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Westone UM2 stage monitors

Posted

Pros: Loud, excellent noise isolation, highly detailed midrange

Cons: Poor bass response, cheap "boxy" bass, "pointy" overall sound

Disclaimer

I bought these about 3 years ago, used them a lot and got to "know" them well. The (sort of a) good thing is: They still perform as good as they did when I first tried them on. But that was not too good. Back then I felt disenchanted: they somehow sounded unimpressive, which left me confused. I mean, I based my decision to buy the most expensive earphones I had ever owned solely on praises found online. Lots and lots of different reviews saying wonderful things. How come did I not like what I had heard? I did some more research and found one of those lauding articles saying "Earphones need a couple of days working. A "break in" time before they can deliver their best". That, however, did not happen. After two years I just stopped using them. Today, I opened one of those drawers you rarely use, spotted the UM2's and listened for a while. That's when I decided to read more, fresh reviews. To my surprise - it's still mostly good stuff! Therefore, it is possible that I had the misfortune of getting a faulty pair. A bad batch? Inappropriate storage? Anyway, I wish I'd bought something else. This is my story....

 

 

Isolation

... was my #1 criteria: I was looking for in-ear monitors to save my ears from all the loudness produced by my former rock band. I really did find that. Isolation is great! With no music played, a well inserted foam-tip UM2 reduces outside noise as good as a common "passive" earplug. It does get a bit worse after half an hour of wearing them when it's hot outside, they also tend to slowly creep out of the ear canal, but it can be fixed in less than one second by pushing them back in.

 

 

Design, quality and comfort

Good looking, quite comfortable and sturdy. The cable does not tangle easily. Never had any issues concerning build quality. But I took good care of them - always kept them clean, and in a padded carrying case.

 

 

The sound

Westone UM2 earphones just sound bad to my ears. Even though the midrange (say 3-6 kHz) is amazingly detailed - making me able to hear subtle transients even my "home studio" monitors couldn't reproduce - there is no true bass. As if someone engaged a low cut filter. All the bass stops at 55 Hz. Boosting the EQ to compensate results in exaggerated "upper bass range" but still without true low end. That's when they also start sounding boxy, like a plastic trombone or a small home stereo sporting 3" speakers and faking thier bass when a listener presses a glowing "Ultra turbo SuperBass" button. The high-end is also... well at least it's not harsh. And it's there. But in my opinion it's recessed, not nearly as loud as the midrange (I may be partially deaf or desensitized by now, but on some poorly recorded tracks I can still hear faint 14 kHz sizzle on my Krk Rokit 8's and I don't hear anything using Westones). Overall sound is cold and somehow annoying. Perhaps "decompressed" is the word to describe it. "Expanded" that is. The opposite of "compressed". They whisper into your ear and then suddenly shout when the music gets "not that much" louder. To some, that may be a good thing. One might call this property "punchiness". To me, it's punchy, but not "pleasantly punchy", "groove-delivering punchy". Just "bad loudness curve" punchy.

 

On-stage use

On stage, where high fidelity is not required, these earphones did their job well. I kept the volume fairly low and only had bass, vocals and keyboards in my AUX group. I could still easily hear that comfortably muffled 4x12" guitar cabinet without having it in my mix.

 

 

Compared to others

Even though I don't remember the exact models of other (seriously cheaper) in-ear earphones I had owned, and even though it's inappropriate to compare apples and oranges, I can say that I found UM2's a lot better than $40 Sennheisers, but also a lot worse than $50 Sony earphones. I still own a pair of those "entry level" Sony earphones! The bass is muddy but it's there. Top-end too. Stereoscopic information may not be as clear, but everything sounds more balanced, more pleasant, and sometimes even more "revealing" because your brain does not strain trying to ignore unpleasant "peaks" occurring every now and then, always at the same frequencies.

 

Epilogue

Again, this is just another honest review written to warn others that this is also, well, one of the ways a user could perceive UM2 earphones. Hopefully it's an exception and there's something wrong with me :). Or my particular pair of phones.

Posted

Pros: Great sounding, Variety of tips, Removable Cable, Fantastic Isolation (Up to 25 DB)

Cons: Incredibly dodgy build quality

This is my first review and I'm not an audiophile so bear with me. And due to my incredibly bad writing, this could be short. I had this earphone for about 2 weeks now. And during those 2 weeks, I've been listening to Jazz, Rock, Pop, Indie, Techno, and a little Dubstep via a ROTEL CD Player to a PIONEER A400 AMP.

 

Design

Ok, the design is a love it or hate it thing (In my opinion). They were meant for the Studio use. Its a clear shell and with the driver exposed. I personally like it. Cause it looks very professional, low profile and not in-your-face like Beats. The Cable is a black made from plastic. They are removable. And they're supposed to go behind your back and into your source for instance your iPod. Overall I like the design of the Westone UM2 RC.

 

Build Quality

Now on to build quality. Dodgy Incredibly. That is what I can say. Even though it can take a few punching but one strong hit like dropping it on the floor will destroy the IEM. Or that's my case. I dropped them when I was walking around town. And the left driver broke. The cable is good. Thin, soft and does not make much cable noise. The jack could be a problem for some people. I couldn't get the 3.5mm jack into my HTC One X with the case on. So, you have to be really careful about this pair of IEMs. (Or if you quite clumsy like me, do not buy them. Their build quality is terrible. You'd be better off with some Shure SE535/ 425 or some other brand. Not Westone. Please.)

 

Comfort/ Isolation

Westone is very generous to provide a wide range of tips for maximum comfort and isolation. They provided 3 Pair of Rubber Tips, 3 Pair of Silicone Tips, 1 Pair of Triple Flange and 3 Pair of Comply Foam. I find the Rubber Tips were the best fitting for me cause whenever I insert the Comply tips, it tends to get itchy and sometimes hard to reinsert. Triple Flange was ok, it did its job. But wasn't too impressed. Silicone wasn't very good in anyway, could have been the worse. Couldn't get a seal and hard as rock. I recommend you go with the Rubber Tips. Now, Westone claim that these will block up to 25dB of ambient noise. And they do! I was on a flight, and during that flight, I was using the IEMs. When I inserted them into my ear, I could hear the plane's engine noise just slightly. When you start playing music, your in your own little bubble. 

 

Sound Quality

Fantastic. They have 2 armature driver with passive crossover. The Mids were nice and bright with a little bit of colouring which I prefer. Wasn't much Soundstage as you were to expect with Studio Monitors but my god they have incredible instrument separation. Highs were nice crisp and plenty of detail. And sometimes when I'm listening to Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon Album, I often feel that they're singing right next to me. This shows how detailed they are. Finally, the Lows. Deep, punchy, rich and doesn't cover Highs and Mids. Listening to Rock with these headphones gives you an extra "Umph" to your listening experience. But this doesn't score in Techno/Dubstep region. You might prefer getting the Sony MDR-XB500 or get an AMP to boost.

 

Overall Impressions

Well I was quite impressed with the sound quality and wasn't too impressed with the build quality. In fact, I changed them twice and it still breaks. You get a balanced IEM with fantastic quality. Go for it, you couldn't go wrong with these. But if you prefer analytical listening, you would be better off with the Shure SE425. They have better soundstage but very light on the bass region.  

 

PS: This is an honest review, some of you may agree and some will not. Leave a comment on what do you think about this review. THANKS FOR READING TILL THE END. YOU ARE AWSOME.

Posted

Pros: Great bass, dual drivers

Cons: A little bulky, not cheap

I upgraded from a pair of UM1s because they didn't deliver the bass I wanted.  I used these while practicing the bass and listening to my iPOD.  The dual drivers really deliver a high fidelity sound with hard to believe bass for the size.  Warning: if you don't want to hear loud and clear bass that stands up in your ears, don't buy these headphones! or use an EQ.

Westone UM2 stage monitors
Description:

The UM2 features dual balanced armatures and a passive crossover. Great highs and impressive low-end response make this universal fit earpiece the first choice for many touring pros the world over.

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