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Universal Fit item created by 4L3X, May 7, 2010
Pros - Energetic and engaging sound. Comfortable.
Cons - Cable routing up over the ears seems strange at first and I wouldn't mind a slightly longer cable.
I've never been an in-ear headphone fan. Most of what I've heard hasn't had the separation in space and imaging that I enjoy in open airs so much. I got these this month after seeing some of the deal discussion threads along with a couple other headphones. (Side note: those threads were dangerous, I almost bought a pair of Audeze LCD2's but now I'm saving for an LCD3s, ) even worse!
This is a first blush review of the headphones. They sound much more engaging than the TDK IE800s I just got. The midrange sounds more captivating, it's neither particularly forward nor dark. Lots of energy coming off guitar stings. The seem to image fairly well. The bass seems very present though not particularly low or tight. It doesn't feel fast-maybe a bit bloated or tubby. The bass-midbass-midrange area seems congested sounding some how. I'm hoping as they break in this improves. I compare this to a noise floor in preamps/amplifier that is a bit high. An example is when I first moved into a higher end Arcam amplifier it suddenly sounded like the blackness between notes was so much more black compared to what I had been using that the time resulting in a better and clearer delineation between notes and the realism of the music. The Westones lack that to some degree. The treble is present though not sharp-I haven't noticed any sibilance. Cymbals are good but don't sparkle. The phones seem more midrange driven though with just enough high frequency presence that I don't feel I'm losing a ton of detail. Jezabels, Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler all sound good so far.
The packaging is nice. The braided cord feels nice and I didn't notice any microphonics. It is on the short side however. There is a 1/4" adapter as well as a short section of headphone cable with an inline volume adjuster that can be used. There are plenty of silicone skirt-type adapters as well as the slow-rebound foam type. So far the stock pad feels ok. There is a zippered carry pouch and a tool for cleaning/disassembly.
I know this is hardly a new product or groundbreaking in the in-ear segment. Still the Westone 3s are exciting for me as I've never quite considered in-ears for anything other than to use at the gym. The Westone 3s possess a sound signature that doesn't offend by detraction. A solidly good buy and if nothing else they have helped me recognize a segment of the headphone hobby where I'd never really felt compelled to roam.
I'll get to this after I listen more
Pros - Customizable fit, good seal, great audio range
Cons - expensive, cord not replaceable
I first heard of Westone when standing in line for the iPhone 4. A guy in line had a pair of Westone 3's and let a few people try them. I was blown away, could not believe they were that much better than the BOSE IE I was currently using. After discovering the price, I put any thoughts out of my head of purchasing.
Fast forward a few months and after a stroke of good fortune, (the cat eating though the cord of my BOSE IE's) my wife said I should replace them with the Westone's (did I mention I have a great wife )
They come with about a dozen different ear pieces you can fit on the monitors, allowing most people with normally shaped eardrums to find the perfect fit and seal. A nice molded zippered case is also included for carrying.
As far as SQ goes, I would classify them as general purpose. If your listening covers many different genre, then they are well worth trying out. If you're a hip/hop electronic only listener, there are probably better options.
With the introduction of the Westone 4, they're no longer the latest, greatest but they are money well spent... if you can justify $300 plus for IEM's.
Pros - Very comfortable, great cable, slick design
Cons - Bass is way too boomy/muddy, upp-mids too bright, treble a bit recessed
I don't like to buy headphones solely based on people's recommendations without auditioning them first, but the reality is, you often have to because you just don't have the opportunity to audition exactly the models you are interested in due to where you live. The Westone 3 is one such case where I had to rely on internet reviews, and I regret the purchase. The problem with trusting online opinions is that often the people who write really good prose don't necessarily have good taste in audio--many of them use flowery prose to describe what is essentially a severely flawed sonic signature. This is not a subjective statement--it is totally objective, because I'm judging from the perspective of pro audio neutrality, where intentional coloring of the sound is considered a sin when it comes to audio reproduction devices. In pro audio, audio reproduction has to be as transparent as possible, and the Westone 3 is anything but transparent.
In general, the W3's bass is very bloated and muddy, completely overwhelming the entire sonic spectrum. This is one of the tragedies of consumer audio, where uninformed masses with very skewed preference for heavily colored audio reproduction have managed to influence the companies who design and manufacture audio reproduction devices. These companies all should know better--they are professionals after all, but due to market demands, they are creating these very skewed devices to satisfy the uncouth public, and this perpetuates the tragic cycle. The fact that the W3 was praised to the heavens and so many actually believe its bass is perfect, is a symptom of how skewed the general public's understanding of audio is. In comparison, the bass of the SE535 is much more neutral (though it could use a tiny bit more sub-bass presence), although the SE535 has its own problems (the upper mids in the 7KHz range is way too bright/fatiguing).
The rest of the frequency range is not bad on the W3, but it also exhibits the common problem of being a bit too bright/fatiguing in the 7KHz range--this is the problem with IEM in general, since the drivers are so close to the eardrum and the shape of the ear canal causes a resonance in the 7KHz range. I suppose IEM designers can try and design around that resonance peak to begin with, but the fact that most don't probably means doing so will cause other issues.
The treble of the W3 is articulate but not nearly airy enough. This is a problem I have found with many IEM's, so the W3 is not alone in this.
The mids are fine--I don't have any complaints. It's perhaps the strength of the W3, but since its bass is so bloated/muddy, it overwhelms the mids anyway.
I have created an EQ setting that corrects the major issues of the W3, and if you are a W3 owner, I highly recommend you try this setting:
In terms of comfort and visuals, the W3 is one of the best IEMs. It's fits flush against the ear and you can sleep on your side with them on without any problems. The cable is soft and easy to deal with. The design is slick and simple. If only it sounded as good. While the Westone described the W3 as intended to be more fun than neutral, they were still very subtle with their description, and the actual sonic signature of the W3 goes beyond fun and into the muddy territory.
Pros - bass, treble, detail, aliveness, fit, comfort, isolation, looks
Cons - price for the average person. for me they were totally worth it
These with my Cowon J3 playing FLAC is just amazing. I wanted a simple portable setup and this is it.
After experimenting with tips I settled on the Shure Olives. The complys were killing the treble and fell off easily. These preserve all the treble, and if i'm not mistaken, the bass is even punchier. Also, they stick on like crazy. It's really hard to get those tips off. But that's awesome for me as I am an on-the-go student who bikes a lot.
The Westone 3s with the Shure Olives sound great for every genre, but I am continually amazed at how great my FLAC trance compilations sound. A State of Trance et al are perfectly portrayed by these earphones. They also do an amazing job with rock, hip-hop, and the indie mixes my girlfriend makes.
I guess I'm just impressed with how well they do with trance because I like it a lot.
These were my upgrade from the Senn IE8s, and they are an upgrade in every way but soundstage. And I will sacrifice one for the good of the many. I loved the IE8s when I first got them, but the lack of isolation and the rolled-off treble made me look for something else. The W3s were the answer. I bought them for $350 on Amazon, and I listen to them from when I wake up in the morning to late into the night. Basically whenever I'm not talking to someone. They are sensitive so they hiss with my macbook (not a hipster, it was a gift) but the included resistor fixes the problem. But I dont carry it around, and I only use my macbook for watching movies so its no big deal. Just saying they're sensitive so they're going to hiss if you use them with a macbook. WIth my J3 there is literally 0 hiss.
And aesthetically, they're amazing. Glossy black, red accents, beautifully curved bodies. They're ridiculously durable, I've put them through hell and they dont even have a scratch on them. The coiled cable feels great, and the splitter catches perfectly each twist in the cables, a secure but easily adjustable fit. Perfect for putting the cord down your back for physical activities. There is no cable noise whatsoever if you wear them like this.
When I get customs, I want them to be just like these. They are crazy good. I dont know how you could not like these. They were a huge upgrade over the IE8s for me, and the IE8s cost more, unless you go for a shady ebay deal like I did.
I love them, and I wish every earphone had these ergonomics. If these are in your price range, I highly recommend them. Now Westone has released a 4-driver Westone 4, so I would consider that too if I didn't already have these. Good luck in whatever you end up buying.
Pros - Same as title
Cons - nothing for the price
Love listening to these with my RSA shadow and Cable Pro Reverie LOD. My portable system makes great sound.