Made In The USA: Westone UM2

Long-time readers… hell, even you fresh-off-the-Internet-boat-types may recall this one. Two weeks ago, I bought a set of Sennheiser headphones that turned out to be made in China. I promptly returned them to Amazon. It cost me nine bucks in shipping to do so — Amazon doesn’t consider “made in China” to be an acceptable reason for a free return — but it left me with some not-quite-cash burning a home in my pocket .

This past Saturday I was at Sweetwater Music in Fort Wayne, most positively and definitely not buying a new PRS Private Stock because I was able to tear myself away from it before the emotional weakness took over, and I saw that they had some entry-level Westone in-ear-monitors (IEMs) for sale.

Westone is no relation to St. Louis Music, Matsumoku Guitars, Tom Presley, Electra, or any other part of the Westone guitar saga. They make earbud-thingys here in the United States. In theory, their “W” line is made in China, and the “UM” line is made in the United States. I can’t say for sure that all of the components are made in the US.

I can say, however, that these are very nice earphones. They don’t have the dynamic punch of a full-sized set of over-the-ear phones like my Beyerdynamic 880 600Ohm Pros, and they certainly don’t hit the way that a proper speaker system does, but if your primary experience in life is with, say, the Apple iPhone earbuds these will seem like they are from another galaxy. I can also say that they are far, far better than the various AKG and Sony earphones I’ve bought while traveling both here and abroad.

The noise isolation is very good — maybe too good for me to even consider using them on a motorcycle. Build quality appears top-notch. They aren’t cheap by normal person standards but if you’re an audiophile then Sweetwater’s $179 closeout probably seems like a very good deal. So far, I’m very satisfied. And it’s always nice to vote with my own wallet for an American-made product.

10 Replies to “Made In The USA: Westone UM2”

  1. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    So you’re saying the stock iPhone buds are crap? Dammit, hornswoggled again.

    I received as a gift a couple days ago, a set of Jaybird X2 wireless ear buds. I figure to try them out in a few days on a bike, as they are supposed to be “noise cancelling”. I’ll see how they work.
    Sadly, assembled in China.
    BUT, they’re “the official training headphones” for the USA Triathalon.(whatever the hell that means)

  2. AvatarFelis Concolor

    I’m pleased to see the shout out to COS in the packaging photo. There are a lot of good shops in that light industrial/office part of town, including a bicycle repair and parts shop I have visited more than once (my ultimate goal is to patronize every single bicycle shop in COS with at least 1 non-trivial purchase, then calculate what the per-capita bike shop figure is for the city). I may give the Westone folks a visit this week just to see what’s available and what sort of recommendations they’d have for equipment to pair with their gear.

    The headphones and earbud market is an interesting one for high end audio fanatics: you can put together a ne plus ultra system in either format for just about $2K including monitors, amplifier and signal source, which won’t even get you started in the speakers-and-amps field these days.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I was thinking about having Westone do my in-ear radio headphones for racing. Very impressed with the way the UM2s seal. If you go in, maybe ask them about mono plugs, and if they will do ’em?

      • AvatarFelis Concolor

        I visited their main office yesterday, and was redirected to local ear doctors for their hearing protection line for the young man of the house as most of their best stuff requires a cast be made of the ear canal.

        I was told they could make monophonic plug sets; just email them at with your request.

  3. AvatarMichael

    South Jersey Michael again. I appreciate you banging the Made In USA drum. I’m lucky to have Gorshin’s Trading Post in my town. They specialize in guy stuff, clothes, accessories, snacks and mixers made in USA and right in South Jersey.

    What I really want is a pair of insulated winter gloves that are made in USA or Canada that are touchscreen compatible.


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