Headphone Review: Westone 4R

Professional biking teams rely on them for communication. Artists like Alien Ant Farm, Bon Jovi, and even Christina Aguilera use them for on-stage monitoring. As one of the bigger, higher-end companies, Westone offers casual listeners and professionals a great range of headphones. As the flagship of the Westone Company, the 4Rs possess a simplistic, yet bold, design, top-tier audio quality, an excellent build quality, great comfort, and a good bang for the buck.  Read on for the full review: 

Specifications

  • Driver: 4 Balanced Armature Drivers with 3-way crossover
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 18 kHz
  • Impedance: 31 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 118 dB

In the Box

  • Westone 4R
  • Carrying Case
  • 10 Sets of Ear Tips (Soft Silicone S/M/L, Hard Silicone S/M/L, Long Foam S/M, Short Foam M, Triple-flange M)
  • Cleaning Tool
  • ¼ Inch Adapter
  • Volume Attenuator

The Westone 4Rs come bundled with more than enough to get started with

Design

Painted boldly in a Racecar-like, orange font on the housings is the 4R branding that is placed front and center. The larger housings themselves are made of plastic with a beautifully glossy appearance. The entire design is really simplistic, but not subtle at all. These can easily get some attention due to their larger size and reflective traits.


The 4R is printed boldy in orange and resembles a racecar’s font type.

Although the cable normally isn’t part of the design aspects, Westone cables not only look great, but they also feel great. The twisted cable gives the cable a beautiful design and creates the illusion of a rope-like texture.


The cable is absolutely gorgeous to look at.

Design: ★★★★★

Audio

Deep, impactful and texture filled bass complements the entire balanced sound of the 4Rs out greatly. Although it isn’t the best at anything, the 4Rs definitely take audio to the next level. Detailed and lively mids along with aggressive highs give these IEMs an energy force similar to that of Etymotic, but just less strident.

Bass

Although not the deepest of bass, the 4Rs do offer bass that gets deep enough for just about all the music that was tested with it; from rap and dub-step all the way up to acoustics, the bass was deep enough. The bass definitely has a mid-bass focus allowing for powerful impacts with every drum beat and explosion. The body is large and grand while the texture is pleasant and calming, but subtle. The 4Rs offer magnificently shaped, accurate bass reproduction.

Bass: ★★★★★

Mids

The midrange on the Westones, like the bass, doesn’t miss a beat. The lively, energetic midrange offers great detailing along with crystal clear sound. The vocals are sweet, with a good amount of vigor in them while instrumental timbre is skillfully crafted. There really isn’t much more to say, the midrange on the 4Rs reach the level of detailing, clarity and liveliness of the Etymotics without throwing everything in your face. It’s really an outstanding feat.

Mids: ★★★★★

Highs

The high end contains much of the characteristics of the midrange, but can be a tad bit problematic due to it. The highs sparkle like a clear night sky with immense of flares. Clarity is top notch, as is separation. The highs never become smeared and are technically perfected. However, like Etymotic mids, the aggression on this high end can sometimes seem like the high end is being forced out to you, which may not be pleasant for many. Although just about everything is technically right, the aggressiveness in the highs may be problematic for some.

Highs: ★★★★½

Audio: ★★★★★

Build

Design and audio are perfected greatly on the 4Rs, and the build quality would be too if it wasn’t for one small thing. Westone includes an extra strong case with their 4Rs. Although it’s been compacted, it still remains quite large for portable travel. It is built like a tank nonetheless.


The included case that comes with the Westone 4Rs just looks durable.

Starting at the headphone jack, the angled jack is both thick and strong while the strain relief is nice and flexible. The twisted cable itself, although pleasing to look at, does more than just being a pretty face. It’s tough, strong, and flexible. Westone cables are probably one of the best created. These cables, like the ones on the PFE 232s, are removable. Although removable, I found that the connection on my right earphone was loose. Although this didn’t cause a disconnected contact, it is still a concern.


The headphone jack is large and tough.

The housings, although plastic, are composed of a thick plastic that will definitely withstand crushing. Really, they can easily take some large amount of abuse, live on to take the next 10 punches, and fight into the next few rounds. Overall, the build quality on the 4Rs is top notch with one caveat that I’ve had to deal with.

Build: ★★★★½

Comfort

Westone does everything possible to ensure the best amount of comfort possible, but make one fatal flaw when designing the headphones. To start, there are a total of 10 pairs of tips included with the Westones. Tips range from silicone, hard silicone, along with foam. A medium sized triple-flange tip is also included. Finding the right tip is crucial if you want good sound. All the tips are comfortable, although the triple flange may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Now the real comfort problem is the memory wire that Westone uses. It can tend to irritate people’s ears, but do their job. It’s not a perfect system, I did have small problems with it, but you eventually will get it right.


Westone includes an assortment of tips to ensure comfort, isolation, and most importantly, sound.

Comfort: ★★★★½

Value

OK, now at MSRP, 710 big ones, these headphones are not entirely worth it. However, no company sells these at MSRP; not even Westone. These IEMs sell around 500 dollars, and if you search hard enough, you may be able to find a reputable dealer selling them for 420 to 450 bucks. With some of the problems I ran into concerning the memory wire and the loose cable, I’d have to say that you’re better off getting the Westone 4. It’s the same thing without the memory wire and detachable cable. Those can go for 300 to 400 dollars and are easily worth that price. However, even at 500 dollars, these IEMs are technically better than something like the PFE 232s, but only by a hair. They are priced competitively, but still may out of price range.


Most problems that happen with IEMs happen with cables. Having detachable cables does help fix this problem a bit.

Value: ★★★★

Final Thoughts

After updating their flagship model to include removable cables, Westone still delivers an IEM that’s technically better than things in a higher price range providing brilliantly crafted sound. If you are looking to drop five bills on an IEM, these are a good idea; however, the 4s may be a better choice.

I’d like to thank David for the review sample.

Overall Score

Westone 4R

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
This accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks David for the product sample.
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