Etymotic ER6i Isolator Headphones Review
The Etymotic Research 6isolator headphones are definitely a pair of in-ears to consider.
The ear bud is a small, irregular hexagon. From the tip of its nozzle to the back is 0.76', top to bottom is 0.4' at its widest, and 0.25' from side to side. The front of each bud is branded with ER-6i and the back has a large, white L or R to identify the channel. The bud is predominantly clear plastic on top of black. The cord attaches directly to the bud; there isn't a leader or guard.
The cord is very thin and black. It has a small, house-shaped split with no slider to adjust the slack under each ear. After the split, the two cables merge, but retain their shapes, creating a valley between them that runs the length of the cord.
The jack meets the cord at a right angle, and the jack housing tapers off into a rubber mesh cage around the base of the cord.
In the Box
The 6i comes with five pairs of sleeves: short, black foams, taller, peach-colored foams, small- and medium-sized double-flanges, and a pair of triple-flanges. You'll also find two replacement filters -- which fit in the nozzle as a stopper between your ear and the sound element -- as well as a filter-replacement tool. A shirt clip comes pre-attached to the cord. The final bonus is a soft, zipper-up pouch that everything fits into. It has a mesh velcro pocket built in so you can keep your sleeves from falling out.
The 6i's don't seem like the most durable in-ear headphones out there. For one, the cable is very thin, which comes with the added risk of ripping or shearing. The base of the neck split seems be relatively sturdy, at least in relation to the gauge of the cable; it seems like the individual strands would've pulled out before the split tore. The jack's mesh cord-guard is not robust at all, and offers minimal protection at best. Further, the ear buds don't provide any sort of housing for the cable. We definitely feel like we could tear off the ear bud without any great effort.
The buds themselves seem to be made of thin plastic, as pushing in on their sides makes creaking sounds. Fortunately, the nozzle is relatively thick, so it shouldn't break off easily.
The sleeves fit well over the nozzle; they won't fall off easily, but still slide on without having to force them too much. The overall quality of the sleeves seems to be good durability-wise. The two sets of foam sleeves are obviously more of a durability risk than the plastic ones, since they will break down faster and are harder to clean.
There really isn't much to the 6i's to judge them on aesthetic appeal. Most of the device is simply hidden by your ear, so at most people will see a small bit of black plastic with a plain black cord coming out. These headphones should be good for those who dislike large headsets, or who are sick of seeing white headphone cables everywhere.
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