Having sent back my recently purchased W2 (more later on that), I was looking for a back-up mid-grade IEM to go with my JH5. God forbid my JH5 broke and I had nothing to use. Being able to exercise with the IEM was important so ergonomics and comfort was key. I had owned UM2 about 5 years ago and quite liked it. In fact I preferred it by a small margin over SE530 due to being more natural and smoother sounding. Other than that they were pretty close on soundstage, bass, treble and midrange (the Shure slightly more forward). Anyway, I sold the UM2 to help fund the W3 when it came out which was completely different and ground-breaking at the time. I have sort of forgot about UM2 since then and it would appear many others have too. My excuse was I kept climbing the upgrade ladder (to JH16) but funny how I have moderated back down and am content with my gear at the moment.
So I exchanged my W2 in for UM2 and could not be happier. In comparisons to W2, UM2 is richer and fuller sounding. While there is nothing inherently wrong with W2, it seems to lack something I can’t quite put my finger on. Too neutral? Too polite? Not sure but my ears are finding UM2 more euphoric and emotional sounding. It eerily sounds very very close to my JH5 with same set-up and eq setting. UM2 is a dead-nuts on universal JH5 IMHO. It sounds that good to me.
In comparisons with UM3X, UM2 is hands down more musical and fun. While UM3X may be technically better and has freakish instrument separation there is a very un-natural lack of air and decay-dullness that makes it a generally closed in boring presentation. By contrast, UM2 has a larger soundstage with more air and openness giving it a more musical presentation. Both of these IEM’s fall under the “stage monitor” Westone umbrella however I find the UM2 to be much more fun sounding. While UM3X has a dedicated treble driver, it it NOT brighter sounding than UM2. It might be the other way around but I can't A-B them right now. When UM2 came out Westone did not have the W-series so UM2 was actually developed with the audiophile music listener in mind as well as the stage musician where UM3X was engineered specifically for the musician. I can't say that I prefer UM3X.
There seemed to be pre-conceived notion that when W3 came out…then the UM3X six months later, that UM2 all of the sudden became an expensive lower tear IEM. But if people are not considering UM2 (for whatever reason), in the $220 price range they are really missing out on one hell of an IEM. It is one of few dual drivers I have heard that isn’t lean sounding. It has a richness and fullness that is normally found in triple drivers and above. The one caveat I will say is you should be willing to use the treble booster EQ. Without it some may find the treble too rolled off. I am using an Ipod Classic with treble booster setting + Ibasso T3. The sound is fantastic as UM2 is one of the more friendly EQ’able IEM’s out there. Plus, the treble driver in the UM2 is the same Knowles driver used in the ER4. UM2 is certainly not over-priced, especially with a supplied amp now.
I am thrilled to own this IEM again. I think it’s the coolest looking universal out there and it’s one of two IEM’s still made in America. Give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed
Edited by Spyro - 10/11/11 at 9:05pm