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Recommended Products: Westone 3 Earphones

September 13th, 2010

For our second post in the Musical Pairings’ Recommended Products section, we feature the Westone 3 true fit earphones.  The 3′s are true three-way driver in-ear monitors (each earphone features a dedicated low driver, mid driver and high driver thereby allowing for more precise sound reproduction) that  are perfect for any audio enthusiast who wants a pair of compact earphones for use on airplanes, public transit or at the gym.   They are comfortable to wear, provide excellent sound isolation, and produce a fantastic warm and punchy sound that will beautifully compliment pop, rock, hip hop and electronica.

I’ve pretty much lived in my Westone 3′s ever since I received them.  I’ve listened to countless albums of varying styles/genres, and have never failed to be impressed by their performance.  Nonetheless, for the purpose of the review, I listened to a number of albums in different styles as I did for my prior review of Bowers & Wilkins p5s in order to evaluate the Westone 3′s performance on different albums.  I listened to Spoon’s Gimme Fiction, Washed Out’s Life of Leisure, Boards of Canada’s Geogaddi, Miles Davis’ Live Evil, and Jay-Z’s The Black Album.

So even before discussing their performance on individual albums, I can say that they performed beautifully across the board for each of the album’s I tried with them as they offered a very spacious sound stage with nearly pristine sound reproduction.   Gimme Fiction is one of my favorite albums to use for reviewing audio equipment because it provides lots of opportunities to evaluate a piece of equipment’s ability to replicate small sonic details and textures that are frequently hidden by lesser equipment (for example I listen to determine how distinctly noticeable are the two deep inhalation-like sounds that precede the first lyrics on “The Beast & Dragon Adored”), yetwhether the equipment in question can still produce a warm, palpable bass to give life to a rock song.   The Westone 3 beautifully revealed all of the depth, nuance and beauty in the mix.  When listening to Jay-Z, the bass rumbled magnificently on The Black Album.  Indeed, I honestly don’t know that I  had ever before heard so much space and cleanliness in the production of The Black AlbumLife of Leisure and Geogaddi both sounded crisp and enveloping.  The instrumentation on Live Evil sounded distinct and clear.  Again, the Westone 3′s performed to my expectations on each album.

So, let’s review the specs from the Westone 3 website:

Sensitivity: 107 dB SPL
Frequency Response: 20 Hz -18 kHz
Impedance: 30 ohms
Driver: three balanced armature drivers
Sensitivity: 119 dB/mW
Impedance 27 ohms

Sounds pretty good, right?  They really are.  I’ve tried a number of different pairs of IEMs (in-ear monitors) including a pair each by pretty much all of Westone’s IEM competitors, and I can say without hesitation that the Westone 3′s blow the competition out of the water.  These are easily the best IEM I’ve tried to date, and the only pair that I believe would satisfy most discerning audiophiles.  The Westone 3′s list at $569.00, but can be purchased from Amazon at the time of writing for $445.44.   Even better, they are available directly from Westone for $399.


  • http://www.piranha-audiovisual.co.uk/ Andy Matthews

    It’s great to hear there are extremely high quality earphones however the asking price is extremely high for a product like that don’t you think?

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Matthew

    You’d definitely have to be very committed to owning high quality headphones if you were considering throwing down the retail price for these headphones. I do note that as of the date of this comment you can now score them at Amazon for about $300 – which is better, but still not cheap. I use my pair nearly everyday and I love them. With that said, I know from experience there are fantastic headphones around $100 and under. At some point when we have a chance to catch our breath we’ll be reviewing some of those headphones too. Oh, and turntables. We’ll have at least a ‘recommended hi-fi turntable’ soon since we get asked that a lot.

  • http://www.piranha-audiovisual.co.uk/ Andy Matthews

    Cheers Matthew for the quick reply. Sounds interesting to hear about some of those cheaper headphones and will keep a look out for when you review them :)

    It has been a crazy year this one!

  • jamaica

    hi again! for christmas i could either get the pro-ject turntable or westone 3 earbuds. which one do you think I should get? thanks so much

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Matthew

    Hi Jamaica,

    That’s tough since they have very different uses. I loved my Westone 3′s and I love my Pro-Ject. It’s hard to say which I used more. I suppose I’d say it depends on where you listen to music more. I used my Westone 3′s primarily while on the go. I listen to my turntable more at home. It’s also worth mentioning that the Westone 3′s are slowly dying now after several years of moderate use. The turntable is still going strong but with all of the upgrades, I could have bought 4 pair of the Westone 3s. To further complicate things, I’ve been hearing amazing things about the new PSB M4U headphones, but haven’t had a chance to try them yet: http://www.amazon.com/PSB-M4U-Over-Ear-Headphones-Black/dp/B00AFUE7S6/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1382491549&sr=8-3&keywords=PSB