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Thread: Product Review: Etymotic ER-6i Earbuds

  1. #1

    Thumbs up Product Review: Etymotic ER-6i Earbuds

    NOTE: i purchased this product with my own money, it was not swag.

    fellow on-bike audio enthusiasts,

    i recently became interested in listening to music while riding. i ride an R1150RA and wear an HJC helmet, so i get a lot of wind noise when i ride. previously i've used foam earplugs to reduce the noise inside the helmet, and they are very effective. the Etymotic ER-6i earbuds are actually *more* effective at reducing the ambient noise, and they sound fabulous for music or spoken word content.

    a few days ago i took the bike for a spin with my new iPod Mini, and found the experience to be wanting. the loud ambient inside the helmet meant i had to turn up the music quite loud to hear it. when i would come to a stop, it became noticeable how darn loud it really was, and i was worried about damaging my hearing. i also learnt that raising the volume to overcome the wind noise was adding to the items that asked my brain for attention, not reducing them. the result was that i did not feel i was maximizing hearing health, audio reproduction, or motorcycle saftey.

    today my etymotic earbuds arrived.

    here is what one looks like:

    the part that looks like a barb is really soft rubber, and it slides into my ear perfectly, making an amazingly good barrier to noise. when i inserted these, they were better than foam earplugs. hey MIKETHEBIKE, if you had these in floriduh, you'd have slept like a baby. for your benefit, i had my SO stand in the kitchen and run the blender and shout obscenities at me. i couldnt hear a thing.

    so i went and rode with them tonight, and they are fabulous. they sit far enough inside my ear that when i put the helmet on, they don't hang up at all. i have to be careful when taking it off, because the helmet seemed to compress them a bit more, but i'm confident that with more use, i'll get the hang of it. sound quality is impressive. i had the iPod on a very low volume setting, maybe 25%, and i could hear everything with crystal clear clarity. this is while zooming along at 70mph on the highway.

    i got these for $100 from, with free shipping. i highly recommend them to anyone considering listening to music while riding.

    standard disclaimer about imparing your hearing while biking, etc, you could get hurt, etc, your mileage may vary.

  2. #2
    Has the GS-Lust The_Veg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Atlanta 'burbs
    What is the fit like? I have rather narrow ear canals. I'd also be interested in hearing how they hold up after months of hard use and impressions once the novelty has worn off.
    2012 R1200GS
    "If you can't fix it with a hammer, it's electrical." -somebody's dad

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by The Veg
    What is the fit like? I have rather narrow ear canals. I'd also be interested in hearing how they hold up after months of hard use and impressions once the novelty has worn off.

    i percieve myself as having narrow ear canals, but im not sure. i wonder what the right way to measure them is. for comparison, when i insert foam earplugs, i squeeze the bejesus out of them to make them small and pointy, and i give myself a wet willy to ease their insertion. i got real embarrassed asking the pharmacist for aural lube one time, so i just use spit.

    these slide in and form a snug fit. they dont hurt. strangely, they feel just right, and make a very good seal with my ear. if i shake my head, they wont come out, to remove them i have to twist and pull a little.

    i will post my impressions later for sure. i've only worn them for one solid hour, and that hour was good. i'll be wearing them quite a bit before april is over, and i'll have a few really long days, so i'll get a good idea of whether or not they start to hurt, or the rubber degrades, or whatever, with time.

    one other thing i wonder is how long the rubber barb things will last. they should last quite a long time i would guess, but we'll see when i do a longish trip and have a higher number of insertion/extractions.

  4. #4
    Rally Rat boofer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Landstad, Wiscowson
    I have been useing mushroom earplugs both at work and riding for over 10 yrs. They are simply the best. Love my ER-6i's too, but not being a gadget guy haven't used them on the bike.


  5. #5
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Marin By God County, California
    I've had a pair of these since Christmas. I've worn them for 10 hours in a row without discomfort. It was, of course, good to get them out of my ears at the end of the day, but I wasn't exactly in discomfort either.

    There are two kinds of plug tips. There's a foam kind that's like a standard earplug, but is made to fit on the teeny stems of the 6is. I get about a month or so of fairly heavy use out of them before they start to get really nasty looking and self destruct. I bought a replacement set of foam tips from etymotic and they showed up in a few days. I forget what you pay for them, but they were pretty cheap.

    There's also a set of filters built into them. The filters keep ear gook and assorted spooge out of the speakers. I've only replaced them once when I thought the output wasn't what it used to be. Again, you can get these from etymotic's online store.

    I'm nuts about mine. I wear them in airports, on airplanes, in buses, subways and on my bike. I always have a quiet zone and it's usually filled with my music.

    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  6. #6
    On the Road
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Minneapolis, Minnesota

    How do they fit when getting helmet on?

    could you comment on how they stay in etc. when getting your helmet on? I have tried using ear bud type and they always got ripped out of my ears when putting my helmet on. (shoei tz-1 if that matters) These look like they fit down in your ears and not riding on top of the canal so that may make some difference.

    Can you hear anything with them in over the music? kind of a trade off but I'd still like to hear some of the traffic noise around me.


  7. #7
    Registered User gcutter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Norfolk, VA

    Novelty is still there..

    I've had my ER-6's for over a year (not the 6i, but that's just an ipod affectation) and ca. 8000 mi on them, and the novelty is still there...I think they're 'da bomb ! In fact, I use them as plugs even if I'm not listening to NPR or my tunes. Shop around because the price varies by 15% between vendors.

    Oh, and with regards to pulling out, etc, I have a Nolan 100E and Arai Tour-X XD, and simply looping the cord around my ear (from back by my earlobe, then up and around) makes it so they are never a problem when putting on or removing my helmet; the cord is the issue, not the earbud.
    Cheers, Greg
    Greg ('02 F650 GS; '06 K1200GT); Lynda ('07 R1200RT, '04 Burgman 650)
    Norfolk, VA
    Our Pictures Web Site

  8. 04-03-2007, 06:23 PM

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