At this point, I am going to assume everyone knows all about the fact that this is Westone’s flagship, 6 armature, new IEM and etc... In an effort to abbreviate my post, I am not going to go back through all of this detail.
I am glad I discarded all the overly glowing and harsh praise heaped onto this IEM. It was a nice reminder to listen for myself. A hundred plus hours later I am here to share what I heard.
• Ipod touch 5th gen using FLAC from Tuneshell
• RSA Intruder
• Ted Allen Balanced silver Litz cables (not even a close comparison to both of the stock SE cables).
***Update- now have copper Litz cables from Ted Allen. These are a better match for W60. If you have the W60, I would save money and get the copper litz configuration. It improves the dryness in upper midrange. It seems to give a more musical presentation.
****Update #2- I now have also tested the W60s with the AK240 and the Chord Hugo. Great synergy with these two devices as well.
The marketing of the W60-
I feel like I need to comment on this. They launched this IEM at CES and won a best of show. Westone was off to a good start but it really seemed like that gave them a little too much confidence in the launch of this new product. It really bugs me how poorly this IEM was launched. I would have loved to see them give Jude or some of the other Headfier professionals a chance to demo these headphones in advance…we are their target audience after all. Not only were there no further review or news feeds, they started to miss deadlines. They announced a new product on their Facebook page was to launch but that did not happen as promised. After that, a few more missed deadlines. I could keep going but you get the point. On a plus side, they did reward my patience with Westone earplugs which could come in handy.
• With a 1k price, you expect a great deal . There were not any glaring issues but it was not as premium as I had hoped.
• The 2 cables, assortment of tips and travel case were all as pictured. My only thought was that the travel case was smaller and of lower quality than I thought from the pictures.
• I don’t listen to packaging though so who cares!
• They are reasonable in size and smaller than the 846 with more armatures. For those looking to sleep in IEMs these do sit more flush inside the cavity in the ear.
• I have very small ears despite being over 6 feet tall. I have been using the smallest green star tips on my 846 and thought it would be easy to put the same tips on my w60. Wrong! They certainly fit very comfortably but I could not get a decent seal. Upon examination, the nozzle length is shorter than the 846 so I tried a few other star tips including the longer ones but could never get the ideal fit.
• I went back and forth between the foam, star and various other tips. Ultimately, the original star tip that came factory installed worked best for me. Shallow insertion is my recommendation on these IEMs. The Shure and other brands seem better with a deep insertion.
• Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The seam may be intended by the manufacture but it does look like a crack and I cannot understand why they could not have designed it to avoid that seem.
• The interchangeable faceplates. I have no need to change or customize these but I could see some folks enjoying these. You may want to put a red faceplate on your right iem so you can more quickly identify the left/right ear. Others may simply like the cosmetic appeal of a particular color.
• The overall shell feels more roughly finished than the 846. The 846 feels premium by comparison. Not to mention that the Shure has a metal nozzle with interchangeable filters. The W60 has a plastic nozzle as in the past. To be fair, if you step on either they won't survive.
•This may sound silly but I like being able to see the model number on my IEM. There is not a W60 on these IEMs but not really a big deal.
• This is one of the most important areas for me. I realize there is not a headphone on the planet that can come close to the imaging of my stereo, but there are surprising differences among headphones and IEMs.
• I would say that this IEM surpasses the 846 in imaging by 10%.
• I spent some time trying to decide why I thought they might image better and I think it is in the detail retrieval in the upper registers. I could be wrong but that is how I am hearing it.
• For imaging evaluations, I listened to Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue (FLAC). The amount of air and space, placement of instruments was superb for an IEM.
• Certainly an improvement on the W4R and W40. That being said, it is not a bassheads IEM at all. I am not a basshead though…
• I find the bass to be taught and relatively tight like a sealed sub enclosure.
• It does not reach the lowest registers like the 846 or my LCD 2.2s.
• I think Westone did a fairly good job preventing bass bleed into the the lower midrange but it is not as tidy as the 846 but I am really nitpicking here.
• I hate analytical and sibilant treble so made myself listen to these headphones for a couple of weeks just to spend time them. I wanted to give my brain time to burn-in to the new presentation of sound. Also, if you tend to shy away from analytical sounding IEM's, look for copper litz aftermarket cables.
• In doing so, I would not say they are sibilant or overly bright. They certainly reach higher than the 846.
• If anything, I feel like the extended sound helps to punctuate what I am hearing.
• I find the treble exceptionally pleasing with female vocals and acoustic /stringed instruments.
• I used Eva Cassidy, Fiona Apple, Sara Brightman and multiple other female vocals to tease this out. The presentation of female vocals and strings really is 3 dimensional and magical.
• I need to state my bias is towards Shure’s midrange tuning. I know it is more forward and lush but I do love it. Please take this bias into account when you read my take.
• I disagree with the descriptions I read about “smooth/honey-like” midrange tuning from Westone. Shure has the smoother mid-range in my opinion.
• I find the presentation of Westone’s midrange to be thinner and dryer. I am going to guess it is closer to reference than Shure but sometimes it works and sometimes it does not.
• With male vocals, it misses some of the weight and grit. I listened to Chris Isaak, Chris Jones, Josh Groban and many others to sort out what I was hearing.
• With female vocals, it works beautifully. Even with deeper female vocals like you can hear on London Grammar and many female jazz vocalists.
If you had to pick between the W60 or 846, it would come down to what you find important. I plan to keep both because they both are strong but different. I am glad I don’t have to choose though.
Edited by M Coupe - 9/22/14 at 5:05pm