Etymotic headphone surprise

As a music nut who still craves high-quality sound at work, I brought along a Grado RS-1/RA-1 setup to the office. But thanks to some plug funkiness with the Grados, I was forced to plug in my Etymotic ER-4s, which are customarily only used with my portable(s) (phone, gym music player).

I confess to being rather stunned, when I plugged them into the RA-1 amp, at the sonic quality of the Etymotics. I had always considered them a great-sounding earphone, but preferred the Grado for all of those Grado reasons. But the bass, soundstaging and imaging on these things, not to mention speed and dynamic range, are pretty remarkable.

Yes, I think that the Grados are ultimately a little bit better, but the difference strikes me as more recording studio (Etymotics) vs concert hall (Grados).

Just wanted to share something of a very pleasant surprise.
Not surprised, the Ety's are a great product used by many music professionals for stage monitoring onstage.
The Ety ER4S doesn't sound very good with portables. Very dull and lifeless with my iPod and iPhone. Even a Ray Samuels Tomahawk didn't wake them up to their full potential, but it helped a bit. Connected to my Bryston B60, they sound incredible.
Indeed. In this case I was using my Sony MiniDisc player (yes, I still have one. Love it!), and ran through a pile of classical, jazz and rock, all recorded from vinyl to MD.

I do believe that you're right about the ER4 not being all that hot with portables. Even the 4P, which I also have, came to life in the different situation.
Not a surprise. There are myriads of good user reviews of these out there. I almost bought a pair a while back but comfort concerns kept me from pulling the trigger. Would like to try them someday.
I use the Etymotic 4-PT with my iPhobne to listen to music, having moved up the Ety ladder from the 6i's to the HF5's to the 4PT. The latter are utterly transparent and smooth, just a little light in the bass, but the bass is tight and tuneful. I don't know why anyone would say the 4P's are not good with portables. With iPhone or iPod they are exceptional.

One man's opinion.