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Westone 4 vs Shure SE535 comparison - Will update as I go along

post #1 of 98
Thread Starter 

Ok, I'll add to this comparison in a few days after I've had time to settle in with both, I'll also take shots with my DSLR, but after half a days listening with both the Westone 4 and SE535 on my iPhone 4 un-amped, both using Shure Black Olives, which imo give slightly better treble impact and seal than Comply's, here are my findings. I must say, there's really not a lot between them. There's actually less of a difference between these phones over other IEM's I've used or compared in the past (W3, SE530, SE420, Triple.Fi, ER4p etc). I had to pay relatively close attention to notice the differences which are by in-large mainly subtle. 

 

---

 

First thing I did was just listen to entire tracks (same track on both) to figure out which I actually enjoyed the sound of more. I think with nearly every track, so far anyway, the SE535 seems more enjoyable. It has a bit more bite and vibrancy that just gives a bit of extra life to songs. I tried everything from hip hop, Dub Step, Funk, Trip Hop, Classical, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Alternative and Drum & Bass (yes my music taste is that versatile). I think of everything I tried, the only album the W4 may have had a slight edge with, was with Caribou - Swim. Where less than perfect recording/mixing (I'm listening to Flac/ALAC) does add some harshness to the treble at times. The W4 is more forgiving to this, where as the SE530 likes to attack the high's and mids with a bit more vigour. The W4 goes for a more dialed back sumptuous or smooth flowing tone.

 

After that, I tried to pin point specific differences between them. Here's what I found.

 

---

 

Overall the SE535 is a bit livelier and more bright than the W4's, though still quite neutral overall. W4's are slightly relaxed and even more neutral, maybe even a touch timid. Broken down the differences are:

 

Bass: Bass is not the main difference between the two as I thought it would be. The SE535 has ever so slightly warmer but more impactful bass that fills your ear easier, the W4's bass may have ever so slightly more low bass control. But the differences here don't stand out much, on the whole they offer a similar level of bass quantity and quality.

 

EDIT: Listening to Kahn - Helter Skelter back and forth between these two IEM's, the SE535's bass has more force and speed. It seems tighter in composure and definition. Earlier however I listened to another track that had some underlying very low frequency bass, here the W4 was slightly more controlled, but likely because it was less punchy and more of a low bass background murmur. 

 

---

 

Mids: The SE535 has more prominent mids than the W4. Not just vocals, but even immediate (main) background instrumentals stand out clearer and more lusciously. They're more forward on the SE535, where they can feel slightly further behind or less focused on the W4's. Listening to Arther Russel - This is How We Walk On the Moon, I assumed the vocals would over power the background violin more on the SE535's, to my surprise, both were more prominent on the Shures, whereas on the Westones the backing violin was further in the distance and less obvious, and instead, the vocals took the fore front. Generally the SE535's tend to have more dynamic and textured mids whereas the W4's are a bit more V like and delicate.

 

---

 

High's: Again, the W4's seem to take a more neutral and less bearing approach. Where the SE535's really punch some of the high's in, and even border on sibilance or harshness on rare occasion, the W4's never over step the mark. The high's have detail but just slightly lack the snap and sparkle of the SE535's which seem to hold high's slightly more aggressively. The W4's definitely provide easier listening in this respect, in-fact they offer the lowest sibilance (almost none) I've experienced in a high end earphone/headphone in a long time. Whether they're too laid back is a matter of personal taste, they certainly aren't as rolled off as the original SE530's, just not as vivid as other IEM's out there.

 

---

 

Soundstage: There's not a huge difference here, but I do think the W4's offer an ever so slightly wider soundstage with more spacing between musical components. The audio note is ever so slightly more V like than the SE535's which are a bit more colourful in the mid and upper frequencies (whilst still not drowning out the bass). The W4 is slightly more airy and mellow.

 

---

 

Instrumental separation: It was quite difficult for me to point out differences here. Initially I thought the SE535's had the advantage as the high's and mid's as discussed, are a bit more punchy and obvious, but on closer listening, I believe the W4's just edge this one out. Whilst the details are not as emphasised, there is a touch more detail. Instruments are separated with a bit more spacing than on the SE535 (possibly in line with the slightly wider soundstage). For example in Thom Yorke - Hearing Damage, on the initial drum loop that follows the deep bass, the little flurry of beats that finishes each loop is ever so slightly more detailed on the W4's. This might also just be because the SE535's more dominant mids or darker bass just take a bit of an edge off the rest of the loop, who knows.

 

---

 

Power draw: A minor thing, but something of note. I find I have to turn up the volume at least 20% more with the W4's compared to the SE535's to get the same volume of sound. I tend to go max 50%-60% volume on my iPhone 4 with the SE535's, the W4's however require more like 70%-80%. Not a big deal, but just thought I'd mention it either way.

 

---

 

Comfort: I find the W4's to be more comfortable then the SE535's, mainly because the housing is more rounded, less angular and slightly smaller too (has it's drawbacks, read below). They glide in to your ears easier and are less fatiguing, though honestly speaking, I forget I'm wearing both after a few minutes of listing, and can even rest my head on it's side wearing either. Cabling is also more comfortable on the W4's. The memory cable can be a bit fidgety on the SE535's, whereas the cable from the W4's loops over the ear very easily.

 

---

 

Seal: As mentioned above, whilst the the rounder, smaller housing of the W4's may be more comfortable, they do unfortunately lead to less of a seal, and worse sound isolation than the SE535's, which do a shockingly good job of blocking out sound. Wearing them with no music playing, I can barely hear myself clicking, whereas on the W4's finger clicking is definitely audible.

 

---

 

Build: Whilst both are very well built, I must say, the SE535 feels more quality for it's money. The housing itself is weightier, more sturdy and better built. On top of that, the nozzle itself, the thicker cabling, the moulding on the cabling, the detachable cable etc all add to making the SE535 feel better built and more carefully physically designed than Westone's effort, which truth be told, doesn't feel comparable to it's actual cost. Even the laquer used on the housing is slightly matt and/or textured on the SE535 which feels more robust than the finger print inducing glossy finish of the W4's housing.

 

---

 

Aesthetics: This is a completely subjective thing, but honestly I feel the SE535's look a lot nicer. The opaque clear acrylic with the bronze colouring a few mm below it really gives it a plush luxurious look. As mentioned above, the general finish looks more appealing than the glossy thinner plastic look of the W4's. I do however love the '4' artwork on the W4's and the general shape of them. They're just a bit bland in design. I feel Westone could actually change the shape of the housing on each of the higher end models instead of keeping them the same, giving each a more exclusive appeal, preferably in line with the cost and placement of the product in the line-up.

 

---

 

 

That's all for now, photo's to follow. Any questions fire away. I'm still not deciding which I'm going to keep or sell just yet. I think it calls for further testing. The Westone 4's are brand new after all, whereas the SE535's I've had for at least a week (also quite new lol). Either way though, you can't go wrong with either. They're both phenomenal earphones. 

 

 

 

 

_______________

 

 

Update 2

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/560881/westone-4-vs-shure-se535-comparison-will-update-as-i-go-along#post_7582903

 

Pre-EQ findings

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/560881/westone-4-vs-shure-se535-comparison-will-update-as-i-go-along/15#post_7585171

 

Post EQ findings

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/560881/westone-4-vs-shure-se535-comparison-will-update-as-i-go-along/30#post_7594947

 

Final update (Post EQ)

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/560881/westone-4-vs-shure-se535-comparison-will-update-as-i-go-along/45#post_7599470

 

 

_______________

 

 

 

Sorry for the delay in providing photo's, just been a bit busy, namely listening to music along with general work. Hope you guys like the shots.

 

SE535Westone41.jpg

 

SE535Westone42.jpg

 

SE535Westone43.jpg

 

SE535Westone45.jpg

 

SE535Westone44.jpg

 

SE535Westone48.jpg

 

SE535Westone410.jpg

 

SE535Westone46.jpg

 

SE535Westone47.jpg

 

SE535Westone411.jpg

 

SE535Westone412.jpg

 

SE535Westone413.jpg

 

smily_headphones1.gif

 

 

 

 

 


The album can be found here. If anyone wants high res (20+ megapixel) versions for whatever reason, just PM me a request.

 

http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y180/nchoudhury/Audio%20equipment/


Edited by Naim.F.C - 7/12/11 at 10:16pm
post #2 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naim.F.C View Post

Ok, I'll add to this comparison in a few days after I've had time to settle in with both, I'll also take shots with my DSLR, but after half a days listening with both the Westone 4 and SE535 on my iPhone 4 un-amped, both using Shure Black Olives, which imo give slightly better treble impact and seal than Comply's, here are my findings. I must say, there's really not a lot between them. There's actually less of a difference between these phones over other IEM's I've used or compared in the past (W3, SE530, SE420, Triple.Fi, ER4p etc). I had to pay relatively close attention to notice the differences which are by in-large mainly subtle. 

 

---

 

First thing I did was just listen to entire tracks (same track on both) to figure out which I actually enjoyed the sound of more. I think with nearly every track, so far anyway, the SE535 seems more enjoyable. It has a bit more bite and vibrancy that just gives a bit of extra life to songs. I tried everything from hip hop, Dub Step, Funk, Trip Hop, Classical, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Alternative and Drum & Bass (yes my music taste is that versatile). I think of everything I tried, the only album the W4 may have had a slight edge with, was with Caribou - Swim. Where less than perfect recording/mixing (I'm listening to Flac/ALAC) does add some harshness to the treble at times. The W4 is more forgiving to this, where as the SE530 likes to attack the high's and mids with a bit more vigour. The W4 goes for a more dialed back sumptuous or smooth flowing tone.

 

After that, I tried to pin point specific differences between them. Here's what I found.

 

---

 

Overall the SE535 is a bit livelier and more bright than the W4's, though still quite neutral overall. W4's are slightly relaxed and even more neutral, maybe even a touch timid. Broken down the differences are:

 

Bass: Bass is not the main difference between the two as I thought it would be. The SE535 has ever so slightly warmer but more impactful bass that fills your ear easier, the W4's bass may have ever so slightly more low bass control. But the differences here don't stand out much, on the whole they offer a similar level of bass quantity and quality.

 

EDIT: Listening to Kahn - Helter Skelter back and forth between these two IEM's, the SE535's bass has more force and speed. It seems tighter in composure and definition. Earlier however I listened to another track that had some underlying very low frequency bass, here the W4 was slightly more controlled, but likely because it was less punchy and more of a low bass background murmur. 

 

---

 

Mids: The SE535 has more prominent mids than the W4. Not just vocals, but even immediate (main) background instrumentals stand out clearer and more lusciously. They're more forward on the SE535, where they can feel slightly further behind or less focused on the W4's. Listening to Arther Russel - This is How We Walk On the Moon, I assumed the vocals would over power the background violin more on the SE535's, to my surprise, both were more prominent on the Shures, whereas on the Westones the backing violin was further in the distance and less obvious, and instead, the vocals took the fore front. Generally the SE535's tend to have more dynamic and textured mids whereas the W4's are a bit more V like and delicate.

 

---

 

High's: Again, the W4's seem to take a more neutral and less bearing approach. Where the SE535's really punch some of the high's in, and even border on sibilance or harshness on rare occasion, the W4's never over step the mark. The high's have detail but just slightly lack the snap and sparkle of the SE535's which seem to hold high's slightly more aggressively. The W4's definitely provide easier listening in this respect, in-fact they offer the lowest sibilance (almost none) I've experienced in a high end earphone/headphone in a long time. Whether they're too laid back is a matter of personal taste, they certainly aren't as rolled off as the original SE530's, just not as vivid as other IEM's out there.

 

---

 

Soundstage: There's not a huge difference here, but I do think the W4's offer an ever so slightly wider soundstage with more spacing between musical components. The audio note is ever so slightly more V like than the SE535's which are a bit more colourful in the mid and upper frequencies (whilst still not drowning out the bass). The W4 is slightly more airy and mellow.

 

---

 

Instrumental separation: It was quite difficult for me to point out differences here. Initially I thought the SE535's had the advantage as the high's and mid's as discussed, are a bit more punchy and obvious, but on closer listening, I believe the W4's just edge this one out. Whilst the details are not as emphasised, there is a touch more detail. Instruments are separated with a bit more spacing than on the SE535 (possibly in line with the slightly wider soundstage). For example in Thom Yorke - Hearing Damage, on the initial drum loop that follows the deep bass, the little flurry of beats that finishes each loop is ever so slightly more detailed on the W4's. This might also just be because the SE535's more dominant mids or darker bass just take a bit of an edge off the rest of the loop, who knows.

 

---

 

Power draw: A minor thing, but something of note. I find I have to turn up the volume at least 20% more with the W4's compared to the SE535's to get the same volume of sound. I tend to go max 50%-60% volume on my iPhone 4 with the SE535's, the W4's however require more like 70%-80%. Not a big deal, but just thought I'd mention it either way.

 

---

 

Comfort: I find the W4's to be more comfortable then the SE535's, mainly because the housing is more rounded, less angular and slightly smaller too (has it's drawbacks, read below). They glide in to your ears easier and are less fatiguing, though honestly speaking, I forget I'm wearing both after a few minutes of listing, and can even rest my head on it's side wearing either. Cabling is also more comfortable on the W4's. The memory cable can be a bit fidgety on the SE535's, whereas the cable from the W4's loops over the ear very easily.

 

---

 

Seal: As mentioned above, whilst the the rounder, smaller housing of the W4's may be more comfortable, they do unfortunately lead to less of a seal, and worse sound isolation than the SE535's, which do a shockingly good job of blocking out sound. Wearing them with no music playing, I can barely hear myself clicking, whereas on the W4's finger clicking is definitely audible.

 

---

 

Build: Whilst both are very well built, I must say, the SE535 feels more quality for it's money. The housing itself is weightier, more sturdy and better built. On top of that, the nozzle itself, the thicker cabling, the moulding on the cabling, the detachable cable etc all add to making the SE535 feel better built and more carefully physically designed than Westone's effort, which truth be told, doesn't feel comparable to it's actual cost. Even the laquer used on the housing is slightly matt and/or textured on the SE535 which feels more robust than the finger print inducing glossy finish of the W4's housing.

 

---

 

Aesthetics: This is a completely subjective thing, but honestly I feel the SE535's look a lot nicer. The opaque clear acrylic with the bronze colouring a few mm below it really gives it a plush luxurious look. As mentioned above, the general finish looks more appealing than the glossy thinner plastic look of the W4's. I do however love the '4' artwork on the W4's and the general shape of them. They're just a bit bland in design. I feel Westone could actually change the shape of the housing on each of the higher end models instead of keeping them the same, giving each a more exclusive appeal, preferably in line with the cost and placement of the product in the line-up.

 

---

 

 

That's all for now, photo's to follow. Any questions fire away. I'm still not deciding which I'm going to keep or sell just yet. I think it calls for further testing. The Westone 4's are brand new after all, whereas the SE535's I've had for at least a week (also quite new lol). Either way though, you can't go wrong with either. They're both phenomenal earphones. 

 

 



Stellar comparison Thank you for your time. Very well easy to understand!!

post #3 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Freefallr4545 View Post





Stellar comparison Thank you for your time. Very well easy to understand!!


x2. Excellent write-up my friend!
post #4 of 98
Thread Starter 

No problem guys. Will try and add some photo's later and possibly a conclusion to which I'm keeping and why.

post #5 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naim.F.C View Post

No problem guys. Will try and add some photo's later and possibly a conclusion to which I'm keeping and why.



Cool, If I may Suggest, Try the Tri-flanges with the Shures

post #6 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naim.F.C View Post

listening with both the Westone 4 and SE535 on my iPhone 4 un-amped, both using Shure Black Olives, which imo give slightly better treble impact and seal than Comply's, here are my findings.

 

Seal: As mentioned above, whilst the the rounder, smaller housing of the W4's may be more comfortable, they do unfortunately lead to less of a seal, and worse sound isolation than the SE535's, which do a shockingly good job of blocking out sound. Wearing them with no music playing, I can barely hear myself clicking, whereas on the W4's finger clicking is definitely audible.

 


Thanks for the comparison.  Was contemplating about the W4 paired with the Shure foamies, and glad to hear that the isolation is better with the SE535.  I like the CK10-Comply T-200 pairing slightly more than the SE535.  The Shures sound veiled compared to the brighter CK10.  Negs with the CompIys are that they don't last long and isolation is not as good as the Shure foamies.

 

Noticed you picked up the Furutech cable, so look forward to your cable impressions!

post #7 of 98

I'd say that's almost entirely tip dependant, since I've been able to achieve just as good a seal with the W4's, as I have with the SE535's (using the monster tri-flanges with both; which, irrespective of the smaller W4 housing, allow for just as deep an insertion with either one owing to its long and narrow shape). Though it may just be my ears, and my ears alone. tongue.gif

post #8 of 98

Flanges will likely provide greater attenuation than foamies so housing shape, size is less of a factor.  The SE535 sits pretty flush in my concha (almost like customs) so the acrylic shell acts as an additional noise barrier to the foam tips.  I've tried flanges and haven't been able to achieve comfort, while foamies have provided both comfort and isolation.

post #9 of 98

I don't know why exactly, but the very first time I tried the large tri-flanges, regardless of the angle of insertion, I'd experience a very sharp pain if even slightly inserted into my canal. I thought they were horrendous and gave up altogether. In fact, I even had a cousin inform me that when he attempted to use the included tri-flanges with his MTPG, he swore the pain felt as though they were trying to get his ear pregnant (his words, not mine). tongue.gif It wasn't up until my Atrio's arrived when I decided to give them another go. Strangely enough, no pain at all this time, and ever since, they've been my exclusive tips. I can insert them any which way, and not only do they provide the best insertion of all the tips I've ever tried, but they're more comfortable to my ears than even my Westone Comply's are. As a matter of fact, they're in now, with my EX1000's, as I'm type this. biggrin.gif

 

I definitely understand however that they certainly aren't for everyones ears, my cousin being a prime example.

post #10 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by i2ehan View Post

I don't know why exactly, but the very first time I tried the large tri-flanges, regardless of the angle of insertion, I'd experience a very sharp pain if even slightly inserted into my canal. I thought they were horrendous and gave up altogether. In fact, I even had a cousin inform me that when he attempted to use the included tri-flanges with his MTPG, he swore the pain felt as though they were trying to get his ear pregnant (his words, not mine). tongue.gif It wasn't up until my Atrio's arrived when I decided to give them another go. Strangely enough, no pain at all this time, and ever since, they've been my exclusive tips. I can insert them any which way, and not only do they provide the best insertion of all the tips I've ever tried, but they're more comfortable to my ears than even my Westone Comply's are. As a matter of fact, they're in now, with my EX1000's, as I'm type this. biggrin.gif

 

I definitely understand however that they certainly aren't for everyones ears, my cousin being a prime example.


Hmm I2 Maybe your "inards" loosened up after the pregnancy.

 For the 535, Cutting off extra stalk flush with the first (largest) flange, gives me the absolute best sound for my ears with the Shure tri flanges. Bass is deep and rich, Midrange sings like there's no tomorrow, and the cymbal Highs are extremely realistic. I use these this way almost all the times, sometimes substituting the New Comply S (Olive Shaped) series, mainly for movies or audiobooks etc, but I must say these new S's are pretty good. With the larger hole ID exit the separation is a bit better, and of course extremely comfortable

 

post #11 of 98



 


Edited by Freefallr4545 - 7/3/11 at 12:49am
post #12 of 98

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freefallr4545 View Post

Hmm I2 Maybe your "inards" loosened up after the pregnancy.

 

Speaking from experience, are we? wink.gif tongue.gif

post #13 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by i2ehan View Post

 

 

Speaking from experience, are we? wink.gif tongue.gif



lol

post #14 of 98
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by i2ehan View Post

I'd say that's almost entirely tip dependant, since I've been able to achieve just as good a seal with the W4's, as I have with the SE535's (using the monster tri-flanges with both; which, irrespective of the smaller W4 housing, allow for just as deep an insertion with either one owing to its long and narrow shape). Though it may just be my ears, and my ears alone. tongue.gif



 

 

 


I don't think so tbh, since I'm using exactly the same tips on both. The main differences in seal seem to be the size of the housing and length of the nozzle. Makes a big difference in how they occupy my ears and seal.

 

Anyway....

 

Comparison thoughts Part 2:

 

I honestly wish I'd never bought the Westone 4's, not because they're bad or anything, but because they've messed up my sonic ideals. If I hadn't bought them, curiosity would have eaten away at me, but now that I've had constant testing between the SE535's and the Westone 4's I'm served an altogether new problem, one where I'm no longer fully content in anything.

 

Before I cheated on my Shures with the Westone's, I honestly thought my SE535's for me personally were near enough perfect. They had everything I wanted and I wasn't sure what else I'd change except maybe opening up the sound stage a bit more. After using the W4's, I know that I want the mid emphasis put back just ever so slightly. They are just a touch too forward.

 

It is true, the Westone 4's do on some tracks provide ever so slightly more detail and instrument separation than the SE535's. But I don't think it has as much to do with 4 drivers as it has more to do with the laid back shyness of the W4's high's and even to some degree mids/bass (in comparison to the SE535's). It's not necessarily that the W4 can show more details than the SE535. By enlarge all the same details are present in both. Only difference is the lack of dramatism from the W4, pretty much...everywhere. It just draws attention to the other elements of songs a bit more.

 

Personally I find the W4's audio note not necessarily neutral, but perhaps at times a bit timid or analytical.

The thing is, when I'm listening to music, I'm not doing it so I can be drawn to all the different sounds, scratches, clicks, tinkers and imperfections on offer. I mean, it's fun to pick them all out and nice to know I can make it all out, but ultimately I'd much rather not be MORE drawn to the scratches and twitches in the background from Salento - Rene Aubry, and instead focus on the luscious main guitar. Like wise for vocals in other tracks. With the SE535, I find those details are still there if I listen with some degree of consciousness, it's just the emphasis is on other more important aspects. With the W4's however, I'm too often drawn to other elements of the instrumentals, and truth be told, music listening is just not as fun with this sort of an analytical allure. It's almost like tertiary or background elements of songs get given too much attention and the real meat of certain tracks get left wanting more (Vocals, Bass etc).

 

Hearing both sides of the spectrum though, the W4's being fairly neutral with a more analytical appeal, and the SE535's being fairly neutral with a more musical appeal, I also appreciate that the SE535's mids are a bit too prominent, and pull attention away from other elements in tracks just ever so slightly more than they ought to. It's hard to describe specific differences, so I'll offer this, if a Westone/Shure engineer asked me to change elements of either earphone in percentages, with my un-trained ears this is what I'd ask for.

 

Westone 4:

 

Bass: 20% more impact

Mids: 10% More forward

High's: 10-20% more sparkle and hold

Soundstage: 10-20% wider (maybe)

 

Shure SE535:

 

Mids: 10% dialled back

Soundtage: 20-30% wider (maybe)

 

 

Currently I do enjoy the detail of the W4's, but feel it's at the expense of lush musicality. Songs just aren't as fun or stirring as the Shures. On the SE535's, the mids can be a bit so strong they just take the edge off details a bit, but it gets it (more) right with the highs and bass than the W4's do imo.


Edited by Naim.F.C - 7/3/11 at 7:22pm
post #15 of 98

How does the mids of UE SF5Pro compare to SE535? Just so I can get a clearer 'picture' of the amount of mids discussed in the comparo (I don't have the W4 and SE535 but I own the UE SF5v2).

 

TIA!

 

and thanks for the impressions, good read!

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