First, a bit of clarification. In case you didn't realize it, Etymotic has four versions of its ER-4 MicroPro series earphones, each of which retail for $299. According to the company, here's how the differences break down:
The Etymotic MicroPro ER-4B is "for binaural recording monitoring and used in professional settings."
The Etymotic MicroPro ER-4S is the company's "stereo monitoring earphone and geared to those listening through a powered recording or 'front of house' monitoring board."
The Etymotic MicroPro ER-4P is the most mainstream of the bunch, designed for those using a portable audio device as their primary audio source.
The Etymotic MicroPro ER-4PT, reviewed here, is the latest version of the 4P. Etymotic says it's made for the professional traveler who uses his or her earphones on planes as well as professionally.
To be clear, the ER-4Ps and ER-4PTs are essentially the same products, but they're packaged differently. The ER-4PT has different adaptors for plane use and also comes with a Channel Matching Compliance Graph that states to the owner that his or her ER-4PT has passed all accuracy tests and each channel has been hand matched and certified within 2 dB over a defined audio spectrum.
(If you're still confused, check out Etymotic's Web site for a more detailed explanation on the ER-4 MicroPro model line. As an aside: that's way too many model numbers for four very similar products. We'd suggest Etymotic pare down its number of SKUs to make things as simple as possible for shoppers.)
OK, now on with the review. The first thing you'll notice about these Etymotics is the earphones themselves are somewhat long, slender cylinders that make you feel as if you're almost jamming sticks in your ears, which is not a bad thing in this case. Several Etymotic models are shaped this way, and we only point it out from an aesthetic standpoint that these guys protrude from your ears a little more than some earphones.