Westone W40 Review – The Cotton Candy

Before I start the Cotton Candy, Westone W40 Review, let’s take a look at the history a little bit. The ‘W’ Series is specifically designed for optimized personal listening. Westone W40 is the successor of the legendary Westone W4R. W40 and W4R quad drivers have a different sound signature because the in-ear monitoring earphone has different housing material and perhaps the placement of the drives? If someone could send me the W4R I’m more than happy to review and compare it!

Anyway, Westone mentioned that the W40 features a beautifully-flat frequency response with articulate lows, precise mid-range, sparkling highs, and performance that is perfect for recorded and mastered music. Westone W40 has four balanced-armature drivers with threeway crossover on each side.

Wondering why I called it the Cotton Candy? because it’s so light, comfortable and the sound is sweet just like a cotton candy even though it has quad BA drives on each side.  Read on Westone W40 Review – The Cotton Candy.

W40 Unbox

Westone has a standard packaging across their different model, the box provides good information about the feature, capability and technical information for the earphone.

the grey packaging box has a magnetic closure. The arrangement for the earphone, plates and monitor vault displayed in a simple and nice way. I Like this kind of design that optimize the space yet still showing the beauty of the earphone. Quick reference insertion guide certainly is helpful and it’s displayed in a strategic location.

Westone is being generous in the accessories area, which I expected for this kind of price range. Westone is being fair here not only for the W40 model but the tier below also has a generous amount of accessories. The 2 years warranty is certainly a big added value, with your investment you want to be protected and a 2 years warranty certainly give you an additional 1 year of peace of mind compared to other manufacturers.

What’s inside the box?

  • Westone W40 Earphones
  • Detachable 3.5mm twisted cable
  • Detachable 3 Button MFi cable with microphone
  • 5 pair patented STAR silicone ear tips
  • Three pairs of silicone ear tips
  • Screwdriver (to help you change the plate)
  • 3 Decorative Faceplates (Red, Blue, and Black)
  • Monitor Vault
  • Cleaning tool
  • 2-year warranty

W40 Build and Design.

The housing is made from a matte black plastic. the plastic quality is good but it looks kind of cheap, I’m expecting more for an earphone that cost USD 499. The advantage of a plastic housing is the weight, it’s super light (bear in mind that it has quad / four drivers on each side).

The changeable plate is okay I guess, it’s just a cosmetic which I still believe that some customer really like this. To change it, you need to use the mini screwdriver.

The plate has an inferior quality of plastic, mine was cracked even when I use them gently from time to time. I contacted Westone and you could get them replaced for USD 5 each plus the shipping and handling (note that this is not covered under the warranty).

It has an MMCX connection and the advantage is that it locked and more secure than 2 pin connection.

The nozzle is a little bit long but it will not impact the insertion and I say that it even helps to push the earphone even further.

There’s a serial number printed on it. This is a very useful way to identify a genuine Westone earphone when you buy a second-hand unit from someone else, do always check the printer serial number and the W40 logo below the plate.

The W40 is so comfortable that they can be worn for hours and hours – you may even forget that you are wearing them. – Westone

Westone statement is completely true! this in-ear monitor is one of the best earphones in term of comfort and isolation, it’s light and easily inserted, perhaps you can even sleep on it. The fit is just great.

Overall I would say that the Westone W40’s comfort and fit it’s really impressive. the earphone build overall looks durable and professional (if you wear the black plate). I never tested them for exercise (for obvious reason) but I believe that they will just stay in your ear even during a HIIT exercise.

W40 Cable.

It’s a nice addition that Westone included. The Westone’s 3-Button MFi Control System with Microphone provides full function and control for all Apple and Android devices.

The MMCX Audio Twisted Cable is a good quality and lightweight cable, Westone advertises this has a superior sound quality. The Y split cable is black in color, the twisted cable feels good to hold and it has a memory wire near the connector.

I’m not a fan for MMCX connection, somehow the cable is “stubborn” when I put them over my ear, it keeps twisting to the outside and less flexible. I don’t have this kind of issue with the 2 pin connector. on the other hand, MMCX connection has a better durability in the connector area.

the cable flexibility reduces microphonic, I don’t have any problem with the microphonic during walking and moving around.

W40 Tips.

Westone mentioned that the tips offer superior noise isolation and superb fit, surrounding sounds are reduced an average of 25 dB. 25dB is a lot, this number will vary based on your ear shape. For me, it does provide a good isolation.

Isolation is one of the critical factors to ensure that you’ll hear a good sound from the earphone. the different selection of tips ensures that you have that.

I found that the Comply is much better than the Westone True-Fit Foam, the Westone True-Fit Foam sometimes hurt my ear as well. My concern when using either comply or True-Fit foam is that I’m afraid that it will crack the nozzle someday (because you need to press the tip including the nozzle each time you insert it into your ear). I don’t like build quality and plastic tube inside will become fragile over time if you keep it for a long time.

the Star silicon tips are great, I like the quality and build. you can even mix and match the size to get a perfect seal if your right and the left canal has a different size. It can seal your ear pretty well but the true-fit foam or comply offers a better isolation with the “memory foam”.

They do create a different sound signature, the star silicon tips will give a little bit more brightness and clarity in exchange for the bass. while the True-Fit will reduce the brightness and better response in the bass.

After trying a different type of tips, my favorites are the comply foam tips and Shure olive tips for the Westone W40. Sorry Westone, I know this supposed to be a Westone W40 Review 😉

Monitor Vault.

Westone recently changed the design, my UM Pro 10 came with a vault that have valve on it (to release pressure) but the quality stays the same.

Westone monitor vault is made from high-impact polymer. on the inner side, it features a protective foam. for a weather resistance design, there’s also a protective rubber seal

I like the design and durability but the monitor vault is a little bit too small to store anything else other than the earphone.

W40 Sound Impression

Lows

The Bass has a good fast attack and short decay with a fair amount of detail. I like it how Westone tune the bass in Westone W40. I don’t hear any muddiness or any bass bleed.
While the amount of Bass is subjective, for me it’s just nice too much it will become boomy and uncontrolled.

Changing the ear tips to the true-fit foam does help a little bit in exchange of preciseness on the bass region.

Listening to Fantasy – the XX, Low bass is not overwhelming and precise, the low bass is lacking, especially the thump. Westone W40 produces a nice bass response with clarity in Axel F – Harold F. It was a pleasing and new experience in a lot of songs like Love Lockdown, how the how the bass snaps in a new way listening to Tears in Heaven as an example.

if you are really basshead I think you’ll find that the bass is lacking in power. In this case, you should find an earphone that has a dynamic driver instead of balanced amateurs or hybrid between both.

Mid

Mid are clear, great separation between low, mid and high. Listening to Wide Awake – Katy Perry reveals how good is the separation without overpowering each other. Because the nature of the bass with good separation the mids sound detailed. The four balanced-armature drivers with threeway crossover really play an important part for the separation and clarity.

For the stars – Anne Sofie reveals a great mids and openness, perform way above iBasso IT01 (I know it’s not fair but just for the sake of comparison).

Vanilla Twilight – Owl City, it’s a little bit demanding song to keep Adam’s voice with the synthesizer, Westone W40 is a little bit struggling but it still performs pretty well not to get really overwhelmed by the high.

even though it sounds recessed on some bright songs but overall it delivers a smooth mid which is pleasant.

Highs

The highs sound a little bit sharp (with a hint of sibilance for a song that is bright). listening to mandolin Rain – Bruce Hornsby in a higher volume reduce the visibility of the highs and lacks detail, didn’t sound that nice to me.

I personally feel that it doesn’t perform really well in classical music. Listening to Beethoven’s 5 Secrets – Piano Guys, it doesn’t reveal the instrument pretty well. at 2:40 it’s hard to distinguish the instrument. Storm – Vanessa Mae starting 0:44 when the song gets noisy reveals a poor highs performance.

Soundstage

Soundstage is both extend in width and depth, you can feel (hear) the airiness and space in between because of the great separation and clarity. try to listen to Limehouse Blues Arne Domnerus it will blow your mind, because of the wide soundstage it makes you feel like you are in the bar, the people talking, someone coughing and every little thing that happens in the background.

Westone W40 Review Summary.

Overall the Cotton Candy – Westone W40 sound pretty balance towards warm tonality. Westone W40 performs great in a different type of genre from rap, rock, musical and pop.

It suffers when listening to classical music when there is a high expectation for the treble. If only the treble doesn’t sound sharp and able to deliver clarity this will be a really unbeatable earphone in the price range.

Great details and soundstage in the low and mids provide a smooth listening and new experience. Don’t even compare this with the UM Pro 10 (I know the price is 5 times more) but the sound is just miles ahead

Outstanding accessories from replaceable plates, “mini” monitor vault, cleaning tools and wide selection for the tips.

Even though I think it’s a little bit expensive but you won’t be disappointed with the whole package and the sound signature (if you are not that picky with the highs). W40 Cotton Candy is one of my favorite IEM at this moment.

If you have a limited budget, perhaps the iBasso IT01 will be a good option. read the review: iBasso IT01 Review IEM The Sparkling Star

Click here to go to the official Westone website for the product and if you decided to but head to Amazon.

Westone W40 Quad Drivers

Product Name: Westone W40

Product Description: FOUR BALANCED-ARMATURE DRIVERS WITH THREEWAY CROSSOVER:The Westone W40 is the ideal first earphone for those music lovers and critical listeners looking to get the absolute most from their listening experiences. The compact, low-profile, and ergonomic design of the W40 takes advantage of all the innovations and expertise that Westone has developed in almost 60 years.

Price: 499

Currency: USD

Availability: InStock

Overall
3.8
  • ACCESSORIES
  • BUILD & DESIGN
  • SOUND QUALITY
  • VALUE

Summary

Even though I think it’s a little bit expensive but you won’t be disappointed with the whole package and the sound signature (if you are not that picky with the highs). W40 Cotton Candy is one of my favorite IEM at this moment.

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