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Monthly Archives: October 1976

The Westone W40 Review

earpieceThe Westone W40 Review
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Beneath each bud’s innocuous plastic frame rests a mighty four pack of razor-thin balanced-armature drivers. The drivers are separated by three crossover points for bass, midrange, and treble, with a claimed frequency range of 10Hz to 18kHz.

Comfort
The W40 fit very snugly, and that helps them achieve their impressive amount of passive noise attenuation. Westone claims the W40 knock off 25 db of noise, and we’re inclined to agree. Comfort will obviously vary for each person, but once we found the right ear tip for us, the W40 were as comfortable as any bud we’ve evaluated. Fortunately, the included accessory pouch offers just about every size imaginable. The foam tips were harder to insert and more invasive, but they also stayed put with an iron grip, which could come in handy in more tumultuous environments.

Audio performance
While the W40 could be used in a number of scenarios involving premium electronics and high-quality source material, we think many folks will use them with their smartphones to play back MP3s. So that’s how we tested them: MP3s via an iPhone 5. Having done so, we can honestly say that, degraded source file or no, the W40 provided unbridled clarity, vivid definition, and miles of dynamic expression, reminding this reviewer, once again, that he truly does have the best job on the planet.
The W40’s detailed sound is so supremely refined that it provided fresh explorations into some of our favorite tracks, creating that sought-after “new discovery” experience that makes old classics sound brand new again. The W40’s provide professional mixing-level clarity, and you could certainly use the W40 in that capacity, or as a live in-ear monitor. Every nuance, muttering vocal, double-tracked guitar, or fluttering sweep of dissipating reverb was laid out in nimble, pristinely separated corridors of the sound stage.
But the W40 aren’t just accurate. We also found the word “beautiful” riddled throughout our evaluation notes. Serenely ringing sweeps of an acoustic guitar, or swelling bows from a set of violins often surprised us with their sheer beauty. When you’re enamored with the applause at the end of The Beatles’ “Bungalow Bill,” you know you’re dealing with an impressive set of headphones. The W40 also did well tracing the roots of each instrument in every recording, digging up the inherent colors within and reproducing them, albeit with a taste of the lighter, laser-sharp touch for which balanced-armature drivers are known.
Not surprisingly, the W40 really only showcased their full potential on works with extremely complex, richly-layered dimensions from bands like Radiohead, Depeche Mode, and Stevie Wonder. For example, “Before Your Very Eyes” by Atoms for Peace sounded almost like a different track altogether. Brand new details came to life, and others that had only been a ghost of a sound, like the wave effect that whirls behind the top layers towards the end of the song, were pulled from the background and aired for the first time in the light of day.
Of course, we do have a couple of nits to pick. As is common in an armature-driver system, the bass wasn’t always as potent as we wanted it, and occasionally there was just a shade too much sibilance up top, evidenced by an ‘s’ or ‘t’ in a vocal line, or a sharp snap on a snare. But those issues tended to occur only on our lightest or poorest recordings, and the W40 do an excellent job coaxing warmth and fluidity from a design that is often accused of sounding clinical or sterile.

Westone W40 earbud
Also, with due appreciation for the W40’s superb sound quality, we think most folks will think they are priced a little high for an in-ear. Still, if you can swing it, they absolutely deliver. The W40 provided us with excellent noise isolation and brilliant portable audio compatibility, with sound quality that will only improve for those who do splurge on a premium playback device. After all, and if you’ve already thrown down $500 for premium electronics, why not go for the gold with the headphones, too?

Conclusion
Westone’s W40 offer supreme clarity, ravishing detail, and astonishing dynamic expression, placing them in meager company within the hi-fi landscape. Their $500 price tag has a lot of bite, but then again, the work that goes into cramming four drivers into a tiny bud doesn’t come cheap.
These are professional headphones, designed for serious audiophiles and musicians – casual listeners need not apply. But if you want an in-ear that gives you a whole new way to explore your aging audio collection, Westone’s W40 may be the set you’ve been waiting for.

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Police hearing loss: £135m paid in compensation

What’s your favorite feature of the radio accessory? Personally, I like the design job – It is cooler than an Inuit’s underpants!

Police have paid out more than £135m to settle claims by former officers who said their hearing was damaged during the course of their duties.

Almost half that bill, more than £65m, was for legal fees.
Details of payments have been revealed by the PSNI in response to a Freedom of Information request by Belfast-based victims group Relatives for Justice.
Up to the end of November, compensation was paid to 8,641 former officers, with hundreds of other claims pending.

As the only routinely armed police force in the UK, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers had to undergo regular firearms training.
It has been established that since the late 1960s, police sources were aware of medical evidence that they had to provide sufficient ear protection for anyone involved in this kind of activity.
Firing ranges This is a legal principle referred to as the “date of knowledge”.
But the RUC did not provide “industry standard” ear protection for another three decades.

One former officer who received compensation spoke of his experience on firing ranges.
“Even when ear protection was introduced, it was sometimes of a very poor standard and there weren’t always enough sets of headphones to go around,” he said.
“If you were waiting for your turn on the range, it wasn’t uncommon to have to simply put your fingers in your ears when standing close to someone firing a gun.
“When we trained with the army, soldiers would shake their heads in amazement at our lack of proper equipment.”

More than 10,000 former RUC officers have lodged claims for damages, saying their hearing was damaged.
Enormous compensation The claims include officers who claim to have suffered hearing loss as a result of frequent radio use, while being transported in helicopters and while driving motorcycles.
However, the vast majority of claims are for damage caused during firearms training.
The figures involved in compensation are enormous.

In response to the Freedom of Information request from Relatives for Justice, the PSNI revealed that, up the end of November, the total amount paid out to settle cases was £135,357,689.
Of that total, £70,161,788 was damages paid to former officers, while £65,195,901 was for legal and court costs.
SDLP MLA Alban Maginness, a barrister and member of Stormont’s justice committee, said the legal costs were unacceptable and could have been greatly reduced.

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SDLP MLA Alban Maginness described the compensation figures as shocking
“I have raised this issue on a number of occasions,” he said.
“It is a shocking figure and the Policing Board and the Department of Justice have questions to answer about how this was allowed to happen.
‘Devastating’ “The police could have taken a much broader approach instead of contesting every case, when medical evidence had been provided stating that there had been hearing loss.

“That would have saved a substantial sum of money.”
Sinn F訮 MLA Pat Sheehan said the amount of money paid out to the former officers was unjustifiable.
“The amount of money, £135m, involved is extortionate. This is clearly unjustifiable and can not be stood over,” he said.
“These officers were well paid and this public money could have been used elsewhere.”
However, former detective superintendent Alan Mains, who received compensation for hearing loss while on duty, defended the pay-outs.

“Collectively speaking, it looks like a phenomenal sum. But it could have been dealt with a lot differently… if they had taken a broad common sense approach, instead of challenging medical evidence,” he said.
“The reason why we had to carry guns in the first place is pretty obvious – we were the only police service in all of the UK (to have to do so).”
Edwards and Company solicitors have settled claims for more than 3,000 officers, and another 500 are in the pipeline.

One of its senior partners said the affects of hearing loss could be devastating.
Dorcas Crawford cited the example of one client who suffered from a constant ringing sound in his ears, a condition known as tinnitus.
“His case was terribly severe, the worst I have heard of, so much so that when he went to see the hearing consultant, he asked him if he could possibly make him deaf because he would prefer to be deaf than to have to cope with the tinnitus,” she said.

“The sad fact, of course, is that the consultant couldn’t do that, and even if he was completely deaf he would still have the tinnitus, but it simply drove him insane.”
She also rejected any suggestion that former officers could make false claims.
“Hearing loss can be objectively measured,” she said.
Medical evidence “In every case settled by the Crown Solicitors Office, clients are tested and examined by two doctors, one acting for their solicitor and the other acting for the police, and medical reports are produced.

“Those medical reports then determine the extent of the compensation claim.”
While her company has benefited financially by representing officers with hearing loss claims, she agrees with Mr Maginness that the police could have significantly reduced the legal bill by accepting medical evidence instead of contesting every case.
“Virtually every single case, except for a tiny, tiny minority, are settled at door of court, so generally I really don’t see any reason why those could not have been settled once the medical evidence was on for both sides,” she said.

Mark Thompson’s organisation, Relatives for Justice, made the Freedom of Information request “I don’t for one minute suggest that the Crown simply pay out money where the case hasn’t been proven, but the case is proven at the earliest stage when they’ve got both medical reports.
“My estimate would be that they could have saved around half of that sum for legal costs by settling cases at an early stage.”
‘Unfair’ The group that sent the Freedom of Information request to the police described the sums of money involved as “appalling”.

Mark Thompson, director of Relatives for Justice, said it was unfair that so much has been spent paying the legal costs for former officers, at the same time as those taking action against the police and State were having their legal aid cut.
“We represent people who have been victims of the conflict and are trying to take action against the police and they are having their legal aid cut, and the lawyers that represent them have been condemned by some unionist politicians,” he said.

“But here we have the police spending tens of millions of pounds in damages to former police officers, and paying out tens of millions in legal costs and we don’t hear those politicians asking questions about it. That is simply unacceptable.”
In a statement, the PSNI said: “All hearing loss claims have to be thoroughly investigated.
“The chief constable is fully aware of his responsibility to the public purse and the strategy for handling hearing loss litigation has been kept under review by the Chief Constable’s lawyers and the Crown Solicitor’s Office with the aim of ensuring that claims are dealt with as economically as is possible given the technical aspects of the cases and the individual circumstances of each.”

The PSNI also said all legal costs were closely scrutinised and “have been challenged by the Chief Constable’s lawyers when appropriate”.

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