At the speed of Sound!
PROS: comfortable fit, lightweight, compact design, still follows Westone house tuning, choice of different sound sigs depending on the model.
CONS: variation of sensitivity depending on the model selection, can’t cable roll unless you got IPX, Westone house sound might not be for everybody.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Manufacturer: Westone. Available for sale directly or from different on-line retailers, like Amazon where I often see them at discounted price: MACH 10, MACH 20, MACH 30, MACH 40, MACH 50, MACH 60, MACH 70, MACH 80.
It has been a while since my last Westone review. When it comes to their IEMs, I usually cover the whole series at once, like I have done in the past with W-series, B-series, UM Pro series, though I did review only a few ES and AM Pro models. As a result, I often get asked if I have any scoop on what’s cooking in Westone lab. Obviously, many noticed that Westone has been quiet for the last 3 years, and some were not even aware that in 2020 Westone was acquired by Lucid Audio, the same company that purchased Etymotic Research in 2018. After that, the company went through some restructuring and realignment of R&D resources. But in parallel with all of these changes, Westone was keeping itself busy while “cooking” something new, their MACH series that was announced back in May.
As I’ve mentioned before, when it comes to Westone, a lot of people have a wrongful assumption of W-series being a uni version of a custom ES-series. I had many discussions with my readers who auditioned W60 and W80 and assumed that’s how ES60 and ES80 going to sound. W-series has an old-school audiophile tuning for those who like natural laidback tonality. ES-series was intended for musicians, but I found its tuning to be also aimed at audiophiles, at least judging by ES60 and ES80 I tested, still two of my favorite Westone IEMs. So where does this leave MACH series? Let’s find out more in this overview of the 8 new models from Westone MACH series.
Unboxing and Accessories.
I didn’t receive the official MACH series packaging, only 8 pairs of their new IEMs along with a set of 3 Linum cables with IPX connectors (BaX, SuperBaX, and UltraBaX). But from some of the on-line unboxing pictures, I saw that MACH series comes with a traditional set (10 pairs) of Westone eartips for 2mm nozzle, a storage pouch, earwax remover cleaning tool, cleaning clothe, owner’s manual and a storage case. Included is a smaller storage case for 10, 20, and 30 models and a bigger one for 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80 models.
When it comes to eartips, no surprises here, they remained the same. There is no reason to change anything when you have such a comprehensive selection of custom patented eartips included with all of their universal IEMs. As expected, you will find 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 to match each pair. And with included earwax remover tool you can easily clear those narrow bores. Btw, I’m noticing more manufacturers are starting to include 2mm adapters with their eartips, and some, like SpinFit, make specific 2mm eartips (CP800 model).
Following the footsteps of previous releases, MACH series is BA-only design with a model reference corresponding to a number of drivers, the same how it was with W, ES, and UM/AM Pro models. The shells have a molded plastic housing in different shades of grey and black colors, gradually changing from 10 to 80. Also, they have a metal faceplate with right side featuring new Westone “W” logo and left side having a model number. To distinguish Right and Left sides, on the inside the right shell has a “W” in orange and the left one has it in blue. Nozzle has a legacy 2mm diameter and the same length as W-series, as well as having S/N printed across it.
The shells are bigger than W-series, but not by too much. I found the shape of new MACH shells to be still ergonomic and very comfortable to wear. Shells sit perfectly in the concha area of my ears, and still comfortable to wear in bed with a head down on the pillow, a big plus since many of today’s multi-driver iems are too bulky. Plastic material is lightweight and still feels durable. I know it’s a question I have been asked many times because some people feel anxious when they see a thin nozzle. But in so many years of using Westone iems, even with my head on the pillow, I never had an issue.
Each pair, going from a single BA to 8 BAs, features a different partitioning/grouping of drivers and a different impedance and sensitivity spec:
- MACH10: BA bass/mids/treble, single full range driver, Impedance: 80ohm, Sensitivity: 103dB, BaX cable.
- MACH20: BA bass, BA mids/treble, Impedance: 96ohm, Sensitivity: 110dB, BaX cable.
- MACH30: BA bass, BA mids, BA treble, Impedance: 91ohm, Sensitivity: 110dB, BaX cable.
- MACH40: 2BA bass, BA mids, BA treble, Impedance: 30ohm, Sensitivity: 100dB, SuperBaX cable.
- MACH50: BA bass, 2BA mids, 2BA treble, Impedance: 32ohm, Sensitivity: 110dB, SuperBax cable.
- MACH60: 2BA bass, 2BA mids, 2BA treble, Impedance: 35ohm, Sensitivity: 100dB, SuperBax cable.
- MACH70: BA bass, 2BA mids, 4BA treble, Impedance: 42ohm, Sensitivity: 110dB, UltraBaX cable.
- MACH80: 2BA bass, 2BA mids, 4BA treble, Impedance: 66ohm, Sensitivity: 104dB, UltraBaX cable.
As you can see, 10/40/60/80 models have lower sensitivity which requires a higher volume to push them to a normal listening level. In comparison, 20/30/50/70 are more efficient with an average sensitivity that doesn’t require as high volume to make them sound loud enough.
Another big change introduced in MACH series is IPX/T2 Linum cable connectors. IPX/T2 connectors are easy to handle, tight fitting, with a solid build, and being able to withstand a pull force of 60N, by far superior to MMCX with a very secure yet easy to disconnect locking mechanism. The connectors are color coded with red (right) and black (left), have IP67 rating (water/sweatproof), and guaranteed for up to 3,000 disconnect cycles. But at the same time, it is not the greatest option for audiophiles who already invested into 2pin aftermarket upgrade cables.
The conductors of Linum cable are made of 6 Litz wires, each with 7 individual strands where each strand is made from a silver-plated copper with enamel. SuperBaX and UltraBaX also feature a molded plastic y-split and a chin slider with a locking mechanism where you squeeze sides to extend inner part which slides out to allow easy adjustment and then slides back in to securely lock it in place. As mentioned above, there are 3 variations of Linum cables, based on what I have received:
- BaX 1.5ohm, the thinnest cable with only 2 wires, no pre-shaped earhook (due to thin wire), black shielding.
- SuperBaX 0.75ohm, dual-twisted 4 wires, pre-shaped earhook, black shielding.
- UltraBaX 0.6ohm, quad-twisted 4 wires, pre-shaped earhook, transparent shielding.
Partitioning of BaX (10/20/30), SuperBaX (40/50/60), UltraBaX (70/80) does makes sense, going with a more basic cable for lower driver count models and higher end cables as you go up. But in general, the cable is microphonic which maybe OK for musicians, but not for audiophiles who listen in a quieter environment where any movement of the cable against the shirt will be “noisy”. Also, cable tangles easily, especially a thinner BaX when you wrap it for storage and then have to untangle it. Personally, I have mixed feelings about use of this cable with Westone models, but not surprised since they are following Etymotic EVO where the same was introduced. Don’t get me wrong, I love Linum cables, but with IPX connector it leaves you without too much flexibility for aftermarket cable rolling.