ngoshawk

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Affordable.
Quality sound.
Very nice case(s).
Svelte look.
Good battery live.
Cons: Slippery.
Connectivity issues.
Meddlesome touch control.
Astrotec S80 TWS ($89): The 2nd coming is better than the 1st.

3.75 stars. I was hoping with this "update" HeadFi would give us more options with regard to rating...

Astrotec S80 website: https://www.astrotecglobal.com/product-page/s80-beryllium-dynamic-driver-true-wireless-earphone

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I thank Astrotec for contacting me for the purposes of reviewing the s80. I appreciate the support. It is understood that the s80 is mine to keep but may be asked for return at any time.

This is only my second pair of TWS IEM’s personally, although I did give a good listen to my son’s Jabra Elite Active 65t upon arrival last Christmas. He has had them a year with no problems and still likes them very much. I liked the Jabra as well, which gave a full quality sound. More listed down below. As such, I come at this mostly from an Audiophile perspective. There are many, many options out there and it is good to see that audiophile companies are working to provide TWS, while seeing the benefit of having quality sound.


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Specifications:

  • Driver: 6mm Beryllium Dynamic
  • Impedance: 16Ω
  • Sensitivity: 98±3 db
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz -25KHz
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.0
  • Range: 10m
  • Support: AAC, CVSD, mSBC, SBC, HFP, HSP, A2DP, AVRCP, SPP, PBAF
  • Earphone Playback Time: 5-6hrs
  • Case Charge Time: 2hrs
  • Earphone Charge Time: 1.5hrs
  • Addition Play Time Via Case: ~20hrs
  • Total Play Time: ~25hrs
  • USB Support: Type-C
  • Earphone Battery Size Per Side: 55mAh
  • Charge Case Battery Size: 500mAh
  • Weight: Single Earphone – 5g / Charge case – 45g
  • Water Resistance: IPX5

General guide:

Earphone Continuous Playback TimeAbout 5-6hrs
Charging Time Supported By Charging CaseAbout 4-5 times
Earphone Charging TimeAbout 1.5 hrs
Charging Case Charging TimeAbout 2hrs
Charging Case Charging MethodType-C USB
Single Earphone Battery Volume55mAh
Charging Case Battery Volume500mAh
WeightSingle earphone: 5g
Charging case: 45g


In the Box:
  • S80 TWS
  • Charging case
  • Larger clamshell style case for carrying extra items (the charging case fits)
  • USB-C charging cable (10” long)
  • 3 sets of wide-bore silicon tips (s, m, l)
  • 3 sets of narrow-bore silicon tips (s, m, l)

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Gear used/compared:

All prices in USD, unless noted otherwise

Simgot MTW5 ($35)
Jabra Elite Active 65t ($119)


Cayin N6 mk2
Shanling M5s
Shanling M2x


Songs used:

Tidal Premium and SD card
Coldplay-All I Can think About Is You
Coldplay-A Message
Coldplay-White Shadows
Dona Onete-Sonos de Adolescente
Los Lonely Boys- Heaven (en Espanol)
twenty one pilots-Trees
twenty one pilots-Car Radio
twenty one pilots-Heathens
Damian Marley-Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
Damian Marley-So A Child May Follow
Damian Marley-The Struggle Discontinues
Ziggy Marley-Lighthouse
Ziggy Marely-See Dem Fake Leaders
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado

The new twenty one pilots album, Trench
The new Mark Knopfler album, Down The Road Wherever
Big Head Todd & The Monsters-Beautiful World
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Lindsey Stirling


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Unboxing:

The s80 comes in a tasteful white-sleeved box, which is adorned with a couple of pictures. Not much else except a few points surrounding the unit. Taking the sleeve off you are met with an off-olive-green box, which opens from the right much like a hinged loader. Opening the cover, you are met with some model who is well, modeling the TWS on the left side. On the right is a very nice frosted cover, which works as the basic manual as well. It really is kind of cool, and a way to give the user an immediate picture of how to use the s80.

Removing the frosted cover, you are met with not one but TWO cases. One is the obvious charging/carrying case. The other is a larger zippered case, which can not only carry spare tips, the short charging cable and a small DAP. You could keep the other case inside instead as well, which is what I did. A very nice feature, indeed. Covered in a gray/white/black patterned fabric the look is quite understated, and to be honest, smexy as well. With chromed tops, the look is distinctly retro, even if the chrome top show prints galore. Underneath the bigger case is a more detailed owner’s manual, which is appreciated. Inside the charging case, the IEM’s have a plastic protector over the charge ports so the unit will not be continuously charging. Mounted already are a set of small silicon’s. I tried that tip first to make sure all was well, and it was good. Sound-wise to me was a whole different beast.


Fit-n-Finish:

The S80 fits easily inside your ear but does stick out a good bit. More than I like. That said using the S80 for long periods was pain-free and easy. The finish was what one might expect for a competent TWS. Plastic made to fit well, with no obvious flaws. The nozzle is pointed at a good angle, thus allowing for a painless fit. That said, when I used the included silicon tips, I could not get a good seal at all. Not with any of them. As a result, the sound was hollow and weak. Once I switched to a pair of foam Comply’s I had lying around, fit became good. As a result, the sound became quite good.

A word about this, though. If you use anything other than the included silicon tips, you will not be able to keep the tips on when replacing into the charging case. It will not happen unless the foam tips are as small as the silicon’s. As a result, everytime I took the TWS out to connect. I had to first put the left one up to my ear to hear the magic words, “power on,” followed by placing the tip on. I repeated the process for the right. Only then would the TWS connect to my source. And from my experience do not have a previous BT source on if you want to switch to another, for the TWS will connect with the previous source. Even when pushing “connect” on the new source.

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Connectivity cont’d:

Once connected, the S80 worked well. Sound was good and full using the foam tips of which I spoke about above. Utilizing the controls was straightforward once you figured them out. Double tap the right to raise the volume. Double tap the left to lower the volume. Tap either once to pause the music. I did find that even with the larger flat area on the back, I had to orient my finger before engaging the controls. It was not intuitive such as the Simgot MTW5 previously. I would often miss hit the control and raise the volume when I wanted a pause or vice versa. An option for pause was to take the unit out of one ear. While this did pause the music, such as for a conversation, most of the time if the unit was kept out for a minute or even less, it would disconnect. Thus, you would have to replace the unit in the charging case, then reconnect. I’m not sure what I was doing wrong, but I tried multiple methods to avert this, and none, not one worked. 100% of the time I had to replace the unit in the charging case to re-establish the connectivity (as in reset it). I find this highly annoying and have not found this in other TWS systems I have tried, albeit my sample is relatively small.

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To have the need to carry around the charging case makes the TWS almost unusable. Throw in that to do so with foam tips you would also have to remove the tip to achieve a good connection with the charging port and the unit becomes one, which is left at home. I also had a hard time connecting to new sources as well. It was like the unit was stuck with the one source, and would not disconnect, even if the BT was turned off. Think of latching on to something, even if you know it is going down the wrong road and you get the point. I hate to be this critical of a fine sounding TWS, but the connectivity issues to me outweigh the wonderful sound. To verify this, I just tried to connect to my Cayin N6 mk2. It took twice before it connected, even though the first time the menu showed “connected to Astrotec S80.” Again, this is a problem of which I do not know the source.


Sound:

So, after all that how does the S80 sound? Actually, quite good, with the foam tips. I could not achieve a good seal or fit with any silicon tip I used, even the largest Final Type E tips I had. Sound with the Final E’s was much better than the stock tips, but still an inadequate seal was had.

Bass was fairly tight and controlled with good reach on the S80, once a good fit was achieved. I did enjoy the sound on my runs this fall as soccer practice. I also had to readjust many times to maintain the fit. When sitting still, the bass reached a solid level, but with a bit of bleed into the lower mids to me. Considering the cost and technological level, I found it acceptable. Moving to those mids, vocals are present in enough detail to keep you interested, but obviously not on par with regular IEM’s. I like the fact that it is a DD. I’d love to hear an electrostat or BA in a sport TWS, which may raise the bar, but the 4mm DD does an adequate job with the mids. Pushed a bit forward and up to me, this seems to be by design. Providing an almost uplifting sound, this may be enough to make you push harder on your workouts, or lift the bass to a level, which is good.

Treble thankfully is not too sparkly or pressed too high. With the silicon tips, I could not listen too long before the treble note became somewhat grating to me. The foam dropped that aspect thankfully. Think warmer textures and that would be an apt description of the upper end. Not necessarily veiled, but not as clean as one could achieve. Taken in conjunction within the overall signature, I appreciated the laid-back nature. Some TWS systems over-inflate the treble due to the way those units are used, as in high noise areas such as running or the gym. Chock-full of noise absurdium, the unit has to compensate for that overly loud arena. Thankfully Astrotec kept their wits about them and provided a sound platform on which you can listen without fatigue.

There is good space and a sense almost of holography on Nico And The Niners, from TWP; but the song is made with that already. The presentation of that through the S80 is good and allows you to enjoy the song. All we could ask at this point.

Layering and placement are adequate for a TWS, but when you turn your head, even with the foam tips, the good seal is lost and thus the spacious sound. Too bad really, because even through all of this I really enjoy the sound signature of the S80. If Astrotec could figure out the logistics of operation, this would be darn near spectacular (maybe it’s just me and operator error as well).

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Comparisons:

Astrotec S80 ($89): vs Simgot MTW5 ($35):

My first connection into the TWS realm, I rather enjoyed the MTW5. Simgot has a tendency to put out fine products, which may or may not get to see the limelight. The EN700 Pro remains one of my favorites at the price, as does the EM5. With the MTW5, the focus is definitely on portability and ease of use. As a difference, I could keep a smaller sized foam tip on in the charging case but found the sound not that different from the included silicons. Thus, I left the silicon in place for the majority of the time.

The case is not as nice, but ease of use trumps the S80. Flip the lid and you see both TWS, and lights show how long you have on the charger, as in what level that battery is. Connectivity took once. Sound wise, there really is not a comparison, though. The MTW5 is a basic TWS, which sounds OK. The Astrotec runs circles around it. Switching even to foam tips, the S80 wins. Bass reach and a bit of rumble is good in the MTW5, but the treble is auditorily rounded. Mids while decent do not have any of the separation that the S80 has. Despite that, connectivity is much easier, as are the functions. When I go somewhere that requires quick ingress/egress of TWS systems, the MTW5 is the one that goes. If sound is my preference, then the S80 wins easily.


Astrotec S80 ($89): vs Jabra Elite Active 65t ($119)

This was a tougher task to judge. The Jabra is eminently usable. Take the bud out, it pauses. Place it back in your ear, it immediately starts playing again. To me, that’s how it should be. Ease of use easily goes to the Jabra. I could not fit an adequate foam tip on though.

Sound on Chuco’s Cumbia was as it should be, precise and detailed. Providing detail on par with the S80, the only thing lacking was bass. Finding the right foam or silicon tip would help, but the fit of the Jabra was such that an extremely shallow tip seems to be a must. I thoroughly enjoy the Jabra sound, to the point where I may purchase a pair for myself. Except in conditions in which I would use them, I have plenty of wired examples, which sound as good or better. So, I have no need. The Jabra live on their reputation, and to me it is warranted. The pair we purchased for our son was a brand-new pair. The pair, which was purchased from Amazon as NIB, or returned did not work upon arrival, and there is a small bit of backlash regarding this on Amazon. But when you consider the sheer number sold, it always seems to be those that have problems, who “show their concern.” If we look at numbers, it is a very small percentage and on par with others.

The Jabra sound is one I could easily live with, despite the lack of bass, because the other sound characteristics are on par or almost on par enough to make it a straightforward decision. Ease of use with quite good sound beats better sound with confuddling connectivity issues as well as controls, which function in a less than stellar manner.

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Source connectivity:

Issues mentioned above do not need to be rehashed here. I had multiple connectivity issues across many platforms. The easiest work around was to “forget” the TWS in an old source before connecting to the new. While acceptable, ease of connectivity suffered. I want plug-and-play with a device such as this. And with others, I have that. Once connected, most sources played well. I was surprised (I shouldn’t be) at the depth of sound presented via the N6 mk2. I know that I would be mostly unable to discern BT sounds across similar sources but going from the Shanling M2x to the N6 mk2, there was a good difference. The Shanling was quite acceptable. The Cayin quite a bit better. I could certainly accept the Shanling sound and do as one of my main portables when running. But if I do happen to sit around the house and want BT, the source is the Cayin, hands down. There is something to having portability when you choose not to be burdened by having the source on you. A central location within my house was needed though, as having a house built in 1873 is laden with iron pipes for the natural gas radiator heat. Kind of like driving under the “L” in Chicago and losing radio reception. Acceptable.


Finish:

“What we have here is a failure to communicate,” to quote Cool Hand Luke. Incredible movie, by the way. And that lack of communicating should be addressed in a future firmware update. If, and that is IF the connectivity issues are taken care of, then the S80 will be a very fine unit. As it stands, the sound qualities are quite good for a BT, bettering overall all that I have heard. But to me the overall capabilities of the Jabra are worth the cost and time it would take to find a really good tip. I do still recommend the S80, especially if you only have one or two sources to bounce between (and most do), since moving from one to another would be fairly easy.



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I like the sound characteristics of the Astrotec, because it has a warmer (to me) signature, which fits my listening style. For that it should be considered alone. And I am sure someone could point out the mistakes I have made with regard to the connectivity issues.

I thank Astrotec for the S80, and still enjoy listening to it on one source so I do not have to worry about connectivity issues.

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ryanjsoo

Reviewer for The Headphone List
ryanjsoo's Reviews
Pros: Well-controlled bass, Natural midrange, Comfortable and well-isolating, Both earpieces support mono mode
Cons: Abysmal call quality, Cheap build quality, Unreliable touch controls
Introduction –

Astrotec is one of the oldest companies putting the HiFi in ChiFi. Their portfolio spans myriad offerings ranging from entry-level single dynamic earphones to a cutting edge electro-static flagship. Somewhere in between lies the S80, a TWS in-ear featuring a single Beryllium dynamic driver with ultra-thin diaphragm enabling a powerful yet controlled sound. It comes well-equipped from factory and offers the latest Bluetooth standard, all at just $70 USD. With specification parity with market leaders and a rich audiophile heritage, the S80 represents one of the cheapest enthusiast models on the market. You can read more about the S80 here and buy one for yourself here.



Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Astrotec very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the S80 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.



Accessories –

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The S80 is well packaged as with all Astrotec earphones and also very well equipped for a product of such conservative pricing. Inside the hard box, buyers will find the earphones and charging case alongside a zippered hard case to keep everything protected. In addition, the earphones include two sizes of elongated silicone ear tips not dissimilar to Westone star tips that provide a more reassuring fit. They also provided a slightly brighter sound to my ear as compared to the mushroom style tips included on most TWS earphones and Spinfit CP360’s, a good fit to the S80’s smoother sound. In addition, two sizes of more traditionally shaped silicone tips are provided in addition to a pair of memory foam tips that aid isolation. A USB-C charging cable completes a positive unboxing experience.



Design –

The S80 is a medium-sized and lightweight earphone with plastic housings. Though they don’t possess a premium aesthetic or feel like more expensive competitors, their non-frills design is very smooth in all aspects and achieves a solid fit and seal. Thoughtful additions such as a matte inner face that resist oils from the ear alongside a rubber ring that runs the perimeter provides tactility when removing the earphone from the case aids stability in the ear. Meanwhile, gloss faceplates conceal large capacitive touch control panels.

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They are uniquely shaped with oblong dimensions, however, tapered nozzles and unique elongated ear tips enable the majority of bulk to sit outside the ear, thereby avoiding hotspots. And during wear, the earphones have a medium depth fit and a strong seal that proved stable during runs and workouts. In addition, isolation is very good, on behalf of their ear-filling design and strong seal, easily adequate for public transport, especially with foam tips. Microphone holes are located on the outer faces but do not impede a respectable IPX5 water resistance rating.

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Contrarily, Astrotec’s included carrying case looks quite stunning with chrome lid and linen base. Four LED indicators shine through the fabric but are otherwise concealed for a clean aesthetic. A USB-C charging port is located on the right side of the case. Meanwhile, the hinge is stiff but serviceable with a subtle lockout at end range. The earphones are secured magnetically and charge via 2-pin terminals. The case is a little chunky but is compact in all dimensions and one of the more pocketable I’ve come across.



Usage –

Upon initial removal from the included case, the earphones instantly enter pairing mode with accompanying spoken audio cues that confirm pairing to the source and between each channel. By disabling BT on the paired source, the earphones will be available to pair to more. In addition, both earpieces can be independently paired by holding the touch control for 5s. They support BT5.0 but do not offer APT-X. Still, AAC is available for both Android and Apple sources. Furthermore, connection was rock solid in my testing with no cut-out between sides or from the source device in close proximity. This impression was reinforced in crowded areas such as Sydney CBD where, paired to my Pixel 4, the earphones didn’t stutter or cut-out.

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The S80 also provides very respectable battery life, rated at 5-6hrs with an additional 4 charges from the case totalling 25hrs of playback time. I was able to confidently meet 5hrs of playback time at medium/low volumes. Meanwhile, call quality through the integrated mics is disappointing with callers often reporting that I sounded distant and muffled, in noisy areas, my voice was rendered indiscernible. Astrotec has assured me that this will be an area of focus for their future models, however, those requiring an earphone to handle call and music duties may be disappointed with the S80 in this regard.

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To add fuel to the fire, the touch controls were highly unreliable for me. The single tap to play/pause gesture very rarely functioned while the double tap volume control managed a 30% success rate regardless of tap speed or location. That said, the song skip hold gesture was reliable which is arguably the most convenient. Still, as the earphones lack an aware mode, physical controls or more reliable single-taps would have mitigated much frustration. The earphones lack app integration, however, ultimately provide a simple and, with the exceptions of touch controls, reliable user experience.



Sound –

Tonality –


Though Berrylium drivers tend to provide a more aggressive sound, the S80 is warm and smooth. Its presentation is defined by its powerful bass that feeds into a warm midrange. However, unlike the majority of bass orientated TWS earphones, its high-end is smooth and refined. The result is a sound that can be listened to for extended periods of time or high volumes without fatigue, suitable for listening in noisy environments.



Bass –

Lows extend well and roll-off naturally at the very bottom, providing a more diffuse slam but enabling convincing rumble. Mid-bass holds the spotlight and bass notes are full and warm as a result. Some emphasis continues through the upper-bass reinforcing a warmer and smoother presentation. Control is quite good for this price category and surely represents the quicker decay properties and more textured presentation of Beryllium driver earphones. Mid-bass is slightly tubby though notes remain well-defined and, especially as sub-bass isn’t over present, bass isn’t muddy in the slightest. The S80’s low-end is nicely executed with moderate emphasis and warmth that will be sure to please many listeners so long as you aren’t expecting balance and absolute cleanliness.



Mids –

To counteract the warmth of their low-end, lower-mids receive are slightly recessed, thereby achieving a cleaner midrange tone. Besides this, the tuning here represents a very natural tonality that is only slightly mired by additional warmth from the bass and a very dark middle-treble. A small centre midrange bump brings vocals forward yet, by comparison to the low-end, vocals are still fairly recessed. The 4KHz region is also slightly recessed, providing a dense and smooth presentation. As mids are already on the warmer and fuller side, the S80 runs the risk of sounding a touch thick at times. Still, this tuning yields enjoyable vocal clarity and presence, vocals are well-distinguished from instruments and distinct layers are apparent. Vocals timbre is also respectable for the most part, and will appeal to those wanting an organic and rich presentation.



Highs –

The lower-treble has a well-executed bump centred around 6KHz that provides extra crispness and brings foreground treble details to the fore. The S80 isn’t aggressive, but treble instrumentation has pleasing energy and presence with just slightly enhanced percussion alongside natural shimmer and decay. Meanwhile, the middle-treble is significantly attenuated, providing a pitch-black background upon which foreground elements are easy to localise and differentiate. As such, the S80 comes across as a very clean and composed earphone without a hint of glare or brightness. And, despite its small bump in the lower-treble, the S80 comes across as smooth and very refined. As one would expect, treble extension is very mediocre with no micro-detail or sparkle and background information is just sufficient to remind you that it exists. Still, there is ample detail retrieval here to provide layers and dimension to its presentation.



Soundstage –

As upper-treble extension and background detail retrieval are minimal, the S80 has a fairly intimate soundstage contained mostly within the head. It does, however, provide a well-rounded presentation with good depth and vocal projection. Layers are also well-defined, attributed to a well-focused foreground that sits atop a black background. Instruments are pushed to the side while vocals are strongly centred. Directional cues are clear and the S80 achieves solid separation throughout on behalf of its well-controlled bass and a tuning that isn’t overly sculpted in any other regard.



Comparisons –

Lypertek TEVI ($89): Slightly pricier but a staple audiophile TWS earphone. The TEVI offers a significantly more balanced sound on behalf of its substantially less present bass. The TEVI has more of a sub-bass focus while its mid and upper-bass are neutral. It has a more controlled and defined low-end but the S80 is surprisingly detailed given its substantially greater emphasis. Through the midrange, both are quite similar though the TEVI has more vocal presence and also less bass, sounding cleaner, clearer and more balanced. It too has a 4KHz dip providing very clean, dense vocals similar to the S80, it also never sounds thin as a result of this tuning. The TEVI actually has a recessed lower-treble making it smoother within the foreground. Meanwhile, it has a more emphasized middle-treble giving a bit more headroom and clarity. The TEVI has a more open presentation and it is more separated while the S80 sounds darker, warmer and more layered.

M&D MW07 GO ($199): At almost 3x the price, this is hardly fair, however, seeing as both possess similar driver types, this comparison felt justified. Instantly, the MW07 is more W-shaped. It has better sub-bass extension and, though lows are just as present throughout, the MW07 is more controlled and detailed by a fair margin. It also has a fair less upper-bass so it sounds a little cleaner. The MW07 has a more recessed lower-midrange and a larger centre midrange bump, providing more vocal presence but also a less natural timbre. Meanwhile, the S80 is warmer, thicker and more recessed but also more natural and coherent. The MW07 has a more energetic high-end with a similarly emphasized lower-treble, sounding crisp but also has more headroom and extension. It has more detail retrieval, a larger soundstage and more separation. Meanwhile, the S80 sounds cleaner and more composed with more defined layers.



Verdict –

The advent of TWS was something I was very much excited for at the end of 2018 though a year later, we’re almost seeing saturation with an abundance of models from new and pre-established manufacturers. As such, it’s easy to lose orientation and settle for suboptimal performance. However, as I’ve experimented more with the segment, it seems clear that wireless is not the weakest link in the chain with new TWS earphones hardly resembling the muddy acoustics and generic designs of the first wave. The S80 is no such earphone.

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Though surely generic on the outside and with call capabilities that are little more than specifications on the box, the S80 rewards with a rich and natural sound that has surely received some thoughtful engineering. A solid fit and seal in addition to respectable battery life round off the experience. Of course, those averse to bass will want to pursue an option like the more balanced TEVI while those coming from high-end IEMs fearful of missing technical ability will want to spend more for options like the MW07 earphones. However, at a very conservative price, the S80 provides buyers with reliable connectivity and a natural if bass-focused sound that is clean and impressively controlled.

The S80 can be purchased from Aliexpress for $70 USD. I am not affiliated with Aliexpress or Astrotec and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.

B9Scrambler

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Smooth sound - Connection strength and stability - Battery life
Cons: Finnicky touch controls - Recessed mids - Small stock tips
Greetings,

Today we're checking out Astrotec's newest entry into the truly wireless market, the S80.

The truly wireless (TWS) earphone market has exploded with options in recent years, the blame (or credit) for which many would lay at the feet of the Apple Corporation. While die-hard audiophiles scoff at wireless products thanks to their degraded sound quality vs. their wired counterparts, the average consumer values more than just how something sounds. With TWS, they no longer need to worry about an annoying cable getting caught up on their surroundings, or tangled in their pocket. They don't have to worry about the cable breaking, rendering the product useless. Wireless products certainly come with their own pitfalls, like battery degradation over time, interference from nearby electronics, lossy codecs, among others, but for many the sound quality is easily good enough and the user experience convenient enough to overlook any faults.

Astrotec's previous attempt at TWS, the S60 5.0, was a resounding success in my opinion. They had great battery life despite their compact size, a reliable Bluetooth connection, and a balanced, detailed sound thanks to well-tuned, full-range Knowles balanced armatures. The S80 drops the armatures in favour of a Beryllium-coated dynamic driver with a signature that I feel will appeal to a wider audience, improves battery life, and tosses touch controls into the mix.

Did it end up impressing me as much as the S60? Let's find out.

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What I Hear: The S80 comes rocketing out the gates with a rock solid v-shaped signature courtesy of it's Beryllium drivers. I classify this low end as elevated but not tiringly so. This is exactly the sort of tune I expect from a truly wireless product aiming to please the majority. Bass is big and thumpy without being overbearing and bleeding into the lower mids. It extends well enough into sub-bass regions as heard on Kavinski's “Solli”, with roll off kicking in just before it gives you a particularly visceral rumble. Texture is smooth but detailed with notes hitting quickly and with decent slam. It ends up being suitable for the grimy bass heard on tracks by The Prodigy and Tobacco, but not entirely ideal.

The mid-range is slightly recessed. Female vocals tend to fall on the quiet side leaving male vocals better represented. I really noticed this on Warlock's “Triumph and Agony” album where Doro never stood out the way I was used to. There is little susceptibility towards sibilance, even on tracks like Crystal Method's “Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes)” or Aesop Rock's “Blood Sandwich”, both of which can be aggressively sibilant. Vocals and instruments through the S80 are naturally weighted without sounding overly thin nor dense. Timbre is a positive aspect of the presentation with drums especially having a snappy attack to them that really stands out.

Treble is inoffensively elevated without any significant spikes. Lower treble gets the emphasis with upper treble rolling off politely. This leaves the presentation slightly dry but it retains good detail with well controlled notes. Cymbals aren't splashy and notes are subject to distorting, even at higher volumes than I'm comfortable with. This presentation means that the S80 easily handles the endless smattering of shimmery effects, hi-hats, and other effects that are prominent in EXTE's banger “Endless”.

True wireless gear isn't usually all that great when it comes to sound stage. I'm happy to say the S80 somewhat bucks that trend. While not massive by wired standards, the sound stage on offer here is actually pretty decent. I find it extends just a touch past each side of my head with plenty of depth to keep things feeling more spacious than it otherwise would. Imaging it fine, though nothing spectacular. I certainly wouldn't be using these for gaming, but I have no issues following sounds in bin aural tracks with reasonable accuracy. Thanks to the stage depth, layering is quite good while instrument separation is solid too. The S80 does a good job keeping track elements from melding together.

Overall the S80 provides a quality listening experience. Bass is tight and punchy with decent depth and texture. Mids are smooth and clear with male vocals shining best. Treble is tight and inoffensive with solid detail retrieval. The S80's sound stage is above average for this style of product and with good layering and separation qualities ensures music doesn't come across congested.

Compared to a Peer: For this section the S80 is being pitted against it's older, more affordable counterpart as well as a more feature rich TWS from Sennheiser. It might seem unfair, but the S80 has much in common from both design and sound perspectives and isn't outclassed as much as you would expect given the price difference.

Astrotec S60 5.0 (79.90 USD): The S60 and S80 use very different driver tech and as a result provide quite varied experiences. The S60 has a more balanced signature with notably more prominent mids, though upper and lower end roll off is more prominent. I found the S60 to be more detailed and textured but not as smooth and refined as the S80. The presentation is also smaller and more constrained out of the S60 leaving the S80 more suitable for congested tracks. The S80's general presentation is also thicker and more weighty with epic tracks having more gravitas to them. From a technical standpoint the S60 is superior, but from a straight up listening perspective the S80 is simply more well-rounded and enjoyable. As long as you don't mind the less prominent mids, the S80 is a solid upgrade in most ways from the S60 5.0.

Looking at other aspects, the two products are quite comparable with similarly reliable and strong wireless connections. The S80 gets better battery life at the expense of size and comfort, though that's somewhat personal so others might find the S80 ergonomically superior. Where the S60 clearly gets the nod from me is in the single button interface. I don;t really have to worry about accidental presses and the various functions are more in line with the rest of the industry (ex. Double press to skip a track, long press to change volume).

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless (MTW) (299.95 USD): The MTW is basically an S80 on steroids from both a design and sound perspective. They both have a similarly tuned, v-shaped sound with the MTW's mid-range being more forward. It's a little more detailed everywhere, it's bass digs a little deeper, treble extends further, sound stage a bit wider and deeper, etc. Everything that sounds great through the S80 sounds just that much better through the MTW. Don't take that as a knock against the S80. That it sounds as good as it does against a product costing over 200 USD more, and from a reputable mainstream brand no less, is very impressive.

The MTW's case is covered in grey cloth, though in it's entirety unlike the S80's case which has a chrome lid. I find the S80's two-tone look more stylish, which is aided but a small, more pocketable size. Also in the S80's favour is its more clear battery life indication via the four blue LEDs that shine through the cloth. The MTW's case has a single, tiny multicoloured LED recessed in the IO panel on the back. In terms of features, the MTW has the S80 handily beat thanks to items like Transparent Hearing which introduces your surroundings into the mix and a companion app that handles EQ and firmware updates. While still not ideal, the MTW's touch-based controls were also more reliable and used inputs that were more intuitive and traditional. I'd still rather have a single physical button like on the S60 either way. Again, it is expected that the MTW would provide a better experience given its premium position in the market and in most areas it does. The S80 didn't give up anything to the MTW when it came to connection strength and reliability which is awesome for a more budget oriented product. The MTW's battery is also somewhat sub-par compared to the S80, but in general use and in extended up via the case. While the S80 doesn't sound as good and is less feature rich, it is plenty competitive or even one-ups the MTW in other areas.

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In the Ear: The S80's shells are tidily constructed from light weight plastics. Against your ear is a matte texture which provides some resistance to slippage. A rubber strip that surrounds the edge of the shell also aids in a secure fit and is embossed with left and right markings so you know which ear piece goes where. The exterior half of the shell is a glossy piano black with a silver lining that surrounds the touch pad.

The overall shape is very smooth and ergonomic slotting naturally into the ear, though a longer nozzle would be nice. I'm lucky to have pretty average sized ear canals meaning the stock medium tips that come pre-installed on most earphones work just fine. With the S80 I had to move up to the large angled single flange tips, and even they still required the occasional adjustment to maintain a good seal. Those with large ears are most likely going to need to dip into third party tip alternatives. Even when you do get a good seal, isolation is below average for what I expect from an in-ear monitor. Even with music playing at my typically low volumes, plenty of outside noise finds its way into the mix. If planning to use the S80 in noisy areas, be prepared to raise the volume.

I can't imagine these being considered uncomfortable for the vast majority of buyers thanks to the low weight and curvaceous, form-fitting design. However, if buying these to use while exercising and you typically use large sized tips, be aware that you might need to adjust them fairly routinely to ensure they don't fall out, or look into third party tips to ensure a more secure fit.

Tech Inside: The S80 utilizes touch controls via a pad on the face of each ear piece, a feature that I have a love/hate relationship with. On the plus side, touch controls make it easier to achieve usable dust and water resistance. They also improve comfort since you're not pressing awkwardly on the earphone to activate a multi-function button. Less moving parts also means fewer failure points. On the down side, touch sensitive controls are more prone to accidental presses, such as when inserting or removing the earpiece. These particular controls are also not what I would call intuitive.

Double pressing the right ear piece increase volume, while double pressing the left to decrease is a clumsy implementation of this feature. It's finicky and slow, half the time resulting in pausing the track instead of the intended volume change. Skipping back and forth through tracks requires a double press and hold, a gesture that is usually reserved for volume control. These two functions, volume control and track skipping, really need to have their gestures swapped. Because of this, I more often than not found myself pulling out my phone or dap to change tracks and volume, defeating the purpose of the S80's on-board controls.

While the touch controls could use some fine tuning, the rest of the product is spot on. The segment standard 10m of range is easily achievable in an obstacle free area, only dropping when you bring multiple walls and corners into the equation. I can use them anywhere in my apartment no problem, having to go to extremes to force disconnects since they don't happen in regular use. The S80 holds a strong connection to your source device with only the occasional stutter that plagues nearly every Bluetooth earphone, though it happens less here than on most. Connection quality between each earpiece was, well, perfect. Can't think of a single instance where they “forgot” or disconnected from each other. Overall I find the signal strength excellent while range is as average as it gets.

Battery life is a positive too. I found myself pretty easily exceeding the lowest rated 5 hours, consistently nipping 6 hours when using them indoors in the comfort of my home. The 2 hour charge time and around 25 extra hours of extra play time afforded by the charging case seem accurate, though admittedly I did not officially record those aspects.

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In the Box: Astrotec has been doing a great job of maturing and evolving their packaging over the years with, in my humble opinion, the S80's culminating as the best of the bunch in terms of design. The soft whites and crisp images of the S80's black and grey design contrast nicely and look pleasing to the eye. Branding and model details are subtle and placed around the edges letting the clean look of the S80 and its case draw your attention. This is a professionally designed package that would look right at home in a retail space.

Inside continues to impress with a frosty plastic insert providing basic instructions for pairing and wearing. Beneath the insert was an unexpected surprise. Of the at least eight different truly wireless earphones I've tested over the years that include a charge case, that case has been the only one provided leaving accessories with a lack of storage options beyond the box they came in, or a third party alternative. Astrotec has finally bucked that trend with the S80. Not only do you get an attractive and compact cloth-coated charge case, but also a matching semi-hard clam shell case in which you can store all the included accessories, or whatever else you want to carry along with you. For example, say you want to bring along a spare pair of wired earphones or need a place to store the compact DAP you're connected to while you listen. Now you don't need to buy a separate case. It's certainly not a necessary addition to the S80's accessory kit, but it is a welcome one.

Along with the two cases you also get a USB-C cable for charging and a slew of tips, of which the angled single flange sets will be familiar to S60 owners. Also included is one set of fairly small, shallow foam tips as well as some more traditionally shaped single flange silicone tips. Overall a nice selection of gear; a well constructed charge case with a matching clam-shell care, tips of above average quality, and the USB cable needed for charging. An extra set of even larger tips would be welcome though since what's included is smaller than average.

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Final Thoughts: When Astrotec first dipped their toes into the true wireless game with the S60, I was pleasantly surprised to see them go a different route than most in terms of driver tech. Instead of a dynamic driver, they recruited a single balanced armature from Knowles. While I think this led to one of the better true wireless products I've heard, the resulting tune was something that wouldn't really please your average, bass-loving consumer. The S80 rectifies this with it's use of a beryllium-coated dynamic driver. It has a bigger, bouncier low end and more treble energy lending itself well to modern pop and rock. Add to that a stylish, comfortable design, great battery life, and a strong wireless connection and it makes a strong case for your hard earned dollar. Keeping it from greatness is the touch-based control pad which is appreciably more finnicky than a simple single button setup, as well as a control scheme that could stand to be more intuitive.

If you're in the market for a great sounding true wireless earphone that is imbued with a stylish design, good battery life, and that won't break the bank, the Astrotec S80 might be just the ticket.

Thanks for reading!

- B9

*If you enjoyed this review, visit The Contraptionist for more just like it.*

Disclaimer:

The S80 was provided free of charge by Astrotec for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions and do not represent Astrotec or any other entity. At the time of writing the S80 retailed for 89.00 USD; https://www.astrotecglobal.com/product-page/s80-beryllium-dynamic-driver-true-wireless-earphone

Specifications:
  • Driver: 6mm Beryllium Dynamic
  • Impedance: 16Ω
  • Sensitivity: 98±3 db
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz -25KHz
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.0
  • Range: 10m
  • Support: AAC, CVSD, mSBC, SBC, HFP, HSP, A2DP, AVRCP, SPP, PBAF
  • Earphone Playback Time: 5-6hrs
  • Case Charge Time: 2hrs
  • Earphone Charge Time: 1.5hrs
  • Addition Play Time Via Case: ~20hrs
  • Total Play Time: ~25hrs
  • USB Support: Type-C
  • Earphone Battery Size Per Side: 55mAh
  • Charge Case Battery Size: 500mAh
  • Weight: Single Earphone – 5g / Charge case – 45g
  • Water Resistance: IPX5
Devices used for testing: Shanling M0, LG G6, LG G5, Asus FX53V laptop

Some Test Tunes: Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – screw*d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)
Last edited:

yong_shun

1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Classy and glossy shell
Good sonic performance
Relatively affordable price compared to other models with similar specifications
Cons: Insufficient impact from the lows
The shell is relatively big and this could be an issue for those with small ears
The launch of the S80 shows Astrotec’s desire to provide a high-quality listening experience for audiophiles who value freedom.

Disclaimer
This review is originally posted on Headphonesty. Thank you, Nappoler Hu from HiFiGo for sending me the Astrotec S80. The products were provided to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review and opinion.

Introduction
Astrotec is an in-ear monitors (IEMs) and earbuds manufacturer from China. It was founded in 2002 by several experienced members of the audio industry. Astrotec believes in continuous exploration. Driven by this belief, they produce quality products with cutting-edge technology that ultimately deliver a premium listening experience to users.

The S80 IEM is the second true wireless model from Astrotec. With the experience gained from the first generation (S60), Astrotec aims to deliver well-extended high frequencies, clear, layered mids and rich, articulate bass with Dupont’s 4μm ultra soft Beryllium dynamic drivers. Without further delay, I will introduce you to the new Astrotec S80.

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Unboxing
The packaging of Astrotec S80 is simple yet modern. The white outer sleeve is printed with an Astrotec logo and an image of the S80 with its charging case.

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Removing the sleeve, there is a silver Astrotec logo printed on the grey box. The box is opened from the side. Upon opening the box, you find a matte plastic cover with a basic user manual printed on it that protects the S80.

Users are advised to read and understand the user manual before using S80.

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Removing the plastic user manual, S80 makes her first appearance, shining brightly like a diamond. The S80 is sitting comfortably in the charging case and the package includes an additional case to store accessories like ear tips and the charging cable.

Users find these accessories in the accessory case:
  • Charging cable (Type-C USB)
  • Two pairs of “angled” ear tips (one pre-installed)
  • Three pairs of silicone ear tips
  • A pair of foam ear tips
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Technical Specifications
  • Driver Unit: Beryllium Dynamic Driver
  • Impedance: 16Ω
  • Sensitivity: 98±3 dB
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz -25kHz
  • MIC Type: MEMS
  • Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Transmission Distance: 10m
  • Audio Coding: AAC, CVSD, mSBC, SBC
  • Supported Profile: HFP, HSP, A2DP, AVRCP, SPP, PBAP
  • Earphone Continuous Playback Time: About 5-6hrs
  • Charging Capability Supported By Charging Case: About 4-5 times
  • Earphone Charging Time: About 1.5 hrs
  • Charging Case Charging Time: About 2 hours
  • Charging Case Charging Method: Type-C USB
Build
The S80 has a glossy and shiny faceplate that doubles as a control panel. This is a full touch control panel (explained in full later on). The glossy surface looks attractive; however, the surface tends to “collect” fingerprints and this makes the surface oily after usage.

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The nozzle is relatively short compared to conventional in-ear monitor nozzles. With wireless earbuds increasing in popularity, there are now more choices for ear tips, but you still won’t have as many rolling options as a traditional IEM. That said, most of the true wireless ear tips such as SpinFit CP100z and CP360 fit pretty well on S80.

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The charging case is pocket friendly. I keep it in my pocket when I am commuting and I do not find it uncomfortable. The surface of the lid is shiny - literally like a mirror. Unfortunately, this creates the same issue as the glossy faceplate: it’s a fingerprint-magnet.

The bottom part is covered by a grey cloth-like texture. This lends it a classy and modern appearance. Users can find the USB Type-C charging port at the side of the charging case.

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Fit and Isolation
The size of S80 is considerably bigger compared to some other recent releases such as Aviot TE-D01G, Mavin Air-X and Advanced Sound Model X. This could be an issue for those with small ears. I have a big ears, so I do not have any issues inserting the S80 and wearing it for hours.

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Isolation wise, none of the ear tips provided in the box gave sufficient isolation for my weird ear canals. I explored other aftermarket ear tips and eventually found that the Sony EP-EX10A ear tips fit me the best. I can happily listen to my music when I am commuting, without getting disturbed by the hustle and bustle of the noisy city.

Connectivity
Before writing this review, I owned Sony WF-SP700N and used it mostly for sports purposes. I totally understand the potential frustration of intermittent signals due to interference. I frequently experience signal cut-off with my Sony when running near traffic lights and railway tracks.


By using Bluetooth version 5.0, the S80 provides a more stable connection than my Sony. This is something I need from a wireless earbud and I believe this is a good selling point for S80. With the AAC codec and paired with my iPhone, I can happily walk around the city without getting interference from the environment. Well done, Astrotec!

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Durability
The S80 carries an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of IPX5. With IPX5, users can safely use the S80 for sports purposes because it is tested to withstand sweat and light splashes of water.

IP (or "Ingress Protection") ratings are defined in international standard EN 60529 (British BS EN 60529:1992, European IEC 60509:1989). They are used to define levels of sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures against intrusion from foreign bodies (tools, dirt etc) and moisture.

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Functionality
As mentioned earlier in this review, there are touch sensor control panels embedded in the S80. Users can use the following gestures to trigger actions:
  • Play / Pause: Single tap on either side
  • Increase / decrease volume: Double tap on left to decrease and right to increase
  • Changing track: Touch and hold on the left panel to go back to the previous track or right panel to go to the next track
These functions are useful especially when users are working out. However, I find the touch sensor to be slightly too sensitive. I frequently pause or play the song by accident when I am adjusting the fit.

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Pairing
During the three weeks review period, I paired Astrotec S80 with my iPhone XR through AAC codec. I used Sony EP-EX10A ear tips, so I cannot comment on the provided ear tips.

Sound
After looking closely at the physical attributes of S80, now let’s look into what the S80 delivers in terms of sound performance. In general, the S80 has a slightly warm sound signature that is comfortable for long listening. The soundstage is moderately wide and deep.

The amplifiers embedded in the earbuds are sufficiently powerful to generate a good audible level without pushing the volume to the max. On my iPhone XR, I need around 50% of the volume to get a good audible level.

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Lows
The S80 has good body in the lows. The sub-bass kicks in accurately when called upon. After thumping the eardrums, the sub-bass excuses itself slowly. This slow decay injects some warmth into the sound signature.

"As a Sony user, I find the sub-bass extension to be shy on the S80."

I would appreciate deeper extension more than the S80’s tuning, which emphasizes the mid-bass. The slightly slow decay speed in the mid-bass bleeds subtly into the mids. However, the decay speed also helps smooth the transition from lows to the mids, so it’s a subjective trade-off.

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Mids
"The mids are where I love S80 the most, making it my first choice in a true wireless earbud in the USD $100 price range."

The mids are meaty and juicy like a medium-cooked sirloin steak. I am a Mandopop fan and the mids could be the most important frequency region for Mandopop. The S80’s warmth from the lows is carried forward to the mids due to the slight bleeding in the mid-bass. This warmth injects good emotions into male vocals.

Moving forward to the upper-mids, the warmth recedes and the overall turning is airy and spacious. This results in sweet sounding female vocals. Everything about the mids hits the sweet spot and they perform flawlessly to serve my needs.

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Highs
Similar to most of the true wireless earbuds I have auditioned in the market, the highs of S80 rolled off slightly early. This is another reason for the overall warm sound signature. As a Campfire Audio Nova user for many years, early roll-off in the highs is an issue I am used to. That said, while not an issue for me, other users should not expect sparkling highs from the S80.

Although there is roll-off in the highs, the overall space and air created by the highs is still sufficient to yield a good fidelity and resolution. The details are delivered in an accurate manner without distortion. I would rather choose highs that roll off earlier than an uncontrolled treble.

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Conclusion
The S80 retails for USD $89.00. It can be purchased through HiFiGo.

The Astrotec S80 is a great choice for audiophiles who are looking for affordable true wireless earbuds. This could be one of the most affordable true wireless earbuds on the market that features both Bluetooth version 5.0 and a touch sensor enabled control panel. Despite the freedom given, the S80 is able to preserve good sonic performance and fulfill your high-quality audio cravings.
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