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Monday, May 13, 2013

Westone 2

Disclaimer: Yet again, Inks generously let me borrow his pair for analysis. I owe him greatly.
Measurement has been carried out with a pair of smallest Westone STAR sleeves, which are green-coded.

Released in 2009 along with UM3X, ES3X, and Westone 1, Westone 2 is a dual-driver IEM featuring the manufacturer's 50 years long experience in IEM industry. Designed for personal listening, this IEM is highly unnoticed by headphone users, despite the manufacturer's claim of "ultra-accurate ... the most dynamic sound available in a universal fit earphone".

PRO: Smooth frequency response, well-extended bandwidth, warm decaying bass, and low distortion.

CON: Inverted polarity & extremely non-linear impedance characteristic ranging from 16 Ω at the DC to 160 Ω at 7.2 kHz.

ON SECOND THOUGHT #1: Shallow insertion is the key to achieve maximum linearity in the treble with this IEM. 

ON SECOND THOUGHT #2: Due to Westone 2's non-linear impedance characteristic, additional output resistance sets off the overall tonality. While deep-insertion may help offset the harshness by shifting the quarter-wavelength resonance at 9 kHz to the frequency range above 10 kHz, any impedance value higher than 33 Ω will make the IEM sound overly sharp.

ON SECOND THOUGHT #3: Acoustic damper modification is definitely an effective way of tuning the tonality of Westone 2, but it shall be noted that the damper only works as an acoustic low-pass filter, essentially cutting off the treble even with 330 Ω gray dampers. 

ON SECOND THOUGHT #4: Westone's STAR sleeves, which now come with the IEM as stock sleeves, offer a great versatility when it comes down to sleeve choices; However, although users have a wide range of selection, it is important to note that the sleeves larger/thinner than the green silicone are to be completely avoided as they tend to introduce linear distortion and a bandwidth cut-off, especially when the electrical damping modification is desired for bass reduction.  

Above are my recommendations for Westone 2 users. The blue curve is probably the flattest the IEM can possibly become, but it is a bit tricky to obtain such linearity as you need a pair of red Monster sleeve couplers, a pair of Grado single flange sleeves, a 33 Ω resistor connected in series, and deep-insertion. If users find Monster adapters and Grado sleeves hard to come by, they can use a pair of Shure Olives, Comply T-130, or any other sleeves with the bore opening conically-tapered instead, so that the quarter-wavelength resonance is effectively damped according to the horn effect.

Westone 2 + Monster adapter + Grado sleeves + resistor


  1. Wow! I am quite surprised by this. I haven't heard the W2 but I have heard the UM2 and greatly preferred it to the UM3X. I would have to give the W2 a try!

    One gripe with it though is that it does not have removable cables which, IME, is the worst quality of westone IEMs. The UM2 comes with a removable cable version, though.

    1. Westone 2 & Westone 4 are solid IEMs. Just wishing I could get a hand on more of their products.

    2. Actually I have though about getting the w4 on various occasions but the price has always been stopping me.

      In your opinion, which is better - the BA200 or the Westone 2?

    3. IMO, they are all nice in terms of sound quality.

    4. I cannot comment on the W2 but because i have the ba 200 and seeing also from the CSD graph. bass should decay smoother than the W2. I really love this bass decay sensation that i am getting from my BA200