Saturday, February 11, 2006

Etymotic ER.6i

I bought this new earphone which I showed to V just now. I told her how much it cost. I think she might have been hiding her surprise. Much like how I reacted initially when told how much LV bags cost.

Anyway, there was a tussle between the Shure and Etymotic (it means "true to the ear").

Hence I embarked on a hour-long internet research so that I know the money used to buy the earphones will be wellspent.

The ER6i finally won the competition and the reasons were rather simple.

Okay, firstly, Shure and Etymotic make in-ear canalphones. They are both passive noise cancelling earphones. Which is the opposite of active noise cancelling earphones (duh). What the latter does is to mask ambient noise by filling the volume of air within the headphone cup with antinoise soundwaves. It's like white noise to drown ambient noise. So it is not acoustically pure and you might hear the hiss of the white noise. Such headphones require batteries or some form of power supply. Plus the fact that the antinoise soundwave frequency is fixed, rapid changing noise or soundwaves not covered by the antinoise soundwave eg. high-pitched crying babies, drills, screech of claws on chalkboard.

But not Shure and Etymotic in-ear canalphones.

They cancel out the ambient noise purely by blocking them out passively. What it means is that noise is reduced by insulation. Thus there is no additional foreign noise. What you get is just the sound from the music you hear. Acoustically superior.

And between Shure and Etymotic....well....the reputable online review sites all point towards Etymotic. Well not all. But those who mattered, did.

Users will often report that Shures' sound signature includes higher quantities of bass, but with recessed, rolled-off treble (which causes the entry-level, least detailed E2c to be thought of as "muddy" by some audiophiles). Etymotic earphones, by contrast, have reports of clear, analytical treble but low (sometimes "anemic") quantities of bass.
Oh, and that it was awarded the Best Headphone 2005 in iLounge Best of 2005 Awards. Surely.....tempted right?

So what do I think of it after using it for almost a week. layman terms (I am not an audiophile. Why would I want to fuck a mini compo?), I could sit in a train from Kallang to Boon Lay without hearing anything besides the irritating announcements and buzz of the closing train doors. In a taxi, it was like living life in a motion picture soundtrack. Just the flashing scenary outside the windows and the music going into your head. Yes, the music goes straight into your head, it's like having some serious personal experience (ok, I am being over the top here). And the best thing is, I could achieve all these without having the volume on my Royal Gala II going beyond the halfway mark. Protecting my ears! Saving battery usage! Ok, minimally.

What are the bads? Well....imagine hearing the thud of your own footsteps as it vibrates up to your ears. Or the low thudding sound generated when the earphone cables snag or bounces off your body. And you MUST NEVER EVER share these earphones because it'll be super gross having to swap ear wax....very eeeww

And also having to look like an idiot when using the earphones. There are some instructions included that will be weird to non mini compo fuckers (non-audiophiles) like me. For instance, inserting your earphones.....

  • R" on the earphone indicates right ear; "L" indicates left. (DUH!)
  • Carefully insert one earphone at a time, pulling up and out on the back of the ear. (what? come again? up and out?) The earphone should seal deeply and comfortably in the ear canal. For best bass response, earphones must be well sealed in the ear canals.
  • When removing earphones, use a slow twisting motion to break the seal. (Like you should expect some hissing sound, similarly to sound of uncapping softdrinks)

What the hyell?

There's more....
  1. Moisten flanged eartip before insertion. (doesn't this turn you on? no? then you are not a mini compo fucker an audiophile)
  2. Roll foam eartip between your finger and thumb, place in ear canal and hold for 5 seconds. (holding for 5 secs? Holding in between finger and thumb? Freaking EAR CANAL????What is wrong with these people?)
  3. Open your jaw while inserting the earphone. (fuck! this is beyond aural pleasure. it's oral too?!)
  4. Use a twisting motion as you slide eartip in your ear. (oh. my. gawd.)
A bit of hard sell from the site:

Etymotic makes the world's finest in-the-ear headphones. We invented the technology in 1983 and have been perfecting it ever since through our extensive research and patented technologies. Etymotic in-the-ear earphones reduce noise naturally. They slide in your ears like earplugs to block out external noise, allowing you to hear every recorded detail. Etymotic earphones will transform your MP3 player into the world's best portable music system.

Suddenly it's worth spending that kind of money on an object so tiny. World's Best leh. Isn't that's what being Singaporean is all about?

Etymotic Research, Inc.

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