Etymotics ER2 Series

This is a thread to discuss the all-new Dynamic Driver Etymotics ER2 series of In-Ear Monitors. The series has both a Studio Edition (SE) and an Extended Response (XR) version for flat diffuse-field neutral and a slight bass boost version, respectively.

Company Info:

The new ER2SE delivers clear, accurate sound using high performance dynamic drivers. The ER2SE offers Etymotic’s renowned isolation featuring a variety of eartips to provide 35dB+ of noise reduction so you will hear all the detail buried in the mix without raising the volume to compensate for ambient noise. The flat frequency response of the ER2SE will appeal to sound professionals and audiophiles alike.

The ER2XR provides impactful bass response while maintaining the clarity in the midrange and highs that Etymotic is known for. The ER2XR offers Etymotic’s renowned isolation featuring a variety of eartips to provide 35dB+ of noise reduction so you will hear the detail buried in the mix without raising the volume to compensate for ambient noise. The high performance dynamic drivers in the ER2XR can satisfy the in-ear monitoring needs of musicians, while appealing to more casual listeners who like a bit more presence of bass.

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I have both the ER2 SE and XR in my possession now and here’s my measurements of both of the units:

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Interesting little IEM. The dynamic driver really seems to produce a lot of bass. Bought those yesterday, might post detailed impressions / a review later. Thanks for the thread @antdroid !

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Did you get the SE or the XR?

Actually bought the XR. It will be used mostly on public transport and MAYBE at the gym !

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I’m not really one to write impressions, especially with in ears, but the ER2SE helped bring me one step closer to a better understanding of what I want out of an IEM. I will go into sound as much as I can, but I’m personally more confident in doing comparisons with the IEM I’ve used frequently in the past, the VSonic GR07 Classic, especially since most of us know about how Ety tunes their IEMs. Without further ado, I’ll try to say ‘IEMs’ less from here on out.

Now, the reason I’m ditching my once-daily driver, the GR07 Classic (shortened to simply GR07), for the ER2SE (ER2), comes down to three reasons: treble issues with the GR07, general tuning preference, and finally, fit (which varies the most from person to person, so I won’t really go into much, if any, detail on that).

Before using the ER2, I was using the GR07 most of the time, which is, or rather was, the Discord’s primary recommendation for as long as I’ve been interested in this hobby. The GR07 is still a very strongly performing product to me, but the treble is pretty unnatural sounding to me, with slight sibilance (lucky considering that for some people it can very sibilant) and with cymbals sounding sightly awkward come to mind as examples. The ER2 really opened my eyes to what smooth treble can add to my listening enjoyment. The ER2 simultaneously comes off as more relaxed than the GR07 with the treble, yet simultaneously more engaging in the mids.

Not to say the ER2 is crushing the GR07 in every aspect. The GR07 is definitely more fun with a slightly better bass quality that one would associate with its biodynamic driver, or rather, a more full, dare I say, phat response. And even if the treble is wacky, the GR07 at least supplies a ‘sparkle’ to slightly make up for it. While the GR07 wins over for any electronic music listening, I’ll reach for the ER2 for almost any other genre.

The ER2SE really showed me what I was doing wrong with the Final E4000 and Campfire Audio Comet I owned in the past. Having treble that isn’t necessarily relaxed doesn’t mean it has to be fatiguing, and it took the Etymotic’s newest IEM to show me how ignorant I was.

Again, apologies if it wasn’t super in depth, this is my first “review”, but I’d be happy to answer any questions anyone has about it.

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Hi Max - Nice write-up! I have not had the chance to try the famous GR07 from VSonic, but I also did own the Comet. While I didn’t think any thing was wrong with the Comet, I found it quite boring. The Etymotics series can also fall into this trap of boring, but the ER2XR and SE have just enough goodness to them to really make me happy with the purchase. I prefer the XR myself over the SE as I did find the SE version to be a tad sterile, and the XR to have the warmer more musical sound signature that is more enjoyable to me. It would be great if there was something in-between the two SE/XR as that would be quite ideal.

I’m also writing my review of the two IEMs and I find both a wonderful, awesome value at this really budget price point. The isolation is also spot on great. The Fourth of July fireworks bonanza that extended wayyyy too late in my neighborhood was nullified by the Etys, and that was with no music playing. Only the loudest booms were faintly heard, and with music playing at the faintest of volumes, this all went away. Very nice!

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Funny you mention the Comet being boring, because when I initially wrote this review, I had a shotgun comparison of a few other IEMs that I scrapped because it didn’t add much imo, but the Comet section was pretty close to turning into a rant about just how painfully average that thing is. I can’t think of much it does uniquely wrong as a single BA but that thing does absolutely nothing above average. Shame because it’s got the best shell I’ve ever seen under $200.

I can agree that the ER2SE can be seen as a bit sterile but the treble is enough to keep it interesting on top of the vocals on this thing just being great. Listening to anything with Jeff Mangum’s (I know) voice is impressive on these things. I personally would take a more sterile IEM over a warm or bright one.

I would be willing to send you the GR07 sometime in the future to try for cost of shipping if you’d like! I don’t use it much anymore :pensive:.

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That being said, the FiiO FA1, something I was initially going to compare, reminds me a lot of an overall less resolving BA ER2SE for $100. Mid focused with a certain but not distracting dryness to the treble. The ER2 is better, but if you can do with a BA and need a non invasive fit, the FA1 is pretty solid for that sort of tuning.

Hmm I may have to take you up on that offer at some point when I get through my growing queue of stuff. :slight_smile:

Im gonna post my review now.

My ER2 Series Review: https://www.antdroid.net/2019/07/etymotics-research-is-well-established.html

Etymotics Research is a well-established company researching and developing products and tools for safer hearing and their ER4 series of in-ear canal phones have been around for a very long time with great popularity and success.

A few years ago, they released the latest ER4 series, the ER4SR (Studio Reference) and ER4XR (Extended Response), using their latest balanced armature driver. This was soon followed by ER3 series, which reduced the impedance and moved its production from the USA to China and reduced the price by half while providing similar sound profiles in both the SR and XR versions, named ER3SE (Studio Edition) and ER3XR (Extended Response).

Earlier this year, the ER2 series was released to market. The unique different between the ER3 and ER4 with the ER2 is the balanced armature style driver has been replaced with a more traditional dynamic driver, in a tiny micronized fashion to fit in the same shell design as the ER3/ER4 series.

THE ER2 SERIES

The ER2 series comes with the same accessories as the ER3 series – a carrying pouch, a set of small and large tri-flange silicone tips, a set of foam tips, and an extra pair of filters and a tool to remove them. Like the ER3/ER4, the cable is detachable and features an mmcx connection just like the formers. The housing and cable split are now in a royal blue color as opposed to a more traditional black and gunmetal colorway.

ER2 DYNAMIC DRIVER

Users of the BA versions of the Etymotics will be right at home with the Eytmotics house sound – a Diffuse Field signature that essentially puts every frequency on a level playing field – some may call it neutral. It’s a great reference sound signature that is easily appreciated and maybe somewhat boring.

The dynamic driver versions are actually quite nice. They add a more natural tonality to them, with ever so subtle changes in how the ear phones sound in your ear, despite measurements of the ER2 and ER3 Studio Editions being quite similar. The ER2SE does have a slightly warmer sound than the respective ER3 and ER4 siblings, and this does help make the organic sound of the dynamic driver shine a bit. The slight bass boost also gives a little more energy all around, while still being a bit sterile in nature.

The XR version features a bigger bass boost than the XRs of the BA variety and with the dynamic driver in tow, the warmer, richer sound is very engaging and just the right amount of gain that is needed to turn the sterile SE version into a musical gem. The ER2XR also has a slightly more noticeable wider soundstage, which helps a little bit with congestion.

The XR and SE pack a lot of detail retrieval and resolution into a small form factor, and outclass anything at $129 and easily above other price points until you, of course, reach its older siblings. And while the BA versions do have quite good technicalities and an airy sound to them, I still prefer the dynamic ER2 over them for their more natural tonality and timbre and their improved bass and low-end performance.

The XR in particular has a thicker sound than what I was expecting, and even has some subbass rumble to it. The mids aren’t quite as forward and clean as the SE model, but both still perform will with respect to their traits. The dynamic driver is quick and fast, and cleaner than I would ever expect one to be at the price point it’s selling for, especially for a well-established respected company like Etymotics.

ISOLATION

For isolation, I put the ER2 to the test on the Fourth of July. With fireworks booming and blasting everywhere around me outside, I stuck the ER2, tri-flange tips, in and it muffled all but the most loudest and most illegal of fireworks. And that was with no music playing! These are great for noisy environments. They won’t cut out everything, but they’ll do a lot better job than most passive and active noise cancellation systems. With a little faint volume music playing, all the fireworks celebrations vanished. Magic.

OTHER COMPARISONS

I wanted to touch base with a few other IEMs in this price range that I really like a lot. Namely, the Moondrop Kanas Pro and the BGVP DMS. They are considerably different than the ER2 but worth looking at.

Moondrop Kanas Pro

First the Moondrop Kanas Pro is a more Harman Tuning than the Diffuse Field tuned ER2SE, so right off the bat, you’re going to hear a lot more bass quantity and more recessed mids in the Kanas Pro than the ER2SE. The XR variant, however, does have a warmer bass boost, and actually results in a richer mid section that’ll make male vocals more thick and natural. The Kanas Pro will beat both variants in terms of soundstage and air, and gives it a much more open space. That said, the ER2s meet or exceed the Kanas Pro in details and just general tonality.

BGVP DMS

The BVGP DMS is almost the complete opposite, but I really like it. It’s open-back and does not seal at all. So that’s a night and day difference from the Etymotics. But the DMS has a lot more “fun” factor in that it boosts both the bass and the treble response and provides a very open soundstage that can make your feet move, much more easily than the more sterile and toned down ER2 series. This is a complete 180 from the ER2 series and both would compliment each other quite well for a fun and an analytical IEM duo.

OVERALL

At the end of the day, this review has kind of gone a little bit all over the place, and maybe I can blame that for writing bits and pieces of it over a week’s time instead of coherently writing it in a shorter period of one or two sittings. Luckily, I don’t need to say a whole lot more other than that everyone should try one of these models out. They may surprise you with how much better they work than many active noise cancellation headphones out there, and then shock you again with how good they actually sound for a great price. They do go heel to heel and perhaps best the ER3, and could even be preferred to the ER4, depending on sonic preferences.

You may ask, which do I prefer?

I prefer the ER2XR over the SE. The bass boost provides are more enjoyable warmer experience that I think will benefit for plane and train travel, as well as just giving a more relaxing listen. The SE does a lot of things right however, and I think many will enjoy the more analytical nature of it as well.

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I have been listening to the ER2XR for the past two weeks and it has been a very pleasant experience so far. I will try to describe the sound as best as I can and provide additionnal thoughts on these IEMs along the way.

Little story behind the purchase : I have been in the hobby for around 8-9 years and was primarily interested in headphones for the most part of those years, until recently. I tried the Tin T3 and then decided that I wanted something more for work, exercising and public transport, so I got these through Amazon Canada, buying it using my own money.

The gear used : most of the time, the ER2XR was connected into the single-ended’s output of the EarStudio ES100, which was paired to my phone via Bluetooth 5.0 (LDAC or aptX HD). As far as I can tell, I couldn’t make a difference between this and my iFi iDSD micro Black Label, but I did notice some improvements (mostly in instrument separation) compared to the 3.5mm output of my phone. Although a good source is beneficial to the sound, I wouldn’t say it’s a necessity. As long as the output impedance of the source is less than 1.5-2 ohms, it should be low enough.

Music choices : I listen to various genres of music, but I found myself testing these with mostly rock, metal and instrumental stuff. The bands used include the likes of Chevelle, Gojira, Steven Wilson / Porcupine Tree, Jinjer, Dream Theater, Haken, TesseracT, Anup Sastry, Monuments, Killswitch Engage, Architects, Animals as Leader, Periphery and Alter Bridge.

The fit : probably what is most notorious about Etymotic IEMs. These were my first “deep insertion” experience and it wasn’t easy at first, but with some getting used to, it did get better and more comfortable. I used the bigger triple flange eartips that came in the box for the majority of the testing. Finding a good fit is VERY important with any IEM, but it is especially true with the ER2XR. Getting a correct and stable fit provides the best sound and passive isolation (rated at around 30-35 dB).

The sound : the most important part. I will try to describe it in three separate sections : lows, mids and highs. First of all, the lows. The star of the show in my opinion. The dynamic driver used in the ER2XR provides good impact and sounds pretty tight too. It is not muddy and it certainly isn’t recessed. Instead, it is directly in your face and can’t be ignored. Bass guitars and drums seem realistic and there is a healthy amount of detail to this range of the spectrum. Listening to heavy metal and djent on these was really a fun experience, I could almost lose myself to the music. Overall, I was very satisfied with the bass, but do keep in mind that I am not a basshead, even though I do like a good amount of it.

Second part are the mids. Those are pretty good. They sound natural and fairly detailed to me. Guitars have a nice tone to them and each note can be heard distinctly. This was particularly important in fast and technical music. I also found this frequency spectrum to be easy to listen to. I didn’t feel like there were any unpleasant peaks or dips. It is a bit recessed compared to the bass though, but it wasn’t too bad. Male and female vocals sounded fine, but nothing spectacular. Words can be heard with good separation.

Third part are the highs. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about those is “laid-back”. It is never aggressive or fatiguing. The ER2XR can be listened for multiple hours in a row without an issue. This characteristic of the sound can make detail retrieval a bit harder to achieve though and the treble region can be drowned by the other frequencies sometimes. I didn’t find this to be a problem for my use case (work and public transport), as I wasn’t doing any intense critical listening, but I understand that this could be annoying to some.

Overall, the ER2XR falls into the “warmer” side of neutral. It has great bass extension, good mid presence and ok-ish treble section. For the price (bought new for $180 CAD), I’m having a hard time not recommending it. Would this be an upgrade coming from something like the Tin T2 or T3 ? Definitely. If you need excellent isolation and great DD bass, I can’t think of another IEM in this price range that would do the same.

Anyway, that will do it for this small review / impressions of the ER2XR. Let me know if I missed anything.

Thanks for reading and hope you pick up a pair !

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Great impressions. I had the Er4xr and loved the sound but could not get on with the fit at all.

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Yeah, it can be hard to get the correct fit with Etymotics or even a fit at all. Sound is worth it though !

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