Westone W60 Signature Series 6-Driver Universal-fit In-ear Headphones

General Information

Westone W60 | Universal Fit In-Ear Headphones w/ 6 Drivers

The pinnacle of the Westone W series, the Signature Series W60 is designed for the serious listener. Featuring a premier six-driver system with a three-way crossover, you'll experience the best audio available from any earphone available today. With dual drivers for high frequencies, midrange and bass, the W60 delivers superb detail from powerful and balanced sound. But the good stuff doesn't end there. Westone added a host of features like a 3 button apple control system with mic, interchangeable metallic faceplates, a replaceable cable and Westone tru-fit technology with their patented Start + True Fit Tips.

6 Driver system with 3-way crossover.
Balanced armature drivers offer compact size, better sound.
Unparalleled balance & accuracy of sound-stage.
Detachable and replaceable MMCX cables and connectors.

Latest reviews


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: They sound wonderful, anti-fatigue machines that are a joy to wear… (with metal plates).
Cons: The plastic is not so fantastic.
I wrote a somewhat controversial article read by 4 people called “a sojourn through middle class iems”. There I discussed a series of Noble and Westone iems being:
1. Noble 5/Dulce Bass;
2. Westone UmPro50;
3. Noble 6;
4. Westone W60;
5. Noble Savant.

It was a freewheeling article discussing shilling as a minor theme, but generally just a series of iems that I owned and enjoyed, and why that was so. I also vented pretty heavily on what I considered and still consider to be bad design. No example of this was more starkly attacked then when I reached the topic of the W60, which I’ve largely cut and pasted below.

Looking below I did a disservice by perhaps failing to describe what I really love about this iem. And I DO REALLY LOVE THIS IEM. I gave it a 4 star even while hating the plastic plates so much, this is nearly a 1000 word essay on terrible plate design and contemptuous business practice... clearly I still think that they must sound awfully good.

On that note I will commence...

Let’s begin this gloriously sounding W60… by getting stuck into their biggest failure.

Specifically those Stupid. Plastic. Plates.

I am a Westone fan but will a greater one, when their iems adopt metal shelled monitors & their stems are being made of thicker, sterner stuff. And when their "decorative plates” are banished to the dustbin of shameful iem ideas to ever sprout from this proud company.

As most appreciate, the iem segment has evolved like crazy like it’s been on fire. Innovations are spinning out all over the place. Noble is leading the cosmetic race, JH Audio surprising us with Lola innovative driver and BA combinations, Shure with electrostatic and Audeze using planar magnetic technology, Adel technology shaking up a couple of manufacturer’s Balanced Armature offerings and Campfire Audio and others throwing new brilliant organic single drivers into the mix… there’s lots happening and for an iem fan, every 3 months is Christmas… (Okay, if we could afford them or if Santa Claus is an audiophile… which he might be. He’s probably not hearing my cries on account of a pair of Empire Zeus XR ADEL jammed in his big pink ears.)

Unfortunately Westone is one of the very few companies (with Shure being the other) that are saying “Quick, let’s make more fragile plastic iem pieces and charge people $1000s of dollars!” (Hi, W80 & Shure KSE1500.)

Businesses needs to keep abreast of their competition. Anyone can choose a niche and go about owning it, as a strategy. It’s normally not a bad idea. Business 101. But I don’t see the “$1000 dollar plastic fragile iem” as a niche. Rather, it's an evolutionary obsolete sub-niche of the expensive iem general category.

This means Shure and Westone need to adapt or die. At the moment the focus is Westone. Shure at least as far back as 2011 realised that their iems needed to be stronger as demonstrated in their still beautiful se846.

It’s possible that the iem category has grown as a whole by so much that Westone and Shure’s iem divisions aren’t sufficiently troubled to adequately respond. They’re generally out of date items keep selling year on year, so they think “what’s the problem?”.

I think if iems were all they sold, then their attitude would be very different.

Neither brands has grabbed much of our Headfi communities’ interest in the past few years. This is frankly due to their unexciting efforts and lack of engagement with the Headfi community. Our community drives global trends in iems and cans… that’s a sociological fact. Read Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point fellas? Too bad.

So ignore us at your peril, but we are legion.

  1. The point of this rant is to say specifically to Westone that persisting with a crack-prone design on the W series is economic suicide.
  2. Adding a lean competitor who has illustrated the ability to parlay a cable business (ALO to Campfire Audio) into illustrating the ingenuity and frankly enthusiasm to produce a range of highly applauded, differently designed iems... and then adopting that same competitor's expensive cable to make your new flagship (the W80) a more palatable offering, is waving the flag of surrender.
  3. And then do all the above, and not even both to fix the most obvious and highly complained of flaw… FLIMSY PLASTIC... do I need to say it again?

  1. Plastic. Body.
  2. Thin reeds.
  3. Crack prone decorative plates… The likes of will entertain children during their Lego phases. Your average audiophile - not so much.

When you drop $100s and yes, $1000s on a single iem, and the face plate feels like a cheap gimmick… It causes one to ponder the quality of their expensive engineering in the first place… (If they can’t fix this, what other problems have been pasted over and ignored for years????)

Westone should've stopped making the W faceplates years ago… In other words, straight after the first crack appeared. (So, one (1) week after the 1st batch… five (5) years ago.)

But… having expressed a perhaps uncomfortable quantity of enough rage, the uncomfortable fact that I’m still a Westone fan. Because, I find that they're consistently tuned for angels. Sound still matters.

Treble - almost shockingly smoooooooth baby. These are the anti-fatigue headphones. The benefit (and there’s only one) of having light plastic shells is they sit in your ears like your skin, and then they’re tuned such that they never fatigue. In it’s own way, it’s perfect.

Mids - nice mids. Warm, smooth again. Think about all the good things about the Shure se535s, and the famed Shure mids signature generally… and then sculpt them a bit, so that there’s better detail, depth, finesse… Beautiful mids.

Bass - plenty of bass. It could be argued that the bass is a bit “boomy”, a teensy bit of echo that would suggest a lot of 80s rock would sound excessively 80s (if that makes sense) on these… But your ears adjust. You don’t feel short changed on the bass, but it lacks the control and force of the Westone UmPro50. I think the W60 holds itself very well against the Noble N5/Dulce… which says a lot about how well this bass is presented, given Noble markets that model as “sweet bass”… English for the Latin Dulce Bass.

Closing comments. The W60 gave an underwhelming first impression when it appeared, even to it’s Westone fans who were waiting patiently for something special. I think there are a couple reasons for this disappointment for this fantastic sounding iem. Fans were like me, were plain annoyed that Westone weren’t doing something about making their (then) new flagship with stronger specs.

Then the W60 wasn’t initially seen as a significant leap over the superb W40… Technically it’s not. Third, it’s price was high given that plastic form bugging everyone and haunting the brand to this day with it’s W80… No new technology other than slapping another BA into the admittedly impressive tight form.

However I’ve come to think the subtle beauty of these grow on you in a way after a couple of weeks that’s often the reverse of that initial newbie enthusiasm where your brain goes “wow, these are the best things I’ve ever heard… followed a day later by a bit of a “whatever” response. The hidden irritations reveal themselves. The treble turns out sibilant on a few tracks. Issues arise that you first ignored. None of that happens here. The build quality is irritating to begin with, and a week later when you’ve cracked your first plastic plate, it’s unbelievably irritating. But by then the sound is fantastic and you’re looking for alternatives. Thankfully a bright company called OSKSR has produced a beautiful metal plates that solves the problem. $35 bucks and the plates are a non-event… hell, they even look cool.
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twister6 Reviews
Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: 6 BA drivers, ergonomic size, smooth detailed sound, removable cables, lots of accessories
Cons: pricey, accessories not as premium in comparison to lower W models

Before I begin with my review, I would like to Thank Westone for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion about their product.

In a world of premium multi-driver $500+ IEMs, it often comes down to how drivers are grouped between lows/mids/highs, how they are tuned according to this partitioning and crossover implementation, and how the additional drivers affect the size, the build, and the ergonomics of IEM housing design.  Based on all these factors, one can determine which pair suites their taste and budget better when you finally ready to step into the world of top of the line (TOTL) headphones.
After a number of my previous Westone IEM reviews covering W40, UM Pro 30, and UM Pro 50, I'm finally ready to explore the crown of their W-series line up - W60 model with six Balanced Armature (BA) drivers partitioned into pairs covering each band of low, mid, and high frequencies.  As a bonus, considering a number of requests after my UM Pro 50 review, I will also go into a more detailed comparison between W60, UM Pro 50, and Shure SE846.  Though SE846 is only 4-driver design, Shure positioned its flagship $1k pair at TOTL level which should go head-to-head with $1k pair of W60.  Might as well call it a battle of $1k IEMs!  So without further ado, let me begin.
I always start my reviews with a description of the packaging and virtual unboxing.  Looking at W60 box, you are greeted with an outer sleeve featuring a high-res image of Westone flagship on the front side.  The look of the cover has the same layout as W40 but "W" logo is now in silver and there is a "Signature Series" label above the model number.  On the back and the sides of the sleeve you have a detailed description of the design, accessories, and tech specs.  You definitely get an in-depth picture of what awaits you inside.  With an outer sleeve off, you are presented with a premium soft touch magnetic cover inner box which contains headphones and plethora of the accessories.
I have to admit, the amount and the quality of included custom accessories is very impressive for the first time Westone customer, but it could leave you a bit disappointed if you are upgrading to W60 from any of their lower model, even as basic as a single driver W10, since there is no premium accessory distinction.  Seems that with accessories Westone made a conscious decision where every W-series customer can feel special, either if you spent $200 for their single driver or $1k for their 6-driver pair of headphones, with nearly an identical package including their 5 patented pairs of Star silicone eartips, 5 pairs of True-Fit foam eartips, 3 sets of interchangeable color faceplates (in case of W60 they have standout color/finish), mini monitor-vault case, and 2 sets of Epic audio and MFI G2 smartphone cables with mmcx connectors.
I already mentioned in my previous reviews that I believe Westone has a definite advantage over other IEM manufacturers because they have been in audio business for over 55 years and have a full catalog of not only professional audio but also hearing protection products.  As a result, don’t expect to find a typical generic S/M/L eartips or a pair of Comply tips in a plastic bag.  With a color coded marked stems, Star silicone tips are designed with multiple flex-zones and have 5 pairs in different length, shape, and size.  The same with True-Fit foam tips, you get 5 pairs with color coded stems and shapes similar to Star tips.  Their foam density has a medium recovery property - not too soft or too firm.  You also get a cleaning tool with a small metal loop to clean inside of a narrow nozzle or eartip stems, and a pelican style small “vault” storage case.  This case is OK to use with included thin flexible cable, but if you decide to go with a thicker aftermarket cable – you will need to step up to a bigger case.
Unboxing and Accessories.
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As part of their W-series “consumer” appeal, Westone also adds an option of customizable interchangeable faceplates.  With W60 they made faceplate colors different from other lower models, giving them a more premium look with included red/silver/copper metallic finish plates.  Plates are actually plastic but have a metal color finish which still keeps it lightweight and durable without adding extra weight to the shell.  Also, with an included small screwdriver tool they are very easy to take off and secure back on, and you don’t have to worry about losing a screw which stays with a faceplate.
Exchangeable faceplates.
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Included removable cables give you an option of either audio only Epic twisted cable or MFI G2 cable with in-line remote for smartphones.  Epic cable is thin, lightweight, and flexible, with ultra low resistance tensile wire design reinforced with aramid fiber.  For a stock cable it actually has a decent audio performance.  G2 cable has a more robust rounded shielding, still soft and flexible, and comes with in-line remote/mic.  Though multi-function button is OS independent and can be used for Play/Pause/Call, the volume up/down buttons are for iOS only operation.  Westone offers a similar cable (Android version) with universal remote where volume buttons are removed to eliminate the confusion.  In my opinion, the remote could have been smaller and I would keep it universal with a single multi-function button covering both Android and iOS smartphones.  Personally, I’m a big fan of aftermarket audio cables, such as pure silver or pure copper, but they do come at a premium price and heavier weight.  Either way, removable cable option is a big plus and gives you flexibility of future upgrades.
One thing you do have to keep in mind, something a lot of people don’t realize, is about the size of Westone mmcx connectors.  It is true that Westone uses common mmcx type, but these are short profile connectors, not a standard size.  As a result, you can use any mmcx based universal cable with Westone (new W-series or UM-series) IEMs, but you will not be able to use their Epic or G2 cable with other mmcx connector based IEMs, such as those from UE, JVC, Fidue, and others.  For that reason, when you are looking into replacement custom cables, I would recommend to specify universal mmcx connector rather than W60 specific connector.
Cables (EPIC G2 round cable w/MFI and EPIC braided audio cable).
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When it comes to a design, Westone bean-shaped shells are among the most comfortable universal fit IEMs I have tested.  I think it’s another example of how they have an advantage over competition while drawing from a pool of their knowledge and experience of designing ergonomic hearing protection products.  These headphone shells have a very stick and lightweight rounded design, and the most important – they stay the same size regardless of driver config, with an exception of W10/W20 being slightly smaller.  Westone model index is based on a number of drivers, where W10 or UM Pro 10 correspond to a single BA driver, while 20/30/40/50/60 represent up to 6 BA drivers per shell.  It's quite possible they take advantage of combined BA driver modules to reduce number of components, and I can confirm there is no difference in size or shape going from 4-driver W40 to 6-driver W60.
Unlike UM Pro series offered in clear and smoke translucent shells, W-series is non-transparent, made out of black lightweight durable plastic, and customizable with interchangeable faceplates that come handy when you mix the colors to distinguish L/R sides, perhaps using Red plate on a right side.  That’s how I have it on W40, but I really enjoyed the copper color of W60 plates which adds a premium look to these IEMs.  Another point to make, something that already came up in questions after my W40 review, the shell joint around mmcx connector housing is not cracked!  Some people freak out and go into panic mode thinking they applied too much force when disconnecting the cable, causing it to crack, while in reality it’s just a joint gap intended by a design.
The shape and fitment of Westone IEMs is not symmetrical, so there is no confusion which piece goes into which ear, and for further guidance faceplates also have a large L/R letter for a better id.  The wire fitment is always over the ear, it’s very comfortable and produces no microphonics even when cable is rubbing against your cloth.  There is no visible pinhole port to let the air in/out of the shell, while sound still remains very spacious.  Nozzle is very narrow, corresponding to T100 Comply size, and I never experienced a problem of leaving an eartip behind when earpieces removed from my ears, though I do have to admit I typically use the largest size tips.
Design details.
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And speaking of eartips, don’t ever settle on the first pair you reach out for or whatever comes installed by default.  Especially with Westone IEMs, selection of the correct eartip size is very crucial in sound shaping.  Ensuring a proper seal of your ear canal opening will guarantee the best low end and top end sound balance.  Furthermore, Westone offers a unique opportunity of turning your ear impressions, typically reserved for Custom IEMs, into a custom eartips (UM56) to be used with any W-series or UM-series headphones.  Custom eartip design will reassure like-a-glove fitment with the most natural seal which yields the best sound performance, but you do have to keep in mind that custom eartip fitment is more time consuming in comparison to universal.
W60 with Star universal and UM56 custom eartips.
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W60 fitment (Star vs UM56)
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Now we come to the most important part of the review – sound analysis!  No matter how great IEM looks or how comfortable it fits or how many accessories they include in the package, it will be useless if it doesn’t sound up to par, especially at a premium price.  And speaking of price, moving up in a number of drivers always has a diminishing return side effect, so don’t expect doubling in price to yield a twice as good sound improvement.  The rule here is more refinement, better separation, more details, etc.
And speaking of refinement, another common practice you will find with a number of audiophiles is going for an upgraded cable.  It does makes me wonder why you don’t see as many manufacturers offering TOTL cable with their TOTL headphones, but considering it will drive the price beyond its already TOTL level – perhaps they leave it up to the users to make that upgrade.  I did mention that I find Epic cable to be quite capable and very comfortable, but it doesn’t bring out the best from W60.  I went through a few of my favorite cables to see how they affect W60 sound, and here is what I found:
Pure Silver (Whiplash TWag v3 or TWag Modular) – results in a smooth, lush, organic sound with a little smoother upper mids/treble.
Pure Copper (Whiplash TWcu v3) – results in a creamy, extra lush sound with a little more punch in mid-bass and a little cleaner upper mids.
Linum BaX – results in a stronger mid-bass punch with a sound having a little more speed (not as smooth), and upper mids being a bit more upfront.
Epic (OEM) – results in a sound being a little warmer where upper mids loose a little bit of clarity and also have a bit less of treble extension.
After going back’n’forth between these cables, my personal preference went out to Pure Copper cable, but obviously YMMV.  Also, considering I only use large Star tips and due to my shallow inner ear which make them stick out (while pushing shells out a bit as well), I actually ended up using Shure olive silicon large tips since in my case they enable a more flush fitment leading to a tighter bass with a little brighter upper mids.  Remember, we all have a different ear anatomy so experiment with different tips to find the best seal/fitment.
W60 cables (Pure Silver, Pure Copper, Epic, and Linum BaX)
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With eartip and cable selection out of the way, I was ready to start evaluating the sound.
After multiple days and many listening sessions, I found Westone W60 to have a warm, smooth, detailed, and balanced sound with a great low end extension.  Soundstage was spacious with a great level of width and depth.  Overall sound was very organic, a bit on a thicker side, not as layered or airy but rather more laidback and lush which can get a bit congested in some complicated music passages.
Starting with a low end, W60 has a powerful bass with a deep articulate sub-bass in a nice balance with a slower mid-bass punch which is a bit laid back in nature.  Mids are warm and detailed with a thicker lower mids and a smooth detailed upper mids. W60 has a very organic presentation of sounds, especially when it comes to vocals, either male or female.  The sound is not bright or analytical, rather lush and smooth, and at the same time reaches a very impressive level of detail retrieval.  I know, some of you might get confused since I talking about warm thick sound which can even get a bit congested, and I am also bringing up high level of details typical of bright and analytical sound.  Gotta be honest, I have never experienced such combination, so it was the first one for me.  Treble has a good extension, still smooth, detailed, not crisp or bright or sibilant - perfect for non-fatigue extended listening.
W60 was easy to drive from any source and responded OK to EQing.  At first I was tempted to brighten up the sound, but I kept coming back to its original warm, lush, detailed signature which brings up the best in either acoustic or electronic instruments as well as vocals.  It was quite addictive, especially when I used it with UM56 custom eartips.  But due to my constant testing and comparison with other IEMs, I went back to universal silicone tips since they are easier to manage in’n’out of the ear.
And speaking of comparison, here is what I found while testing W60 against W40, UM Pro 50, and also SE846.
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W60 vs UM Pro 50: Very similar soundstage width, but W has more depth while UM depth is more intimate and up close.  W sound is more lush and laid back, while UM is more aggressive, faster.  They have a similar sub-bass extension, but UM mid-bass has a stronger and faster punch, and overall bass is tighter and more articulate. W lower mids are thicker, while upper mids are very similar. UM treble has a little better extension and treble itself is a little crispier.  UM sound is a bit less congested in comparison, a little more airy and brighter.
W60 vs W40: W40 sub-bass and mid-bass are scaled down in quantity and quality, mid-bass has a similar slower attack and a bit more laid back.  Lower mids are a little thinner, upper mids are a bit more upfront, and treble is a little brighter.  Soundstage has a similar width and depth.  Overall sound has a very similar warm, smooth, lush characteristics, but it's a little brighter with mids a bit more forward and at the same time a little less detailed in comparison.
W60 vs SE846: I found 846 fitment to be bulkier and heavier to the point where I wasn't able to use them for extended period of time without taking short breaks.  At the same time, 846 build quality is more heavy duty.  846 bass is stronger, tighter, and with more aggressive faster punch.  846 mids are a bit thinner and brighter and more in your face, which in my opinion makes them sound less natural and more artificial, especially when it comes to vocals.  In comparison, warmer W60 makes vocals sound more organic.  I found treble to be relatively similar.  Also, due to a combination of high sensitivity and low impedance, 846 has a strong background hissing level with most of my potable DAPs and amps, to the point where it raises a level of noise floor.  Soundstage width is similar but W60 has more depth while SE846 is more intimate, more in your face.  Overall W60 sound is more detailed, warmer, and smoother, while SE846 is brighter, more aggressive, and more mid-forward.  I tried all 3 included Shure filters, and my impression was consistent.
If anything, SE846 is probably more appropriate for comparison with UM Pro 50 since the later our has a more aggressive low end and a more forward and brighter mids.  In my opinion Pro 50 has an advantage over SE846 with a deeper sub-bass and a similar mid-bass punch, with a more natural mids where you have a fuller body lower mids and less aggressive upper mids, and also a better treble extension.  Soundstage was very similar.  In terms of build quality, Pro 50 is smaller and lighter with a typical Westone ergonomics.  Accessories feel premium in both cases, and I also favor Epic cable over a stiffer Shure cable.  Plus, Pro 50 has 5xBA drivers and it costs $350 less.
After having the opportunity to test and to review W60 with a comparison to W40, UM Pro 50, and SE846, I thought I will be able to come up with a clear winner, regardless of a number of drivers or a price tag - purely on a sound quality and build quality.  One thing I can say for "sure", I fulfilled my curiosity about SE846 and no longer have to lust about them.  Doesn't mean they are "bad" IEMs, just that I found their sound signature to be not my cup of tea and fitment a bit too uncomfortable for my ear anatomy.  Also, I found a difference between W40 and W60 to be not exactly night'n'day, and I wouldn't say W60 sounds twice as good taking price intro consideration.  But they are technically better in every aspect and you will definitely hear and appreciate the difference of 2 additional drivers which take W60 to a whole new level and justifies their TOTL status.  At the end, it all came down to W60 vs UM Pro 50, and I can tell you with 100% certainty - I ENJOYED THEM BOTH!!!   Even so the intent of UM Pro line is for performing musicians, Pro 50 crossed a threshold of UM Pro (professional) and W (consumer) series, representing the best of both worlds.  It still keeps the same warm, lush, detailed sound, but refines it with an improved faster low end performance and brighter upper mids/treble.  But when you are in a mood to relax and to enjoy the music without getting your blood pumping, I can't think of a better way than to do it with W60 warm, smooth, laid back sound which still offers a high level of detail retrieval.  If I'm forced to select just one, for my own personal preference it's probably going to be UM Pro 50, but in my heart both Pro 50 and W60 compliment each other very nicely and can make a worthy addition to any audiophile collection!!!
i tested the shure se846 ( owner ) and w60 ( of my friend )
@Bastianpp : it's ok that we hear things differently and have different level of sound tolerance.  I find se846 to sound brighter (and by design W60 is smooth, warm, lush).  But that's just my opinion, and I know there are a lot of se846 fans.  So, let's just leave it at that :wink:
You test shure with ur ak120ii?


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