Pros: Soundstage, detail
Cons: isolation, bloated bass
After two weeks of daily use, I feel I "get" what this IEM is all about now. It's a great IEM for all types of recordings and music. I've run everything through it on my iPhone 5 (no external DAC/Amp) via iTunes and FLAC via Capriccio. I have been doing comparisons between the IE 80, Sennheiser CX880i and Klipsch Reference S4i.
There is no competition. The IE80 wins on all fronts except isolation, which I'll get into later.
This is completely subjective, but I love the look of the IE 80. The brushed metal looks fantastic. There are some great features included such as the adjustable bass knobs, detatchable wires, large assortment of tips, over-the-ear wire guides, shirt clip... (great)
The unit is made mostly of plastic except for the thin brushed metal plates. The plastic seems sturdy enough, and the wire connectors that attach to each monitor is very sturdy and requires a bit of force to disconnect. Great.
The unit feels fairly light for it's size. In the ear, they feel good. Good.
This is a weak point of the IE 80. I've tried all tips and I'm able to get a decent enough seal, however, I am still able to easily hear outside noise. Average.
With the stock cable, I barely perceive any friction noise. Excellent.
Sound Quality: 4.5/5
Here's the important part. The IE80 has handled everything I've thrown at it with competence. I listen to pretty much everything I can get my hands on. Jazz, Rock, Metal, Electronic, Classical/symphony, Pop, Accoustical, Movies, Music Videos..
These IEMs strike a good balance between being analytical and fun. They won't pick apart your iTunes files and make them sound like trash, but at the same time, you can hear the differences in listening to FLAC files.
At first listen, I noticed the high level of detail and clarity in the highs, with slightly warm mids, and heavy bass. The soundstage and instrument separation is fantasic for an IEM. After getting used to the IEMs, everything now sounds just right except for the bass. I have the bass tuned to the lowest setting and I still find that it's a bit on the bloated side. There's definitely a bias towards bass on these. Not too objectionable, but not neutral either.
Overall, I would say these are excellent IEMs, except for the price. The retail price is on the high side for what you are getting. However, at about $300-$350, these are great and I would easily recommend these.
Using the Capriccio app, I've been messing with a bit of EQing and I've lowered the mid bass down by about 6-7 dB and just ever so slightly increased the midrange. I feel this helps eliminate the "mid bass bloat". If you're using this app, I've uploaded the settings under "IE 80 Accoustic".