Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Westone UM3X vs. ACS T1

ACS T1 - Silicon, Three Balanced Armatures IEM
I have been looking forward to this comparison.  How does a $950 IEM compare to a $350 IEM?

At first, going back and forth between the two, I was disappointed in the T1.  I missed the bright lively sound of the UM3X, then I realized that the UM3X were overly bright.

The T1 is musical, reproducing the music as it was recorded, where as the UM3X makes almost any music sound good.  There is a noticeable straining of the T1 to have clean separation between the three armatures.  Going between the two, I wanted to go back to the T1, it might not be as fun sounding, but it is a really rich musical experience.  With the T1I feel like I am sitting in a leather chair, oriental carpet on the floor, listening to my Thiel speakers.  Hard to believe the sound quality is coming from an in ear monitor.  After listening to the two, I would say the T1 is an in ear monitor and the UM3X is an earphone.  It is amazing, that with the T1 I can hear Coltrane's fingers on the keys of his sax!

It is easy to put in and take out the UM3X, comfortable to wear.  The T1 is a pain to get into my ear and take out, but once they are in my ear I forget about them, amazing comfort.

Sound Quality
The UM3X is really fun, great for listening to music, but not a piece of reference equipment.  When I put in the T1, feel as if I am listening to a performance.

I now realize that isolation has big impact on sound quality, if you can separate the listener from the ambient sounds, you can create a more musical experience.  The T1, has amazing isolation, the UM3X fair to good.

Westone UM3X

  • Okay isolation
  • Noticeably brighter than the T1
  • Nice full sound
  • Good bass
  • Very good sound stage for an IEM
  • Comply foam tips comfortable, but fall off
  • More of a fun sound
  • More fatiguing 


  • Richer sound
  • Much fuller sound
  • More musical
  • Larger soundstage
  • Less bright than UM3X
  • Less like I am wearing IEMs, I forget I have them in my ears
  • A little muddy, lower frequencies to the lower mid range
  • More of a reference sound than UM3X, "notice more of the music"
UM3X or ACS T1 > iBasso D4 >  6" Monster USB > MacBook Pro > Pandora

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