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