• Westone W50 Review

    July 5, 2015 Luckbad 1

    A dark horse of an earphone that is certain to polarize listeners. Can the Westone W50 prove to be the best Balanced Armature IEM for bassheads?

    Westone W50 In the Box

    • 5 Balanced Armature drivers per earpiece with 3-way crossover
      • 1 Low, 2 Mid, 2 High
    • 2 Cables (one EPIC braided, one Apple MFi w/ 3-button control and mic)
    • 3 Faceplates (Red, Gunmetal, Gold)
    • Monitor Vault (aka “a really good case”)
    • A grip of tips: STAR silicone, True-Fit… they’re nice small bore tips, some long flange silicone and others foam.
    • Cleaning tool

    decon

    Westone W50 Impressions

    I’ve been listening to the Westone W50 for a couple weeks now, and I still don’t know if I love them. When opening the box, you are greeted with a beautiful IEM, multiple plates, and many options for eartips.

    Turning on some music yields a very dark tonal signature that some people are going to absolutely loathe, while others will get used to it and appreciate the zero fatigue you get from listening to the W50 for extended periods of time. The comfort of the earphone combined with the very relaxed, bass-emphasized sound and incredible soundstage (some of the best separation and staging I’ve heard in an IEM) will win some people over.

    Me? I’m honestly still unsure. I love my bass, but I also enjoy being directly engaged with my music. Until I listened to some jazz on high quality Chesky recordings, I really didn’t get engrossed in any music with the Westone W50. These tracks are extremely well recorded and are amazing for trying to hear different instruments and positioning. These IEMs do it better than just about any other I’ve listened to. I can tell where every instrument is and I can identify every nuance in the songs. That alone could be quite a selling point for some.

    If I apply equalization to the W50 to match what my ears want to hear (and, of course, push the bass harder than any sane person would), they can dive very deep into the sub-bass and have formidable impact for a BA-only IEM (as opposed to a Dynamic or Hybrid setup). They can almost match the Noble 5 in bass depth, which is an achievement given that I’d never heard a Balanced Armature-only IEM that could go so deep until hearing those.

    I have absolutely no criticisms with the build quality, comfort, tips, cables (you get two) or accessories with the Westone W50. Everything is top notch, and I even love the case (many high end IEMs come with the same case that is almost too small to avoid damaging the earpieces; the W50 has a nice thick case that fits them perfectly).

    Where I have qualms is the extreme price tag ($600-$750) coupled with a sound signature that is not going to appeal to many. It’s dark and, to me, unengaging. The earphones are extremely capable, respond well to EQ, and can get to basshead territory. With consideration for the cost, however, I don’t expect to have to hand-tune an equalizer until I find the sound pleasant. Westone took a risk with the W50, and I’m not sure it panned out terribly well for them.

    Note: The Westone W50 were tested with various amps/dacs, including the Creative X-Fi Titanium HD, Asus SupremeFX 2014, Objective2, ODAC, Cayin C5, and Samsung Galaxy S5. Better pairing recommendations are welcome.

    Westone W50 Frequency Response

    This curve was generated using a Dayton Audio EMM-6 Electret Measurement Microphone, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio interface, and Room EQ Wizard. The mic calibration file was provided by Dayton Audio and the output calibration file was generated using the program itself (3.5mm out on PC to 1/4″ input on Scarlett 2i4).

    • Green: Stock frequency response (Dark)
    • Blue: Basshead frequency response after applying EQ (I like how they sound this way)

    westone_w50_freq_response_eq

    Sample Basshead EQ Curve

    This is just a basic graphical EQ. I forgot to save my parametric settings, so you get a screenshot of this one:

    W50_EQ

    Westone W50 Specifications

    • SENSITIVITY: 118 dB SPL @ 1 mW
    • FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
    • IMPEDANCE: 25 ohms @ 1 kHz
    • PASSIVE NOISE ATTENUATION: 25 dB
    • DRIVER: 5 balanced armature drivers with a 3-way crossover.
    • WEIGHT: 0.445 ounces/12.7grams
    • CABLE: EPIC Replaceable cable and MFI G2 cable
    • CABLE LENGTH: 50″ / 128 cm

    Westone W50

    $599.99
    Westone W50
    7.6

    Bass Impact

    7/10

      Bass Depth

      8/10

        Overall Sound

        7/10

          Build Quality

          9/10

            Reviewer Bias

            7/10

              Pros

              • Great bass depth
              • Good impact for BA
              • Excellent soundstage
              • Amazing build and accessories
              • Really comfortable

              Cons

              • Dark tonal signature
              • Expensive
              • Needs EQ to sound good to me
              • Need an amp to sound their best
              • Overhyped

              Categories: Basshead IEM, Reviews

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              Drop the Bass