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[Review] Westone 2

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

 

Introduction

 

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.

http://www.integracoustics.com/MUG/MUG/bbs/stereophile_audio-glossary.html

 

Background

 

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.

 

Review Gear

 

Source: Cowon J3, Audinst HUD-MX1

Phones: Westone 2

Bitrate: A mix of mp3 to FLAC

 

Specifications

 

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.

 

Build Quality

 

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.

 

IMG_1493.jpg

W2 wrapped up along with included case

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L and R markings

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back of the housing and strain relief

IMG_1489.jpg

Y split and chin slider

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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.


Sound Signature

 

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.

 

Conclusion

 

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.


 

post #2 of 32

Great review! How would you compare the W2 against the CK10 and DBA-02?

post #3 of 32

Great review man

 

One question though

 

these seem like a re-zero with better soundstage.

 

but they cost 2,5 times the zero-price

 

or am i wrong in my assumption ?

post #4 of 32

Interesting review as always rawrster buddy

post #5 of 32
Thread Starter 

I no longer own the DBA-02 or CK10 so this will be from memory.

 

Out of the three I think as a total package the W2 would be the best in terms of a combination of build, sound and accessories assuming all those range of tips that I've been seeing in the Westone earphones are the same with the W2. It has great build quality, lots of tips, a good case and is probably quite neutral but isn't very peaky which is something the CK10 can be for some. The CK10 while it sounds great and has even better build quality doesn't think twice about the accessories. It contains 3 silicone tips, a semi hard case and some useless cloth that I never used. The DBA-02 while offering great sound as well has the worst build quality of the three and is even worse in accessories (at least when I had them). There was some pathetic cloth that looked like a pouch for carrying your DBA-02 which does not protect your investment very well.

 

My favorite earphone is still the CK10 but if I did not have enough money to import it from Japan ($270 shipped) or was afraid of the possibly peaky highs I would go for the W2 over the DBA-02 for it being the total package compared to the DBA-02. The CK10 is also one where you might be too focused on the details instead of the music but I enjoyed analyzing the details as well as listening to music. The W2 is the safer choice as it's doesn't have that peak in the upper mids region where it border line is sibilant or has sparkle. if given the option I would pick the CK10 but the W2 wouldn't be too far off. The DBA-02 would probably be last although I did enjoy the sound more than the CK10 but the cable was not great and it did not provide an adequate carrying case. I'm one of those who value build quality as well as good sound or possibly the CK10 spoiled me in build when I owned it.

post #6 of 32

Nice job as usual @ rawrster!!

post #7 of 32

Very nice review. I feel like I have a good sense of how the w2 sound.

post #8 of 32

Nice review Rawrster.. I love my W2's and I'll hate to see them go, but I need to recoup some of the cash I've laid out on my headphones and Eric's 535's.. LOL  The W2's are a nice change of pace from their big brothers, the W3's.  You nailed it when you said they don't do anything blatantly wrong.. or do everything well, as you put it.  There were many nights where I just hit shuffle on my iPhone and let them play for hours.  With either Olives or Comply's, the Isolation is fantastic, the comfort unbeatable and the sound just right for me. A tuning swing in either direction (analytical or bassy) would have spoiled them for me.  Westone got them just right for the masses IMO (factoring in the limitations of doubles).  Their MSRP is outrageous, but if you factor in Westone's 2 year warranty, fantastic customer service, the comfort, build quality, accessories and most importantly, their sound are worth it in the long run.  My findings are that the W2 and W3 are meant for listening, not analyzing.  Plug them in and enjoy.

post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone

 

@proedros: while I have not compared I find the bass on the W2 to be more full than the RE-Zero. It's not a bass monster but it is tight, quick, accurate but has better weight to it and is more realistic than the one on the Zero. There's definitely more impact in the W2 than the RE-Zero. It also has a larger sound stage especially width however I was using tips that may have had something to do with it. I was using the M9 balanced tips which is larger than the nozzle size of the W2 and I found it to do well.

 

@JoeyRusso: As for the price of the W2 I do not put too much emphasis on warranty. 2 years is great but unnecessary for me. First of all I take good care of my gear for the most part and secondly 2 year warranty means I will have to keep an earphone for 2 years and unless it is really good and a keeper that is unlikely. Also I disagree with there being a limitation in dual drivers. It just has to be implemented well. The best earphone I have heard is a dual driver and not a triple driver.

post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

Thanks everyone

 

@proedros: while I have not compared I find the bass on the W2 to be more full than the RE-Zero. It's not a bass monster but it is tight, quick, accurate but has better weight to it and is more realistic than the one on the Zero. There's definitely more impact in the W2 than the RE-Zero. It also has a larger sound stage especially width however I was using tips that may have had something to do with it. I was using the M9 balanced tips which is larger than the nozzle size of the W2 and I found it to do well.

 

@JoeyRusso: As for the price of the W2 I do not put too much emphasis on warranty. 2 years is great but unnecessary for me. First of all I take good care of my gear for the most part and secondly 2 year warranty means I will have to keep an earphone for 2 years and unless it is really good and a keeper that is unlikely. Also I disagree with there being a limitation in dual drivers. It just has to be implemented well. The best earphone I have heard is a dual driver and not a triple driver.


True, given how quickly some of us turn over IEM's that's a stretch.. LOL   That my friend is why there are so many different variations out there, one man's perfect is another's headache.. One size doesn't fit all or even most.. 


Edited by JoeyRusso - 11/9/10 at 7:48pm
post #11 of 32

Nice write up rawrster, clear, easy to read, and you get your point over well.  You seem to hear the W2's the same as I do.  When taken as a whole, they are hard to beat.  They could go a bit lower but the bass is good, they could extend a little highter but again, they do what they do well.  I like the comparison with the DBA 02's.  Both good iem's but the W2's come across with more energy, more snap than the DBA's.  If you keep an eye out for the discounts you can find them for just a little over $200.00, got mine for $212 shipped.

post #12 of 32
Thread Starter 

After I sold my DBA-02 I was interested in these and found an authorized dealer on ebay that gave me a counter offer of $200 plus $10 shipping. I didn't take it obviously but yes these do go down in price and even more so in the used market. I really liked them esp with the M9 balanced tips which have pretty much became my favorite earphone tip regardless of nozzle size. I have 2 pairs but I may buy a set of 3. You definitely are right about the value of the W2. When taken as a whole they definitely are hard to beat assuming neutrality for sound is something desired.

 

If I didn't have all these earphones in my possession already not to mention that universal earphones don't get used as much due to my Livewire customs I may have bought the W2..which is the danger of loaner earphones :P

post #13 of 32

Thanks for the impressions of the W2 rawster. I was ready to sell mine actually until a friend gave me a pair of Shure olives tips. It became the perfect tips for the W2. Everything became a level higher than with any of the stock tips. The bass becomes stronger but maintaining the tightness. Treble opens up a little more with better detail. It is a very neutral IEM. I could never think of letting go of them ever again. I actually have been listening to them a lot more now than with my SM3.

 

I agree with you, the W2 as a total package is definitely very hard to beat.

post #14 of 32
Thread Starter 

The W2 I got came with a single flange tip similar to the one the Shure grey soft flex tips. I never like those tips much since it seals too much like when you are on a plane and the air pressure seals your ears. I used a spacer and put in M9 balanced tips and they were pretty good at that already. I did try Shure triple flange tip and sensorcom biflange tips but the M9 tips were better. I really liked them but no room for them. I do wish they used the plug that is on the ES cable instead however. I find the plug on the ES cable is more sturdy and doesn't look as flimsy but the stock plug isn't bad. I'd probably get it changed to a neutrik straight if I had it anyway since I prefer straight plugs. The W2 is definitely an attractive package as it comes with a good selection of tips rather than just 3 sizes of single flanges many other manufacturers provide and a case that will actually protect your investment that doesn't take up much space.

post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by airwax View Post

Thanks for the impressions of the W2 rawster. I was ready to sell mine actually until a friend gave me a pair of Shure olives tips. It became the perfect tips for the W2. Everything became a level higher than with any of the stock tips. The bass becomes stronger but maintaining the tightness. Treble opens up a little more with better detail. It is a very neutral IEM. I could never think of letting go of them ever again. I actually have been listening to them a lot more now than with my SM3.

 

I agree with you, the W2 as a total package is definitely very hard to beat.


I agree. They are my favorite tips by far for the W3 and were my favorite for the W2 and the Klipsch S4.  The comply's were next in line.  I had the same problem as you rawrster with the single flange grey tips, too much pressure.  The triples are too uncomfortable for me with any IEM, even trimmed back to duals.  Give me the Olives anyday....

 

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