Any idea how W2 could compare with ER4p?
post #31 of 431
12/5/09 at 6:19am
Just recently got them in the mail. In comparison to my W3, there is less emphasis on highs and lows but the biggest difference is how forward the mids sound with the W2. The mids sounds recessed with the W3, which doesn't bother me at all, but I prefer how vocals are presented with the W2. In fact, that's what grabs my attention most of the time when I listen to them. It's smooth and detailed. The W3 has a wider soundstage, stronger bass impact, highs with more sparkle, and slighlty better details but, the Westone 2 has a better midrange presentation. I don't find it to be lacking in bass but it could use some more punch in my opinion. People who enjoy the Shure sound signature and are thinking about purchasing the W3, should seriously consider the Westone 2.
edit: the Sony X1060 was the source that I used, and listened to lame V0 Q0 mp3 files
I have had the pleasure of auditioning a pair of Westone 2’s over the past few days. I have been listening exclusively to W3 and UM3X the past several months so my ears are pretty spoiled so it takes quite the IEM to impress me. I did try a pair of Ety HF5’s for a couple weeks. While they are terrific IEM’s in that price point and do many things well, the lack of weight on the bottom end had me returning them. I’m sure my spoiled ears also played a part. As of late, I have not tried too many of the $100-$200 range IEM’s so I am not sure how helpful this review will be for those looking for comparisons to those products. Check my profile for my history of IEM’s. The comparisons will be mainly to UM2, W3, UM3X and Ety.
ERGONOMICS: Very small. How do they get two drivers in this housing? It is smaller and flatter than the UM1/2 housing which is pretty small. You hardly know they are in your ears.
TEST PARAMETERS: Mainly unamped out of a 3G Nano. Hi bitrate files as well as actual cd’s on a more powerful Sony boombox. Diana Krall, “Live from Paris”, Dave Weckl Band, Pat Metheny and some other contemporary jazz selections.
SQ and comparisons: Let me preface this by saying I am an EQ person to a point but do not like huge powerful bass. I found W2 to sound best on the “rock” EQ Ipod setting. The first thing I noticed was the amazing clarity and detail. I thought, “this is W3’s little brother (without a subwoofer) and this is how a dual driver ER4 would sound.” I find it equally as detailed as HF5 with more weight on the bottom end and a much larger soundstage (like W3). I find the midrange and treble more detailed than both UM3X and W3 and certainly UM2.
I was shocked to see I-Lounge preferring the UM2 because it was warmer and had more bass (I don’t find these to equate to better sounding in any way). Compared to UM2, W2 has MUCH more treble energy, much more soundstage and only slightly less bass. UM2 could sometimes sound muddy. There is nothing muddy about W2. Just the opposite. Overall clarity is amazing. (Yes, equal to an Ety!) Not sure if it was Clios or another poster supposedly confirmed that UM2 had the ER4 driver in it. That driver may still be used for W2 but also paired with a different bass/midrange driver that tunes it more upwards and adds speed to the presentation. I am hearing unblanketed details out of W2 I have only heard in an Ety IEM. On the first 2 minutes of Diana Krall’s “A Case of You” there are background coughs and feet/chair shuffling I have picked up on W3/UM3X but with W2 is was hauntingly crisp and right there! Other comparisons….
To W3: As mentioned above, very similar but take away the subwoofer. That huge bass of W3 sort of canvasses the rest of the presentation, even with EQ off. W2 has more clarity overall, period. As an analogy, W3 is like sitting in a 10 x 10 room with a 60 inch HD plasma (big WOW factor but almost too much, too big, too overwhelming). W2 is like sitting in that room with a 42” set. (just seems more proper and balanced). Not sure if this analogy makes sense. W2 midrange is more present so better vocals with W2 as well.
To SE530: W2 is sharper, faster, more articulate and more balanced. The midrange is not quite so forward. While I always gave SE530 a slight edge over UM2, W2 makes it more even. I personally prefer W2 due to the speed and clarity while still maintaining a decent bottom end but this is personal preference.
To UM3X: This is a tougher comparison as they are different animals. Don’t want to go into too much detail. UM3X is more refined sounding and warmer with a smaller soundstage while W2 is brighter, slightly faster and larger soundstage. Bass is very close. Tiny bit more with UM3X.
Let me reiterate that the above comparisons are unamped. If you are amping, the triple drivers probably have an advantage.
I also want to say that among true Etymotic fans, I am certain the majority of them would prefer the W2 to the W3 for the simple reason that sounds more balanced and has better midrange/treble clarity mainly because the W3 sub is not canvassing everything.
CONCLUSION: I love this IEM. With a little EQ (rock setting), it has some real pop to it’s presentation. Amazing clarity, little to no fatigue. Among W3, UM3X and W2 if I had to part with one I would probably ditch the W3. I enjoy W2 that much. If I could emphasize one thing about W2 I would HIGHLY recommend it to Ety fans that don’t want to fuss with amps but want more weight to the sound. I know REO does this too and I wish I could hear it to provide a comparison but I can’t. If he was being truly objective I would love to see an Ety engineer stick these in his ears, see his jaw drop to the floor and think, “this is what our next product should sound like.” Because to me, this is EXACTLY what I would expect to hear with a dual driver Ety product.
It is also pretty remarkable that in just over a year, Westone has come out with 3 new IEM’s (4 counting W1) that are word class leader in both sound and ergonomics. They certainly know what they are doing.
Thanks for the mini-comparison. Really appreciate the effort behind it and the refuge it offers us IEM lovers.
Just a query: among the W3, UM3X, and W2, which is a much better "upgrade" or "sidegrade" from UE TF10 Pros? I'm thinking of getting eithera UM3X or a W2 as a backup IEM (man, TF10 Pros really hurt my ears when wearing them for quite some time); before, I was considering the W3 but many reviewers here have eschewed its almost-sibilant highs and its "radical" presentation.
Thanks a lot!