- Brilliant all around sound, Noise cancelling
- Soundstage not quite as good as we were hoping
As far as rich, fun IEMs go, you cannot go past the Westone UM2
Price$ 495.00 (AUD)
Whilst the idea of cramming something down your ear canal may not instantly bring to mind notions of Hi-Fi bliss, there is a whole world of in-ear headphones out there that provide incredible sound quality in a tiny form factor. Whilst many people will be looking at them primarily for portable use, (that's what we love about them) they will also work admirably amplified in a home setup, as the sound quality is often on par with more traditional headphones; which means they make an excellent compromise if you want great audio fidelity for both situations in a single package.
The UM2 is the upper model in Westone's range of universal IEMs (In Ear Monitors). Westone are a specialist manufacturer that don't have a lot of presence in Australia, but their products can be found if you look around a little and we can assure you it is well worth the trouble. The UM2s are reasonably chunky by IEM standards, because they house not one but two headphone drivers, which improve the sound quality dramatically. The body of the earphones sits in the outer area of your ear, whilst you insert the audio end into your ear canal. IEMs come with a variety of tips ranging from foam to plastic, and you can pick the one that gives you the best fit. Getting a great seal between your ear and the outside world is vital because without it your music will sound thin and tinny, without any bass. It also has the added benefit of blocking out external irritants such as friends trying to have a conversation, or work mates in need of assistance.
It is worth noting that Westone actually offer custom tips for their IEMs, and if you really want the ultimate in-ear experience this is the way to go. You have to visit an audiologist, who takes a mould of your ear canal, then sends it through to them, and they make up a tip that fits perfectly. A little extreme for most, but if comfort is paramount keep this in mind.
Portability aside, the other factor that makes IEMs so popular is their noise canceling properties. By sealing your ear canal off from the outside world, you are effectively blocking out all external noise, which is infinitely more effective than the most advanced, noise canceling technology present in over the head models. Furthermore, this effect goes both ways, your music will now stay your music.
Unfortunately when people think "tiny headphones" they instantly think "stock iPod earbuds" (which incidentally leads us to think "suicide") and so many people will be unconvinced of the sound quality of the UM2. Rest assured however, it is better than the best earbud you've ever heard, times ten over! The best way to describe the UM2's sound is rich. Whilst the E4c that we reviewed earlier was detailed and analytical, the UM2 has a deep, slightly dark sound that makes everything great fun to listen to. It doesn't have the same resolving characteristic that the E4c has, but it more than makes up for it in sheer musicality.
The bass is very prominent on this model and quite slow, which lends it the darker sound. That doesn't mean it is bloated or overpowering, it is just the most prominent feature. The mids and highs, whilst not quite as well defined as the E4c, were lush and extremely smooth. One of our favourite test tracks is 2+2=5 by Radiohead, because of the sheer number of background elements, and the UM2 passed this test with flying colours, clearly highlighting all the key parts of the track. Having two drivers means the soundstage is much stronger than most single driver IEMs, however it didn't really blow us away as much as we were expecting. If you want a rich, fun headphone that really doesn't have a weakpoint, then the UM2 may be the perfect IEM for you.
We found the design to be reasonably comfortable, but not as great when compared to the E4c. The larger body exerts a little pressure on the outer part of the ear, which can get a little irritating. Still, we managed several listening sessions that extended throughout the day, and we were none the worse for it.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Acer Swift 7
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® Portable SSD
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Huawei Mate 9
Google Daydream VR headset
Surface Pro 4
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Apple's AirPods could deliver audio with multiple wireless protocols
- First look: Nuheara IQbuds smart Bluetooth ear buds do more than just music
- Convoy International restructures business focus
- Beats Solo2 headphones go wireless for $399
- Astro A38 review: A staggering price to pay for convenience
GGG Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- TPTechnical WriterVIC
- CCService Designer (CX)NSW
- TPProject Support OfficerQLD
- FTSupport and Operations Team LeadNSW
- FTSenior Java EngineerACT
- FTMicrosoft ProgrammerSA
- FTLevel 3 EngineerNSW
- TPIT Project ManagerNSW
- CCProject Manager - Adelaide basedNSW
- CCGIS Developer - GeocortexWA
- FTPMO Coordinator-Permanent Opportunity-Education/Government Background EssentialNSW
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Sales & Marketing Modules)ACT
- TPOrganisational Change Manager - ICT Services TransformationQLD
- CCNetIQ Development & SupportNSW
- FTApplications DeveloperACT
- CCSenior Mobile Application DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior Web DeveloperNSW
- FTFront-End DevOps Developer/Consultant - IT Services - SydneyNSW
- FTSenior Business AnalystSA
- FTSenior Learning Specialist - Global OrganisationQLD
- CCBusiness AnalystSA
- TPBusiness Process Analyst (Newcaslte Based)NSW
- FTProject Manager (Software product development)VIC
- CCTechnical Consultant - ITSM/HP Service ManagerACT
- TPAEM DeveloperNSW