It’s a mistake to underestimate Westone. On the face of it, to the untutored audiophile eye, Westone comes across as a relatively small, if powerfully professional company making high-quality earphones and custom-fit in-ear monitors. Westone has a similar cachet as a brand like Noble, and as a consequence it’s thought of in the same size. Then, you rock up to the company’s premises in Colorado Springs and realise the error of your ways.
You see, when Westone isn’t making products for audio experts, it’s making custom earpieces for the hearing healthcare market, hearing protection for people like the US military and most of its allies, as well as in-ear and custom in-ear monitors for a considerable amount of the world’s musicians.
Although the company has been in the hearing business since 1959, a lot of this polymath approach to all things audio comes down to the twins – Karl and Kris Cartwright. Constantly animated, interested in everything, between them they have amassed a wealth of audiological information that no one human being could possibly know, as well as taking measurements of more ears than anyone else (equivalent to taking ear impressions for the entire population of the city of Luxembourg). And, although the whole Westone industry is fascinating in its own right (especially in the world of hearing protection, which now has highly advanced active circuitry that can kick in faster than a bullet can travel down a barrel), we decided to focus on the audio side, in particular the custom audio assembly line: a small, dedicated team of specialist engineers making custom-fit in-ear monitors in a manner honed through years of practice.
Here, Karl and Kris took us through the steps required to make a set of custom fit in-ear monitors:
To show just how important its rock clientele is for Westone, the company has its own music stage!
This is not some fly-by-night company: Westone’s ‘war wall’ shows its constantly looking forward.
The twin brothers Karl and Kris Cartwright are fascinated by everything – Karl is the one with the beard!
Alongside Westone’s musical models, its custom in-ear DefendEar designs can even work in the rifle range.