Drop + Etymotic ERX IEM Review and Measurements

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

  1. Joshvar

    Joshvar Facebook Friend

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    Fitment question (and I guess this applies to Evo) and hope I explain it well enough - my ear canals are pretty differently angled. As point of reference, I have a Mee Pinnacle PX it has 2 things working against it with my ears:
    1. Due to the ear canal angle vs the nozzle to body angle of the IEM, they end up sticking out at the "bottom" - the IEM body/part near my ear lobe and this causes the over ear portion of the cable to become a "flapping in the breeze and pulling it out of my ear" cable frequently.
    2. The nozzle is pretty shallow, so getting a good fit is tough if it doesn't neatly tuck in to your concha.
    Anything in the form factor of like the JVC FD* and Noble are too shallow and angle doesn't lever well for grip, and the best has been the Massdrop Plus.

    The Evo/ER-X have a different design which looks like a better fit (it looks kinda close to the Massdrop Plus, but hard to tell...from the few pictures I've seen), but it's similar enough to give me pause at $250 - the tonality sounds like what I want in an IEM so if any of you (I know Marv had the PX or P1 back in the day) can comment I'd really appreciate it.
     
  2. luisdent

    luisdent Facebook Friend

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    i can't comment on whether it will fit you ears, but i had the fdx01 for a while and the erx is a much deeper and more secure fit. there are a few tip styles, and they do fit differently from each other. tge fdx01 was a more flat and round shape whereas the erx has a more ear molded shape a bit. so for me it sits in my inner ear deeply and hugs the shape of my outer ear nicely. so it seems possible it might fit your needs, but hard to say. etymotic probably has a good return policy. I'm sure you could get them and if they really didn't fit return them... just a thought.
     
  3. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Drop + Etymotic ERX Review
    MSRP $299 Pre-Order $249

    Etymotic, hot on the heals of their 2021 first in-concha, over-the-ear wear style, multi-driver EVO, is now ready, in collaboration with Drop, to release a stripped down version of the EVO. Or is it a hot-rodded version of the ER4XR?

    The ERX utilizes the stainless steel housing of the EVO, with a matte black finish and dueling logos (Drop and ETY) on right and left faceplates. Inside is the single armature of the ER4XR but juiced up in tuning for a more fun, more dynamic, yet more-so easy to-get-along-with signature. That’s a whole lotta more.

    The fit of the EVO shell is so much more (that word again) comfortable than the barrel, brain-tickling style fit of the old school Etys. Combined with the newer medium dual-flanged tips Ety provides, I can insert and remove the ERX much quicker and easier than the old school barrel Etys.

    The cable is a version the Linum BaX with T2 connector. As far as I know, this connector is proprietary to Linum, however more manufacturers are starting to use it ( including Westone and Ultimate Ears). I prefer the Super BaX version, which comes on the EVO, as it is more supple and pliable but unfortunately costs double the regular BaX. The BaX version for the ERX is somewhat springy feeling and has a bit too aggressive preformed ear-hooks for my tastes but never-the-less is fairly friendly to the glasses wearer.

    The ERX comes with some of the elongated Westone style single flange tips, as well as Ety dual and triple flange tips. For the me, the new duals in medium are so much more comfortable than any previous Ety tip; they are also slightly shorter, so perhaps this is part of the reason for that extra comfort.

    Rounding out the accessories are a couple of extra filters, a tool to remove the old ones and Drop branded, oval zipper case. Simple and utilitarian.

    As mentioned before, the ERX tuning is somewhat of a juiced up or hot-rodded ER4XR. Drop bills it as a tuning somewhere between the ER4XR and the EVO and I’d have to agree. While the ERX begins to stray a little more consumer than the ER4XR, it still doesn’t get too far removed from a reference and neutral-ish signature. The ERX is a downward sloping frequency response. Bass is full and pleasing, yet well controlled and nicely textured. The midrange is a little fuller and richer than the ER4XR, yet still maintains the trademark Ety clarity and transparency. Treble, on the ERX, is relaxed, smooth and a little dark. Overall it is a warm-neutral, yet musical presentation.

    Comparisons
    via Mac Mini >> Pi2AES (via AES) >> RME ADI-2 PRO FS R

    Vs ER4XR

    The ERX bass is fuller and denser. It also comes across warmer and deeper sounding than the ER4XR. Even though I expect extension is similar, it's just that the boost just feels more palpable down low. Even though the ERX boost is fuller and richer, it isn’t necessarily better textured than the ER4XR. The ERX controls its bass boost well and doesn’t feel looser than the ER4XR. Overall I’d say the bass boost of the ERX is bit more pleasing and satisfying.

    The midrange is plenty clear on both models, however the ERX is richer and fuller with both male and female vocals. On the ER4XR they all leaner with more energy and greater sense of transparency. This leaner midrange is also more nuanced and resolving of lower level detail, for better or worse. In contrast the ERX is just the next level smoother and more forgiving. Where the ER4XR can present recorded sibilants more forward, the ERX tends to smooth them over, for an easier going, albeit somewhat less resolving presentation.

    The trend continues with rock distortion guitars. They are noticeably fuller sound on the ERX, as well as smoother, with comparatively more rounded transients. The ER4XR has greater bite and attack, giving rock guitars more crunch.

    The ER4XR is brighter in lower treble, where the upper mid transitions into treble. The ERX sounds somewhat duller and darker here. Cymbals have less splash and sparkle and seem further back in the presentation.

    There’s not a whole lot of difference in staging; both are pretty much in-head, like most Etys, but the ERX feels more dynamic with a bit better portrayal of depth. Overall the ERX comes across as a slightly safer, slightly more consumer oriented tuning compared to the more reference ER4XR tuning. While slightly less resolving and nuanced than the ER4XR, the ERX is easier to get along with, easier to just get lost in the music without concentrating quite so hard on the detail.


    Vs ER2XR

    The ER2XR bass is fuller and more robust. It also lingers longer with more overt texturing. While extension seems ultimately similar, the ER2XR rumbles a good bit louder and longer, and the dynamic driver bass of the ER2XR has a bit more natural roundedness to it. In contrast, the ERX sounds much better controlled, and more tastefully restrained in its level of boost. The ER2XR bass is certainly fun but is obviously much more removed from a reference signature.

    The ER2XR places both male and female vocals much more forward and considerably richer, whereas the ERX is feels more neutrally balanced and natural in comparison. The ER2XR also pushed natural sibilants more forward and was overall less smooth throughout the midrange.

    Rock guitars are thicker, yet more aggressive on the ER2XR, while acoustic guitar reverberations, if mic’d a bit hot, can be somewhat overwhelming on the ER2XR. The ERX maintains a more balanced composure that is both smoother and better nuanced of low level detail.

    Both of the Ety’s are bit more forgiving in treble, compared to the more reference tunings in the ER4 series. Cymbals and hi-hats have a bit more more presence in the ER2XR, making the ERX sound just a bit too smoothed over in comparison.

    Both, again, present a mostly in-head presentations. Perhaps the ER2XR sounds a little deeper front to back while staging everything much closer to the listener. The ERX places you a few rows further way, as well as sounding a little wider left to right.


    End Note

    Drop and Ety successfully pulled off their Frankensteined project. The ERX is different enough from either of its progenitors to be a unique and compelling offering. It looks good, its pretty comfortable for an Ety, and best of all, it sounds really good. Well done.
     
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  4. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    Last second question for @shotgunshane before the loaner starts. Do these provide as much isolation as the usual tube Etys? Tyll's explanation and measurements from https://www.soundguys.com/etymotic-er2se-review-29943/ give me the impression that the deep fit coupling to your skull is meant to give some ANC-ish isolation that works against rumble, which is what I'm looking for to complement my FDX01s on buses and flights.
     
  5. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    @Ash1412 Nearly. I think the barrel style Ety’s do isolate more, as they can go deeper with triple flange tips. The ERX is limited how deep it can get with it’s concha fit shells. But it’s isolation is still way above average.
     
  6. YMO

    YMO Scatologically ribald obsessive

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    Life been busy on my end, so keeping impressions short.


    Sources:

    PI2AES > Bifrost 2 (Old Card) > Vali 2+
    Cayin RU6 Dongle from iPhone 13

    There’s Rule 34 images of “ear rape” images of Etymotic IEMs with animu girls on some Discord rooms that I saw in the past. With that being said, I haven’t owned an Etymotic IEM since I had my bases covered regarding what I was looking for with IEMs. I saw the positive impressions of the ERX so I was like why not.


    Build Quality/Packaging:

    ERX comes in a standard black box with the Drop logo on it where it comes with the IEMs, six pairs of tips, a cleaning tool, carrying case and more/less thats it. The carrying case is solid but nothing special, it has Drop written on the top of the case. The IEMs themselves are nothing like the infamous “ear rape” design, it look like standard IEMs with earhook. Build quality of the IEMs are good, but I do not like the T2 connector that goes away from the common MMCX/Two-Pin Connector standard. I just do not like proprietary cables and this is a negative against the ERX IMO.

    The IEMs themselves fit mostly fine, but depending on the tip it might bring back “ear rape” memories to a minor tee. I use the Ety dual flange tips in Medium since they fit me the best. But even with them I do have to push them a little more in my ear canal than my other IEMs like the Moondrop Kato and the CA Andromeda 2020 version. For most people it wouldn’t be an issue, but if you really really do not like deep fitting in the ear canal IEMs, then the ERX is 50/50 you may/may not like it. For the record I prefer the Moondrop Kato in my ears over the ERX.


    Sound:

    In one statement: A very balanced warm-neutral IEM in a single-BA Driver Design that is extremely competent, but has some of the flaws that is normal with BA Driver IEMs.

    From top/bottom I didn’t have any real serious flaws with the sound. The bass is fuller in hearing, which helps bring out fuller vocals in the midrange, but in classic BA Driver fashion you do not feel the sub-bass at all. While I can still learning to bass hitting tracks and enjoy them on the ERX, this is where I prefer to bring out my DD Driver IEMs for it. Mids are very clear for the most part, but on the smoothish side of things. If you want even the most amount of detail retrieval, perhaps the ERX may not be for you. But if you want to listen to an IEM for hours and don’t give a shit about the last 3% of detail, ERX will do the bill. Highs are laid down and mellowish, a classic example of the highs being Dark. I do not mind this since one I am bias for darker highs and two the darker highs can compensate the harsh highs that I find with some BA Driver IEMs. With that being said, part of the treble to me have the crustiness/snappyish borderline silbilance sound with percussions that I found to be common with BA Driver on the ERX. If you hate this sound, the ERX is not for you. At least the timbre isn’t plastic sounding, so that is a plus. Soundstage is in your head, and not really 3D sounding at all. Another time of importance: These are not sensitive IEMs for power delivery, so these might be better on a desktop setup or a high performing portable rid. Even on high gain on the Cayin RU6 dongle via iPhone I was close to maxing out the volume knob. On my Vali 2+ I run the ERX on low gain but on 12 o’clock (which is higher in volume needs than my 2020 Andro which needs less volume knob for high music volume).

    I am not going to lie, with the loaner I was listening to the ERX for ten hours in two days due to the balance of being musical without going off the rails. While it has some flaws, it is a very enjoyable listen that is very competent in the warm-neutral world of things from a single BA Driver. The competency is in my opinion the greatest strength of the ERX.


    Pricing Issues:

    To me the biggest negative of the ERX is its current MSRP. At the $250 Pre-Order Price its kind-of pricey for what it is offering: A single BA Driver IEM. At the $300 Final Release Price its too overpriced for the hyper competitive IEM market. This might sound like a shill comment, but Moondrop been killing the cheaper end of the IEM market. Most on SBAF would most likely prefer the DD Driver on the Moondrop Kato at $190, since it doesn’t have the standard BA flaws that can make/break a purchase. If you have a vocal fetish then there’s the Tanchjim Oxygen at $270, or even the JVC HA-FDX1 at $280! Then there’s the 7hz Timeless at around $200. These are before you start looking at the pre-owned market. At the full $300 Final Release Price you are right near the Moondrop Blessing 2 for a few dollars more, which is IMO is a few levels above the ERX, but in a more neutral presentation. Personally I think the ERX should be at $200 max in order to be very competitive in the IEM market.


    Final Thoughts:

    If you don’t mind/prefer the BA Driver sound + Looking for a competent sound + Don’t mind spending more in the competitive IEM market, then purchase the ERX with the Pre-Order price. For me it is very hard to recommend the ERX at the $300 Final Release Price. It is a shame, since the ERX is a very wonderful product that does so many things right. With DROP’s input they moved the ERX to a balance of musical sound without going too crazy, but in the process they might made the ERX a little too non-competitive by its MSRP.

    There's still a lot of room available for the current loaner. Even with my negatives this is an IEM people should listen to since competency is a good thing.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 1, 2022
  7. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    While I have not heard the erx, I bought my er4xr used for $90. A steal at the price. But for 300? B2 all day long. The B2 is better independent of price. If the fit is ok for you, go for the B2.
     
  8. scapeinator1

    scapeinator1 Once You Go Black You'll Never Go Back

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    Thanks again for allowing me to participate in the loaner.

    I just want to start this off by saying that I genuinely think that more people should sign up for the loaner. I know that it doesn't necessarily tick off a lot of the boxes that get people interested (it's not DD, not that inexpensive, etymotics can be intimidating, etc).

    The main reason why I would encourage people to try it is that it does have a distinct tuning from a lot of the options that YMO brought up.

    At this point, I know that I write this in every IEM review I have ever done, but yes, I'm that guy that always complains about upper mids and treble running too hot. Indeed, it's just the reality of my ears and it sucks because it makes me very picky.

    Many of you probably saw from purr1n's measurements that there is a peak at slightly below 3k and so you might be surprised to hear given my uppermids-phobia that I actually quite enjoyed these. The issue is that many other IEMS will peak past 3k and they will continue this elevation in the 5k-6k range. That elevation is something that just doesn't jive with me. By peaking earlier and then sharply diving, I find that the ERX is able to give the impression of detail while also making the IEM present far less harshly than it could have. Now as purr1n said, this does mean that the ERX is a little bit lacking in terms of air and it does present as somewhat darker, but it does still capture details and presents them to you. Details with minimal pain essentially. Vocals were quite good and a little bit forward. I will say that if you for some reason wanted more treble energy, you could try the single flange tips which come included (I used the double flange like others did).

    The treble isn't perfect in terms of texture, but they do a good job of hiding that from view by shelving a lot of it down. I have said it before and I will say it again. If the treble texture isn't great; I prefer it to be shelved down a bit.

    I found myself listening to these for the full 10 days of the loaner very often (sorry for going a little bit over :() but I think that is a testament to how non-fatiguing these are. However, I could definitely see physical comfort being hit or miss for some people so I would strongly recommend trying them first if you can. After all, what's the point of dropping hundreds of dollars if it makes your ears sore or if you can't tolerate double flanges.

    I generally don't have much to say about the bass and midrange. The bass was elevated a bit, but didn't feel out of balance and it was enjoyable for all types of music I tried including electro and hip-hop.

    As for the discussion about pricing, I do generally agree that they run a bit expensive. However, the reality is that the ERX does present an alternative approach to tuning out of all of the competitors. For this reason, I would recommend that people who are shopping in this price range at least try it out. Here's how I like to think about it. When a sound signature is very in line with your preferences, you are much more likely to reach for the IEM in question. This results in more hours used and therefore more value is derived from the IEM. After all, an IEM that sits unused or rarely used is just a paper weight with wires attached. Oftentimes, initial novelty can convince us to overlook small annoyances or clashes with our personal preferences. But long-term usage in the end bears out how much you really liked or did not like an IEM.

    I could see the ERX being that IEM that certain people reach for by default and gets many hundreds-thousands of hours of enjoyment out of. However, just know that if you are tempted to sidegrade from something in this price bracket, this IEM is comparable in terms of technical performance to other IEMs I have heard recently (Kato, Blessing 2 Dusk, FDX1). You would not be missing out. If you are happy with what you have, then keep it, use it, and enjoy your life. But I would recommend that people who have found themselves slightly unhappy with other tunings they have encountered to try the ERX out. This might be the alternative you have been looking for.
     

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