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In ear monitors have come a long way, from expensive, “major act only” cost, to something most working bands can afford. But some affordable IEM’s seem to be lacking in overall build and sound quality. Westone’s UM Pro 20’s offer up superior sound and value for the money.
The big deal is getting small format drivers to replicate a full range of sound, so Westone uses a pair of armature drivers in each ear, along with a tuned crossover to balance them out in the low-end. It’s a passive system, and yet quite robust sounding overall. Most inexpensive IEMs usually lack low end response, and yet seem to be way too bright sounding to begin with; thankfully that’s not the case here. There’s plenty of low end response that is still articulate, and the higher end frequencies aren’t shrill or ice-picky. Ever see a performer pull one ear bud out? It’s not to be cool, in most cases, it’s because something isn’t right — usually in the high end.
The drivers and cable are separate pieces (THANK YOU), which snap in and out with just enough force for a positive mechanical connection. So many headphones and ear buds met an early demise when a cable went bad, or an input jack got bent. This modular system is fantastic and means you can replace something quickly instead of junking the entire system because of one little issue.
The key to getting a good feel for IEM’s is a solid, comfortable fit, and with the various included ear tips, there’s no issue. Some users like their IEM’s to have a bit of bleed from the outside world, and some like a tight fit to keep the mix entirely in their head. It’s purely a personal preference, but Westone included plenty of options for the user to choose.
Sound-wise, these were great — after finding a comfy set of ear tips, the overall response was nice and focused, with no need for extra EQ pushing to get things to sit nicely. During long sessions this reviewer forgot these were still in his head, they sounded so natural. The size was quite minimal too, as they fit perfectly in the ear and didn’t look goofy or like they were a futuristic cybernetic appliance. The only minor complaint is the markings for the L or R ear were kind of hard to read in low light. But that’s a tiny quibble.
Included in the package are 10 pairs of ear tips and a cleaning tool. Thankfully each pair is color coded to ensure the user has the same size tip in each ear. A transparent orange waterproof, padded Pelican style case is a nice touch to keep everything in one spot.
If IEM’s are in your future, these are a great way to make the jump past the entry level into something that still won’t break the bank, but will still give the user a high quality set of in-ears that respond and perform fantastically on stage.
Modular design, very comfortable, great overall sound