Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Westone 3 vs. Westone 4, ahhh
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Westone 3 vs. Westone 4, ahhh

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I'm thinking about saying bye bye to my SE535's. I have read too many positive things about Westone. Only challenge left is W3 vs. W4. Music I listen to is metal and hard rock but I also listen to prog and bands that can really play (like Rush, Dream Theater, etc...) so I like some instrument separation and fairly accurate presentation. My first goal vs. the SE535 is to get better treble and less mud/mid range. I also like bass impact, but I think the SE535 are pretty good at that (not sure if either of the Westones are better?).

 

Forum consensus seems to be:

W3 - Good bass impact, but trebles don't extend as far as the W4. Good for rocking out.

W4 (vs. W3) Better treble extension, not as good bass impact. More refined. More transparent. Better for classical music.

 

So the quick answer seems to be I should get the W3. BUT, the W4 pricing is not much more than the W3's right now at a certain giant website, and I do like the idea of extended and possibly better treble, since that's a big reason I'm dumping my Shure's. I'm afraid that the W4 may be a better overall earphone and for $50 more I should get it. I may be mad later if I don't get the best the first time around. But I don't want "transparent" sound (I have the ER-4S for that). So did I just talk myself into getting the W3? Following this logic, is there any reason I should get the W4?

post #2 of 19

Well, personally, I feel the W4 is definitely the 'better' earphone, however, if you have the ER4S then I don't know why you'd want the W4 unless you just want a little more thickness/smoother sound and better spacing. I think if you buy the W4 you will return the W4/sell it or sell the ER4S.

 

I'd pick up the W3 in your situation. Remember, overall better doesn't mean you'll enjoy it more. :P
 

post #3 of 19

I think your consesnsus is wrong.  Treble on W3 is far more extended than W4.

 

Also, UM3X is the most refined IEM in Westones lineup by a long shot.  Also most natural sounding and most balanced with no quirks or peaks.  UM3X is a step up from SE535.

 

If W4 had UM3X bass I would reign it king but UM3X bass is much better. If bass is important beware W4 bass is much less that SE535.

post #4 of 19

Personally, I liked Westone 4 much more than Westone 3, UM3X and Shure SE530/535. But this conclusion is based only on brief impressions I had of Westone 4 when I auditioned them at a local store a couple of times. They seem like a great first impression headphone. In fact, I had no complaints whatsoever about Westone 4 sound during those brief listening tests. By brief I mean 10-20 minutes. I found the bass, mids and highs pretty much perfect, except for a minor peak somewhere in the upper mids/lower treble. I haven't compared them directly with Westone 3 and UM3X. but I did AB Westone 4 with SE535 and the former sounded much better to my ears with a much more natural sound - tighter bass, more spacious soundstage, more refined treble. SE535 was really lacking in direct comparison, especially in the treble.

post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tracyrick View Post

I'm thinking about saying bye bye to my SE535's. I have read too many positive things about Westone. Only challenge left is W3 vs. W4. Music I listen to is metal and hard rock but I also listen to prog and bands that can really play (like Rush, Dream Theater, etc...) so I like some instrument separation and fairly accurate presentation. My first goal vs. the SE535 is to get better treble and less mud/mid range. I also like bass impact, but I think the SE535 are pretty good at that (not sure if either of the Westones are better?).

 

Forum consensus seems to be:

W3 - Good bass impact, but trebles don't extend as far as the W4. Good for rocking out.

W4 (vs. W3) Better treble extension, not as good bass impact. More refined. More transparent. Better for classical music.

 

So the quick answer seems to be I should get the W3. BUT, the W4 pricing is not much more than the W3's right now at a certain giant website, and I do like the idea of extended and possibly better treble, since that's a big reason I'm dumping my Shure's. I'm afraid that the W4 may be a better overall earphone and for $50 more I should get it. I may be mad later if I don't get the best the first time around. But I don't want "transparent" sound (I have the ER-4S for that). So did I just talk myself into getting the W3? Following this logic, is there any reason I should get the W4?


Looked at heir audios 3ai universal?  Many a headfier has described the 3ai as a "westone 3 done right".  Fwiw I listen to the same sort of prog and the w3's were fine.  Could have been happy with them but they went through the wash and that was that!

 

Cheers

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input...

Spyro, throwing the UM3X into the mix confuses this even more for me, but I can see you are a fan of that one. Now I have 3 choices!  While I like the detachable cable option of the UM3X, I'm afraid it might be too "refined", as it is tuned more flat as a monitor, and not have the impact and V curve of the W3 sound. In my case, I don't see the sound merits of getting the UM3X over the W3 where I'm looking for a high quality "fun" sound. Can you convince me otherwise?

 

Back to my original challenge, W4 vs. W3 - I think the W3 will be more "fun" sounding, but at a low price delta between the two I might be more satisfied having the better earphone overall (the W4). In other words, I might really appreciate the W4 sound and be glad I didn't settle for the W3. I use a Sansa Clip+ for working out, but I also have a H140/D1 rig (optical out, etc...) and have learned to appreciate the power and details of good sound. What I need to do is compare in real life, but struggling to find a local dealer. Will do more research on that. Maybe will call Westone since I live in the same state as them.

post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tracyrick View Post

Thanks for the input...
Spyro, throwing the UM3X into the mix confuses this even more for me, but I can see you are a fan of that one. Now I have 3 choices!  
While I like the detachable cable option of the UM3X, I'm afraid it might be too "refined", as it is tuned more flat as a monitor, and not have the impact and V curve of the W3 sound. In my case, I don't see the sound merits of getting the UM3X over the W3 where I'm looking for a high quality "fun" sound. Can you convince me otherwise?


Back to my original challenge, W4 vs. W3 - I think the W3 will be more "fun" sounding, but at a low price delta between the two I might be more satisfied having the better earphone overall (the W4). In other words, I might really appreciate the W4 sound and be glad I didn't settle for the W3. I use a Sansa Clip+ for working out, but I also have a H140/D1 rig (optical out, etc...) and have learned to appreciate the power and details of good sound. What I need to do is compare in real life, but struggling to find a local dealer. Will do more research on that. Maybe will call Westone since I live in the same state as them.
IMO, UM3X does have a fairly flat response with a boosted bass. Bass quantity is there and extends well. But if you like a V shape sound, UM3X will not satisfy you. Instrument separation and depth of soundstage is superb. But it sounds constricted due to a small soundstage. I've paired it with a silver dragon cable too and it does improve the clarity, lusher mids and smoother highs. But the small and constricted soundstage still remains. Most notably for UM3X is the forward mids. If you are a V shape sound person, you'll need a lot of EQ-ing to get to your likings.

I own a w4r as well. IMO, it suits my ears more than the UM3X. It is a very balanced IEM with a slight bass boost. Definitely the bass quantity loses out to UM3X but it is more textured and extends deeper. For me, I prefer the bass of w4 more to um3x. w4 instrument separation is amazing as well but loses out slightly (only slightly) to um3x due to a slight veil in the lower mids region. But it still offers very good separation and a fairly wide soundstage. The mids are lush and very smooth. Even when EQed to a V shape sound it's still very enjoyable and does everything well.

I've not heard the w3 so can't comment on that. But you can find out more on Heir Audio 4ai too as reviews shows that it's a worthy competitor to the w4.
post #8 of 19

W3 versus UM3X:  UM3X sounds more raw and "real."  While fun, the W3 sounds a little artificial especially the treble.  Some refer to it as plasticy.  This may or may not bother you.  But the timbre and decay on UM3X is far superior.  I wouldn't really call UM3X all that flat.  It draws a fine line between being relatively neutral but fun as well with a very punchy, weighted bass.  A much more proper bass than W3.

 

xaddictionx describes constrictedness or closed in aspect of UM3X very well.  It is truly the only knock on UM3X and does everything else across the board very very well IMHO.

 

UM3X versus W4:  This is a tough call.  I still prefer UM3X because I like the punchy, weighted effortless bass and overall smooth cohesive presentation.  W4 has a larger soundstage and a bit better treble but it is a flatter more neutral presentation and I found it a little uninspiring with flatter older recordings.  While it doesn't require an amp, it improves with an amp much more than W3 or UM3X.  Because of this I wouldn't bother with W4 unless I was amping it.  It really comes down to personal preferences.  Not sure this explanation helps.

 

Also, if vocals are importaqnt to you, the recessed midrange (V-shape) of W3 will make it the worst choice of the three and coming from Shure this will be a big change.  But if you are more about the music then it won't matter much.


Edited by Spyro - 1/22/13 at 12:07pm
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Spyro,

I saw on Westone's site that the UM3X bass is extended on purpose for musicians, so your description seems consistent. I also think your point about it being "punchy" suits my tastes. I am definitely looking for something different than the SE535 and am more interested in the music than vocals. The increased soundstage and treble of the W4 are very appealing, but I have seen multiple opinions that its overall sound is more neutral than either the W3 or the UM3X - that's a direction I don't want to go in this case. I already have the ER-4S for critical listening. So I think the W4 is out, and if nothing else I am also leaning toward the UM3X over the W3 just for the detachable cable option. I saw a comment from one store owner where his data indicated more issues (rather than less) with this option, as it creates a weak point. Makes sense. But based on my cable experiences with the SE530, where Shure had to replaced them for me with the SE535, I would like that option regardless. Thanks.

post #10 of 19

I owned the SE535 for about 6 months when they first came out.  While the soundstage may be slightly larger and more open, I prefer UM3X in every other criteria (bass, treble midrange, timbre, decay).  The UM3X is smoother sounding and a little easier on the ears.  I think you will find it a nice change of pace from SE535.

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

I owned the SE535 for about 6 months when they first came out.  While the soundstage may be slightly larger and more open, I prefer UM3X in every other criteria (bass, treble midrange, timbre, decay).  The UM3X is smoother sounding and a little easier on the ears.  I think you will find it a nice change of pace from SE535.


You and I must have very different listening habits, for natural sounding, I would pick W4 > SE535 > UM3X

The UM3X will deffinitely be quite a change of pace compared to thee SE535 that's for sure

post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

Pulled the trigger on the UM3X, looking for an alternative to my Shure SE535's. Regretted that decision very quickly. Almost immediately obvious that the SE535 are very similar and slightly better, IMO. Here are my first impressions after trying my best to like these, A/B comparison (back and forth) with my SE535. Sources are Sansa Clip+ and H140/d10 optical out, music was rock, prog rock, metal.

 

Ergonomics: I agree this is great. The lighter cable is nice. No microphonics. The earphones themselves fit very nice inside my ears where the SE535 stick out a bit. No complaints here. The Shure olives work well on them. Sound can cut out if you try to wear a headband over them though, same as my Shures. Not sure why that happens. Doesn't happen with the triple flanges, but they are very uncomfortable of course.

Bass: Very good to excellent. Similar. Possibly more detail & impact. Maybe these are being tuned for drummers and not just "musicians."

Mids: Similar if not the same.

Highs: My biggest complaint. The SE535 has significantly better highs (which is hard for me to believe). When I first got the SE535, I thought they sounded like mud. I couldn't even tell there were highs (but to be fair, that was coming from the bright ER-4S/P). Well, the UM3X sound like mud x2. If you want to called this "recessed highs" or a "veil" then that's another way to say it. The opposite of what was I was hoping for. Now I can tell my SE535's have highs, and they're not as bad as I thought, maybe OK even. There is nothing even close to sparkle in these earphones. I think if I would have read the posts a little better I would have seen that no one has claimed the highs are good, it's all about bass and mids and detail. I should have looked for that more specifically.

Instrument separation: Not hearing any improvement vs. the SE535. Except for maybe more detail in the bass drums/guitar. Not getting why this is supposed to be a strength of the UM3X. Compared to what?

Soundstage: Yeah, it's close as described by many. Closer than the SE535. I don't like it. But I was expecting this so not a surprise.

 

Overall, very smooth, as described, but also very similar to the SE535 with emphasis on the mids and lows, but lacking even more highs. SE535 are brighter (but certainly not close to "bright."). Guitars sound much better. So why would I want to keep these and my SE535 at the same time? Will probably send them back. Bummer.

post #13 of 19
Thank for the update! Are you now going to get the W4/R or W3?
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tracyrick View Post

Pulled the trigger on the UM3X, looking for an alternative to my Shure SE535's. Regretted that decision very quickly. Almost immediately obvious that the SE535 are very similar and slightly better, IMO. Here are my first impressions after trying my best to like these, A/B comparison (back and forth) with my SE535. Sources are Sansa Clip+ and H140/d10 optical out, music was rock, prog rock, metal.

 

Ergonomics: I agree this is great. The lighter cable is nice. No microphonics. The earphones themselves fit very nice inside my ears where the SE535 stick out a bit. No complaints here. The Shure olives work well on them. Sound can cut out if you try to wear a headband over them though, same as my Shures. Not sure why that happens. Doesn't happen with the triple flanges, but they are very uncomfortable of course.

Bass: Very good to excellent. Similar. Possibly more detail & impact. Maybe these are being tuned for drummers and not just "musicians."

Mids: Similar if not the same.

Highs: My biggest complaint. The SE535 has significantly better highs (which is hard for me to believe). When I first got the SE535, I thought they sounded like mud. I couldn't even tell there were highs (but to be fair, that was coming from the bright ER-4S/P). Well, the UM3X sound like mud x2. If you want to called this "recessed highs" or a "veil" then that's another way to say it. The opposite of what was I was hoping for. Now I can tell my SE535's have highs, and they're not as bad as I thought, maybe OK even. There is nothing even close to sparkle in these earphones. I think if I would have read the posts a little better I would have seen that no one has claimed the highs are good, it's all about bass and mids and detail. I should have looked for that more specifically.

Instrument separation: Not hearing any improvement vs. the SE535. Except for maybe more detail in the bass drums/guitar. Not getting why this is supposed to be a strength of the UM3X. Compared to what?

Soundstage: Yeah, it's close as described by many. Closer than the SE535. I don't like it. But I was expecting this so not a surprise.

 

Overall, very smooth, as described, but also very similar to the SE535 with emphasis on the mids and lows, but lacking even more highs. SE535 are brighter (but certainly not close to "bright."). Guitars sound much better. So why would I want to keep these and my SE535 at the same time? Will probably send them back. Bummer.

 

Coming from ER4S....pretty much all other IEM's treble will sound lacking.  Your comments would seem fitting after a few minutes of listening?  While you may not like it initially you owe it to yourself to try the UM3X for several days.  With a little treble EQ bump, the UM3X gives you same level of treble detail as SE535 but without the grainy harshness so prevalent in Shure upper midrange/treble.  So smooth and refined sounding. Try different tips, play with EQ.  It's all about synergy and finding the sweet spot.

 

The UM3X and SE535 definitely present the music differently.  The SE535 creates sort of a 2D wall of sound where with UM3X (being a monitor) you are in the middle of the music with the sound floating all around your head.  The SE535 midrange is perhaps the most forward among all IEM's.  This can be fatiguing since the treble and bass sound somewhat distant. The biggest knock I hear on SE535 compared to other IEM's at it's pricepoint are that the treble and bass don't extend well and don't have much depth making the presentation somewhat bland.  It's why I sold it twice and went back to W3 but could also be personal preference.  UM3X was a nice tradeoff between the two. 

 

All I'm saying is give it a fair shot.  UM3X is just as high or more highly regarded as SE535.  It can take our ears a few days to adjust to a new IEM.  If after several days you still don't like, then fair enough...I guess it's not for you.


Edited by Spyro - 1/28/13 at 6:29pm
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyro View Post

I think your consesnsus is wrong.  Treble on W3 is far more extended than W4.

 

Also, UM3X is the most refined IEM in Westones lineup by a long shot.  Also most natural sounding and most balanced with no quirks or peaks.  UM3X is a step up from SE535.

 

If W4 had UM3X bass I would reign it king but UM3X bass is much better. If bass is important beware W4 bass is much less that SE535.

 

The W3 treble is not more extended than the W4, it just has a louder spike hence the sibilance problem so many users report. The W4 treble can reach higher, but it's not as peaky as the W3 and therefore sounds much more neutral & less fatiguing. 

 

Personally, the UM3X just sounded thick & boring. Great mids & instrument separation, but the bass felt a bit bloated (like the w3) and the treble seemed to roll off much like the original SE530. W4 bass isn't as loud as the others, but it's definitely much more refined, as is it's mids & treble. I think the W4 is easily the most refined of the 3. The W3 is good for the wow factor (slam of the bass & v-shaped sound sig,) and since Westone released the newer style silicone tips, the sibilance issue is MUCH more improved in my opinion. The treble rolloff of the UM3X, as well as the narrow soundstage just makes it sound unnatural to me, although I can certainly see how others would like it. 


Edited by woktrr1919 - 1/28/13 at 6:44pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Westone 3 vs. Westone 4, ahhh