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Review: Westone 2 Universal IEM - Page 2

post #16 of 86
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KLS View Post
As always a very informative comparison!

By the way how does the W2 perform in terms of imaging and instrument seperation compared to the others high-end?
I think they hold up well in that area, and they put instruments in their own place, and don't blur too much or overlap too much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ben4345 View Post
HPA, what do you think of the W2's with UM56's unamped?
I said in my my review that it depends on the source or amp. In general, I like the W2 with UM56, with or without an amp. There are a few times when the single flange silicone tips might sound better by adding a little sparkle. Usually with iPhone, I am happy with either tip.
post #17 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post
I think they hold up well in that area, and they put instruments in their own place, and don't blur too much or overlap too much.
I remember you saying W3 has very excellent imaging in W3 appreciation thread. I almost pulled the trigger after reading your W3's review, if I hadn't order my IE8 that time...

I am currently considering W2 seeing that it has a more neutral sound. I hope W2 can do better than IE8 in imaging and instrument seperation.
post #18 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post
WHAT I HEAR:

BASS: The W2's bass is good and plays deeper and harder than the W1's. It's probably close to what I remember from the pair of UM3X that I last heard 4 months ago, but certainly there is less bass presence and impact than the W3. Still, most people who would call these IEM bass-lite either don't have a good fit, they are using the wrong tips/amp, or they're a bass-head. The W2 play down deeper than W1 and are clearly stronger at 25Hz than W1, but it does become hard to hear 20Hz test tones without adjusting the volume (unlike my TF 10vi pro and W3 which are still strong at 16Hz). Still, the very deep bass notes in Bella Sonus "Enamored" are not missing, which is an improvement over the W1. The bass impact with W2 on my un-amped iPhone 3GS is good and will not disappoint, and it will not disappoint those who don't like too much bass either. And it's even stronger with some amps. As a bonus, it's not as easy to over-drive the bass with an amp as with the W1 or competing RE252. Bass impact and depth is slightly less than my Triple.fi 10vi Pro. In compensation for that, I thought the W2 bass was slightly faster, and the W2 don't have the TF 10vi Pro's mid/upper bass coloration/bump.

MIDS: The mids are nice, clear and present, and while not recessed they are not too forward. They remind me a little of how I remember the UM3X mids sounding, although not quite as refined sounding as I recall the UM3X sounded. The W2 mids are more forward and present sounding in comparison to the W3, and bring the action to the foreground just a little more than W3; but the W2 are not nearly as mid-centric as the W1 due to the lows and highs keeping up with the mids better. The W2 mids are probably also on a similar level as the Triple.fi 10vi Pro that I have here, but often the W2 mids actually seem a little more revealing or look deeper into the music than the TF 10vi Pro. The improved detail can be a blessing and a curse, as I will discuss later.

Treble: The highs are similar to the W3 and are nice and crisp, with good detail. I'd say that the W2 mids/treble combined actually border on offering the same great detail that the Phonak Audeo PFE offered; but without any of the sibilance that came with the Phonak, or having the mids at a higher level than the bass. The Phonak's sibilance could be tamed by changing the grey sound-tube filters to black ones, but then they would not be as detailed and vibrant as the W2. With the wrong amp and/or wrong tips on the W3 it was possible to accentuate sibilance (but also easy to fix with tips and/or amp). To me the W2 can behave similarly with the wrong tip/amp choice, but in no way do they accentuate sibilance on their own; at least not any more than the UM3X or any other IEM that reveals what is in the recording. So, I think that detractors of the W3 treble will be more satisfied with the W2 or UM3X. It's still possible to change the W2 sound a lot by changes of position/depth in the ear canal or changes in tips, as discussed below.

SOUNDSTAGE: The W2 soundstage is very respectable vs other IEM, and I think it puts you in a slightly bigger venue than Triple.fi 10 Pro, but a smaller one than with the W3 (or IE8 which was similar to W3 in that arena). The W2 tend to back-out of the way and their sound usually does not appear to be coming from little speakers inside the ear canal. If I had to guess, I would say the W2 falls between the UM3X soundstage and the W3, which is not small nor huge - but I hate to do that without being to directly compare them.
Great review, Larry. Just heard them vis-a-vis my UM3X with a D4 with rolled opamps, and I largely agree with your impressions, except for the bass.

I think the UM3X bass is significantly more impactful than Westone 2, but both are less than Westone 3 (which I used to own but no longer). The mids/separation are certainly close to the UM3X, and the soundstage is wider and treble brighter for Westone 2.

In the end, for all genres of music I listen to (from ballads to pop to some classical), I think the UM3X is a more all-rounded performer. The Westone 2 excels in all songs that don't require that much bass
post #19 of 86
I agree with your view on the W2s except for one thing, I can tease out excellent bass with them using the Sony X Clear Bass EQ, only at +1. While I know EQing is anathema to many here, I find that the W2s respond very well and have no problem using the Sony's with them. The Clip+ is another issue, and my other two DAPs (Zune and Amp3) have no EQ. I would guess the S9 also can deliver a nice bass add for the W2s.

To me, they are just a more musical IEM than the UM3X. But like you, I abandoned my W3s quite a while ago, and now wish I had them to try with my UM56 (and compare them to the W2).

However, as I recall, the size of the W3 might make they harder for me to use with the UM56, while the W2 small driver housing footprint is a perfect match for my ears.
post #20 of 86
I agree the UM3X bass is perhaps more impactful (good adjective) but the W2 is very adequate bass-wise. I just sold my UM3X because it was sounding a little less involving than W2 and W3. A little thick sounding and slightly blanketed.

I am fully convinced that I prefer a lighter airier sound that can accentuate treble BUT ALSO have some body and weight to it as well. That's why I rank W3 #1. It absolutely does this. Revealing, crisp, airy treble but also big body on the lower register. Few IEM's do this. It's usually one way or the other.
post #21 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by tstarn06 View Post
I agree with your view on the W2s except for one thing, I can tease out excellent bass with them using the Sony X Clear Bass EQ, only at +1. While I know EQing is anathema to many here, I find that the W2s respond very well and have no problem using the Sony's with them. The Clip+ is another issue, and my other two DAPs (Zune and Amp3) have no EQ. I would guess the S9 also can deliver a nice bass add for the W2s.

To me, they are just a more musical IEM than the UM3X. But like you, I abandoned my W3s quite a while ago, and now wish I had them to try with my UM56 (and compare them to the W2).

However, as I recall, the size of the W3 might make they harder for me to use with the UM56, while the W2 small driver housing footprint is a perfect match for my ears.
I use an iPhone 3G as my source, and we all know apple's EQ isn't the best. I do use the higher gain on the D4, so even with that I feel that the bass is slightly lacking in impact.

Bass impact: Westone 3 > UM3X > Westone 2

I think UM3X's bass is just, though it doesn't hurt to have Westone 3's bass

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyro View Post
I agree the UM3X bass is perhaps more impactful (good adjective) but the W2 is very adequate bass-wise. I just sold my UM3X because it was sounding a little less involving than W2 and W3. A little thick sounding and slightly blanketed.

I am fully convinced that I prefer a lighter airier sound that can accentuate treble BUT ALSO have some body and weight to it as well. That's why I rank W3 #1. It absolutely does this. Revealing, crisp, airy treble but also big body on the lower register. Few IEM's do this. It's usually one way or the other.
I actually like the thick sounding mids of the UM3X. Find that very rich sounding, unlike say the Phonak PFEs which sounds very thin. Agree that both Westone 2 and 3 have airier treble. But my problem with the Westone 3 (and mainly why I sold it) was that there is too much siblance, and not enough separation (quite stark when A/Bed with the UM3X)


edit: woohoo! 100th post! from phonak PFE to UM3X and D4 within 6 months. And UM Mages coming! Not a cheap hobby!
post #22 of 86
Cheap and Head-Fi...not in same breath.

I had the same sibilance issue, and didn't have the patience to use the modded tri-flanges, which eliminated sibilance but veiled the highs (I had to use acoustic EQ with my Touch when I had it), and then the W2s sounded very good).

Again, I think moving to a custom sleeve would have eliminated both harshness AND tip concerns for me, but I didn't get the UM56s until after I had already sent the W3s packing in a trade for the UM3X. Too bad.

But meantime, I am more than happy with the W2s. No desire to indulge my HF need to spend on W3s for fear they would be too large with the UM56s for my ears.

The Phonak PFEs were mid-treble focused, but as with many phones like that, they did benefit from a decent amp bass boost or a good EQ. Having the Apple EQ is a disadvantage, no doubt. I could only use the PFEs with black filters, which helped make them less "thin" to me.
post #23 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by tstarn06 View Post
Cheap and Head-Fi...not in same breath.

I had the same sibilance issue, and didn't have the patience to use the modded tri-flanges, which eliminated sibilance but veiled the highs (I had to use acoustic EQ with my Touch when I had it, and then the W2s sounded very good).

Again, I think moving to a custom sleeve would have eliminated both harshness AND tip concerns for me, but I didn't get the UM56s until after I had already sent the W3s packing in a trade for the UM3X. Too bad.

But meantime, I am more than happy with the W2s. No desire to indulge my HF need to spend on W3s for fear they would be too large with the UM56s for my ears.

The Phonak PFEs were mid-treble focused, but as with many phones like that, they did benefit from a decent amp bass boost or a good EQ. Having the Apple EQ is a disadvantage, no doubt. I could only use the PFEs with black filters, which helped make them less "thin" to me.
I for 1 felt that the W2 has much less siblance than W3, by construction or something. Its really quite a strong point in my opinion

The PFEs I felt still felt thin even with the D4 amp. I really like the richness of the UM3X sound (and similarly so for W2 and W3).
post #24 of 86
Agree the PFEs, to me, can't compete with any of the Westone phones now that I have tried/used all three. Others may disagree.

Again, the W3s can be tamed, but only with the right tips (in my case, long ones...either large Complys or tri-flanges). I guess that isn't true of everyone.

Plus, you have customs (Mages?) on the way, so this is going to be moot for you soon. I think.
post #25 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by tstarn06 View Post
Agree the PFEs, to me, can't compete with any of the Westone phones now that I have tried/used all three. Others may disagree.

Again, the W3s can be tamed, but only with the right tips (in my case, long ones...either large Complys or tri-flanges). I guess that isn't true of everyone.

Plus, you have customs (Mages?) on the way, so this is going to be moot for you soon. I think.
yes im very excited about the mages. have read comments that they are like the um3x together with pfe highs and much wider soundstage, so that's about as good as it gets in my opinion. heard a demo set (well, some1 else's customs so not a good fit), there is absolutely no siblance! and a very wide soundstage.

its because of um mages that im considering "downgrading" to westone 2 as a spare. um3x seems too expensive to be left lying around.
post #26 of 86
Makes sense to me. Though I sold my UM3X for $250 and paid $200 for the W2s, so on balance, not that much cost difference. As noted, we part ways on which one we prefer, W2 or UM3X, no matter what the cost.
post #27 of 86
Great review Larry, thanks
post #28 of 86
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by supern0va View Post
Great review, Larry. Just heard them vis-a-vis my UM3X with a D4 with rolled opamps, and I largely agree with your impressions, except for the bass.

I think the UM3X bass is significantly more impactful than Westone 2, but both are less than Westone 3 (which I used to own but no longer). The mids/separation are certainly close to the UM3X, and the soundstage is wider and treble brighter for Westone 2.

In the end, for all genres of music I listen to (from ballads to pop to some classical), I think the UM3X is a more all-rounded performer. The Westone 2 excels in all songs that don't require that much bass
I did say my comparison was based on my memory of the UM3X bass, as I don't have them here to compare to. I've only listened to the UM3X at CanJam, July 09 Colorado meet, and RMAF in October. My review might be different if I had a pair here for comparisons, so in the review I tried to qualify my statement about it being from memory. And, I never did rank the W2 over the UM3X, not based on three opportunities to hear the UM3X. In fact, if I didn't already have the ES3X for a change of sound from the W3, I might have gotten the UM3X to replace my lost W3 back in October and they would be my top universal IEM. I still hope to have a pair of UM3X for enjoyment and for use in my reviews, but it just hasn't been a priority with my finances.

To some of the people that posted after you - I want to confirm that I really do like the W2 bass, and I would not add the distortion of EQ to boost the bass, at least not with an iPod. Sure, it's not as much bass as the W3, but it's enough for me. I might boost the bass with the RE252, Phonak Audeo and ER6i but not with the W2. The RE252 sound kinda like a Phonak without the sibilance or deep bass extension of the Phonak, and the W2 improve on that with better bass and bass impact to balance them out better. And yes, the W2 do improve in the bass impact with EQ, more so than the W1 or RE252 which run out of headroom faster when you try to EQ the bass.

TO CLARIFY BEFORE THIS GOES OFF TRACK, SINCE MY REPLY IS ON THE NEXT PAGE and people will not see if before the reply to this one -- The above means that I do not use the iPod EQ, EQ is OFF, etc. because in most cases I have found iPods have more distortion, both as noise/clipping and as unwanted coloration. I do ALL my listening and reviews with no EQ, just au naturale. When I said "the W2 do improve in the bass with EQ", I meant that the W2 will handle bass boost from a good amp on my computer, without clipping. And, they have more headroom with bass boost than the W1 or RE252, which can get overdriven easier than the W2. But I don't feel EQ is needed at all for my listening. It's the iPod that is usually the problem, for me at least.
post #29 of 86
Larry, so you are using EQ "off" with W2 and Ipod?

Can you please clarify what you mean "distortion of EQ to boost bass". I know when I use too much bass at louder volumes I hear distortion or crackling but I think you are refering to something different? I AM using EQ but not hearing distortion so I am wondering what I am not understanding here? Thanks
post #30 of 86
Same here. No distortion at all with a little bass EQ, at least noting that my dumb hears can discern. I don't think you have the Sony X Larry, but I can assure you one click up the Clear Bass ladder does not distort anything, just adds to my appreciation of the W2s. I would say, as I am sure you will agree, reviewing IEMs is completely dependent on your sources. In that case, some might have something resembling your gear, but many just have the basic DAPs (Zune, Clip, Fuze, Sony A and S series, iPods of every type, etc.). so they would have a hard time matching your level of review. To me, the W2s sound best, at least on the Sony X, with the UM56s and the Clear Bass at +1, and the two far right sliders (high end) also ticked to +1. I have messed around with flat and some other configurations, and those two are the best to my ears.

I would agree that the bass boost on the iPod could distort the W2s, based on my Touch ownership. Not sure.
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