Drop + Etymotic ERX Review

Drop + Etymotic ERX Review

In this feature, we review the Drop + Etymotic ERX which is a collaborative single balanced armature driver universal in-ear monitor. It is priced at $199. 

Disclaimer: This was sent to us as a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no affiliate links or services. We thank Drop for this opportunity.

To learn more about Drop products previously featured on Headfonics you can click here.

Note, that this article follows our latest scoring guidelines which you can read here.

Drop + Etymotic ERX Review
Drop + Etymotic ERX Review
The Drop x Etymotic ERX is built to last with a durable design, and it is an excellent choice for those who prioritize accuracy and clarity in their audio gear. The IEM's natural sound reproduction ensures extended listening sessions without fatigue, and its passive noise isolation power is unrivaled.
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8.4
Pros
Unrivaled isolation capability
Accurate tone
Solid build
Cons
Slightly power demanding
8.4
Reader's Score

Drop’s partnership with Etymotic to create a single BA IEM based on the previously reviewed EVO stainless steel housing is one of their more intriguing collaborations. This is one of the toughest, clean-sounding IEMs I have ever tried.

The new ERX is also tuned to cover all the merits from ER4XR to the EVO, including excellent technicalities leveraged from their trademark deep fit and seal. So, in a sense a fusion of their classic and newer technologies all into one new IEM. 

Drop + Etymotic ERX Review

Tech Highlights

The universal fit ERX IEM has a similar stainless steel housing design to the EVO which is created via injection molding and finished in a stealthier dark grey theme that has mesmerizing metallic sheens.

The single-BA driver design has possibly the best seal at this end of the IEM market and aims to deliver an accurate and coherent performance across the audible spectrum, allowing more details to be heard even when listening outdoors or on stage.

Similar to the EVO, the ERX adopts the Estron T2 connector system that is sweatproof and very reliable in my own experience. These smaller connectors ensure better comfort and slim down the design. For those looking for aftermarket upgrade options, there are also cables using the Effect Audio ConX system that have compatible connector tips.

Design

The extended in-concha design is identical to the heat-formed stainless-steel housing on the EVO, which is made from metal powder and resin, pressurized into a few geometrically complex parts. The resulting aesthetics are artistic and ergonomically pleasant.

The EVO boasts a sleek and seamless design with a smooth flowing curve that looks stunning, and the absence of screws adds to its aesthetic appeal. The ETY logo is prominently displayed on the right faceplate and the Drop logo is on the other side which looks subtle but cool.

The ERX utilizes the Estron T2 connector system and includes a lightweight stock cable that is resistant to tangling. This enables the IEM to have a slim yet durable design, and the compact body size ensures a comfortable fit for any ear shape.

Drop + Etymotic ERX Review

Comfort & Isolation

The ERX has excellent noise isolation power due to its tilted angle and deep insertion design with extended triple-flange silicone tips.

The single flange that comes with it is slightly longer than normal ones as well, which again maximizes passive noise cancellation. The molding quality on the prolonged tips is awesome and the curvy design allows the ERX to cradle on the concha cozily without causing any stress. I tried listening to it for more than 2 hours without any discomfort.

In short, the ERX puts together the isolation power from the ER4 series and makes it more comfortable to wear with an over-ear design and a smaller profile. It almost blocks out all the noise on public transport and I am pretty sure it will do well on the plane too.

Tips

The ERX is supplied with a range of different tips and foams, which can have a noticeable impact on its sound signature.

When experimenting with different tips, you may find that the bass becomes punchier and airier with foam tips, albeit at the expense of slightly reduced treble clarity. On the other hand, double or triple-flange tips can deliver the highest resolution.

I recommend trying out all of the supplied tips to find the best match for your preferences. It’s worth noting that all of the tips, including the single-flange ones, provide exceptional passive noise isolation, which is among the best in its class.

Drop + Etymotic ERX Review

Stock Cable

The ERX comes with a black stock cable terminated in 3.5mm plugs with injection molded parts around connectors. The Y-split has metallic parts and there is a slider above it which allows the user to tie the cable below the chin or at the back of the neck.

The stock cable of the ERX may appear simple, but it exudes a rugged and durable quality that complements the product’s no-frills positioning. Its tangle-resistant nature ensures that it maintains its neat appearance, and it matches the IEM nicely.

Drop + Etymotic ERX Review

Packaging & Accessories

Drop and Etymotic keep it minimalistic this time to ship the ERX in a cardboard box. I am delighted to find a small pouch along and besides that, you will still get replacement filters and tools, sets of flanges, and foams.

Sound Impressions

The ERX goes back to Etymotic’s usual approach to offer coherent, highly accurate, and transparent sound with a single-driver design.

That doesn’t stop it from sounding resolving though. With the excellent seal just like custom monitors, a decent amount of detail can be heard even when testing outdoors in a café thanks to the excellent seal. Also, Etymotic has done a good job muting any unwanted brightness.

The ERX can be characterized as having a mild V-shaped tuning with a slight emphasis on the upper register but less elevated in the upper mids. Despite this, the presentation is uncolored and unexaggerated, with good clarity throughout the audio spectrum.

You could argue that it is a relaxed sound signature, particularly when paired with high-powered DAPs with higher gain. I am giving it approximately 100 hours before making impressions and am using the single flanges all the time.

Bass

The ERX is tuned to provide a precise and responsive bass performance, characterized by a fast impact and clean decay. While there is not much rumble present in the bass, the lower frequencies have sufficient weight to deliver a tight and dense sound.

Overall, the ERX’s bass response is well-suited for critical listening and monitoring purposes, providing an accurate and transparent representation of the bass frequencies in the music.

In terms of percussion instruments, the ERX delivers a speedy, precise presentation that doesn’t extend too deep into the lower frequencies. The ERX is well-equipped to handle fast rhythms and maintain good dynamics, even with complex arrangements and electronic music.

The bass response of the ERX is neutral with excellent control, allowing the mid-bass frequencies to be clearly heard alongside the lower frequencies. This characteristic is reminiscent of the ER4B, which delivers an exceptional sense of meatiness and responsiveness in the low end when appropriately powered.

Drop + Etymotic ERX Review

Mids

The midrange of the ERX has a controlled and unobtrusive presentation, with a slight dip in intensity compared to the bass and treble frequencies. This dip adds to the sense of control without compromising resolving power.

The midrange performance of the ERX is reminiscent of studio monitors, which can sometimes sound flat in the midrange, especially when driven by smaller outputs. When the ERX is sufficiently powered, the midrange opens up and becomes more layered, although it retains its characteristically reserved presentation.

The slight dip in the midrange of the ERX results in powerful vocals sounding calmer and more tranquil, with slightly less emphasis on the harmonic overtones. However, this tuning may not provide as much excitement or emphasis for stringed instruments.

Despite this, the ERX’s tuning allows for other elements in the two ends of the spectrum to be clearly heard, and electronic music, synths, and instrumentals are swiftly presented and engaging on this set.

Treble

The ERX excels in its treble performance, offering detailed and extended high frequencies that deliver a clear and crisp presentation without harshness or sibilance. Even at higher volumes, the treble retains its tightness and definition, which is slightly brighter compared to the ER4XR.

There is sufficient energy in the upper register to clearly present cymbals and hi-hats while remaining well-controlled. The ERX is capable of reproducing a significant amount of detail and airiness in the higher frequencies, which works particularly well with instruments such as flutes and strings that require air and harmonics to impress.

Staging & Dynamics

The soundstage of the ERX, while more confined due to its single-driver design, still provides sufficient layering and detail retrieval to create a lively and stereophonic presentation. Although the soundstage may feel intimate, vocals are positioned at a distance from the listener and do not get layered over other instruments.

The separation between different elements is natural and decent, which is well-suited for chamber music or vocals with few instruments as accompaniments.

However, when more instruments come into play, the midrange may become slightly muffled, and the soundstage may feel slightly congested. Considering this is a single-BA it is actually doing quite well in this department and the smooth articulation contributes to the naturalness of the soundstage.

Click on page 2 below for pairings and our selected comparisons.

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