| || |
THE WESTONE 3 REVIEW - EARPHONE SOLUTIONS
The Westone 3 Earphones ReviewEarphone Solutions holds the exclusive Copyrights of all content on these sections. You can link to this page, however you cannot reproduce part or the whole material without our written permission.
|Disclaimer: Our customers probably know that one of the main reasons Earphone Solutions has been in business, successfully, since 1995, is because we say it like it is. We know better. Our customers know better. Empty hype doesn’t stick with our crowd and we are honest about our reviews and comparisons. As an example, when the Shure E4c was launched, we put a review out saying that we preferred the E3c which used to sell for half of the price of the E4c. If you knew we had 400 preorders of the E4c back then, you would know how serious we are about our editorial content. Our commitment is with our customers, no one else.
November 21, 2008
Westone 3 Review
OMG!! Audiophiles of the world, rejoice! The Westone 3 is here!
After a much anticipated release, Westone delivered what they promised: the best earphone ever.
The true triple driver is a work of art. With its sleek design and color - comfort is a given because we are talking about a Westone product – the W3 arrived to make all of us, music lovers, very happy.
You might be asking yourself: how could they come up with a product that would be better than the already fabulous UM2?
Well, we asked ourselves the exact same question. And we got our answer.
The UM2 was developed with the professional musician in mind. For the discerning ear, the UM2 was already perfection.
But Westone also had a desire to cater to the MP3 player consumers and audiophile communities. So they worked on a product that presents slightly different traits; enough to make it stand out above any other earphone on the market.
The Westone 3 delivers an amazing sound, rich beyond words or descriptions, extremely detailed and with distinguishing clarity. That is the first and foremost characteristic we noticed when we tried the W3.
The new sleeves of the fit kit and the travel kit (with volume attenuator, 1/8” to ¼” adapter and wax loop) are a nice addition as well.
The W3 is the perfect earphone for ANY kind of music. We tried it with every music style we could put our hands on; we also tried it with several different sources.
The vocals are pure and velvety; the bass presence is perfect and the highs give you just the precise amount of “spiciness” that will transform your listening experience into a fantastic trip.
The Westone 3 will establish Westone, once and for all, as a synonym of high quality music listening. It will rock the industry.
Yeah, we are that much excited!
November 21, 2008
In one word: WOW
In two words: BIG TROUBLE
I am on an airplane flying back from Colorado Springs to Florida after spending the whole day yesterday at Westone.
We were invited to come and meet with Westone's management. It was a great experience and their hospitality was out of this world. We saw the laser machines sculpting the custom earpieces (96 at a time for 9 straight hours), we saw “artisans” working on some other and more machines. It looked a lot like a NASA lab :)
Karl explained to us the reasons of the Westone 3 delay. We kind of had a feeling for the reasons and they were confirmed. Westone was not happy with the execution of the assembly and decided to pull the plug on a partnership they had established for the assembly part of the project. The quality was not met by their very high standards.
Westone then went in search of another company that they could have control over the entire production process and so they did. The excellent Westone cables, drivers and everything else were purchased and had their delivery to the assembly line controlled on every step of the way.
We had a very warmth feeling from the moment we were picked up at our hotel by Jeff Kwiatkowsky and Dale Douglass. The company had a great family feeling. We were able to put faces on names and voices.
The Westone 3s were being packed at another room. There were several packers (all wearing gloves). Our shipment was being prepared to be sent out today (Friday November 21). According to Westone, Earphone Solutions is their largest dealer in the world and we were very happy to learn that.
We were handed 2 factory sealed Westone 3 earphones for testing and review. As we returned to our hotel very late yesterday night we had not had a chance to try the Westone 3 until now while I'm typing this while flying back home.
In talking with Karl yesterday, I had expressed my concern about the new Westone 3. I was afraid that the new product would lose the UM2's warmth, and balanced musical presentation. He said they too had a great concern about it, specially in keeping the low range being delivered in the same wonderful way the UM2 always did but with even more clarity.
Karl explained to us what the first TRUE THREE WAY earphones meant and how more detail, and precise "frequency coverage" were accomplished with this exclusive configuration. As an example, both UE Triple.Fi and Shure SE530 have 3 drivers, however the way the frequency is distributed is in a TWO WAY configuration. The higher range is sent to high freq driver and mids and lows are all sent to the other 2 drivers which are identical. The Westone 3 has THREE drivers. Each one of them with their own characteristics, each one made to handle separately HIGHS, MIDS and LOWS.
The crossover on the Westone 3 separates and redistributes 3 frequency ranges to be handled by 3 different drivers. In the designing of the crossover, Karl creates the sound signature desired. Via resistors and capacitors he decides how each driver will or will not overlap on the neighboring frequency ranges with the objective of delivering CLARITY, SEPARATION and most important, in keeping Westone's WARMTH sound signature. In addition to the crossover, the sound signature is also obtained by the way the drivers are placed within the earpiece and the shape and form of the earpiece and obviously, each one of the three drivers’ characteristics. If you love mellow, warm, fun sound like those awesome amplifiers of the 70's, you will love the Westone 3. Actually the more I listen to the Westone 3, the more I think there is no music taste, situation, application, that would not make the Westone 3 the BEST all around earphones money can buy. The bar is now set pretty high. The 3 is the new KING of the WORLD in my book and I can't think of any reason our customers wouldn't feel the same after they listen to these most awesome micro speakers.
Westone is a small company in comparison to other manufacturers. It's borderline artisan craft and the personal passion of Karl says a lot of how projects are conducted in this amazing American company. It makes you more optimistic about the future of our country. With all the news on CNN it's refreshing to see in Westone's passion why we as a nation prevail and always will.
I also got the feeling it's not so much about the money but mostly about people's passion. Almost all of the folks we had the pleasure to meet are musicians. And those that don't have that talent, like myself, are definitely music lovers and passionate about their jobs. I remember seeing a bunch of MP3 players on the long lab workstation from the workers that were on a break.
OK, so to the sound. Karl made an analogy that the UM2 was glass of water with white beach sand bottom and very little sand in suspension. The Westone 3, the same, however with the water being even more crystal clear, being able to see through with clarity all the way to the bottom.
In two words: BIG TROUBLE... for the competition…
The Westone 3 is not the new big boy but rather the mature wise grown up man (or woman) that masterfully disperses its magic to Jazz lovers, Hip-Hop lovers, classical music lovers, and all music lovers. It’s in a very solid first place, distant from anything else and the puzzling part is the price. These earphones sound like $650 but are being launched at $399 (perhaps an introductory price?). The art that was put into its signature sound creation will be very, very hard to replicate and is not priced in this masterpiece.
The sound stage is huge. The mids and highs are very detailed without being over analytical. The bass has a balanced strong presentation. Karl's concern was always to have the Westone 3 reproduce with fidelity what the master recording intended to begin with and he accomplished exactly that. The 3 is technique and art presented in a very balanced way. Some earphones, headphones and speakers in trying to show too much detail, loose the musicality. The fun of the sound, of the music, disappears in the process. The Westone 3 delivers detail and warmth at the same time. In comparison the UM2, up to now, was the best compromise between detail and having a musical, warm signature to it. With the Westone 3 we could not identify any compromise between clarity and warmth which is a first in the high-end in-ear earphones and a rarity in the speaker world.
You can tell there are 3 dedicated drivers, each in charge of delivering one range of the frequency range. The sound separation is simply awesome. The vocals always come forward when they need to. In the background you continue to hear the delicate timbre of the drumstick touching the cymbal. During the flight from Colorado Springs to Dallas I found out that Red Hot Chili Peppers (Snow) mixed with some flight turbulence can make for unbeatable fun :)
Question from a customer: "I used to have the SE530 and simply put, I hated the rolled off highs. I believe the UM2s are slight bass biased as well, how would you rate the sound in terms of highs and bass balance on the Westone 3s?"
It's hard to explain but it's almost like a moving EQ where a certain range is emphasized when it needs to be.
Karl was explaining to us as how you can set different parameters on the crossover that function like reservoirs that let the next driver also push a certain frequency once it goes over a preset threshold. That's done via the capacitors if I remember well.
In comparison to the UM2, the Westone 3 is definitely more balanced when it comes to highs and mids vs. bass. Nevertheless that never meant weaker bass than the UM2 with any of the songs we tested and we listened a lot to them (7 hours so far) and many different styles.
One of the songs I was listening to (I think it was Water of Love - Dire Straits) I heard some mid range that I never noticed before. More than once I looked over towards the back of the airplane to see if someone was trying to speak to me. At other times I also paused the music because I listened to sounds that were not familiar to me on those specific songs and I thought the sound was coming from the outside but once I paused there was no other sound which tells me the Westone 3 was revealing sounds from the original recording that the UM2 never did.
I absolutely love the cables. They are even better than the UM2 because the extended rubber guide eliminates any chances of a sore spot on the ear, just a bit to put the cables falling behind the back of the ear naturally. It's almost as if they don't exist. The earpiece is a tiny bit fatter than the UM2 without affecting the excellent comfort and fit. Where the cable splits (Y), Westone made it a bit longer than the UM2 (probably based on customer's feedback).
Westone is the most anatomy conscious company by a long shot. Westone doesn’t design a product to look great but rather designs it to match the ear’s anatomy and work from there. The result is an awesome looking product that fits like it was made to your ears.
VERY IMPORTANT for all in-ear earphones we sell: the EQ on your iPod or MP3 player should be set to OFF. The iPod and other player's EQ is designed to make CHEAP $10 earbuds sound a bit more decent. With a high-end in-ear earphone such as the ones we sell, those "EQs" will do nothing but distort the sound. I discovered that when throwing a party with my iPod Touch connected to a McIntosh integrated amp. I thought I had blown out my speakers. After checking the EQ and putting it on the OFF position the sound came back clean.
The package is smaller than the UM2 which is great for shipping. The Universal Fit Kit includes 1 pairs each of: ComplyTips Standard, ComplyTips Slim, ComplyTips Short, Triple Flange, large soft rubber, medium soft rubber, small soft rubber, large silicone, medium silicone and small silicone. There is also a Travel Kit which includes volume attenuator, 1/8”-1/4” adapter and wax loop tool.
The warranty is the same as the UM1 and UM2: 1 year out of the box plus 1 year upon returning the warranty card enclosed with Earphone Solutions’ proof of purchase.
Earphone Solutions will ship the Westone 3 on Friday, November 28 for all orders placed until that date. We have a large allocation that should last until the first days of December. After which we will receive another very large shipment.
In case you don't absolutely love the Westone 3, we offer our 30 day return policy. As most of you already know, high-end in-ear earphones will enhance the iPod's performance many times over to a point of no comparison being possible.
We will post more detailed reviews and comparisons between the Westone 3 headphones and the other high-end models we sell early next year. The Westone 3 has now taken the NUMERO UNO spot and it sits at a comfortable distance from its competition.
As always, thanks to all our customers for your support and helping us build and maintain a successful business since 1995. It's all about you and your experience with our company and the satisfaction you get when using the products we sell you.
Sources: iPod Touch and iPod Nano
Music: Various by Creed, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Dire Straits, Hans Zimmer, Kanye West, The Killers, Lil Jon, Madonna, Phil Collins, Prince, Rihana, Scott Stapp, U2, Cello Concerto in A Minor, Jamiroquai, Henry Mancini, Robert Miles, Elton John and Black Sabbath.
Coming next: Side by side comparisons with UM2, Triple.Fi and SE530
Originally Posted by Ray S:
May I ask kindly, as to how much burn-in time you had on the Westone 3 review sample before the review was written?
Zero burn-in time. This is a very polemic subject. Both Westone (Dale and Karl) and Shure (Matt Engstrom) have told us time and time again that there is no burn-in with balanced armature drivers and most likely what happens is that the user takes on average 5-8 days to get the proper fit and seal with a universal fit in-ear earphones. For those with experience in using universal eartips, the "improvement period" is largely reduced to accommodating a new earpiece in your ear. It seems I will get a better fit and seal with the ComplyTips STANDARD with the Westone 3 as opposed to the SHORT ComplyTips I use with my UM2. That has to do with how much apart the nozzle is from your ear canal entrance which is dictated not only by the nozzle length but by the shape of the earpiece as well.