Westone has spent over 50 years in the audio business. Twenty of those years have been focused on creating custom in-ear monitors for sound engineers and elite musicians. But what do they have available directly for everyday consumers today? On June 4, 2013 they released the Adventure Series (ADV) Alpha earphones for the active music enthusiast. The focus is on the word “active” as these earphones are intended for people in motion: your gym goers, your bikers, your mountain climbers, and your runners that insist on jogging in the rain. Let’s look deeper into this rugged unit and see what’s in store for you people who just can’t stay still…(Myself probably included…)
Build and Usage
The unit sports an “Up and Over” build meant to wrap around your ears, keeping each earphone secure in your ears even with the cable is snagged or pulled. The cable has reflective threading keeping it visible in low-light scenarios. The cable is also replaceable which is a big plus for maintaining the longevity of your purchase. The driver is protected by a lightweight magnesium unibody and an aluminum faceplate offering a water resistance of IPX-3 (i.e specifically the spraying of water. Click here for specifics.) The driver itself is a proprietary 6.5mm Micro Driver with the trademarked PST (Precision Surface Tuning – intended to deliver “sonic accuracy with extended bass”). As you would expect from a company so devoted to sound, sound quality is excellent, and hits home with someone who enjoys bass, as I do.
It was easy to vet the quality of sound thanks to the robust audio isolation provided by the ear-tips. Comfort is a matter of personal preference here as you have to decide for yourself which you like better: Foam or Silicon. That said, I found the foam ear-tips to provide the best comfort and overall experience. One thing I noticed is that with the silicon ear-tips, the “Up and Over” ear-wraps became more pertinent in securing the unit to my head. In contrast the foam ear-tips, once they conformed to my ear canal, held the unit so securely in my ears that the ear wraps became irrelevant. They lightly rested on top of my ears and only came into play whenever cable-snagging occurred. Furthermore, snagging itself was a rare occurrence thanks to the slick coating of the threaded cable.
Along the right side of the cable between the right ear-phone and the divider exists the made-for-iphone controller. With just three buttons you can control volume, move through tracks, pause, play, rewind, fast-forward and even activate Siri. Holding the center button for just a little over a second immediately triggered Siri allowing you to keep your phone out of your hands and in your pocket. You can also answer and decline calls with the center button. Just to mention, many of the functions that control music on the unit could be used on most HTC phones should you have one. (Verified it on my EVO 4G LTE. ) The mic is found on the back of the three-button controller and picks up ones voice quite well in phone conversations. Callers on the other line heard me with no strain on my part directly in the center of Times Square.
This is a high-end package with a “high-end” price, so I did appreciate the refreshing assortment of included accessories: A tough water-resistant carrying case, 5 pairs of silicon ear-tips, 5 pairs of foam ear-tips, a cable clip, and an ear-wax removal tool. For the ear-tips, the pairs of differing sizes are conveniently colored making size match-ups easier to identify. The ear-wax removal tool was an added surprise as its not a common addition in high-end in ear audio solutions. When you start moving and perspiring over time ear-tips can get gunky, leaving people to become “creative” in their cleaning. (A bobby-pin has never become more enticing to someone with no hair to clip as it does in these situations… A silly thing for me to admit.) Luckily that is not the case here.
The carrying case is made of a sturdy and hard plastic with a tight hard screw-on top. Thanks to this, the unit is secured from most impacts and water damage ranging from dropping the case into a pond to immersion in adverse weather conditions. I performed simple test using a tissue paper and sealing the case shut nice and tight. I held the case underwater for about 30 seconds, forcing a test on a case that otherwise floats to the top quite easily – basic physics. Not a single bubble immerged nor did a drop of water make it in. My precious tissue paper was safe and 100% dry.
Coming in at $199 retail, you get a versatile package that tries its utmost hardest to validate its cost and succeeds. You get excellent quality of sound, great comfort and isolation from the ear-tips, and everything you need to take care of the unit. On top of all that, the cable, which is the most-likely component to break first through normal wear-and-tear, is replaceable! If anything, that makes the $199 price point a very sound investment.