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135 of 154 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensationalism, but less precision
When I decided to purchase my first pair of pristine-quality headphones, I tried the Shure SE310s, Shure SE530s, and these Westone 3s. The first and primary thing I noticed was that both of the Shures were focused on clarity and precision with defined mids and medium highs and lows. When you hear a voice with the Shures, it's like the singer is right there singing to you,...
Published on January 29, 2009 by Paul Tashman

versus
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They're nice, but...
While I was able to pick these up on a holiday deal, I'm writing this in the context of their "normal" price. And at their normal price, these are perfectly fine IEM's that don't do anything particularly well.

Westone seems to have struck a middle ground, where purists are getting most of the detail they want, and enthusiasts are getting some of the sparkle and...
Published 12 months ago by Kevin Nicholls


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135 of 154 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensationalism, but less precision, January 29, 2009
When I decided to purchase my first pair of pristine-quality headphones, I tried the Shure SE310s, Shure SE530s, and these Westone 3s. The first and primary thing I noticed was that both of the Shures were focused on clarity and precision with defined mids and medium highs and lows. When you hear a voice with the Shures, it's like the singer is right there singing to you, but the basses and highs are there, but not as focused. The Westone 3s on the other hand have a very sensational sound with very clear highs and lots of bass. The focus on these headphones are the ups and downs of the music. They make the listening experience a roller coaster ride of "wow". In my opinion, if you are listening to rock or pop, then get these. If you are listening to jazz, classical guitar, or musicals, get the Shures. These Westones and the Shure 530s are of comparable quality, but with different focuses.
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48 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These are criminally underrated. A love story from a Shure SE530 owner, October 9, 2009
By 
After the novelty of the Shure SE530s wore off on me, I began to realize that their sound was very consistent, but rarely did I find myself wanting to sing/rap along or dance uncontrollably. In other words, the sound of the 530s was smooth and rich, almost to a fault. I listen to a lot of house and hip-hop music, and the bass frequencies were there, but lacked any visceral impact. With rock music, the cymbal crashes were muffled and the drums didn't resonate or slam like I thought they should.

So while I would have been content to live with the Shures and assume that they were the best, I started reading user impressions on [...] about other high-end universal earphones, namely the Westone 3, Westone UM3x, Sennheiser IE8, and Ultimate Ears Triple.fi. Most users seem to agree that these models have surpassed the 530s. I read that the Westone 3s, Sennheiser IE8s and Triple.fis offered what I was looking for: a more "U"-shaped sound, with the treble and bass accentuated.

After a few months, I gave in and got a pair of the Westone 3s ("W3"), and after 3 days of near non-stop listening, I know I have stepped up in class. The W3 don't get marketed as heavily as the Shures, which in my view is unfortunate because they are of exceptionally high quality and Westone offers great customer service.

Build Quality and Comfort:
The Shure 530s, while well-built, always stuck out of my ears even with the deepest insertion of tips. I haven't had problems with the cable fraying after 3 months of use, but the cable's thickness produced microphonics whenever the cable brushed up against my shirt or hit my chest. These problems are things of the past now that I have the W3. The thin cable is light and hardly makes any noise even when I run. The flatter design of the part of the earpieces that rest on your outer ear canal, combined with the short nozzle, make the earpieces feel like they've disappeared once I put them on.

Sound Quality:
I've only heard the Shure 530s and Triple.fis, so I can't offer a comprehensive comparison. The Triple.fis did make a powerful impression on me, with their booming bass, wide soundstage, and bright treble. I chose to go with the W3 because of the massive size of the Triple.fis (impossible to sleep on), and concerns about the cable and short warranty. I also seriously considered the Senn IE8s, but ultimately went with the W3 because I already had a collection of tips (including Westone UM-56 customs) that would fit the W3.

I don't regret my decision at all. Unamped out of my iPod Touch 2g, the sound is bright and lively without being fatiguing, and the bass rumbles and slams when it's supposed to. The main complaints some people have about the W3 are that it produces sibilance (harsh "S" sounds), has a "mid-bass hump" (unbalanced higher bass frequencies), and sounds wildly different with different tips. I haven't had any of these issues. The sound with the gray silicons is somewhat bright, but still has punch in the bass. With the medium Comply tips, the bass is deepened and the treble muffled slightly, but there seems to be more distance and reverb in the sound, creating a larger soundstage. Unlike with the Shures, I haven't found a tip set that I just think sounds awful--they all sound very good to me.

In summary, the W3 have delivered what I was looking for but not always getting from the Shure SE530s: A lively sound, with energetic highs and deep bass impact, that still has great detail in the mid-range. Now, I AM finding myself nodding my head to beats, playing air guitar, and grinning with the sheer joy of music.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best so far but not perfect, February 23, 2009
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I also own the Shure SE530 in ear headphones. I never found the Shures to be enjoyable to listen to and these Westones certainly are. The bass is astounding driving the songs along and the treble is satisfying. The big downfall of these headphones is the midrange. I play only lossless files through a Mac laptop, an iPhone and though a Pico Headphone DAC/amp. I have a wide range of music with huge presence such as Mary Chain Carpenter, Jennifer Warnes, Eurythmics and many more. Not once have I heard any presense through the Westones. The midrange is recessed and if you turn up the volume to hear the midrange then the bass pounds your skull into smithereens. I hope that Westone can adjust the voicing or choose another midrange driver for the next incarnation of this product. If you have the money I recommend the product but it's not perfect.

Update:

Now that these headphones have worn in and I have experimented finding the optimal inserts I now get that presence I was missing before. Very impressive.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 months of ownership and still loving my Westies, January 5, 2010
By 
I posted my original review of the Westone 3 ("W3") in Amazon's other product listing (why are there 2 listings for 1 product, Amazon?), but the listing is very difficult to find or has disappeared. In any event, I have somewhat revised and more detailed thoughts to add now that I've owned the W3 for a few months.

I have owned the Shure SE530 and I currently own the Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi, and I've listened to the Westone UM3x. It seems that the designers of the top-tier in-ear monitors (IEMs) are basically shooting for one of two sound signatures: Rich, prominent mid-range, OR a more bass and treble-centric sound. The SE530 and Um3x fall in the former category, while the W3 and Triple.Fi have a more U-shaped sound. I haven't heard the other top tier universal-fit IEMs, namely the Sennheiser IE8, Klipsch X10, Phonak Audeo PFE, Etymotic ER-4P and Head-Direct Re0, but everything I've read about them places them in one of the two categories (although perhaps the latter 3 are the most treble-centric).

Your choice between these sound signatures will probably come down to the genres of music you prefer, as well as how sensitive you are to treble and bass. I tend to listen to high-energy music like hard rock, trance, house, and hip-hop, so I need crisp cymbal crashes and thumping bass that really reverberates like a subwoofer. But I also listen to vocal-centric music that is more toned down, like jazz, indie rock and classic rock. At times I wish I could have the best of both the mid-range and U-shaped sound signatures, but I find that the Westone 3 strikes a fun balance.

With the right source and equalization (I have to boost the mid-range and treble a bit), I find the W3s very balanced, detailed, and engaging. The Triple.Fi is similar but I don't think it can match the W3's bass extension and overall level of detail.

So after 3 months, I thought I would point out some things I've learned about the W3:

1. The Shure SE530 has a ridge on the nozzles which help grip the tips and keep them from sliding off. The W3 doesn't have this, which can sometimes lead to tips sliding off in your ears or even when you're just taking the W3 out of its case--this has happened to me with my custom UM-56 tips, which are particularly slippery and heavy. These tips are also produced by Westone and are an amazing upgrade to an already stunning product; they further increased the detail and transparency, while tightening and improving the bass.

2. The volume control that is included with the W3 is of somewhat poor design and quality: One end of the cords began to fray after just 2 weeks of use, mostly because of the weight that it has to support. Westone promptly replaced it for me free of charge.

3. The volume control is necessary for listening to most sources (I have an iPod Touch 2g and Cowon s9) in a quiet environment, but it really seems to deaden and muffle the sound. I plan on getting a portable amp like the iBasso T3 to serve as a higher-quality volume control.

4. I love the thin, braided cable overall because it seems flexible and durable but it does have a tendency to rub against my collar and produce microphonic sounds. The solution to this is to wear the cable underneath your shirt or down your back. The Triple.Fi's cable is surprisingly free from microphonics, even when I run.

After 3 months of ownership, adding another top-tier IEM to my collection (the Triple.Fi), and auditioning the current audiophiles' top choice for universal-fit IEM (the UM3x), I'm still in love with the W3. The design is so discrete and comfortable, while the sound strikes the right balance between warmth/fun and detailed/balanced. If you're lucky enough to have discovered Westone amidst the barrage of mediocre and over-priced Skullcandy, Bose, and Sony products, there simply is no turning back. Whenever I wear my W3 in public, I can't help but smile knowing that the audio bliss entering my ears is unmatched by the vast majority of equipment that most people have accepted as "good enough." High-grade audio has improved my enjoyment of music and overall enjoyment of life so much these past few months that I simply can't settle for less, and I find it unfortunate that most people who are willing and able to pay for the best in audio haven't heard of a fantastic company called Westone.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Earphones, June 23, 2010
By 
Carlos Barba (Pittsburgh, Pa.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I purchased the Westone 1 True fit earphones about a year ago. They are without a doubt the best earphones that I have ever owned. Tremendous noise cancelling. I play drums at my church and use them with our in ear monitoring system. I can barely hear the drums as I play them. The box comes with a variety of different styles of modular inserts. I use the triple mushroom style which is very comfortable. I also use them when I cut the grass and the sound of my mower is very faint. I purchased them via the web for around $130. I was on a limited budget so these are the ones I chose. The sound quality is great and I haven't had any problems with them.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best overall choice in earbuds, November 20, 2009
By 
L. Coltman (Los Angeles, Ca. United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have been a musician all my life and have spent years looking for the perfect sound source. Having spent many hours in front of expensive studio monitors, I have always searched for a headphone that will provide that moment experienced by musicians when they walk into the control booth to hear what they've just recorded. I have used many studio headphones, have listened to mid-range and high-range Grado's and Sennheiser's, have spent many hours with the UE triple-fi 10 pro's and the Shure SE 530's, and have agonized over what is missing in all of these headphones and in-ear monitors. The Grado's and Sennheiser's are not exactly appropriate for portable listening and provide little or no sound isolation. The Shure's provide a very flat response but are weak in treble and bass presence. Although seemingly sonically accurate, they provide a compressed sound spectrum, and thus aren't accurate as regards the high and low and presence found in good studio monitors. The Triple-fi 10 pros provide a lot of bass and treble but are muddy in the mid-range and don't allow the listener to hear all the details of the music. The Westone 3's are perhaps not as accurate as the Shure's but they are the closest to the overall musical presence found in the best studio monitors. The treble has wonderful extension and presence. The bass is rich and warm without being overwhelming. The mid-range is crystal clear and each instrument stands out. I can say that they are simply the best sound I have ever experienced from any headphone or in-ear monitor. Moreover they sound just as great whether you are listening to classical, jazz, pop, rock, metal, hip-hop, or world music. And they are the most comfortable of any of the in-ear monitors I have used. A bargain at any price!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought Bose was everything., August 24, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am not a hardcore audio expert who can talk about impedance and all those technical terms, but at least can call myself an audiophile who definitely explore, search and use receivers that normal people wouldn't go beyond. I've used sennheiser, bose, dr.dre, and finally westone, one of the top tier earphone companies along with ue, phonak, shure, etc.

Before, my world was all about bose. bose ie, ie2, bose qc15, sounddocks, and for the first time, I tried westone 4r just because I was drunk and somewhat impulsively purchased it (lol). I've also purchased bose qc20i as I'm a bose fanboy and compared it (which is available on bose qc20 amazon review).

I was impressed and realized I was missing out. Because I have an experience where I was personally disappointed with dr.dre studio which seemed to have been overrated, I thought this was going to be one of them which it wasn't.

Comfort
-I wasn't really comfortable as it's my first time with in-ear kernel earphone types. I felt suffocating and didn't feel like wearing them. Answer is, get a smaller foam tip and try it for at least three days.
Oh the joy. It's very comfortable and fits exactly right in your ears. Just give it a few days.

Sound quality
-at first, I was biased and disappointed as I wanted to defend bose. After a few days of listening, I had to forfeit. This earphone is amazing. Very well balanced compared to more bass that bose has, but more clarity, and there are instruments playing and going on everywhere in every direction inside your head. I recommend you to try 'Higher Ground by RHCP'. Amazing.

I will give it a month and see how it is, but I want to tell you that this is amazing.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Westone 3 Impressions, June 10, 2009
By 
Dennis B. (Sterling Heights, MI) - See all my reviews
I have had the Shure SE 530's for over two years now. I thought nothing could ever come close to matching or surpassing their performance. When I first took delivery of the Westy 3's I was a little unsure as well as skeptical about their sonic performance and doubted they could ever match the Shures. First impressions were that they were a little strident and imparted a little distortion at high volumes. However after a long break-in period (25 hours or more) I must say that I prefer the Westy's. The bass is deep and rock solid; probably better than the Shures. Where the Westy's really excel is in the mid to high end range. Everything is crystal clear and highly detailed. The soundstage is large and wide open with not a trace of distortion even at the highest volumes. These are probably the best IEM's short of buying the ultra expensive UE-11's. If you don't believe me check out some of the other expert opinions at headfi.com. These IEM's absolutely rock!!!!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A totally useless review. This is an experience that cannot put in words, September 1, 2009
These pieces of plastic deliver the best sound I've heard in my life. My head is going to explode. I listen to all kind of music: Trance, dance, classical, pop, rock. I can say, the sound on every genre of music is just awesome. Bass is strong and precise. Highs are crystal clear, mids can be improved just a bit.
For classical music, I consider myself to have good hearing, I play the piano and I love to hear Chopin on my iPod. Now is like I'm in the stage, next to the piano, I can hear the shoes of the pianist hitting the pedals, the breathing... and the music is like hearing the piano sing to my ears.
Perfect fit: I have the Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10. I always have a hard time adjusting them to my ears for the perfect fit. I felt them big and heavy, and my ears hurt after listening for a while. I also have the Shures 210, and I thought they were the perfect fit, but I feel the ear tips go so deep I feel a little invaded. With the Westone, they fit perfectly the first time I put them, and I don't need to move them anymore. Is like they are not there at all. I feel something is missing, a little pain perhaps, but no! No pain at all. They are small, they fit perfect outside my ear.
You won't go wrong with them. I'm so impressed. Perfect buy.
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25 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best headphones I've ever listened to, December 7, 2012
I've used a lot of in-ear headphones over the years and I've slowly worked my way up to the W4R monitors. At $500, they're certainly not chump change, though it's much more economical than dropping $1,000+ on a pair of custom-molded monitors. That's a jump I still haven't made and I probably won't. What if I don't like the customs? What if I don't think they're worth twice as much as the W4R? You can't really sell headphones that have been custom made to fit your ears. That's why I stick to universal-fit.

Let me cut to the chase--these are the best headphones I've ever listened to. Each tiny monitor has four different drivers in it--hence the "4". It consists of dual low drivers, a mid driver and a high driver. Separating the audio spectrum to multiple drivers allows each driver to act more efficiently, therefore creating a more accurate sound. And boy, is it accurate.

I previously had the Westone 3. Great headphones for sure, though they're certainly a more "fun" headphone. Scooped mids, boosted high-bass, sparkly highs. The W3 produces a fun, punchy, exaggerated sound that is certainly made to please the average consumer. In contrast, the W4R (and the W4 for that matter) are much more tonally neutral and accurate. If you're spending $500 on in-ear monitors, you probably expect a more accurate sound (as you should).

--- THE SOUND ---
I've already said the sound is neutral and accurate. But don't misunderstand--they aren't boring. In fact, the sound is very engaging. Bass response extends very low, mids are smooth and present, and the highs sparkle when they should. Things just aren't exaggerated and that's just perfect.

Most reviews (including my own) would split up the sound spectrum and talk about each in detail. In this case, I find that silly. Things are balanced properly. The W4R don't jump out in any one particular way, and at first, that may seem underwhelming. But the more you understand about high-quality audio, the more you know that things should never jump out at you.

Most in-ear headphones suffer from a "boxy" sound that feels like it's trapped in your head. I don't notice this effect with the W4R. They sound best on my HeadRoom Desktop amp but even sound great through my iPhone. They don't take much current to sound their best.

--- BUILD QUALITY ---
Westone creates quality. I don't really have any fears about taking these anywhere. The only thing that you might need to be careful about are the small tubes on which you place your ear-tip of choice. Since they need to extend into your ears, they are very narrow channels. I'm not even sure you could break it if you tried, but just don't try. When applying or removing a tip, twist as you push or pull, as the twisting motion helps the process and reduces the amount of pressure you need to apply.

Speaking of tips, the W4R come with a lot of them--10 different sizes and styles. I'm a fan of the smallest hard silicone tips. I feel like that material produces the clearest sound, but that's just my experience. Everyone's ears are different. For me, the Comply (foam) tips produce a dark sound and they stain yellow over time due to your nasty earwax. The Shure-style "olive" tips are equally mushy for me. The triple-flange is too long for my ears. Like I said, my selection is strictly due to my ear canals. You might be perfectly happy with the largest Comply tips. It's all about making a proper seal!

--- OVERALL ---
As I said, these are the best headphones I've ever listened to. I love them at the office, at home and on the go. I routinely use them for music, often use them for A/V monitoring and have even used them as monitors on stage in a band setting. In my opinion, they are the best universal-fit in-ear headphones ever made and well worth the price if sound quality is important to you. And if you don't like them (don't be silly, you'll love them), you can easily return them since they're not custom. Buy them, love them and love your music even more.

(this is paraphrased from my own review on my website, Kolulu)
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