Westone has been one of big players in the IEM market for years. Heavy roots in hearing care and the pro side lead the way for unique innovations to trickle over to the audiophile applications, such is the case with the new AM Pro and S series.
The AM Pro line sports a unique ambient noise filter that allows outside jabber in, but still keeps the music you are listening to at full volume with a more level frequency response. Heavily influenced by on-stage practicalities, the idea here is to allow musicians to hear the crowd and the band simultaneously. Its a reasonable request considering the number of times a careful observer will notice on screen removal of said IEMs during high profile live performances for this very reason. The one-in-one-out look can be seen from singers across the airwaves on late night shows and assorted concert footage as a result of this carnal instinct for environmental information. While there are offerings from UE and JH that allow for direct ventilation, Westone claims these perforations drain the bass response akin to a bad seal from a universal tip. To counteract these bogus vibrations, ‘tone developed what they are calling SLED technology.
The relatively small shell allows for outside sound to enter the earpiece through an acoustic filter but bass frequencies from the BA drivers are fed to the SLED module where they are then redirected back to the ear. From my experience at the show, I would say that idea is works as well in practice as it does on paper. While the filter does reduce outside sound to a lower level (~12db) , I could clearly hear conversations in between the music playing from the Tidal app on my iPhone while simultaneously receiving acceptable bass frequencies from the drivers.
Consumer side applications include a safer work out/commuter experience that allows for greater situational awareness. One additional (hopeful) benefit could also be a bigger out-of-the-head soundstage, but further evaluation in a review environment would be needed to positively attach any such gains. Single driver options start at $189 for the AM Pro 10 and max out at $339 for the three-driver AM Pro 30.
Other noteworthy updates include the new skeleton “S” line that come in single and dual BA configurations with a trim and lean framing for the outer part of the ear. The same basic feel and operation from customs applies here, just with less bulk and bulge – is that a Layla in your ear or are you just happy to see me? The S 10 single driver starts at $249 and the dual S 20 starts at $349.
Also on display was a new MMCX-terminated cable that allowed for easy bluetooth connectivity for any of Westone’s IEMs (their entire lineup utilizes this type of jack) that closely resembles the functionality of Noble’s BTS unit. This cable arrangement is not only convenient for sporting activities and keeping track of your IEMs, but also provides an definitive solve for imaging and focus issues caused by bluetooth synchronization and timing delays. The relatively simple cable can connect via both the aptX standard and Apple Lossless technologies. Retail for this luxury will be $149 when it hits the streets in the near future.
You can check out more of their extensive lineup of IEM solutions here: https://www.westone.com