I have recently gotten my hands on a pair of Westone 2 which is another treat for me along with my recently reviewed IE7. The Westone 2 is supposed to have a neutral sound signature so that should suit my signature which makes it all the better. Whether it is something I enjoy or a good product is something that has yet to be determined.
One thing I don't like is audio jargon but that's inevitable here. There are times when I have some issues trying to explain what I am hearing as that is not easy to do imo so hopefully you will all understand me. I know some of you may be new and don't understand some of the terms so this link should make it easier for you and imo is the best audiophile dictionary I have seen.
As with the rest of my reviews my background is an important thing to know of so you know my personal biases and what I am familiar with. My signature is up to date and consists of my current gear. My previous gear is in my profile listed by order of ownership or to the best of my memory it is. My personal preference goes along the line of what I like to call neutrality. For reference some of my favorite earphones have been the Audio Technica CK10 and Hifiman RE0.
My musical preferences in no particular order are pop, rock, trance, country, jazz and asian pop.
Also as a disclaimer for my review everything here is IMO so YMMV. Please do not flame me if you disagree. I also make no attempt to try to write this from a neutral point of view since I do not believe that's possible. I will write it from my experiences and how I enjoy listening to an earphone which means certain preference biases which have already been pointed out.
Source: Cowon J3, Audinst HUD-MX1
Phones: Westone 2
Bitrate: A mix of mp3 to FLAC
Frequency Range: 20-18000 Hz
Impedance: 33 Ω
Sensitivity: 117 dB/mW
Connector: 3.5mm L plug
Driver: Dual BA
Packaging and Included Accessories
I usually have something here but since this is a loaner I received the earphones and a pair of tips only.
I find the W2 to be a well built earphone from top to bottom. It has strain reliefs in all necessary areas such as the plug, Y split and the area where the cable meets the housing. The housing looks solid and is quite small. On the back is a “2” with a black background . There is a L and R marking on the front of the housing to differentiate between the two although over time you will be able to distinguish by feel as they are not symmetrical. Lastly comes the cable which is something Westone is well known for and it definitely is not a let down. The cable is braided, very lightweight, soft, flexible and one of the most comfortable cables out there. I do have an ES cable and it is quite similar with the exception of the plug and the memory wire. Thankfully the W2 does not have memory wire which is a pain for those who wear glasses such as myself.
W2 wrapped up along with included case
L and R markings
back of the housing and strain relief
Y split and chin slider
W2 plug on left, ES cable plug on right
Microphonics and Isolation
These are meant to be worn over the ear so microphonics is a non issue.
Isolation is above average. It does vary a bit depending on what tips used but regardless it should all still be very good. I had no trouble just getting lost in my music on my commute which consists of the NYC subway, bus and walking on the streets of Manhattan.
Fit and Comfort
I find these to be fairly comfortable. The housings are quite small and have good ergonomics so it is comfortable and low profile. If you can get used to over the ear since these are not meant to be worn straight down there shouldn't be much of an issue there.
Starting with the bass I will say right from the get go that these will not satisfy you if you are a bass head but do not mistake that for something that is bass anemic. The bass coming out of the W2 is tight, fast, well defined and with a decent amount of impact. Extension is quite good however it does fall short but only by earphones that cost much more so it is nothing to be ashamed of. Decay is adequate for the most part but leaning on it being a tiny bit fast. It's not like some other earphones where notes disappear faster than it appears however. Lastly I find the bass to not have a mid bass hump which is something I typically do not like as it tends to give a bit too much warmth for my liking.
Moving on to the midrange I really do like the presentation of the midrange here. I really do not like bass creeping into the midrange and find that with some exceptions it ruins the experience for me if there is too much. Luckily for me that is not the case and there is no bass bleed here. The midrange also has good balance relative to the bass and the treble meaning that it is not recessed nor too forward. I can handle a bit of forwardness but not so much when it is recessed. Detail is quite good here as you are able to hear a lot of the little things that one should expect to hear from a good quality earphone. Clarity is also a strength here. I consider there to be two types of clarity where one sounds more natural and the other gives a sense of good clarity due to frequency response and I find the clarity on the W2 to be more of the natural kind. I especially like vocals here especially when listening to female vocals. Overall I would say the midrange is nice and just about right for me.
The upper mids and treble is also nice here. It is fairly smooth and lacks a dramatic peak which may make it prone to sibilance which is something that “neutral” earphones with tight bass have a tendency to do. Extension is nice however it is similar to the bass in that is lacks the extension that some more expensive earphones have. Decay is much better than the bass and I find decay to be about right. Just like the midrange this part of the spectrum has a high amount of detail. Cymbals sound quite good here as I find the presentation of the crash and ride to be done quite well and it sounds pretty natural which is an indication of a nice treble in my book.
I find the sound stage to be surprisingly good here. I wasn't expecting much but I consider the sound stage to be pretty wide here. It's not the best but it definitely is above average. Imaging is done pretty well here. Instrument separation is something I value here and I find it just as good here.
Lastly there is the aspect of timbre. For some reason with a couple of exceptions I find dynamic drivers to have superior timbre. I find this to be the case as well. Nothing in the W2 screams inaccurate timbre but at the same time it does not sound as natural as some dynamic driver based earphones that I have heard.
I really do like the W2 especially since this type of signature just screams my name. I could sit back, relax and just listen to these all day. Here lies the danger of acquiring loaner earphones and that is the temptation and desire to go out and purchase an earphone that you really liked. It is neutral with a good amount of impact while having good detail throughout and of course good clarity. The W2 are not like some earphones that have an initial “wow” effect as I get bored of those after a while. They are not the best at a particular area but I find that they do everything well but nothing great. I consider this earphone a good all rounder for those who enjoy a neutral presentation.
At $250 they may be a bit pricey but imo at $200 or under they are a good buy as long as you enjoy this kind of signature.
Thanks for reading! If you see any errors or have any questions please let me know.