Pros Exceptional sound quality.
Cons Feels and look somewhat fragile. A bit difficult to properly insert at first.
Summary I tested my ER6 with Jazz, Opera, classical orchestral works, heavy metal, techno, and thunderous industrial music on my Iaudio7 after a 12 hours burn-in. I made many comparisons with my genuine pair of Sony MDR-EX90lp (ordered directly from Sony, not the Chinese copy on eBay).
The ER6 is a highly technical and analytical pair of canal phones. First as the name suggest, you have to completely insert those little bugs inside your ear canal to create a perfect seal. An imperfect seal will remove all the low frequencies and this is why many clueless amateur reviewers write bad reviews about the ER6 having no bass at all. This is completely false. Once properly inserted, you get the most realistic frequency response there is on the market in this price range. Only the ER4s at twice the price gets you a more accurate curve and even better isolation by a small margin. Of course many people are used to cheap earphone with highly exaggerated bass response. Etymotic offer a more popular version with more output power and bass: the ER6i. I prefer the perfect sound reproduction of the ER6.
At first, the ER6 are difficult to properly insert. How far you should insert those earphones? Someone on the web put on a review (sorry can't find the link anymore) where he said you should push until both earphones touch each others and then back off a quarter turn . It is really an intrusion. It helps to lick the silicon tips first to provide lubrication and then when inserting the left canal phone, you can pull your ear with your right hand while inserting with your left... With the foam tips, it is easier to properly insert (you don't have to push it so far inside). I think the only drawback for the foam tips is you will have to replace the foam once in a while so you will have to buy replacement foam tips. In my opinion, it is really worth it because the foam tips are more comfortable and easier to insert.
There is also a noticeable level of micro phonics through the wires so if you move around a lot, you will ear the noise of the wires brushing against your clothes. This is normal for earphones with high level of isolation (this and earring the noise of your footstep from the inside, reverberating through your bones, exactly like when you wear earplugs).
It also looks and feels fragile. There's a carry pouch but the quality of built is not on par with the luxurious Sony's EX90.\
Amazing purity and clarity.
It provides an analytical and I would almost say a surgical coldness in its perfection. The high isolation with exterior sounds completely isolates me from the unnerving buzzing noise of fans and air conditioning plaguing my workplace. In between tracks or on a pause, I'm now able to ear the noise floor of my Iaudio7 at work, something I can't do with the Sony EX90 because of the higher noise floor coming through from the environment. My player's noise floor is very low so I can say those ER6 are truly exceptional.
The bass, once the canal phone is properly inserted, which can be a tedious process, is impressive for such tiny speakers. Actually these are not really speakers. It is some kind of "micro drivers". Whatever it is, it works wonder.
One should know Etymotic is first an earring aid company. They also sell outstanding musician/live show earplugs (I got a pair ready for the upcoming Iron Maiden show). These guys have an extensive understanding of the human ear and they have been the first to put a true canal phone on the market. The basic principle is to use the ear itself as a resonant cavity. They also use a special mannequin replicating skull and ears to measure real in ear frequency response.
For me these are laboratory tools. Fragile but extremely precise. It also remains a perfect techno-geek gadget. Wearing Etymotic canal phones is almost a very geeky fashion statement. These are perfectionist tools. ER6 are truly exceptional. You would have to pay in the five digits to get a sound system (and the proper listening room to go with it) to get such a high quality of sound. These earphones will make you ear things you where not aware off before. The sound is quite cold so it is excellent for techno-industrial music ( Front Line Assembly “Millenium” is nothing less than mind altering through the ER6) but classical music lovers will appreciate the clarity, extreme dynamic and instrument separation even more (exceptional to listen to Richard Strauss symphonies). It will advantageously tone down the overly warm jazz recordings of the vinyl era (Nina Simone could make a stone cry with these earphones).
Even if these are expensive earphones, these remain a great value. I’m now a huge fan of Etymotic. I’m converted and I’m ordering a supply of foam tips right away…
Pros Great highs, good bass
Cons Have to figure out how far in the buds go into the ear to achieve comfort and great sound
Summary I am using the ER-6s with my laptop and iPod nano, and when it comes to external noise isolation and clarity, these are a significant improvement from the 'phones that come with the nano or iPod. Bass response is good, but it is not chest thumping, glass rattling bass from a car or home stereo. Right out of the box I could fit the 'plugs into my ear comfortably; the only question was how far in did they need to go before it either hurt or didn't significantly improve the sound quality. There are 2 flanges on the silicone covers, my ears were comfortable and the sound reduction was very significant at the first flange from the tip.
I listened to hip-hop, Kansas, Bell Biv Devoe, Mercy Me, the Eagles, classical music, and acoustic, and the way the ER6 responded was to make the music very enjoyable, being able to hear individual instruments with clarity, but within the limitations of a portable music device in less than ideal conditions.
Let's face it, if I want the total music experience, it's not coming from an iPod while at a Starbucks, at a cafe, or in a mall. I'm sitting at home with the 5.1 system and visualizing where each musician sits or stands. But if I want to be able to tune out extraneous sound and hear music I want to hear in an isolated condition, any time I want, the ER-6 is well worth the money. After wearing the ER-6 and returning back to the iPod earphones, what I thought was a pretty good set of earphones was trashed by the ER-6. "Fidelity under the circumstances" is the key to good earphones with a portable music system and accepting what any set can offer. The ER-6 is a serious upgrade from OEM.
Pros Noise-isolating qualities are great. Sound is quite clear.
Cons They cancel out all the low tones, the base while boosting the high tones.
Summary I can't belive this site gave them such a high rating. These earphones are a big disappointment, particularly after all the high praise. They don't capture any of the fine, low tones. The bass response is horrible. The sound is hollow, incomplete. I did better with the headphones that came with my MP3 player. I'm sending them back.
Pros I purchased both the Etymotic ER-6 and the Shure E-3Cs. Both have amazing definition for their size and nice tight base, but the Etymotics have the edge.
Cons The cord is too thin and transmits vibrations very easily - the Shures have a thicker cord. While you can exercise in the Etymotics, the Shures have a better ergonomic setup with softer (gray) ear buds and a great over the ear cord placement. Some peopl
Pros There's no question that these headphones can isolate sound, better than my over-the-ear noise cancelling headphones. I can sit with the TV on at normal volume and with the music on not notice it (why you ask). Extremely comfortable as well.
Cons These headphones will sometimes impress you with their mids and high response, but the bass response is just pathetic, especially for having paid a solid bill for them. I try to enjoy them, but without even average bass response, with the low end eq pushe