Westone UM2 – Successor to the Shure E5?

Westone UM2 – Successor to the Shure E5?

Comparison with the Shure E5

You may remember I started this review saying the UM2’s are the spiritual successor to the Shure E5’s after listening to them I woud change that to re-incarnation in the form of version 2.

The biggest improvement is the replacement of that user unfriendly cable that the E5’s where supplied with, it was too thick, heavy and just unmanageable. It was hard to be a casual user of the Shure E5’s. The UM2’s on the other hand have a thinner and more flexible cable which begs for casual use, they can be used with no planning required.

Westone UM2 - CableErgonomically the earphones are similar in shape and size, so they fit the ear in the same way. The supplied fitting kit is an area where there has been the biggest change.  The Shure was supplied with triple flange, foams and silicon cups of various sizes whereas the Westone only has foams. Westone’s Comply tips are better and provide greater comfort than the yellow Shure foams but can that make up for the lack of fitting choice?  I would hazard a guess and say most people will be fine with the Comply tips, sometimes more choice is not necessary better.

Finally sound difference, small but very significant. The E5’s are brighter with much smoother highs, whereas the UM2’s have better bass response with warmer mid range. I also found the UM2 high’s to be harsh and over sharp compared to the Shure. The E5 is equipped with a proper 2-way crossover which is tuned so that there is minimal overlap between the two transducers, in the UM2 the single capacitor high pass filter gives a modest 3db roll-off and lots of overlap. This means the high end transducer still sees plenty of mid range signal as well as the intended high’s, while the bottom end is sent a full range signal. The warmer mid range seen in the UM2 is the result of both drivers adding to the sound in that range, while the high’s are being poluted by the bottom end transducer trying to produce sound beyond it’s remit, hence the harshness.Westone UM2 - Earphones Foam

Conclusion

  • Good ergonomics and fit
  • Very comfortable
  • High isolation from external sounds
  • Extremely detailed and neutral sound stage
  • Too honest from some music types
  • Too honest for MP3 (yes even high bit rates)
  • Requires EQ’ing to get that Lost in Music feeling
  • Amazing dynamic range and head room
  • Sub/low bass non existent and slightly harsh high’s
  • Expensive

Ideal for

  • Music lovers after a clean and neutral sound signature
  • Detail seekers
  • Classical and Electronic genres

 Not for

  • Most 80’s and modern synth pop
  • People who prefer warmth over less detail
  • Reggae and Ska listeners
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3 thoughts on “Westone UM2 – Successor to the Shure E5?

  1. Tarkan Post author

    Depends on what rap and R&b means to you…. I personally like my Rap and R&B to be lose – so prefer some of the cheaper voice coil based earphones such as the Shure SCL2, or even the FutureSonic Atrio M5.

    However, UM2 are more than capable of giving you a strong bottom and mid range with a bit of eq’ing, but they are always clean and tight (which some people may not like with Rap and R&B).

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