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Westone 3 "Gold" Edition + UM56

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

http://www.earphonesolutions.com/w3gold.html

 

I've been a big fan of the W3 for a long time since the day it was released having bought and re-bought it multiple times.  What attracts me to it is that it is a very big, bold and rich headphon'ish type of sound yet has great detail, clarity, air and a big soundstage.  The only other "bigger" sounding IEM I have ever owned would be the JH16.  Perhaps IE8 but W3 destroys it IMHO. With W3 the only tip option that really sounded "right" to me was a P-series comply tip and trust me, I have tried all of them and all of the mods extensively.  Of course, the knock on W3 is the bass or mid-bass hump is overdone in many people's view.  While I agree to a certain extent I find really NOTHING else about the sound that bothers me and in actuality, I thought the mid bass hump actually helped out on old or bad recordings.

 

Enter Westone 3 Gold Edition:  The link describes what you get with main marketing mumbo jumbo being matched driver symmetry within +/- 2dB.  It immediately makes me wonder what the average variation difference is within the industry?  Not having a regular W3 to test side by side I can't say I notice a difference but it certainly sounds balanced (not that regular version didn't).  While I DO trust that a great company like Westone is really matching these drivers, some sort of certification would have been nice but, again, I totally trust Westone.

 

In addition, I finally took the plunge and bought UM56 tips.  Headphoneaddict and another friend have both been on me to do this for years explaining how it significantly changes W3 to a better sounding IEM.

 

Yea, I'll tell you, I'm finding it really does change the sound and trying to put my finger on it.  One of the things that I found fun with W3 + comply was that it was somewhat laid back, loose and spacious sounding.  The UM56 seems to really tighten everything up and the whole presentation seems more forward, more intimate and the bass is a little flattened out which should appeal to many.  Obviously the treble is more revealing as well (versus comply) with zero siblance.  Almost sounds more like UM3X with a larger soundstage and more treble which you'd think would be about as good as it gets.  The isolation, balance and imaging is sensational.  I guess I would say it took a little bit of fun I liked away but got technically better which is not a bad thing as there is still "fun" left in W3+UM56 sound sig.

 

Unfortunately I sold W4 to make this move so I can't comment on UM56+W4 but the fact that it tames the bass down would be a negative to me with that IEM.  Plus things didn't really need "tightening up" with W4 like they might need with W3.


Edited by Spyro - 12/13/12 at 1:27pm
post #2 of 32

So the gold edition just a better tuned version of the W3? That sounds pretty awesome! The W3s are one of the best universal IEM I've heard (out of IE7, TF10, UM3X, SE535, SM3, MTPG). It has a good U shape that isn't too out of control  for me, and switching between these and my desktop setup with the Hifiman HE500 does not make me go through a mental burn-in process, which is definitely a big plus for me. Unfortunately however, my W3s are almost 3 years old and have been falling apart. They're pretty much held together by bandaids and superglue at this point.

post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 

Yea, that's the only difference and they give you a "vault" carrying case instead of the mesh zipper one.

 

Just want to add a comment to original post on W3+UM56.  It is very conceivable a person could still prefer a comply or foam tip versus the UM56.  The comply tip presentation is a little easier on the ears, smoother and looser sounding and less fatiguing.  Like I say the UM56 make things sharper and more aggresive and more balanced so it could be a personal preference.  I actually like both ways.

post #4 of 32

Why isnt their a mention of the Gold edition on westone website?

 

Also a couple of years ago they also had a limited edition Westone 3 Gold which includes several stuff like paper weight, key chain, T-shirt etc. even a placard denoting the production number.

 

It would have been nice if they included something 'more' in this release

 

Does anyone know if there is any difference in sound between the earlier Westone 3 & this 2012 edition?

post #5 of 32
Thread Starter 

It's a great question.  When Etymotic jacked the price on ER4P $100 and said they were "certifying" and matching drivers, it still sounded the same as the original product.  What confuses me here is dosen't the IEM company already purchase the drivers at a set spec +/- "something"  Why would there be a need to verify or tune them again?  Do you not trust your supplier?  Granted it is another step but in Etymotic's case you are charging a $100 premium for what I guess is a process that takes a minute or two at most.  I think Westone is charging a $30 premium and throwing in the fancy case.

post #6 of 32
I'll stick with my measly unmatched W3s biggrin.gif

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post #7 of 32
Thread Starter 

I sent inquiry to Westone about any other sonic difference to regular W3 except acoustic symmetry of drivers.  Great customer service!

 

 

"Thank you for your email and continued support of Westone Music Products. We do keep our symmetry between left and right side monitors and earphones very tight. However, the Westone 3, like the Westone 4R, is guaranteed to have a difference of less than +/-2dB. Other than the acoustic symmetry of the Westone 3 Gold, the sound signature and configuration should be the same to that of the Westone 3. If you feel that your Westone 3 Gold is not functioning properly we would be happy to receive it in for testing. Please provide your complete shipping address, phone number, and proof of purchase so that we may issue you a Return Materials Authorization (RMA) number and instructions for sending in your Westone 3 Gold. Thank you and have a great day!"

 

post #8 of 32

Congrats on the tips.bigsmile_face.gif

post #9 of 32

Can you do a quick comparison between the UM56 and the new Westone Star silicone tips? You did say in your other thread that they are the best universal tip you have ever used.

post #10 of 32

I would like to know this too.

post #11 of 32
Thread Starter 

At least with W3, I prefer P-series comply, then Star tip, then UM56.  Yes, that's comply>star>UM56.  With W4, I prefered the star tip over the comply.  Didn't have when I got UM56.

What I don't like about UM56 is it makes the music sound wired directly to your brain so the soundstage is really closed in.  It's an aggresive and forward sound and you know your are wearing IEM's versus a more open, relaxed, laid back and spacious that a comply would give more resmbling a headphone.   So for me the UM56 wasn't really an improvement, just different and I don't care for the different sound. 

 

I suppose with a very uncolored or flat IEM the sound change might not be as dramatic.  Keep in mind, I DO fiddle with EQ and it is all about finding the "sweet" spot with the synergy between amp, player, eq and IEM sig.  Tiny little differences....Like with W4 I used "jazz" setting on the Ipod Classic with the star tip which I prefered over a comply with treble booster.  But with W3, I use treble booster and the comply which gives me and insane amount of treble but zero harshness.  Going eq off with a star tip doesn't sound as good to me.  Again...finding the sweet spot.

 

On UM56 I will say the isolation is insane.  Didn't think it would be more than a foam/comply but it clearly is.  If comply is 36-38dB, UM56 has to be 45dB if that's possible.  Can't even hear myself talk.

 

If you like the sound I describe of what UM56 does, or simply cannot get a good fit with any tips, then it is probably a good idea.  But for me I don't think I really gained anything.  Your mileage may vary and it could be a different story on a different IEM.  I'm just one opinion.

 

The reason I prefer the star tip over the UM56 is that for whatever the reason, the star tip does not collapse the soundstage (or overall space) like the UM56 does.  The star tip is a perfect alternative to a comply or foam olive where you want a little more treble with very, very little siblance as a tradeoff.  As said earlier, probably 70% less siblance that the old stock grey silicone flex sleeve. 

post #12 of 32

That was helpful, thanks.

 

If you didn't have access to EQ, would you still prefer the Complys over the Star tips on the W3? I'm not too fond of using EQ even though I can understand why people would use it.

post #13 of 32
Thread Starter 

No EQ I'd probably be going Star tips.

post #14 of 32

On Earphone Solutions I was able to order the golds at $300 and then apply a 20% off coupon (grand total of $240). Is this a mistake, considering that regular W3s are $350? Will be receiving them soon...

post #15 of 32
Thread Starter 

Yes, very strange they are blowing out ($240) an "upgraded model" that supposedly has extra labor in it to balance out the drivers.  Makes no sense.  What's the hurry to get rid of them?

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