In a word the Westone UM Pro 30 are crisp. In many more words they are a beautifully balanced, yet unbalanced, earphone that presents a surprisingly live sound stage. Kick drums, snares and high hats actually sound like such. The sound of fingers on the Bass notes make you feel close and the Guitar and Vocal sounds are beautiful. At this price point we’ve become huge fans of these IEM’s. Like all good IEM’s you have to give these time to settle in. Don’t put them in and play the first 10 seconds of your favourite songs and skip to the next. You need to put them in, put on a playlist or album and then just chill and live for a bit – there will be a moment where you go…wow…these things are beautiful (in our assumption of course). If you like a more ‘prepared and mastered for typical outputs’ then the Westone W30 in ear monitor earphones will likely be your better choice as they push a few of the frequencies like Kick Drum and bass a little higher on the edges of the frequency curves to fatten out the sound a little. You might find these sound a little thin in spots because of it. We embraced this and felt the clarity and mid/treble crispness of the sounds to be amazing and as true to live as any earphones we’ve listened to. These UM Pro 30 IEM’s follow on from the former UM3x model from Westone.
The Bass on these took a while to really notice, strange to say, but sometimes you go into a review of a 3 (triple) driver IEM earphone with Balance Armatures (BA) expecting the Bass to hit you hard and fast. It didn’t, but let us say when it did become apparent that these headphones didn’t boost bass artificially, the bass we heard we came to absolutely love – it was very honest and very true to recording. It was really there when it needed to be, and that’s what mattered. We stepped outside our normal review song list and tried a few new tunes including Rock like the Fray, the Killers and even some heavier notes like Underoath and Oh Sleeper. In all these the kick drum was there, felt live, but wasn’t overtly dominant, the bass strong and deep but clear, not muddied (and the guitar and vocals were simply sonic in a good way). When switching to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Jimmy Iovine we got really excited how deep they went (felt close to 20-30hz). We then rounded off with Sohn – Lights and by then we were almost in heaven – even quite emotional that perhaps these headphones could finally fulfill our ideal sound profile for under $400. There were times we turned these up one click just bring more of the bottom end and drum kick through one more level which didn’t hurt but made almost perfect, not quite perfect. But at this price point we can live with that.
The mids is where the magic happened – with some nice treble over the top the mids were able to really provide a crisp and clear sound signature. Electric guitars and Vocals were particularly clear and when you hear the fingers or pick on Bass notes you feel like you might just be sitting in the studio next to the band as they do a live take. The more we listened the better we liked it. Surprisingly we tried Gravedigger by Dave Matthews live with Tim Reynolds but were not as grabbed at first – possibly because everything else has over impressed us, but then we played some Damien Rice and Passenger and were reminded how nice the acoustics were on these UMPro30 were. We returned to Dave Matthews – Stay or Leave and it was a delight once more. The vocal clarity was so nice on everything we listened to and the electric guitar sound was like something we would hear playing at a live venue. For a while we thought these might only be perfect for rock/guitar/vocal music and then we put through the Macklemore – Jimy Iovine track, the Sohn – Lights track and the Kimbra – Settle Down track and really decided these IEM’s could handle anything. To be completely fair there were times we did think the tone was so clear and sharp that there were frequencies in the low mids that were lacking some depth a touch. The Snare Drum sounds real but almost too narrow at rare moments. Still, the thing we find hardest to get sounding good through headphones is the snare drum so it’s still a step up for us.
High Notes (Treble)
Lovely and so nicely balanced with the Mids and Bass. Crispness is a gift for earphones – a crisp sound that doesn’t lose it’s depth. That’s what we got here. We have an overdrive pedal called the Ibanez Tube Screamer – TS-9. If you know the pedal, you’ll know what we mean about crisp but deep tone. Not sure how to tell you more here other than that the treble is there and you should be happy with what it brings to the sound signature. There isn’t a great deal of sibilance which would sometimes be nice, but they still bring through vocal ‘at-the-mic’ sounds well.
PRAT (Pace, Rhythm and Timing)
Oh yeah, they got PRAT. On a walk by the seawall in Vancouver we couldn’t help but almost dance to some of the tracks we walked through. These are on time, every time.
EQ (Emotional Quotient)
One of the factors we consider when testing is whether the headphones make you feel the music. Do you get a surge of happiness, tears, excitement, energy or similar. We give these a 8/10 on the Good Sounds EQ scale. We did have moments where our feelings were evoked, which we think is a huge part of why you want to spend money on decent earphones.
Excellent as all the Westone range. Good supply of foams for all ear types which we love as getting IEM”s to fit right can be a beeatch.
Excellent. No concerns with these crapping out on you. The over the ear moulded curves on these is comfortable and cause no discomfort.
Good inclusions. The most important being a great range of foams. They also come with:
- An EPIC cable with over the ear cable moulds (nice and comfortable).
- Mini-monitor Vault which is their orange case which we think is the best thing ever for storing your earphones.
- Cleaning tool.
Westone UM Pro 30 Review Conclusion
These are comfortable IEMs. You could listen to them for long periods without complaint. With the right sized foams for your ears the sound is alive, exciting and feels like a true-to-life sound rather than a sound profile massaged for the masses. For this reason you have to be open to explore what these can do. Don’t switch from your iPhone white earbuds and expect to understand what these headphones are trying to do. They might sound odd at first because they do approach with an authentic take on music but once you get it, you’ll not look back. From Metallica to Damien Rice, Sohn to Mozart, these deliver. If you are a live musician you will not only consider these great IEM’s, you’ll also really appreciate how they represent each instrument in the mix as natural and balanced as possible. We’re fans of the UM Pro 30 which you can tell from this review obviously. Are they perfect? No, there are still opportunities here. Are they typical (i.e Beats by Dre)? No, thankfully. Do we like them? Yes. Would we give them top ratings and recommend them to anyone spending $400 or less. Yes. The come with a two year manufacturers warranty so you can’t go wrong. Buy Westone UM Pro 30
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