Pros Sound, Quality of Construction
Cons Sound Isolation, Fit/Function
Summary I formerly owned a pair of Etymotic ER6s, used them for over a year. I positively loved them, then I lost them... So I upgraded (?) to the new Shure E4Cs.
Quick Starter Notes: 1) Equipment used: I listen/use the e4cs on my computer via Soundblaster's superb Audigy2 ZS 24bit PC card and Jet Audio's music player, and via my trusty iRiver H140. 2) e4c Construction: excellent. Cord is thick, joined nicely with earphone. Earphones feel rugged and meant to last.
Sound: Compared to my Etys, the e4cs sound more lush and more full. Music feels more filled-in. That said, I have to note that the ety's still provide more detail (detail, to me, is the ability to isolate and "drill into" various sounds; to zoom in on the specific features of sounds. Detail = clarity). Next, bass: the bass on the e4cs is more present and has more overtones than bass on the etys. However, if you're a bass junky, the e4cs will disappoint: you still don't get that thumpy driving bass that you get with over-ear phones (When I use the e4cs I often turn up the lowest frequency bass setting on my eq by about 30%; I turned it up about 50% on the etys). Still, bass is extremely good for canalphones. YET: the bass on the ER6's, though weaker, is Tighterr than the bass on the Shures. Again, I'm quite surprised by this. Shure's new "tuned port" approach enables more bass, deeper overtones, and more lush sound overall, but it comes with a bit of a cost: slightly less detail than Ety, and slightly muddier bass. (tho don't get me wrong: the bass ISN'T muddy, it's louder and more full, but just not quite as tight as the etys. Similarly, the Shure's produce exquisite detail, more so than you're likely accostomed to; just not quite as much as the etys).
In sum: sound is clear, repectably detailed, lush (for a canalphone), and bass is decent. My quibbles: Bass could be tighter, detail could be greater.
Recommendation: If you listen to a lot of Hip hop, heavy metal, heavy rock, the sound of the e4c's trumps my old Ety's and may be good for you. However, if you listen to Jazz, instrumental/guitar, piano sonatas, the detail of the Ety's is superior. For orchestral: toss up.
Next: fit, function. Here's where I have some specific issues with the Shures. First, sound isolation. The entire point of a pair of canalphones is to block sounds; really, they're earplugs that produce music! Which is great, far superior to carrying bulky active "noise cancelling" headphones (ala Bose or Sony (ok, sony makes both kinds, but I've tried sony's in-ear: they suk)). the e4c's come with several canal types: foam, triple-flanged rubber, and the "defaul" rubber bells. I tried them all. without question, none of them isolate sound as well as my Etymotics did (the ER6 comes with a double-flanged silicon plug that takes some time to get the hang of, but once you do, it's FANTASTIC at blocking ambient sound). In the end, I find that the default rubber bells are best, and they were surprisiginly easy to get a snug fit with. However, I'm seriously disappointed that Shure's sound isolation does't at least match Etymotics. I'm a frequent flyer, at least once a week (no kidding). I use these on airplanes. Sound isolation matters A LOT to me. I think CNET should have called out this disppointment; I don't think they used them in real-world situations like airplanes.
On to another issue (one CNET did correctly call out): No shirt clip for the cord??? This may seem trivial, but it isn't. These things are heavy (much larger/heavier than the Etymotics). You feel the weight of them in your ear. That's fine when you're sitting, not moving. But once you stand, start walking, the nicely thick cords are pulling the earphone around... BAD. You clearly feel the weight of the cords pulling at the earphone, sometimes breaking the fit. It boggles the mind that the Shure didn't include a shirt clip to manage cord weight and pull! Sure, you can jimmy-rig something (I'm using one of those black metal paper binder/clip dealies). If you plan to be mobile while you're wearing these: this WILL matter.
In Sum: nice sound, but clear room for improvment in fit and usability. For me, decent, but a bit of a disappointment.
Pros Comfortable design, fairly good sound, very precise, good bass
Cons single drivers limits soundstage range
Summary Let me begin by asking what the cnet editors who reviewed these are smoking???
First of all, these are NOT the best cans out there. They are not even the best phones made by Shure. Anyone with an internet connection can go to the Shure webpage which clearly shows that their top of the line model is the Shure e5c, which has dual drivers in each earbud and an inline crossover to split high and low sound frequencies and maximize driver efficiency.
Furthermore, the CNET editors, in their haste to name every new product "the best," began a year or two back by naming the ETYs as the "best." That is completely ridiculous. In the world of high end personal audio equipment, the ETYs are the low end, entry studio model. I don't know any professionals that use them. In fact, no serious audiophile does, unless they don't have the money for something better.
The three main players for the really expensive earbud market are Shure, Sensaphonics, and Ultimate Ears. Ultimate Ears are probably the best, but they are mostly limited to serious professionals because of their fantastic cost, which is about $1,000 for their flagship UE-10 pro model. Sensaphonics also has a great industry reputation, but they are a bit lacking in customer service and have a lame webpage. Shure is very good, and I highly recommend the e5cs, which retail for $500, but can be had for $350 or so on the internet.
To turn specifically to the e4cs, they are what they are. They are good, but not great. They are severly limited by only having single drivers, which no matter how good they are, can only produce certain sound frequencies at a limited efficiency.
They were obviously designed for the "prosumer" market. That is to say, people who like music, aren't professionals, but know the difference between crap and something good, and have a little extra cash. Hence the IPOD matching design.
My final thought - save up a little more money and go for the e5cs over the e4s, there is a very significant difference between the two.
Pros Balanced Sound, Comfortable to Wear, Stylish
Cons If I want to be picky, the cord could be a little shorter
Summary If you are looking for Earphones for your portable music player...the Shure E4C are fantastic. Trust me, I've owned them all.
Shure E4C - Superior Clarity, Balanced Sound (throughout the soundstage - Bass, Mids and Treble), Comfortable to wear (comes with a variety of ear tips which ensure the perfect fit), Stylish and Well-Made. I am very impressed and pleased with my purchase of these earphones. I wanted a neutral balanced earphone for my IPOD and these fit the bill. If you want a "bass heavy" sound, you may not be happy with the Shure's. Though they list for $299, you can purchase at headphone.com for $199. Headphone.com is an authorized dealer.
Some of the other earphones I have owned over the years (to compare) include:
Etymotic ER-4P - Another great earphone, perfect clarity and balance. I loved these earphones in every way, except for the comfort. After a few hours of listening, the "triple flange" eartips started to bother me.
Ultimate Ears Super-fi 5 Pro - Another good earphone, built with dual drivers. Clear sound and comfortable to wear. I like the fact that the cord is shorter (4ft) as well as interchangeable. I found the sound to be a little more weighted to the "lows" or "bass". For my taste, I wanted a neutral sound. Nevertheless, I good earphone alot of people will like.
Shure E3C - One model down from the E4C. Great clarity and comfort. These earphones tended to be weighted more toward the "mid and high frequencies", which in my opinion caused fatique after an amount of time. Many users also report the the "low" (bass) is not represented enough.
All in all, I really like the Shure E4C...you simply can't go wrong with these. As a (very) close second are the Etymotic ER-4P.
Hope my reviews help
Pros Sound, Build Quality,Size,Cord,Color Scheme,Universal and Custom Capable
Cons Seems a little fragile.
Summary After beating around the bush and saving up some money, I bit the bullet and made my first big purchase in headphones, the Shure E4/E4C. Since I had no experience with In-ear monitors, I did not know what to expect, but one things for sure, I do not regret my purchase, in fact, I think it's the best purchase I've made.
Enough beating around the bush, let's get down to business, and to clear up something here, I ordered the E4 model, a charcoal gray color. There is no Sonic difference between them, it's just that the E4C is meant for the consumer, It's iPod white, and the E4 is meant for stage monitoring, but all the specs are the same and you recieve the same accessories.
Let's talk about the Packaging, Nicely packaged and with a plethora of accessories.You will recieve different tips for many different ears, ranging from soft to super soft acrylic tips, a level attenuator for high output sources, an 1/4" adaptor for stereo and headphone amps, a semi hard case to protect your investment, foam tips for the easiest tip, a nozzle wax remover and your owners guide.
Build Quality is very good with these, they are solid IEM's, offering a thick cord and around-the-ear design reduce microphonics and tangling. The plug is gold plated so it offers maximum transfer of sound.
The Fit is pretty tricky to get, most people think they sound weak and anemic only because they have not achieved a good seal. Mr. Patrick Houston wore his E4C down, you can do that but it is not recommended because you will lose your seal and microphonics are an annoyance. It's best that you wear them like they're meant.Yes Mr. Carnoy, we all love Foamies. Why? It's really easy to get a fit on the first try and provides the best Isolation. Another advantage is you can get custom molds for maximum isolation and comfort.
Headphones are meant to deliver superior sonic performance as opposed to speakers, and these headphones deliver. In comparison to other IEMS, the E4 is a nicely balanced headphone which may come off a little warm but that's the way I want it. Highs are not like Ety's ER-4's, but they're not as recessed like E3C's, they offer a nice, detailed non-fatiguing sound. Midrange is golden with these headphones, Classic Rock never sounded so good, you can hear every nook and cranny in your music, vocals are just amazing. Bass is always an issue with In Ears, but bass on the E4's is tight and punchy, it will definetly satisfy heavy metal lovers, It also extends a whole lot more, if you have the power to back it up, If you want to know what I mean, read On.
Here is where IEM's reign supreme above active noise cancelling. The E4's offer 4X the Isolation of that of Bose Quietcomfort 2's, up to 35dB depending on your tip. Better Isolation means less volume means you won't damage your ears trying to drown out the noise with other headphones.
Tips of the Trade:
The E4 is an awesome headphone with a lot of potential. One way to achieve that is to get a good headphone amp, especially if you own an iPod, Why? Because the iPod's weak internal amp and rolled of bass at 50Hz will sour your listening experience. I recommend getting a Cmoy or any moy of that matter, a Supermacro or a Headroom coda. If you don't wish to carry an amp, get yourself a Cowon iAudio X5, the intertal amp of the X5 is superior to that of the iPod meaning better listening experience with your E4's... And if you wish to carry an amp, get a line-out for the iPod like the pocketdock or the Sik Ram Din, don't ever use it with the headphone port.
To conclude, the E4 offers superior sound in a small package that will protect your ears, shut off distractions and get you lost in your music. I am enjoying mine right now as I wrote this. I highly recommend this headphone if Noise cancelling doesn't appeal to you.
P.S THEY ARE NOT EARBUDS, THEY ARE IN EAR MONITORS, CANALPHONES, or EARPHONES.
Hope this helps
Pros Sound Quality is Great!
Cons Travel case is to small
Summary This review is for those who want to buy the Shure E4c for their Ipod.
I’m sure you have already heard this from everyone else review but these are the best In the Ear Headphones I’ve ever owned. The reason I can say that is because I’ve owned or own: Grado 125, Shure E3c, and Sony Fontopia Ear-Bud headphones. Of course my Grados sound the best but have you ever tried using big container headphones at the GYM.
If you already own a pair of the Shure E3c and you want to upgrade to the E4c you will be making a wise choice. I noticed when I would set my Ipod’s EQ settings to Base Booster or R&B the bass was good but everything else sounded muffled with my E3c. With the E4c the bass is good and the Mids and Highs are CLEAR as glass.
Also…. If you encode your Ipod music less than 256 you might as well buy Radio Shacks $15 headphones because your not going to get the full potential of these headphones. By default Itunes is set to encode at 128, which is ok for most people but once you have tasted good sounding music you will never want to go back. Apple’s support web site will show you how to change the encoding.
AND for those of you who think these are not worth $299.00…… YOU’RE RIGHT!
Go to PlasmaBAY.com they have them for $189.00