Pros: Great fit and comfort, excellent cable and build quality, unmatched details, instrument separation, smooth midrange, SUPERB customer service
Cons: Greatly tip dependent due to short nozzle, tame highs with some tips, Price.
I'd bought these from a head-fier. My purchase was off to a rough start unfortunately, The left channel used to die out after half an hour of listening. Luckily, they were covered under warranty and I was able to secure a replacement.
I listen to rock and metal (FLAC lossless) and the Grado SR60 was my choice to listen to them. Using the W4-s is a totally different experience.
Bass: I found the bass levels to be perfectly adequate for almost every song I've listened to. Instead of massive quantity, I find that it has a delicate detailed kind of bass. Not thundering earwax dislodging bass, but more detailed and layered than what an average guy like me am used to. But that doesn't mean it's thin and sharp sounding- I don't quite know how to describe it- it's got to be experienced. The kickdrums have the right amount of punch to them and the basses sound fuller and have some 'feel' to them.
Mids: Amazing vocals. Very smooth and pleasing. It's very hard to dislike the W4's midrange. Quite a departure from what I'm used to on my Grados but I like the W4-s mids too- a good change from the aggressive mids on the former.
Highs: The W4 is capable of producing some excellent highs but it's dependent on the tips. On the Complys, they sounded a bit too dark and recessed for me initially compared to the bright and forward sounding Grados. However, with other tips with a bigger bore like Sony Hybrids or Shure olives, I think it can open up some more..
The treble extension is another story. Cymbal crashes extend nicely and for live recordings it's amazing.
The details need a special mention. For a beginner to quality audio equipment like me, the sheer amount of details this little thing can bring out is astounding. I'm hearing new things in songs like the breathing of the artist before singing, details in picking an accoustic guitar, some vocals in the background that had been entirely drowned out on my Grados, etc. Simply amazing.
The build quality is pretty solid and the shells seem to be pretty sturdy without any visible moulding gaps or cracks. Though the cable looks fragile, it's actually quite well made- no kinks, microphonics, stiffness or cracking. The connector is also of solid quality. The strain reliefs seem to be well crafted at the connector jack. I'm a bit worried about the reliefs provided for the cables exiting the earphone tubs, but I guess I'm being paranoid.
In a nutshell, there's really nothing much not to like about the W4-s. The sound signature is smooth and well balanced (almost neutral for a listener like me who's used to colored phones) without any serious shortcomings. However, that might also prove to be its undoing- it may sound boring at times to some listeners. Still, it's a pretty hard to dislike it. The ergonomics are pretty comfortable, and the Westone customer service's excellent. The only drawback I see here is the price. The retail price isn't very cheap or even affordable by normal standards. But you get a good product in return. Buy one if you are passionate about music and if your wallet can stand it.
A huge thanks to shotgunshane for guiding me through the purchase and replacement process! It's people like you who make head-fi special!