"When to use your Etymotics..."4.0 starson by beaners123
Pros: Noise-reduction, customer service, sound quality
Cons: Inner ear sound amplification, too much noise reduction
Summary: Etymotic ER-6is (white)
MSRP: $149.00 / Street Price: $90-105 / I paid: $81 (New)
Reviews on these are mixed and I'm going to throw in my two cents as an unbiased review from a graduate student.
I spent two weeks researching earbuds for my Creative Zen Micro and here is what I've determined about the Etymotics.
What they are best at:
Drowning out ambient noise without needing active noise-cancelling features.
Where they work best:
Airplanes, work (self-directed, quiet settings) where people aren't talking to you, book reading, etc.
I originally wanted my earbuds to do 2 things:
1. Be portable.
Yes. These are pretty portable, although they have a 5-ft cord, which is nice for stationary settings, otherwise, these tend to get tangled.
2. Use them while running/biking.
Now, this I have a very mixed review on. They DO drown out ambient noise. Thus, running or biking with them on means that you have to be VERY ALERT. For someone like me who likes both bike trails (paved/non-paved) and the road, this is slightly dangerous. You aren't going to hear cars, sirens, or hear the guy behind you yell, "ON YOUR LEFT!"
You are going to hear a lot of stuff rattling around in your head because the inner ear space is sealed off. That means, when your teeth chatter, or when you chew, you're going to hear it over your music if you don't have your volume up loud enough. When you're going over bumpy road on a bike, you hear "WHUPwhupWHUPwhup." I turn my "cPod" up to about volume level 10 at work, and 14 outside to combat this. (Max is 24.)
Sadly, I might just go back to the Creative-included headphones (surprisingly decent sound but a little big for my ears), or my cheapo $9 SONY earbuds. Both give me a little more peace of mind for their relatively "open" sound. As I bought these earbuds for their "multi-functionality," I was sort of bummed out.
I thought the bass was still a little "tinny" for what it was, but Etymotic explains it as "true sound." I found that the cure (at least for CREATIVE owners), is to change your equalizer settings if you want "hotter" bass.
It really sends shivers down my spine to listen to piano rock on it. The notes are well-defined and just gorgeous; for example, Ben Folds is nuanced and nice. The surround-sound left-ear to right-ear channel effect that some bands do literally makes me dizzy with these 'buds.
I do think some of the problems people are finding with these earphones comes from the fact that they're probably also listening to middle quality mp3s (read: 64-128 kbps). I have noticed a definite quality difference in comparison vs 192/VBR (variable bit rate) mp3s.
Pluses: The customer service people are NICE!!! You can get smaller/bigger earpieces by calling, and they are terrificaly nice about it.
If you can actually use these, if they fit your lifestyle, and if you not pay $149.00 MSRP, they may be worth it.