REVIEW COMPARING THE WESTONE UM PRO 50 VS W60
By Steve from Algonquin, IL
Westone Pro50 Stage Monitor
Is there REALLY 2 treble drivers in this IEM? Maybe they forgot one? No, just kidding but I am just coming off the W50 to the Pro50 series stage monitor and both share the distinct feature of being quite warm. Let me say up front that I enjoy the Pro50 quite a bit more. While the bass is still big and full and deep... the Pro50 bass seems to have more control and finesse. If you like your bass you will love it! It is weighty and thick but never lethargic. Exceptional decay and realistic sounding with drums. As one could imagine "realism" is VERY important as a very high end stage monitor and I know Westone takes great pride in the UM-series stuff as that is where they got started with IEM's. Going waay back to the UM2, some even preferred it to SE530 which came out years later. I always thought when UM3X came out in 2008 it was very far ahead of it's time on what it could do. Finesse is the word that keeps coming to mind. Just a real effortless way of portraying all of it's capabilities with exceptional smoothness.
Compared to W50, Pro50 is probably more similar than different but as said above, the bass is more in control. In addition, the midrange is nudged a little more forward and is heavenly LUSH sounding. My "test" recording for this is Diana Krall, Live in Paris "Case of You" song. Even though Pro 50 is warm, every smidgen of detail still comes through and the overall heaviness makes it REALLY engaging. With W50 the bass just seemed to dominate everything. [W50 is a bad offering by Westone in my opinion and I expect it to get dropped. I might actually take the old W3 over the W50 straight up.]
Much like the W50, the Pro50 doesn't seem to benefit at all from any amplification. I tried it with 2 different amps and SPL and clarity and depth all seems the same. For comparison purposes, I usually find about a 10% improvement through amping which is significant (to me) on very high end audio. Is the treble rolled off? I honestly couldn't tell you. I don't vow to have golden ears and my technical know-how isn't extensive enough. There ARE 2 treble drivers in this IEM. Many associate "great treble" with a brighter sounding presentation. Although Pro50 is warm, I notice as I play various tracks, the resolution and detail still seems to all be there. It's just....warmer. Those of you that have had W4 know what I mean. This is similar in that regard.
Compared to UM3X/Pro30, yes I think it is an improvement. It is NOT as claustrophobic. This is probably the single biggest thing. Then, as bassy as Pro30 was, the Pro50 doesn't add anymore punch but has a more underlying fullness and is much better at lower volume listening. To me the Pro30 instrument separation sounded a tad "boxy"....everything sort of compartmentalized in it's own area from the overall soundstage. With Pro50 the separation seems to flow more seamlessly which makes it sound more musical.
The Pro50's come with medium star tips. I plugged them right in....then tried various other tips (foam and silicone) and I ended right back with the supplied star tips. Say what you want but those were a sensational patent discovery by Westone. They even make their competition's IEM's sound better!
I will say the Westone Pro50 is closer sounding to the SE846 than the W60 is. I will also say I prefer the sound of the Pro50 over SE846. A tad less brighter but quite a bit smoother sounding. The ergonomics of Pro50 set-up are off the charts. It is THE best cable design in the industry. The UM-series has a rubber sheathing that extends 2-3" from the housing of the IEM up over the ears. It might be more comfortable than my custom JH5 which are more inclusive since the entice housing engulfs the entire ear cavity. Anyway, Pro50 "fit" kills the SE846 "fit". No question.
Previous to W50, I had the IE800 for about 4 weeks. Absolutely loved it! The clarity, the resolution and imaging, the sub bass. Music sounded so crisp and alive.........but with Pro50, when I really crank up a song and "feel" that lushness of the lower midrange along with the exquisite vocals and 110% ZERO fatigue at ANY volume.....I realized what I was missing. If I were going away for 3 weeks on a trip, the Pro50's would be in my bag first. Pro50's are like that old favorite pair of blue jeans where you feel you can just never go wrong.
In conclusion, I am happy with Pro50 despite how warm it is. Take the fact away that it is warm and it will run circles around almost all IEM's under its pricepoint. It has great FINESSE!.
W60 is still king. I would love to have them both back to back. From memory, W60 had less bass but was a bit more transparent and resolving. For a tradeoff, the Pro50 is a bit more fun and SLAMMIN but still shares many of the great W60 traits, just to a lesser extent.