UMmm, the NEW Pro in town!
PROS: new transparent shell design with improved ergonomics, next gen mmcx connectors, refined tuning in lieu of the sound path optimization.
CONS: the same set of accessories for the entry and the higher-level models.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Manufacturer website: Westone.
Usually, the announcement of a new audio product gets a lot of coverage, both from manufacturers promoting it and from consumers generating a buzz in anticipation of the release. On the contrary, a product refresh gets a different type of attention, or in some cases even a lack of attention if the upgrade considered to be small.
When I received the new UM Pro 50 v2 for testing, I quickly realized it was more than just a little update and it deserves more attention. I already shared my first impressions about New vs Old UM Pro 50 in a detailed comparison here, which led to my curiosity about the rest of this UM Pro v2 refresh. Now, with UM Pro 10/20/30/50 v2 on loan in my hands, I can offer a more detailed analysis about each individual model, especially 10 and 20 which I wasn’t familiar with beforehand.
This write up is going to be a little different since I want to focus more on the sound analysis instead of comparison and pair ups. Also, keep in mind that regardless of the refresh, UM Pro series still follows the Westone’s original philosophy of this IEM being designed for artists “monitoring” the mix during performance on stage, while W series is a consumer oriented line for audiophiles and audio enthusiasts interested in a more critical listening.
Looks like in addition to redesigning the “shell” of IEMs, Westone also decided to update the “shell” of the packaging too. It didn’t catch me by surprise since I’m already familiar with AM Pro series which has a very similar packaging box and also introduced the same color-coded theme for different driver configs. The box still has enough of detailed info about the product, and now also features a cutout window to see the actual IEM under the cover.
Inside, you have a plastic tray partitioned in two halves with a secure dense foam cutout for IEMs up top and for mini-monitor vault with accessories at the bottom. It’s a very simple minimalistic approach, probably cost efficient as well, which holds UM Pros secure during shipment. The only comment here, which becomes more apparent when you are looking at all 4 models, they share an identical packaging, regardless of $149 UM Pro 10 or $649 UM Pro 50. It’s just an observation, not really a remark against Westone since a lot of other manufacturers with a series of IEM models share the same packaging. Furthermore, every box is identified with a corresponding model name and color code.
Accessories is another part of unboxing experience where you will find a common selection with a replaceable EPIC cable, five sizes of Patented STAR silicone and five sizes of True-Fit foam assorted ear tips, mini-monitor orange vault, and a cleaning tool. Not an accessory, but still worth mentioning, the original owner gets 2-year warranty which is not transferrable.
The same collection of Westone eartips have been featured in all their universal IEM products, including W, UM Pro, and AM Pro series. As I mentioned in my previous reviews, with their roots in Professional Hearing earpiece design, Westone put years of their research experience into design of these patented Star and True-Fit tips. Included were 5 pairs of Star silicone tips that conform naturally to different ear anatomy, with each pair distinguished by a different core color for an easy pair up. Also, 5 pairs of True-Fit memory foam eartips with a medium recovery property, not too soft or too springy to ensure the maximum seal and comfort when they expand inside of your earcanal. Earwax remover tool comes in handy to clean up narrow bore opening of these eartips.
Pelican style small “vault” storage case is also a part of Westone accessories tradition. It’s a durable, tight locking, small case that can survive a lot of stress, and it’s big enough to fit a pair of IEMs with EPIC cable. A thicker aftermarket cable might not fit, and you should be careful not to pinch the wires when closing it. This case is not exactly pocket friendly for everyday use, but it’s great when traveling on the road, thus musicians will find it quite useful.
Keeping in mind that UM Pro series was originally designed for performing musicians, it makes sense Westone included a pair of audio only EPIC cable.
EPIC cable is thin, braided, lightweight, very flexible, featuring ultra-low resistance tensile wire design reinforced with aramid fiber. For a stock cable, it has a decent audio performance. The headphone connector is a standard 3.5mm gold plated plug with a molded plastic strain relief and a right-angle design that fits any DAP or smartphone even with a bulky case. The cable’s y-splitter is molded rubbery plastic part with a strain relief by design of its shape and a nice chin slider. Memory portion of the cable toward the connector is not a rigid wire that needs to be reshaped after each case storage. It’s a pre-shaped flexible heat-shrink tube that fits comfortably over the ears.
Both earpieces have MMCX universal connectors, now featuring the improved next gen MMCX Audio connectors. I found them to have a more secure mating between the cable and the shell, and once connected the cable doesn’t rotate as freely. You do have to keep in mind that despite MMCX connection, Westone EPIC cable will only mate with Westone shells due to a lower profile of the connector. But any other universal MMCX cable will work perfectly with Westone IEMs.
I have always been a fan of Westone bean-shape shells. Regardless of UM Pro or W series, they are very compact, lightweight, and have a thin nozzle. With a right selection of eartips, these universal shells fit like a custom iem. That’s why I think it was a bit of a risky move to change the design in the New UM Pro series, to fix something that wasn’t broken to begin with. But it wasn’t a complete brand-new design, since it was already introduced in AM Pro series. I assume those AM shells received enough of positive feedback to pave the way for Westone to consider implementing it in UM Pro v2 series as well.
After spending some time with it, I actually prefer now the ergonomics of the new shell design over the old one. And not just the design, but a new look with a semi-transparent gray inner side and fully transparent clear outer side. The shells are vertically a little taller, not the same bean shape as before. Instead, it’s slimmer and flatter, sitting flush in my concha area of the ear, with a more comfortable and secure fit. It’s still has a small diameter nozzle and compatible with all of their legacy eartips. Also, it features their next gen “MMCX Audio” type connector, already introduced in W80/ES80, AM Pro, and BT Cable, which enables a more robust and secure attachment of the cable to the connector socket of the shell.
Another design detail, new to UM Pro while actually being already implemented in AM Pro, is a color-coded inner shell plastic piece with orange (UM Pro 10), blue (UM Pro 20), green (UM Pro 30), and gray (UM Pro 50) insert. It’s a nice touch to distinguish the models, giving them some “personality”. Of course, when you have all the shells in front of you, it’s easy to see how they vary in size.
New vs Old fit.