Etymotic ER3SE

Wired In-Ear Headphones for Discerning Audiophiles

Etymotic has always held an appeal for the more demanding audiophiles out there. In the case of these in-ears, the ER3SE, the US manufacturer focuses more on those seeking mobile playback when hooked up to smartphones or portable media players.

The ER3SE is designed without any frills and frivolities. It’s a simple wired headphone system for quality music delivery. Extras such as as call functionality and integrated remote controls are completely done away with here.

The workmanship on show here is of high quality, with a robust impression. The headphone housing is made of rugged metal, with an exchange, reinforced cable that boasts a length of 1.2 metres. A fastening clip is also included for more convenience when on the move. High-quality balanced drivers are utilised here, with the earpieces equipped with filter elements that can be removed and cleaned with the included tool.


Wearing comfort of these slimline headphones is top class. The earpieces can be inserted deep into the ear canal and thus provide a more efficient seal than most in-ears of this class. The passive suppression of external noise is considerable, directing audio focus purely on music reproduction.

When it comes to the earpieces, you’ve two silicone variants to choose from, along with a pair made from memory foam. In each case, you can look forward to a very secure and comfortable fit. As such, these are ideal for sporting activities and more rigorous, physical applications. I’ve no complaints when it comes to pressure levels here. If you’re after an even more bespoke fit, you’ll be glad to know that Etymotic offer the option of customised earpieces, made to order.


The ER3SE rewards with a beautifully balanced, analytical sound character. The SE in the product name stands for ‘Studio Edition’, with the key feature to warrant this being a more pronounced linear frequency response. This model avoids superficial effects, particularly in the bass range.

The headphones deliver loud levels when needed, revealing their full capabilities when played at medium volume levels and higher. Thanks to wired transmission pathways, codecs are not an issue to concern yourself with here.

It is worth stressing the very detailed sound image here, which clearly fans out the timbres over the entire frequency spectrum, as well as associated dynamics. Equally impressive is the differentiated resolution of the stereo stage of the audio reproduced, which allows for high levels of precision for singling out specific instruments and sound sources. It’s an above average achiever in this area, for sure.

In the low bass ranges, the ER3SE is rather reserved. In quiet listening moments, the output is sufficient and accurate to raw audio. Medium and higher basses are more tightly reproduced. This makes for good pressure levels for rock, pop and EDM genre productions, while jazzy and bass-heavy numbers are clearly defined. Those who prefer a slight accentuation in the bass range can explore the equally expensive ER-3XR model as an alternative.

The central spectrum reveals many fine details. Here, these headphones stand out with their quality impulse reproduction. This can be seen most vividly with percussions or piano strokes. I wouldn’t describe the tuning as particularly warm, but rather a natural, more analytical one. Voices always come across with clarity, especially female ones. On the other hand, sharpness can be detected at high middle ranges.

Finally, the treble reproduction provides high levels of resolution, resulting in quick build-ups of detail without any associated harshness. The ER3SE delivers shining sound with plenty of bite, with well-defined individual elements that make for an energetic listening experience.

Ulf Kaiser
1 year ago by Ulf Kaiser
  • Rating: 4
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

The Etymotic ER3SE addresses the needs of music lovers seeking quality, with an impressively clean sound character. The manufacturer claims to create tools for professionals and this is reflected in the tuning of these in-ears. These headphones deliver an honest and unembellished sound that will impress. What’s more, wearing comfort scores highly. If you can do without the frills and features you might otherwise expect as standard, these are well worth considering.

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingIn-ear
  • Typeclosed
  • Transducer principleBalanced Armature
  • Frequency response (headphones)20 - 16.000 Hz
  • Impedance23,85 ohms
  • Cable length125 cm

What's in the box

  • 2 pairs of silicone ear tips
  • 1 pair of foam ear tips
  • Tool
  • Cable clip
  • Bag
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