In-Ear Headphone & Earbud Reviews

REVIEW / Westone 4

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Tristan François Published on June 21, 2011
Updated on June 21, 2011
Translated by Catherine Barraclough

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Headphone Type NA
  • Speaker Micro-Armatures
  • Cable Length 1.2 m
  • Weight NC
Westone is back. Although the American manufacturer is already well established in the professional audio market, the firm is slowly but surely expanding into the consumer sector with excellent products like the Westone 4 in-ear headphones.

Design: plenty of accessories

As usual, Westone is keen to compete with the likes of Jays and Klipsch with a decent accessories bundle. With a selection of memory foam tips, rubber earbuds, silicone earbuds and tri-flange tips, these earphones are sure to fit like a glove ... if ears could wear gloves.

There's also a mini-jack to 6.35 mm jack adapter, a cleaning tool, a hard case and a wired remote with volume controls. In fact, all that's really missing is an in-flight adapter.

The Westone 4 have the same comfortable design as the Westone 3 headphones. The tips sit perfectly in your ears and aren't painful or irritating even after several hours of use. Some users won't like the fact that you can't wear the Westone 4 with the cable hanging down the front of your ears. The design of the earphones actually means that the cable has to pass over the top and round the back of your ears. This does, however, mean that these headphones are held firmly in position, and that cable friction noise is kept to a minimum—even Westone's excellent braided cable won't be entirely immune to that.

Audio Quality: very good

In a nutshell, the Westone 4 are without a doubt the best universal (non-custom moulded) intra-aural headphones we've tested to date on DigitalVersus.

We don't have many complaints about the audio quality at all. The frequency response is very well balanced and only Westone's professional range offers a slightly more level result. A slight drop in bass frequencies (at around 40 Hz according to our test equipment) is barely even noticeable when you're actually using the headphones, probably thanks to a subtle strengthening of the higher bass and low medium frequencies. There's room for a little more richness and detail in the upper end of the spectrum, but while some other models do a better job with higher frequencies, but none of them can match the overall quality of the Westone 4's audio output.

The sound scene, spatialisation and precision are even more impressive than in the Westone 3 headphones, and this version 4 once again outdoes many specialists in the field. Plus, harmonic distortion is generally kept under 0.1% over the whole spectrum (with just a few peaks at ... 0.2%)!

The few small imperfections we spotted in the Westone 4 headphones are really not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. In fact, the worst results you could get from these headphones are still better than the best results from many other models. Similarly, when our only problem with the design and handling is a lack of in-flight adapter, there's clearly not a great deal of room for improvement!

Four Drivers, Three Channels
Although the Westone 4's tech specs announce four balanced armature drivers, these headphones actually only have three channels.

One of the armature drives covers high frequencies, one covers medium frequencies and the other two cover the bass. If that wasn't the case, low frequencies wouldn't come through strongly enough.

It's very rare to see a product with four genuine channels. These often have five drivers and are usually custom-moulded headphones rather than universal models, since it's difficult to fit everything in while keeping the sound quality high enough.

However, this also means that the headphones aren't as slim and light as models like Q-Jays, for example. Than again you can't have everything!

PROS

  • Excellent frequency response
  • Accurate spatial reproduction
  • Lots of accessories included
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Sturdy, low-noise cable

CONS

  • Very high frequencies could be a little more present
  • No in-flight adapter

CONCLUSION 5/5

The Westone 4 headphones are a class act! They've raised the bar for in-ear headphones ... and for audio products in general come to that. With the Westone 4 headphones in your pocket, there's no need to spend thousands on a home hi-fi system to enjoy top-notch sound.
5 Westone 4 Digitalversus 2011-06-21 00:00:00

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