Being a proud mom of the W40, I have a soft spot for Westone. So, know that this is a biased review. Now, Westone may not be the most fashionable IEM brand out there these days. But in terms of clarity, great balance and fit, it’s still a leader in the audiophile world. At the same time, even the best brands need a facelift. And until recently, the warm and relatively bassy W40 was the biggest crowd pleaser. But now, Westone is upping the fun factor with its B series. Will the B50 draw in a new Westone fan club? And does the signature differ greatly from the classic Westone sound profile we’ve become accustomed to? Let’s find out in this Westone B50 Review.
Westone B50 Review
IN the BOX
Few IEM companies do fit as well as Westone. In terms of comfort and sound isolation, they’re one of the best. Unlike so many of the fashionable IEMs out there, Westone has kept its shells ultra small. And the no-nonsense pea-shaped design offers one of the most effective seals I’ve ever experienced from an IEM.
The B50 sports five balanced armature drivers with a 3-way crossover; one driver for the lows, two for the mids and two for the high frequencies. The B50 has a frequency range of 10Hz – 20kHz, which is the same as the W60. But I wouldn’t let this factor dictate your impressions of sound.
Westone has gone with a silver-plated copper MMCX Cable, and has also included a Bluetooth 4.0 cable in the package. This cable isn’t as snazzy as the Westone Bluetooth 5 cable that the company sells separately. So, if you want a cable that supports aptX HD, you’ll have to make the upgrade. Still, the included Bluetooth cable makes for a great deal, considering that it sells for 100 bucks alone.
Also included in the box are decorative faceplates (which I don’t suggest switching unless you have especially tiny fingers and a magnifying glass), a zippered carry case, five pairs of silicone eartips, and five pairs of True-Fit foam eartips.
These buds can easily be driven from your phone. But for the purposes of this review, I used the FiiO Q1 Mark II DAC/amp.
Overall Impressions: Punchy, warm and weighty.
If you compare the B50 to the W40 (which also has a liberal low end), you’ll notice some more oomph and warmth in the lows. It still retains the well-balanced Westone profile, but is richer in it’s presentation of bass instruments. Listening to the intro of The Beatles’ Come Together, for example, the bassline is fatter and more colored than what you’d be used to hearing from Westone. Those with a taste for bass will dig it. But folks prefer a more neutral and natural quality from their acoustic instruments might gravitate more to the W Series. That being said, pop sounds fantastic on these buds, giving ample punch to bass instruments and kick drums.
Don’t worry. Westone hasn’t forgotten its midrange. At times, the generous lows can upstage the low-mids in big rock choruses. But you’ll still feel like you’re getting the entire spectrum of the mix in this range. And vocals don’t seem to lean particularly forward. So, the mids do have body. And again, if you’re a Michael Jackson or Bruno Mars fan, the B50 is perfect for that genre. Snare drums and percussion in the mids have a thick, concrete-like attack that adds to the solidity and dynamism of the track. And listening to cellos, the B50 offered a weighty and flavored tone, giving the instrument a feeling grandeur and gravitas. Excuse the annoying alliteration. Even if its not as intricate in its presentation as the W60, for example, the B50 is certainly the most charismatic of all the IEMs I’ve tested in the Westone line-up,
That weightiness that lends itself so well to pop music makes strings in this range feel a little sluggish. There’s a heavy-handedness or lack of buoyancy in the highs when comparing these buds to a W model. So, if you’re a classical fan, you might prefer a more delicate touch in this range. Percussion also presents slightly less sparkle than a classic W IEM. But this more rounded feel is easy on the ears and a perfect sound profile for those who are sensitive to high frequencies.
Westone delivers in this department as usual. Though it may not offer the most spacious sounding stages of all time, the imaging has such great precision that it always creates a holographic feel. You’ll get a nice sense of depth, and even though I could have used a touch more height, the B50 still presents a very colorful soundscape for the price.
While it may not offer the versatility of the W40 or W60, the B50 is a damn good time (and still well-balanced). Lots of warmth, tons of impact, and forgiving highs. If you’re a fan of pop and rock, these buds will provide all the meat you’re looking for.
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