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.