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Etymotic and the utter failure of the new foam tips


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So a few weeks ago I used my last pair of foamies for my long-loved ER4Ps. No big deal, I think, and march off to Amazon to order a bag to make sure they'd get here in time for the 30hrs of plane flights that I have in the next week. So the new tips arrive and I immediately notice that the foam is different and the inner tube is now thicker. But whatever, what difference can it make. I toss a pair on and head down stairs to workout with some tunes...

WTF is this? :mad::mad::mad:

They sounded like shit, seriously congested, muffled and so far from their crystal clear selves that I knew something had to be wrong. But eff it, I'm in the middle of a half hour ride and I might as well finish before farting around with the headphones. So I get done with my ride, hope off and attempt to remove the IEMs. Crap. One plug sticks inside my ear. Oh well, that's happened before, no big deal. Upstairs, tweezers, removal. Then I look at that tip, the plastic tube has separated from the foam and is still attached to the earpiece. Shit, that's one worthless tip. But ok, I have more, not a big deal. Then I notice that the plastic tube looks different, yup, they now have an internal flange inside the tube to keep you from pushing the tip too far onto the earpiece. That's new. So I take the other tip off of the right ear piece (which survived removal) and look through the tube to see if the flange is in this tube as well. It is, and what's better, the tube is completely blocked by a thin layer of plastic as a result of casting in that flange. No wonder these sounded terrible and now I'm down two tips after one use, not good. Then I selected two more tips out of the bag, checked them for blockages (nope) and popped them on for future use and decided that Ety deserved an email for this. So I send a pretty calm message letting them know of my experience, their reply was pretty precious.

Hi Nate,

Thank you for your feedback, I have forwarded a copy of your email to the appropriate Etymotic team members.

Etymotic now offers a cost-effective CUSTOM

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Thanks Haj, I depart tomorrow morning on a 14 hour flight to Honolulu for work so I had to come up with something workable but I may take you up on that when I get back. The semi-solution, push the protrusion out of the blocked tips with a toothpick and re-glue the tube back in. None of the tips would have survived more than one use, all I had to do was apply slight pressure to the tube and it would come right out of the foam. Epic fail.

Here's a shot of one of the blockages removed.


Here's the collection of crap that I removed from the batch of tips that I got.


Apologies for the blurry pic, the only way to make the semi-transparent stuff show up was to shoot hand-held with natural light.

It does appear that using some superglue gel will bond the tubes to the foam enough for me to not have to worry about tips stuck in my ears at 20,000 feet for the next few days but I didn't read anything on the package about that being a requirement prior to using the tips.

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That sucks Nate. If the others' offers aren't sufficient (I'm sure they will be), I believe I have a bunch of unused ER4 foamies of the proper "vintage" that you are welcome to. Alternatively, I tried Comply foamies a few years back and found them very comfortable, although I still prefer the tri-flanges to both. Thirdly, despite being part of Etymotic's inappropriate response to your plight, the Custom-Fits have a writeup in the latest Stereophile that piqued my interest in getting molds done.

In the meantime, have a good & safe trip.

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As far as I know there's only one size of foamies in the Ety world. I've always just used the stock black ones. I'll see how the "modified" foamies work and let you know, thanks for the offer either way.

I have just ordered a set of replacement foamies from amazon as well. There are two types. One for the ER6i and one for the ER4. Here is a link to the two. They do look the same but I checked the other day as I have an old set of ones for my old er6's and they are different to the ones that came with my 4's!

ER6i's (ER6I-14F)

Etymotic Research, Inc. - ER-6i Accessories


Etymotic Research, Inc. - ER-4? earphones

There is also one for the ER6(ER6-14F)

The ER 6 ones are noticeably different but the ones for the 6i's and 4's look very similar, the difference from what I can see is the 6i's have a smaller diameter bore in the plastic core. Could this be the problem you have?

Just noticed, when you click the 4 link click on accessories.

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I'm late to this discussion, but two things:

1. Nate can have my entire supply of Ety foamies. I have a big sack of miscellaneous eartips -- Ety, Comply, Shure -- because for a while I was trying them all. I'll root around in there and separate out the Ety foams, of which I must have at minimum 3 or 4 unused pairs, and perhaps more. Nate, send me a PM and let me know where to send 'em.

2. Justifiable indignation and cost aside, the Custom-Fit eartips are fantastic. They are made in the UK by ACS, and they do them right. The sound channel is maybe a third the length of the one in my Westone-made tips, and the SQ is very good. They're compact, so the feel is more like a regular IEM eartip rather than something that fills your entire ear (the way, say, JH13s do), and I can wear them longer. The isolation is quite good; less than a foamie, but for me they're on par with tri-flange, or better. Best of all, in my opinion, the custom fit gets the sound tubes to a consistent depth in my ears every time and keeps them there, so there's just a whole lot less effing around with getting the insertion just right before I can start enjoying them.

I will not promise that the Custom-Fit tips sound as good as the Ety foamies, because I could never wear the Ety foamies, and the shaped Comply foamies that I can wear are just a different kind of beast. I will say that although Westone's custom tips had me a little grouchy about the SQ that I was audibly giving up for the sake of convenience, the ACS tips do not. (It is possible that I am in fact making some degree of SQ compromise with the ACS tips as well, but I don't notice any -- and I haven't felt motivated to carefully A/B them with tri-flanges just to see how dissatisfied I could be if I tried.)

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I have a new package of medium size T-100 Complys that might fit Etys, if they will do you any good. Jeff at Comply sent me these for my Shures by mistake. I use larges.

For me, the Complys have consistently sounded good and while they don't last for ever the mode of failure is that they don't sound as good, as opposed to self-destructing in your ear.

Update: I just looked on Comply's site and it does look like the T-100s will fit your phones. Let me know if you want these.

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Try the P's. 'For deep insertion'... oooh yeah.

Of all the foamies out there, the Comply's are the only ones I find remotely tolerable these days I can't deal with triflanges anymore for *any* length of time. Not that I care to tolerate them that often, but the Comply's are infrequently useful when I don't want to use the UE's due to frequent removal but need additional isolation from the Shures.

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