JH5 versus UM3X (Non-technical head to head comparison)
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Spyro

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I have owned JH5 for about 8 months and have used regularly.  I was fortunate to get a perfect fit first time and have gone on record saying I believe it is at least equal to all other triple driver universals (and W4) as a whole package with a very cohesive sound.  Pretty good representation of all frequencies, full sounding, punchy but with a minor complaint of being slightly harsh and edgy particularly in the upper mid-range and treble.  But at $399 I think it does a great job as a dual driver and the custom fit is a great advantage.
 
I am currently having a 2nd go-around of ownership of UM3X and am really enjoying it the past several days.  In the past I ended up selling after 6-7 months because I thought it lacked crispness in the treble area and sounded a little dull.  But virtually every other characteristic about it is outstanding IMHO.
 
I am using both the JH5 and the UM3X with an Ipod Classic 7g with "treble booster" EQ setting.  Ironically, both IEM's have about the same amount of efficiency, visiceral bass weight, size of soundstage, amount of treble and even midrange.  Basically pretty balanced sounding IEM's.  But the big difference that I am hearing is the UM3X is smoother and more refined sounding with improved instrument separation.   The "treble booster" really livens up the "dullness" or "blandness" some hear with UM3X yet still keeps it very smooth and non-fatiguing.  With EQ off I am not a very big fan of either IEM (or any IEM for that matter).  Much of this has to do with personal synergy with player and whether you use EQ and the type of sound you like.  The JH5 may give just a touch more clarity but at the expense of a little harsh edginess where the UM3X may be slightly darker but definitely the smoother more audiophile sounding IEM.  Clearly a benchmark product for Westone....much moreso than W4 IMHO.
 
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caracara08

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interesting writeup.  ive only tried the jh16 as a custom but have tried a number of universals.  right now i have the W4.  while it sounds good, theres no wow factor like there was with the jh16.  is it 4x better than the w4 no, but for me (and many others), that improvement of 5%-50% is worth the extra price.  i might have to try the um3x again as i did like them last time i had them.  
in the end, i doubt id pay 400 for a custom vs a 400 universal.  but if its between a 400$ universal and a 1200$ custom, if i had the money, id go back... i wont likely have the money anytime soon though
 
either way, good write up. more of this and less of the other crap that seems to be filling headfi these days.  
 
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music_4321

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Spyro,
 
Although in the minority, you're not the first person to prefer the UM3X over the W4 (I didn't). But I do recall one very experienced head-fier who's heard plenty of 'serious' cans who, like you, preferred the UM3X over the W4s, and not by a small margin.
 
When I had the UM3X, I actually never EQ'd them - just loved them 'the way they were', but on those very rare occasions when I did (eg Pink Floyd's Animals), they responded remarkably well to EQ'ing. I've noticed not all phones respond all that well to EQ'ing - the SM3, for instance, no matter how much I tried to get it to sound 'right' with the excellent 5-band customizable EQ on the Sony X1061, it just never quite got there. The SE535, another IEM I didn't really enjoy, at least responded much better to EQ'ing. Still, the UM3X (at the time and until relatively recently) was the best universal IEM I'd ever heard.
 
Hope you don't get bored so quickly with the UM3Xs this time round! Or maybe you'll give the W4s a second chance eventually?  :wink:
 
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Spyro

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Don't want to offend anyone but if you are going "unamped",  I actually think the UM3X sounds like an improved W4.  Or maybe just more efficient but it certainly has more "oomph" to it.
 
 
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silverkaze

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nice comparison, that makes me not wanting to get the JH5, can't take harshness.
 
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caracara08

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Quote:
Don't want to offend anyone but if you are going "unamped",  I actually think the UM3X sounds like an improved W4.  Or maybe just more efficient but it certainly has more "oomph" to it.
 


from what i remember, the UM3x was a little more bright.  i think the w4 are balanced and maybe thats not the sound youre looking for?
 
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Spyro

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Quote:
Then you are going to miss a great custom IEM, because the JH5s are not harsh in the least bit. Though why anyone would use the iPod Classic EQ treble boost on them does have me scratching my head. Apart from this comparison, let me know if you find anyone else who has heard/owned the JH5s and found them harsh.
 
 
As far as the JH5, again try and find anyone who actually owns them who finds them harsh. My guess is you won't. Just my opinion, of course. But I didn't want the JH5s to be misrepresented as harsh when they get across the board accolades by the people who own them. Edgy, perhaps. But I never hear any sibilance with them unless it's present in the recording.
 


 


Maybe harsh is the wrong adjective and I am not saying they hurt your ears or anything but many have described JH5 as "edgy and raw" sounding.  While this may not equate to a "harsh" sound, it is far, far from smooth.
 
I use EQ so for anyone that doesn't, you can take my impressions with a grain of salt.  So let's put it another way.  I don't like either IEM with EQ "off."  It is too lacking in treble.  If I add some treble EQ, I find UM3X to accept it very well.  Much better treble detail while still retaining butter smoothness but when I do the same with JH5 that edginess just gets edgier and it steers further from smooth.  In summary, I can use EQ to tweak UM3X to a more perfect sound (for my ears) than I can with JH5.
 
 
 
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Spyro

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For 2 bass drivers, W4 bass is embarrassing.  Relative to other IEM's, efficiency is weak (hurts battery life) and for many files I had W4 at 100% volume and didn't care for the senheiser "veil" trait that it has.  UM3X improves on all three of these faults.
 
In fact, if W4 came out first, then they came out with UM3X (and called it W5), I'm certain most would agree it it an improved W4 regardless of how many drivers it has.
 
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Spyro

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Cliff...I understand your point.
 
So, again I am hoping that this type of interchange helps other head-fiers looking on.  I listen to a lot of instrumental contemp jazz so with many layers of instruments and percussion so treble and articulation is very important to me.  But I also like a somewhat weighty full sound.  Both IEM's carry nice weight and impact.
 
Another way to distinguish which one might be for a person is  UM3X is absolutely "pro" for picking apart your music and isolating on instrumentation  (well yea, I guess a 3-way monitor would be) and JH5 is for the total enjoyment of the whole ensemble.
 
JH5 is awesome entry level custom and I would recommend it to anyone.  Jerry did a fantastic job getting all that robust sound out of a dual driver.
 
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Spyro

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By the way, 1st time around with UM3X I used comply tips.  This time I am using a silicone tri-flange tip.  Cut off smallest top tip and cut off stem basically making it a bi-flange, but leave about 3/16" of the stem intact.  Seems to be the perfect sweet spot length for fit, sound and isolation.
 
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Naim.F.C

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Quote:
For 2 bass drivers, W4 bass is embarrassing.  Relative to other IEM's, efficiency is weak (hurts battery life) and for many files I had W4 at 100% volume and didn't care for the senheiser "veil" trait that it has.  UM3X improves on all three of these faults.
 
In fact, if W4 came out first, then they came out with UM3X (and called it W5), I'm certain most would agree it it an improved W4 regardless of how many drivers it has.

 
Having done quite thorough testing with the Westone 4 I can tell you the extra bass driver is not to give it extra oomph or impact, which is likely an incorrect assumption when people think of 2 vs 1. Imo what the extra bass driver offers is not more powerful or impactful bass, but much more detailed and textured bass. The SE535's bass has more punch than the W4's, but the W4's shows different nuances of bass better. The different layers from the most subtle of rumbles, vibrations and melodic changes in sub frequencies all the way to the more punchier one's. Only problem is, it doesn't have much punch, which it trades for bass definition instead.
 
Then there's the slight veil that the W4's have as default (at least un-amped). The good news is, EQ'ing solves both problems, so you can get slightly more prominent bass, along with a clearer presentation. Once EQ'ed, the Westone 4 can really flex it's muscles.
 
Also, surprised you've had to listen to the W4's at 100% volume. Straight out of my iPhone 4 I don't think I've ever had to cross the 80% threshold. But I do agree, it is slightly less efficient than most.
 
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