The ER2XR give you that signature Etymotic controlled and detailed sound backed up with a helping of extra bass to keep things fun and enjoyable.
Fit and Comfort
People don't tend to buy Etymotic for comfort, they get them for their isolation and sound quality. The best sound, in my opinion, comes from using the triple-flange tips. These take some getting used to, due to their deep insertion fit, but once you get used to them I don't find them to cause any discomfort over long listening sessions. Their deep insertion also means they fit narrow canals quite well, and the fit is more flush and low key.
The ER2XR have an impedance of 15Ohms, but with a sensitivity of 96dB (@1kHz - 0.1v) they are not the most sensitive IEM's around and should pair well with most low output impedance sources. They should not suffer from hiss from most devices, but their low impedance does mean you should try and stick with a source that has lower than 1.8Ohm output impedance.
The single dynamic micro-driver can be powered by most portable sources to loud enough levels, couple that with the excellent isolation and these are truly excellent for loud environments.
Bass: The bass has a slight lift in the sub-bass region allowing you to really hear the rumble, but without bloating the mid-bass area. The mid-bass has plenty of punch, but it is a tight and controlled response. For those who find the ER2SR to sound a little bass light, the XR should suit your needs, Etymotic have managed to add some presence and body down low without throwing off the balanced overall sound. They have added bass without taking away detail, or control. They are now just a little easier to listen to on a day to day basis, being a little more fun yet retaining that essential Etymotic character. Being a micro-dynamic driver, the bass has a little more texture than the drier sounding balanced armature based ER3 and ER4 series.
Midrange: Here again we witness how well controlled the low end is, if you look at the graph you will see that the bass tapers off and the lower midrange is left with space to shine through with unwanted additional body or bloat. You don't have to listen for long to figure out that Etymotic carefully tuned these to have a fun and engaging sound but without sacrificing the essentials. The tonality in the midrange is pretty spot on, with good timbre and definition, whilst details are easy to pick out. They don't favour male, nor female vocals, allowing both to cut through the mix with authority.
Treble: Not lacking here, the ER2XR don't seem to put a lot of focus on the treble, instead they just let it do its thing and that is just fine. Due to the increased bass of the XR version, the do sound less treble happy than the SE, however that doesn't mean they are absent. There is a very smooth treble response that doesn't have and added emphasis to grab your attention, instead it is there to add some air and ambience without sounding grating or fatiguing. Whilst a bit more energy would not go amiss, these are very enjoyable and there is a little lift in the upper treble so as not to sound too rolled off in the upper regions. Give them some well recorded music and you will be surprised how real they get the timbre up top too, clean and clear without any unwanted edginess or unnatural tones.
Genres and Soundstaging
The ER2XR would not necessarily be my first pick for any bass heavy genres like hip-hop or rap, where they tend to shine is faster paced rock music due to their controlled sound along with jazz and acoustic where their accuracy yet warm overall sound is thoroughly enjoyable. Vocals really do sound hauntingly good, whilst they have enough power behind the low end to kick hard when listening to rock music.
The soundstaging on the ER2XR isn't excellent, their diffuse field tuning limits this slightly. However the stereo imaging more than makes up for this, with pinpoint accuracy as to instrument placement, along with great coherency across the frequency range.
The ER2XR are an impressive earphone, and definitely one of the more interesting releases from Etymotic over the last couple of years. They are low priced yet give you that signature Etymotic controlled and detailed sound backed up with a helping of extra bass to keep things fun and enjoyable.
They have the typical diffuse field target response you come to expect from Etymotic, but with an added bit of low end power and impact. These are by no means a bass oriented earphone, but they will probably appeal to more people than the ER2SE Studio Edition version.
- Value: 7/10
- Comfort: 7/10 (deep insertion takes some getting used to)
- Sound: 8/10
- Overall: 7.5/10
Below we have the frequency graph, which shows a slight emphasis on the sub-bass leaning into a largely neutral midrange, a slightly tapered off treble response but with a lift around 10kHz to give them some air.