ER4S revisted (again for 4th time) versus UERM, ZA CT DX200, Klipsch R6R

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by The Alchemist, Oct 23, 2015.

  1. The Alchemist

    The Alchemist MOT: Schiit - Here to help!

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    UERM v ER4P/S adapter v Zero Audio Carbo Tenore DX200 v Klipsch R6 R

    Notes and gear used:
    Listening level probably around 90dB (+/- 2dB)
    My references and degrees of magnitude in differences could be more extreme than some others.
    Leckerton UHA6S w/ 4627brz opamps
    ODAC
    Jriver/Win8.1 Pro (ODAC Kernel streaming)

    Drum Improvisation-Sheffield Labs
    UERM
    Timbre between toms, snares, cymbals, hats are just spot on compared to the ER4. Bass bloom and reverb is present and can be heard even in reflections in the studio. Once again, bass pop and impact is better and necessary for this track. Background blackness and clarity is also superior. No issues with coherency on this track. Beautifully and realistically rendered is all I can say. The rendering of the busy passages between the Toms, high hats and stick work on the rims is just superb. Resolution and presentation is somewhat comparable to my modded HD800 rig here which is a complement in my opinion.

    ER4P
    Drums sound too plastic once again. Timbre is one note. Snares, Toms and kick drum sound relatively similar. Ultimate micro-dynamics are compressed. Bass once agains sounds very clean and clear but is missing ‘bloom’ to round out the bass body and presence. This track really shows some of the weaknesses of the ER4 is you are well aware of what to listen for. In the past I have often criticized the older Shures for having this overly plastic and smooth texture which bothered me, I never quite noticed it on the ER4 before until now. I think the difference is that those Shures have more of what has been called a ‘liquid’ presentation. Think Michael Jackson before and after the facelifts. But I digress…

    ER4P with S adapter
    Timbres sound a bit more dynamic and correct differentiating a high hat from a snare from a Tom and kick drum. Overall timbre is much less plastic and more realistic sounding. Imaging is sharper. Clarity is much improved and background is blacker but still has a hint of greyness that exceeds the UERM clearly. Overall macro and micro dynamics sounds improved and cleaner. Resolution is improved as well, hearing deeper into the background noise and artifacts. Bass bloom is more present and am getting the necessary harmonics. I can actually enjoy the ER4 much more for both casual and technical listening now. Overall, with the S adapter, the driver just sound much more ‘stable’ and composed. I would not listen without it. All this improvement also helps to build on the inherent strength of a single driver IEM.

    Zero Audio
    Superb clarity and better than the ER4, just hair below my UERM. Bass is too bloomy and slow, decay won’t stop in time before the next notes get going. Treble on the hats has a nice smooth and natural splashiness to the high hats that I really like, sounds very very accurate. Crash is a bit muted and dull however, as does the rain/thundermaker. Beaters on the skins sound too blurred and microdynamically compressed as well. TOO MUCH KICKDRUM FFS! At least it’s not as brain shattering and fatiguing as the IE800. I like the smooth and natural lower to mid treble on these. If only they could get a bit more sibilance from the crashes. Maybe EQ the low to mid bass down a 3-5 dB. Wood on the sticks sound just right as well. Good snare impact and pop. Wish it was faster.

    Klipsch R6
    Most veiled, grey and blurred here. Low-fi. Macro dynamic details like snares and stick can sound small and tinny or too delicate. Bass is faster than the Zeros I suppose. No real redeeming qualities except angled bores from the driver housing and Klipsch oval silicone tips to match your ears.


    Gloria (Missa Sancti Spiritus)
    UERM
    Good bass reverb harmonics on cello. Good vocal clarity. Clear and clean guitar plucks and articulation. I can actually notice more evidently a guitar is being used on this track (and a bassoon!) compared to the ER4. Violins have a nice progressive scream for the violin strings and rosin. Good space and imaging, nothing overly wide or compressed in SS. Imaging is precise and rendered fully with good holography on each performer. Each vocal is rendered more fully, correctly and cleanly here than the ER4P/S can ever manage.

    ER4P
    Images much more blurred. Vocals seems to be too present in highs in the highest octaves making it a bit fatiguing when the chorus hits those notes. Also there appears to more strain in these extreme harmonics, distortion from a single BA perhaps? Less clarity than IERM. Background is greyer, images don’t pop as well. Dynamics are flatter along with SS and imaging. More ‘radio’-esque type listening experience rather than the live performance feel of the UERM. Things just sound flat and like you know you are listening to a recording. Definitely a lower resolution experience. Bass actually sounds very clean but could use a touch more body perhaps.

    ER4P with S adapter
    Definitely improvement here but with the combination of greyness and vocal smearing, the benefit is less pronounced and beneficial for this track compared to some others. I do not enjoy this track with the ER4P/S, just sounds too low-fi in this case. I think this track calls for a blacker background and multiple drivers to handle all the vocals going on at the same time.

    Zero Audio
    Better clarity than the ER4, just hair below my UERM. Vocals still trip up over each other, but not as bad as the ER4P did. Much better bass rendition (body and bloom) than the ER4P/S and perhaps the UERM. Perhaps a hair bit too much lingering reverb on the Cello. Good resolution of the guitar, sounds more effortless and natural than the ER4.

    Klipsch R6
    Most veiled, grey and blurred here. Low-fi. No redeeming qualities.


    Vivaldi Aston Magna RV513
    UERM
    Good speed and clean articulation on busy passages. Good resolution in both picking up background artifacts and resolving instruments completely. String timbre is very good, they scream as they should in real life. Both violins are cleanly rendered in their own left/right space. Sounds great and the mental images of rosin flying are hard to ignore. Bass doesn’t seem as clean as the ER4 but better fleshed out. I don’t get as much sense I’m listening to a recording as the ER4 provides, the strings are just there and they sing effortlessly as they would in a live performance by comparison.

    ER4P
    Harpsichord and Violins are tripping all over each other, they lack their own space and the harmonics are blurred over. Here, there seems to be a gap between the strings sounding too flat as they build to crescendo and then getting too unnaturally bright (not harsh or digital sounding mind you). The UERM is much more linear as the strings build and sound more natural all the way through. This disconnect really hurts the ER4s timbre for strings in my opinion. Grey background is again hurting the proper imaging and rendering of this track. This is where I recall the DBA02 having superior clarity to both the ER4 and UERM. Strings sound rather plastic, you never get the sense of rosin flying off the horse hair.

    ER4P with S adapter
    Strings are more linear as they build up in the highs. Violin timbre is much improved and correct giving a better sense of the horse hair and rosin effect. Strings and harpsichord have more air and are not tripping over each other as before. Cello and Harpsichord are still a bit blurred into each other though, could be the single driver catching up with itself. Less flat sounding in imaging and dynamics certainly, not to the extent of the UERMs or ES5s superb 3D holographic imaging though. ER4 still lacking in the needed bite and natural shrillness in the higher octaves the UERM provides however. In this case, it’s too polite to sound right. Heh.

    Zero Audio
    Better clarity than the ER4 again. Resolution is good, but not quite up to either the ER4 or UERM. Timbre is much closer to the UERM than the ER4 which is a good thing. This is good enough in my mind to help compensate with any resolution deficiency to a relative non-issue versus the ER4. Sounds slower than the ER4 and UERM but not by much and not enough to really be distracting, the tonal balance and clarity are big enough strengths to forgive here as well for my tastes. Strings just flow and sing here. I’d say there is tonal trade-off here between the bite of the UERM and smoothness of the Zeros.

    Klipsch R6
    Most veiled, grey and blurred here. Low-fi. No redeeming qualities.


    Sypro Gyra-Groovin’ For Grover
    UERM
    Timbre and imaging is much more fleshed out between instruments versus the ER4. Piano is much more accurate, so is the crash and bass. Though Bass can sound cleaner on the ER4, the UERM just has more impact and hits harder. The ER4 lacks this visceral quality in the low end by comparison. This track in particular however, does show off the inherent signature of a triple driver IEM such as the UERM. There is a distinct lack of coherency in how the track is rendered compared to the ER4. To give a better mental picture, imagine a comparison along the lines of how an interlaced screen is rendered versus a progressive scan. The interlaced screen has a flicker. Even though the eye might not be fast enough to see it, the brain actually picks up on the discrepancy and can lead to fatigue or less enjoyment. Here, the UERM is more like pieces of notes popping in and out, whereas the ER4 just renders the picture seamlessly.

    ER4P
    Drums and bass sound very clean, second time I’ve had this impression. However, I think part of it is from missing critical harmonics which are on the track. ER4 really shines on this track because of the relatively slow and easy tempo. Everything sounds very clean, coherent and well placed amongst all the instruments. However, the rendering of images is still hurt by the grey background/absence of ‘blackground’ and missing harmonics and micro dynamics that help to complete the air and imaging of instruments in their individual space and make them sound ‘real’ or believable. Alone one would likely never notice anything missing if these are your reference. However, next to something like the UERM, there is an obvious night and day difference. Have to say, this track is where the strength of overall coherency from a single driver really shines. On the previous tracks it was a weakness, here is it at an advantage.

    ER4P with S adapter
    Crash at the beginning still sounds a bit tinny and artificial. Once again, imaging and articulation is improved. Instruments sound more correct and better placed. There is still a bit of plastic timbre noticeable on the Piano here, bit too much in fact for my tastes in Piano. As usual, the greyness is improved a bit but still ever present.


    Zero Audio
    Better clarity than the ER4 of course. Zeros sound particularly laid back (tempo, not soundstage is sometimes confused by some foreign readers unfamiliar with quirky American vernacular) on this track which is itself relaxed in tempo. Could be a good or bad thing depending on your tastes. This is somewhat enjoyable listen because of what the Zeros get right. However, I think it’s just a bit too slow and has a touch too much lingering bass decay to get the most out of the track. In this case, the relative strengths of the ER4S and UERM here make the zeros seem clearly like the odd man out to my preferences. Everything just kind of lingers on a bit too long and blurs itself together too much for my tastes here.

    Klipsch R6
    Most veiled, grey and blurred here. Low-fi. No redeeming qualities.


    Notes:

    1-The next time someone spouts off about how superior and great the ER4 is, they better be listening to the ‘S’ version or be using an adapter because the difference is night and day based on my ears, preferences, references and methodology. Anyone claiming how great the ‘P’ sounds compared to the best IEMs out there loses all credibility with me.

    2-Intrigued by the performance of the Zeros, I decided to run some other vocals at it versus the UERM (Madonna and Gloria Estefan). This confirmed my suspicion that while the mids and vocals of the Zeros are pleasing, they are ever so slightly recessed and a bit unresolved at the highest level, though they are smooth and not dry or crispy as is one of my pet peeves with some IEMs and phones that can’t do vocals. By comparison, the UERMs just pull out so much more information on vocals like lips and deep breaths, stuff down in the throats and lays it out in a very smooth, natural, resolving and textured presentation.

    3-Clarity-Window versus distortion. Marv’s clarity is clean but can still sound grey in the blackground. I attribute a bit of tonal balance to clarity so it sound like a crystal clear piece of glass when notes pop forth.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. The Alchemist

    The Alchemist MOT: Schiit - Here to help!

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    Original Post By mkubota1

    AWESOME. Thanks for this. Overtime I’ve come to trust your opinions, even though you have a very focused goal and can hear and/or perceive way past what normally matters to me. I think this is the first time I’ve been able to get a good insight to what you listen to and for. Lucky for me I have four out of the five IEMs and getting the tracks should be trivial (already have the drum track)- can’t wait to see how we compare.

    Totally agree with the ER-4P vs S. P’s are just okay/good. S’s are like the HD600 in that they’ve been out for ages and sometimes makes you question how far we’ve gotten in the last 15+ years. What tips did you use for the Etys?
     
  3. The Alchemist

    The Alchemist MOT: Schiit - Here to help!

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    Quote from: mkubota1 on June 19, 2014, 11:35:54 PM
    What tips did you use for the Etys?

    I started with the Ety triple greys but actually use Klipsch single or double oval flanges for deep insertion IEMs as my go to as it was for this review. Pretty much same sound as the Ety grey silicone triples and same size bore. The triples just go too deep for me and itch my inner ear like crazy after 5 minutes.
     
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  4. Greed

    Greed Friend

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    Wow, so for the price the Tenors seem very worthy. Guess I'll have to pick them up soon. Thanks for the efforts Mike!
     
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  5. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    I appreciate the notes! You've got the same thoughts that I do about the UERM vs. the Tenore / ER4.

    Try some different tips with the Tenor if you get a chance. It does alter it a little bit, but nothing that will change your overall impression. I currently use the Comply S-200 tips that are pretty comfortable.

    It has been fun comparing the presentation of the multi-ba versus the single dynamic. If the Tenor had better resolution and a little tighter low-end, it would be one helk of a little in-ear.
     
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  6. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Nice set of detailed impressions. I'd love to be able to re-post these on the head-fi Tenore thread without them getting mod deleted. The UERM, ER-4S and Tenore are some of my favorites. Too bad the ety fit is so cumbersome. I sold them because of it and contemplate buying them again all the time, as I really love their treble.
     
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  7. funkmeister

    funkmeister Rando

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    Dang, I ran a sales promo and gave away some ER4S IEMs and it came down to between two dudes who really seemed to want 'em. The one who was shopping for IEMs and the guy who got 'em... never used 'em. He just put 'em up for sale. We all had disapproving glares for him the next week when we found that out.
     
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  8. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    Ok, read through your comparison a bit.

    I think I need a refresher on what your definition of "clarity" is. Because in terms of delivering vocals, I feel the ER4S destroys the Tenore by a country mile.

    Also, could you give me some pointers on a few tracks that might reveal the "greyness" you're talking about? Do you feel the ER4S is that much worse than the Tenore in that regard?
     
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  9. The Alchemist

    The Alchemist MOT: Schiit - Here to help!

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    Quote from: OJneg on June 23, 2014, 07:08:03 AM
    Ok, read through your comparison a bit.

    I think I need a refresher on what your definition of "clarity" is. Because in terms of delivering vocals, I feel the ER4S destroys the Tenore by a country mile.

    Also, could you give me some pointers on a few tracks that might reveal the "greyness" you're talking about? Do you feel the ER4S is that much worse than the Tenore in that regard?

    Clarity is absence of veil, the inverse. It's a combination of absence of distortion and proper timbre with a deep black background. In essence, notes and instruments pop more clearly.

    I don't know what you mean by vocals and how that relates to my definition of clarity and what you are hearing. Country mile doesn't tell me very much specifically (Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra?). The only time I complained about vocals was on that specific track where the Er4 just couldn't keep up with all the layered vocals. That was speed and separation issue on a congested passage, not a tone issue. On Gloria (not the Laura Branigan hit), the Tenore beast the ER4S and the UERM beats both by a country mile.

    Start at 3:23 (not the exact same track I used, a touch slower and youtube compressed, Ensemble is a little different)



    Greyness has nothing to with tracks in this case (though some tracks are greyer than other based on their mastering, you could ask LFF to explain this). It's ever present in the driver, phone, DAC or amp regardless of tracks and should be evident in direct A/B.

    Visually speaking think of a picture. The ER4 nails the sharpness and contrast around the elements in the picture but the gamma is subdued so the colors might be a little dull or washed out. The Tenore and UERM get the gamma and colour tones right, but the Tenores are fuzzier around the edges so the elements within the picture bleed a bit more. Let me know if that makes some sense.

    Sokath, his eyes Open!
     
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  10. The Alchemist

    The Alchemist MOT: Schiit - Here to help!

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  11. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    I brought up vocals because vocals are what I like to use to judge "clarity". My own definition of clarity might be the ability of the system to let the tone/texture of the vocalist/instrument through. I feel the ER4S (by virtue of being more tonally accurate) is simply more clear at delivering vocals and the works. I think you agree on this, but it doesn't fall in with your definition of clarity.

    However, I did catch onto the difference in each's treble texture like you mentioned. The Tenore has a very good treble quality. You could say it's more natural than the ER4S. But probably a bit smoothed over and lacking resolution too when you take a step back. While many have praised the ER4S's treble, I feel it still has that bit of sterility (maybe greyness?) that BAs have in the mids and upper registers. Maybe this is what you're catching onto when you say greyness or lacking clarity. I hear it more as a texture issue. I also feel that the fact that the ER4S is able to dig so deeply into a recording (very good low level retrieval IMO) might reveal some residual greyness that's left on the track. That's why I inquired about different recordings, because I don't feel the greyness is the fault of the ER4. I just has a certain sterility in that regard, but I don't hear it as grey. Or maybe I'm just not hearing it or don't have proper references [​IMG]

    Anyway, going back to my direct comparison between the ER4S and Tenore: The Tenore fails by virtue of its boosted bass that tends to muddy things up when presented with broadband information. Too much kickdrum is a great example. Hearing the body of an instrument boom wildly is another. As Mike mentioned, it's not just the fact that it's boosted, but also that its decay is so damn slow and bloomy. I had to pick and choose the test tracks carefully, because if they had too much LF content it wasn't even a fair matchup. (And yes, I verified this next to two other neutral references that are not considered bass-lite, so don't say it's just the ER4S being bass-lite, [although I do think it is in an absolute sense]).

    On tracks without that LF content, it came much closer to the ER4S's sound tonally. Which is a good thing in my view. I'm going to have to go back and try to EQ them to equivalent bass levels in order to give an honest evaluation with most of my reference tracks. But without a high shelf, I couldn't in good faith recommend the Tenore.
     
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  12. The Alchemist

    The Alchemist MOT: Schiit - Here to help!

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    No, greyness has nothing to do with resolution or BA or dynamic drivers. The UERM is more resolving than both by quite a bit and doesn't pull any supposed extra grey from the track. Even the DBA02 is less grey and more clear than the UERM. I know Marv and others believe it's from the crossover. The ER4 puts grey on to every track because it's coming from the phone itself. This actually makes it less transparent to the recording because you can't notice the difference in how tracks are mastered by comparison. I thought my visual aid of haze over a picture would help but I guess not. I'll have to rethink how to describe it. It's just like looking through a clear versus dirty window. It's an immediate effect, not one that requires study for resolving ability. If you ever noticed an immediate difference to how a speaker sounds when you pull a cloth grill or speaker cover from over the driver, it's similar to that rather than a resolution issue. It could be the filter, I should have tried it with the filter off to see.

    I know recording engineers can also add this greyness to a track to hide recording artifacts they think will distract listeners. You find this a lot on many classical and acoustic performances which annoys the crap out of me. They can also try to remove it. You'd have to ask LFF about this since it's in his wheelhouse.

    I do agree the Tenore treble might be overly sweet and smooth but people like that as it increases euphony and gear and genre bandwidth. People with certain Stax and planars would agree with that treble sound. Zero grain, zero bite no matter what.
     
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  13. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    I understand your definition of grey. I'm just not hearing it. Maybe next to a UERM I would.

    Interesting that you bring up filters. Supposedly the red filters are better than the green (ones I have). Not sure if they would actually help in that respect though.
     
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  14. The Alchemist

    The Alchemist MOT: Schiit - Here to help!

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    Quote from: OJneg on June 23, 2014, 08:53:17 PM
    I understand your definition of grey. I'm just not hearing it. Maybe next to a UERM I would.

    Interesting that you bring up filters. Supposedly the red filters are better than the green (ones I have). Not sure if they would actually help in that respect though.

    You should hear it versus the Tenores, I did. Then again, maybe our sources have something to do with it too.
     
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  15. The Alchemist

    The Alchemist MOT: Schiit - Here to help!

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    Overall, I'm really liking the Tenores. Admittedly, I don't have a lot of experience with IEM's, but they're not [​IMG]. They seem to be much better than the Pistons anyway. For the price I would think that they might be Booty worthy.


    Anyway, I can definitely see that this road will lead me to trying the UERM eventually.
     
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  16. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    For those interested, this is what my EQ settings look like for the ER4S.

    8a7mcwY.png

    In truth, I can live without these settings when it comes to listening to my desktop rig. My Zune is a different story; lack of low-end can be bothersome. Even without EQ, the ER4S is still going to deliver the accuracy that most IEMs could only dream of. And despite what one might think of its flaws, keep in mind that the ER4S responds incredibly well to EQ.

    The high shelf is pretty effective. It's still going to be very clinical throughout the spectrum; in other words EQing the bass doesn't affect the midrange presentation. And it's not going to make the bass impactful so to speak, but it will make it less anemic and more satisfying for recordings that are exciting the energy in that lowest octave. You can actually turn the ER4S into quite a (high quality) bass monster with enough EQ, and it'll maintain its great control and definition regardless. You can also push the filter higher in frequency by making the bandwidth wider (more gradual change) and adjusting the corner in turn.

    The little dip at 8k I'm less certain about. Sometimes I want to move it up, down, left, right or get rid of it completely. It comes and goes depending on my mood, the recording, insertion depth, stars aligning, w/e.

    Should also mention that I don't feel the need to EQ around 3k, although other folks (and measurements) have mentioned that it might be a little emphasized around there. Gotta play by ear here.

    I like to drive the ER4S off tubes believe it or not. It does scale with high quality gear. A good SS amp that's free of harshness gives me no problems either.
     
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  17. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    Output impedance should be low. Or at least low enough not to affect an 100 Ohm load. Could measure it.

    FWIW, I hear the ZuneHD as having a warmish sound throughout the mids/treble. But fundamentally lacking bass impact/dynamics/realism. Basically, it doesn't do the ER4S any favors. This is relative to my clearly superior desktop rig. Taking a step back, the ZuneHD is a great sounding player.

    I'm not EQing to try to improve extension. As I've said before, it's an impact issue; Ety bass is kind of anemic by nature and this is the only real way to try to counter it. Keep in mind that it's only a 6dB boost in the sub-bass. On a lot of my reference tracks, there's not a lot of energy there so it's mostly benign. The midbass is boosted about 3dB which is inline with how I hear it. I could just use something closer to a 3dB shelf if that's what you're getting at, but I'd just have to make sure the slope wasn't too steep while still affecting only the specific part of the band that I feel actually needs a bit more umph.
     
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  18. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    Just bit necroposting . Just grabbed a pair or Etys ER4s/p last week.

    Who played with dampers here? Just to be sure green stock one are 1500 Ohm right ?

    And what about tips ? Did someone tried custom tips ?
     
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  19. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    I used westone silicone tips and it didn't work out well for me. They really do need a deep fit and the custom molds just didn't allow for that. I also had them put into acrylic shells ala CIEM style and it was a similar fate unless you get someone to give you the "musician fit" for your molds.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2015
  20. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

    Staff Member Friend MZR
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    Surprisingly . i have somewhat good results tonight with stock complys [​IMG] . replaced stock dampers by Orange 3300 Ohms knowles ones too. I haven't any red 2200Ohms dampers but a priori, it should hit the sweet spot for me.

    I thought to ask to piotr Granicki at Custom arts to make Custom tips for me but I wonder it it worth the (affordable) cost. he already has my ear prints.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2015

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