Shure E4 Mini-Review

Note: I now have a full review of the Shure E4 headphones up here.

Buy the Shure E4 at zZounds for $299.99 (Dec. 3, 2006)

Shure E4

Although not cheap, the Shure E4’s are a great set of in-ears. I use mine on a regular basis on stage as in-ear monitors. It blocks out stage noise quite well, and sounds great! These are also an excellent replacement for whatever earbuds came with your iPod or other digital audio player…

These earphones come with a variety of sleeves. Make sure you find the right pair for your ears, or you won’t get a good seal and it won’t sound good (a common complaint with a bad seal would be lack of bass). The triple flanges are the best for isolation, unfortunately many people including myself find that they go in too deep. The solution I’ve found is to cut off the third flange. This doesn’t make a whole lot of difference in sound, but improves comfort drastically. I didn’t come up with this myself, I found it on some forum somewhere.

This is a great set of earphones to use even without a headphone amp. I find that I have my volume way lower than with my stock buds on my MP3 player. In fact, it’s almost too much, I have a Sony Pocket Vaio which has a digital volume control and it’s usually set at two bars out of about 20. If you assume that 3 bars is max volume in terms of what I really want to hear, then it is a little annoying that I can only go 33%, 66%, or 100%, and nothing inbetween. Shure does give you an attenuator to help with that, but I don’t like using it for some reason. I can live with the limitation anyway.

These headphones actually come in several trims, the E4 which is not actually black, but a very very dark gray, the E4C which is iPod-loving white, and the E4G which is actually black. The E4 is supposedly the pro line, the C for consumers, and G for gamers, but really they’re the same headphones.

Bottom line, these in-ears that are somewhat pricy, but worth it for the great sound and isolation.

Comparisons

Etymotic ER-6i

These are really a lower tier headphone, so it’s not exactly fair to compare them, but just for reference, the ER-6i which I believe is a great value, does not match up. The biggest difference is in clarity. The Shure E4 just gives you much clearer sound. The ER-6i will get muddy quite quickly. One thing that the ER-6i does have over the E4 is a bit more bass response, but that can be boosted through software, (most DAPs have EQ settings too), and the E4 headphones have good clean tight bass (much cleaner than the ER-6i which sounds boomy in comparison), just not quite as much of it. The ER-6i also has a wider soundstage; the E4 sounds very much like all the music is happening in your head. This is an issue with all in-ears, but more so with the E4 than the ER-6i.

Etymotic ER-4P

The ER-4P is just a different headphone from the E4, it’s hard to say which is better. The E4 has a warmer darker sound while the ER-4P is brighter with slightly better clarity. I found the ER-4P to be too bright actually; guitar crunch was often too harsh to the extent that it was annoying. On the other hand, classical music was great with the improved clarity. The ER-4P had more issues with microphonics than the E4. It could go either way, both are good headphones, but I think it just depends on what kind of music you listen to. I personally bought the E4 because it fit my listening choices much better (a lot of rock, alternative, etc.).

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~ by audioreviewer on December 4, 2006.

One Response to “Shure E4 Mini-Review”

  1. […] The Behringer UB802 is a great little mixer for a low cost. I’ve used mine regularly for about a year now for my in-ear monitor mix (with my trusty Shure E4 in-ears) on stage without any problems. I’m quite careful with my equipment though.(Update: 12/3/2006. I’ve run into a problem. My left out on the main outputs seems to be broken, sigh. Along with what seems to be broken DI at church and some other complaints from friends with UB-series mixers, I’m starting to have some misgivings about Behringer. I have a post in queue about them that I’ll finish sometime.) […]

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