I wanted everyone to know this review was out there and started it as a new thread so it wouldn't be missed by those who haven't been following the latest IEM news. The currently most active Westone 3 thread is at the following link, and is required reading for those contemplating buying these IEM. Reviews from head-fi members begin to appear in that thread during the week of Thanksgiving, as they ended up in the hands of various head-fi members. Go to: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f103/w...r-28th-382767/
Now, be prepared for a long one!
I have posted portions of my Westone 3 (AKA W3) review over the past several days in an effort to answer questions as they come up, and now I round up all my thoughts into one post as I delve deeper into this IEM. If you saw my mini-review of the Shure E500/SE530 vs prototype Westone 3 on 10//3/07 in the big Westone thread, then my review will not not be such a big surprise. These final production Westone 3 are every bit as good as I remembered the prototypes being. Here is what I had to say back then: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/3314352-post1503.html
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict
I was over at Westone today, delivering my new ear impressions for my UM56 vinyl custom IEM tips. While I was there, I bugged Dale for a while with all kinds of questions, and he was extremely helpful. We talked and he discovered I was an audiophile, not just a Shure E500 owner, and I offered to let him listen to my iBasso D1 portable DAC/AMP with my iRiver H140 and optical out.
He felt the need to get "listen to the good earphones" as he eyed my Shures. He comes back with some Westone 3 earphones for me to audition, so with Complys tips I listened to my Shure, and then the Westone. I also gave him the opportunity to listen to the Westone 3 with a nice source and amp. My next question was HOW SOON can I have some, can I borrow them for a week to do a review, do you know when they will be available for review, can you tell me more than "SOON"?
I only had 2 minutes to listen to them, but that was enough to tell that they improve on the SE500's noticably. It took me 3-4 hours to decide I liked the Livewires better than SE500's, and 2 minutes with the Westone 3 was enough to rank them. I CANNOT compare to the Livewires, but the livewires were in the same direction as the Westone 3 but with slightly less bass (from my recollection since I mailed them out Monday to be tweaked).
I can't decribe everything, but there was just as much or more soundstage, more mid and high presense, plenty of bass impact without boomyness or coloration, good extension on lows and highs, mucho detail and definition of individual instruments. Side by side they do reveal the failings of the Shure SE500's, and while the SE500's sound great on their own merits, it appears that the Livewires and soon the Westone 3 will be replacing my Denon C700 and Shure SE500's.
Since I picked up the Westone 3 on Tuesday afternoon (Nov 25th) I have put about 50 hours of music on them, and heard minor changes as the cable and cross-over burned-in over the first 24 hours, but few changes since. Westone does not recommend any burn-in as being needed. I did my evaluation of the Westone 3 vs my 1 year old Livewires 2-driver customs and SE530 in custom shell, 6 month old Freq Show 3-driver customs, Denon AH-C700 that I have owned for over 18 months, and Klipsch Image X10 that I got used maybe 4 months ago. I used an iPhone 3G with Apple lossless and 320kbps MP3 files, and my Macbook and iMod with lossless files and a few USB/DAC amps - the Pico, Predator and iBasso D2 Boa. I briefly listened with a 2G Nano and determined that the W3 still sound great, but they are limited by the source which does not sound as good as the 3G Nano or iPhone 3G. The Westone 3 will only be as good as your source - if you find something wrong with the W3 sound then it is likely that you are actually reviewing the source or the recording and not the Westone 3.
Some earphone PRoN 1st - I WILL NEVER CLAIM TO BE A GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER - it is obvious there is not an artistic bone in my body:
First I am going to share some of my journey through the world of IEM before I move on to discussing the W3 sound. I started off with Shure E2c as my first IEM in Jan 07, and I loved them and used them for listening to music as I would fall asleep every night. I went through the usual upgrades of E3c, then E4c by the time I joined Head-Fi in August 2007, then came the SE310 and Super.fi 5 Pro, and then SE500 series earphones by September 07. I also ordered Livewires customs about the same time and when they arrived I was thrilled. At that time (09/07) I rated my Livewires customs as being slightly better than the Shure E500/SE530, but I didn't have them with me for my 1st demo of the Westone 3 on 10/3/07 because they were being re-dipped to make the fit tighter. The Livewires presented a clearer picture into the music with more detail and better frequency balance. With the Livewires there was a degree of transparency and realism that the Shure did not offer, although the SE530 had a big soundstage and could come close to the head-stage of the Livewires.
When I compared the SE530 directly to the Westone 3 that day, the side by side comparison left no question in my mind that the Westone 3 did EVERYthing much better. My reference or "control" at the time was my Senn HD600 and Ultrasone HFI-700, where I felt the SE530 were like an IEM version of the HD600, and the Denon C700 were like an IEM version of the HFI-700. But neither of those full size headphones were just right either, but that is another journey. The thing I loved about the SE530 the most was the rich mids and powerful bass; but with black foam tips I was losing some highs, and with silicone tips I was losing bass in exchange for a plasticky sounding treble. The yellow foam tips sounded great but were itchy and would wear out in only 1-2 weeks of constant use. While the E500/SE530 fit had been good with any of the tips, the Westone UM-56 tips helped the sound the most and I got to enjoy excellent sound in comfort for a whole week. After I fell asleep with the SE530 and UM-56 tips in my ears, and woke up to find that the sound tube snapped off the left earpiece, it convinced me to move the SE530 into a custom acrylic shell for a better frequency response (success, but a one of a kind not to be repeated custom after a 4 month effort). That left me with only the C700 as my only decent universal IEM, and my search continued. I bought Altec Lansing IM716 but that didn't do it for me - bass mode was fun but lacked the detail I wanted, and the HD mode had no bass. I took a trip to San Francisco in December for my dad's funeral and unamped the IM716 were useless on the airplane with my iPod touch.
When the Westone 3 were delayed (and the IM716 didn't win me over) I decided to try some Triple.fi 10 pro around Xmas 07, while the SE530 were still out being converted into customs at the time. I found the Triple.fi to be a more refined version of the Denon C700 or HFI-700, and at first I liked them more than anything. But the more I used the Triple.fi the more I realized the sound was colored and they had problems. Within 2 weeks I was trading the Triple.fi plus cash for some Stax headphones. As far as sound signature was concerned, I felt the SE530 had been less "colored" than the Triple.fi 10 Pro which had a boxy acoustic suspension sound, where I felt like I was listening to a small bookshelf speaker trying to do big bass. The Triple.fi also did not feel as refined as my SE530 or HD600 (although they were very good and killed the Super.fi 5 Pro) - nor were they as transparent but instead they sounded more like a tiny high quality speaker next to my ear, rather than opening the window to the real instruments or performance. The second thing I hated about the Triple.fi was the fit - only with a Complys T400 (or T500) foam tip could I get any kind of a reasonable fit and isolation with the Triples. Yet, with the Shure I could get a good fit with black olive foam tips, yellow foam tips, single flange or modded triple flange cut into a bi-flange with shorter stalk, or my Westone UM-56 custom tips.
After I got my SE530 customs back in March (tuned for less bass and better treble), they were sounding very similar to my Livewires and became one of my favorites. While the SE530 customs have maybe 1-2 db less bass than the Livewires, they had a wider more enveloping soundstage, but otherwise are very similar. So I believe that the stock sound of the SE530 was simply how Shure decided to "tune" them. In addition to my two custom IEM, I'd had the Denon AH-C700 since May 2007 and liked them un-amped out of a 5.5 iPod video or 2G nano which tend to have a softer rolled off sound. But the C700 were like having a "pre-equalized" earphone that didn't quite sound right once plugged into a proper amplifier or upgraded source, and I wanted at least one universal IEM that sounded as good as my full size headphones (Edition 9 then being what I wanted in an IEM). I've always loved the C700 mids but plugged into a portable amp the C700 would become a little edgy or harsh in the highs, and bass would become a little too much, and sometimes a little sloppy with some amps. The C700's bass and treble boost was one of the reasons why I hated the bright yet punchy RSA Tomahawk amp with them, while I previously loved the Tomahawk with stock SE530. That disappointment in the TH prompted me to pick up a second pair of Super.fi 5 Pro, with which I quickly re-discovered why I had sold them in the first place - the midrange suckout and grainy treble made them even worse than the C700 to my ears. I then sold the Super.fi and bought q-JAYS, which at first I was thrilled with because they reminded me a lot of the stock SE530 sound - but over time I came to realize the problem with the q-JAYS was that they "sounded so much like the stock SE530" The highs would seem rolled off and dark if they were inserted deep into the ear canal, so the frequency balance was a little skewed despite the very refined and detailed sound, unless I barely pushed them into my ears.
Then tnmike1 loaned me his Sleek SA6 and Klispch Image this summer to add to my IEM/Amp synergy review, and while I thought the SA6 were just a little bland I fell in love with the Klipsch. I found they had powerful bass like the SE530 with rich warm mids but a better sparkly treble than the SE530 or q-JAYS, yet with no grain to the treble like the C700 or Super.fi 5 Pro. This was all while also maintaining a sense of transparency and realism that I only got from my Livewires and SE530 customs, even though the Klipsch X10 are a more forward sounding headphone. This prompted me to sell the q-JAYS right and Super.fi 5 pro, and buy the Image X10. Over the months I actually used the Klipsch X10 more often than my customs because they could be easily and quickly inserted with one hand, were comfortable, and could be quickly removed when I needed to hear someone talking to me (plus I tend to leave the SE530 customs at home since they cannot be replaced). Another issue I have that makes IEM choices so difficult is living with chronic tinnitus in my right ear, without hearing loss but with a form of "roaring crowd" distortion that plagues me when certain frequencies are enhanced or resonate within my right ear canal. This started after a life-saving course of Vancomycin antibiotic in 2002 for a resistant germ in my lungs, which damaged my otic nerve or inner ear. My Freq Show customs (May 08) cause a big problem for me in this area, but the X10 also have just a slight boost in the lower mids where the bass encroaches on the lower-mids just a little, and then I can experience the distortion in my ear (mostly with piano and female vocals). While it is not as bad with the X10 as it is with the Freq Show, it can still interfere with the enjoyment sometimes. Heck, I even have to wear Ety music earplugs for the church worship band (with me on the back row) because of the right ear distortion problem. So one reason I use IEM a lot is so that I can get isolation and listen to music at normal volume levels and avoid the "roaring crowd" distortion (the need for low volume listening is why the Edition 9, D2000 and O2 Mk2 are so good for me).
So, until now the only universal IEM to come close to my ideal has been these Klipsch Image X10, which I sold within 24 hours after hearing the final production Westone 3 last Tuesday. I can actually turn up the volume with the W3 and have minimal problems with my right ear (like with my Livewires and SE530 customs). While I had planned to keep the Klispch and save my pennies to buy a new pair of W3 later, the Westone 3's auditory pleasures left me no choice but to start selling things to be able to keep the W3. After listening to the Westone 3 for an hour and then switching back to the the Klipsch, I actually felt the Klipsch sounded thin and bodyless vs the Westone 3. Once my ears acclimated to the Image X10 for 30 minutes, the Klipsch sounded very good again and made me wonder if I was out of my mind for thinking that they sounded thin and lacked substance. But switching from the X10 back to the Westone 3 again was simply striking, I dare say stunning. The Westone 3 have such a full body and a weighty presence to the sound that they are the one IEM that I have heard that comes anywhere close to the sense of space and power or authority of a full size headphone. It is the same feeling when listening to a piano on my Edition 9 or woodied re-cabled Denon D2000, O2 Mk2 or even balanced HD600 that gives you the sense that the piano is in the same room with you, and takes up floor space and air space. Yes, the size of the soundstage is smaller with the IEM, but the Westone 3 have such bass control, micro-detail and proper decay that the sense of instruments and singers being present in the room is no less substantial. When I switched from the Image to the W3 the sound opened up to a huge space, the bass and weight of the instruments struck me in full and everything sounded so much fuller and more real. A few IEM can offer some out of head soundstage, and that includes the Westone 3, SE530 (stock and customs), Livewires, NE-7M, depodded IM716 - but only the Westone 3 adds such body and substance to the instruments. This is what I have always imagined a UE11Pro must sound like.
The W3 bass has great texture, and is very detailed and quick. It has good presence and power at the proper or appropriate levels one expects with the particular music that is being played. If the bass is supposed to be loud in the music then it is loud with the W3, and if it is not then it isn't. In electronic music like Infected Mushroom "B.P. Empire" the bass is pervasive and pounding and beats you mercilessly; while in music like Guinea Pig "Kool Cats" the string bass is tight and crisp, and totally believable with sharp attack and realistic decay. Comparing the Denon C700 bass to the Westone 3 makes the Denon C700 sound positively muddy, while the Klipsch Image X10 have very good bass but still lack the weight and punch of the Westone 3. Typically one does not describe bass in an IEM as "tactile" but these offer the illusion of a very "speaker-like bass response". I have made this same description of the Edition 9 bass response, and it is equally fitting for the Westone 3. This is just as helpful with classical music as with jazz, rock, or electronic, since the hall's resonance is a low deep echo that puts you right there in the audience in the front row (fortunately not on stage). Also, these play easily down to 20Hz with test tones, and don't seem to have any bass peaks or anomalies.
The midrange is tonally rich, and a little forward rather than recessed, and therefore more engaging. Nonetheless, it does not make the venue sound smaller like some forward sounding headphones like the Grado RS-2. It is also very smooth in the mids, without grain but with good detail. So acoustic guitars are crisp, and electric guitars are crunchy but not boring into your head. You can easily hear a hand thump against the wood of the guitar along with the true tone of the string, and the sound of the fingers scratching against the string sounds right. Listening to violins presents the full range of sound from the low pitched woodiness to the rough draw of the bow across the string. Saxophones have the right balance of low resonant breathiness and higher frequency reediness, while the clackity sounds of the saxophone keys comes from the exact same location as the rest of the instrument - as opposed to sounding like my Stax Lambdas where the noise from the keys almost seems to came from a different point in space. Piano key strikes have all the resonant frequencies reach me at the same time, and don't seem to come at me from different heights like they used to with my old Super.fi 5 Pro and Triple.fi 10 Pro. The weight or thump of the piano keys and pedals can be heard behind the main melody being played, rather than going missing like with my C700. And, the pianos do not have an exaggerated low midrange that can cause my right inner ear resonance problem to surface. Vocals are full and believable, without sounding boxy or boomy. There are no exaggerated low mids to make any vocals sound close mic'd when they are not, while with the Klipsch X10 there is a hint of enhanced low-midrange vocals in Shelby Lynn "Just a Little Lovin'" that make her voice seem more like listening to an amplified voice than a natural one.
The highs are smooth and detailed, and crisp with a nice sparkle. On recordings with no sibilance there is none, and it adds nothing. Playing my test CD for sibilance, Diana Krall "Girl in the Other Room", does allow one to tell that the CD is mastered with some sibilance in there, but it doesn't rear it's ugly head and impede the enjoyment of the music like with my Denon C700 or my old HFI-780. The Image X10 also have very nice highs, but with a deep ear canal insertion some of the sparkle can be lost like with the q-JAYS, but the Westone 3 seem to be immune to that effect so far. The Denon C700 highs seem harsh in comparison, and more suited to a soft sounding MP3 player like 1st or 2nd Gen nano or 5.5G iPod video. And, although I don't have stock SE530 anymore, there is no doubt that the Westone 3 have better treble extension which may still be better than my custom tuned SE530 customs. My 46 year old hearing ends at about 16KHz, so take that with a grain of salt. It is my understanding that typical balanced armature drivers have around a 16Khz physical limit anyways.
One thing that struck me about the Westone 3 is how it all comes together in the end to make beautiful music - that the low, mid and high frequency ranges all have a cohesive solitary presentation that makes it sound like one single driver, without apparent overlap of the various drivers or gaps between each driver's covered range. With the Super.fi 5 Pro I always felt like I was listening to 2 separate drivers that didn't quite reach the other's limits, with the q-JAYS and SE530 I felt like the high-frequency driver didn't quite match the bass driver's higher efficiency, and with the Triple.fi I felt like there was too much overlap between the bass driver and the midrange driver or that something was doubled up near the upper low-end. The most impressive thing is that this results in a great image and headstage. Music doesn't seem to come from the back of my skull like with many IEM, but rather seems to be centered on my forehead and extends in front of and inside my head, and to each side or even to the outside of each ear sometimes (depending on the recording). Instruments and singers all have a place on the stage, and they are not squished together or fuzzy along the edges. I can almost tell which way the piano is angled on the stage or in the studio by how close or far away the high notes are vs the low notes. The soundstage is not as big or even as 3D as some of my full size circum-aural headphones, but the depth is at least as good as my supra-aural ATH-ESW10JPN which do NOT sound like closed headphones at all.
I have tried several different pairs of universal tips with the W3. I had two pair of tips that I previously had tried with the Shure SE530 - the Complys P-series foam tips, and some cut down triple flanges that I took off the smallest flange off the tip and shortened the stalk. I have also tried the stock triple flange and single flange soft grey silicone tips, as well as the T-series Complys and my Westone UM-56 custom fit tips (I don't care for the harder clear plastic tips). The tips do make a little difference in sound, but that is a plus in the sense that you can use the tips to tune the Westone 3 to match your amp or source or music. At this point I have to say my favorite tip with the Westone 3 is my Westone UM-56 custom tips, followed by the medium single flange silicone tips. The longer P-series Complys cut a little more treble than I would like, but the detail remains intact and the sound is euphonic and romantic like a Stax O2 Mk2 (not euphoric). The T-Series Complys are better than the P-series, with less high end loss and are closer to the UM-56 and single flange silicone. The modded triple-flange cut to a bi-flange that I liked with the SE530 are not as good with the Westone 3 and cut some of the bass while boosting the treble slightly, and in the process become less romantic or euphonic sounding. The only tip to give me a problem was the stock triple flange, which make the W3 stick out of my ears too far. So I modded another pair of triple flange, but left them as a triple flange and only gave them a shorter stalk, and those sound about as good as the single flange tips with good frequency balance but are not as comfortable as the bi-flange (while sounding much better than the bi-flange).
So, I can get great sound out of the W3 with most of the tips that they come with, if I shorten the stalk of the triple flange to pull the W3 closer to my ears, and I can get them to sound even better with my Westone UM-56 custom tips. The Westone 3 sit nice and flush in my ears with the UM56, and they tuck-in 100% better than my SE530 did with the same UM-56 tips. The sound and fit/isolation that I am getting with this IEM/tip combo has taken away all desires to try some $1200 UE11pro customs. Mine fit flawlessly - not loose or too tight of a seal, and isolation is tremendous.
When Blutarsky came to my house last Tuesday night to listen to the Westone 3 I was having trouble inserting the UM-56 into my ears. After a year of not using them while waiting for Westone 3 to be released I had forgotten how they go in (since they are not a full shell), and until I looked at my Livewires I didn't realize that I was trying to insert the UM-56 tips upside-down and 180 degrees off. So all Bluto saw was the W3 hanging down out of my ears like puppy dog ears, and he wasn't impressed. Later I discovered the problem, and will have to let him know about it when he gets back into town this week. However, he did listen to them himself with some universal tips and liked them just a little better than his Westone ES2 customs, mostly due to the improved bass and bass control from what I recall he said. He did leave my house with a new commitment to buy some W3 for himself.
Conclusion: In my case, I can honestly say at this point that the Westone 3 with my Westone UM-56 custom tips are THE BEST universal or custom IEM that I have ever heard. The frequency balance with the UM-56 tips could not be better, and it is like they were made for each other (they were actually). Simply put, the Westone 3 with my UM-56 custom tips vs my Custom IEM or vs any other universal IEM that I have owned, beats them all with a fuller richer and more substantial sound signature that even makes the Image X10 and SE530 seem a little thin by comparison. It's like comparing an O2 Mk2 to a Lambda series Stat; but not dark sounding like an O2, rather I just mean the jump in sound quality and detail and texture and weight. After getting the Stax O2 I sold my Lambda Signature, and likewise after only a few hours with the Westone 3 I sold my Image X10 within a day.
The only thing I can imagine that would be better is if I were to buy some Westone 3 Customs, which I am more likely to do than with UE customs because I haven't been as pleased with any UE IEM as much as I am with these Westone 3. My next favorite universal IEM is still the Klipsch Image X10, which come very close to doing everything right and I feel still beat the SE530, Triple.fi, q-JAYS, Super.fi 5, Denon C700, IM716, etc - but in the end they just can't match the Westone 3 which is in a whole new league all by itself now. I do prefer the Livewires over the Image X10, but the Westone 3 has taken it's place as my new #1, as Livewires are displaced to the #2 slot.
UPDATE 1/13/10: After a couple of weeks I wanted to post this, because I finally compared the W3 and Triple.fi 10 pro directly and over a period of time, rather than indirectly through comparisons with other IEM that were compared to the Triple.fi 10 Pro. We got the Triple.fi 10vi Pro for my son for Xmas but he traded me for one of my RE252 for them, for comfort and fit issues with his lttle 12 year old ears. I am using medium silicone single flange tips with both IEM.
The Triple.fi are not as colored as I remembered them being, where they had that upper bass "acoustic suspension" type of sound when compared with SE530. But, they do have more midbass and less deep bass than the W3. The Triple.fi are a little more forward in the upper mids than the W3, but the mid/high treble seems very similar as does treble extension. I find the W3 to sound a little more transparent and take me deeper into the music; and while both have a wide soundstage the W3 sound deeper front to back, while the Triple.fi are a little more forward. Immersion into the performance is a little more realistic and more complete with the W3 as well. Bass impact is better with the W3 than Triple.fi, and I felt both were detailed and fast with string bass, but the W3 were more believable in the impact and presence.
Overall I would say the Triple.fi are a nice IEM and better than I remember, but I will still reach for the W3 more often when I want to listen to and enjoy my music.
OTHER HELPFUL REVIEWS, comparisons or impressions:
Vorlon1 Review: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5067467-post548.html
craiglester impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5066297-post528.html
EyeAmEye comparisons: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5072791-post93.html and http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5081301-post208.html
Pale Rider impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5073667-post109.html
soozieq impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5073743-post112.html
Cmasten impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5074469-post122.html
SilverB impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5074765-post124.html
Trager impressions (fit problems): http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5075103-post134.html
britishbornazn review: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5075553-post139.html
Solid Snake Impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5075507-post686.html
gp_herbert impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5076617-post152.html
rhythmicmoose impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5077713-post711.html
ZephyrSapphire impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5078097-post172.html
SierraHotel01 impressions - mini-review: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5082391-post765.html and update http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5084157-post243.html
cn11 impressions vs IE8: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5083291-post614.html
Jensen impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5088551-post300.html
catscratch impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5090093-post816.html, http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5104789-post80.html and http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5104769-post893.html
CMasten mini-review impressions vs SE530: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5094917-post863.html
Ray Samuels (amp builder) impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f103/w...l-iems-388731/
Janni impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5104825-post493.html
music_4321 impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5106011-post503.html
Richdel impressions mini-review: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5106329-post504.html
AndrewF impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5106469-post506.html
FeedMeTrance impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5111291-post554.html
qusp impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5112037-post913.html and http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5109743-post523.html
ib1dance impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5111817-post569.html
TheMarchingMule impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5121927-post644.html
HiFlight impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5121927-post644.html
WaxMan impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5123883-post668.html
Mecc impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5121875-post51.html
Jogiya impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5126741-post693.html
Spyro impressions: initial review: The "I'm Not Blown Away By Westone 3" Thread - Head-Fi: Covering Headphones, Earphones and Portable Audio Change of heart: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5128673-post69.html
NicktheNorse impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5170209-post1069.html
BlooSugar00 impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f103/r...ml#post5543763
Update 8/17/10 - I will try to find the missing photos and re-post them. Also, W3 vs Monster Turbine Pro Copper:
I've been listening to rawster's Monster Coppers and found that I still like the W3 just a little more than my Monster Turbine Pro Gold or his Copper. The Copper and Gold are a little more forward sounding with a smaller soundstage, although they do have a very nice warm pleasant tone. The Copper maybe have slightly better treble but less bass than the Gold, but the W3 have better speed, detail and sparkle/air in the highs than either. The Monsters are still my favorite dynamic IEM, and they are more forgiving of poor recordings, due to their smoother response to transients and less detail. The W3 are also noticeably more efficient than the Monsters, and the bass is a bit more powerful as well. So, if you have an amp with hiss the W3 are more likely to show it. As for the bass, the W3 remind me a lot of my UE11Pro; but the W3 are still more forgiving on my amp choice, and I can change tips or push the W3 in deeper to tighten up the bass.
If someone was coming to the W3 from the Monsters, the bass might be too much unless you insert the tips into your ears more deeply, or unless you have the UM56 custom tips like I do. If you think the copper need more bass, detail and soundstage then look at the W3. Of course the W3 change a lot with tips, and one should find them to be just right with experimenting with non-custom tips like Complys foam, Shure black foam, Triple flange cut to the right size, or single flange silicone. I like the Complys, and also a triple flange that has the stalk cut shorter. With unmodified triple flange the response is off, especially in the treble. If I do a more shallow insertion of the single flange silicon tips the bass and treble become boosted, but with a deep insertion of the tips the bass/treble level out for and become level with the mids.
My UM56 tips are the best, but even with the single flange tips inserted deeply last night I ended listening to the entire Diana Krall Live in Paris album with the W3, before I remembered that I was trying to do a comparison. Doh!