Build & Fit
Regarding build nothing feels wrong here, the iems are well put together and have a great feel to them. The cables are thin yet supple and the earpieces seem well formed. I’d be a bit more reassured with slightly thicker cables and an oh so slightly thicker plastic on the earpieces but that may be being picky. Detachable cables would really help for long term peace of mind.
Regarding fit they are small and lightweight in comparison to other triple driver IEMS I’ve used (Shure 530/535 and Triple-Fi). They are ultra comfortable - I can wear them for hours on end and even sleep with them (an iem first for me) without any discomfort. I would prefer a slightly longer nozzle (makes for better isolation), but I'm assuming they are this length for acoustic reasons
W3 sound in 3 words: airy, involving, emotional
The sound is very well extend in both directions. Contrary to what I’ve read elsewhere here I don’t find the bass on these bloated - it's only present when it needs to be. In fact at times I have wondered whether these were a bit bass light (for example when listening to Dire Straits Brothers in Arms record), only to realise that I was used to the bloat added by more colored iems such as the IE8s. As an aside I wouldn't term myself a bass head - Some of my better iems include the er4s..
These are very revealing iems that show up lots of microdetails. For example on Radiohead's Videotape track from the In Rainbows record you can hear the backing singers take intakes of breath as they sing their lyrics. You'll probably here this with other iems but they were so apparent here - more so than my other iems
Some have described these iems as purely fun sounding but I disagree. For music consumption I am yet to find a more pleasing universal iem. For what it's worth I tend to listen at quite low volumes: straight out of my iPhone 4 I'll play these at 3 notches (volume clicks) up from 0. I find these IEMs play great at low volumes and I rarely need to turn the volume up a bit when I really want to get involved in the sound (something I had to do on other IEMs) but YMMV.
Another thing that is quite impressive about these IEMs is the fact that they work really well across a whole range of music. I have music spanning from indie and rock, to orchestra to jazz and to hip hop. These IEMs work fine with all these genres. Previous IEMs I’ve owned have been a lot more specific to certain genres of music.
I know numbers are subjective but I always like to put figures against items I review. These figures are in comparison to the other universals I’ve owned (you can see a full list of them in my profile):
Sound stage: 8
Instrument separation & placement: 9
These iems are really solid performers across the board. The more music I play through them the more I really like them.
What could they do better?
In terms of making these IEMs better, if I really had to pick at them I'd say:
1. They are a tad expensive at full retail. But given what they do for my requirements I'd get them again in a heartbeat
2. I can't help but imagine what these would sound like with doubled-up drivers. I.e. 6 drivers per side. Not for the volume increase but more for the potential in increased resolution and resolving power.
In summary if you like an involving sound with excellent high and low extension and an upfront presentation be sure to give these a demo. They really are solid IEMs - the best universals I’ve used to date and I’ll recommend them fully..