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Volume too high with Westone UM2 and phone/mp3 player

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hello all,

 

I recently bought a pair of custom earmolds from Earsonics for my Westone UM2.

Only problem is that the volume on both my phone (HTC HD2) and portable player (Cowon J3) is too high, even at minimum. I like to listen to music at work or in my bed at night but even in a plane I never go louder than 3 or 4 (over 50).

I also found that using these sources at such low volume flattens the sound.

 

What can I do to improve that ? Would a portable amp allow more dynamics at low volumes ?

 

My wallet and I would be grateful if 200$ could afford the solution.

 

Thanks in advance

post #2 of 19

Wait was it this loud out of the Westone UM2 without the custom molds?

post #3 of 19

You'd think that it's either your ears or the sources.

Your ears need to get used to the improved isolation. How much of an improvement depends on how well your previous tips isolated. In a quiet room custom fit is not that much better than foam tips... So maybe it's your ears. How was it before the customs tips?

 

More likely, you'd think, it's the source, but you've tried 2. Have you checked equalizers and onboard pre-amplification? Have you tried more sources -- borrow someone's iPod?

 

It's far-fetched but perhaps it's your music files. Or normalisation somewhere.

 

I'd check them on someone else's stock/standard source device and come back to say how it went.

post #4 of 19

Another easy way would be to plug in a second headphone and see if that is loud from the sources too.  I doubt it but its a good double check. 

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hey guys, thanks for your help.

Before earmolds, I used to wear triflanges plugs and listened at 4 or 5 and did not feel any discomfort nor pain. So yes, the custom earmolds definitely apply more pressure.

I have tried my sources with another pair of IEM (Brainwavz M2) and various headphones (Sennheiser PX100 and HD555, Grado SR60) all of them played just fine at decent volumes. I even plugged them into my car and had to crank the volume all the way up to drive (pun not intended) my car speakers.

I tried a few songs on my Westone with my friend's iPhone 4G. I hardly went past minimum volume, at approximately 1/20th of max...

That would leave us with either my ears not able to cope up with the isolation or UM2's being too easy to drive...
Edited by w0lverine - 4/12/12 at 1:26am
post #6 of 19
If you have cyanogenmod7 installed as a custom rom, you can use dsp manager to adjust the overall volume down a few dB. A bit crude, but it does work.
post #7 of 19

I don't have custom tips, but I use Shure olive foam tips with my UM2. Yes, it is the most sensitive IEM I own. I have to set it at a lower volume to achieve a comfortable listening level relative to all of my other BA IEMs (Shure SE425 & SE535, UE700 & TF10, Westone 4, Ety HF5 & ER4P).

 

I know the UM2 has some loyal fans on here, and I actually bought it based on endorsements by several respected head-fi veterans. But I could never get into them because of how damned sensitive they are. They are the MOST hiss-prone earphone I have ever owned/tried. They hiss out of all my sources/amps.

 

I have found that the only viable way to make them less sensitive is to use an in-line volume controller between the source and the UM2. It is just a potentiometer, and you can attenuate some of your source's power away with it. My UM2 actually came with one, though I am not sure if Westone had always included the in-line volume control as part of the UM2's accessories - after all, the UM2 has been around for almost a decade. Have a look for it in your stash of accessories, you just might have one tucked away somewhere. In any case, you can buy similar products from third parties (I know Shure and Koss off the top of my head).

 

Impedance adapters (e.g. the 75 ohm one for the Ety ER4) do reduce sensitivity when plugged into the UM2, but they completely mess up the UM2's frequency response. Not recommended.

 

Hope this helps.

post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Byakushiki View Post

If you have cyanogenmod7 installed as a custom rom, you can use dsp manager to adjust the overall volume down a few dB. A bit crude, but it does work.
I do have a custom rom (NexusHD2 actually) but that wouldn't help with my Cowon player. Thanks anyway !

Quote:
Originally Posted by BustyBloke View Post

I don't have custom tips, but I use Shure olive foam tips with my UM2. Yes, it is the most sensitive IEM I own. I have to set it at a lower volume to achieve a comfortable listening level relative to all of my other BA IEMs (Shure SE425 & SE535, UE700 & TF10, Westone 4, Ety HF5 & ER4P).

 

I know the UM2 has some loyal fans on here, and I actually bought it based on endorsements by several respected head-fi veterans. But I could never get into them because of how damned sensitive they are. They are the MOST hiss-prone earphone I have ever owned/tried. They hiss out of all my sources/amps.

 

I have found that the only viable way to make them less sensitive is to use an in-line volume controller between the source and the UM2. It is just a potentiometer, and you can attenuate some of your source's power away with it. My UM2 actually came with one, though I am not sure if Westone had always included the in-line volume control as part of the UM2's accessories - after all, the UM2 has been around for almost a decade. Have a look for it in your stash of accessories, you just might have one tucked away somewhere. In any case, you can buy similar products from third parties (I know Shure and Koss off the top of my head).

 

Impedance adapters (e.g. the 75 ohm one for the Ety ER4) do reduce sensitivity when plugged into the UM2, but they completely mess up the UM2's frequency response. Not recommended.

 

Hope this helps.

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one... I've used my UM2 for a long time now and never noticed the hiss you're talking about. Maybe because I never owned anything else than UM1 and UM2.
Thank you for your suggestion, I didn't think of an external volume controller ! That might do the trick at very low expenses.

It's a little off-topic but are you satisfied with your Westone 4 ? I considered upgrading my UM2 even if I'm not sure whether I'll hear the difference..
post #9 of 19

Wow 3/4 over 50 is pretty low, are you sure it's normal? 

post #10 of 19

@ w0lverine: I am admittedly a tad OCD when it comes to hissing. The rational part of me knows full well that once the music starts playing, the hiss is essentially entirely covered up, but somehow I have convinced myself that it is still there in the background, detrimentally affecting my enjoyment of the music... I know it's silly, but this is the sort of pedantry that sets us audiophiles apart from sane and practical people, right?

 

As for the W4, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it. I find the fit to be less than ideal, mainly because of the short nozzle on the W# line of IEMs. Different tips affect the sound signature drastically. Unlike me, you have custom silicon tips, and the W4 might sound great with them... but you better check with someone else that the custom tips can be used inter-changeably between the W# line and the UM# line. They appear to have slightly different shaped housings.

 

YMMV, but going from the UM2 to the W4, I would say expect: a bigger sound stage; less "warmth"; less bass; more treble and "sparkle" up top, better instrumental separation, and possibly worse isolation.

 

 

@Jeremypsp: We are not exaggerating! The UM2 is ridiculously loud! For instance, they are practically unusable with some digital volume controls if the increments are not small enough. For instance, with the Digizoid ZO2.3 in LOD mode, when the volume is all the way down it is too quiet, then one click up on the volume wheel and it is already too loud. 

post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by BustyBloke View Post

 

As for the W4, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it. I find the fit to be less than ideal, mainly because of the short nozzle on the W# line of IEMs. Different tips affect the sound signature drastically. Unlike me, you have custom silicon tips, and the W4 might sound great with them... but you better check with someone else that the custom tips can be used inter-changeably between the W# line and the UM# line. They appear to have slightly different shaped housings.

 

YMMV, but going from the UM2 to the W4, I would say expect: a bigger sound stage; less "warmth"; less bass; more treble and "sparkle" up top, better instrumental separation, and possibly worse isolation.

 

@Jeremypsp: We are not exaggerating! The UM2 is ridiculously loud! For instance, they are practically unusable with some digital volume controls if the increments are not small enough. For instance, with the Digizoid ZO2.3 in LOD mode, when the volume is all the way down it is too quiet, then one click up on the volume wheel and it is already too loud. 


Really? Because I have personally tried the UM2s and they seem to be at pretty normal volumes with my Walkman, it's no louder than the SE535. 

Well, what you said about the W4 is mostly right, although I feel it is warmer and darker, and the UM2 seems to have a more extended treble. 

 

post #12 of 19

Ahh yes, I agree with you on the SE535 point. The SE535 would be the second most sensitive IEM I have tried/owned, but the UM2 is still louder/more efficient by some margin.

 

As for the W4 being warmer and darker, may I ask what tips you are using on the W4? Because when comparing the W4 and UM2 using the same tips, I always sense less treble from the UM2. One of the more substantial UM2 threads from recent times is this one: http://www.head-fi.org/t/575541/westone-um2-the-forgotten-classic . Quoting Spyro from the thread (I hope you don't mind, Spyro!):

 

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. 

 

I cannot imagine ever using the iPod Classic's treble booster with the W4 because I find them very sparkly as is. Personally, I can only get my W4 to sound "warm" if I use the long Comply P series tips. But I have also read lots of posts of users saying that the W4's treble is quite rolled off/smooth/unoffensive. I suspect the discrepancy between our opinions is caused by tip selection?

 

Back to the topic of loudness and efficiency, I find that the W4 is much less sensitive than both the SE535 and the UM2, and therefore much more amp-friendly. I get quite good results running my W4 from the iBasso t5 mini amp.

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by BustyBloke View Post

Ahh yes, I agree with you on the SE535 point. The SE535 would be the second most sensitive IEM I have tried/owned, but the UM2 is still louder/more efficient by some margin.

 

Back to the topic of loudness and efficiency, I find that the W4 is much less sensitive than both the SE535 and the UM2, and therefore much more amp-friendly. I get quite good results running my W4 from the iBasso t5 mini amp.


It's just that with SE535/UM2, if you don't chose your amp carefully, hiss will become unbearable. Being efficient doesn't mean amping will be useless, treble have opened significantly by amping my SE535Ltd. biggrin.gif

 

This being said, I still think some of you may have extremely good hearing (good for you!), because I still have to push volume to 15/16 out of 50 on Cowon J3/X7 with SE535Ltd to get a decent sound. With less sensitive IEMs, it can go up to 22.

 

post #14 of 19

On a dutch forum a guy told me the same, but then with the SE215, also in combination with the Cowon J3... At first I also couldn't believe it, but after reading this, I'm convinced it is possible... But still strange if you ask me...

post #15 of 19

IMO i think the hiss is a cable problem. 

 

i noticed when i bought my se535-v bronze, they had some hiss, then when i bought my se535-ltd-j they had less hiss than the bronze comparing the 2.

 

now i have a custom cable with my se535-ltd-j and there is no hiss, no hiss out of my zune hd, no hiss out of my fiio e7, just a completely black image when no music is playing.

 

but definitly comparing the 2 reds and bronze back to back the hiss was more prominent with the bronze. 

 

 

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