Westone Style UM56 custom sleeves for universal IEMs (REVIEW)
Nov 16, 2014 at 8:12 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

ChrisSC

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For the last couple months I have been enjoying these and thought I'd give them some love by dedicating a thread to them.
 
Here's a link to show you some of the options, etc. http://www.earplugstore.com/westone-um56.html (you can also purchase them direct through Westone, which is actually what I did- I just like the presentation of the product on the link).  They can come with all sorts of patterns, swirls, etc. but I chose a basic black to match with my tralucent ref 1s. that they accompany.
 
 
Stupid But Necessary Disclaimer:
I am not employed nor endorsed by Westone, and paid full retail for these.
 
The Process:
Just like when you buy CIEMs.  1) Give them money 2) Send them impressions (I did mine with a bite block) 3) wait 2-3 weeks, then receive said custom sleeves 4) enjoy! 
 
The Feel:
Westone has 2 options: otto-fit or silicon.  Cody at Westone recommended otto-fit, and I had already had and loved that with my previous Westone ES5s so I went with that.  Plus, I believe Head-fi'er Mython said that silicon warms up in your ears pretty easily, per his experience with spiral ear se5s, and I don't like feeling like an earache is coming on.
 
They aren't hard like a typical acrylic and have a little bit of give in them.  They almost feel like they expand once in my ear to fill out the cavity nicely.
 
The Fit:
The ones that I had made will fit the standard nozzle size used by Westone, Noble, Aurisonics, Tralucent, and many others.  I'm sure if you have another earphone type, Westone will work with you to get their sleeves appropriately fitted for them.
 
The otto-fit sleeves feel exactly like how I remember my es5s- incredibly comfortable.  They do go ear-rapingly deep (see pics below), but not quite as bad as the double or triple flange tips that I have.  This also means that you can't lie on your side with these.  The entire tip will be in your ear canal, and so if you don't like that feeling, then you'll struggle liking these.  Personally, I don't mind- I feel more isolated, like there's a private concert and its me alone that the band is playing for.
 
Once they're in, there's no need to readjust to correct the seal- my listening sessions are usually about an hour to an hour and a half and I can maintain the seal for that entire length.  This was really why I got them.  I love my ref 1s- but I was constantly popping the seal- mostly it was worsened by the cable that they come with that forces them into your ears at an awkward angle, but even aside from that, I would still find that if I went from sitting to lying down, or if I nodded, or basically if I just lived while forgetting I was wearing them, my music would suddenly sound hollow.  That was so annoying
angry_face.gif
.
 
Also, because I'm not constantly readjusting, at some point during listening I forget that I'm wearing them and find myself getting lost in the music easier.
 
Ambient Noise:
They do a good job of blocking out ambient noise and I notice that even without music playing, external sound is slightly muted.  Customs will be a little bit better, but not much.  Definitely much better than any other type of tip I have used.
 
The Sound:
I know this description is going to piss off a lot of people because its so general, but if asked I would just say that they make the Ref 1s sound "right."  I say this because, so long as you can get an excellent fit with any decent tips, your IEM is going to sound "right" - as in how the manufacturer intended it to sound.
 
To elaborate, the soundstage seems as wide and high as with the spiral tips (which was my favorite before).  I think if I had a worse seal, my IEMs would sound a bit airier with better soundstage, but I'd lose the weightiness of the mids, and the extension of the highs and lows.  Speaking of bass... BASS!  These tips don't increase the bass, but they do exaggerate it.  Meaning that when it goes low, it sounds deeper and has more texture.  This probably has to due with just how much surface area there is, with the sleeves lining your canals for a good half inch or so.  When there's a deep bass note, you will feel it, as the entire sleeve must on some level vibrate with it.  This effect might be unique to this sleeve being used with dynamic driver-based IEMs, as balanced armature bass does not actually push air the same way that DDs do.
 
The look:
Here's the negative- these will stick out a bit from your ears.  How much this bothers you or doesn't is something for you to decide, but you definitely will want to be aware of it.  The entire IEM will be outside of your ear, with the exception of where the sleeve begins.
 
Sorry for poor quality of first two pics... taking ear selfies is hard!
 
     
 
         
 
 
That's all for now folks!
 
Feel free to ask me questions 
smily_headphones1.gif
 
 
Nov 16, 2014 at 8:19 PM Post #2 of 14

Spyro

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I bought a pair from Westone and I can't stand them.  The fit and seal is good.  They are plenty snug but I find them uncomfortable even after 20 min or so.
 
My biggest complaint is the collapsed soundstage.  It sounds wired directly to the brain.  There is no space.  Bass is tight but not full sounding like a foam tip.
 
I have to think it is a very individual thing and will vary from person to person.  My recommendation is if you can already get a great seal with supplied stock tips, don't get the UM56 as there is nothing else to gain and it may actually hinder the sound some.
 
This is just my experience.
 
Nov 16, 2014 at 8:30 PM Post #4 of 14

ChrisSC

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  I bought a pair from Westone and I can't stand them.  The fit and seal is good.  They are plenty snug but I find them uncomfortable even after 20 min or so.
 
My biggest complaint is the collapsed soundstage.  It sounds wired directly to the brain.  There is no space.  Bass is tight but not full sounding like a foam tip.
 
I have to think it is a very individual thing and will vary from person to person.  My recommendation is if you can already get a great seal with supplied stock tips, don't get the UM56 as there is nothing else to gain and it may actually hinder the sound some.
 
This is just my experience.


That sucks!
 
That's crazy how my experience is so much different than yours.
 
I'm wondering if there was a problem with your impressions?  You might be getting too good of a seal, because yours shouldn't get uncomfortable after just 20mins.  Do they feel air tight when you wear them?  They should be able to breathe a little bit, and even the sound problems you're describing sound like there's a problem with the tightness.
 
Nov 17, 2014 at 5:28 PM Post #5 of 14

Wyd4

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Thanks for putting this together.
I am going to order some of these in the new year.
 
Currently getting a very good seal with small spin fits, however it does feel a little uncomfortable.  Almost as though the rubber on them is abrasive.
I have been recommended the JVC tips, so I might have to get some of those to tie me over until the customs.
 
They do stick out a bit but if thats the price of a custom seal and consistant sound, then sign me up :)
 
Nov 17, 2014 at 11:05 PM Post #6 of 14

ChrisSC

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  Thanks for putting this together.
I am going to order some of these in the new year.
 
Currently getting a very good seal with small spin fits, however it does feel a little uncomfortable.  Almost as though the rubber on them is abrasive.
I have been recommended the JVC tips, so I might have to get some of those to tie me over until the customs.
 
They do stick out a bit but if thats the price of a custom seal and consistant sound, then sign me up :)


Cool, I hope that you like them as much as I do!  I hope that Spyro's experience is an outlier, and that you get much better results.  Either way, please post brief impressions here when you do get them so that others may benefit :) (same goes for you Warrior 1975!)
 
Nov 20, 2014 at 6:30 PM Post #11 of 14

Rip N' Burn

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I have them and it was a waste of money for me. Didn't help with the sound at all. I tried them with a few iems and I liked the sound from the foam and silicon tips better. Did you ever try ortofon silcon tips?
 
Nov 20, 2014 at 6:37 PM Post #12 of 14

Wayneshrine

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The one that is barely working for me atm is the Ortofon tips. I have tried spiral and triple flanges all to no avail. I have had my 1Plus2 for about 1week now but its got less listening time than my custom 3DD. Its just like: "Once you go customs, you cant go back" unfortunately..
 
Nov 24, 2014 at 5:26 PM Post #14 of 14

enazarko

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I got similar style sleeves for my Etymotic 4P and other Ety earphones, although silicone.  The first custom sleeves for the Etys I had done, what I got back were the full size, fill your ear silicone sleeves, and when I ordered a second set, that's what I expected.  My initial reaction to getting the little nubby things was serious disappointment, and I didn't even try them for awhile figuring they'd be awful.  Then one day I didn't have my full size silicone sleeves and tried them.  They're now my favorite sleeves.  Smaller, easier to insert, seal just as well or maybe better.  I know that for the Etys, they transformed the sound.  The seal is so much better - my ear canals are very oval so the round universal tips never get a good seal, and the foam tips hurt along the sides if they're big enough to get a good seal overall.  There's actual bass now, and it's pretty good for everything that I listen to except electronica.  I've met a few other Ety users in my travels who didn't care much for how they sounded until they got the custom tips, and now really like the sound.
 
I have a set of ES5 from Westone with the soft ear canals, and if that's what your tips are made of, I'm contacting them ASAP.  The all silicone tips for the Etys get a little bit uncomfortable during the dog days of summer, but the ES5 soft canals (not soft exactly but soft-ish, and they expand a tiny bit when warmed) are great seals and don't change size or shape in the heat.
 
People thinking about having these made should consider the design of the devices they want to adapt.  I had custom tips made for a couple of bluetooth headsets, and they're not very good to use - the headsets as designed (one jawbone, one plantronics) did NOT assume a tight seal of the ear canal, and with a tight seal become less intelligible and sound blocked up. The custom tip I had made for my Ety bluetooth, which were designed for a tight seal, massively improved usability.
 

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