Westone UM1 Single Driver True Fit Earphones
[Editors' Note: On November 1, 2006, iLounge published The 2007 iPod Buyers' Guide, with more than 30 brand new, capsule-sized product reviews - only for products we considered to be amongst the very best we've seen throughout the year. The short review below is excerpted from the Guide, which you can download here.]
As the company’s lowest-end Universal Series in-canal earphone, Westone’s UM1 provides an affordable single-driver alternative to the company’s more expensive double-driver UM2s. Transparent housings allow you to see the drivers inside; black cables run to an oversized headphone plug that connects to any iPod. A zippered carrying case and four total pairs of ear foams are included across several different sizes - today’s foams are more neutral in color than the past flesh-toned versions. Westone also sells UM56 Custom-Fit Earmolds designed to provide superior isolation and comfort.
In this price range, few earphones can touch Etymotic’s ER-6is on overall sound quality for the dollar, but the UM1 comes very close, delivering almost as much apparent detail as the ER-6i, but slightly massaging the treble to produce a modestly smoother high-end sound, and adding just that much more low-end. Consequently, music preserves most of ER-6i’s punch, yet leans just enough more “natural” sound to please some users. We really liked the soft foam caps, light cables, and wisely shaped bodies, which made them amongst the most comfortable we’ve tested, too.