Product Review (September 2005)
Etymotic Research 6i Earphones

By Kevin Nakano


There is no doubt that the iPod™ has created a whole new category of value-added electronics and accessories from a variety of manufacturers. Etymotic Research has entered this market with their latest ER-6i earphones designed to complement the iPod™ and other portable audio devices. As with many of the in-ear designs, the 6i offers superb noise reduction while providing impressive audio quality compared to many of the less expensive headphone solutions. The lightweight design and comfortable fit are attractive features. The white color of the ER-6i matches the décor of the iPod™ exterior. The 3.5mm stereo plug and 5 foot cable offers plenty of length for portable audio devices. Our only concern was the thin cable appears to be fragile and was more prone to tangling than some of the other designs we have reviewed. A clip on the cord is designed to attach to the user's shirt to help prevent the cord from being pulled while in use. Also included is a soft case with a Velcro flap, foam ear sleeves and multi-tapered silicon plug and an earwax remover. The silicon plugs are designed to fit a wide range of users by having varying diameter sizes the deeper they are inserted into the ear. Personally, I prefer the sonic quality when using the foam sleeves since they contour the ear canal better, which results in noticeably better bass response. However, the silicon plugs are more comfortable for extended periods of time.

Performance
Our tests were conducted with both portable MP3 music players such as the Neuros Digital Audio Player, JVC XA-MP101B and Lexar LDP-200 as well as high quality sources from SACD using HeadRoom's Little (Premium Module) amplifier unit. The good news is our high quality sources did reveal significant improvements in sound quality. MP3 sources did not have the subtle detail and transparency found on the better SACD sources. This does not mean that MP3 source sounded bad on the ER-6i's, but rather the earphones had the ability to reveal sonic differences between good and excellent source material. We used the earphones connected to our Neuros MP3 player on many business trips, aboard several lengthy flights and the performance was excellent. The foam sleeves produced the best bass. The ER-6i offers an 8 dB increase in sound level over the original ER-6 from the lowest frequencies to just over 2 kHz, improving bass and midrange output levels.

Conclusion
The Etymotic Research 6i earphones offer portable audio users better sonic quality than many of the commonly found headphones or ear buds. The stylish look and lightweight design make them a perfect match for iPods as well as other portable music players. The durability of these earphones do concern us especially for those on the go. However, we did not experience any problems with them during our review period. If you are looking at an in-ear earphone for reduced background noise, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the sound quality offered by the Etymotic ER-6i design.

- Kevin Nakano



OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review - At a Glance


Etymotic Research 6i Earphones

Product Overview

  • Higher sensitivity for compatibility with all personal music players.
  • Enhanced bass response to accommodate individual preference.
  • Specifications
    Frequency Response 50-6 kHz ±3 dB; 20-16 kHz ±6 dB
    Noise Isolation 34-36 dB
    Impedance 16 ohms at 1 kHz
    Maximum Output 108 dB SPL
    Weight Less than 1 oz.
    Cable White 5 ft.
    Connector Plug Stereo, 3.5mm 1/8"; optional 1/4" stereo adapter

    Company Information
    Etymotic Research, Inc.
    61 Martin Lane
    Elk Grove Village, IL 60007 USA
    Phone: 847-228-0006 1-888-Etymotic (1-888-389-6684)
    Fax: 847-228-6836
    URL: http://www.etymotic.com

    Source: Manufacture Supplied
    MSRP: $149
    Warranty: 90-day warranty. Extend to one-year with registration.

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