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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Westone 4

Again, this is owned by an Austrian Head-Fi user, James444. Much appreciated for your contribution, James!

Last time I encountered Westone products was when I attended the Canjam 2009, held in Los Angeles, California. I had a nice little chat with the representative, and auditioned Westone 3 along with UM3X. He even gave me brand-new sleeves for better fitting! IMO UM3X sounded little more neutral, but I did not find either of them to my liking. And in 2011, Westone introduced a new model with quad-driver configuration, Westone 4.

PRO: The overall distortion is below the threshold of 1%.

CON: Polarity inverted. A brick-wall high cut at ~12 kHz.

ON SECOND THOUGHT #1: In terms of tonality, Westone tuned this IEM to be electrically linear within the ear canal, as JH Audio and Ultimate Ears do all the time with their products. Still, Westone 4 still keeps somewhat neutral tonality due to its slow mid range, which would have been unseen without my newly established waterfall & ETC & GD plots. It basically prevents the sound to be overly emphasized in the low and high frequency range. Moreover, the subbass delay gives nice natural "thumping" sensation- I just wish it was less boosted and had more response over 12 kHz.

ON SECOND THOUGHT #2: The high frequency peak at 10 kHz won't go away, whether the insertion depth is deep or shallow.

ON SECOND THOUGHT #3: What a pleasant surprise with Westone 4's impedance characteristic. Adding a 100 Ω resistor will turn the tonality quite linear, while suppressing the peak at 10 kHz & pumping up the response above 10 kHz. This modification is highly recommended. The IEM shall be fully underdamped with a 250 Ω resistor, with about +6 dB @ 2.5 kHz.

ON SECOND THOUGHT #4: How does the acoustic damper affect the sound of Westone 4? As acoustic impedance of the damper increases, the high frequency drops down. Unless more bass is desired, this modification should be avoided.

ON SECOND THOUGHT #5: The sleeve analysis with Westone 4 will be discussed on a separate blog entry. Stay tuned! Meanwhile, here's my 2 cents for Westone 4 users: Add a 100 Ω resistor, equip a pair of Phonak's stock sleeves, and insert the IEM shallow, but with a tight fit; a great neutrality & high-frequency extension achieved. 

Posted via Samsung Galaxy Note


  1. I don't get it. What is being electrically linear within ear canal?

    1. Uncalibrated flatness. If you put such IEM in your ear, it effectively removes all the natural filtering of the ear, which results in recessed mid to high frequency range.

      Check this out:

  2. So you mean it's tuned in such way that the grey curve in your graph look flat?

  3. Hi Udauda,
    Have been a long time follower of your blog since your post about ETY custom tips.
    Have a noob question about your 100 Ω resistor recommendation. If my source has an output impedance of 10 Ω (DACport), should I get an resistor adaptar of 90 Ω to hit the mark? Also plan to use the DACport for my RE272 and HF3...

    1. Thnx, Rick. Depending on how much mid-range boost you want, you may or may not need to hit that 100-Ohm serial resistance, which would yield ~5dB boost. FYI 48-Ohm should boost 4 dB, while +3.5 dB with 32-Ohm.

  4. i own Westone 3 and use comply phonak foam tips. should i get a 100 ohm resistor?

    1. Can't tell. Haven't had a chance to analyze W3.

  5. Interesting measurement with the series resistor - however, I think this would affect much more than just the Freq Response. Did you re-measure all the curves with the resistor or just the FR? Also, a series resistor this high will raise the output impedance of your amplifier so much that it will have no damping. This means longer decay, loose bass, poorer PRaT and potential high frequency ringing.

    1. I have been kind of expecting for such question. So here's the answer normalized at 1 kHz:
      High frequency 10ms:
      Low frequency 100ms:

      Not only the additional resistance tames ringing of the entire frequency spectrum, it also evens out the spectral balance. Your analogy would've worked if microtransducers are prone to mechanical loss like loudspeakers, but it just ain't the case.

  6. Does adding the resistor add impedance to the source or IEM?

  7. Hi, my westone 4r has red acoustic dampers by default, I can clearly see them through the sound tube. Can I replace them? where can I purchase the tool to make it? which dampers should I use and where can I purchase them?

    thank you very much