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DBA-02 (or B2) v. UM3x or Westone 4

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 

I've been interested in the Westone 4 or UM3x for a long time, but only now have a chance to get them... either.

 

I love the DBA-02 (and B2), and wonder how either of these Westones compare.

Anyone out there have both (DBA and Westone), and can discuss the differences or similarities in the overall sound (and comfort)?

 

More extension in the bass, less bass, tighter bass, etc.

Greater or lesser detail in the highs, extension, etc.

Mids / vocal realism.

Acoustic instrument realism.

 

I listen mostly to acoustic music from high res sources. Some rock & other.

 

Soundstage is not relevant here.

 

I have the UM2, so comparison's there would also be helpful. I have no issue with the UM2 fit or comfort.

 

Thanks!!

post #2 of 49

I haven't heard the UM2 or the DBA-02 so unfortunately, I can't help there.  I had the Westone 4 and currently have the UM3X.  I really enjoyed the Westone 4 and felt it did every genre of music really well.  It was warm, lush, rich and I could listen for hours - almost to the point of not wanting to take them out and looking for any excuse to put them in/listen to music.  The UM3X has fantastic instrument seperation and there are things I really enjoy about them but for me, the fit doesn't work.  I'll try and give them another listen later tonight and see if I can get you more details.  I feel like guitars come through really well - especially for acoustic music on the UM3X.   You could always try one/other and exchange it if you don't like it - just a thought. For me, I think they really are two that you have to hear to make up your mind on.
 

post #3 of 49

shane55 -- you've got a PM.


Edited by music_4321 - 7/3/12 at 2:26pm
post #4 of 49

The UM3X is the natural upgrade to the UM2 as they maintain a very similar sound.  The UM3X is slightly darker overall compared to the UM2 but the biggest differences are in the UM3X's ability to separate instruments and it's layering, which are quite unique and I've not heard better with those attributes.  Also the bass quantity is a little bigger, extends deeper and is tighter than the UM2.

 

The W4 deviates more from the UM2 sounds.  It's bass is a little leaner, although tighter and more extended.  It's midrange is slightly warm and slightly forward but not as much as the UM2.  The biggest difference is in the treble.  The W4 is the pinnacle of Westone treble.  It extends very well but is never fatiguing; it has more 'presence' and better treble timbre than the UM2 and UM3X.

 

Compared to the DBA-02, none of the Westones will have the same level of transparency and clarity.  While I love the brassy treble of the CK10, I was not a big fan of the DBA treble, which I thought was a slightly metallic in nature for me.  I would say the W4 has better treble than both the DBA and UM series (then the DBA, followed by the UM series).

 

I thought DBA mids were very clear, transparent and a little dry, so the Westone mids will come across much warmer in direct comparison, as well as closer to you in the soundstage.  The DBA bass was very lean, super fast and punchy.  The UM3X and W4 bass will be bigger and slower in comparison and I thought the Westones extended deeper than the DBA's but not the CK10.

 

I think the UM3X and W4 excel with singer/songwriter stuff.  Very intimate vocals and thick, engrossing acoustic guitars.  If you plan to try a Westone and keep you UM2, then I think the W4 would be the way to go, as you'll get a different Westone flavor.  I have the UM2 RC and UM3X RC and will be selling the UM2 version shortly.  They are just too similar to keep both.  

 

Anyway, I hope this helps.  Back to vacation...


Edited by shotgunshane - 7/3/12 at 3:17pm
post #5 of 49
Thread Starter 

All... thanks so much for the comments so far.

 

The only real negative I've found to the DBA's is that slightly lean sound, as there are times when I am looking for a bit more sonority and richness. The UM2 provide the sonority and richness and depth and fullness to the sound, but are much slower and too rolled-off on the highs for my tastes. I've had them for years, and for some things they are wonderful, just not for all music. They are just a bit too warm for most listening (unless I want to sleep on a plane).  wink.gif


The DBA’s and B2 are fast, light, detailed and perfect for many styles of music, but there is something about the tonality (perhaps due to the leanness) that just doesn’t sound exactly true. When I listen to my D7000’s I hear true tones and acoustic sounds. I guess I’m looking for something more along those lines, but in an IEM. Of course I know that an IEM can never duplicate the overall sound of full-size cans, but they can replicate much of the realism of the tonality. The UE-4Pro comes closer.

 

My UE-4Pros's are very good. They are mostly neutral, with a slight rise in the mids to accentuate vocals. They are slightly truer tonally than the DBA’s, but they can not be worn to the gym and / or any place other than while sitting still at my desk. For me Customs have a severe drawback in bone conduction and microphonics... thus the search for a more perfect universal.

 

If the Westone 4 has nearly as good treble extension and clarity as the DBA’s, but sound overall a bit warmer and more ‘full’, I can deal with a slight speed reduction. And if the UM3x is, as shotgunshane states, darker than the UM2, it’s definitely not for me.

 

Cheers.

post #6 of 49
In that case, I'm not sure if the W4 would quite give you what you are looking for. I'd recommend getting James444 thoughts on the W4, Ortofon EQ-5, FAD SB or possibly some other option. I haven't heard the EQ-5 but based on impressions I've read, they seem to be close to what you've described. Good luck!
post #7 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by shotgunshane View Post

... I'd recommend getting James444 thoughts...

 

Yes, although james444 wasn't ultimately convinced by the DBAs, he's tried plenty of (very) good IEMs, including the W4s, and is one of the few HF'ers who may offer genuinely good, unbiased advice.


Edited by music_4321 - 7/4/12 at 1:24pm
post #8 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by shane55 View Post

 

When I listen to my D7000’s I hear true tones and acoustic sounds. I guess I’m looking for something more along those lines, but in an IEM. Of course I know that an IEM can never duplicate the overall sound of full-size cans, but they can replicate much of the realism of the tonality. The UE-4Pro comes closer.

 

 

Hi shane55. Your comment about the D7000 brought to mind something a member said not too long ago. He said the Vsonic GR07 reminded him a lot of his D7000 in several ways. His handle is dweaver. You can PM him for details.

post #9 of 49

shane55, maybe you should try a good dynamic driver IEM instead of balanced armatures for a more similar timbre to D7000. I think JVC FX700 is quite close to Denons in sound signature and have a very natural timbre for real instruments. JVC FXT90 is also a great, less expensive option and has more forward, more engaging mids and a more neutral overall sound with less emphasis on bass than FX700 while maintaining a very natural tonality. Other options include Hifiman RE0, 262 and 272 which are quite a bit more neutral than the JVCs and closer to DBA-02, although I prefer all three to DBA-02 by a good margin. I personally found DBA-02 a tad too bright for my tastes. I also found them lacking dynamics and the bass was somewhat bloated to my ears compared to the Hifimans or FXT90 for example. Like you wrote, I also found the timbre a bit odd on DBA-02. In particular, I though the mids had an unnaturally airy quality to them. Not sure how else to describe it. I think RE0 is quite close to DBA-02 in sound signature, minus the annoying treble spike and colored mids and plus tighter, better defined low end. RE262 and 272 are warmer than RE0 or DBA-02 and also offer better dynamics and tighter, deeper bass than both. I feel that timbre is the most natural on RE0, but RE262 and 272 are still better than DBA-02 in this regard IMO.

 

Regarding Westones - I really liked UM2 and Westone 4, but hated Westone 3 and UM3X. UM3X is just too dark and soft sounding IMO. Westone 3 is too bloated in the bass and incoherent. UM2 is warm and fun with more treble than UM3X and a better controlled bass and a more coherent sound than Westone 3 with an insignificant step back in some technical aspects like speed, definition and detail. I listened to Westone 4 a couple of times for a total of about an hour or so and my early impressions are that it is a really great IEM I think and solves the problems of Westone 3 and UM3X successfully to my ears. It is more neutral than any of the other Westones I tried with better extension and better technical ability than any of the others. It is the first Westone IEM I am really interested in spending more time with. It seems to reproduce real instruments with great realism, but I still have doubts about its coherency and I also found that it softens the edges of sounds a bit too much perhaps which hurts the accuracy. But I definitely recommend giving Westone 4 a try. It's definitely better than DBA-02 - tighter bass, much more depth to the sound, more refinement, more extension, better dynamics. Westone 4 is superior in just about every way. Compared to a good dynamic like one of the Hifimans or JVCs, I am not sure yet whether Westone 4 will be able to hold its own in coherency and timbre naturalness, but technically it is extremely good and most likely quite a bit better than the dynamic drivers. The Westones really excel in soundstage size and depth, as well as separation and imaging.


Edited by Pianist - 7/4/12 at 5:21pm
post #10 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

Shane...

 

Are you addressing shane55, shotgunshane or shane_4321?  ;)


Edited by music_4321 - 7/4/12 at 5:16pm
post #11 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

Are you addressing shane55, shotgunshane or shane_4321?  ;)

 

lol Fixed.

post #12 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

Yes, although james444 wasn't ultimately convinced by the DBAs, ...

 

Yep, the DBAs failed to convince me, fist and foremost because I've never heard them. wink.gif

 

On a more serious note, I've heard other TWFKs (CK10, B2, UE700), so I think I have a reasonable understanding of how the DBAs sound.

 

Replied to shane55's PM, in short I'd steer him away from the slightly warmish and pleasant sound of the W4 towards the more lively PFE232, which are closer to TWFKs than the Westones, but fuller and more refined than these.

post #13 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

 

Yep, the DBAs failed to convince me, fist and foremost because I've never heard them. wink.gif

 

I'm not convinced. tongue.gif

post #14 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by shotgunshane View Post

 

I'm not convinced. tongue.gif

 

LOL

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shotgunshane View Post

In that case, I'm not sure if the W4 would quite give you what you are looking for. I'd recommend getting James444 thoughts on the W4, Ortofon EQ-5, FAD SB or possibly some other option. I haven't heard the EQ-5 but based on impressions I've read, they seem to be close to what you've described. Good luck!

 

Tbo, I don't feel comfortable recommending the e-Q5 anymore, because their upper cables are prone to hardening. I've experienced it on my pair and afaik other head-fiers have had similar issues.

 

Come to think of it, the FADs might be another possible option. @shane55: Joker has my FAD heaven A, C and S on loan and is about to pass them on to Rin Choi (udauda) for measurements. Maybe you want to PM him and get a listen before that, if you're interested.

post #15 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post


Tbo, I don't feel comfortable recommending the e-Q5 anymore, because their upper cables are prone to hardening. I've experienced it on my pair and afaik other head-fiers have had similar issues.

Good to know on the e-q5. I was once considering them but have plans for the re272 next.
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