Saturday, December 13, 2008

Review: Westone ES3X Triple Driver Molded In-Ears

Westone is about to launch a new version of their triple-driver molded in-ears... The ES3X. They had me test a pair out, and I've been enjoying them for a couple weeks now.

The standard ES3's (which have been available for a year or two) have a slight boost in the 3k-5k range, accentuating vocals, among other things. These drivers (ES3X), on the other hand, are largely flat, providing a smooth, accurate reproduction of sound sources. They are smooth and warm, and convey a sense of space in the sound they're producing. They make music sound BIG.

Part of the BIG-ness is the balance they seem to have in the bottom end. There are enough lows to provide a solid foundation without being overwhelming. Bass guitar tones feel substantial and full. Kick drums feel punchy and powerful.

The mids are well-crafted also. There is an openness in the lower midrange that is really pleasant. There is some internal porting going on, allowing the driver to "breathe" a bit, and this design really adds to the sense of space in the sound.

The highs are slightly less pronounced than I originally expected. My old single driver in-ears were quite bright, and high end frequencies were quite pronounced.... On these drivers, I can sense a dip in the high end (10k and up), especially when listening to sources that are normally quite sibilant.

On stage, this effect is quite pleasant. You can have a vocal fairly prominent in the in-ear mix without as much of the harsh sibilance from the voice, or from cymbal bleed. That being said, even with the 10k dip, the detail in high end sources is preserved remarkably. High-hats, tambourines, and shakers retain their attack and tone, and don't lose their presence in the mix.

Overall, these in-ear monitors are the most advanced, most thought-out, and most enjoyable molds I've ever used. They are particularly great for guitarists like myself, as guitar tones are wide and open in them. I can push the drivers to high levels of volume without distortion, so safe listening volumes are well within the headroom of the drivers. The tips of the earpieces are made of a softer material, that softens further as it warms up... It makes for quite a comfortable fit.

I'd recommend these ears to anyone looking for a great in-ear experience.... particularly to guitarists.

If you're in the market for custom molded in-ear monitors, or even universal-fit monitors or casual listening earphones.... be sure to check out Westone.



Brad said...

what is the street price of these?

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