Comparison of Westone W4R vs Shure SE846 by Victor
Reviewing both of these earphones presented a challenge as they both possess unique qualities which set their sound compositions apart. I've been a long time Westone earphone user and have used the Westone 4's as my primary headset for just about anything and everything I do, whether it be playing sports, chilling with my iPod or browsing my laptop. I can say right now that I was pleasantly surprised with the Shure SE846. The thing that seems to stick out more prominently is the bass.
There's no contest, the Shure offers a much more rich and heavy bass than the Westone. However, this is not to say the Shure's bass is overpowering. The SE846 is very balanced in that respect. At no point did I feel like the bass was too heavy or loud in any particular song. In fact, it's in the electronic songs like DJ Tiesto's Do You Feel Me and Deadmau5's I Remember when the Shure's heavier bass is much more favorable and at its best. Not only are the lower frequencies more noticeable (which I feel is desirable in these types of songs) but some of the beats are given more punch. At no point, however, was the bass or beat of either song uncomfortable. This isn't to say the Westones don't provide any support in the lower frequencies, but the Shures definitely have the more dedicated low-range.
Now, as for everything else, I feel as though there is a distinct difference in the mid-high frequencies purely in sound. The Westone's mid-range is very clear and very clean. The Shure's mid-range on the other hand sounds to be a little husky. Don't confuse "husky" with unclear or grainy. The mid-range is still very clear and crisp, but some of the instruments like violins and other string instruments feel much more visceral and have more depth to their sound. Listening to the Beatle's Yesterday on both earphones was a totally different experience. The strings and acoustics in the SE846 felt so real, and so close. That's another thing to mention. The Shure's have a better grasp of space in recording. You can feel the distance of the instruments in a stage-recorded song, and you can feel the closeness of a studio-recorded song. I don't get too much of that in the Westones.
The sound of the W4R is very clear, but perhaps that adds a level of artificiality to songs which use real instruments like trumpets, saxophones, violins, pianos, and acoustic guitars. However, a more electronic song, or a song which uses electronically-generated instruments can sound almost as good (not including the bass) as the Shure's. I did come across some songs which present less discernible differences in sound quality in either earphone. It seems to me to be a testament to how good earphones are becoming. It's gotten to a point where the quality of the headsets can surpass the quality of some of the song's recording. The Eagles' Hotel California and America's Horse With No Name can be enjoyed equally on both headsets but overall, I'd take the Shure SE846 off the basis that its bass is stronger without sacrificing the visceral and husky mid and high ranges. The Westones are still a great choice, but the Shures just performed better on a consistent basis. I never once preferred the Westones in the comparison. But I guess I should, considering its higher price.
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