New Tone from Westone!
PROS: Metal faceplate clips with W40/W60/W80, free Bluetooth cable with all models, updated tuning and silver-plated cable with W40/W60, price for all models remains the same.
CONS: entry level W10/W20 still have plastic faceplate clips, only W80 has BT v2 cable.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Manufacturer website: Westone. Available for sale from Westone, Audio46, and on Amazon.
A year later after v2 update of their UM Pro series, Westone decided to turn their attention to W-series, releasing v2 of their W10, W20, W40, W60, and W80 models. Some might wonder what happened to W30 and W50? Actually, W50 was MIA for quite some time, ever since being labeled as the “basshead” black sheep of Westone family. Apparently, there is quite a demand for basshead tuned audiophile quality IEMs, and the decision was made to release updated W30 and W50 as B30 and B50, where “B” stands for bass enhanced version.
With the rest of the new v2 models, regardless of entry or flagship level, all will feature Westone own Bluetooth cable, included as part of standard accessories. W80 flagship even stepped it up to the latest v2 release of this cable. Another big change is addition of metal faceplate clips on W40, W60, and W80, while entry level W10 and W20 still have plastic ones. And while W10, W20, and W80 tuning remained the same, to my big surprise W40 and W60 were retuned and upgraded with a new Silver-plated cable. Regardless of these new additions, the price of new W-series models remained the same as original ones.
In this write up I wanted to combine all v2 W-series under one review umbrella with a focus on the changes, individual sound analysis, and comparison between v1 and v2. Since I don’t have the original W10 and W20, in that comparison I used v2 of UM Pro 10 and Pro 20 since I had those requests back when I was reviewing new UM Pro series. I will also cover v2 of Westone latest BT cable as a separate mini-review. Also, for the reference, W10-1 refers to v1 and W10-2 refers to v2. Now, let’s take a closer look.
The Old and the New.
In this section of the review I want to cover common changes which are applicable to new W-series models. And will mention carry overs from the original series.
Before anybody asks why even bother with Packaging/Unboxing, I find it to be a big deal in v2 of W-series because in all of my previous reviews I always complained how the packaging and accessories of Westone IEMs look the same between entry and flagship level models. The original boxes were small and gray inside of a gray sleeve where only the orange W stood out with some color to get your attention. New packaging has vibrant colors with pictures W-series models popping out from the white background, colorful faceplates, and EQ bars corresponding to a number of drivers of each featured model. And while W80 packaging design remained the same, color of the box was changed to match others.
I will go into more details of each individual model and their included accessories later but wanted to mention here that you no longer have to worry about small orange “vault” cases where you had to be careful not to pinch the cable when closing it. Now you have a small travel case for W10 and W20, medium one for W40 and W60, and small and large ones for W80 flagship.
I can imagine that some people don’t bother displaying audio gear packaging on their desk or shelves, but these are good enough for a display.
I will go over individual sound description and comparison in corresponding sections under each model, but in a summary: W10, W20, and W80 remained the same, while W40 and W60 were updated. As a spoiler, I found the sound update of W40 and W60 to be quite noticeable and more refined.
Tips remained the same; there is no reason to change anything when you have such a comprehensive selection of custom eartips included with all of their universal IEMs. 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 and 5 pairs of True-Fit memory foam eartips with a medium recovery property, not too soft or too springy. All eartips have color-coded inner core. Earwax remover tool was included as well, very useful to clear those narrow bores.
Pure Silver Plated Copper cable. ($124.99, Westone, Amazon)
As already mentioned, v2 W40 and W60 come with a new Silver-plated copper (SPC) cable instead of the traditional Epic cable. This cable is very supple, non-microphonic, not springy, and without memory effect. L/R wire sides are kept separately, not even twisted, all the way down to headphone plug. There is a clear y-split and chin-slider which don’t distract from the look of the transparent jacket. You will also find a right angled semi-transparent headphone plug with a comfortable grip, and semi-transparent IEM connectors with a clear Blue/Red marking to indicate L/R sides without a need to look for dots like in Epic cable. The earhook part of the cable is flexible and pre-shaped, no wires.
In corresponding W40 and W60 sections of the review I will go over how this SPC cable compares to Epic cable.
Metal faceplate clips.
When you browse through W-series threads on Head-fi, you are not going to find too many complaints, except for plastic faceplates. There were some issues in early production batches years ago when original W-series was introduced. That got corrected later, but still you find people mentioning about the faceplate crack around the tightening screw (which could also be a contributing factor if turned too tight). There was even some aftermarket manufacturer who started to make their own metal faceplates.
Glad Westone took a note of it as well, and the new v2 W40, W60, and W80 are all feature the same size metal j-clip faceplates. Of course, each model will have its corresponding label, but their size/shape are the same. W40 and W60 come with 2 different color pairs, and W80 comes with 3 different color pairs. And, since the size/shape is the same as the plastic one used in the original W80, current owners of W80 probably should wait until Westone makes them available to buy separately.
v2 W10 and W20 have plastic c-clip multi-color faceplates, the same size/shape as the original W-series. But I heard a rumor that Westone might release metal c-clips for those as well. So, let’s keep our fingers crossed.
24 thoughts on “Review Guide to 2nd gen Westone W-series, W10, W20, W40, W60, and W80”
Which of the tested IEMs would you recommend as the best price-performance ratio?
Sound preference plays a big role here since “performance” will be subjective. But I think with a new tuning it’s W60 for my taste.
I’m currently testing the W60 generation 2 and am wondering if I’m hearing them right?
With all tips except the black silicon tips, bass guitars are very forward in the mix no matter what genre of music. It’s as if the bass guitar is the main focus for any recording I listened to.
The spacing between all the instruments and vocal seemed very narrow when listening to stereo recordings from the 90’s to recent. Everything sounds so boxed in, like I’m hearing a performance done from an elevator rather then on a small stage. The clarity and separation between each instrument and vocal are all there but just so close together.
Am I hearing these right or is there a defect in the ones I’m auditioning.
What is your source? DAP? smartphone? desktop? Let’s start with that so I can figure out what’s going on 🙂
Sources used were the headphone out’s of a Macbook pro, smartphone, Yamaha receiver, Yamaha live reinforcement board, and 900nxs2 mixer. All sources except for the Yamaha receiver have low impedance headhpone outputs. I only tried the receiver in hopes that it would increase the width of the imaging, unfortunately it did not. Are the foam true-fit tips suppose to cut high frequencies in vocals? With them on, vocals sounded slightly dull and a bit more recessed.
I am looking to find a substitute for my AKG K271 MKII and Audio Technica ATH-E50 for monitoring, mixing, and live performance. Both produce discomfort in fit during long sessions. When contacting Westone they suggested a W30 to W60 for my intended purposes instead of the UM series.
tbh, when I switch between many of the DAPs I have access to and my smartphone and laptop, the soundstage is always inferior with smartphone/laptop vs dedicated DAPs with their higher end DACs and finetuned amps section. Westone designs W-series for audiophiles, while UMPro is for musicians, but UMPro50 could really surprise you. Also, yes, foam tips suck a life out of higher frequencies, attenuating the airiness of the treble which brings more attention to lows, and could also affect soundstage width expansion. But, at the end of the day, we have different sources, different ears, listen to different music, thus what you are hearing has to make sense to your ears with your sources and your music.
Thanks for the assistance, I guess I was expecting too much from these IEM’s. I can accept the slightly forward sounding bass guitars but the narrow width I’m experiencing with these IEM’s I can’t overlook.
For reference I listened to CD’s and original vinyl pressings ranging from Miles Davis, The Crusaders, Herbie Hancock, Smokey Robinson, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, James Taylor, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Toto, The Eagles, and Mariah Carey.
If I just listen mostly to EDM music, which one would be better, w40 Gen 2 or B50?
If you like more BASS, you definitely should go for B50, a more pounding slam. I listen to a lot of EDM, but I personally prefer a more balanced sound with not too much bass in your face, so I can hear vocals with better clarity, thus personally prefer W40 gen 2.
How is the tansio Mirai 5 compare to w40?
Sorry, while I have all the westone iems I reviewed, I don’t have Tansio iems. And Animagus, our contributor who reviewed many Tansio iems, doesn’t have access to Westone.
Ok, I don’t know that you have different reviewer. Thank you
Hi. As you listen to many IEMs, does W60-1 still sound better than the $100-$300 IEMs from last 1 or 2 years (like FiiO FH5, FH7, iBasso IT01s, BGVP, Etys, Campfire audios in that range, etc.)?Since they’re from 5 or 6 years ago and pricing in the IEM market have changed since then.
It’s quite a general question but I don’t think it would be very hard to give a general answer to that! 😉 Thanks
Westone still has a unique sound tuning. Calling something better is very subjective. I personally prefer more revealing, more detailed iems now, so don’t listen to Westone iems as much since they are smoother and more laid back. But then, I have people contacting me and telling me they heard all the latest releases and still can’t find anything that sounds as good or can replace their Westone iem. Many musicians use them instead of ciems. They are still one of the most comfortable to wear and one of the few I can wear in bed with my head on the pillow.
I’m curious what are other more detailed IEMs you are preferring these days over say a Westone W60?
I have an older pair of Westone 4r that I really love, but can tell is a bit colored and overly smooth. The problem is they are so insanely comfortable. Most IEMs just don’t fit in my ear well. For example, the ibasso IT01 just is not comfortable for me. But I think it has more clarity in the treble and more exciting bass for electronic music compared to the Westones. I keep coming back to Westone because of the comfort. Does anyone make an iem that rivals the comfort of westone, while upping the detail and realism? Without going ciem that is.
what is your budget? You mentioned ibasso, their IT07 is really good and very comfortable. But I think the budget is very important.
Budget probably caps out to around 400 dollars. I’m always open to finding things used from people on Head Fi and such. Adorama has the Westone W60 for $399, which is enticing! Can anything beat the W60 at that price?
Saw your post in W60 thread on head-fi 😉 When I clicked on that slick deals link it was still showing $999. So, if you see it at $399 for 2nd gen W60 grab it asap!!!
Purchased for $399! Now I have to make sure my wife doesn’t find out about it…
Really love your articles. Need your opinion on this:
I’m looking for the best sound quality wireless IEMs combo available on the market. In your experience, which IEM and bluetooth cable do you recommend?
Currently, I have the Audeze LCDI4, and their bluetooth cipher cable. But to be honest, the sound is awful!! I know the reason maybe due to the higher power demand from the LCDI4.
Do you think the W80 with their bluetooth cable will be the best sound quality IEM on the market or you have something else in your mind?
“the best” is very subjective. See the problem is when you are driving your IEM from a DAP, the real muscle under the hood is the DAC and the amp section of your source, all of which contributes and scales up the quality of the sound. Not familiar with LCDi4, but everybody whose opinion I trust tell me it sounds like crap using a regular cable, while with cipher DSP cable and certain presets it scales up to a whole new level. Now, look at Bluetooth cable or other wireless adapters. Your source compresses/encodes the file, bypasses all the good stuff in your DAP (no use for DAC or amp) and sends it wireless to a cheap cable that has Bluetooth decoder chip with everything else built-in to drive your IEM. How can you get the best sound quality out of that? Wireless is for convenience, not for the best sound quality when dealing with BT cables/adapters and separate IEMs. That’s just how it is, Perry. I recently reviewed Hiby Wh2, TWS iems, very impressive stuff. Also, many people like Airpods Pro or Sony true-wireless. So, maybe keep your wired IEMs with a true source and a cable, and for wireless look into TWS stuff.
Thanks for getting me back. I do have the TWS (sennheiser MTW2), and the sound is just average… That was the reason I wanted to use a bluetooth cable with high end IEMs. I currently have the SE846, LCDI4, IE800S, U18T and Solaris. By far, the i4 is the best IEMs I have heard in my desktop setups, and it can even compete with my Focal Stellia with a much portable size. But on the SP2000, the Solaris is better, due to lack of the EQ settings. With bluetooth cable, it’s just crap.
Anyway, how is the W80 compare with other IEMs? Will it be able to compete with Solaris, U18T or other high end IEMs?
I was going to say the same thing so I will keep it short…ditch the bluetooth. That is the weak link. Best sound quality and bluetooth is a paradox.