Both, Astell&Kern and Westone make great earphones with their own distinct styles in sound. The 4 driver, Westone W40 is a hundred dollars more expensive than Astell&Kern’s Michelle Limited. But is it worth the higher price tag? Here’s a comparison across the board.
IN THE BOX:
|Westone W40||Michelle Limited|
|Westone W40 Earphones||Michelle Limited Earphones|
|Detachable 3.5mm twisted cable||Detachable 3.5mm Twisted Cable|
|Detachable 3 Button MFi cable with microphone||Balanced 2.5mm cable|
|5 pair patented STAR silicone eartips||Three pairs of silicone eartips|
|Impact resistant monitor vault||Hard shell carrying case|
|Cleaning tool||Cleaning tool|
|2-year warranty||1-year warranty|
|3 Decorative Faceplates (Red, Blue, and Black) with Removal/Replacement Tool|
Both earphones include silicone eartips, but Westone has a slightly larger variety. Westone W40 are a very light and secure fit. The Michelle Limited has a safe fit too, but feels just slightly heavier and has a larger housing. Compared to the Westones, they’re a little bulky. But once they are in your ears, you can’t tell much difference between the two.
DESIGN and FEATURES
The Westone W40 has four armature drivers, while the Michelle Limited has three. But more drivers don’t necessarily mean better sound, so best not to make your decision based on this difference. Westone provides a detachable 3 button cable with a microphone for Iphone. So, if your priority is also to use your earphones for calls and on the go, you might want to consider the Westone W40. The Michelle Limited comes with a balanced cable, while the Westone W40 doesn’t. But you can purchase a Westone balanced cable separately online. For the purposes of this review, we’ll keep it simple and stick to the regular 3.5mm cable.
The Michelle Limited has a majestic bass, and it sounds fuller than the Westone W40. That’s not to say the Westone W40 is a slouch in the bass department. In fact, the bass on Westone W40 has a clarity and punch that makes it really fun to listen to, and I actually prefer the dryer, compressed feel that it delivers. If you love listening to pop and hip-hop, you might enjoy the Michelle Limited more. But they both deliver a kick, and it’s really a personal preference. If you want your bass to snap, go with the W40’s. But if you want to go big and wide, the Michelle Limited is for you.
Westone W40 sounds great in this range, while the mids on the Michelle Limited are lacking. There’s a fullness and clarity to the W40 that the Michelle Limited just can’t compete with. The tonal character of instruments in this range, like electric guitars and organs, are just superior. For this reason, rock and roll sounds much better on the Westone W40. If you’re a Beatles fan, you’ll definitely be going for the W40.
In this category, it’s hard to pick the winner. Michelle has a little sibilance in certain songs. At higher volumes, they disturbed my ears quite a bit. Vocals and cymbals were hard to take at times. Westone W40’s highs aren’t as pronounced, to say the least. In fact, playing classical music, I could barely hear strings that came out loud and clear on the Michelle. So if you’re listening to classical, the Michelle Limited works best.
I like the soundstage on both of these earphones. But there seems to be more acoustic space on the Michelle Limited. It’s a broader, grander feel. Live recordings definitely shine on the Michelle, and I would go with them for that purpose.
Overall, I found that the Westone’s W40 were the most well-balanced of the two. Although the bass sounded nice on the Michelle, the Westone W40 has a more dynamic feel to it and a faster response. The Westone W40 is a hundred dollars more expensive, but it’s quality is a lot tighter and more refined. Personally, I would dish out an extra Benjamin and go for the Westone W40. But bass-heads might disagree.
|Westone W40||Michelle Limited|
|Impedance||31 ohm||10 ohm|
|Frequency Range||10 Hz to 18 kHz||20 Hz to 17 kHz|