TouchMyApps » Westone http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:42:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.4 Westone 4 earphones in Review http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/18/westone-4-earphones-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/18/westone-4-earphones-in-review/#comments Tue, 18 Jan 2011 16:19:13 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=46616 Whether it’s Metallica, DJ Tiesto, Iggy Pop, Melody Gardot, or Aphex Twin belting around the spinning innards of your cassette player, it’s gonna sound fab from the Westone 4, and it’s not just that new product sheen either. No, it’s the fact that Westone nailed everything in this, the first universal earphone fitted with four … Read more]]>

Whether it’s Metallica, DJ Tiesto, Iggy Pop, Melody Gardot, or Aphex Twin belting around the spinning innards of your cassette player, it’s gonna sound fab from the Westone 4, and it’s not just that new product sheen either. No, it’s the fact that Westone nailed everything in this, the first universal earphone fitted with four speakers per side – a mean feat in any respectable dictionary.

Discuss the Westone 4 in our forums.

Specifications
Sensitivity: 118dB @ 1mw
Impedance: 31Ω
Driver: 4 balanced armatures
Cable: twisted; separate volume control

Package and Fit
I’m actually typing this up on the airplane – the Westone 4′s are snuggly in my cabin-sick ears – and to be dangerously honest, I can’t for the life of me hear the safety announcements. The reason, my friends, is the same as it has been for yonks: Westone’s body style really gets into the ear canal to block a hell of a lot of noise – and is comfortable to boot. It sits flush against your concha and into your music hole and I reckon that some will even say that it is great for sleeping.

I’ve no complaints. The body is a bit oblong and simply dwarfs my personal favourite, the Audio Technica CK10, but overall, its ergonomics is hunky dory. Particularly comfortable are the Comply tips which melt in your music holes. For rubber lovers, Westone pack semi-hard transparent gumdrop-looking ones, flexible grey ones, and one set of triple flange sleeves. My mate loves the grey ones and I’ve heard tale that even the transparent ones are to some people’s liking. For my narrow, semi-short canals, neither fit, but the triple flanges work wonders. Folks, your mileage will vary and that is the particular reason that Westone have packed in such a rich assortment. Anyone will find a fit.

Aside from the fit pieces, you get an analogue impedance adapter that lowers the volume from loud sources, a decent nylon carrying pouch, a 6,3 to 3,5mm step down adapter, and a wax loop for clearing away your ears’ sticky icky that can build up to clog the sound tube. The package is a treat for, well, whose who will most love the Westone 4: music lovers.

Build Quality
Westone have never ever built bad stuff. I’ve railed on them for setting the now-standard plastic precedent among professional earphones. But I can’t fault them: no one creates anything better, not really. The Westone 4 is an excellent earphone that sort of bridges the excitement of the Westone 3 and the staid, smooth, and easy driving UM3x. I can see it used on stage, but I think that its larger customer base will use it out and about, with their favourite tunes on the bus, train, and on their favourite comfy chair.

That in mind, the Westone 4 has few betters in terms of build quality. Sure, the Audio Technica CK10 and CK100 have stronger cables, metal armour, and thicker plastic, but outside Japan, you’d have to sell your car to afford them. Apart from them and the sexy new Shure SE535, the Westone 4 is simply top in the consumer market.

The Westone twisted cable is easily the most iconic among high end earphones and has many copycats. As always, it is silent, strong, and resilient to deleterious sweat and body oil. The cable WILL harden over time but not for a good long while. And, thank the gods, it’s well anchored in the body of the earphone to avoid getting severed by sharp plastic edges. If you are persistent and begging for bankruptcy, I’m sure you could destroy Westone’s cable, but I’d suggest saving your pennies for more Comply tips. The cable is terminated in a right angle connector, slim enough to fit most iPhone and ipod cases, but sturdy. I’d pick the UM3x‘s boxy right angle connector in a prize fight, but only just.

The earphone body, too, is a winner – at least mostly. I’m not a big fan of its Klingon styling (sorry Westone), but I can’t help but praise the overall effect. The earphone is joined along perfectly met seams, and sports a strong cable anchor stress relief. Again apart from Audio Technica’s top CK series, there is nothing on the market that trumps Westone’s overall efforts in build quality.

Kudos, Westone.

Sound
So you probably didn’t spend 450$ just to secure a sturdy, well-accessorised kit, did you? There is other meat between Westone’s Klingon chops. Overall, this new model keeps in line with Westone’s excellence offerings while bridging the sound of the mid-centric UM3x and the Westone 3.

I’m not sure why, but this four-speaker earphone actually sounds tamer than its three-driver big brother. The Westone 3 punches more ferociously down low. It’s a fun earphone that accentuates the beat and punches the highs like its training for a fight. I like it, but after hours and hours of dizzying listening, I’ll admit that the four is an easier listen.

The 4 is, how shall we say it – beautifully realistic. It isn’t overly burly in the low end, and it isn’t too excited up top. Bass reaches low, but it never gets the attention that either the UM3x or the Westone 3 get. If your ears are good enough, you’ll get respectable doses of vibration, but real emphasis starts a bit higher, well after 100Hz or so. At the ear, for instance, the intro to Markus Schulz’ Mainstage (Progression album), which butterflies around the ear with bass-heavy earphones, whispers silently with the Westone 4. The rub of course, is that low bass simply isn’t presented with the same force that high bass is and that in order to really enjoy it, you’ll have to turn up the volume a couple of notches. On the other hand, low bass tends to warm overall sound up and some people consider that a bad thing. Personally, I’d love a bit more weight in the very low frequencies, but not anything else was sacrificed.

It might be an imaginative stretch to compare the Radius DDM to the Westone 4 – the former boasting linearly expressed bass that results in gobs of low end detail — but both earphones (despite technological differences) really sing in the lower midrange and higher bass. Of course, the Westone 4 isolates the world from your ears, so the little things really pop out.

What I’m speaking of – and I hope I say this right – is simply phenomenal reed instruments and percussion. The DDM’s best foot was the guitar; the Westone 4′s best foot has a couple more toes. Vocals are one toe. Both male and female vocals are wonderful, but low-voiced male vocals and husky female vocals shiver the knees. Obviously, we aren’t talking about trance anymore, are we?

No, Melody Gardot’s My One and Only Thrill, an excellent vocal/jazz album, for instance, settles comfortable into the mid-centric Westone 4 like good cheese with a few bottles of wine. Hand in hand with its emphasis, the midrange gives up a lot of details and places them superbly. In some ways, the more drastic juxtaposition of bass and treble in the Westone 3 draws music starkly, but the Westone 4 allows the midrange, and therefore, the main musical thrust, to breathe more freely. It sounds ‘natural’ for lack of a better term, rather than strident.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the Westone 3, but It doesn’t catch me the same way the Westone 4 and the UM3x do.

It seems apparent to me that Westone made conscious strides to tone both treble and bass presence down in the Westone 4. The 3 is intensely popular, but a lot of people took aims at its bulky bottom end and trippy top end. It’s true: where it counts, the 3 is pretty damn exciting. For some music, such excitement works like bubbly; for others, however, it works like a monkey wrench. The 4 sits right between the 3 and the UM3x, meaning that it is smooth in the middle and voiced for easy, but detailed listening.

You won’t get tired listening to the Westone 4. But you also won’t get much dose of comparative sound after 15 000Hz. The peak around 8 000Hz is smoother than the 3, but still sounds crisp. The 4 is less sibilance than the 3 and dare I say it, less congested. But in the end, I don’t really see the Westone 4 as an upgrade to the Westone 3 – it’s too different. Rather, it is like a tweaked UM3x, and that’s a good thing.

Out and about
As with all Westone earphones, there are zero problems for out and about use. The Westone twisted cable is dead silent, soft, and easy to use whilst on the go. Similarly, the body style isolates your music really well. You will be able to keep the volume low even on the airplane or bus. Of course, with this much isolation, even Rob Ford’s fatmobile will get the silent treatment.

The small right-angle connector is tip-top among consumer earphones and the overall construction should keep the Westone 4 jamming for a long time. It is an extension of what really is the perfect consumer earphone line.

Conclusion
My scalp starts to itch when I’ve nothing negative to say about an earphone. But in the Westone 4’s case, I’ll have to contend myself with scratching and scratching. Detailed, well made, well accessorised, and good sounding, it is an excellent earphone for the audiophile and the consumer alike. And where the 3 sort of splayed out wildly, chasing away some good-intentioned musicians, the 4 will probably find space in the ear of your favourite musician.

The only downside I see is that the 4 is an upgrade to the three. If you are in the habit of upgrading, this shiny bird will prey on your wallet. If however, the Romulans ravaged your home base and looted your stash of warbuds, you are in equal danger of parting with the better part of 500$.

HPR-Westone-4-back HPR-Westone-4-case HPR-Westone-4-fit HPR-Westone-4-front HPR-Westone-4-glamour HPR-Westone-4-naked HPR-Westone-4-package HPR-Westone-4-plug HPR-Westone-4-shabang HPR-Westone-4-split HPR-Westone-4-stress HPR-Westone-4-tips HPR-Westone-4-VC album-melody-gardot-my-one-and-only-thrillRead more]]>
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Westone’s Top-of-the-Line Stage Monitoring Universal IEM: UM3x in Review http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/06/20/westones-stage-monitoring-iem-um3x-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/06/20/westones-stage-monitoring-iem-um3x-in-review/#comments Sat, 20 Jun 2009 13:41:02 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=13797 Westone’s UM3x is clearly a professional product. Where hitherto, our headphone reviews have focused on the casual and audiophile listener’s tastes; and in the case of the Sleek CT6 Custom, the musician; the UM3X is designed for stage performers. It’s sturdy, unadorned housing and well-relieved stress points clearly illustrate this fact. Despite Westone’s intended professional … Read more]]>
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Possibly one of the greatest universal stage monitors

Westone’s UM3x is clearly a professional product. Where hitherto, our headphone reviews have focused on the casual and audiophile listener’s tastes; and in the case of the Sleek CT6 Custom, the musician; the UM3X is designed for stage performers. It’s sturdy, unadorned housing and well-relieved stress points clearly illustrate this fact. Despite Westone’s intended professional market, many users are clamouring to buy this unit for personal use. How does it fare when compared and contrasted with other personal earphones? Let’s take a look.

Westone’s History
Westone was born in 1959 when Ron and Mickey Morgan made their first earmold (we call them “custom earpieces” now) in the kitchen of their log cabin in the Colorado Rockies.

The Morgans based their business on three simple precepts-absolute quality, friendly, efficient service and the Golden Rule. Those principles, along with constant technological innovation, have made Westone a worldwide leader in products and services that improve and protect the hearing experience, enhance the effectiveness of hearing healthcare professionals and support innovation in the hearing healthcare industry.

We are here to help you in any way we can. Just let us now how we can be of service.

UM3X Product Description
Built to the highest professional standards, the true three-way, balanced armature UM3x delivers incredibly smooth response cross the entire frequency range. Using the same technology as our custom ES3X, the UM3X is the earpiece of choice for performers desiring high-end Westone sound quality in a universal-fit package. The comfortable Comply™ foam tips form to the ear for extended use without fatigue and provide up to 25 dB of ambient noise reduction. Equipped with a durable 50″ stereo “Y” cord with a 3.5mm stereo jack, 4 pair of Comply™ foam tips, storage pouch and wax loop.

The UM3X is ultimate universal-fit musicians’ monitor, perfect for the on-stage performer.
Available only in clear/black.

Julie’s Review
Accessories: The Westone UM3X ships with a really nice sturdy zipped carrying case, 3 pairs of Comply tips, an ear-cleaning tool and, uh, what, that’s it?? I did tip the packaging upside down, banged it and shook it for a few hours, but no more goodies fell out. After wiping my tears away and pulling myself together… I remembered that the UM3x was designed specifically for stage monitoring, and as such, a huge array of accessories is not necessary. Panic over!

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Spartan but professional

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Specifications:
Sensitivity: 124dB/mW
Frequency response: 20 Hz -18 kHz
Impedance: 56 ohms
Driver: Three balanced armature drivers with a passive three-way crossover.
Features: Soft padded pouch, replaceable Comply ™ foam tips, and wax loop for cleaning.

UM3x cable and construction:
Fantastic. I have to say I do have a special affection for Westone cables. Even though they’re not detachable (like the IE8 for example), the construction itself does inspire confidence. It may look flimsy (Sony EX, any model, hello??) – but it isn’t. It’s braided, supple, durable, and totally unkinky! My only complaint is that the distance to the Y-splitter is too short. This is definitely a case of where a couple of extra inches would be, um… very welcome! I’m pretty certain I wasn’t strangled in a previous life, but whenever I feel that cable brush ominously against my neck – I can never be quite sure …

Excellent housing-to-cable stress relief

Excellent housing-to-cable stress relief

Even the Y-split is protected with dual stress reliefs (Perfection)

Even the Y-split is protected with moulded dual stress reliefs - perfection

Close up of the sturdy square jack and excellently relieved L-plug

Close up of the sturdy square jack and excellently stress-relieved L-plug

Fit:
Wonderful, no complaints at all. I had the UM2 for a very short time and they were t-h-e most comfortable earphones I’ve ever worn. The UM3X housing is the same size and is super duper comfy in my ears! I can wear them for hours with no side effects at all.

All my listening was done with Westone’s W3 silicon tips, as the Comply tips reduced the soundstage and muffled the sound too much for my liking. There are other tips which will fit: the silicon ones from the Shure SE530 for example, or almost anything which fits a narrow nozzle. Note: foamies and silicon flanges from makers like Sennheiser will not fit as they are too large.

Compatibility:
The iPod Touch drives the UM3X very easily. I listen to rather loud music, but don’t need anything above seventy-five percent to get ear-splitting volume – and there is no hiss – none at all. It is shhhhhhh… silent.

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What did I listen to?
Nils Lofgren:  Acoustic Live – Black Books:
This is a fantastic track with some stunning, and I mean s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g acoustic guitar from 2.50 through to the end. I saw this ‘Live’ a few rows from the front and it was quite something! Anyway, the CD is very well recorded, and the quality is well documented in various user reviews at Amazon.com and even on Head-Fi! With the Westone 3 and Phonak PFE, the guitar is alive and kicking. It’s clear, realistic and sucks you in immediately. With the UM3X, I had to ask myself who smothered it with a pillow. The crispness had disappeared beneath a light fog which made the track sound strangely flat and uninvolving. And the vocals were much further forward than they were when I heard it live. No other earphones have pushed the vocals so far forward – but if that’s how you like them, you’ll be happy!

Bella Sonus:  Enamoured
This is very well recorded and is full of female vocals, percussion, synths, thunderous bass and some amazing Spanish flamenco guitar. When I first heard it with the Westone 3 (W3)… it ROCKED!!! When I heard it with the UM3X, it rocked…. not!

While the instrument separation is second to none, I couldn’t appreciate it because I felt the instruments themselves lacked any crispness and sparkle. I would rather sacrifice a little separation for more life and sparkle, otherwise I can’t get drawn into the music at all. But of course, these weren’t designed for the casual listener, so it’s not a ‘fault’ of the phones at all. It’s just an observation from a listener’s point of view.

Percussion was easy to pick out in the mix, but sadly, was not lively or exciting, it just ‘existed’ – nothing more, nothing less. Vocals were smooth and very forward, but sounded lacklustre to me. I found this album sadly disappointing with the UM3X. If there was a sad smiley, I would insert it right here. And at 1.12 on Gypsy – there’s some shockingly deep bass that’s very evident with the W3 – but which totally loses impact with the UM3X. And that’s another reason I prefer the W3 for personal listening, the bass is more fun. I don’t care if it’s accurate or not, if it sounds good to me, that’s all that counts.

Jean Michel Jarre: Oxygene and Equinoxe
There are a lot of spacey sound effects on these albums, and some very cool stereo imaging. These were much more enjoyable with the UM3X than the other music I listened to. Despite the soundstage being smaller than I’m used to, the stereo imaging was excellent, and more than made up for it. I was happy to see how much more I liked to listen to them without vocals!

Bass:
I am not a basshead at all, really. And the UM3X is very acceptable in that department, more quantity than Phonak PFE, less than Triple.fi 10 and W3 – and not really lacking unless you’re after sheer impact. They are not IE8 bass monsters, and they are not exactly bass shy, but they are light on impact to my ears. If you want impact and weight with your bass, and you listen to a lot of bass-heavy music, I would suggest looking elsewhere (IE8/ JVC FX500 maybe) since the UM3X just might not cut if for the ‘excessive’ basshead!

Midrange/Treble:
I read recently that stage monitors are often cranked up in the vocal region since they can be the hardest thing to keep in key with. Well, they stand out all right. And if you like a bold ‘in your face’ presentation, then the UM3X might just be your thing. However, I found the placement far too forward and intrusive for my own listening preferences. If I’m going to sit on the singer’s lap and have him sing/smooch in my ears…… I expect to know him a little better first. After all, I am a lady!

The forwardness does not sound natural to me at all, it’s exaggerated to the point of distraction – and I found it the hardest thing to adjust to. When the midrange is that dominant, the bass and the treble become an afterthought and I have to really listen out for them. I should add that this is very much a personal preference – and that most people love a forward presentation. However, I need some space between myself and the vocalist in order to enjoy the music. Without any space, it feels claustrophobic and I can’t enjoy it because all I hear is vocals vocals vocals, with the instruments coming somewhere from behind in the distance. It makes the soundstage feel even smaller than it is.

The treble is very smooth, detailed, and not fatiguing in the slightest… but is totally lacking in sparkle and twinkle! Triangles and cymbals sound almost muted. My Triple.fi 10 had more sparkle, as did my Phonak PFE and W3. But the UM3X treble just doesn’t have enough energy for me. It’s like it was beaten repeatedly with a damp squib until it surrendered. Of course, for anyone with a low tolerance to pronounced treble, these would be great, since you’d never be bothered by piercing highs no matter how long you listen for.

Out and about with the UM3X
These really are very comfortable to wear on the move. No noisy microphonics, no snagging, you can just forget they’re there. And although the Comply tips isolate better, I don’t care for any type of squishing and squashing thank you very much. Life is too short to stuff a mushroom or squish a Comply. So I stuck with the silicon tips and isolation was fine on the tube. I could still hear station announcements through them, but I always can!

Final Thoughts
I think I can see and hear why these weren’t designed for personal listening. Although there’s nothing I can pick out that’s technically ‘wrong’ with them – they are simply too laid back and polite for my liking. But since I wasn’t part of the professional market that the UM3X was geared towards, it’s no real surprise that I wasn’t keen on the sound.

Westone did not design the UM3X for people who listen to recorded music through iPods and other portable music players – they were designed for musicians who monitor sound levels on stage. So unless you’re a professional who needs to monitor and analyse the sound, I would look elsewhere. I listen for fun, not for analysis. And I don’t feel the UM3X provides enough fun. Also, since ninety-five percent of us are casual listeners, I cannot in all honesty recommend the UM3X for personal use.

Editor’s Note:
A first for TMA: Westone’s UM3x will receive two evaluation marks
. The first, a Grab, represents its polish, quality, sound, fit and finish for its intended use and as a portable earphone. However, as noted by Julie, the UM3x is not a personal earphone in the same way that Audeo’s PFE or Sennheiser’s IE8 is. Thus, using the UM3x as a hifi enthusiast’s tool may render different results that stem from its thermal midrange and limpid treble. For these reasons, the UM3x will also receive a Tap rating. As with all things audio, however, your mileage may vary. You may really love these phones and that is the most important aspect in a new purchase. If you want to follow the loooong UM3x impressions and appreciation thread at headfi.org, just follow this link.

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App Summary
Title: Westone UM3x True Three-Way Monitor Developer: Westone
Price: $379.00
  • Excellent instrument separation
  • Non-fatiguing treble
  • Durable cable
  • Very comfortable
  • Great carrying case
  • Smooth and mellow presentation
  • Treble lacks sparkle and energy
  • Small soundstage
  • Distance to Y-splitter could be longer
  • Vocals can occasionally be too intrusive
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If you enjoyed Julie’s UM3x review, take a look at her other in-depth reviews below:
Sennheiser IE8 in Review

Please also take a look at our Headphone section or, if you want to read our other inner earphone reviews, check below:
Q-Jays in ReviewSleek Audio’s CT6 Custom Earphones in ReviewPhonak Audeo PFE 112 Inner Earphones and 121 Mobile Phone Compatible Earphones in ReviewNuforce NE7M Mobile Phone Compatible Inner Earphones in ReviewZagg Z-Buds Mobile Phone Compatible Earphones in ReviewMonster Turbine Inner Earphones in Review

review-earphones-um3x-08-upclose review-earphones-um3x-01-box review-earphones-um3x-07-earphonesfull Excellent housing-to-cable stress relief Even the Y-split is protected with dual stress reliefs (Perfection) Close up of the sturdy square jack and excellently relieved L-plug review-earphones-um3x-05-contents review-earphones-um3x-06-touchRead more]]>
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