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 Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:45:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.3 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 new UM3X and UM2 with removable cables http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/03/30/westones-new-um3x-and-um2-with-removable-cables/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2010/03/30/westones-new-um3x-and-um2-with-removable-cables/#comments Tue, 30 Mar 2010 09:49:49 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=30333 Westone already make some of the best professional and audiophile earphones in the world which are renowned for build quality, if not looks But coming this May, the earphone company will offer two of its best-selling professional monitors, UM3X and UM2, with removable cables. Pricing is still up in the air. There are advantages and … Read more]]>

New UM3X with detachable cable

Westone already make some of the best professional and audiophile earphones in the world which are renowned for build quality, if not looks ;) But coming this May, the earphone company will offer two of its best-selling professional monitors, UM3X and UM2, with removable cables. Pricing is still up in the air. There are advantages and disadvantages to both fixed and detachable cable systems. Ultimate Ears’ detachable cable earphones are quite infamous for cable breakages, while Sleek Audio’s cables are known to crack. If Westone can support the contact well enough, they will have an earphone solution which will outlast most DAP’s and maybe catch up to good wireless mics.

TMA has a review of the Westone UM3X from a self-dubed ‘casual listener’. I can vouch for its quality and sound – a lovely, neutral presentation maintained by excellent midrange/bass detail. My second high-end IEM was the benchmark-setting UM2.

Westone: UM3X Monitor with Removable Cable

Westone: UM2 Monitor with Removable Cable

Keep an eye out at TouchMyApps for more headphone and headset news and reviews

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SoundCAT – internet audio’s ferocious feline http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/11/30/soundcat-interview/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/11/30/soundcat-interview/#comments Mon, 30 Nov 2009 08:25:15 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=24006 Tucked away from Seoulʼs flashy fashion and meet-market districts is a unique and foreign world. Geeky and lively, Yongsan is home to major electronics companies, importing thoroughfares, haggling hawkers, and most importantly, a thriving distribution/ manufacturing community. This teem of life and business spans the gamut from massive corporations to one-person electronic chop-shops: an organic … Read more]]>

HP-Interview-SC-DSC_3898

Tucked away from Seoulʼs flashy fashion and meet-market districts is a unique and foreign world. Geeky and lively, Yongsan is home to major electronics companies, importing thoroughfares, haggling hawkers, and most importantly, a thriving distribution/ manufacturing community. This teem of life and business spans the gamut from massive corporations to one-person electronic chop-shops: an organic melange of commerce and concoction. It is also home to SoundCAT, sponsor of Head-fi, and one of the audio communityʼs most diverse and fastidious distributors.

As you know, TouchMyApps reviews headphones and other audio equipment: the simple prerogative set by an audio-obsessed editor whose handheld platform of choice just so happens to be the iPod. Before coming to Korea, I started reviewing custom earphones with Sleek Audioʼs excellent CT6, and after arriving in Seoul, I directed my searches firstly for a good audiologist. But here, they arenʼt easy to find — especially if your Korean is about as good as your gaming skills. Fortunately, SoundCAT just so happened to come up under the Google search for: ʻcustom earphones Seoulʼ. Under one roof, they supply high end professional audio interfaces, cables, headphones, amplifiers, a host of musical adapters, and a growing list of well-respected suppliers and customers. Among those who pay their bills are: Westone, Jerry Harvey, Ultimate Ears, Jays, Sensaphonics, CrossRoads, Sleek Audio; the list goes on, but suffice it to say that SoundCAT are deeply entrenched in both hobby and professional markets.

HP-Interview-SC-DSC_3879

In South Korea, SoundCAT is also one of the only companies to cater to professionals with custom earphones; they fit enthusiastic musicians and audiophiles alike with many of the worldʼs finest (and most personal) earphones. This “cutting edge” — precisely where president Woni Chang wants to keep the company — business brought SoundCAT into the high-end earphone business which began with the importing of Westone’s expensive dual-driver UM2. This decision opened the door for SoundCAT to import many other fine pieces of audio equipment. And, years later, the UM2 remains a great seller.

HP-Inteview-SC-05

In Korea, the iPod has been beset by many obstacles such as high pricing and an almost invisible Apple Store presence. And the audiophile community? They have been an outcast lot in the flashy Seoul population. In fact, according to Mr. Chang, high-end audio is “usually perceived as an old-man’s business” where stodgy fogies eek out a living in the relegated hermitage of high-powered magnets and expensive cables. Fortunately, headphones are coming into vogue as more and more young people plug themselves into the innards of buses and trains to get to work; the resultant combination is a hitherto absent fashion-conscious crowd of hipster portable audiophiles who would as soon leave home forgetting their mobile phones as their high-end earphones.

After the successful Google search, I made a couple of telephone calls, and a few hot summer days later, I suffered the strange pleasure of sucking a syringe and gooey gel into my ear canals for custom earphone fitting. That was the easy part. Finding SoundCAT, however, was no small task. The surrounding area is crammed to the brim with small audio vendors, computer parts shops, SRO cable companies: a cacophony which seeps through SoundCATSʼ four walls. Currently, SoundCAT employ 8 people whose fastidious schedules keep them hopping from sales to after service. They also sponsor cdpkorea, one of the countryʼs largest audio-websites. As you can imagine, things are hectic. But inside, you can count on a few constants: SoundCAT employees will have at least one ear plugged by something sweet (think q-Jays) and the other cupped by a telephone; at their finger tips: headphone amps and fingers which dance to the tune of customer response emails, manufacturer’s orders, and the audio world’s most influential medium: the internet.

HP-Inteview-SC-03

I swear there was a q-Jays there a minute ago...

Mr. Chang and I cross paths at various points. He listens to a lot of Hip Hop and thus, loves the bottom- heavy s-Jays. And for trance, he loves the prodigiously deep Ultimate Ears UE11 Pro, the custom earphone which he reckons is ʻitʼ. On an uppity note, he loves pop and the warm, but accurate sound of the Sensaphonics 2X-s, a custom which I also own and love. And thanks to SoundCAT, I have been fitted for what arguably is the best production-level custom earphone on the planet, the Jerry Harvey Audio JH13Pro. Of course, Mr. Chang is eagerly awaiting his own in which case, I think we will have even more to talk about soon.

SoundCATʼs early days were invested into the professional market, a category which they have not forgotten. So, while Ultimate Ears and Jays earphones sell well in the audiophile arena, Sensaphonicsʼ soft silicon customs are the bread and butter for musician customers. Currently, SoundCAT make ear impressions for about 10 customers per week.

But, how has this relatively small Seoul-based company broken free from the shackles of an ʻold manʼs businessʼ stigma? The answer is simple: internet. Their customer base is composed of young enthusiasts who eagerly purchase new and exciting products, and on the trusting recommendations of their peers, make big decisions. TouchMyApps is honoured to be read by many of these up-and-coming audiophiles who are customers and regular traffickers at SoundCATʼs beautiful website which is new and fresh every day.

Especially on the web, their efforts are revolutionising the home market. Currently, 90% of business is concentrated in Korea, but SoundCAT also have a USA office and are linked with Uncle Wilson’s in Singapore. And under the bonnet, there is a lot going on. Mr. Changʼs staff do loads of travelling — think of it as sending diplomats to spy out foreign lands — where they meet manufacturers, attend conferences, and firm up their growing place in a market which they lead. But, one could argue that SoundCATʼs claws scratch at too many posts. Interfaces, cables, amps, customs, fitting – the list marches on and on, but no matter how much they expand, SoundCAT remain focused and well-connected. They also stay clear of a problem which has been infecting audio circles lately: commercial shilling. The products they sell come from abroad, and so too do the reviews; their review resources come from outside and keep customer’s interests in mind.

I expect to see Mr. Changʼs dream of expansion into the USA fulfilled in the next few years – SoundCAT possess the drive, knowledge, and business sense to thrive even in that competitive market. This Canadian will remain hopeful that the woeful industry north of those borders too, will open to true geek pioneers.

SoundCAT – SoundCAT’s main webpage

Mold Sarang – SoundCAT custom fitting services

Uncle Wilsons – Uncle Wilson’s audio

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Westone 1 Universal In-ear earphone – Official Press Release http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/20/westone-1-universal-in-ear-earphone-official-press-release/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/20/westone-1-universal-in-ear-earphone-official-press-release/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2009 07:26:39 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=18378 A couple of days ago, TMA reported on the impending release of the Westone 1. Today, we receive the official press release of the earphones which are due for release on 4 September. Again, they take after their older sibling, the Westone 3, which pioneered true 3-way balanced armature drivers in a universal earphone. Both … Read more]]>

news-hp-westone1-01

A couple of days ago, TMA reported on the impending release of the Westone 1. Today, we receive the official press release of the earphones which are due for release on 4 September. Again, they take after their older sibling, the Westone 3, which pioneered true 3-way balanced armature drivers in a universal earphone. Both phones are aimed at the discerning listener who is obviously not content by her earbuds. Both the Westone 1 and 3 are inner earphones which block a certain amount of outside noise and are compatible with ear pieces from Comply, Westone, Shure, Futuresonics, Earsonics and many other thin-mouth manufacturers.

Westone 1 webpage

Their Press Literature is below:

Westone Introduces The Westone 1 Single Driver Earphone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Colorado Springs, CO, August 17, 2009 — Westone Music Products is proud to announce the release of the Westone 1. Built into every Westone 1 is Westone’s 50 years of experience producing custom-fit products for the ear and over 20 years of designing and manufacturing in-ear musicians’ monitors for the world’s top performing musicians. Compatible with virtually any personal listening device, unparalleled comfort and high fidelity make the Westone 1 perfect for anyone seeking great sound and long-wearing comfort: audiophiles, business travelers, exercise
enthusiasts, and more.

The Westone 1 offers a unique sound signature optimized for the needs of the personal listener, with a full, balanced and lush sound. The sleek new design showcases Westone’s commitment to comfortable ergonomics and fit. Each unit includes a “fit kit” with a selection of ten universal
eartip options. A zippered carrying pouch, 1/8” to 1/4” plug adapter and inline volume control complete the package. The Westone 1 will have a street price of $139.00. For more information or to find a local retailer, please go to westone.com/personallistening.

Westone, The In-Ear Experts since 1959, has been at the forefront of in-ear monitoring technology since the early 1990′s. Offering a wide range of custom and universal-fit products for music lovers and musicians the world over, Westone musicians’ monitors are used by acts ranging from Third Day and Brad Paisley to Flyleaf and Nine Inch Nails. Westone is committed to superior customer service, with musicians on the development team, experienced audiologists on staff and knowledgeable technical support personnel available to answer any questions.

For more information, contact Westone Laboratories, Inc., 2235 Executive Circle, Colorado Springs, CO 80906. Call toll-free 1-800-525-5071, e-mail music@westone.com, or visit
westone.com/personallistening

# # #

For additional information contact:
Westone Music
2235 Executive Circle
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Ph: 719-540-9333
Fax: 719-540-9183
Email: music@westone.com
Web: westone.com/personallistening

Westone1_flyer_web2

Westone1_flyer_web

If you follow TMA, you know we simply love headphones. Look for our expanded Custom earphone section with reviews coming in September and for the our weekly reviews. TMA headphones.

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Westone: Expand their headphone line with Westone 1, September 4 http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/18/westone-expand-their-headphone-line-with-westone-1-september-4/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/18/westone-expand-their-headphone-line-with-westone-1-september-4/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2009 08:41:50 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=18145 Last year, Westone released the first true 3-way earphone, the Westone 3. It comes in an overhauled shell, but remains similar in size to the UM2 before it. With a focus on consumers, the Westone 3 has a ‘fun’ sound which is graphically v-shaped in its frequency response with emphasis placed on bass and treble. … Read more]]>

news-hp-westone-w1-01.jpg

Last year, Westone released the first true 3-way earphone, the Westone 3. It comes in an overhauled shell, but remains similar in size to the UM2 before it. With a focus on consumers, the Westone 3 has a ‘fun’ sound which is graphically v-shaped in its frequency response with emphasis placed on bass and treble. This year, Westone are releasing the Westone 1, a one-way balanced armature earphone which utilises the same housing and what looks to be the same accessory kit. But, at 199$ versus the 399$ MSRP of the Westone 3, the new headphone will be an easier decision.

In typical Westone fashion, the Westone 1 will utilise the excellent cable which is the industry’s least microphonic and best relieved and bumpered earphone. The suggested street price will likely fall to around 139$, making this a perfect earphone for the active audiophile.

The below information comes from Earphone Solutions’ Website:

New Westone 1 Earphones to be launched on September 4th

Earphone Solutions is excited to announce the launching of the new Westone 1 which will start shipping by mid-September.

The new Westone 1 is very similar in shape to the Westone 3, however it comes with a slightly longer nozzle based on customers’ feedback. The Westone 1 has a single balanced armature driver that will add realism and punch to your listening experience. The fit promises to be up there along with the UM1 (which is NOT being replaced by the Westone 1).

The Westone 1 will include an inline volume control, 1/4″ adapter, travel case and ten different types of eartips to customize the fit to your ears. The cable design is the same that sets Westone apart from its competitors.

Westone 1 will have an MSRP of $199.99 with street price of $139 according to Westone’s press release on August 17.

We look forward to receive our first sample so that we can publish our review.

Headphones fit geeks like boots fit footballers. TMA loves headphones as much as anything geek. Take a look at our headphone section.

news-hp-westone-w1-01.jpg news-hp-westone-w1-02Read more]]>
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Jerry Harvey JH13Pro Impressions Roundup at Headfi http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/07/jerry-harvey-jh13pro-impressions-roundup-at-headfi/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/07/jerry-harvey-jh13pro-impressions-roundup-at-headfi/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2009 16:34:58 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=17464 Want to read the entire 3000-post thread? No? Well I have and it has been a blast, but isn’t something easily summed up in a few words. DaveDerek, a headfi member went through the entire thread looking for hands-on impressions and photos, linking each into one of the best posts for people who are considering … Read more]]>

news-promotional-image-jh13pro

Want to read the entire 3000-post thread? No? Well I have and it has been a blast, but isn’t something easily summed up in a few words. DaveDerek, a headfi member went through the entire thread looking for hands-on impressions and photos, linking each into one of the best posts for people who are considering purchasing the JH13Pro. My own impressions will join that thread as well as a final review in about a month, but take a delicious look at what has been burning up the portable headphone section at Headfi.org.

If you don’t know, Headfi is largest English-language headphone-dedicated forum in the world. While headphiles (as some call us) are still counted among the geekiest of audiophiles, we get around. TouchMyApps will be reviewing a number of hi-end and bleeding hi-end custom earphones in the next month. Among these is the JH13Pro and the Westone ES3x which was mentioned earlier this morning.

I have picked off the links from Headfi and posted them below, but please check out the entire JH13Pro Appreciation thread.

The following links are taken from Headfi.org’s JH13Pro Appreciation thread as compiled by daveDerek:

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5799715-post861.html tyrion
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5830889-post1389.html

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5820416-post1271.html Crazyguy106
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5835247-post1485.html

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5815922-post1202.html jamato
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5815938-post1204.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5827872-post1325.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5829749-post1372.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5840588-post1578.html

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5824273-post1286.html Pale Rider
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5827758-post1323.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5828167-post1339.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5841089-post1592.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5847121-post1734.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5847618-post1751.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5858233-post2031.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5858283-post2034.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5860849-post2113.html

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5842166-post1629.html Bolardito
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5894742-post2692.html

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5842181-post1630.html rlanger
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5847517-post1746.html

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5843924-post1676.html Jude

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5859103-post2057.html Boomana
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5910836-post2974.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5910879-post2977.html

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5892242-post2627.html sling5s
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5892324-post2635.html

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5845614-post1715.html
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5849829-post1817.html Edwood
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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
amazon_button

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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Sleek Audio CT6 Custom IEM in Review – Perfection http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/04/11/sleek-audio-custom-iem-in-review-perfection/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/04/11/sleek-audio-custom-iem-in-review-perfection/#comments Sat, 11 Apr 2009 07:13:30 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=8980 Sleek Audio: Company Sleek Audio is a father and son partnership. Since their release of the SA6 Inner Ear monitor, they have been making waves in audio circles for uniquely designed phones that excel in audio performance despite their lower cost. The Sleek Audio Custom IEM is their finest work to date and a truly … Read more]]>

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Sleek Audio: Company
Sleek Audio is a father and son partnership. Since their release of the SA6 Inner Ear monitor, they have been making waves in audio circles for uniquely designed phones that excel in audio performance despite their lower cost. The Sleek Audio Custom IEM is their finest work to date and a truly audiophile product despite costing hundreds less than many of its competitors.

Sleek Audio was started by Mark and Jason Krywko, father and son respectively. It began when Mark found himself dissatisfied with the sound signature of the dozens of different earphones he had tried over the years, so as a 30 year veteran of the audio and custom hearing aid industries, he decided to build his own.

What started as a fun project turned into a three year endeavor developing a product with his son that would revolutionize the audio industry; the SA6 acoustically customizable earphone.

Mark and Jason took their extensive experience in the audio industry and vast knowledge of the ear to create a new ideology in personal audio. Rather than focus on adding multiple, larger speakers to earphones, go back to the starting point and focus on the acoustics of the ear canal and how best to  get sound from a music player to the listener’s ear in a form recording artists intended.

Sleek Audio pride themselves on offering a tailored experience to the consumer:

All of our products are designed with the individuality of every ear in mind.
Sleek Audio allows you, for the first time, to find “your audio fingerprint” without having to sacrifice anything when it comes to your music. Sharp, precise sound can come out of a small, comfortable earphone. We’ve looked at what music lovers want out of their audio experience and designed our products accordingly……incredible sound quality, comfort, and flexibility.

Sleek Audio CT6
In my life, I have been silly enough to own many 300$ plus earphones, all of which have been benchmarks in some area or another. My Westone UM2 was incredibly comfortable and came tethered to a nearly noiseless cable and perfectly designed headphone jack. The Shure E500 model presented me with to-die-for mids and a sleek design while Audio Technica’s CK10 provided both looks, great sound and superior construction.

Sleek’s Custom earphone, embodies nearly every plus that the aforementioned companies have brought to portable audio, but are better in many regards. Firstly, their removable coaxial cable is both soft and noise-free and features above-average strain relief. Secondly, they provide thick, deep bass and smooth treble that edges out my hitherto favourite: the tiny CK10. But above all, their custom fit ensures comfortable, fatigue-free wear. In fact, a custom earphone is so natural feeling, that it is possible to forget that they are in the ear.

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Not available at your local Futureshop
Because Sleek’s custom earphones are tailored to your ear’s size, shape and sound preferences, they cannot be purchased directly from anywhere, unless you live in Sleek Audio’s neighbourhood. You will first need to have impressions of your ears taken which is normally done by a visit to an audiologist. Sleek will also recommend an audiologist in your area if you are in the United States in case you need recommendations. My impressions were taken locally by Brad Davidson of Hearsafe Canada.

The process of taking impressions is short and consists a couple of steps. Firstly, a bit of biologically safe putty must be injected into your ear behind a safety stopper. Then, after a few minutes, the putty hardens creating a virtual mould of your inner-ear. The final step in the process takes the longest. The moulds must then be sent to Sleek and after a few emails and a good, long telephone conversation about sound preferences, your Sleek Custom earphones will be lovingly created.

Note: custom earphones take a long time to create. Be prepared to wait. Also, have your impressions professionally done. DO NOT use a home impression kit as you can damage your ears.

Why Customs?
This is not an easy question to answer. Originally, customs were made exclusively for stage musicians who needed hearing protection from the crowd and from loud floor-standing monitors. They have been in construction for many years by different companies such as Futuresonics, Sensaphonics, Westone and Ultimate Ears – all of whom make products that start from 600$!

Recently, smaller custom manufacturers with emerging designs and markets have taken on the more established companies and created affordable alternatives for musicians and music lovers alike. Among these are Sleek, Livewires, Alien Ears, Hear Yourself and SoundCage. I have used inner earphones since 2002 and after seven years of changing flanges, losing ear pieces and the general discomfort that I sometimes experience, decided that it was worth the switch to custom monitors.

If for no other reason, the decision to purchase custom earphones can be made solely to ensure superior comfort. Because they perfectly fit your individual ear shape, custom monitors feel almost as if nothing is in the ear. That said, the hard shell does not remould as do foamies, flanges or silicon, so if you listen whilst eating or other activities when your ears may flex and move, custom phones may intermittently lose their seal.

Fit and Packaging
Because Sleek’s Custom is not a typical in-ear earphone, it does not come with a typical fit-kit. Rather, the earphones, a cleaning tool, detachable coaxial cable and box are the only accessories to the shipping box. To protect your investment, Sleek provide a crush and dust proof water resistant Pelican case. They take care to ensure that your investment will not suffer from either tough couriers or your own negligence as long as it stays within the Pelican case.

Unfortunately, Sleek neglected to ship a toss-pouch or hard-sided case for more portable use, however their packaging is not wasteful. There are no throwaway plastics or hard edges on which the customer may hurt herself – it is well thought-through with every effort aimed at simplicity and utility.

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Specifications – Single Wide-range Balanced Armature Design

• Frequency Response: 10Hz-20KHz
• Noise Attenuation: -35 dB
• Standard Cable: 60 inches
• Impedance: 50 ohm
• DC Resistance: 24 ohm
• Speaker Type: Ultra Wide Band Balanced Armature Driver with Custom Porting
• Sensitivity: 110 dB SPL/mW

What that means is of little importance if you are not really into your audio. If so, then just skip over this bit. Sleek’s cable is longer even than Zagg’s 1,37 cable which is a great length for portable use. Since it is light and soft, it does not impede movement.

If you care about how easy the Sleek Customs are to drive and how much hiss they will exhibit, then the above spec will help you. An impedance of 50 ohms is nearing a gold standard at which most portable audio players are let loose and able to produce deep bass and open sound stages. Even the iPhone and iPod Touch 1G will be able to sustain good, detailed bass at 50 ohms, but will still benefit from external amping.

As for soundstage, iPod and iPhone users – you are in luck. The iDevice remains to this day on top in terms of left-to-right separation even when under load. Lastly, with a sensitivity of 110b, the Sleek Customs can be driven loudly from nearly any portable and will not hiss too much with dirty sources. Phonak’s PFE are the kings when regarding the effortless rendering of a black background even with rather hissy soruces, but Sleek’s earphones are not too sensitive as to hiss with every source.

Unique Coaxial cables
Firstly, Sleek’s cable is an interchangeable creation that works on all of Sleek Audio’s high end earphones including the SA6 universal IEMs. The connection is extremely robust with no play that could damage the internal connector. I had doubts as to the reliability of this system but after owning and listening to the custom in a variety of conditions for over a month, my fears are assuaged.

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Cables can be purchased in a variety of colours as well as a pioneering new wireless technology called Kleer. The Kleer option is available for 120$ and is as testified by the following reviews, lossless and definitely peerless in wireless technology and besting BlueTooth.

Sleek’s cable material is similar to Phonak’s cable – it is soft and non-microphonic but is less pourous and probably less susceptible to hardening and cracking. Strain relief is a mixed bag: though well thought out on the headphone plug, the terminal jacks which connect to the earphone are prone to splitting – a problem which Sleek are working on. The Y-Split is also missing strain relief. The headphone jack is a right-angle construction, which protects both the iDevice and the headphone jack.

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Aside from those strong points, Sleek’s cable is ‘blingy’ with shiny plastic bits around the headphone jack and the lower portion of the Y-split. Personally, I find this design to be gaudy and unfitting for a high-end earphone – rather more in tune with cheaper looking mass-market alternatives. Adding to this image, the plastic bit from the headphone jack sometimes pops off. If you have read my reviews, you will understand that I am not a fan of weak, all plastic construction – a fact which lowered my ratings for the Audeo PFE.

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Acrylic Housing Quality
Sleek’s Custom housing material, is made of layered acrylic which surrounds each driver unit. Since the acrylic material is hard, it is very sturdy and despite being solid and compact, when in the ear, it is incredibly comfortable.

As a true custom product much like my Marinoni Fango steel bicycle, the Sleek earphone can be chosen in a variety of colours and you can even design a custom logo for printing on the outside shell. Mine obviously, is adorned with the letters ‘tma’ in Bahaus93 font denoting TouchMyApps. I also chose differently coloured earpieces for added personality and wuffie from the audiophile crowd. Bill from Sleek Audio was very kind in walking me through colour schemes, sound preferences and any questions I had in the process of making my earphones.

Sound
It might seem strange that I mention fit as custom monitors are made to fit perfectly to you ear, but problems occur even with custom monitors. This can stem from the initial moulding process, from packaging, from the manufacturing step or from a multitude of other reasons. Have patience – this process may take longer than you expected, but in the end, it is worthwhile. Misfits occur with every custom monitor on the market, including the ultra expensive models from Ultimate Ears, ACS, Sensaphonics, Futresonics and Westone.

I had to apply a little nail polish to the under side of my ear pieces to get a snug fit and when I finish this review, will send my customs back to Sleek for a UV hardening process to finalise the fit.

Test Music
For my listening tests, I spent most of my time with these staples of my collection:
Armin van Buuren – Trance
Paul Oakenfold – Trance
DJ Tiësto – Trance
Ice Cube – Rap
MC Solaar – Rap
Kent – Rock/Alternative
Ultima Thule – Rock/Punk
Madeleine Peyroux – Vocal
Aphex Twin – I care Because You Do – Ambient, Space

Bass
Sleek will cater to your listening preferences when making your custom monitor. You can choose from nuetral, plus or minus for both bass and treble – I chose plus on both frequencies. Thus, my Sleek customs render more treble sparkle and slightly greater bass presence than the standard Sleek house sound.

At 50 ohms, Sleek’s product is relatively easy to drive – a side effect is that bass definition is superbly deep and defined even from a first generation Apple iPod Nano. However, Sleek’s products utilise balanced armature type transducers – this sort of driver tends to react quickly to variations in music and appears incredibly accurate. Part of the reason for this is that the drivers do not move as much air so bass is less tactile and apt to ‘bleed’ into other parts of the music.

On that note, bass presence is nothing like the astounding dynamic-driven Turbine or NE7M, however it has much better positioning within the rest of the audible spectrum. This is due to the very hard acrylic sound tube and the fact that the driver unit itself is further out from the ear. Since custom’s sound must travel further and achieve a tighter, less giving fit with the ear, slight rumbles are more noticeable to outer portions of the ear than with units that use flanges or foamies that dampen vibrations. There is less overall bass impact, but sound vibrations which rumble along the outer ear canal help in creating a more organic and fluid bass presentation. Saying all of that, the Sleek CT6 isn’t going to wow any bass heads, and even for the more meagre bass lovers, has a softer bass presentation than many other customs. While nothing is wrong with it, it is the weakest link in the CT6.

If you love thick bass, be sure to tell Sleek’s team so they can tailor-make the best custom for you.

Mids and Treble
Many people praise Sleek’s other model, the SA6 for its forward, lush mids and smooth highs. Their custom model is no less beautiful. I cannot say whether or not the actual sound frequency extends from 10HZ to 20 KHZ as I am not a bat, but I can say that treble reaches far on these earphones. It is smooth, non-fatiguing and simply, beautiful.

For those who love vocals, the Sleek customs will impress but not to the extent that extremely mid-oriented earphones such as the UM2 or SE530 do. Instead, the mids presentation of the Sleek customs is atmospheric and lively but does not invade into genre where overly warm mids are unneeded.In particular, Madeliene Peyroux’s voice is lovely with the Sleek on any source, but not as lusty as with a warmer sounding earphone. For this reason, the setup that I have chosen is excellent for electronic and rock music and even with rap. Again, be sure to discuss with Sleek Audio’s team about how to tailor your custom to your preferences.

Soundstage
Where dynamic driver based inner earphones far extend to the side and back, Sleek’s custom creates a tight but extremely well-defined sound space around your the head. If you have not noticed 3D positioning in your music before, you will with customs. They best the incredibly well placed CK10 stage and violently thrash the delicate PFE amped or unamped. Again, this likely is aided by the perfect fit that customs provide as well as from the sound vibrations that interact with your ear canal through the acrylic case rather than being absorbed into rubber or foam ear tips of universal inner earphones.

In simple terms, Sleek Audio’s Custom earphones sing an eerily accurate soundstage that dances above, below and around your head-space. They are tightly defined yet awesome in spacial presentation – unlike anything I have heard in an inner earphone.

On the Go
Because of their high-quality cable which is low on microphonic noises, Sleek’s Custom monitors are divine for out-and-about listening. They are comfortable, secure and with a good fit, unperturbed by wind noises that howl on lesser designs. However, no matter how good the sound is from an acrylic case, customs probably will not provide the same amount of isolation as a dense foamy ear tip on another deep-insertion universal earphone. This can either be a boon or a point of contention for you. Personally, I find the level of noise attenuation similar to the Turbine but lower than the PFE which nearly shut out background noises when worn with foamy ear pieces.

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Amped
Since I am working on finishing a short but pithy review on the Nuforce Icon Mobile headphone amplifier, I have been religiously using my various earphones with and without dedicated amplifcation. I prefer not to amp earphones as my tastes rest in portability at the sacrifice of some sound quality. However, the Sleek Audio Custom earphone amps beautifully. The most noticeable change is their sound staging which pushes out vertically and horizontally even further and depending on the amp, treble and bass nature also change. The Nuforce adds some clarity to treble and greater authority to the bass.

Rather than a dedicated amplifier, I prefer to use an impedence cable that adds resistance to the line. This option is more elegant, requiring less baggage but also renders less stellar results. For its part, my 75 ohm resistor cable eliminated any hiss from my Rockboxxed iPod Nano and went a long way to quieting my extremely noisy Sony 828 walkman.

Conclusion
For the almost reasonable price of 300$ plus the dosh for an audiologist exam, you can experience unrivalled sound and comfort. The Sleek Custom audio experience is far above any inner ear phone I have yet tried – accurate, deep, expressive and smooth whilst engaging the outer parts of my ear canal for phenomenal soundstaging. Are they worth the fairly high price of admission and long wait? Undoubtedly. The cable is well constructed if gaudy with cheap plastic bits, but overall, Sleek’s presentation and packaging including strength of design is top-notch.

Finally, Sleek do not engage in marketing in the same way that many custom balanced armature companies do. Their single balanced armature provides incredible extension and body. Most companies use multiple drivers and passive crossovers or frequency limiters to ensure that an accurate sound image is still presented to the listener. Since this is likely a marketing decision more than anything else, there is no right or wrong for the consumer.

Sleek Audio’s CT6 monitor gets kissed by TouchMyApps. Please take a look at our other Headphone reviews.
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App Summary
Title: Sleek Audio Custom earphones Developer: Sleek Audio
Price: $300 plus impressions and custom artwok
  • Usable and environmentally sound packaging
  • Wonderful customer service
  • Excellent sound
  • Realist sound stage
  • Detachable cables with excellently anchored contacts and wireless options
  • ‘Reasonable’ pricing compared to many competitors
  • Gaudy cable
  • Not cheap

Can’t get enough of headphones? We got loads more here in our headphone section with many upcoming custom monitors.

review-headphones-sleek-ct6-boxandphone review-headphones-sleek-ct6-boxinside review-headphones-sleek-ct6-boxshot review-headphones-sleek-ct6-cableandphone review-headphones-sleek-ct6-fullpackage review-headphones-sleek-ct6-iem-backside review-headphones-sleek-ct6-iem-coaxupclose review-headphones-sleek-ct6-iem-jackupclose review-headphones-sleek-ct6-iem-topside review-headphones-sleek-ct6-iem-topsidecable review-headphones-sleek-ct6-iem-upclose review-headphones-sleek-ct6-iem-ysplitRead more]]>
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Upcoming IEM Reviews: Sleek, Sennheiser, Monster and Ultimate Ears http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/04/08/upcoming-iem-reviews-sleek-sennheiser-monster-and-ultimate-ears/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/04/08/upcoming-iem-reviews-sleek-sennheiser-monster-and-ultimate-ears/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2009 23:41:25 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=8849 We have a busy few months ahead of us in order to finish reviews for the fabulous products from the above companies. Without going into too many details, look forward to our first Custom Inner Ear Monitor review from Sleek Audio, high end products from Sennheiser and the popular Monster Beats Tour as well as … Read more]]>

news-headphone-2009-04-08-collageWe have a busy few months ahead of us in order to finish reviews for the fabulous products from the above companies. Without going into too many details, look forward to our first Custom Inner Ear Monitor review from Sleek Audio, high end products from Sennheiser and the popular Monster Beats Tour as well as a new Metro Fi from Ultimate Ears.

Of course, there will be many more to come, but whet your whiskers for these beauties first.

As always, we endevour to be honest. That means that if a product does not live up to its price bracket or to our expectations for quality, we will tell you – no matter how big the company. Our team of audiophiles is small but fastidiously working on burning in, listening and guaging performance of all our charges. We also cannot fathom all the phones on the market, so if you have requests, please send us an email and we will do our best to put that product on the review track. Make sure to keep an eye out for our expanding Headphone section where news, reviews and interviews will await your hungry eyes.

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High-End Earphones: Westone UM3X to Debut 30 April http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/04/08/high-end-earphones-westone-um3x-to-debut-30-april/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/04/08/high-end-earphones-westone-um3x-to-debut-30-april/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2009 07:01:48 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=8773 For those of you who are not satisfied with the likes of Monster Turbine or Audeo PFE and want to strap on the big wallet, look for a new product from Westone called the UM3X aimed at musicians and priced at 379$ USD. Some will call the sum paltry but to most, 379$ is too … Read more]]>

um3xFor those of you who are not satisfied with the likes of Monster Turbine or Audeo PFE and want to strap on the big wallet, look for a new product from Westone called the UM3X aimed at musicians and priced at 379$ USD. Some will call the sum paltry but to most, 379$ is too much rent to spend on a music hobby or for your on-the-go listening pleasure. For those who have to have the priciest and best in universal inner earphone technology, the Westone units compete with products from: Ultimate Ears, Sennheiser, Audio Technica, Etymotic and Shure among others.

Westone are held in highest regard in the personal monitor industry and have over 50 years of expertise to dedicate to their monitors. If the Westone 3′s hype is anything to go by, the UM3X will be a force to be reckoned with for personal stage monitors.

Our review is out of course and here: Westone’s Top-of-the-Line Stage Monitoring Universal IEM: UM3x in Review

From Westone’s UM3X webpage:
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.

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.

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