Etymotic ER6is Are Good iPod Headphone Replacements

Etymotic ER6is are good iPod headphone replacements/upgrades.

After reading how much people loved the Etymotic ER6i headphones (see Above And Beyond: Etymotic Keeps The Music Flowing) we decided to check ’em out. Our iPod earbuds were starting to get a crackly speaker and they really hurt our ears. We picked up a pair of ER6is for $68.99 at Amazon. We love ’em!

The rubber earpiece actually fits in your ear, blocking out external sound nicely. Good frequency response. Treble really “plinks” true in the ears. Mid-tone bass seems slightly lacking but otherwise the sound is great.

The phones can get coated with ear gunk quickly so you’ll need to clean the buds regularly.

Overall, great sounding and great feeling, much better than the Gameboy-style headphones the iPod comes with. Thumbs up. — BEN POPKEN


Edit Your Comment

  1. akyiba says:

    “The phones can get coated with ear gunk quickly so you’ll need to to clean them regularly.”

    Which should be cleaned regularly, the phones or the ears?

  2. cabinaero says:

    @akyiba: Both.

  3. jackdangers says:

    iPod headphones happen to be a topic I have obsessed over fairly recently, so here’s my two cents:

    I tried the Etymotics and wasn’t quite satisfied. I previously owned 3 years worth of Sony EX71s, and always thought they were as good as it could get, but I realize now that I’m just a sucker for huge (sometimes too much) bass response. So, the Etymotics definitely disappointed me in the bass arena. The cables on the Etymotics were also a little thin for my liking, since I have shredded more than a couple pairs of the Sonys, which are even thicker.

    I recently bought a pair of Shure e2cs and have been extremely pleased by them. They have great isolation, a good set of different types of earbuds, and the bass response is great (but not boomy). I’ve been amazed by the “wideness” of the sound, and the detail, to the point where I’ve been re-listening to many albums I thought I was tired of. The cables are ultra thick, so that you don’t feel like you have to handle them too delicately.

    I think they are around the same price, and definitely cheaper online. I got mine at J&R in NYC for around $80.

  4. Sandtiger says:

    Gross Medical FYI. Get your cholesterol checked. Apparently if you have a lot of earwax you probably also have high cholesterol. Apparently a large part of what earwax is made of is cholesterol.

  5. thepassenger says:

    If you aren’t comfortable spending that much money for headphones, I’d suggest the TuneBuds from Griffin Technology. I bought mine when they first came out and they were only $20, but I guess they figured out they weren’t making enough $ at that price, so they’re now $30. They are an in-ear design like the others mentioned here, so they block outside noise.

    Probably not good enough for the audiophiles, but they still sound way better than the standard iPod headphones and don’t cost so much that you’ll be too upset if you lose or damage them. They come in either white or black with a little carrying case, and some Staples stores are carrying them now.

  6. HearsMusic says:

    FYI, if you’re just a casual listener, or just want to have spares on hand (nice to take throwaways to the gym), Apple will replace your standard ‘buds for life, for free. Call ’em up by phone when the old ones give it up and they will ship them out.

  7. layzboy1986 says:

    I was a bit curious…. Which headphones offer a better buy the ones mentioned above or the Shure E4c? I have been roaming the internet but its had to come to conclusion… Thank a bunch!

  8. konstantConsumer says:

    i don’t know if i have weird shaped ear canals or something, but i’ve yet to find a pair of in-ear buds that fit well. they are either falling out or are too big and hurt.

  9. vrykoul says:

    I’ve been using JLab’s JBuds Hi-Fi Noise Reducing Ear Buds for the last 5 months and they are excellent. Clear highs, strong treble and decent bass. They’re also only $20.


    I’ve read some articles regarding the safety of different headphones – the ‘buds’ actually do the most damage to your ears. Regular headphones are safe to listen to for an hour a day at 60% volume. Only half an hour a day is said to be safe when using the buds! I guess it all depends how high you keep them, but sticking things in your ears is terrible. Except when you have earplugs at a concert!

  11. oudemia says:

    konstantConsumer: I have the same problem and the Apple earbuds were the worst offenders for pain and not-staying-in. I bought a pair of the er6i’s and they work like a charm — and stay in (they sort of tuck into your ear and block out all external sound).

  12. mathew says:

    For those who don’t actually like in-ear headphones, I recommend Sennheiser PX100s. They fold into a pocket, and can be had for about $30. I was somewhat embarrassed to discover that they sounded better than my much more expensive HD445s.

  13. Sauerball says:

    I have a pair of ER-6; they were pretty fragile and difficult to keep clean. The ER-4 is much sturdier and sounds better – if you can afford to pay the difference, I believe it is money well spent.

    I ended up buying both before figuring out I really wanted the ER-4. Guess what the resale value is on something you stick in your ear?

  14. Sauerball says:

    @mathew: Agreed – these are a great value especially if you don’t need to block out environmental noise.

  15. kerry says:

    I too cannot wear the regular earbuds because my ears are too small, but the in-canal buds (like Apple’s fancier ones and these here) fit fine. I went through two pairs of the fancy Apple ones before deciding that the usable life was going down too fast (first pair lasted a year, second pair lasted 6 months), and bought a pair of Sennheiser buds through Amazon. They were cheaper and the sound is better. Plus, they’re not quite as expensive as the Shure and Etymotic buds out there. Most importantly, they’re black, which makes me less of a target for thieves on public transport or during my evening walks.
    If/when these break, though, I think I’ll give the Etymotic’s a try, they look pretty nice.
    One quick note – the in-canal buds are actually better for your hearing than cheap cans or traditional buds because they block out external noise, which allows you to keep the volume down much lower than with the aforementioned styles. In my office I keep my music at literally the lowest volume my iPod can produce, and it’s still too loud sometimes. On the train I rarely go above 25%.

  16. nomoneydown says:

    Word of caution on the ear buds. They tend to pack in the crap that you want falling out of your ear, mainly wax. I was using the over the ear for 10 years and switched to the Sony buds. A few months down the road everything was muffled and pain in the ears canals sent me to the Doc who said: ” These suckers are packed tight” off to the ear doc for a pretty painful waxectomy. I dumped the buds and no problems since. I also noticed that my ears rung more post buds. I did like sealing off the outside world via the plugs though.

  17. - says:

    I personally prefer the Shure E2C headphones. Better sound, and more comfortable for my ears.

  18. Mattazuma says:

    I have a pair of the black ER-6is and I love them. They block out external noise much better than the cheaper ear buds I used previously. I now listen to my iPod at a much lower volume level than I used before. The cost of the ‘phones is worth it to save my hearing.

    I like the foam covers the best, though they look pretty gross after a few months of heavy use.

  19. Gari N. Corp says:

    The Sennheiser CX300s kick ass. Cheap bones, too.

  20. shay1208 says:

    I have the etymotics, and I love them. They block most outside noise out. I can listen to my music a lot lower without the ambient noise.

  21. cornish says:

    I invested in a pair of Etymotics ER-4 MicroPro earphones nearly four years ago and have been very happy with them.

  22. WhaThe says:

    I had a pair of ER6i’s I loved once I got used to them. They where great for blocking outside noise in the city. One month out of warranty one bud quit working. At the time they cost over $100.00 and I hated to buy another pair if they only where going to last a year. After searching around I settled on the Ultimate Ears 5 Pro’s. Still trying to find the tips with the best fit for me (they include many types) but am happy with the build quality. The ER6i’s seem flimsy in comparison, but to be fair they cost half as much.

  23. sub-culture says:

    I have a pair of Shure E3Gs that I love listening to music with at home. However, moving around with them kinda sucks. Sure, they isolate outside sounds, but inside sounds like your footsteps, your body knocking into things, chewing, etc. are amplified. Stick your fingers in your ears and walk around in dress shoes on concrete.

  24. Max2068 says:

    The er6i’s are fantastic, but be careful if you have the white corded version. The input jack is susceptible to internal wire breakage because of the straight connector.

    Fortunately, Etymotic has amazing customer service, and will replace them if anything happens. They also make a black version with a right angle connector, that doesn’t get as stressed as the white ones.

    Either way, great choice.

  25. kneelconqueso says:

    i bought a pair of these a few months ago, since the cables on my sony ex-51s/71s kept disintegrating over time. i thought i’d spend 2-3 times as much once, rather than buy 4 pairs of the sonys.

    when the er6is came in the mail, i was really disappointed with the bass response. i gave them a few weeks so my hearing would adjust but i was never really too happy with the bass. then one day, after listening to my ipod through my car stereo, i plugged my er6i’s into my ipod. the volume was still full blast and blew out the earphones. i expected more from a pair of earphones i paid 99 bucks for. i especially was disappointed since they were ‘designed for the ipod’, but yet couldnt handle the power output of the ipod.

    i’m sticking with the sonys.

    although i really like etymotic’s earplugs. great for going to concerts!

  26. jitrobug says:

    I love my Shure e2cs.

    Not only good sound, but they make good ear protection when working with power tools.

  27. krunk4ever says:

    I can’t help but think this is a blatant advertisement for ER6s. First off ER and Shure are high quality earphones (despite you calling them headphones) ranging from $50 to over $500, depending on which one you get.

    Personally, if you can’t tell the difference between a $5 earphones and a $50 earphones, I would highly recommend against getting high quality earphones such as ER or Shure.

    Then if you decided you do want some good quality headphones/earphones, you should decide if you want headphones / earphones. Some people fine earphones annoying because they require plugging it into your earphone. Others fine headphones to be heavy and dislike it because of that.

    The next thing you should do is go out and test the different models and see which one you like and if you’re willing to pay that price tag. I got a pair of Shure E4c 6months ago and love them.

    I would not go out and buy a pair of ER6s just because Consumerist recommended it without really comparing it with others brands and models.

    Next up! Consumerist recommends you buy a Toyota Prius as a good replacement for your current car!

  28. krunk4ever says:

    @krunk4ever: Corrections:

    Some people find earphones
    pluggin it into your ear
    Other people find headphones

  29. r0n2 says:

    I thought the Etymotic headphones were very tinny, and that was even with a good seal in the ear canal. The sound just wasn’t for me, and I would advise people to not follow this recommendation blindly. After trying several buds, I settled on the Shure E2C. Big fat cords, (the etymotic cords are like wispy threads) hard plastic buds (have survived being stepped on several times) and a substantial, meaty sound. If you like music with a low-end and a more durable product, you should pass on the Etymotics.

  30. lpranal says:


    Actually, your brain is also made mostly of cholesterol. I think people with brains generally have the same risk of developing high cholesterol as those without…

    I wasn’t able to find any reference to a link between earwax and high cholesterol. I’d really like to see any evidence backing that up.