Etymotic ER4-SR Review

Etymotic ER4-SR Review

A few days ago I tackled the brand new Etymotic ER4-XR, and today I got my mits on the the new ER4-SR earphone.  The SR version is a Studio Reference model, designed with critical listeners in mind.  While taking design cues from the XR version, the sound is quite different.

Etymotic ER4-SR Review

Etymotic ER4-SR Review

The Etymotic ER4-SR comes packaged with a carrying case, a bunch of different eartips, and the earphones themselves.  The cable is removable and utilizes an MMCX connection.

Comfort wise, the ultra-slim design of the earpieces goes a long way.  The low-profile design is light, and doesn’t draw too much attention.  While it can take some searching to decide on which eartips offer the best fit for you, once you’ve made your choice the rest is a piece of cake.

Oddly, I found these earphones had no problem staying in my ears.  Normally, with most bullet-type earphones, I find my giant Dumbo ears will push them out after a few minutes of walking around, typing on a keyboard, or just breathing too heavily.  However, thanks to all the triple-flange tips that the manufacturer provides, a good fit really does mean these things will stay in your ears.


Frequency Response 20 Hz – 16 kHz
Transducers High performance, balanced armature micro-drivers
Noise Isolation 35-42 dB
Impedance (@1kHz) 45 Ohms
Sensitivity (@1 kHz) SPL at 0.1v 98 dB
Maximum Output (SPL) 122 dB
Cable 5 ft Detachable
User Replaceable ACCU-Filters Yes
Warranty 2 Years
Custom-Fit Option Yes

The specifications reveal a headphone with a fairly standard frequency range, though not quite as much in the high end as some of the competition.  Volume is also decent, but the impedance of 45 ohms may benefit from some amplification.

Low End

Relaxed but detailed, the low end on the ER4-SR is very tame.  There is a decent amount of impact to the bass, but there’s also some good control here.  As such, bass doesn’t bleed and the low end remains remarkably clean.


The midrange is characterized by a certain level of accuracy.  Full of detail, there’s little distortion or compression to detract from the sound.  Vocals are great, and instrumentation isn’t too shabby, either.

High End

Sparkling with detail, the high end can come off as a little bright at times.  While rich and contrasting, the highs never get screeching or uncomfortable.


The soundstage offers an almost-tangible sense of depth and placement.  While impressive for an in-ear headphone, it’s still not quite as impressive as the soundstage of its sister model, the ER4-XR (perhaps due to the dynamic nature of that headphone).  Still, suffice to say this is an amazing soundstage to find in an earphone.

Overall Impressions

The Etymotic ER4-SR is well work the designation of a Studio Reference earphone.  The fidelity, the details, the soundstage – this headphone packs quite the sonic punch.  The fact that it is an in-ear model with plenty of tips and removable cables only makes it easier to love.


Is this the earphone for you?  If you’re a fan of Etymotics in general, these earphones may be worth a look-see.  With an updated, clean sound that doesn’t skimp on the finer details, the ER4-SR is as good for serious listening as it is for reference.  While it might lack the characteristic low-end “oomph” of the XR version, the relaxed low end will still appeal to many who prefer a less-bassy sound.

Is there a reason not to get these earphones?  I suppose, if you want a sound that skews bright or warm, the ER4-SR really won’t be your cup of tea.  In which case you could opt for something from Shure or something in the Westone UM Pro lineup.



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Carroll is a headphone junkie residing in Brooklyn. He's a huge fan of Grado, UK hip hop, and the English Language in general. When not testing audio equipment or writing, you'll find him taking photographs or fiddling with circuit boards. You can contact him at