For most listeners, $100 or less can provide a great-sounding set of earbuds to use with a portable audio device. But the more discerning you are, the lighter your wallet needs to get. Unless you count yourself among the pickiest of audiophiles, somewhere between $200 and $300 should do the trick. Falling smack in the middle of this range are the Westone 2 True-Fit Earphones, a $250 set that provides excellent audio quality across a range of genres. While not quite as sparkly as their step-up siblings, the Westone 3s, their smaller size and lower price will make them a more worthwhile investment for most.
The design of the Westone 2 True-Fit Earphones is a bit unconventional, namely because of the cable. Each wire is individually coated in black rubber and then braided to form the overall cord. Westone asserts that this winding characteristic contributes to both the comfort and durability of the cord. The cable, which measures 50 inches, terminates in a gold-plated L-plug and features a slider at the Y for preventing tangles. Westone includes an optional inline volume control attachment that increases the overall length by 10 inches. There's also a quarter-inch adapter, a cleaning tool, and a soft-sided zipper pouch, along with perhaps the largest selection of eartips we've ever seen. There are three sets of stiff and tapered rubber eartips in S, M, and L; three sizes of soft silicone sleeves; three sets of foam fittings in various lengths; and one triple-flanged set.
Thanks to the wide array of ear tips, it's fairly easy to get a secure and comfortable fit with the Westone 2 earphones. They're noticeably smaller than the Westone 3s, which makes a big difference when it comes to fit. Still, the earpieces are on the large side so some users may have issues. The bulbous shape is designed to be placed in the outer ear, with the wires looping over the top. The design is quite ergonomic and paired with the light weight of the earpieces makes the earphones very comfy for extended wear. We aren't terribly fond of the feel of wires curving over the top of the ear, but this is highly personal.
When you are able to get a proper fit from the Westone 2 earphones, you'll be rewarded with exceptional passive sound isolation. Even with music off, ambient noise is noticeably muted, making these earbuds an excellent choice for frequent fliers. Plus, likely due to the thin, winding design of the cord, you get very little rustling when the cable brushed across the front of the body.
As the name suggests, the Westone 2s cram two balanced armature drivers into each earpiece, much like the Shure SE420 earphones. Here, you get one low-frequency driver and another for highs, so the headphones are never overly taxed. In other words: no low-end distortion and no brittle highs. The Westone 2 headphones offer sound quality on par with the Shure SE420, which is to say excellent. Alice Deejay's "Better Off Alone" piped out clean, thumping bass and detailed but not overly crisp high-hats; Britney's "Breathe On Me" performed similarly, proving the earphones' ability to shine for dance music.
We continued testing with a sampling from various genres. Dire Straits' "Brothers In Arms" was open and haunting, just as it should be, and Babyshambles' "F*** Forever" provided an excellent example of the detail and variation capable of being produced. All in all, the Westone 2 earphones proved their capability to satisfy a variety of music tastes, which makes them an excellent option for eclectic listeners. And while they are perhaps slightly less crisp than the Westone 3s, their smaller size and lower price make them a better recommendation across the board.