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A Westone Affair

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

It started out with my love affair with music years ago, now it has blossomed to its peak. Back in 2009 I got my first true in ear monitors, a pair of M-Audio IE-30's. These dual monitor pearls emitted sounds that I had never heard or fathomed before. I enjoyed these in-ears for several years until one day the right one snapped in half. Fast forward to last fall and I was making the plunge to dive back into this world of intricate sounds. Armed with the power of the web I searched for 2 weeks until I narrowed my choice down between the Westone UM-3X and the Shure SE-425. After swaying back and forth, getting to the checkout on Amazon multiple times, and reading the Head-Fi forums to no end, I settled on the Westone UM-3X. I worried I had made the wrong choice after my purchase, but about a week later they showed up in my unit mailbox. I opened the box and saw for the first time the extreme detail that had gone into making these pieces of art. You could see the drives, the wires, all encompassed within a tiny plastic shell.

I fitted them to my ears and plugged them in. Opened Decibel on my Macbook Pro and played my first song. I was taken back immediately as I slowly raised the volume from 0 to 30%. The detail, the bass notes, the crisp highs, and the clear vocals took my back. I had never heard quite detail before. This was just the beginning, just as with my IE-30's I began finding new details in songs I had never heard the countless times I had listened to them before. I was taken back by the power these monitors drove and commanded. Now, about a year later I have embarked on a new journey with Westone, one that I was lucky enough to be able to undertake, with the Westone ES5's.

It started weeks ago by making the journey to my ENT, one that I had a history with due to past medical procedures. His partner, a Dr. for over 20 years, specializes in ears. I made the journey, a half an hour drive to the edge of the mountains and walked up the stairs. Inside I waited until I was called in, she knew why I was there and began explaining the process to me. How she was going to take a mold, send them in where they would use it to make a shell and then build the in ear monitors from there. She then grabbed what looked like a cocking gun with pink and white tubes attached, placed cotton stoppers in my ears, and filled them up with this strange substance. It was cold and strange feeling but soon it warmed up and after a few minutes passed she came back and pulled them out, a pink inner mold of my ear came out. She boxed both of them up and sent them off, telling me she would call me in a week or two. I then headed home.

About a week passed and I got a call, I answered it, excited since the caller ID indicated it was her. She said she couldn't believe it but they wanted another mold so they would be perfect. So I made the journey back down there again and she proceeded to fill my ears with the mold again. Again she came after a few minutes and removed them, this time though she made two molds of each ear, just to ensure the right fit. She then sent them off and I was on my way.

About two weeks passed, then out of the blue my caller ID lit up identifying that it was the ENT offices. I answered the phone in the middle of a conversation I was having, I just couldn't wait. She was on the other line and said that she finally got them! I was excited and thrilled. As soon as I finished what I was doing for the day I headed down there. I arrived, after a whole drive of being excited I made my way to the elevator and rocketed up to her floor. I went in and she soon called me in. There they were, sitting in a black westone case on her desk, she opened them. They were everything I wanted and more, and I hadn't even laid hands on them yet. She proceeded to put the right monitor in first, then I attempted to put the left one in. After several failures I slide it in. They both fit perfectly, I had never felt quite a seal. Everything was quite, it was brilliant. I pulled them out and thanked her. She asked to hear back on how I liked them and I told her I would be sure to follow up with her. 

I made my way back home, the drive seemed to take forever, as I pulled up and into my parking spot I made my way inside and up to my floor. I pulled out my computer, opened decibel, slid the monitors in, raised the volume from 0 to 30% and put on October by Deadmau5, a personal favorite I had been waiting for several years to be released now. Instantly the stage opened up, I closed my eyes, and the bass and other notes including the crisp highs, and snappy mids came into focus. The sound was incredible, it was phenomenal, and the seal, perfect. With my UM-3X I had struggled and fought always to get the perfect fit. With the ES5's, the seal was perfect, instantly. I then moved on to 54321 from the Inception sound track, another master piece that these emphasized each and every detail of. As the final notes faded away, I knew these were everything I had wanted and more.

 

Below are a few pictures of my Westone UM-3X and ES5's. Thanks for reading! For those who will ask, these are the blush colored ES5's

 

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Edited by blaine o c - 10/25/12 at 7:34pm
post #2 of 7

wonderful story, never got around to asking for a custom mold yet for my IEMs, how is the ES5 compared to the UM3X in terms of sound?

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

So far I have been intrigued by the differences in the sound characteristics between the ES5's and the UM-3X's. The ES5's sound stage opens up and it not as close to you feeling in a sense. With my UM-3X I always have felt that the music was right in my face, while the ES5's provide a rounded sound stage that encompasses you. It's difficult to describe, but its the difference between standing in front of a set of high end speakers that are angled toward each ear (the UM3-X) and have a high end surround sound system that is wrapped around your listening position. The bass notes on the ES5's are beautiful and I can pick up more detail. Instead of just noticing the bass, I can pick out the different subtle fluctuations in the notes and wobbles (no I'm not listening to dubstep). I'm still analyzing them so far but there is an increase in over all clarity and just as with the bass notes I'm noticing different subtle ways the mids and highs are coming across. Each a little more unique than before. I'll report back to you once I have listened to them more, but as of right now I only have just over and hour on them as I just picked them up yesterday (10/25/12), vs my time with the UM-3X's which easily have over 1000+ hours of listening time on them. Thanks for the inquiry and comment!

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

So after listening to them for just under a week I can say with confidence that the sound that the ES5's drive is much more clear, detailed, and smooth. First the highs come in with so much more detail that it is quite incredible. The mids are much more clear and detailed, allowing you to pick up more details of a singers lips clasping and more that I occasionally pic up on my UM-3X's. The bass is phenomenal, I pick up changes in the notes and slight variations I didn't know before. Second the sounds are much more detailed and smooth. They just flow together with ease, new noises fade in while others trail off. So far I have been extremely happy with the ES5's compared to my UM-3X. Hope that helps, feel free to ask if anything else comes to mind!

post #5 of 7

Is it sub-bass or mid-bass that is better on the ES-5? As much as I like the UM3X, i find the mid bass to be a tad too much. Thanks for that, I'm much more comfortable selling them now

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

No problem, I've found that the overall bass appearance is much more crisp and defined. The sub bass notes (atleast for me) seem to go deeper and capture shifts in a more definitive way. As for the mid bass it is more rounded out. I don't find the bass on the ES5's to be as over powering as in the UM-3X. The bass in the UM-3X is rather in your face while the presentation of it in the ES5 is more elegant (again, atleast to me). I hope that helps. I wish I could sell my UM-3X, but I just can't bring my ES5's out and about comfortably yet without worrying about them being damaged. So for now my UM-3X are my portable IEM's. Another thing to note is that I have fallen in love with the isolation the ES5's provide. I can play the volume even lower than my UM-3X, which I find to be a major benefit from a hearing loss prevention perspective.

post #7 of 7
Nice thread, the ES5 will be next on to get list after my Miracle comes.
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