Review Guide to 2nd gen Westone W-series, W10, W20, W40, W60, and W80

Westone W60 2nd gen.

($999.99, Westone, Amazon)

  • Full-range six balanced-armature drivers
  • Sensitivity 117dB
  • Impedance 25 ohms
  • Noise isolation 25dB

Included: W60 universal IEMs, Silver plated copper cable, Westone BT v1 cable, 5 pair Star silicone and 5 pair True-Fit foam tips, exchangeable metal faceplates, medium premium carrying case, 2 year warranty.

Sound Impressions:

W60-2 steps up from W40-2 tuning to the next level with the following changes. The soundstage is wide and has a good out of your head depth expansion, being wider than W40-2. Low end sub-bass rumble goes deeper, sounds more textured, and mid-bass adds more to the punch, with an overall bass impact being more elevated and hitting harder. Lower mids have a nice body but still closer to neutral, and upper mids are more resolving, more detailed, more layered, but still smooth and natural; with a slightly pulled back presentation, a little less forward in comparison to W40-2, perhaps due to a more elevated bass impact. The treble is well defined and well controlled, not as crisp as W40-2, sounds even more natural. Overall signature is nicely balanced, more W-shaped here.

Comparison:

W60-2 with Silver-plated vs Epic cable – Similar consistent difference as I have found in W40-2 comparison, where I’m hearing a soundstage being a little wider with SPC cable and mids/vocals sounding a little more revealing. Also, in this comparison SPC cable gives a perception of a blacker background.

W60-2 vs W60-1 – I hear a very interesting change here, something you don’t appreciate as much until you compare one to the other. W60-2 soundstage has a wider perception, perhaps with a help of SPC cable, but either way it’s noticeable. Bass in W60-2 sounds tighter and more controlled, especially the transition into lower mids where I’m hearing W60-2 mid-bass having a faster/shorter decay, while the original W60-1 spills a little bit into lower mids. Mids is where I hear the biggest difference, with W60-2 being more neutral and more transparent while W60-1 being thicker with more body. As a result, W60-2 sounds less colored, more resolving, a little less laidback, but still natural in tonality. In comparison, the upper mids/vocals of W60-1 sound warmer, not as resolving, and a little more pulled back. Treble is identical here. The difference is quite noticeable in this comparison, especially when listening to vocals where W60-2 sounds more resolving, less colored, more audiophile quality tuned.

W60-2 vs Pro50-2 – I thought this might be an interesting comparison as well. Soundstage expansion here is very similar, in both width and depth. Bass is very similar in quality with both having a deeper rumble and stronger punch, but Pro50-2 has even stronger impact, hitting harder, while W60-2 bass is a little more relaxed. Mids are very similar, the same closer to neutral lower mids and resolving more transparent upper mids. Treble is where they differ again, with W60-2 being a little smoother and more controlled, while Pro50-2 being brighter and with a little more sparkle. As a result of these differences in bass and treble, W60-2 is more balanced while Pro50-2 is more v-shaped.


Westone W80 2nd gen.

($1,499.99, Westone, Amazon )

  • Full-range eight balanced-armature drivers
  • Sensitivity 111dB
  • Impedance 5 ohms
  • Noise isolation 35dB

Included: W80 universal IEMs, ALO Reference 8 hybrid cable, Westone BT v2 cable, 5 pair Star silicone and 5 pair True-Fit foam tips, exchangeable metal faceplates, large premium carrying case, small premium carrying case, 2 year warranty.

Sound Impressions:

W80-2 is still at the flagship level of performance, but the gap between W80-2 and retuned W60-2 is a little closer now. The soundstage of W80-2 is quite wide and has a nice out of your head depth, the sound just wraps around you, but still has a realistic spacing/imaging. Bass extends deep with a nice level of rumble, has a strong articulate mid-bass punch, and overall low end is well layered and controlled, with a faster attack/decay speed in comparison to W60-2. Lower mids are a little north of neutral, with a little more body, but still giving enough room for upper-mids to be transparent, more resolving, more layered, and still sounding natural and detailed. Upper mids of W60-2 are now closer to W80-2 in tonality, but W80-2 is a little more forward, giving W80-2 a more refined W-signature. Also, W80-2 mids/vocals have a better technical performance with more air between layers of the sound. Treble of W80-2 is well defined, crisp, detailed, more extended and airier, a little crisper and with more airiness in comparison to W60-2, while still being non-fatigue.

Comparison:

W80-2 vs W80-1 – these sound identical, like a carbon copy when compared using the same Ref8 cable, the same eartips, playing from the same source, and with the same song. Thus, for any additional W80-2 sound performance info you can refer to my original W80 review which is still relevant.

Conclusion.

No doubt Westone was overdue for W-series refresh, though the company still likes to maintain their signature house sound without extreme deviations, unless they switch to a new series like B30 and B50. Thus, you will not find big changes in v2 updates of W10, W20, and W80, especially since that flagship was introduced only a few years ago. On a contrary, the v2 update of W40 and W60 was a pleasant surprise, and W60 now bridges the gap with W80 a little closer. But nevertheless, refined tuning of v2 W40 and W60 will still appeal to those who enjoyed their original sound and will probably get the attention of audiophiles who might have overlooked it in the past.

But in my opinion, the bigger change here is Westone trying to raise the value of their products by including Bluetooth wireless cables, metal faceplates, and new silver-plated cables in various models, while still keeping their original price. When the time comes to replace your aging in-ear monitors, raising the value while keeping the price unchanged is what keeps your loyal customers coming back. At the same time, the perfection of fine-tuning and the introduction of new models is what brings in fresh customers. Maybe Westone is 60 years old, but the changes I have seen in the last few years are definitely in the right direction to stay relevant in this very competitive market.

24 thoughts on “Review Guide to 2nd gen Westone W-series, W10, W20, W40, W60, and W80

  1. 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.

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      1. 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.

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      2. 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.

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  2. 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.

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    1. 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.

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    1. 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.

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  3. 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

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    1. 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.

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      1. 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.

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      2. what is your budget? You mentioned ibasso, their IT07 is really good and very comfortable. But I think the budget is very important.

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      3. 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?

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      4. 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!!!

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  4. Hey,
    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?

    Thank you.

    Like

    1. “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.

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      1. 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?

        Thanks.

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    2. 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.

      Like

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