Etymotic & Westone - Discussion & Impressions (index in 1st post)
Oct 6, 2021 at 12:21 PM Post #151 of 381
I've been a big fan of this brand for years, had almost every model (except for the AM Pro line), but nowadays i can't recommend any of them, i think their whole tuning approach needs to change.
I am curious:
When you like something for years, and it is not breaking or malfunctioning - why do you stop liking it and think (in this case) the tuning is not great?
Oct 6, 2021 at 12:47 PM Post #152 of 381
When you like something for years, and it is not breaking or malfunctioning - why do you stop liking it and think (in this case) the tuning is not great?
I was buying westones because they were among the few brands that always fit me well, and i liked the tuning well enough.
Also, years and years ago we didn't have so many different brands to choose from.
But using the same iem for a long time was always too boring for me, and i was exploring different options that inevitably lead to the better tuned and more resolving ones, like the ones from Campfire, Sony, 64 Audio etc.
And now, after trying these much, much better iems i can't go back to the Westone house sound. Still love their comfort though, so i wish they would release something new, and tuned very differently :)
Oct 10, 2021 at 4:33 PM Post #153 of 381
Westone W80-V3 – impressions and comparisons:

Time to expand…
I already tested and posted impressions for the entire Etymotic lineup. I also discussed the Lucid Audio family tree, including the latest newcomer member of the family – Westone Audio. So now, here are my impressions, comparisons, and notes on… Westone’s top universal IEM – the Westone W80-V3.


W80 technical specs:

8 Balanced Armature (BA) Drivers per IEM
Sensitivity: 111dB SPL at 1mW
Impedance: 5 Ohms at 1kHz
Frequency Response: 5Hz to 22kHz

Translation: VERY easy to drive IEMs, which cover the entire audible range (and then some), achieving that with a boatload of BA drivers.

Quick note on my translation: I sincerely apologize to the 2 audiophiles who can hear 3Hz or the 4 audiophiles who can hear over 22kHz. I guess for you the W80 covers almost the entire audible range :laughing:

Note on my quick note on my translation: when manufacturers give a frequency response range (5Hz to 22kHz in this case) – it does not mean the IEM will cut off audio (if there is any) below 5Hz and/or above 22kHz. It means that those frequencies would not be as loud. Usually, 3dB reduction in loudness at those points, and usually rolling off pretty quickly thereafter.


Fit and comfort:

Wow! The first thing I noticed (quite literally) is how seamless and naturally the W80 fit my ears!!

Taking a step back, let me share with you that during the first 2-3 years in this hobby I completely avoided IEMs, because I could never get a good fit or seal. Either IEMs caused me physical pain, or I had no good seal, or in some cases the IEM would just start slipping out of my ears (while I am seated. Forget about jogging with IEMs)… Etymotic ER series IEMs, once getting the deep insertion done properly, fixed those issues for me – good seal, no pain, and not slipping out of my ear canals. In fact, on multiple occasions I ended up using ER2/3/4 IEMs for 4-5 hours straight, totally forgetting I have something stuck inside my ear canals!

For me, the EVO represented a small improvement in fit and comfort. Still the same deep insertion, but the concha shaped shell just fit me so well (granted, I did see few people mention that EVO did not work for their ear shape).

Now, on to the W80… so why did I say that the W80 is so great in fit and comfort if I have no real issues with the ER2/3/4 or EVO? Let me answer by using shoes analogy (my GF would be so proud of me! :smirk:):
Etymotic ER2/3/4 and EVO are (to me) like a good fitting pair of sneakers. You can wear them all day long, without feeling any discomfort, pain or foot fatigue. But, when you get home and take them off, slipping your feet into your fuzzy slippers (ok, ok, I do not have fuzzy slippers… so just plain soft slippers then) – all of the sudden you feel like your feet are so much happier!

Same with the W80. For me, nothing wrong with 4-5 hour session with ER4XR or EVO. Switching over to the W80, though – your ear canals are suddenly so much happier!

I will rate the fit for MY ears: ER < EVO < W80

Passive isolation (blocking noise):

The W80 being smaller and insertion not as deep improves comfort and fit (as described above), but you do pay a SMALL price in passive isolation. When using the foam tips on the w80 and triple-flange on ER4XR / EVO – noise isolation is almost identical. However, when using the silicone tips on the W80 – the noise isolation is a small step behind the ER4XR and EVO.

Amplification / power requirement:

As mentioned above, being a 5 Ohms / 111 dB IEM – these are VERY easy to drive. Using my FiiO M11 DAP for the impressions on high-gain and stock cable (3.5mm SE) – I had to lower the volume by 20 coming from the ER4SR / ER4XR. To get similar loudness – I went from 65 for ER4 to 45 for the W80. That is a big difference.

So, compared to ER4SR / ER4XR – power is not important but the source noise floor starts playing a role with the W80!
You definitely want a source with low noise floor, though. For what it's worth, in my testing - I did not have any noise issues with my FiiO M11 DAP. Not even on high gain.

Sound impressions and comparisons:

  • Bass
Usually, when I audition IEMs, I start with the bass (and sub-bass) since, for me:
  • Bass is very important, being a minor case of a basshead, and some IEMs are just too anemic to my taste!
  • Some IEMs take it to the other extreme, making the bass just too emphasized and dominant (even for me).
  • Lastly, it should have good quality and control. Bass should not bleed into the mids, and should have texture and details (as opposed to single-note-bass).
The W80 bass is very very good! The W80 bass sounds natural with slight warmth. NOT basshead IEMs, for sure, but even for my personal taste - they have good amount and great quality. I will describe it as natural and slightly warmer than neutral bass. Utilizing BA drivers, the bass has faster decay and transients compared to DD based bass. Sub-bass extension is impressive, not surprisingly (spec’d down to 5 Hz!!!) – I could feel the rumble in my sub-bass test tracks (e.g. Lorde’s Royals, and Deadmau5 Imaginary Friends).

Compared to Etymotic ER4SR, ER4XR and EVO - to my ears the ER4SR had noticeable less bass than the W80. ER4XR and EVO were much closer to the W80 bass.
On some tracks, I would rate bass and sub bass as: ER4SR < W80 and ER4XR < EVO
But on other tracks, it sounded more like: ER4SR < ER4XR < W80 and EVO

  • Mids
The first thing that came to my mind after coupe hours listening to my test tracks: W80 mids and high-mids are very smooth! No risk of sibilance or harshness at all, and all of that without losing details or resolution. I can easily listen for hours without any fatigue, even to tracks with high-mids that cause me to flinch or cringe (with other IEMs).
The mids sounded very natural to me, with very slight warmth. I think the mids are quite comparable to ER4SR and EVO, with a small amount of extra details.

  • Treble
The W80 treble is relaxed - never gets harsh or piercing. Details are very good and so is the clarity. Thanks to the relaxed treble, you can easily listen for hours and never get fatigued.

Compared to my Etymotic IEMs, W80 treble extends higher. I think it will satisfy the few who claimed the ER4SR or EVO are too rolled-off at the treble (which is not my opinion). Here is how I would rate the treble:
EVO and ER4SR < W80


The W80 has a great soundstage for an IEM. I got a sense of width and spaciousness more so than other IEMs.
Compared to the Etymotic IEMs, I would rate the soundstage as:
ER4SR and ER4XR < EVO < W80

In summary

The W80 is a great flagship level IEM from Westone. The tuning is laidback and relaxed with good detail and resolution. W80 has impressed me with its low frequency extension of the bass and sub-bass, and its treble is spot on for my preference – detailed yet not piercing nor fatiguing. The mids are very pleasing and detailed.

This is a great IEM for very long listening sessions thanks to its superb physical fit and comfort, and its sound that lacks any sign of harshness or fatigue.

If you’re looking for super exciting “roller-coaster signature”, abusing your ears and brain - this is NOT the IEM for you :wink:
Nov 12, 2021 at 11:22 AM Post #154 of 381
Etymotic ER20XS High-Fidelity Earplugs - Addendum

Original impressions posted in April (almost 7 months ago) - see here.
So, what has changed? Why the need for an addendum?
Simple - couple days ago I attended the first live concert in 2 years!!! :L3000:
(The concert is part of Evanescence and Halestorm's Fall 2021 tour)

For the original impressions, I improvised... Here is what I wrote back in April:
"Since I cannot attend a rock concert (or any live performance) due to COVID restrictions - I tested with speakers at home, and compared to standard foam earplugs. Noise level as measured at 75dB standing 3 feet from the speakers."
We all know that in a rock concert the noise level is WAY higher, but having neighbors prevented me from using real rock concert levels in my tests originally.
Equipped with both the Etymotic ER20xs plugs as well as traditional foam plugs (just in case...) - I headed to the concert! My main concern was the possibility of insufficient attenuation by ER20xs.

I am VERY happy to report my findings:
First, the attenuation of the ER20xs was perfect! The music was NOT too loud, and I did not consider swapping the ER20xs for foam plugs.
That is a very good start - my ears are protected. How about the sound? I was impressed. My biggest problem with rock concerts and ear plugs has been the muffled vocals. Due to the nature of foam plugs, attenuating different frequencies to different levels, vocals have always been the victim, and I could not understand the words :frowning2:
With the ER20xs, I was treated to a totally different experience :) The vocals were very clear and not muffled at all.

If you are reading this post, you are clearly an audiophile. You should protect your hearing, and if you plan on attending live concerts - the ER20xs are cheap enough for anyone (not just audiophiles) to better enjoy the performance while protecting your hearing.

HIGHLY recommended.
Nov 12, 2021 at 11:44 AM Post #155 of 381
I use them when I play with the bigband. Absolutely recommended.
Dec 15, 2021 at 1:08 AM Post #156 of 381
Dec 21, 2021 at 5:04 PM Post #157 of 381
Going custom: my experience getting Westone Audio Custom IEMs (CIEMs)

This time around, I will share with you my personal experience with getting custom IEMs from Westone Audio.
This will be a 2-part post. The 1st part will describe the experience and process of ordering custom IEMs from Westone Audio, whereas the 2nd part will have my impressions of the actual CIEMs that I got.

My main reason for writing the 1st part? I believe there is some misconception with regards to this whole process. I was on the fence for a long time myself, worried about how would it fit? Would it be a big hassle? How expensive would it get, and what do I do if the fit is not right? I mean, you cannot sell custom IEMs to anyone else… In short: CIEMs require commitment, since they (typically) cost more, take longer to get, and cannot be sold as used.

So… why go custom?

The benefits of CIEMs overweigh the aforementioned cons. The custom mold of the CIEMs perfectly fits your ear canals, creating amazing noise isolation. That means you can play your music at lower volume levels, because you do not need to overcome outside sound or noise. Another benefit of the fit is that CIEMs do not slip out of your ears. No need to roll tips is yet another benefit.

The downside to CIEMs? The order is a more involved process, at least the first time you order CIEMs. In subsequent orders – CIEM manufacturers can reuse the same ear impressions, so no need to go through this process again! Also, compared to universal fit IEMs – your CIEMs are made to order, quite literally, so leadtime is longer. Having said that, Westone Audio has streamlined their manufacturing process and staffed on more employees, and so now it only takes 2-3 weeks to have your CIEMs manufactured.

Attending CanJam SoCal 2021 (last weekend of Sep. 2021) – I had the perfect opportunity to go through with custom IEM process, handled by Rachelle from Westone Audio. The first step is creating the ear impressions. How is it done? Is it painful or dangerous? How expensive is it? Let me answer ALL of those questions for you.
Let me start by addressing the pain or danger. Ear impressions are taken by trained professional audiologists. They know what they’re doing and use the right tools – all that, to make sure that at no point they get too close to your eardrums. The first step in the process, after peeking into your ears to make sure there is no excess accumulation of wax, is to insert a cotton or foam block (Otoblock in the audiologists jargon). This is how the otoblocks look like:

The audiologist will gently insert 1 of these almost all the way to your eardrum. The purpose is to protect the eardrums from getting the silicone to touch them. This part of the process is definitely unpleasant, and could cause a very slight and momentary pain.
Now that the otoblock is in place – it’s time for the fun part… The audiologist will have an ear-impressions-kit that will look a lot like this:

The actual silicon compound, injected into the ear canals, is divided into 2 components (usually white and pink) in either 2 different “capsules” or 2 different syringes (a lot like Epoxy glue). Rachelle from Westone Audio had the 2 capsules option with her. Mixing then together…


…and stuffing the mixed compound into the syringe…

For a better fit, CIEM companies are interested in open-mouth impressions. For that to be accurate and consistent – you’ll have to bite on one of these bite blocks:

Let’s recap:
  • I am sitting with foam blocks stuck deep in my ear canals, with a string sticking out of my ears.
  • I have my mouth half-open, biting on the biting block.
  • The syringe contains the pink silicon compound.
And now… The audiologist will inject this compound into your ears. Fun. :slight_smile:

Here are the photos of my ears, being injected with silicon by Rachelle from Westone Audio:

When she was done - it looked like this:

Now… waiting….. it takes 5 to 7 minutes to completely dry / harden. During this time, you will hear air bubbles pop inside your ear canals as the silicon expands and pushes air pockets / air bubbles out. Very strange sensation! You might be surprised to discover that 5 minutes do seem like a long time when you just… wait. and wait some more :wink:

Once it is done – the audiologist will pull the silicon ear impressions (or ear molds) out of your ears. The final result will look something like this:

A couple tips based on my experience:
  • If you’re considering CIEMs and intend to attend a CanJam soon – have your ear impressions taken by Westone Audio’s audiologist at the show. The 2 main advantages are: guaranteed quality work, and they would do it for free. Which brings me to the 2nd tip…
  • Use audiologist recommended by Westone Audio. The westone Audio website contains a list based on your area. I live in San Jose, CA which is a medium sized city (population of approx. 1M) and there are several audiologists recommended by Westone Audio. Their prices for a pair of ear impressions vary from $50 to $150 when I checked a couple months ago. So... shop around.

What's next?
Well… you have to choose which CIEM model you’re interested in, and create your own design! Another advantage I forgot to mention of custom IEM – it is custom! That also applies to the design and color scheme. To see what is offered by Westone Audio – have a peek at:

You can play with the design, and get it customized to your personal color preferences. Pretty cool.

This is the end of the 1st part of this 2-part post. In the 2nd part, I will post my impressions of the actual CIEM that I got :ksc75smile:

Westone Audio has 20% off discount on all Custom IEMs until the end of the year. You can save quite a bit of money if you act fast! For those who think CIEMs are too expensive – sale prices start at a low $240 (for the AC10 model). I bet that is cheaper than you thought CIEMs would cost…
Dec 23, 2021 at 10:19 PM Post #158 of 381
Dec 23, 2021 at 11:00 PM Post #159 of 381
Dec 24, 2021 at 2:10 PM Post #160 of 381
Westone Audio ES70 CIEM – impressions:

This is the 2nd part of my 2-part post. 1st part has been about the experience of getting your Custom IEMs (CIEMs).
Act fast, before the end of 2021, and you could still lock in a 20% discount on ANY of the CIEMs offered by Westone Audio.

The model I ended up with is the ES70, and following are my personal impressions.

The ES series includes 8 different models, ranging from 1-BA to 8-BA, where my ES70 is the 7-BA model. Prices range from $450 to $1900 as of Dec. 2021, but right now they’re all 20% discounted (so price range is $360 to $1520) for 1 more week.

The specs of the ES70:

Sensitivity: 115 dB SPL @ 1 mW
Frequency Response: 5Hz – 22kHz
Impedance: 39 ohms @ 1kHz
Passive Noise Attenuation: Up to 25dB
Driver configuration: 7 balanced armature drivers with passive 3-way crossover

In the Box:

ES70 Custom-Fit In-Ear Monitors
MMCX Cable terminated in 3.5mm plug
Pelican case
Cleaning tool
Reusable moisture absorbing silica gel
Cleaning cloth
Oto-Ease®️ lubricant
Owner’s manual


A close-up on the CIEMs:

Flex Canal and fit & comfort:

Flex Canal is proprietary to Westone Audio, who has exclusive license to the patent. It is best explained on the Westone Audio website: “A body temperature-reactive, semisoft earpiece canal additive that stays firm at room temperature for ease of insertion and then softens at body temperature, allowing increased comfort and acoustic seal for incredible noise isolation.”
I own a couple other CIEMs (from other brands). They all have acrylic shells throughout. Including the piece that fits into the ear canals. Granted my personal experience is not necessarily common, but I had to send my other CIEMs back for “adjustments” because the piece inside my ear canal was a tiny bit too thick and I could not get used to it. Even after being adjusted, they’re still on the thick side of things, so still harder to just forget it’s there.

The Westone Audio ES70 with this unique technology just “disappears”. After 5 minutes, it is easy for me to forget there is anything inside my ears!

Comparing to other (non custom fit) IEMs:
  • In my W80 impressions, I wrote: “Wow! The first thing I noticed (quite literally) is how seamless and naturally the W80 fit my ears!!”. The ES70 fit is a little more snug, and insertion is a little bit more involved (same as any other CIEM), but once inside your ears – that is probably the most comfortable CIEM. Again, I am not saying other CIEMs are bad, just that the Flex Canal technology REALLY works wonders!
  • Etymotic EVO, being a concha shaped IEM, is the most natural candidate to compare a CIEM to. Both the EVO and ES70 require a little bit of an “insertion process”. Mind you, it takes 10 seconds, but not 2 seconds like the universal fit W80. Once inside your ears, and with the right tips on the EVO – they fit me great, but I know some (few) people had fit issues with the EVO. ES70 is still a little better fitting.

Setup used for sound impressions:

For the purposes of this post, I used the new DAC/Amp from iFi Audio – xDSD Gryphon. The Gryphon is a pretty amazing device offering plenty of clean power and supports natively the following as sources: iPhones, Android phones, computers (PC and Mac), and Bluetooth streaming from any Bluetooth transmitter. In my case, I used the stock USB-C cable and my Samsung S10e phone running UAPP music player app. My music is stored locally on my phone, 44.1K / 16-bit (CD quality).

The combination of the Westone Audio ES70 with the iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon is awesome. The Gryphon has plenty of power, not that the ES70 really needs it. The noise floor was not audible at all, and the synergy is great (but more on that later on).

Sound impressions:

Several things came to mind immediately, and I will try to describe those before getting into the more detailed bass / mids / treble analysis.

Details and resolution: the ES70 delivers unbelievable amount of details. How many times have you read reviews that claimed: “I could hear micro details in familiar tracks that I never noticed before”? Common hyperbole, right? Well… paired with the iFi Audio Gryphon – I really did get that impression! :ksc75smile:

Soundstage: WIDE! (for IEMs). I am used to have a pretty intimate listening experience when using IEMs (compared to over-ear headphones). The ES70 provides a wider soundstage, and enabling the XSpace feature on the Gryphon widened the sound stage even further! That helped transform the listening experience closer to a 2-channel listening session, with excellent pair of speakers.

BASS: Yes!!! :L3000: More details below, but I would say it is easily the best bass from balanced armatures that I have ever had the pleasure of auditioning. And it sure was a pleasure for sure!

Smooth: The ES70 seems to be incapable of offending anyone’s sensitivity to peaks in the higher-mids or treble. I could not find any test track that made me flinch.

Time to elaborate…

Tonality and sound signature: The ES70 is a warm and laid back IEM. The perfect companion to a glass of wine or whiskey, sitting in front of the burning fire place, and thinking that in spite of the world wide craziness of 2020 and 2021 – life is good! The ES70 is not elevated in the top end, so people that look for big excitement should probably look elsewhere. The bass is a different story. I can definitely hear a tasteful elevation in the bass region, which contributes to the warmth of the sound signature.

Bass: OK, I will preface this section by mentioning that I am a mild case of a basshead. I usually find flat or “reference” IEMs to be anemic or boring. The ES70 is none of those! Mind you, I have in my IEM collection couple basshead cannons, for my guilty pleasure cravings, and the ES70 are not that either. The bass here is very well controlled. There is no bass bleed into the mids, and it has texture and good detail level (NOT a one-note-bass). The bass reaches VERY low into the sub-bass too. The sub-bass rumble in tracks like Lorde’s Royals and Dire Straits’ Brother in Arms literally gave me goosebumps. Using the Gryphon – I figured I should try the XBass feature, and honestly that was a little too much on some tracks. Awesome feature that really help IEMs with flat bass, but with the already elevated bass of the ES70 – I liked it better without the XBass but with the XSpace.

Mids: Smooth and detailed. No sign of sibilance or harshness at all. I auditioned the ES70 for hours at a time, without any fatigue. The mids sounded very natural to me. Male vocals (Dire Straits, Coldplay, Eagles) sounded smooth with excellent resolution and texture. Very engaging and attention grabbing. Female vocals (Adele, Lorde, Sarah Brighman) so smooth and sensual… both male and female vocals convey a lot of emotion. Intoxicating and addicting to listen to! Another thing that got my attention was how pianos sounded. The piano in Coldplay’s Clocks track never sounded so good to my ears!

Treble: Smooth while detailed. No sharpness and not too laid back. For me personally, the treble is the least important band. Once I get my bass fix and the smooth and intoxicating mids – the treble’s role is to not ruin the experience for me. And the treble here definitely does not take anything away from the musical experience. Don’t get me wrong, the treble extension and details are excellent. Just like the mids, to my ears - the treble is neutral and natural.

In summary

The ES70 is a great flagship level CIEM from Westone Audio for bass lovers. ES80 is your choice if you prefer a flagship with flatter (reference) bass response, but I have not personally auditioned these.

The ES70 tuning is laidback and natural with excellent detail level and bass emphasis. I was mighty impressed with the quality and extension of the bass and sub-bass. Be warned: The mids are going to grab your attention, seduce you and keep you intoxicated and unable to resist “1 more track” for hours. The treble is spot on for my preference – detailed yet not fatiguing.

This is a great IEM for very long listening sessions thanks to its superb physical fit, comfort, and its sound signature.
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Jan 13, 2022 at 5:47 PM Post #161 of 381
Quick note about the Flex Canal, mentioned in my Westone Audio ES70 impressions:
Initially, I wrote that as far as I know - Flex Canal is a unique feature, only found in Westone Audio CIEMs.
Sure enough, the official word from Westone Audio is: "Flex canal is proprietary to Westone Audio, we have exclusive license to the patent."

I already made this small edit in my impressions, to reflect that fact.

Now... I am waiting for another Westone Audio product for my next impressions. This one is going to be a universal fit IEM.
Jan 28, 2022 at 9:59 PM Post #162 of 381
Feb 3, 2022 at 1:11 PM Post #163 of 381
Westone Pro X30 – impressions and comparison to Westone W80-v3:

Pro X Series of Westone Audio’s universal-fit IEMs. The Pro X IEMs are designed for musicians, and focus on ergonomic fit and passive noise isolation. The lineup starts at the entry model Pro X10 ($175) with a single BA driver, the Pro X20 ($300) with a dual armature setup and the X30 ($400) with a triple BA setup. Today’s impressions will focus on the Pro X30 model. The flagship model is the Pro X50 ($650) with 5 BA drivers. These prices are as of Feb. 2022 and in the USA.

On to the Pro X30.


Pro X30 technical specs:
  • 3 Balanced Armature (BA) Drivers per IEM
  • Sensitivity: 124dB SPL at 1mW
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 18kHz
  • Impedance: 56 Ohms
Translation: VERY easy to drive IEMs. In terms of frequency response, the Pro X30 does not extend as low as the W80 (5 Hz) or as high as the W80 (22 kHz), but it does cost less than half. I can honestly say that I could not hear anything missing in the treble when auditioning the Pro X30 all by itself, but A/B comparison with the W80 does reveal the W80 has better extended treble. As for the sub-bass, I was very happy with it using the Pro X30, although it does not rumble quite as much as the W80.

Keep in mind that when Westone Audio quotes a frequency response range (20Hz to 18kHz in this case) – it does not mean the IEM will cut off audio (if there is any) below 20Hz and/or above 18kHz. It means that those frequencies would not be as loud. Typically, once a 3dB reduction in loudness is measured – the manufacturer would use the frequency as the edge of the quoted frequency response.

What’s in the box?
  • Pro X30 Universal-Fit IEMs (obviously… :wink:)
  • Detachable Linum Bax T2™ cable terminated in 3.5mm plug
  • 5 Pairs of Foam tips
  • 5 Pairs of Silicone tips
  • Impact Resistant plastic case
  • Soft fabric case
  • Owner’s manual
  • Westone Audio sticker

The Linum Bax T2™ cable:

The first IEM that I have ever reviewed with T2 connectors was the Etymotic EVO. The EVO also came stock with a Linum Bax T2 cable. Back when reviewing the EVO, I wrote that this is the thinnest cable that I ever had the pleasure of handling, but it got tangled relatively easily. Well, the cable here is the same in that sense. Super thin, easily tangles, but weighs nothing and works extremely well looped around the ears even with glasses!

The Pro X30 shells are much smaller and lighter than the heavy Etymotic EVO shells, so this cable does not feel too fragile. I have to emphasize here that despite looking fragile due to its very thin wires, the Linum Bax cable is tested to a pull strength of 13 lbs (almost 6 kg). Appearances in this case are deceiving!


Fit and comfort:

Reviewing the Westone Audio W80, which was my first Westone Audio IEM, I was mightily impressed by the fit and comfort! In fact, I wrote:
Wow! The first thing I noticed (quite literally) is how seamless and naturally the W80 fit my ears!!

I went on, describing how it feels like putting comfy fuzzy slippers on your tired feet at the end of a day. The good news is the Pro X30 shell is very similar in size and shape to the W80. Not identical but very close:


In the photo above, you can see the black W80 shell next to the clear X30 shell.
Both fit easily and feel very natural when inserted into your ears. Thanks to their small shell size, they should fit easily and comfortably to people with small ears as well. Another view angle for the W80 and X30 shells:


Prior to writing these impressions, I had several 2-3 hour long sessions, and at no point I needed to take a breather or even felt anything in my ears. The Westone Audio IEMs can be easily used for music marathons without any fatigue at all.

Passive isolation (blocking background noise):

Just like with the W80, the price you pay for the IEMs being smaller (and not inserted as deep as the Etymotic ER2/3/4 or EVO) is with passive isolation. When using the foam tips on the X30 (and W80) compared to triple-flange on ER4XR / EVO – noise isolation is almost identical. However, when using the silicone tips on the X30 (and W80) – the noise isolation is a step behind the ER4XR and EVO.
I have tested the X30 at home mostly, but also took them with me on a flight. At home, I preferred the less isolating silicone tips, due to better comfort (for me at least). On the flight, switching to the foam tips – I was perfectly happy with the isolation and watched a movie.

Amplification / power requirement:

The X30, having a 124 dB sensitivity, are SUPER easy to drive. Using iFi xDSD Gryphon for the impressions, with stock cable (3.5mm SE) – I had to lower the volume to -37dB. That is significantly lower than ER4XR and even lower than the easy-to-drive W80.


Keep in mind that although sheer power is not needed, a source with very low noise floor is important! Plugged to my Dell XPS laptop, with no music playing, I could clearly hear the noise floor. With the iFi Gryphon – the X30 was dead quiet when no music was playing. I have to admit that iFi’s jack-of-all-trades keeps impressing me, providing ample power (when needed) while maintaining a very low noise floor for super sensitive IEMs.

Sound description and comparisons:


The X30 bass region is not emphasized, but it is not thin or lacking either. This IEM in general has a reference frequency response. That means none of the regions (bass / mids / treble) is emphasized, but none is scooped or muted either. For my own personal taste, being a minor case of a basshead, I thought the X30 bass presents a good quality but not quite enough quantity. To be honest, most of my test tracks sounded very good, but some that are bass and sub-bass heavy made me want to dial to 11… on that note, the iFi Gryphon’s XBass II feature helped a lot!

In comparison, the W80 bass is a big step up! Granted, people that love flat or reference FR would actually prefer the X30 bass over the W80, so… to each their own.


When reviewing the W80, I wrote that “The first thing that came to my mind after coupe hours listening to my test tracks: W80 mids and high-mids are very smooth! No risk of sibilance or harshness at all, and all of that without losing details or resolution.”

I can easily listen to music with the X30 for hours without any fatigue, but the W80’s smooth (yet highly detailed) sound is still a step ahead of the X30. I guess “you get what you pay for”…


The X30 treble is well extended all by itself, but when A/B-ing against the W80 treble extension – you can clearly hear the difference. It is not huge, and unless you’re a treble-head, I think the X30 treble would sound very good to your ears. Details and clarity are good. Thanks to the non-harsh treble, you can easily listen for hours and never get fatigued.

In summary, X30 compared to the W80:
  • The X30 is less bassy and presents a more reference signature. For some, the X30 will sound a little bass light or thin.
  • Treble extension not as good as the W80, but does not feel rolled-off either.
  • Weight to the notes: I did not mention that yet, but compared to the W80 – the X30 presents less weight to the notes, which in busy passages makes it sound like the X30 has more air between instruments. In other tracks – it might sound a little thin (in comparison to the thicker sounding W80).

In summary

The Westone Audio Pro X30 is a very good mid-tier IEM. The tuning is a reference signature, without emphasizing any frequency region. If you’re looking for a reference signature IEM in the sub-$400 price range – I think you cannot go wrong with the Westone Audio Pro X30.
Mar 15, 2022 at 1:00 PM Post #164 of 381
May 11, 2022 at 8:56 AM Post #165 of 381
I recently took an interest in Westone, really appreciate the impressions in this thread...

It's a bit confusing, though, as I don't see any of the 'W' series listed on their site anymore. The only universal series they now list is the Pro X.

I asked the Lucid chat support (god bless em) and they cryptically answered 'they are no longer available on their site.' I see some of what might be remaining inventory still available on Amazon.

@Zachik are you able to confirm if W have been discontinued?

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