Westone UM1 - A lazy review
I had been using some Shure E3C phones with triple flange earpieces for about 5 years, when cable started developing several breaks. Needless to say this quickly became very irritating so some new phones were a high priority!
I looked at the new Shure equivalent of the E3C, the SE210 or SCL3 (both have the exact same spec as the E3C, and the 210 looks identical), and was a bit disappointed to see that they have more than doubled in price since I bought my original set I didn't really think £100 was a fair price for my E3Cs. They were great phones and I loved them, but they definitely weren't worth that price IMO.
I looked at a few possible alternatives, such as Etymotic, Super Fi and Phonak, but eventually decided that Westone phones looked like they'd have a more secure fit, especially if I had custom moulds. However, the UM1 were the only Westone phones in my price range, and even they were pushing the limit. I found very few reviews or comments on the UM1 on the web, so I just had to go with what advice I could find and take a risk!
After their arrival, it didn't take long to decide that the UM1's were totally worth it! The fit with the stock, foam tips took some getting used to, but the isolation was very good and the clarity of sound was phenomenal.
I've never listened to armature driver phones before, but they are something I would definitely look to in the future, I have been very impressed by the clarity and sharpness of the sound. I had read several accounts about the frequency response of the UM1 suffering at the low end and also rolling off in the early teens of kHz (something I believe is much less evident in the UM2). I found this to be true, but a little bit of eq'ing on the Cowon S9 easily compensated for any problems.
I would reccomend the UM1 to most people looking for a good IEM at this price point, though probably not to anyone who loves their bass. Given that these are around the same price as the Shure SE210 though, Westone would be my choice every time.
For anyone looking for IEMs for instrument monitoring, look no further. The fit is close to perfect, and even the stock isolation is impressive. As the headphone output is at 90 degrees to the body, they also do not stick out much at all and you'd be hard pressed to snag them on anything. I think you'd need to modify triple flag plugs a little though, as the plugs are a bit on the long side, but this would be easily done. I'll try to remember to report back when I get my custom moulds done and let you know how those work out.
Whilst I'm making these sound like the best earphones in the world, here are some of the key downsides. The frequency response is not the best, and you may need to do some eq'ing to get the sound right for you. I found that on my S9, a wide or normal boost of a couple of dB at 13KHz sorted out the high end quite well (maybe a little nudge up at 4KHz too) and a touch of BBE and Mach3Bass helped bring the bass up to scratch. Whilst the high sensitivity of the phones is something I like, it does mean that you're going to get quite a bit of hiss with some appliances.
I think that's about it for now! If you have any questions about the phones, like if you're thinking about buying some, I'd be happy to answer any more questions if you drop me a PM
The UM1's are supplied with a very helpful case, and 4 pairs of foam buds (2 sizes).
These photos are taken with the longer of the two foam buds, and you can see how close into the ear the pieces fit. The smaller buds fit even closer, but I find the isolation not as good.
Last edited by hazza_t10; 02-16-2015 at 03:46 PM. Reason: spelling mistakes!
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