All information presented in this article is derived from publicly available documentation. CYMBACAVUM has not been privy to any confidential industry documents.
In the world of premium earphones, while many manufacturers around the world are able to design and manufacture dynamic, moving coil transducers, the supply of balanced armature technology to earphone manufacturers around the world is essentially a two-horse race between the US-based Knowles Electronics and Netherlands’ Sonion SA.
I’ve been hard on Westone lately. Innovation just does not seem to be on their minds. They have been obsessed with face-lifting themselves, however. They’ve re-hauled their entire product lineup, from low to high end.
Most of what they did was cosmetic, but admittedly they also made improvements to ergonomics. The new shells were not only better built than before, but were also substantially more comfortable, no small feat for the company that put the modern over-ear, universal IEM design on the map.
Still, I’ve not been thrilled by the seeming complacency that has come down on the Colorado-based company. In recent years, they’ve undoubtedly had an injection of VC funding that has given them the ability to refresh their somewhat stodgy image, but has also handicapped them in the ability to move quickly. This is what happens to all companies when they grow to the point of corporate stagnation. They start tippy-toeing around, afraid to make mistakes. Unfortunately, the in-ear industry is still in an ‘innovate or die‘ scenario, and Westone seems to be falling behind.
They’ve tried to atone for their slowness by announcing some “new” products — the W50 and W60 for the consumer line, and the UM Pro 50 for the prosumer line. Continue reading →