Westone Mach 60: Pleasant Sound
Westone is a very special brand for me. The UM20s were my first high-end iem. At the time, I fell in love with their bass. The details were also ahead of anything I had heard before. Unfortunately, my UM20s ended up in my washing machine and lost all bass. As a budding audiophile, I upgraded to the W30 that I also enjoyed. My second Westone iems found themselves between my daughter's teeth. Staying with Westone, I got the W4R and lost them in a cab in Cancun. The UM50 Pros were my last owned Westone iems. Thankfully, someone out there is probably still enjoying them.
There is a reason why I stopped there at the time. Once upgraditis hit, I looked at the W80 and was pondering getting a pair towards the end of 2019. But something very interesting was happening at that time. The iem landscape was evolving fast and lots of new brands were emerging or establishing themselves. Chi-fi was starting to challenge the European and American household brands. So I ended up going in a different direction.
So when I got invited to the Westone Mach tour, I was very excited to try their new offering and see how it stacks against the increasingly competition.
Quite well it turns out. In some regards anyway.
But before sound, let's talk about what has always made Westone iems so unique. Their fit. Westone know how to design an iem that fits perfectly and disappears in the ears. You can wear their iems for hours without experiencing any physical discomfort. The fit is snug and isolation is very good. This makes them great companions for planes, trains and all kinds of noisy environments.
The Mach 60 came in an elegant packaging. It included a very nice hard carry case and an ample selection of tips. Westone tips are extremely durable. Use them, wash them or wipe them, and use them again. Another option you can use is the Shure olive tips, although I didn't find them to pair up that well sonically with the Mach 60.
The Mach 60 sound signature could be summarized as: reference sound with a slight bass boost. A quick look at the graph:
Bass is fast and has good articulation, as you would expect from a good BA set. It can however lack body and impact on some tracks. If you are a bass-head the Mach 60 won’t do it for you. If you favor speed and accuracy over quantity and impact, keep reading.
Mids are probably the highlight of the show. Vocals sounded rich and natural. For example, classic rock sounded very pleasant on the Mach 60. There is a nice depth to male vocals. I also noticed a "reverb" effect on some recordings that gave a quite atmospheric quality to the sound.
Treble has good energy and is well extended. I was actually surprised by this given the Mach 60 only has 6BAs.
In terms of technicalities, the Mach 60 has a good stage that is reasonably wide for an iem. The stage also has good depth. Where the Mach 60 struggles a bit is separation and layering. Instruments can sound a bit commingled and it can sound a bit congested or confused with complex tracks.
Overall, the Mach 60 is very comfortable and has a very pleasant sound signature. The problem is that competition is very stiff at its price point. There is no shortage of good options at or below 1k nowadays. The Mach 60 lack of bass and average technical performance might be a bit of a stumbling block for some.