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Review: Westone UM Pro30 (refreshed UM3X)

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
UM Pro30 review:

Firstly I would like to thank David at Westone EU for sending me this sample for review, I will try to write as honest a review possible. These received over 50hrs of burn-in, no noticeable differences were noted.
From what I have gathered, these are a refreshed UM3X, no sonic changes, just a different housing and cable (MMXC connector).

Gear used:
Fiio X3 > UM Pro30 (long S silicone startips)
IPod Classic 160gb > UM Pro30 (long S silicone startips)



Tech specs:
Sensitivity: 124db @1mW
Frequency response: 20Hz - 18kHz
Impedance: 56 Ohms @1kHz
Drivers: 3 balanced armatures (1 low, 1 mids, 1 high) with passive 3 way crossover
Cable: MMXC connector, detachable, 1.2m

Packaging, build quality and accessories:
Packaging is sleek, a black box with a picture of the IEM's on the front and specs + information is on the sides and back. The outer part is a sleeve, once off you will find a grey box, made of quality card. This has a magnetic opening flap, inside you find the IEM's held in thick foam, with the carry pouch underneath. The first thing you'll find upon opening is a business card thanking you for your purchase of a Westone product.
Underneath the carry case (monitor vault) are the accessories. A very well packaged earphone, very sleek and professional, all the print is of high quality too.



Build quality I have no problems with, the housing is made of high quality plastic, very sleek, understated finish, with only a W embossed on it, no big Westone printed on the housing. The housing is small and discreet, the cable is flexible and soft. I like the memory wire, as it does not contain and bendable wire, but instead if just moulded soft rubber, very comfortable, as I tend to dislike memory wire. The jack is 90° and well relieved, the y-split equally good with a chin slider. The detachable cable uses the same connector as Shure IEM's, which is quickly becoming the standard detachable cable for headphones. Many people dislike this connector, but I have never had problems, with these or the SE535, and they swivel which makes them more comfortable than the older, fixed, Westone connectors.



Plenty of accessories are included, many tips (foam and silicone), and a monitor vault case which is like a micro pelican case except not as good build quality. I think the case is brilliant, strong and perfect size for the monitors.



Comfort, isolation, cable noise and driver flex:
Comfort is excellent once you have found the right tips. I first started with foam tips, but they do reduce the highs which is not good for my tastes, so I changed to the longer small silicone tips, which are very comfortable and to my ears sound better. You can get quite a deep fit, and the IEM's sit very flush with your ears, the insertion angle of the nozzle is perfect for me. I could even sleep with these in.

Isolation is great with the right tips. Foam will isolate a little more, but with silicone they isolate really well too, great for noisy environments.

Cable noise is non existent, as the cable goes over the ear.

Driver flex is not a problem as these use balanced armature drivers.



Lows: for a BA driver IEM the lows are well extended and full, with great punch and articulation. They extend low and punch hard when needed, the lows really fill out the sound and the are definitely on the warmer/darker side of sound. The single driver for the lows is huge compared to the mids and highs so you can expect it to have big full lows, but for a BA IEM these excel in the lows, never sounding dry or flat. They don't bleed in to the mids which is great, these have a fun, forward and engaging sound. For on stage monitoring you can tell that the added warmth helps because of the high sound floor as that tends to effect the lows most, so it would be easy for band members to still distinguish the rhythm section. Also these have very good speed but also realistic decay in the lows.

Mids: this is the highlight of these, made for on stage monitoring the mids are crisp and full bodied without sounding nasal or bloated, they are lush and detailed, these have a more low/mid forward signature. Both male and female vocals fair well, male vocals are not affected by the full lows, and female vocals come across clean and crisp, no sibilance can be detected. The mids are forward, and full whilst retaining good detail retrieval, and they have a very pleasing, natural tone to them, not being too thick, neither being clinical and cold.

Highs: This is their weakness, the highs lack some presence, but the highs do extend well and are very precise and detailed. It is just they are slightly pushed behind the lows and mids, making these mildly dark sounding. They do however have more presence than the Shure SE535, and my ears have come accustomed to the slightly behind highs, and I no longer find them too bad. This does however mean that they don't become fatiguing after long listening sessions.

I will have to make a silver plated copper cable for these at some point, as it made a difference with the Shure SE535, hopefully it will with these.

Soundstage is intimate, but listening to some of the Appleseed cast, it was quite wide, so it is track dependent. On the whole though it is nothing special but wider than normal.

Instrument separation is very good, but there is not a lot of air between the instruments because of the thicker overall sound.

Imaging is good, panning is convincing and the channels merge well, not sounding too separate. The channel separation and panning effects create the perception of a very wide soundstage, a couple of times I was very impressed with the panning effects as the sounds were coming from outside my head and what you would expect IEM's to be like.

Source/amp matching:
Well, as these have a mildly dark sound signature it is normal that they sound better with either neutral reference gear or slightly bright gear.

From the sources I used, I preferred the iPod Classic over the X3, I was using the X3 a lot with these, but now I have gone back to using the Classic. The X3 makes these too warm and thick sounding for my tastes, whereas the iPod has a more linear sound which then brings out more detail, air and space from these. They are not neutral sounding IEM's, but out of the iPod they do sound well balanced.

Soon my JDS Labs C5D will arrive, I will update impressions of these amped afterwards.



So overall these are a moderately dark sounding IEM with an easy to listen to yet detailed, lush signature. For the intended usage of these IEM's, stage monitors, I understand the slightly boosted lows because on stage the noise floor is very high, and musicians still need to hear the rhythm section, yet the mids steal the show by being very well separated and detailed, yet never harsh or sibilant.

Can I recommend these, yes, they are great as a portable, low profile IEM, you get great comfort for long journeys (flying) and great isolation. The sound is easy to like, and listen to.

I have not heard the Shure SE535 in a long time, but I think these are as good, if not slightly better than the SE535 (depending on the cable used) I do prefer the fit of the Westone's (housing shape and cable) the case is better, and also the tips are better.

Sound Perfection Rating: 8.5/10

Thank you for reading, photos taken by Felix Speller: www.felixspeller.com

Tracks Used:
Skrillex – First Of The Year (Equinox) (320kbps MP3)
Paramore – Franklin (320kbps MP3)
Diana Krall – The Girl In The Other Room (FLAC)
Deolinda – Passou Por Mim E Sorriu (live) (ALAC)
Suicide Silence – Unanswered (FLAC)
Massive Attack – Angel (ALAC)
Eat Static – Dzhopa Dream (ALAC)
The XX – Crystalised (FLAC)
Funeral For A Friend – Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings (ALAC)
Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man (FLAC)
The Scene Aesthetic – Humans (259kbps MP3)
A Hero A Fake – Swallowed By The Sea (254kbps MP3)
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, Spring Allegro (ALAC)
Johnny Craig – Children Of Divorce (161kbps MP3)
Deadmau5 + Kaskade – I Remember (Caspa Remix) (320kbps MP3)
Black Uhuru – Utterance (ALAC)
We Are The In Crowd – Never Be What You Want (226kbps MP3)
Silverstein – Discovering The Waterfront (320kbps MP3)
Concept Of Thought – Our Thought (FLAC)
Nirvana – Something In The Way (Unplugged) (ALAC)
post #2 of 21
Thread Starter 

Quick update, these pair wonderfully with the JDS Labs C5D, the neutral amp brings out a little more control and sparkle than using them out of just the ipod.

 

I still plan on making a silver plated copper cable for these one day.

post #3 of 21

I picked me up a pair of these today.  Without trying to repeat things from the excellent review above I will add a few thoughts.

 

I have owned UM3X for close to a year in total and without having them side by side with UMPro 30, I'm not sure you could claim much difference.  Having said that, I will just say the Pro30 does NOT seem as closed in and as claustrophobic as I remember UM3X but that might just be the star tips adding a bit of air and sparkle.

 

The look and build is amazing.  Better in real life than pictures.  Absolutely love the new cable, especially around the ear.  Very soft comfy rubber, not hard vinyl or plastic like most memory wire.  The housing material also feels dense just like the UM3X housing.  Very well made looking product.

 

Coming from W4R, these have much more punch.  The bass hits hard, it's aggressive but very refined and smooth sounding too.  I do not have golden ears and I can't say exactly why but the Pro30 just sounds more cohesive and together as well.  I dare anyone to listen to a pair of these and detect ANY issues with phase and crossover.   Bass is just about as big as W3 but NO mid bass bump.  I always thought UM3X (and now Pro30) had among the truest and best decays of any IEM I have ever used.  Drums are so fun with this IEM.   I would have to say I think it is also technically better than SE535.  Soundstage nod goes to SE535...Midrange is a draw but bass, treble and instrument separation goes to Pro30.

 

This is a very well engineered IEM with very little to complain about.  A slight purposeful treble roll-off but with a pinch of EQ and star tips I find it totally acceptable.  I HIGHLY recommend the UMPro30.  Worthy of it's price IMHO.


Edited by Spyro - 1/22/14 at 8:46pm
post #4 of 21
Excellent reviews!! Thank you!
post #5 of 21

Oh finally someone who also thought the UM3X was a little 'claustrophobic'. I thought I may have been going crazy

Still I think I might skip the UM 30 Pro

post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
To balance things out when listening with my fiio X3, I drop the bass -2 and add +1 to the highs, much more balanced.

With my JDS Labs C5D I don't need to EQ as I get more sparkle anyway with that.

I still can't make my mind up if I love these or not, I do enjoy them, and for what they are they are brilliant but I like my treble and these don't quite deliver in the upper frequencies.

Other than that, the decay is perfect, the overall sound is smooth and very easy to listen to.
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
I hope to get either the new W50 or W60 to review, hopefully they will have a bit more sparkle up top, being closer to my preferred signature.
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 

Interesting measurements from Goldenears:

 

http://en.goldenears.net/28904

 

Especially the impedance, from the graph you can tell that they do fair better with amping as it jumps up to 130ohm at around 2khz

 

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ostewart View Post


I still can't make my mind up if I love these or not, I do enjoy them, and for what they are they are brilliant but I like my treble and these don't quite deliver in the upper frequencies.

Other than that, the decay is perfect, the overall sound is smooth and very easy to listen to.

I think this pretty much sums up the Westone house sound. I really enjoy listening to my UM2, but they aren't going to jump out at you and make you go "Wow!" I think this is why one of the common descriptions of Westone IEMs is "boring". That makes it sound bad - but it's really not - it's very pleasant - just not exciting...

beerchug.gif
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Very true. I understand why some find them boring. Personally I prefer more sparkle, but the UM Pro30 have a very likeable sound. I like my final audio design Heaven II for its leaner more detailed sound and fantastic mids, but the lows are not as natural neither is the decay.

I think that's what I enjoy most is the decay, excellent for balanced armature drivers..
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ostewart View Post
 

Interesting measurements from Goldenears:

 

http://en.goldenears.net/28904

 

Especially the impedance, from the graph you can tell that they do fair better with amping as it jumps up to 130ohm at around 1.2khz

 

fixed that for you

 

Just to add to the feature of having pro IEM, it excels in noisy places. I use mine regularly while going through public transportation and the music is just as clear as if I were to use it in a semi-silent (computer labs) areas.

 

There is a big difference going from UM PRO 20 to UM PRO 30. Well worth the higher price imo.

post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Yep thanks for that, was being lazy when posting it haha

That's what I put in the review, for on stage use, they must be perfect as they have bumps where things get lost in noisy environments.
post #13 of 21

Yup, it all still comes down to personal preference.  How much do the personal perceived "faults" of an IEM bother you versus the things that it really excels at.   

 

Anyway, I would not consider the Pro30 boring.  I thought that designation went to W4....the IEM that simply does nothing wrong where I could claim the Pro30 has some features done as well as IEMs costing 3 times as much.  (tonality, bass, decay, instrument separation and refinement.  The Pro30 bass is SO effortless!

 

 I don't understand people referring to a Westone "house" sound.  What would that be?  Some have sparkle, some roll off,  some have forward midranges, some have recessed midranges, some are balanced, some are u-shaped?  What's the house sound.

post #14 of 21

Hi all, I'm a newbie on head-fi. I was looking for a review on this particular IEM as I am planning to replace my Shure 425. I own a UM2, but I accidentally broke one the tips that hold the foam. I couldn't find the missing tip, so I can't use the earpiece, but I kept the UM2 as a spare. I since bought the Shure 425.

 

Anyhow, the reason for this post is to share my experience with MMCX type of connector (micro miniature co-axial). As you know, Weston is now using the same cable as Shure. Makes you wonder why they call it Designed and Assembled in USA not Made in USA (the cable and the MMCX connectors are probably made in Asia like Shure). One day, the Shure cable started to play up. I couldn't be bothered getting a replacement and since I like the Weston twisted cable so much that I search the internet for the MMCX connector. To cut my story short, I removed the UM2 cables from the earpiece and soldered the male MMCX connector and I have now got a Shure 425 earpiece with Westone twisted cable.

 

I used this IEM as an everyday earphone but every now and then, the sound goes off in either earpiece. I rectify this by swivelling/twisting the cable around the connector. I discovered that the female connector (the earpiece side) has produced a build-up of dirt (to me it looks like a product of oxidation, gold plating is supposed to reduce this). Anyway, I cleaned it up by using a (tiny) pin to access the connector and scrape the dirt. After cleaning it, the intermittent loss of sound goes away, but you cannot clean it thoroughly. Eventually the dirt (oxide) builds up that you cannot clean it properly, it’s like a plaque.

 

One day, one of the earpiece started to lose the sound again, after inspecting, I noticed the female pin lost half of it. When I say lost half, think about the female co-axial plug, the middle part where the male pin goes and it looks like a tube but cut in half – looks like this (o), the letter ‘o’ is the male pin and now becomes like this (o the missing half prevents the male from making proper contact. Because the pin is so tiny, when this pin degrades due to build-up of dirt, etc. it can break, as it happens to my IEM.

 

I have read many reviews about UM Pro 3, but nothing about the reliability of this type of connector. I agree that you can replace the cables, but what about the female connector e.g. the earpiece side? Is there a proper tool to clean the female connector for maintenance? It’s so tiny, no brush can access it. I prefer the two-pin connector because there is no vulnerable piece like the female pin in MMCX. I don’t want to get the UMX3RC because of bad review with the cable (the piece that goes around the ear, it’s not comfortable). The new Shure se846 uses a new type of MMCX (not gold plated), looks like alloy/tin but its too expensive. This type of connector cost $8 and apparently its better than the gold plated ones.

 

Sorry if this post is too long, but I hope it creates awareness to those who are seeking an IEM using this type of connector. Maybe cleaning it once a week may reduce the wear and tear on the earpiece.

 

P.S. My heart is still fixated on the UM Pro 30, unless someone provides an alternative. I love the Westone twisted cable so much that sometimes it overrides my priority e.g. should be the sound first.

post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyro View Post

Yup, it all still comes down to personal preference.  How much do the personal perceived "faults" of an IEM bother you versus the things that it really excels at.   

Anyway, I would not consider the Pro30 boring.  I thought that designation went to W4....the IEM that simply does nothing wrong where I could claim the Pro30 has some features done as well as IEMs costing 3 times as much.  (tonality, bass, decay, instrument separation and refinement.  The Pro30 bass is SO effortless!

 I don't understand people referring to a Westone "house" sound.  What would that be?  Some have sparkle, some roll off,  some have forward midranges, some have recessed midranges, some are balanced, some are u-shaped?  What's the house sound.

My knowledge is old, so that's probably the gap - I think the original UM1, UM2 & UM3 were all fairly similar - IMHO none of them had treble that could be said to "sparkle" - they were all warm sounding. Each was more refined and more resolving as you went from UM1->UM3. If that has changed - then great, I'm all for it! beerchug.gif
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