Westone Audio AM PRO X10 review: What is it?
It’s a common complaint when you talk about in-ear monitors. You’ll typically use them for performance, or recording, and yet the demands of these two environments are uniquely different. For live performance, be that a stadium or a coffee shop, you’ll want to monitor your sound while also letting some of the outside world in. Performers need that ambient noise, otherwise, they can feel a tad disconnected.
In the studio, however, where you’re possibly recording in isolation, blocking out every bit of external sound so you can concentrate on your take is vital. Most - not all - IEMs in 2023 come designed to enable complete isolation from outside noise, so it was with great interest that Westone Audio’s AM PRO X10 set arrived for review. The AM PRO X10 are a single-driver set of IEMs with a degree of passive ambience built in thanks to some clever filtering. They claim to offer the best of both worlds; isolation where you need it, but without completely shutting off the world outside your earplugs.
As with the other models in the Westone line-up, the X10 set comes complete with a wide variety of additional silicone and foam ear-tips so you can customize to your requirements, along with a toughened plastic carry case. There’s plenty of competition at this budget in-ear monitor price bracket, so Westone’s decision to lean into passive ambience is a neat move, especially considering this is a feature normally found on much higher-end sets. But how do they perform? Let’s take a look.
Westone Audio AM PRO X10 review: Performance & verdict
The Westone AM PRO X10 (we’ll call them the X10s from here) are part of a new range designed specifically for performers, rather than recording or studio work. The X10 set has a single balanced-armature driver, where a further two models add additional drivers for better sound separation although, naturally, there’s a cost to this extra capability.
In the box, you’ll find a small red moulded plastic carry case, which looks tough enough to survive tour conditions, along with a bag containing 5 sets of silicone and 5 sets of foam tips so you can customise the earplugs to your liking. There’s also a handy little tool for cleaning the earplugs after use too, which is great because anyone who’s used a set of IEMs will tell you they can look pretty grim after a few listening sessions.
Without a live performance on the horizon, I had to be a bit clever about testing the X10s. Thankfully, my music-making habits seem to have settled on sampling, and field recording, which is another area where being completely shut off from the outside world is, at best, not desirable and at worst, dangerous. I took my trusty Zoom recorder out, along with the X10s, and was immediately impressed with the results.
Whereas previously, field recording had an element of ‘point and shoot’ jeopardy, using a set of IEMs meant I could instantly hear what was being captured and, if required, adjust things like the distance and angle at which the recorder was deployed. It might not sound like much, but this level of real-time feedback saved lots of time and wasted recordings.
Where the X10 had the edge over similarly-priced IEMs was in the passive ambience. They achieve this by deploying a filter which attenuates external ambient noise by 10dB, meaning you get the full focus of what you’re recording or listening to but without completely removing all external or ambient noise. For a stage performer, this means being able to focus on your vocals, instrument or band mix without completely shutting out stage - or audience - sounds. As a field recorder, it meant being able to capture those weird and wonderful outside noises without inadvertently walking in front of a truck or an oncoming cyclist.
Sitting at the entry-level of the range, we can see the X10 set being popular with performers operating in more discrete settings, like coffee shops or small venues, on account of their attractive price point, portability and performance. We also liked the look of the X10 set, with its clear plastic housing and felt the overall package (including the accessories) was of high enough quality to make the X10 easy to recommend.
Westone Audio AM PRO X10 review: Specification
- Type: In-ear monitors
- Frequency range: 20Hz to 16kHz
- Connection: 3.5mm jack
- Impedance: 19 ohms
- Drivers: Single balanced-armature
- Contact: Westone Audio