Review of Westone W4R

By Nicole Trein

For lack of more sophisticated words: I loved the W4R! They are the complete package that I look for in earbuds.

The W4R (replaced with the new W40) comes in an easy to open box and is well protected. It comes with the earphones, a case, sleeves, volume control button, a 3.5" adapter, and the product information disk. I like how instead of a paper manual, Westone provides a CD-ROM because it is easier to find the help and demonstration you need when sorting through a DVD than flipping through manual pages. I loved the water resistant hard case. Not only is it water resistant but you can shuffle it all you want and even throw it against a wall and the earphones are left unharmed.

They come with a variety of sleeves of different shapes and sizes including silicone, comply, and triple flange. The sleeves are very easy to remove and replace. I always have a hard time changing the sleeves on Shure earphones but these were smooth. I used my own pair of sleeves (PA910 Medium) that weren’t included with these. They always give me the best seal but if you've never tried them before or don’t have a preference I suggest you try the bunch that comes with the earphones before purchasing separate sleeves.

Westone cables have always seemed fragile to me but they're not as fragile as they appear. If they were a little thicker I’d be less worried. The ear buds’ built is great. They're not too big so they're very comfortable, the cable isn’t irritatingly long, and overall they're very light-weight.

The Westone W4R are so comfortable! They fit well on, over, and in my ear. After wearing them for 2 hours straight without interruption it didn’t hurt. I could wear them for much longer. They slipped a little loose at one time but it didn’t bother me because they are very comfortable. I like listening to music before I sleep or when I’m just lying down to rest and these are great even for that. Their surface is flat so it doesn’t push down in my ear when I lie on them and the sound doesn’t muffle either. I hate it when I’m jogging and out of nowhere the music gets quieter and I realize my earphones are gone. That’s not a problem with these in-ear headphones, it feels as though they were made to fit my ear.

Now we reach the touchy subject that is sound. Why is it touchy? Because everyone hears things differently and expects different qualities pertaining to what they listen to. You have some people who are interested primarily in hearing clear vocals while others care most about a crisp guitar and heavy bass. It’s all a matter of personal taste. I for one am concerned with balance. I don’t like a bass that overcasts the mids and highs. I'd rather have vocals standing out in certain points, but most importantly I’m interested in the overall dynamics of the sound and how each part mends with another. This is what they offer. Balance. You get a little bit of each range and each complement one another. Vocals stand out at all the right parts, as does the bass, but without taking over. If you’re a super bass enthusiast these might not be your top pick. The W4R features a rich resonant bass, and warm mids and highs.

For starters I listened to Iscariot by Walk the Moon which is a slow song with emphasis on vocals (including multiple background voices) and a dynamic build up. I was impressed with what I heard. Everything was so clear. The vocals lingered as each phrase ended and there was impact every time more voices were heard. Towards the end when the bass kicks in it wasn’t too distracting but still made an impact. The sound feels as though they are coming from all sides. I listened to Sails by Awolnation which has distortions, bass, and electronica influences. Once again the sound came from all around. It was as though the music was circling over and around my head. Heart of Life by John Mayer (live at Nokia theater) was my third pick of genres that fit well with these. The balance and clarity do this song justice. I loved listening to such a stripped down live version of a song but still having it sound clean and in good quality.

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