Drop + Etymotic ERX IEM Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by purr1n, Aug 2, 2022.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Etymotic needs no introduction when it comes to IEMs. They were around during the early days (before most of you kids in 2022 obtained sentience) and a proponent of their "diffuse field" target. The ER-4S, pictured below, can arguably be called the HD600 of the IEM world. If you didn't own one, you at least heard one, most likely being able to borrow a friend's ER4S for an extended period of the time.

    upload_2022-8-2_8-50-1.png
    ER-4S with triple flange deep penetrator tips.

    The ER-4S was finicky. Most complaints revolved around it sounding too thin, having too much emphasis around the pinna gain region 2-3kHz, and having a small spike in the treble. The secret to using the ER-4S was super deep insertion, usually with the treble flange penetrator tips. Naturally, most people did not like the feeling of having their ear holes penetrated so deeply.

    Now what seems like 15 or more years later, the folks at Drop have collaborated with Etymotic to make a new version called the ERX for people who did not want their ear holes assaulted. There's now a normal IEM body instead of a phallic tube. In addition, a set of tips is included that provides a good seal with a good tonal signature (that is not lean or spiky in the highs). At least for me it did. FWIW, I did try the triple flange tip and could not get it to work properly because the body of the IEM prevents deep insertion. Anyway, why did it take so long?

    PXL_20220802_134104080.jpg
    Drop + Etymotic ERX IEM

    I would have to say that this is the most agreeable Ety yet to my ears. There's a good amount of bass that extends low. It's not overdone. Of course tastes and gear references vary, thus I can see many IEM users wanting moar bass, moar upper-mids, more treble, a la the Harmon Curve, which this community on average happens to somewhat disagree with (or vehemently disagree when comes to its IE target).

    It would say, take the stock ER-4S tuning, lift the bass a bit, lower the highs a bit, and keep the 2-3kHz bump. The 2-3kHz bump is slightly too much for my ears, probably because my pinna amplify this region more than what Ety expected. IEMs bypass pinna, so inverse HRTF curves will never be perfect. However, things were not so far off that I wasn't able to acclimate after a few songs.
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Drop + Etymotic ERX IEM
    Frequency Response
    (SBAF compensation)
    upload_2022-8-2_9-20-47.png

    Compared to other IEMs, ER4s, and GAudio Nair (considered by most here on SBAF to be the IEM with the most accurate tonal signature / frequency response)

    Drop + Etymotic ERX IEM (blue and red)
    Ety ER4SR (grey)
    Frequency Response
    upload_2022-8-2_9-22-14.png


    Drop + Etymotic ERX IEM (BLU and RED)
    GAudio Nair (GRY)
    Frequency Response
    upload_2022-8-2_9-24-9.png
     
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    Last edited: Aug 2, 2022
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Drop + Etymotic ERX IEM
    Distortion vs Frequency at Various SPL (at 1kHz)
    upload_2022-8-2_10-10-18.png

    We can see tight grouping of the 3rd harmonic. This is a balanced armature (BA) driver. Sometimes I wonder if a darker frequency response slope is better for BA type IEMs. I know some people find BA type drivers grating. I sometimes do myself. I did not find the ERX timbre annoying at all. There was another Drop BA IEM that was dirt cheap that was tuned similarly dark which I also did not have any issue with.
     
  4. YMO

    YMO Scatologically ribald obsessive

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    This is interesting....loaner?
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Drop + Etymotic ERX IEM
    Impedance (GRN) and Electrical Phase (GRY)
    upload_2022-8-2_10-21-54.png

    Nominal impedance is 45-ohms, rising to 60-ohms at 10kHz. Higher output impedance will lift the highs slightly, not much.

    FWIW, one thing I really like about the Etys is that they are NOT super sensitive. This allows us to use tube amps or high-gain (which usually sounds better). I had no problems with a Vali 2+ on high-gain.

    Pretty sure this will be possible. Asking right now.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2022
  6. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Sorry, they ARE super sensitive or they are not?
     
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  7. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Presuming NOT super sensitive since I can easily use my ER2XRs with tubes and hybrids quite well.

    @purr1n not gonna be looking at new IEMs for a long while now (heaven forbid) but just as a datapoint how's resolution and treble smoothness compared to the DD 2XR if you've tried that? Curious about macrodynamics too since the DD in the 2XRs already disappoint a fair bit there.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 2, 2022
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    NOT. Typo.
     
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Will have to defer to @shotgunshane since I never got ears on Ety's DD 2 series. I wouldn't say these are the most dynamic or explosive. The ERX's strengths are cohesiveness and relaxed tuning. It's still an ER4 series, but with different tuning, and a more agreeable housing and optimized tips so that deep insertion is not necessary. The ER4S(R) in comparison is more bright monitor, like a vintage NS10 without any toilet paper in front of the tweeter. I think the treble will be smooth enough to most ears. I can still pick out the inherent peak in the highs, but it's more difficult because the highs are shelved down just a bit.
     
  10. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    I'm dumb WRT physics but something about narrow opening = less "level" treble balance and more focus around a specific peak? The 2XR is dark to me but with a notable peak somewhere midtreble regardless of insertion depth. The nozzles here look a whit more open? Hopefully helps with balance.

    Less inclined to take FR here at face value because... IEM measurements are a pain, but cross referencing your ER4SR squiggles with @Crinacle's of the same model seems like the ERXes are a more chill listen.
     
  11. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    My review unit was just delivered today. After I post a review, I’ll send it on a SBAF USA tour.

    The ERX is essentially an ER4XR in an EVO housing with slightly different tuning. I was an early proto tester and can say that earlier unit was indeed tuned a little different than a regular ER4XR (warmer, smoother) but I’m not sure what has changed since then. I haven’t opened the production unit just yet. I’ll have comparisons with the ER4XR, ER-4S and an ER2.
     
  12. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    Sure, but just for fun...

    Frequency response deviations for output Zs of 18 Ohms (green; approx. Valhalla 2 & Folkvangr on high gain) and 54 Ohms (purple; high-impedance output of SW51); impedance curve in tan:

    [​IMG]

    Using these amps with low gain, or the impedance multiplier of Folkvangr on high gain, or the old Vali 2 (high gain ~6 Ohms output Z; the Vali 2+ is ~2 Ohms) will result in deviations less than the green curve - pretty much none.
     
  13. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Drop is already sending us one for a loaner. :). @shotgunshane has it now.
     
  14. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    The tips look quite a bit like the Westone Star tips that are my favorites for my er4xr. They seal almost as well as the ear-rape triple flanges (that's a joke, I actually don't mind them, at least for a couple hours) without much if any loss in sq or bass response, although the isolation isn't as good. I don't mind that because they still seal better than the vast majority of non-custom iems.
     
  15. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    I see "dampers" that look like little green tubes that go optionally into the nozzles. @purr1n did your pack include a pair of these? Wondering how they'd influence measured FR and/or distortion as well as subjectives.
     
  16. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    If they are equipped like the er4, they come with the green ones installed with an extra set. Ety also sells a tuning kit. 4 dampers of each color. I've only used the middle three, but to my ears they make a pretty significant difference, even just one step.

    20220802_170930.jpg
     
  17. animus

    animus Almost "Made"

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    This is awesome and all, but I'd leap out of my seat and buy one right away if they gave this treatment to the ER2 instead of the ER4. I always liked the timbre and tone on that one more than any ER4 variant I've heard, and making it a normal IEM and not a literal ear dildo would obsolete a lot of other much more expensive stuff on the market IMO.
     
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  18. luisdent

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    I have the er2xr and exr. To me the exr (like the er4xr) has smoother treble than the er2xr. the er2xr exhibits a bit more of a firmness and texture for better or worse. The exr is very very smooth to me. The response is slightly darker, but as the drop is fairly smooth it surprisingly doesn't come off as dull or muffled really. just more laid back. sort of reminiscent of the hd600 vs hd650.

    the er2xr comes off as darker with green filters. i use brown filters in mine and it almost gives the er2xr er4sr treble shape with the better bass slope. for resolution and smoothness i'd go with erx. for crispness and firm texture quality i'd go with er2xr...
     
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  19. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Will see if I have time. I'm tempted not to try the filters because the EXR have a relaxed sound already. Don't want to tune them like Audezes. :p

    Indeed and I'm glad you pointed this out. ERX is dark, but it isn't rolled. Highs are more evident than the FR graphs would indicate. However, the ERX does lack last octave air to my ears.


    Drop + Etymotic ERX IEM (CYA)
    Ety ER4SR (VIO)
    Ety ER4XR (GRY)
    Frequency Response
    upload_2022-8-3_9-26-34.png


    ER4XR is an ER4SR with slightly more bass.
    ERX is an ER4XR is toned down highs.
     
  20. luisdent

    luisdent Facebook Friend

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    yes, i find it reaolving and clear, but definitely more smooth than airy up top.

    mentioning filters, I'm curious how the brown or white filters would affect the sound. they would increase treble...
     

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