Review: Etymotic ER2SE – Testing 1-2-3

In this review we look at the Etymotic ER2SE IEM.


Disclaimer: The Etymotic ER2SE were handed over to us by Etymotic directly. I will be keeping the ER2SE with me for future reference.


Who doesn’t know Etymotic? Etymotic Research is an engineering-driven research, development and manufacturing company. The name “Etymotic” (pronounced “et-im-oh-tik.”) means “true to the ear.” Mead Killion, Ph.D. founded Etymotic Research in 1983 to design products that accurately assess hearing, improve the lives of those with hearing loss, protect hearing, and enhance the listening experience of musicians and music lovers everywhere.

With deep roots in acoustic research and the hearing aid industry, Etymotic invented insert earphones in 1984. Etymotic’s original earphone design used balanced armature receivers, which established these speakers as the gold standard for high definition in-ear earphones. The first versions were used for diagnostic testing and precision auditory research (ER-1, 2, 3). Etymotic produced the first noise-isolating high-fidelity in-ear earphone, the ER-4 (1991), which became the basis of all subsequent in-ear earphones and in-ear monitors worldwide, and created an entire category of consumer electronics.

After renewing their ER4 and ER3-Series, Etymotic is back now with the new ER2 series. I first heard these at the High End Munich show in May. Like with the ER4 and ER3, we just have to review these, as they’re really good. If you’ve read our previous Etymotic reviews you’ll notice that parts of the review might look familiar. In this review we’ll be taking a closer look at the studio model, the ER2SE. I was supposed to look at both models as usual but something went wrong with the logistics.


Like the ER4 and ER3-series, Etymotic has two version of the Etymotic ER2-model. First of all there is the SE or Studio Edition. This version is the most neutral/reference tuned and then there’s the XR or Extended Response version which has a little more bass impact. The ER2 IEMs use a single moving coil driver, and no Balanced armature as in the previous models.

You can find the dedicated product page right here:

The new ER2SE delivers clear, accurate sound using high performance dynamic drivers. The ER2XR provides impactful bass response while maintaining the clarity in the midrange and highs that Etymotic is known for.

The ER2XR offers Etymotic’s renowned isolation featuring a variety of ear tips to provide 35dB+ of noise reduction so you will hear the detail buried in the mix without raising the volume to compensate for ambient noise.

Etymotic IEMs are known for their excellent noise isolation and these again deliver a very impressive 35 to 42dB noise isolation when used correctly. It’s the highest documented noise isolation of any earphones or headphones on the market today.

If you know that Custom IEMs most of the time offer a -26dB isolation, then you immediately know these Etymotic IEMs are very special. These Etymotic IEMs, together with the Akoustyx IEMs, simply are the best isolating IEMs in my collection. Very impressive! Do watch out when wearing these outside on the go though, make sure to pay attention to traffic at all times.

Build Quality & Comfort

Great build quality yet again, but we’re used to that from Etymotic and you get a 2-year warranty on the units. The earpieces have precision machined metal bodies with an anodized finish and they look and feel very nice. The serial number is printed on the body like with the ER4 and ER3. The ER2 ear pieces do look more plastic like the ER3. The ER4 IEMs have a more metal look to them but they’re the reference model as well.

The 4ft. cable still is removable/detachable (MMCX) and as such can easily be replaced should it ever malfunction. The cable is reinforced for durability.

The ER2 IEMs as well as the cable are very light so they’re very comfortable. In order to get the best possible isolation, the ER2 does require deep insertion into your ears when using the silicon tips. With the Etymotic foam tips it’s more comfortable but you don’t get the comfort of Comply tips or a custom monitor of course. You always feel these in your ears but that’s about all I can say about it. They don’t hurt, annoy or itch and you can easily use these for long listening sessions without any discomfort.

Because of the deeper insertion the filter at the end of the earpiece can get clogged up with earwax, but the ER2 IEMs come with a removal tool and an extra set of filters.

If you’re not familiar with Etymotic IEMs, you can find the insertion instructions here:

And if that’s not enough, you can have a look at this video as well:


As a matter of fact, the ER2 IEMs are also available in a custom fit option. So if you want the ER2 to be even more comfortable, there is a way.

Keep reading about the ER2SE, on the NEXT PAGE

4.4/5 - (184 votes)

Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.


  • Reply August 6, 2019

    Phong Ngo

    Type-o in the “Sound” portion:

    “New to this ER2SE IEM is the use of a ???????????????????????????????? armature where they before were using BA drivers in the ER-series…”

    Otherwise, thanks for the great article!

  • Reply August 8, 2019


    I wonder if isn’t sound like mc3, which is also used dynamic driver but more dry/bright that ba version….

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