Etymotic ER•6 and ER•6i Isolator Earphones
"Excuse me? What was that you said? Speak a little louder so I can hear you. Sorry about that, I almost forgot I still had my earphones in my ears."
That has actually happened to me before while wearing Etymotic Research's wonderful ER•6i Isolator earphones. It's really amazing how much sound these little things block out. Etymotic claims that the ER•6i earphones block out about 22dB of outside sound, but I think they block more sound than that. While wearing them, I cannot hear the phone ring next to me, a conversation in the same room, or the TV with the sound turned halfway. To me, that seems like a pretty good amount of outside noise to be blocked out.
Another great feature of the ER•6i earphones is that they're surprisingly comfortable. For those who haven't used in-ear earphones often before, the initial few days of using these earphones could cause some minor discomfort, especially during the insertion process. After the first few days, though, the discomfort disappears.
The earphones are simple to use. Just insert the earphone into your ear while pulling on the back of your ear with the other hand. Most of the time, pulling on your ear isn't necessary to achieve a good seal, but Etymotic recommends that you do so.
To ensure that these earphones will fit in your ears, Etymotic includes a pair of white, 3-flange silicone eartips and a pair of beige, foam eartips. For me, I find that the 3-flange eartips block out more sound, despite Etymotic's claim that the foam eartips block out more sound. I also find it easier in insert and remove the silicone eartips because you can just shove them in and pull them out, while you have you roll the foam tips between your fingers and wait for them to expand in your ears. This makes the process less time-consuming and causes less frustration with finding a good seal. Most of the time, you will find a good seal each time you insert these earphones.
The sound quality from the earphones is exceptional. They have clear bass, crisp, accurate sound, and they can get pretty loud. Compared to my stock iPod earphones, these produce the best sound I've ever heard. I never realized how bad my iPod earphones were until I listened to the ER•6 and ER•6i Isolator headphones.
Etymotic includes a earphone pouch, two replacement filters to prevent earwax from damaging the earphones, a filter changing tool, and a shirt clip with the ER•6i. They include the same for the ER•6.
The only major differences between the ER•6 and ER•6i are that the ER•6 have 2-flange eartips, while the ER•6i have 3-flange eartips, the colors of everything, and the fact that the ER•6i have a higher sound output and 8dB more bass than the ER•6. Also, the ER•6i costs $10 more than the ER•6. I think the extra $10 is worth it for the increased bass and sound output, in addition to having it match your iPod.
Great sound, comfortable, lightweight, choice of eartips, block out most external sounds
Expensive, minor discomfort experienced within the first few days of use
MB Buying Advice:
If your looking for an excellent pair of earphones to replace you stock iPod earphones, you'll be happy with the ER•6 or ER•6i Isolators. I would recommend the ER•6i over the ER•6, however.