Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Help me spend $350 Fast! Westone W3 or New W2 & Headphone Amp for my DT990s
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Help me spend $350 Fast! Westone W3 or New W2 & Headphone Amp for my DT990s

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
First time post - I've read a LOT of the threads and now I could use some advice - but I need it pretty quickly! (and apologies for the long post)

I received a 160gb iPod for my 50th birthday, along with the offer to pick up a good set of earphones (budget cap around $350), which I've wanted for some time. I rarely get to listen to music out loud at decent volumes any more, and I thought a good set of in-ears was the way to go.

I thought I was set on the Westone W3s - and even after reading all the W3/ ie8 and UMX3 posts, I still think that's the way I'm leaning. I currently use Sennheiser PX100s with my iPod at work when I have the rare chance, which work fine, and I can't use noise-isolation at work anyway.

I was planning on picking up a decent set of sub-$100 phones as my knock-around pair. I was figuring on reserving the W3s more for evening (bedtime) listening and the like. That said, I've also got a pair of full size Beyerdynamic DT990s, which are comfortable, and which I enjoy. From everything I'm reading, a good pair of full-size headphones are still preferable to in-ears.
I'd have no problem using my Beyers with my iPod for evening listening, etc and picking up a decent, but not top-of-the-line pair of in-ears for everyday listening. The DT990s are 600 ohms, so I'm sure I'd need to pair up a headphone amp with my iPod to drive them. If I did (and it would need to be a relatively inexpensive headphone amp).

As for "step-down" earphones, the Westone 2s ($249) JUST started shipping within the past few days (no reviews or feedback, to date). I'm wondering if they'd offer some of the qualities of the W3s without the mid-bass hump, and they'd certainly be smaller and more comfortable. The other phones the have caught my attention are the Phiaton PS200s ($199), which although not flat, have gotten a lot of praise, particularly for their great high end. With Earphone Solutions' current sale, which runs through tomorrow (thus, the rush), there's 15% off of those prices, which would leave me potentially with $100 to $200 to spend on a headphone amp to power the DT990s.

So that's my dilemna. For what it's worth, I am a musician (keyboards). I use my Beyers with my Kurzweil K2600 and they sound great for that use.My tastes are pretty eclectic - Jazz (acoustic and fusion), acoustic, classical, progressive rock, etc. I want clean transparent highs, flat, accurate mid-tones and solid, but not excessively spiked low end, good instrument imaging...you know, the usual.
So my quesions for those of you with experience:
Will the W3s outperform my amped Beyerdynamic DT990s?
What headphone amp do you recommend in the $100 to $200 range?
I know the W3s and UM3Xs run circles around the UM2 - but the Westone 2? No way to tell. I just don't want to find out after the fact that I SHOULD've gone for the 3s. Unfortunately, there's no way for me to listen to them, so I've got to go on the wisdom of those of you who know better.

Thanks for ANY guidance you can offer. Remember, my budget is $350 or thereabouts. Thanks!
post #2 of 16
Disclaimer: I am no expert; the below is my personal opinion from listening to the UM2, UM3X, W2 and W3 (the last 3 pairs in a single sitting).

I tried the W2 at an audio store using both shure olives and the Westone single flange silicone tips, and was disappointed. It does not have the wide sound stage and bass of the W3, nor the full-bodied sound or the bass impact of the UM3X (and arguably the UM2, but I didn't listen to both at the same time).

BUt do note that the shopkeeper did comment that the pair of W2 I tried was open only 2 days ago, so it may not have had enough burn-in (if you believe in burn-in esp for earphones with BA drivers) .
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by supern0va View Post
I tried the W2 at an audio store using both shure olives and the Westone single flange silicone tips, and was disappointed. It does not have the wide sound stage and bass of the W3, nor the full-bodied sound or the bass impact of the UM3X (and arguably the UM2, but I didn't listen to both at the same time).
Interesting...is it a safe assumption that the shop you listened at was not in the US? I agree that it's doubtful that there's much, if any, benefit of burn-in with a BA design.
post #4 of 16
Mind you, the W2 is going to be a good $50-150 cheaper than a pair of W3/UM3X, and is dual driver. A better comparison is to other $200-300 earphones (TF10, UM2, IE7).

That being said, I'm damned interested in the W2s, but it seems like nobody's doing reviews (even the usual people?).
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by WJK59 View Post
Interesting...is it a safe assumption that the shop you listened at was not in the US? I agree that it's doubtful that there's much, if any, benefit of burn-in with a BA design.
You are right it is not a store in the US. When I was there I didn't recall seeing many stores allowing you to test phones, but the 14-day returns policy more than made up for it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ntropic View Post
Mind you, the W2 is going to be a good $50-150 cheaper than a pair of W3/UM3X, and is dual driver. A better comparison is to other $200-300 earphones (TF10, UM2, IE7).

That being said, I'm damned interested in the W2s, but it seems like nobody's doing reviews (even the usual people?).
Correct me if I'm wrong... aren't TF10 triple drivers?
That said, while I didn't compare them directly to UM2, I've heard both before (and W1) as well. I think it is closer to a W1 in sound sig. Bass is not very pronounced, treble is so-so, and the sound isn't very full bodied. The UM2 is much closer to the UM3X than the W2 is to the W3 if that makes any sense.

I note that it is about $100 cheaper than W3/UM3X, but the OP has a budget of $350, sufficient to buy any of the phones (depending on where you get them, of course).
post #6 of 16
If you are really going to use them at home I would honestly get the headphone amp instead. Those great cans wont shine at all with the ipod and no amp at 600 ohms. Truth is that there are so many great options at $100 that you could get those and a headphone amp. Problem is I have no clue what amp will work best with those cans of yours. You definately want to try to match them with the amp as best you can. I enjoyed those same cans with a pico for about 15 minutes but that I think it out of your range. That is the only time I listened to 990's in my life so...
post #7 of 16
Hm.. well that second poster was not to impressed with the W2, but then that could also be because he's heard the W3 and the UM3x before. Lol. I myself have never heard that nice of IEM, best Ive had in my ear are the Klipsch Custom 3's (dual BA IEMs)

I jumped at earphonesolutions 15% deal like ur planning. Oh and OP, use Bing.com to search for earphone solutions to save an extra 9% on bing cashback, thats another $22 off. I did it and bought the Westone 2. they will be here monday or tuesday.

I can say that the W1 has got some good praise, lots of people like them and the UM1's. the UM2's were considered top tier til the W3's and others came out, so the W2 could very well be amazing phones, and when all I have is the im616 and Yuin PK2 buds, Im sure ill love em. but when i get them the sale will be over so im no help. But ill give my input when I do get them for you.

I say get something similar ur cheaper than the W2 and a amp, after 15% cyber deal & bing cashback the W2 were only $191 shipped. that would give you another $150 for a solid amp/dac for the Beyers

good luck. I love my Yuins, get the PK1 and a amp.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by supern0va View Post
The UM2 is much closer to the UM3X than the W2 is to the W3 if that makes any sense.
That's an interesting point - considering that many on this forum prefer the sound signature of the UM3X to the W3.
My understanding (from what I've read) is that the W3 is pretty superior to the UM2 - as indicated by this quote (from Spyro):
UM2 versus Westone 3
Regarding many initial comments of a recessed midrange with W3....after a week straight with W3 I went back to UM2 and boy does it sound inferior. The midrange sounds far too forward which is giving the impression of a much smaller dynamic range. Lots of midrange but bass (detail) and certainly all of the treble sounds recessed. W3 destroys them in virtually every way. I'd call it a significant step up.

That's part of my anxiety about NOT going all the up to the 3 series - just HOW inferior are the UM2 or W2s to the 3 series? Again, without being able to do an a/b comparison myself, it's difficult to gauge just how significant the difference really is.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pseudohippy View Post
If you are really going to use them at home I would honestly get the headphone amp instead. Those great cans wont shine at all with the ipod and no amp at 600 ohms. Truth is that there are so many great options at $100 that you could get those and a headphone amp. Problem is I have no clue what amp will work best with those cans of yours. You definately want to try to match them with the amp as best you can. I enjoyed those same cans with a pico for about 15 minutes but that I think it out of your range. That is the only time I listened to 990's in my life so...
While I'm still trying to stay within my budget of $350, I think there's more of a push to pick up the earphones now, while earphonesolutions.com has their 15% off sale. (Can anybody let me know how often those 15% off sales happen? That might take some of the rush out of my decision). If need be, I can defer the purchase of the headphone amp a bit (as long as I stay close to my total budget for both purchases, if I go the earphone+amp route). I really haven't researched amps at all at this point, but I know that $100 to $200 isn't going to buy me audiophile quality. I'm surprised to see some tube amps on eBay in that price range - but like I said, it's not something that I've researched at all yet.
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ntropic View Post
Mind you, the W2 is going to be a good $50-150 cheaper than a pair of W3/UM3X, and is dual driver. A better comparison is to other $200-300 earphones (TF10, UM2, IE7).

That being said, I'm damned interested in the W2s, but it seems like nobody's doing reviews (even the usual people?).
Recognizing that the W2s likely give up some ground to the W3s and UM3Xs, I suppose I'm really comparing/considering the W2s with the Phiaton PS200s. That, of course, is if I decide to go the route of the less expensive phones plus the amp for the Beyers. Otherwise, it's likely the W3s (with an lingering consideration of the UM3Xs).
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by WJK59 View Post
That's an interesting point - considering that many on this forum prefer the sound signature of the UM3X to the W3.
My understanding (from what I've read) is that the W3 is pretty superior to the UM2 - as indicated by this quote (from Spyro):
UM2 versus Westone 3
Regarding many initial comments of a recessed midrange with W3....after a week straight with W3 I went back to UM2 and boy does it sound inferior. The midrange sounds far too forward which is giving the impression of a much smaller dynamic range. Lots of midrange but bass (detail) and certainly all of the treble sounds recessed. W3 destroys them in virtually every way. I'd call it a significant step up.

That's part of my anxiety about NOT going all the up to the 3 series - just HOW inferior are the UM2 or W2s to the 3 series? Again, without being able to do an a/b comparison myself, it's difficult to gauge just how significant the difference really is.
Correct me if I'm wrong, Spyro's comments were before UM3X was released. UM3X has a much closer sound sig to the UM2, and while some (including myself) feel that the treble response could be better (no sparkle!), both phones produce pretty rich and impactful sound, with the UM3X slightly more refined. Very neutral.

The W3 are much more coloured (I feel)... W3 has a V-shaped freq response, and has a lot of treble sparkle and larger sound stage. However, the phones suffer from siblance, which is non-existent in the UM3X even with a treble boost on the iPhone.

I was hoping that the W2 showed some of W3 characteristics, but I was disappointed. The treble had no sparkle (like UM3X and UM2), but the mids were not rich and the bass is not impactful. Hence my comment above. Hope this helps.
post #12 of 16
I agree with the comments posted above. One correction is I don't get any siblance with W3 as long as I stick with comply tips which is what I use with UM3X as well.

Both W3 and UM3X are solid steps up from UM2. And yes, UM3X is closer sounding to UM2 signature. Until I hear otherwise, I will assume these two IEM's are also a solid step over W2 as well.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyro View Post
I agree with the comments posted above. One correction is I don't get any siblance with W3 as long as I stick with comply tips which is what I use with UM3X as well.

Both W3 and UM3X are solid steps up from UM2. And yes, UM3X is closer sounding to UM2 signature. Until I hear otherwise, I will assume these two IEM's are also a solid step over W2 as well.
Thanks for the added input, Spyro. In response to supern0va's comments about the W3 siblance issue, it seems like enough folks have indicated that they've tamed the siblance issue through the use of different tips that it doesn't worry me too much. I'd hate to give up the larger soundstage and treble sparkle (as long as it doesn't border on harshness), which is why I'm leaning toward the W3s as opposed to the UMX3. I'm more concerned about the prominent upper bass reproduction issue, and was hoping that as a 2-way design, the W2s' crossover would eliminate that issue, while keeping the sparkly upper end. Sounds like there's no holy grail out there yet at this price point. The clean, transparent high end I'm looking for is part of what drew my interest to the Phiatons, although from what I've read, their frequency response is anything but flat across the spectrum. The "smile" profile of the W3 doesnt' worry me too much - that doesn't sound TOO much different from my Beyers, which have somewhat receded mids.
I appreciate the insights, guys...this is all good info. Too bad the W2 wasn't released a few weeks back, so there'd be some reviews out there. Does anyone know if earphonesolutions.com has sales similar to the current 15% off very often? If so, I may be able to delay my decision long enough to a) read some user reviews on the W2s along with direct comparisons to the other phones, and b) drive my wife entirely over the edge with my obsession for this stuff.
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Spyro - in the UM3X appreciation thread, you indicated that you felt the UM3Xs had more warmth and were smoother than the W3s. The impression I've gotten (again, only from reading) is that they're very smooth, but more forward (particularly mids / vocals) and neutral/analytical/clinical, which may or may not be contrarian to "warmth", at least as I experience it. Can you comment on the warmth quality between the W3 and UM3X (and the UM2, if you've got experience with them). I'd also still love to hear how the Phiatons fit into the equation, also, but there don't appear to be a lot of folks with direct experience with them.
post #15 of 16
Yes, the UM3X is just what you describe and is why some call it boring but I never found it boring. Perhaps because I tend to listen on the loud side so everything seems to come alive to my ears. But it is overall a bit softer and smoother sounding than W3. I don't find UM3X analytical like an Ety at all. The treble doesn't extend as high and, yes, the butter smooth midrange is a bit forward creating an overall warmness to the presentation.

Difficulty in fit and getting the right sound with W3 is something to be aware of. It seems at least 1/2 of the people find it frustrating but most eventually figure it out. There are some posts where I have said I definitely prefer UM3X but after getting W3 again and leaving the bass EQ flat I am really enjoying it this time. I could probably flip a coin between the two as far as a preference.

Yes, I had UM2 for about a year. UM3X is just like UM2 except a bit tighter bass and a bit more extended highs and better instrument separation...all great things! Definite upgrade but a similar sound sig. If I already owned UM2 and was getting another IEM I would get the W3 since it is more different.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Help me spend $350 Fast! Westone W3 or New W2 & Headphone Amp for my DT990s