Was shocked to not find a thread comparing these two after all these years? Strange...
I will have to take my words back as previously stating I preferred SE535 to W4. I don’t think I gave the W4 enough time. Although it is still based on our opinions and music genre types…. as an overall IEM, I would have to say W4 is technically better and MUCH more refined than SE535. It is SO smooth! Westone’s own description right on the box hits the nail on the head when they describe W4 as having “breath-taking clarity, realism and imagery.” The best adjective I could use to describe the listening experience is “beautiful.” Music just sounds beautiful on the W4’s. The balance is literally perfect and certainly not bass deficient (no Westone IEM is).
With SE535 the midrange is the focus and the bass and treble are secondary. With W4 everything is represented the same. No matter what any chart might say, I find the cohesiveness terrific. I may not have golden ears but everything sounds great to me. Light years ahead of any single driver I have heard. So much more holographic! When you look at the size of the W4 it is astonishing how expansive the sound is. Very headphone’ish. The W4 actually does okay without an amp but with my Ibasso T3 there is surely a bit more clarity and smoothness. With SE535 there is not much of any difference or I may even prefer it unamped.
The W4 treble is fantastic. Extends farther than SE535 and is much like the TF10 treble where it is very revealing but somewhat soft. It is a very euphoric trait where an IEM can have treble that is so nicely extended but with zero fatigue. It is extended at a level normally heard with hot, bright treble IEM’s which I find fatiguing. You could listen to W4 all day long at decent volumes and your ears would never get tired. To me….this is treble done right.
I prefer the W4 midrange over the SE535 for 2 reasons. W4 is not as forward and in your face but it’s still very present. Maybe it is the superior detail retrieval of W4 but vocals are sensational. I believe someone referred to an upper mid spike with SE535 and I am not dissing the SE535 mid’s which are their trademark but the W4 mids are simply smoother.
You would have to be an all out basshead if the W4 bass wasn’t enough for you. The dual bass drivers make it so textured and detailed. Yes, I’ll say it…..blows W3 bass away. I played comparative tracks and it’s pretty apparent.
Other than the SE535 having a bit more bass slam, I'm not sure it beats W4 in ANY other criteria
In summary, I think these are worth the cost. The overall refinement, smoothness and extended treble of W4 are the key ingriedients to making W4 the better choice over SE535. Warm, very real and engaging but they have amazing detail retrieval. The W4 is butter smooth. It’s almost like they make you focus on the music and less about the traits of the IEM. For the record, I am using with Westone “star” tips, Ipod Classic and Ibasso T3 analog amp. Jaw-dropping sound quality. I would love to do an A-B-C comparion with JH13 and JH16 which I previously owned. I would NOT eliminate the possibility the W4 could win out between the three. Quite possible. For right now…. Upgrade-i-t is is GONE. Really not sure what Westone does to improve from here?
Edited by Spyro - 11/22/13 at 6:55pm