Westone is an audiology company that specializes in many different areas of in-ear products including in-ear monitors for stage musicians and singers. Their latest feat of technology is the Westone UM1 In-Ear Musicians’ Monitor. The “UM” series of earphones are designed to provide “Ultimate Monitoring” for on-stage musicians and performers. Previously the lowest earphone of the UM monitoring line started at around $150 so the UM1 in-ear monitor, priced at just under $100, stands to be an excellent choice for anyone seeking an in-ear monitor sound on a budget. The big questions remain though. How does the UM1 sound? And is it a quality IEM considering the price? I have one in-hand and I’m about to find out.
Westone UM1 In-Ear Monitor Review
IN THE BOX
The UM1 in-ear monitor may be a budget oriented headphone but you still get a reasonable amount of kit in the package. The contents of the Westone UM1 are as follows:
- UM1 in-ear monitor
- Removeable MMCX audio cable with 3.5mm jack
- 5 pairs of foam ear tips
- 5 pairs of silicone ear tips
- Carrying case
It’s hard to examine inside the housings of the UM1 earphones but as an audiophile experienced with Westone this earphone has all the feel and construction of othe UM and W series IEM’s. The cable included with the Westone UM1 is actually a bit better than the thin twisted cable design of the W Series IEM’s.
Honestly the best part of this affordable in-ear monitor though is that you have the choice to switch out the cable if you want. The removeable MMCX connection is possibly the best thing that ever happened to in-ear headphones. This means you can get an affordable IEM and then get a nicer cable later on if you want.
The size of the Westone IEM’s are one of my favorite things and the UM1 keeps with this technological tradition. They’re compact and ergonomic. Whether your ears are bigger or smaller, most people will be able to get a great fit with the Westone UM1. And with so many different sizes of tips, you’ll also be able to find the most comfortable option with the best seal.
At just under $100 it’s tough to get a high grade earphone that doesn’t have some weaknesses. The solid plastic housing is sure to last a long time if you take good care of it however I would love these earphones a little more if they could find a way to make it the same price in an aluminum or stainless housing. It’s pretty darn good for the price though. Just don’t throw these earphones all over the place and definitely don’t let your dog get a hold of it.
Digging into the sound of the Westone UM1 in-ear musicians’ monitor I was pleasantly surprised to find your really can get superior sound quality in an IEM for under $100. The UM1 hits hard and cranks a balanced sound that brings out the mids in a way you don’t always get in an earphone. If you’re a vocalist, guitarist or just someone who appreciates clarity in your mix, the UM1 is the perfect IEM.
But it doesn’t stop with the mids. The Westone UM1 delivers and impressive amount of balanced bass. In fact it’s quite true to the mix… as an IEM should be. Although dynamic drivers tend to handle bass much better, the single balanced armature driver in the Weston UM1 does a nice job.
As for the high frequencies, they’re damn good. Although the top end of the frequency range is 16,000Hz on the UM1 I still get a good sense of presence in the mix on many different file formats.
At just 19 Ohms the volume on the Westone UM1 in-ear monitor is excellent with a small amp or straight off a low output device like a smartphone.
I kicked the Westone UM1 in-ear musicians’ monitor around the block with smartphones and hi-res players. The sound of this single balanced armature is solid with a pronounced mid-range without being to harsh. The bass is balanced and not too punchy. To sum up, based on the sound, build quality and comfort I would say the Westone UM1 is a great buy. It’s truyly “Ultimate Monitoring For The Masses” bringing high quality in-ear monitoring down to an affordable level for just about anyone. It’s even so good I’ve added it to my list of Best In-Ear Headphones For Mixing Under $150.
Sensitivity – 114dB @ 1mW
Frequency Response – 20Hz to 16kHz
Impedance – 19 Ohms
Driver – Balanced Armature (Full Range)
Warranty – 1 Year