Etymotic ER4XR

8.5 score
[Editors rating (8.5)] = (TheGearHunt) score (8.5)/10

Editor rating: 8.5 / 10
User's rating: based on 0 user ratings
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Etymotic ER4XR Review Facts

In-ear monitors can be one of the most amazing things a person can wear when it comes to listening to music or watching a movie, whatever can be done while wearing any sort of headset. Like all headsets, finding these is easy, and they can be found in all sorts of styles and at various price levels. Having said this, there is the point that the most expensive pair is not always the best.

Sometimes things just get over-priced without the worth to the consumer. This company knows what they are doing where headsets are concerned. They’ve been making headsets and IEMs since the early 1990s, giving them an edge in experience. Now, this is where the look at this headset truly begins.

Editor's Pros & Cons

Well built

Not fancily designed

Excellent sound negation

The cable is nearly 5ft. long


Cord carries sound if brushed

Activities for Use

As long as people find a way to keep control on the cord to this headset, almost anything is possible. A big thing to keep in mind is the fact that this IEM is not waterproof, so going swimming with them in would not be a good idea. But, if someone has a small pouch, bag, or even a jacket with a deep enough pocket, doing almost any task is possible for a person.

So, if the owner of this headset could control the cord and keep it from being damaged or destroyed, then the owner could, say go for a bike ride, go jogging or hiking. And while this headset can be good at most tasks, they work just as well while just sitting around and listening to music or watching a movie.

Also, a thing to keep in mind is the fact that the company does sell a small traveling case that is smaller than the case that comes with this headset so that a person can control the cord more easily and open up options on what they can do while wearing this headset.

Basic Features

There is little to state about the basic features. From the very basic design of this headset, it is obvious as to what this pair of IEMs are used for. Of course, the very simple appearance of this pair is deceptive in what they give for sound quality. Plug them in and they are ready to do their job. Of course, they are wired IEMs, and therefore have certain needs to be seen too.

Also, putting this headset on is rather different, as they are meant to go deep into the ear, far deeper than most headsets. We’ll explain this in more detail a little later on in the article.

Advanced Features

Now for the fun part where we look at the more advanced functions that this pair of in-ear monitors carry. We earlier stated that the design of this headset is very simple, which can lead to the question “But if they are simple, how can there be anything advanced about them?” And that is a good question to ask, really. The simple design of these IEMs does have a hidden side to it.

The audio drivers are attached to the cord by an MMCX connector, meaning that if either the cord or the drivers somehow become damaged and unable to be used, they can be switched out with replacement parts. Also, the latex ear pads can be switched out for a variety of different styles, the wearer’s comfort being something key in marking if this in-ear monitor is worth the price. This pair comes with several replacement pads and in varying styles. Another thing to mention as an advanced feature is a fact that it comes with a jack enlarger.

What this means is if someone wanted to use this pair of IEMs with an amplifier, it is possible. On top of all the other features these offer, there is still one more thing to note, really. These guys have a filter in them that protects the drivers from dirt and ear wax. These filters are replaceable, and they come with the proper tool and multiple replacement filters. Not too shabby, Etymotic.

Sound Quality

The sound quality of this headset is something that is rather interesting. The sound quality is very ‘accurate’, focusing on the mid-range sound compared to focusing on the bass or high-end sound range. That means that the vocals and guitars are clearer and more pronounced. While this pair of IEMs are more focused on bass than the ER4SR, the bass is still not booming or overpowering in volume, but punchier, hitting and gone without drowning the rest out.

Nothing wrong with that, really. Of course, there are a few other things that work with this pair of IEMs that affects the sound quality. The first fact that these earbuds need to be put in properly for the best sound. This particular headset is meant to be pushed past the fleshy part of the ear and down more to the bone. This is meant to restrict the occlusion effect from happening.

The occlusion effect is when sounds like eating or talking sound much louder while wearing something like a headset of almost any kind. It doesn’t completely eliminate the sound, but if they are properly put in then they will cut down on that from happening. The other thing we would like to point out about the sound quality is the stock pads that come on these IEMs is a triple-tiered cup.

Using these particular pads means that exterior noise is further cut from interrupting whatever task as long as the IEMs are properly worn. So, ultimately, the sound is great, though the ‘sound stage’ is much smaller than an open-cupped full headset, that is to be expected.


What can we say, these little guys are easily connectable and have no programs or apps to install to properly use them. No extra hardware or software is needed to use this pair of IEMs, only a standard stereo jack. And if the device needs a larger plug to jack in properly, Etymotic supplies one with the headset. So, there is little worry as to whether this pair of IEMs is going to work for you. As long as it has one of those two plug types, these IEMs are going to work just fine.


This is the hard part to talk about, the comfort of this pair of IEMs. This is difficult to talk about due to the fact that they can be very uncomfortable, at first. Due to the design of this particular pair of in-ear monitors, they reach far deeper into a person’s ear than they are probably used to. The feeling has been described everywhere from mildly uncomfortable to slightly ticklish.

This goes away as the person’s body gets used to the feeling of something filling their ears so thoroughly. Then there is the cord. If someone wears the IEMs the way they are meant to, they hang down, instead of swooping up over the wearer’s ear. This means that the cord can catch or rub against objects, which in turn moves to the person’s ear and interrupts what they are listening to.

Most owners seem to agree that wearing these IEMs with the cord going up over the ear and then down their body. What is claimed is that it cuts down the amount of sound that can travel up the cord and to the wearer’s ears, as well as it is more comfortable. A thing that should be noted is that because of the nature of this pair of in-ear monitors if the cord gets tugged on, they do not pull from the wearer’s body as easily as more cheaply made earbuds do.

Because of how deeply they are placed, they instead will end up yanking more on the person’s ear canals. This is definitely something that all people should be ready for if such a thing happens. Other than all that, there should be nothing to wearing this pair of IEMs. We have heard people say that they have ended up spending quite a bit of time with these IEMs plugged into their ears. That is something worth noting, we’d say.


When you look at headsets, headphones, earbuds and the like, there are a lot of different styles and looks for each. Companies thrive on original styles so that their product gets attention over the rest. Etymotic went a different route with this particular pair of in-ear monitors, they look more like a throwback to the early 1990s in how they are shaped. They are simple in the way they are shaped, a simple 90-degree angle with an extended rod.

Unsurprisingly, this is the last bit of throwback there is with this pair of in-ear monitors. Due to the depth that these IEMs reach, they are longer than any normal earbud. But here is something for everyone to consider, these IEMs isn’t made from standard materials when you consider them. The shell to the bud, for instance, is made of aluminum, to further protect and strengthen the entire IEM.

Final thoughts on the style would have to be that they look simple and utilitarian but also elegant in their own right.


Etymotic spent their time on two things, sound quality and sturdiness, it would seem. The cord to this pair of IEMs is sturdy, making sure it will hold up to wear and tear, as well as some accidents. As was earlier mentioned, the buds to these IEMs are made of aluminum, which means that they can take a bit of a beating. That means that these IEMs are stronger than most commonly found pair.

This aspect something more companies need to focus on, instead of insane boxing methods or other such add-ons. Etymotic got it right with this pair of IEMs, that’s for sure.

Ease of Use

Beyond the slight work, it’ll take getting these IEMs put deep into a person’s ear, these particular pair are as easy as it gets. Lacking a need for a special battery pack, an amp, or anything else other than an audio device of some kind, means that this pair of IEMs are about as easy to use as it gets. Plug and play, one of the greatest things a person could ever want to have, and that is what these guys are, plug and play.

Power Source

As was mentioned earlier, there is no extra sort of battery pack needed for this pair of IEMs. And without needing an amp to work properly, the only sort of power source a person will need is whatever device they are using. That is something that is always a good thing, as they can be used for as long as a person wants without having to quit just to charge a battery. Enjoy for as long as can be tolerated.


This is another one of those difficult topics to say things about. The reason being is that this particular pair of IEMs are not cheap. At the time that this article was written, is selling them for $348.99 with free shipping. That is a pretty high price for a pair of IEMs, but after all, that has been said about them, we believe that they are definitely a great pair and can allow any person who wears them an interesting sound experience.

The sound will easily be enjoyable once the early-on discomfort that is felt by wearing something that is embedded deeply into the ear. Of course, when a person gives thought to all that has been said and all that comes with this pair of in-ear monitors, the height of the price is rather understandable.

Key Features

- Aluminum earbuds
- Excellent sound isolation
- Easily replaceable parts
- Simple yet elegant appearance
- Nearly 5ft. of cord

Bottom Line

And now, the final thoughts on this particular pair of IEMs. Etymotic has done everything right in how they made this pair of in-ear monitors, as they are durable and deliver a great audio experience while keeping other noises down to a minimum to keep from totally ruining whatever audio experience they are trying to enjoy. Add in the fact that they are built to be a little tougher than one would expect, and that gives plenty of reason to stop and consider.

Then there is all that gives along with the IEMs, and a person should be really thinking a lot more deeply on the matter. They come with a plug enhancer, a filter tool as well as multiple filters, multiple ear cups and pads of various styles, a clip to control the cord, and a carrying case. The case is a little large to be taking on the go, but Etymotic is known to sell a smaller carrying case.

If anything, that should be enough to make a decision on whether to buy them or not. We are sure that people will find that once they are used to the feeling of something embedded that deeply in their ears, they will love these IEMs.