reference transducer, somewhat like the Beyerdynamic DT880. I have learned a lot about whst my speakers should really sound like by listening to the ER4.

Get yourself a good, neutral DAC+headphone amp. I have the ODAC + O2. I suggest the same, or something better, from JDS Labs instead of, for instance, the more popular but technically inferior and less accurate Shiit products.
 

SachinChavan

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The Etymotic ER4 series has always been a sort of reference transducer, somewhat like the Beyerdynamic DT880. I have learned a lot about whst my speakers should really sound like by listening to the ER4.

Get yourself a good, neutral DAC+headphone amp. I have the ODAC + O2. I suggest the same, or something better, from JDS Labs instead of, for instance, the more popular but technically inferior and less accurate Shiit products.
Shuvam, I have the Schiit Bifrost DAC and Valhalla2 headphone amp combo. It’s not too colored inspite or being a tube amp. I have enjoyed listening to my Beyerdynamic T1 (600 ohm) which it drives well. At the moment I am not exploring any change. But shall keep the suggestions in mind when I decide to upgrade.
 

arj

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how difficult is it to Drive Sachin ? have always been facinated by the etys but never bought one since was not too comfortable with shoving it in my ear !
 

SachinChavan

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how difficult is it to Drive Sachin ? have always been facinated by the etys but never bought one since was not too comfortable with shoving it in my ear !
@arj, this latest version (both ER4SR and ER4XR) is far easier to drive than the previous ER4S it replaced. Used directly with iPhone 11 Pro Max I had to set the volume at around 70% to get sufficient volume and the clarity/fidelity was more than satisfactory. Remember the iPhone volume dial isn’t linear, kind of logarithmic so this 70% may be actually 30-40% of the loudness one might get at full blast (don’t want to check that out though :)) So I believe most smartphones and DAPs should be able to drive. I didn’t want this to be exclusively for desktop use (with amplifier) and wanted to used during my walks too, hence was particular about this. And it is fine.
 
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arj

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@arj, this latest version (both ER4SR and ER4XR) is far easier to drive than the previous ER4S it replaced. Used directly with iPhone 11 Pro Max I had to set the volume at around 70% to get sufficient volume and the clarity/fidelity was more than satisfactory. Remember the iPhone volume dial isn’t linear, kind of logarithmic so this 70% may be actually 30-40% of the loudness one might get at full blast (don’t want to check that out though :)) So I believe most smartphones and DAPs should be able to drive. I didn’t want this to be exclusively for desktop use (with amplifier) and wanted to used during my walks too, hence was particular about this. And it is fine.
Thanks ! BTW are they recommended for walks Since they block out external noise ?
 

SachinChavan

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Thanks ! BTW are they recommended for walks Since they block out external noise ?
That was one of my concerns. I tried the flange tips which give best passive noise isolation. I realised I couldn’t hear vehicles till they came very close. So I loosened the fit just a little bit. That improved the surrounding sound awareness without impairing the sound quality by much. They also have other (foam) buds which have less isolation. I shall try them during walk. In any case, I use these for walks inside my complex which has slower traffic and early in morning when there are fewer vehicles. I wouldn’t advise using them on outside streets. Best usage would be when you are sitting in a vehicle - bus, aeroplane or train.
 
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Weathered

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I have a pair of ER3XR for more than a year now and use them mostly with my phone while at office and during travel. I didn't want to carry full sized closed back or noise cancelling headphones. It takes a few days to get used to the flange tips fit deep into the ear canal but the passive noise isolation works well. Phones driving them isn't a problem at all.
 
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