Westone W50 Review (The Dark Chocolate)
Individuals familiar with the Westone house sound will feel right at home with the W50. The W50 is the five-driver model in Westone’s current second-generation “W” series consumer line-up and embodies the same smooth and relaxed sound signature that Westone is renowned for.
In terms of positioning within the line-up, it slots right under the W60 which is the 6-driver flagship that Westone offers. Being part of the Signature Series, it is outfitted with fancy metallic faceplates in place of the traditional black, red, and blue faceplates which in my opinion, are still very attractive. At the time of release, the W50 retails for $749 USD and $899 CAD.
Aside from the special metallic faceplates that come with the W50, the rest of the accessories included remains exactly the same as all the other “W” models. This is not necessarily a bad thing considering how many goodies come standard in the bag. The W50, like all the other W models comes with a whole host of tips, an iOS Remote cable, an additional EPIC cable, as well as the infamous Monitor Vault. However, I would have appreciated some extra “premium” accessories from an IEM that costs almost twice as much as the W40.
The nonchalant and easy-going sound of the W50 conforms nicely with the rest of the W series line-up. However, due to my limited experience with only the W30 and W40, I will try to avoid comparisons across the series and attempt to focus solely on the W50. The W50’s speaker array consists of two high-frequency balanced armature drivers, two mid-frequency balanced armature drivers, and a single large low-frequency balanced armature driver. This oversized low-frequency driver is what makes the W50 stand out from the rest of the crowd, particularly in the sound department.
My initial impressions of the W50 was dark, bassy, and at times uninviting. After a couple of hours, I realized the W50s were still in my ear. This is a testament to how relaxed and non-fatiguing the W50 sounds. I gave the W50 another run the following day with the intention of giving them a “critical listen” and boy was I pleasantly surprised.
It didn’t take long for me to get used to the smooth character of the W50. Despite its warm signature, I could tell that the W50 is a very competent performer with every instrument rendered clearly, but never aggressively. Due to the oversized low-frequency driver, the W50 is unmistakably a bassy sounding IEM. It is important to note that the W50 is not your standard balanced IEM with a slight low-end emphasis. Despite its strong bass presence, the IEM still maintains a high degree of clarity across the frequency spectrum. The bass on the W50 is not your average mid-bass bloat, kick drums extend down infinitely and sub-bass rumbles are clearly felt inside your throat. The treble is noticeably rolled off but manages to not make the overall profile of the W50 sound dull.
What I find most pleasing about the W50 is its ability to immerse listeners completely with its musical tonality. Needless to say, the five drivers are able to separate instruments with laser precision. Instrument layering is also very good. For example, in many tracks, I’ve felt that instruments were popping out of nowhere in all different directions. This comes as no surprise as Westone is the pioneer of multi-crossover technology. The subtleties in detail are also aided by the wide soundstage giving more room for instruments to appear coherently in the mix without sounding congested.
Although I personally like how the W50 sounds, there is a big caveat. The W50s are definitely not for everyone and is more of an acquired taste. As described previously, the character of the W50 is very laid back and therefore, may sound unenergetic. Further, the W50s are not the clearest sounding IEMs, they are rather thick sounding and bass heavy. Due to its dark sound profile, details are not immediately present, but rest assured that the W50s are a superbly detailed IEM, you will just need to look harder to find them.
W50 Review - Conclusion
Overall, I think the W50 is a great performer that plays well with most tracks and excels at certain genres such as R&B, Hip Hop, and other modern genres. It has not received much attention unlike its younger and older brothers the W40 and W60 respectively. From what I recall, the W50 is a clear step up from the W40. Although it is bassier, I felt that the lack of bass on the W40 has been filled in appropriately with the W50. More importantly, the W50 retains all the refinement and musicality of the W40, just with the added bass flair. The W60 is a more balanced sounding IEM and does offer improvements over the W50, however, it costs almost twice as much as the W50 at current street prices. Presently, the W50 represents the best price to performance ratio in Westone’s “W” line-up and should be at the top of the shopping list for enthusiasts who enjoy a balanced sound with a (rather large) touch of oomph.