Westone’s 6 balanced armature universal IEM – the King of the universals?

earphonia.com Westone W60 Review

Westone W60

Westone W60
8.7

Sound Signature

9/10

    Build Quality

    9/10

      Value

      9/10

        Pros

        • Warm detailed refined signature
        • Extremely well tuned with versatile range
        • Fantastic fit, Great stock cables and accessories

        Cons

        • MMCX is not the first choice for most people
        • Replacement Faceplates prone to cracking
        • Storage case could be improved on

        Westone’s high end earphone, their 6 driver version from the acclaimed W series was an unforgettable experience for us at earphonia.com

        Westone have an audio engineer, Karl Cartwright. He has been there since the start. In fact since before the beginning. Karl was making medical hearing aids and military grade products for fighter pilots before the invention of the Walkman back in the 80s. The walkman changed everything. It meant we could be freed from our rooms to listen to music. Earbuds were the norm for many years for the walkman revolution. They had a annoying habit of falling out of the ears and weren’t particularly resolving sonically. Karl’s story begins in the early 90s for our purposes. He was approached by Bill Chrysler way back then. Bill was sound monitor for Def Leppard and Rush. Def Leppard singer Joe Elliot was struggling to hear his own voice on stage. The competing guitar amps and drums had grown to a deafening level. Westone were approached and Karl worked with Bill to produce a pair of IEMs that took 25-30 Db of noise interference away from Joe’s ears, improving his performance and probably saving him from permanent deafness at the same time.

        Westone now

        That initial approach evolved into the Westone IEM division we know today. Karl is still there and Westone is still up there with the giants of the in ear world – Ultimate Ears, JH Audio and Noble Audio. All are pushing each other year after year to come out with even more satisfying musical experiences. The W60, as of September 2016, was Westone’s statement product. It was, at that moment, the most drivers Westone had ever crammed into their shells. The W range is available in custom and universal fit. The W60, as everything available in both designs, was built as a universal with the stipulation that it should sound no different from a custom fit version.

        earphonia.com Westone W60 Review

        Universal v Custom – which is best?

        The reasons for buying a custom fit are still valid here – you will have a perfect seal all around the inside of your ear and the bend from the entrance to the earlobe as it goes to the 2nd bend of your ear canal will be the perfect angle. Everyone’s ear shape is slightly different and everyone has a different left and right ear. The results can be startling ; particularly with the isolation achieved. We are talking about a third less volume needed compared to the same universal model. The isolation is on another level.  The drawbacks for a custom are well known – it is a lot of work for the consumer to go to an audiologist , get impressions made , send them off to the Company, waiting for the confirmation they have been done to the correct specs. This is by no means 100% guaranteed. If it’s wrong, all you can do is go back and try again and wait to be told whether the impressions are workable. Then comes the agonising wait for the IEMs to be made….

        If the earphones turn up having come from across the globe and they are not a good fit, that’s another headache. The earphones have to go back and often another ear impression is needed. This will check whether the impression is wrong or the work in the lab is wrong. Suffice it to say not everyone relishes these challenges. The universal product can be tried, each one will sound the same and each one will be delivered straight away if in stock. If after a period you discover you don’t like it or you have moved on, the universal is sell able. Not so easy for a custom no matter how good it is. It is highly unlikely to be a good fit for any potential buyer. A custom will need to be re-shelled for the new owner with all the usual problems and delays just as if it was an entirely new custom. This indisputable fact makes the CIEM very difficult to sell. A universal will sell far easier. For the audiophile constantly striving for the best out there, the arguments for a universal, even at this price level, outweigh the benefits of a custom.

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