Etymotic ER2XR Review: One of the Best Trade Deals

Pros: Build Quality, Detail Retrieval, Quality Mids Presentation, Unbeatable Value

Cons: Fit (YMMV), Microphonics

Driver Setup: Single Dynamic Driver

Price: USD $80-100

Intro

Disclaimer: I purchased the ER2XR with my own money and this review is written of my own accord and all thoughts here are my own.

After so many years into the hobby, I have finally owned a pair of Etymotics. Hearing so many rave reviews of the ER2 and how they break the expectations of their price bracket, how could I resist not checking them out myself?

Accessories and Build Quality (Score: 8/10)

Accessories are decent and cover all your basic needs for under a $100 IEM. It comes with a soft pouch, spare filters and a combination of triple-flanged, double-flanged and foam tips. The cable is a rather springy and light cable that really is the bare minimum. I soon swapped out to a third-party balanced cable.

Fit (Score: 7/10)

Fit for the Etymotics really depends on you. Despite a few weeks of trying to get used to them, I never dared stuff these too deep and they always felt so intrusive. Nonetheless, they did stay in my ears when properly inserted and isolation was stellar. If you are used to deep in-ear insertion, these would fit well. I enjoyed the double flange tips provided much more than the triple-flanged ones and they struck a nice balance between isolation and comfort.

The biggest problem for me was microphonics when I walked around. Microphonics was significantly increased when I swapped out for the heavier third-party cable.

Sound (Score: 8.6/10)

Frequency Response Graph of the ER2XR

Sources Used

  • Hiby R5
  • Lotoo Paw S1

Albums and Tracks tested with

  • Itzhak Perlman
  • Broods – Free
  • Why Don’t We – The Good Times and The Bad Ones
  • 10cm – 4.0
  • Michael Bublé
  • Gryffin
  • NEEDTOBREATHE
  • Scary Pockets – Agoraphobia
  • James Bay – Sing Up, Sing Out
  • Noah Kahan
  • Galantis
  • AJR

Bass (Score: 8.5/10)

The bass on the ER2XR was really refreshing. This is my first time owning a pair of Etys, and prior to this, my experience with the older models like the ER4 has left me with the stereotype that they tended to be a little sterile and lean in the bass. Hence, the bass quantity and extension on the ER2XR really came as a surprise. Listening to tracks from AJR, the bass sub-bass had good extension and a clear rumble. There was no ugly bass bleed or bloating despite the elevated response. On EDM tracks by Galantis, the layers came together in a really engaging presentation.

Mids (Score: 9/10)

The mids were also where I thought the ER2XR did a fantastic job. I really enjoyed the way male vocals sounded. They had a very pleasant broad yet firm sound, especially on tracks by Noah Kahan and The Lumineers and I liked how the lower mids weren’t overly recessed. Female vocals and horn instrumental sections of tracks by Scary Pockets were crystal clear and very well textured. In general, vocals are positioned forward a little but not too overpowering, giving it a nice amount of strength and presence without ever coming close to becoming shouty. Combined with the stellar detail retrieval, everything comes together nicely to make vocal-centric tracks a drug I keep coming back to the ER2XRs for.

Treble (Score: 8/10)

Treble takes a backseat but does its job in complementing the sound signature well. It doesn’t extend very high but does have a good amount of micro details in the treble, enough to make the ER2XR a competent sounding pair of monitors. Treble performance has a mature tonality that definitely exceeds the expectation of a pair of sub-100 monitors.

Overall

The soundstage can get a little small due to the deep insertion of these IEMs, however, they didn’t feel overly claustrophobic due to the rather accurate imaging and presentation. There was very good separation between musical layers as well. The bottom line is the ER2XRs are not your typical “reference-tuning” monitors you expect from Etymotics.

Conclusion

The ER2XR is a very exciting release from Etymotic at this price point. It has a superb build quality and packs a lot sonically in such a tiny package. Etymotics took a chance by deviating from their usual reference-centric tuning and really surprised us pleasantly with the performance of these. I envision myself using these a lot for study sessions for their very fun yet clean tuning combined with excellent isolation. All that’s left is getting used to the fit!

Overall Grade: A-

86%
Sound
95%
Value
80%
Design

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