Westone UM Pro 10
Since their recent introduction, the Um Pro series from Westone have proved to be an excellent balanced armature based range of IEMs, but how does the single BA design of the UM Pro 10 stand up? In its favour is the relative simplicity of the design which does not require crossovers, but some might find the frequency response a little too accurate.
Score – 8/10
- Small and comfortable in the ear
Soundstage and speed
Requires a good seal for the best sound signature
May be fatiguing to sensitive ears
Balanced armature drivers by their nature are accurate and fast, but some prefer the warmth of more traditional dynamic drivers. More costly models might have a multitude of balanced armature drivers to more fully represent the frequency spectrum, but crossovers are required to split audio information among these drivers which can complicate matters.
Can the single BA driver win out against the costlier and chunkier competition?
Westone are always generous with accessories and the UM Pro 10 is no exception; a pelican style case for the IEMs themselves, 5 pairs of rubber eartips at different sizes, and 5 pairs of silicone tips. The cable is removeable and of a twisted design which is coated behind the ears for extra stability. A tool for cleaning nozzles and tips is also included.
Being more used to IEMs with muliple drivers, my first thought is that these are small! However thay are not fiddly and are easy to get into place; the size of the capsules is not an issue. Once in, they’re comfortable and sit nice and still.
Predictably, the balanced armature makes short work of replicating higher frequencies accurately, but the real interest is at the low end where single BA IEMs are concerned. Provided a decent seal can be achieved, the bass is in good balance with the rest of the presentation, although bassheads will be wanting more.
The sound is simple and clear, and the presentation has a lot of space which I like. Separation and imaging are superb. Those who are more sensitive to high frequencies may wish to tread carefully, but I have a treble-shy ear and have just enjoyed the UM Pro 10 over the course of half an hour with no ill effects – I don’t listen at very high volume levels however.
If you fancy the idea of a single balanced armature earphone, but don’t fancy the protruding capsules of the Etymotic designs then the UM Pro 10 is worth a close look. Sometimes the best designs are the simplest and I really think there is something to be said for single-driver IEMs. Makers may be able to tune the sound signature a little more with multiple drivers, but this risks muddying the sound with possible phase/imaging issues as the audio from these different drivers reaches our ears at different times.
In short – choose the simple life and get the UM Pro 10!