Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › My comparison between Westone UM3X and Westone 4R
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

My comparison between Westone UM3X and Westone 4R

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 

 

First of I can't stress enough that I' am nowhere remotely close to being an audiophile in any stretch of the imagination. But as most people I was born with a pair of hears, and is there one thing I love it's good sounding audio going through them.

 

So basically I have neither in-depth experience nor any technical edge backing me up while writing my comparison between these two pieces of _hands down_ magnificent engineering from Westone.

 

 

I’ve been using my pair of Westone UM3X for the past three years and have loved every little detail of its sound and audio quality.

 

But recently my cable broke and I had to send them for repair and to my astonishment Variphone, the European service partner or Westone in Europe replaced my Westone UM3X without any questions even though they where three years old going way past the one-year warranty. They weren’t just out of the one year warranty, they had faced water damage, the housing of my left earpiece had been glued back together in a very bad way because it had cracked ones and the cable was broken.

 

Regardless Variphone simply replaced them entire with a set of new ones and charged nothing other than shipment fees.

 

As you may understand this kind of customer support really deserves its name in gold! And therefore I figured Westone and Variphone deserved every money they get so I decided to purchase myself a pair of Westone 4R in addition to my beloved Westone UM3X, now I have one spare pair and my girlfriend can use the ones I don’t use.

 

And this of course gives me a great opportunity to share my thoughts on them both and do a small comparison between them.

 

 

Test equipment:

Before starting with the actual comparison, let me tell you about my testing equipment, I strictly use Shure Olives Medium eartips and all listening is happening on a iPhone 4 playing high quality (320kbps Ogg Vorbis?) from Spotify. Perhaps not the best testing scenario, but its what’s I’m using my Westone’s for 99% of the time.

 

 

Build quality:

Lets start off with the build quality. This is the one part where I have always felt the Westone UM3X doesn’t rise to its price-tag. They are fairly lightweight, which is a good thing but they feel like two pieces of rather cheap plastic and the entire housing exists of mainly two pars split almost in the middle where the one part house the actual armature speakers and the other is the part going into your ear. It lacks quality feeling to it and if you plan on using these when you train outside beaware of rain and damp conditions as these two parts did break apart from each other after a while for me and I had to glue them back together.

 

The Westone 4R on the other hand is an entirely different story. Whereas the UM3X feels like cheap plastic the 4R’s feels much more like high quality. Though its still plastic, and plastic never feels that solid, it has a superior feeling to them compared with the UM3X. And to make matters even better the earpieces is one piece of plastic so you won’t need to worry about them tearing apart like with the UM3X.

 

 

The cable:

They both feature “the same” Westone “EPIC” cable, but there are some noticeable differences nonetheless. The Westone UM3X features a plain cable with a mini-jack connector not optimized for use with mobile phones equipped with a case forcing you to take matters into own hands if being used with a phone case.

 

The Westone 4R on the other hand comes both with a mini-jack connector optimized for mobile phones wearing a protective case and it features small plastic tubing around the cable for you to wrap the cable more comfortably behind and around your ears. And obviously as this is the “R” version the cable is indeed removable and replaceable.

 

 

The sound:

Now to the most important part of the comparison, how do they actual compare in sound and audio quality?

 

I fired up my training playlist on Spotify and gave them both a spin, the playlist exist of:

 

-        Robbie Williams – Advertising Space

-        Maria Mena – All this time

-        Brandi Carlile – The Story

-        Katy Perry – Fireworks

-        P!nk -  Raise your glass

-        30 Seconds to Mars – Kings and Queens

-        Bon Jovi – Always

-        Annie Lennox – Into the West

-        Enya – May it be

-        Frode Langhelle for TV2 – Vinnersjel

-        London Music Works – King Arthur Woad to Ruin

-        Saw – Hello Zap

-        Jennifer Warnes – Up Where We Belong

-        Tinie Tempha – Written in the Stars

-        Chris Medina – What are words

-        Twilight Orchestra – Bella’s Lullaby Extended Edition (Long version of River flows in you)

-        Jasper Forks – River flows in you Eric Chase remix

-        The B-52’s – Rock Lobster

-        Robbie Williams – Angles

-        Robbie Williams – Come undone

-        Robbie Williams – She’s the one

-        P!nk – I don’t believe you

-        Jordin Sparks – Tattoo

-        Avicii – Levels (Radio edition)

-        Beth – Someone like you

-        Avenged Sevenfold – Dear God

-        Avenged Sevenfold – Afterlife

 

I did also play through huge parts of The Hobbit audiobook and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows read by Stephen Fry.

 

 

So there is some varied music tracks there. As Spotify doesn’t offer any kind of equalization and the built-in equalization for iOS does not affect Spotify there has been done no adjustments whatsoever.

 

Right of the bat there is no doubt that they are both of very high quality, but there are some clearly differences in how they present the sound. I won’t start bragging about whom sounds more correct than the other, I guess they both sound perfect is terms of raw audio quality but they give you a very different feel to the sound as their sound signature are quite different so even myself not being close to an audiophile easily hear the difference.

 

And to be honest, for me the UM3X feels superior to the 4R in about every aspect of the sound signature. First of all in almost any track I play both the vocals and the instruments are easily more noticeable with the UM3X compared to 4R. To me the 4R almost feel muddled in comparison, I don’t know how the UM3X are able to do it but there seems to be much more detail in the sound. You hear the vocals better; you can pick up each of the instruments more easily without any of them overdue and drown the other. It simply feels like the UM3X are able to play on a higher spectrum, which the 4R simply aren’t able to reach.

 

But this has some slight drawback, the UM3X might feel a bit cold compared to the 4R and at times high pitches in songs might peak a little too high making it feel somewhat distorted, but that rarely every happen.

 

 

At the same time as it feels like the UM3X reach a spectrum higher than the 4R it also goes deeper and provides more “punch” than the 4R. This is easily noticeable with tracks like Avicii – Levels and Saw – Hello Zap where the UM3X managed to provide a feeling of a punch that the 4R does not manage to create. In my honest opinion the 4R doesn’t really deliver much in the bass department at all, neither is the UM3X suitable for any heavy bass-heads out there either.

 

 

I can’t say much other than the fact that I enjoy the sound of the UM3X more than the one of 4R. It’s as simple as that. The same time I would almost go as far as claim the 4R to sound more natural and “correct”, but the UM3X does something with the sound that I cannot describe and it makes the sound pop and come much more alive than I have heard from anything else, not even my Sennheiser HD 650 are able to give the sound this feeling to it. Its like the UM3X has been tweaked in such a way that it manages to take the sound and upscale it to a higher resolution, at least that’s the best way for me to describe the feeling as everything feels more present, being vocals, instruments or whatever.

 

But I guess its not for everyone’s liking, as I mentioned countless times the UM3X makes the music sound more detailed than normal and I’ll bet for some this won’t sound right at all, but for me I couldn’t find it more enjoyable and for me the decision ended up being much easier than I would have though.

 

 

Westone UM3X keeps being my absolute favorite and I’ll guess my girlfriend will take over my Westone 4R’s. Perhaps the 4R would become better with some equalization? Sadly, as far as I know Spotify for iOS doesn’t support equalization.First of I can't stress enough that I' am nowhere remotely close to being an audiophile in any stretch of the imagination. But as most people I was born with a pair of hears, and is there one thing I love it's good sounding audio going through them.

 

So basically I have neither in-depth experience nor any technical edge backing me up while writing my comparison between these two pieces of _hands down_ magnificent engineering from Westone.

 

 

I’ve been using my pair of Westone UM3X for the past three years and have loved every little detail of its sound and audio quality.

 

But recently my cable broke and I had to send them for repair and to my astonishment Variphone, the European service partner or Westone in Europe replaced my Westone UM3X without any questions even though they where three years old going way past the one-year warranty. They weren’t just out of the one year warranty, they had faced water damage, the housing of my left earpiece had been glued back together in a very bad way because it had cracked ones and the cable was broken.

 

Regardless Variphone simply replaced them entire with a set of new ones and charged nothing other than shipment fees.

 

As you may understand this kind of customer support really deserves its name in gold! And therefore I figured Westone and Variphone deserved every money they get so I decided to purchase myself a pair of Westone 4R in addition to my beloved Westone UM3X, now I have one spare pair and my girlfriend can use the ones I don’t use.

 

And this of course gives me a great opportunity to share my thoughts on them both and do a small comparison between them.

 

 

Test equipment:

Before starting with the actual comparison, let me tell you about my testing equipment, I strictly use Shure Olives Medium eartips and all listening is happening on a iPhone 4 playing high quality (320kbps Ogg Vorbis?) from Spotify. Perhaps not the best testing scenario, but its what’s I’m using my Westone’s for 99% of the time.

 

 

Build quality:

Lets start off with the build quality. This is the one part where I have always felt the Westone UM3X doesn’t rise to its price-tag. They are fairly lightweight, which is a good thing but they feel like two pieces of rather cheap plastic and the entire housing exists of mainly two pars split almost in the middle where the one part house the actual armature speakers and the other is the part going into your ear. It lacks quality feeling to it and if you plan on using these when you train outside beaware of rain and damp conditions as these two parts did break apart from each other after a while for me and I had to glue them back together.

 

The Westone 4R on the other hand is an entirely different story. Whereas the UM3X feels like cheap plastic the 4R’s feels much more like high quality. Though its still plastic, and plastic never feels that solid, it has a superior feeling to them compared with the UM3X. And to make matters even better the earpieces is one piece of plastic so you won’t need to worry about them tearing apart like with the UM3X.

 

 

The cable:

They both feature “the same” Westone “EPIC” cable, but there are some noticeable differences nonetheless. The Westone UM3X features a plain cable with a mini-jack connector not optimized for use with mobile phones equipped with a case forcing you to take matters into own hands if being used with a phone case.

 

The Westone 4R on the other hand comes both with a mini-jack connector optimized for mobile phones wearing a protective case and it features small plastic tubing around the cable for you to wrap the cable more comfortably behind and around your ears. And obviously as this is the “R” version the cable is indeed removable and replaceable.

 

 

The sound:

Now to the most important part of the comparison, how do they actual compare in sound and audio quality?

 

I fired up my training playlist on Spotify and gave them both a spin, the playlist exist of:

 

-        Robbie Williams – Advertising Space

-        Maria Mena – All this time

-        Brandi Carlile – The Story

-        Katy Perry – Fireworks

-        P!nk -  Raise your glass

-        30 Seconds to Mars – Kings and Queens

-        Bon Jovi – Always

-        Annie Lennox – Into the West

-        Enya – May it be

-        Frode Langhelle for TV2 – Vinnersjel

-        London Music Works – King Arthur Woad to Ruin

-        Saw – Hello Zap

-        Jennifer Warnes – Up Where We Belong

-        Tinie Tempha – Written in the Stars

-        Chris Medina – What are words

-        Twilight Orchestra – Bella’s Lullaby Extended Edition (Long version of River flows in you)

-        Jasper Forks – River flows in you Eric Chase remix

-        The B-52’s – Rock Lobster

-        Robbie Williams – Angles

-        Robbie Williams – Come undone

-        Robbie Williams – She’s the one

-        P!nk – I don’t believe you

-        Jordin Sparks – Tattoo

-        Avicii – Levels (Radio edition)

-        Beth – Someone like you

-        Avenged Sevenfold – Dear God

-        Avenged Sevenfold – Afterlife

 

I did also play through huge parts of The Hobbit audiobook and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows read by Stephen Fry.

 

 

So there is some varied music tracks there. As Spotify doesn’t offer any kind of equalization and the built-in equalization for iOS does not affect Spotify there has been done no adjustments whatsoever.

 

Right of the bat there is no doubt that they are both of very high quality, but there are some clearly differences in how they present the sound. I won’t start bragging about whom sounds more correct than the other, I guess they both sound perfect is terms of raw audio quality but they give you a very different feel to the sound as their sound signature are quite different so even myself not being close to an audiophile easily hear the difference.

 

And to be honest, for me the UM3X feels superior to the 4R in about every aspect of the sound signature. First of all in almost any track I play both the vocals and the instruments are easily more noticeable with the UM3X compared to 4R. To me the 4R almost feel muddled in comparison, I don’t know how the UM3X are able to do it but there seems to be much more detail in the sound. You hear the vocals better; you can pick up each of the instruments more easily without any of them overdue and drown the other. It simply feels like the UM3X are able to play on a higher spectrum, which the 4R simply aren’t able to reach.

 

But this has some slight drawback, the UM3X might feel a bit cold compared to the 4R and at times high pitches in songs might peak a little too high making it feel somewhat distorted, but that rarely every happen.

 

 

At the same time as it feels like the UM3X reach a spectrum higher than the 4R it also goes deeper and provides more “punch” than the 4R. This is easily noticeable with tracks like Avicii – Levels and Saw – Hello Zap where the UM3X managed to provide a feeling of a punch that the 4R does not manage to create. In my honest opinion the 4R doesn’t really deliver much in the bass department at all, neither is the UM3X suitable for any heavy bass-heads out there either.

 

 

I can’t say much other than the fact that I enjoy the sound of the UM3X more than the one of 4R. It’s as simple as that. The same time I would almost go as far as claim the 4R to sound more natural and “correct”, but the UM3X does something with the sound that I cannot describe and it makes the sound pop and come much more alive than I have heard from anything else, not even my Sennheiser HD 650 are able to give the sound this feeling to it. Its like the UM3X has been tweaked in such a way that it manages to take the sound and upscale it to a higher resolution, at least that’s the best way for me to describe the feeling as everything feels more present, being vocals, instruments or whatever.

 

But I guess its not for everyone’s liking, as I mentioned countless times the UM3X makes the music sound more detailed than normal and I’ll bet for some this won’t sound right at all, but for me I couldn’t find it more enjoyable and for me the decision ended up being much easier than I would have though.

 

 

Westone UM3X keeps being my absolute favorite and I’ll guess my girlfriend will take over my Westone 4R’s. Perhaps the 4R would become better with some equalization? Sadly, as far as I know Spotify for iOS doesn’t support equalization.

post #2 of 43

Great review. I think the westone 4r has a more neutral and flat sound signature while the um3x has a more fun sound signature!

post #3 of 43

Long-time purchaser and FERVENT fan and supporter of Westone products and customer service. Originally, purchased a pair of UM2, and got started on IEM's...decided to upgrade to W3 upon release back in '08. Really, really enjoyed the W3, but in November of 2011, the W3 gave up the ghost, out of warranty. Since I don't go back, I upgraded to W4, and was strangely underwhelmed. I was the same way with W3 when I got them and grew to love them, so I held onto the W4, and alas, the right channel developed some static and noticeable sound degradation. Sent them back to Westone (after just two months), and with great impatience, ordered myself of pair of UM3X to get me through the service period (just had got a new iPhone 4s and hopelessly addicted to music, and was looking for a "spare pair").  Very, very happy with the fun, expressive sound of the UM3X, almost to the point of thinking I also may genuinely prefer the UM3X to the W4. My new pair of W4 are due in my hands and ears tommorrow. I will report back after the reunion. They say you can't go home again...

post #4 of 43

great review, I also purchased the Um3x over the W4, its the sound signature that just captures you. Loving my Um3x

post #5 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle b View Post

Long-time purchaser and FERVENT fan and supporter of Westone products and customer service. Originally, purchased a pair of UM2, and got started on IEM's...decided to upgrade to W3 upon release back in '08. Really, really enjoyed the W3, but in November of 2011, the W3 gave up the ghost, out of warranty. Since I don't go back, I upgraded to W4, and was strangely underwhelmed. I was the same way with W3 when I got them and grew to love them, so I held onto the W4, and alas, the right channel developed some static and noticeable sound degradation. Sent them back to Westone (after just two months), and with great impatience, ordered myself of pair of UM3X to get me through the service period (just had got a new iPhone 4s and hopelessly addicted to music, and was looking for a "spare pair").  Very, very happy with the fun, expressive sound of the UM3X, almost to the point of thinking I also may genuinely prefer the UM3X to the W4. My new pair of W4 are due in my hands and ears tommorrow. I will report back after the reunion. They say you can't go home again...


I'm curious to hear your direct comparison between the UM3X and W4 uncle b!

post #6 of 43

Nice post, RamGuy!

 

Seems like you value instrument separation and mid presence above all, which makes UM3X really hard to beat.

Welcome to the club!

 

If you have the occasion one day (and the money), try Shure SE535 Special Edition (the Red ones). They're another step up for separation and mid presence.wink.gif Too bad they cost nearly 100$ more than UM3X...

post #7 of 43

2-3 months from now, I have to come back here, and peek better for my next upgrade.

Because these are on my wishlist (UM3\4X, W4\5, SM3\4, EX-1000\100, XBA-4 ..... eheheh), will see.popcorn.gif

 

 

any chance AKG 3003 drops to half by the end of year?L3000.gif


Edited by pack21 - 2/7/12 at 3:23pm
post #8 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by pack21 View Post

 

any chance AKG 3003 drops to half by the end of year?L3000.gif


Not likely, and they don't seem to be mass-produced, they're now rarer in Europe than in the US, which is a shame considering that Sennheiser is the most present brand in Europe...

post #9 of 43

Really terrific review.  I think where the UM3X excel is in delivering a better sense of being in the room and actually hearing the room.  The W4R doesn't suck by any means -- in fact, from a tonal standpoint I feel it does everything better than the UM3X.  I was bouncing back and forth with both of these last night trying to decide which one would be a donor for re-shelling at 1964 Ears.  I have decided to see if they can use my UE700's instead because both Westone's are just too darn good to mess with. biggrin.gif

post #10 of 43

Looks like I wasn't the only that prefer UM3X over W4 when I tried it few months back... still love my UM3X a lot now though, even more after I've tried EQu for my iPod touch.

post #11 of 43

oh man you'll love it more if you EQ with the Cowon J3
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by aerolord View Post

Looks like I wasn't the only that prefer UM3X over W4 when I tried it few months back... still love my UM3X a lot now though, even more after I've tried EQu for my iPod touch.



 

post #12 of 43

I must be the odd one out here. I had the UM3x (removable cable) for more than 2 years, love them, use them everywhere for commuting, working out etc and totally love the sound signature, and still do. I had the Westone 4 for over a year now, don't use them out door as I'm worried that I might damage the cable using it rough. But everytime I put the Westone 4 on, they just give me so much more details than the UM3x, and even though their sound signatures are quite similar, The 4 is a little bit more neutral and flat. Now I'm tempted to get a pair of Westone 4R so I can use them anywhere. I have to say though, the 3x have longer sound tubes and seem to fit into my ears more secured than the 4, and have better sound isolation, maybe the reason why some don't like the 4s here is because of that. Sometimes a bad fitting can change the sound signature and I've heard some members here complaining about the Westone series having shorter sound tubes than the UM series and that they couldn't get a good seal with them. Just my 2 cents. wink.gif

post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danz03 View Post

I must be the odd one out here. I had the UM3x (removable cable) for more than 2 years, love them, use them everywhere for commuting, working out etc and totally love the sound signature, and still do. I had the Westone 4 for over a year now, don't use them out door as I'm worried that I might damage the cable using it rough. But everytime I put the Westone 4 on, they just give me so much more details than the UM3x, and even though their sound signatures are quite similar, The 4 is a little bit more neutral and flat. Now I'm tempted to get a pair of Westone 4R so I can use them anywhere. I have to say though, the 3x have longer sound tubes and seem to fit into my ears more secured than the 4, and have better sound isolation, maybe the reason why some don't like the 4s here is because of that. Sometimes a bad fitting can change the sound signature and I've heard some members here complaining about the Westone series having shorter sound tubes than the UM series and that they couldn't get a good seal with them. Just my 2 cents. wink.gif

 

I've been enjoying a pair of UM3x-RC for more than a year now.I would be tempted by the W4 but i can't forget how bad was the seal and fit with Westone 3 piece that i tried last year due to the shorter tubes. Since i treasure isolation i won't be getting rid of my UM3x anytime soon.

 

And I agree with the OP about he UM3x character that seems to provide more resolution. I think it has to do with its high impedance (for an iem) at the mid and upper mid region which allows for a stellar crosstalk performance.
 

 

post #14 of 43

damn :(. I was hoping to forget my idea of getting a Cowon J3, and you brought up this topic again... I'm back to eyeing for either Cowon J3 or Sony Z Series. Both are seriously a beauty.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipes View Post

oh man you'll love it more if you EQ with the Cowon J3
 



 



 

post #15 of 43

 

Oh my. I am actually stuck between reshelling my um3x or to move on to other universals (westone4r esp.)!

Now that I've seen your thread, I am so much more tempted to reshell! ><

 

Oh yes. It rocks with the Cowon J3. :D

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipes View Post

oh man you'll love it more if you EQ with the Cowon J3
 



 



 


Edited by legendac - 2/8/12 at 3:38am
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › My comparison between Westone UM3X and Westone 4R