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Westone W80 Eight-Driver System with Dual Bass, Dual Mid, and Quad High (78508)

  • This premier six-driver system with a three-way crossover yields the nest audio available today from any earphone. The W60 features dual drivers for the high frequencies, the midrange and the bass, producing a powerful yet balanced sound that offers great detail and high energy output. Recommended for personal audio and video devices.

Recent Reviews

  1. Koolpep
    Finally the flagship from Westone I waited for
    Written by Koolpep
    Published Feb 20, 2017
    Pros - Comfort, sound quality, soundstage, fatigue free
    Cons - Price, sound leaks a bit
    Weston W80 Review
    Disclaimer: The W80 was loaned to me by the local distributor www.samma3a.com - I have to return it, I have not received any incentive, financial or otherwise for this review.
    Westone - a brand with a rich legacy besides their hearing aid business, they have been around for many years (1959 to be exact), they have produced in-ear monitors for Shure and Ultimate Ears in the past and have a very successful custom in-ear range themselves, with some of the best musicians in the world using their CIEMs on stage. Let’s see what Westone has achieved with this new flagship in their universal fit range.
    The W80 has 8 drivers in each ear piece.  
    I listened to FLAC, AAC and mp3 music. The W80 was mostly connected to my ifi iDSD nano or micro, the Cavalli Audio Liquid Carbon and the Hifiman HM-901 with balanced card. I switched cables from both supplied cables to Linum Bax and Moon Audio Silver Dragon v1 balanced cable.
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     Manufacture’s Specifications
        •    Type: Sound Isolation earphone (IEM
        •    Drivers Size:
        •    Drivers Type: 8 balanced armature drivers with a 3-way crossover (dual bass,             dual mids, quad high)
        •    Frequency Response: 5-22000 Hz
        •    Sensitivity: 111 dB SPL @ 1 mW
        •    Impedance: 5 Ω at 1kHz
        •    Microphone sensitivity:NA 
        •    Maximum Input: NA
        •    Cable Length: 132cm 
        •    Weight with cable: 12.7 g
        •    Connecter: 3.5 mm with 90 degree jack
        •    Warranty: 2 Years 
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    What has changed form the previous flagship W60? Well, these are STILL one of the comfiest in-ears ever. They are smaller (!!!!) and still house two more drivers now than the W60 to reach the 8 driver per ear count. A pretty impressive engineering feat. The 8 drivers in each ear come with a 3 way crossover. The drivers are in the following configuration: 2 for the bass, 2 for the mids and 4 for the treble. The design plates (color) can be exchanged so you can give the W80 a more unique look or match it to your outfit or other preferences.
    Build quality
    They are light and they feature a replaceable cable with a MMCX connector. Everything feels sturdy and light. Comfort, usability and sound quality are the top priorities for Westone. That’s why they chose a robust plastic construction over a metal one. They are never uncomfortable to touch and once inserted they completely “disappear”.
    These just slip into my ears and after seconds I can honestly say that I don’t feel them anymore. These can be worn for hours a without any complaints. You can even sleep with them and lay down on your ears with them. I have not experienced any other in-ear to do that with besides my custom in-ears. They are like small beans that just slip in your ears. They sit well, don’t fall out with the right tips, just super comfortable.
    Supplied accessories
    In the Box: Exchangeable silver, gold, red, and new blue color faceplates are included with secure attachment. Five sizes of patented STAR™ silicone ear tips and five sizes of premium True-Fit™ comfort foam ear tips, MFi three button cable, an ALO Audio upgrade cable, Premium Deluxe Carrying Case, Premium Small Carrying Case, cleaning tool and cleaning cloth.
    All accessories are top notch - lovely well design small and extra large carrying case, you even get the ALO Audio Reference 8 Cable in addition to the Made for iPhone microphone and remote cable. It is pretty much the “all you need” package.
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    Now. The one small complaint I had with Westones in the past was the slight lack of treble sparkle. Ok, it was very easy to just boost the treble slightly with the help of a equalizer but I would have preferred it right in “standard” mode. And voilà - the W80 does exactly that. They have the same full and organic bottom end (if not a bit more, which I really like) - the lush mids and now as well absolutely natural treble that is still fatigue free but has the sparkle that I missed before with the UmPro50 and W60. 
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    Sound Stage and instruments separations
    Like the W60 before, everything is perfectly balanced, without being boring and too neutral. The two sound engineers (twin brothers) that worked for years on this flagship earphone, have really created a masterpiece. The soundstage is realistic and wide, it’s reference level and organic. It’s liquid gold in your ears, a quote stolen from Tyll :wink:
    Pros & Cons
    1. Sound quality 
    2. Comfort
    3. Soundstage
    4. Balance
    5. Heritage of Westone shines in every facet
    6. Fatigue free, reference level, immersive sound
    7. Accessories
    1. Price
    2. the leak sound a bit
    1. Comfort                       10/10
    2. Sound Quality             10/10
    3. Design                        10/10
    4. Durability                    8/10
    5. Value for Money         8/10
    No other flagship in-ear is as comfortable. The accuracy of the sound reproduction is absolutely terrific. The soundstage is extensive without being artificial. 
    The only cons of this earphone are:
    1) the price - $1,499 is quite something
    2) sound leaking - listening in bed, my wife complaint she could hear music playing - this is weird for in-ears of this caliber
    In comparison to the W60, which still remains in the line-up, you gain: more energy, more clarity, smooth organic sound, and even more detail. I wouldn’t call this the most analytical in-ear. It’s meant for musical enjoyment and does not have the absolute brutal honesty of some very analytical earphones. The soundstage is wider than the W60, bass is more “tight”, dynamic and full, overall the sound is a bit more forward than the W60.
    Yes, they are pricey. But are they worth it? Yes. If your goal is to get the best universal in ear with the most organic and true to life music reproduction, plenty of accessories, a beautiful upgrade cable from ALO audio in the box (that is quite microphonic though), in-ears that are comfortable and were created by a company with a heritage of 50+ years that really knows what they are doing.… This is it. 
    So, does the W80 play in the same league as my Noble K10 (the discontinued version not the Encore)? You bet! Will I run and buy it. I wish I could, but currently it seems I won't run, but rather walk quite leisurely. But I am pretty convinced that I will be owning one in the foreseeable future and it will be my next favorite in-ear for quite some time to come. I was close to buying the W60 and UmPro50, but the treble held me back. Now, with this issue gone....It's everything I want and it does nothing wrong (well, a tiny bit with the sound leakage...). Yep, this is my next....5 of 5 stars!
    UPDATE (22Feb2017): After a lot of back and forth between the K10 (discontinued, replaced by the K10 Encore) and the W80 - I am again undecided. With some tracks the W80 wins, and then the K10 comes back and steals the show with other tracks. It seems that their differences would warrant to have both? The K10 does get more detailed, the W80 has the more interesting lower end and comfort. Tough call. If I only could have one....I simply cannot decide.
    UPDATE (06Mar2017): Fell in love again with my K10 - with the foam tips and the JDSLabs C5D amp on bass boost low - it comes as close to perfect as ever.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. 4agze
      holy moly at the price tag... 
      4agze, Feb 21, 2017
    3. Koolpep
      @xsamurai Thanks!! @beowulf they don't leak that much, but it is noticeable in a very quiet environment. I don't have the Shure or Andromeda, so I hope someone else can pitch in.
      Koolpep, Feb 21, 2017
    4. stormmilk
      Great. Now it's the time for shure to introduce their newly designed se958 for the competition.
      stormmilk, Feb 23, 2017
  2. twister6
    The Next Gen at its Best!
    Written by twister6
    Published Dec 14, 2016
    Pros - re-tuned sound w/more clarity and higher resolution, very compact shell, premium ALO 8-braid hybrid cable, new accessories & travel case
    Cons - price, new cable has some microphonics.

    The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.  The review was originally posted on my blog, and now I would like to share it with all of my readers on Head-fi.
    Manufacturer website: Westone, for sale on Amazon.
    *click on pictures to expand.

    It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to introduce new earphone models or to refresh their current lineup at least once a year.  But this doesn’t always apply to TOTL flagships where sometimes on the surface it might not even look like a big update, but under the hood you will find years of research and development.  In the last few years I have tested and reviewed many different Westone products and continued to inquire if Cartwright brothers (the force behind Westone sound tuning) are cooking anything new to keep up with driver wars.  The mere fact that until now W60 and ES60 flagships maxed out at 6 drivers shows Westone priority of sound tuning over the driver count while still keeping the ergonomics of their slim bean shape universal fit design (W-series).
    I never got a confirmation or a denial if we are going to see the next flagship with more drivers, so it came as a surprise when out of the blue I heard about W80 model.  2016 has been a busy year for Westone with introduction of a new AM Pro series and then BT Wireless Cable.  I was almost certain that if new flagship is in the works, we won’t find out until CES, but glad to be proven wrong after spending the last few months with W80 review unit.  This is a big release for Westone, a step forward outside of their typical sound signature comfort zone, a release with all new packaging and accessories, including a premium aftermarket cable.  A release that could have been worthy of company’s 60th anniversary which is a few years away, but I’m glad they let us have it now, so let’s check it out!
    When it comes to the packaging, I always found Westone to have a premium presentation, but it was the same for every model from the entry level to the flagship.  I’m sure Westone received plenty of feedback about it, and as a result the new W80 packaging was redesigned from a ground up.  Furthermore, it doesn’t just carry the Signature Series name, but also has Karl Cartwright actual signature all over it – like personalized autographed collectible memorabilia.
    Instead of the usual sleeve cover, here you will find a top and a bottom cardboard box halves with a narrow gap at the joint in the front where the “light” of the inner orange box shines through, the Westone signature color.  But before peeling the onion layer of the outer box, there is plenty of info about the product to get yourself acknowledged with.  From the bold silver Signature Series W80 and Westone logo on the front, to a detailed description of the design, the key features, the accessories, and the comprehensive tech spec – you can get all this info from the outer box shell.  There is also a Frequency Response curve, though it's probably a compensated graph rather than a raw measurement.
    With the outer shell off, get your sunglasses before you gaze at the bright orange box personalized with Karl Cartwright signature and a quote: “The quality of the sound is the most important consideration.  Without that first priority met, no other consideration is relevant”.  If you want to learn more about this legendary sound engineer who has been with Westone for over 25 years, read his interview with HiFiPlus from last year: http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/interview-karl-cartwright-westone/ - a very interesting read.
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    While reading about included accessories I saw a mentioning of Premium Deluxe Carrying case, so when I flipped the cover of the inner orange box open I was expecting to find a fancy leather case.  Instead, sitting tight in a foam cutout there was a rather large (8" x 5.5" x 2.5") black case covered in a rugged ballistic material.  After unzipping it and spending a few minutes looking inside, I quickly realized the premium functionality of this deluxe carrying case.  I think many of us have expectation of "premium" when referring to luxurious materials, while in this case, no pun intended, it was all about the premium deluxe functionality.
    One side of the case has 3 fixed partitions with an elastic nylon cover to keep the stored content secure.  The partitions itself are large enough to store your IEM with a cable (enough room for W80 w/Ref8), maybe an extra cable, and even all the provided eartips.   In the middle you will find a divider/partition, which you can flip over, with a soft felt material on one side and a storage pocket and elastic band on the other side.  I found it to be convenient for storage of uSD/SD cards, or credit cards and a few bills.  The other side of the case had one large opening with a small removable case for IEMs (the same ballistic material shell), and 2 Velcro divider strips to make custom partitions for your DAP/DAC/amp.
    This is a clever design for those who are on the go and want to have one highly functional storage case.  I was able to customize partitions to fit two of my smaller DAPs side-by-side (AK120ii and LPG) and still had enough room for eartips.  Another partition arrangement had plenty of room for a larger DAP (Opus#2) and a roomy pocket for W80 with Ref8 cable.  I do like this case, very functional, but just wish it would have a handle to carry it around.
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    There was also a removable foam spool where W80 was stored.  Not sure if anybody would continue using it after the unboxing, but it was good for a secure storage with a nice presentation of IEMs once you open the box.  Inside of the flip divider I found a premium piece of soft cloth, the same one Westone includes with their ES series, intended to wipe IEM shell.  And of course, there was a full set of Westone traditional eartips.
    It’s a comprehensive set of custom eartips Westone includes with all of their universal IEMs.  With their roots in Professional Hearing earpiece design, Westone put years of their research experience into design of these patented Star and True-Fit tips. Included were 5 pairs of Star silicone tips that conform naturally to any ear anatomy, with each pair distinguished by a different core color for an easy pair up.  Also, you get 5 pairs of True-Fit memory foam eartips with a medium recovery property, not too soft or too springy to ensure the maximum seal and comfort when they expand inside of your ear canal.  Earwax remover was included as well.
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    Also included were interchangeable faceplates to customize the look of Westone universal shell.  At some point after the initial introduction, Westone improved their faceplates with a more robust design while keeping the same overall exterior shape, but W80 took it to the next level with all new updated slimmer shape.  You get 4 different color pairs (red, blue, grey, and copper), and they still require a screw in order to secure them to a shell with a provided tool.  The big difference now, these faceplates are slimmer and shorter which makes them more flush while hugging the shell tighter with a less chance of a flex around the edges.  In my opinion, it does look even more robust and sturdier.
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    The cables.
    Those familiar with Westone product line are now have come to expect two sets of Epic cables with every pair of their IEMs: one audio only and another with in-line remote.  W80 still includes both, Epic G2 cable with in-line remote and audio only which is now a premium aftermarket cable from ALO Audio ($300 bonus).
    Epic G2 cable has a robust rounded rubbery shielding, still soft and flexible, and comes with in-line remote/mic.  The headphone connector is right angled with a nice rubbery housing mold, and mmcx connector is their Next Gen "MMCX Audio" type which they already introduced in AM Pro and BT Cable - a more robust and secure attachment to the connector socket of the shell.  Though multi-function button on remote is OS independent and can be used for Play/Pause/Call, the volume up/down is for iOS only.  Westone also offers a similar optional cable (Android version) with universal remote where volume buttons are removed to eliminate the confusion.  I have mentioned before that in my opinion the remote could have been smaller by using only a single multi-function button for universal operation.  But either way, those who want to use their W80 with a smartphone will find it convenient.
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    Without a doubt, one of the highlights of W80 release is a bundled ALO Audio premium hybrid cable.  This cable has 8-braid design with 4 high purity silver plated copper (SPC) conductors and 4 OCC copper conductors in FEP jackets keeping wires sealed and protected from oxidation.  Despite 8 braided conductors, the cable is still relatively thin and supple, but not as soft and has some memory effect where the wires become a little springy after being wrapped for storage.  Also, expect some microphonics, where shirt clip can come handy.  The cable has a rubbery right angle gold plated connector with a nice grip, and I found it to be tall enough to work with any DAP or smartphone in a case.  Y-splitter looks like a slim metal capsule with a rubber chin-slider which slides right into the splitter.  Housing of mmcx connector is plastic, but not slippery, and it has Red/Blue id dots along with R/L marking.  There is a memory wire surrounded by shrink-wrapped tube which could be shaped into an earhook.
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    The Ref8 cable definitely looks great and very comfortable to wear, but that wasn't the only reason why Westone choose to feature it with their new flagship design.  The main reasoning behind using this cable was due to its sonic capability which really comes alive after about 100hrs of burn in.  I will talk in more details about the actual sound in Sound Analysis section of the review, but to demonstrate what Ref8 brings to the table, I compared it to a few other cables in my collection, including Westone's original Epic audio cable.
    Ref8 vs Epic (OFC) – With Ref8 you can hear a lift throughout lows and mids, while treble remains the same.  The first big noticeable change is the expansion of soundstage width, the sound becomes wider, wrapping around you.  Both sub-bass and mid-bass gets lifted and become more energetic and better defined.  If you want a more neutral sound, better stay with Epic cable since it keeps the overall frequency spectrum more balanced, while Ref8 lifts both sub- and mid-bass up with more rumble and tighter and faster punch.  It does the same to the mids, from lower mids to upper mids, giving more body to the sound and a little more clarity to the vocals.  With bass slightly elevated, you get vocals pushed a little back while with Epic cable the bass and the mids are more balanced, but not as energetic.
    Ref8 vs BaX (SPC Litz) - BaX has a more balanced signature and a more neutral sub-bass and mid-bass, but the sound is a little less transparent and not as much in your face.  Ref8 adds more energy to the sound, with a noticeable lift of the low end and a wider soundstage expansion.  Ref8 lifts up a shade of veil from the sound, but at the same time, due to lower resistance which results in higher volume, the hissing is also a bit higher.
    Ref8 vs Super BaX (SPC Litz) - Ref8 soundstage is a little wider, also mids and treble are nearly identical, the difference is in sub-/mid-bass where Ref8 is better defined, tighter, more articulate, and has a little more quantity.
    Ref8 vs ALO (SPC Litz) - The soundstage expansion is almost the same, but ALO SPC sound is a little more balanced while Ref8 has more sub-bass and mid-bass quantity, the bass is more articulate, and lower mids have more body.
    Ref8 vs TWag v3 (Pure silver) - TWag soundstage width is a little narrower; TWag adds a little more sub-bass in comparison to Ref8, while both have a similar mid-bass quantity lift.  With Ref8 the bass is faster and more articulate.  Also, TWag v3 lower mids are a little thicker with more body.  Overall, I heard sound being a little more transparent and slightly more detailed with Ref8.
    Bottom line, after hearing the sound potential of W80 with Ref8 cable, it's hard to go back to any other cable.  Just keep in mind, this cable does benefit from a burn in, so wait before you start evaluating the sound.  Another important point I brought up in my previous Westone reviews, their Epic cables with MMCX audio connector have a slightly shorter profile so it won’t fit other universal mmcx connector shells, but ANY universal mmcx connector cable will work with Westone IEMs.  As an example, ALO Ref8 cable has universal mmcx connectors which you can use with any IEM/CIEM, not just Westone.
    When it comes to a design, you can’t help but to compare it to their previous W60 flagship.  It still has a small bean shape shell that goes flush in your ears and comfortable enough to wear even when you put your head on the pillow with ear facing down.  The construction is very similar too, all plastic (in black), durable build, and similar idea behind interchangeable faceplate to personalize the appearance.  As a matter of fact, I have it with Red faceplate on the right side and Blue on the left side for a quick id.  Obviously shells are not symmetric where you can confuse them by jamming the wrong earpiece in, but visual color ID never hurts.  And just like with previous W-models, you get a thin extended plastic nozzle which might look fragile from a distance but feels sturdy in your hands.
    Actually, when you put W60 and W80 side-by-side, W80 looks a little slimmer with a flatter surface facing toward the ear.  With an exception of faceplate, it looks and shaped nearly the same as W60, until you realize a big difference – two more drivers stuffed inside of it!  Having a small W60 shell with 6 drivers was impressive, but now you got 8 Balanced Armature drivers, partitioned into Dual bass, Dual mids, and Quad highs along with a 3-way crossover all stuffed inside a tiny shell.  I have reviewed many IEMs, and can say with certainty this is the smallest and one of the most comfortable shells considering the amount of drivers stuffed inside of it.
    Another interesting observation when it comes to a difference between W60 and W80 design is the seam joint around mmcx connector socket.  In W60 and other W-series models that seam wasn’t straight and instead overlapped and angled which generated a confusion with people who assumed there was a crack.  W80 eliminated this confusion by having a straight non-overlapping joint.  Also, on the inner side of the shell there is a clear bold L and R marking with a circle, so it’s clear as night’n’day which side is which.  And as I mentioned before, you can take it a step further by using different color faceplates.
    The topic of plastic shell material always comes up in many discussions on Head-fi as well as messages I receive from my readers.  Many people feel that flagship IEM should have premium type of material, similar to how many will expect a Premium case to have “luxury material”.  I don’t know the exact thinking that went behind Westone decisions about W80 design and packaging, but it’s clear to me they had a higher priority to continue with a lightweight small rounded shells instead of adding the weight of premium material or changing the shell size.  If you want something fancy, you could look into customizable design of ES60 CIEM.  W80 is not going to have the appeal of flashy TOTL design, but it’s the smallest and the most comfortable 8-driver universal IEM you will come across, and that is not a subjective but actually an objective opinion.
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    W60 vs W80 shell "joint"
    The fit.
    Sound Analysis.
    W80 finally took a step forward, away from their traditional house tuning of warm and lush tonality with a laidback signature, and right into the new Signature that takes W-series to the next level with evenly balanced and more revealing sound sig and a natural smooth tonality.  Every ingredient of the original W60 tuning formula is still there but now it has been refined to a level which makes W80 a few steps closer to their ES audiophile series.  Actually, a better way to describe it would be by saying that W80 took the best of W60 and ES60 and supercharged it with 2 additional drivers and a custom Ref8 hybrid cable from ALO Audio.  Now you have the best of both worlds with a smooth natural tonality of fatigue-free listening, a better shaped articulate bass, and the new level of clarity and detail retrieval which lifted a veil of lush blanket covering the upper mids.
    I typically like to analyze IEM/CIEM sound with a stock cable, while in this case it happens to be a premium aftermarket cable which I used in all of my testing by default.  Here is how I hear W80.
    The low end has a deep sub-bass extension with a warm textured rumble in moderate quantity.  Sub-bass here is definitely above neutral level, and it's not just about the quality, but also the quantity which adds just enough weight to give more body to a tight mid-bass which punches right through the mix.  The speed of the bass is somewhere between a traditional slower dynamic driver performance with a slower attack and decay and a faster BA driver with a shorter attack/decay.  In my opinion, it's closer to a faster BA performance, but still maintains that analog feeling typical of dynamic drivers.  The bass is tight and articulate, and under control without spilling into lower mids.
    Lower mids have a nice body, not too thick or too thin, but definitely above neutral level which helps to maintain an overall clarity where sound never feels muddy or congested.  Upper mids is where Westone made the biggest step forward in their tuning by bringing them more forward with a higher definition while still maintaining a balanced tuning and not pushing it too forward where you can fall a victim of harshness and sibilance.  Upper mids are still under control of smooth organic details, but the level of detail retrieval and transparency went up.  It's especially noticeable when you listen closer to vocals which now have more energy, more power, and better definition.
    Treble is extended yet still under control with a good definition and airy sparkle that never feels piercing or sibilant.  It has just enough extension to allow cymbal crashes to sound natural without any premature roll off, and to add enough airiness to improve layering and separation of the sounds, and to underline vocal details which never get congested.
    Don't expect the level of transparency and sound separation found in analytically-tuned IEMs/CIEMs, but W80 definitely broke the mold of W60 by keeping the smoothness and shattering the lushness with an improved separation of instruments and vocals to easily distinguish every sound in order to prevent congestion and muddiness which can be sometime associated with lush laidback sound.
    Soundstage width is super wide but the depth is more on an average level, more intimate.  This creates a wide spread staging that just wraps around you and brings you closer to the music, instead of a holographic 3D effect which projects the sound out of your head.  With such wide stage, you can also enjoy benefits of excellent imaging that has an accurate placement of instruments and vocals with a convincing positioning to pin-point every sound.
    A direct sound analysis is very important, but due to some discrepancies in how we hear and describe the sound, I find sound comparison to be equally valuable where many people can relate to how a new pair sounds relative to another set of IEMs and if it will be a worthy upgrade.  I do volume match by ear and use a stock cable, unless noted otherwise.
    W80 vs W60 - Due to a higher level of transparency and detail retrieval, W80 soundstage has a wider perception.  This could also be due to Ref8 cable which I found to give more 3D expansion to the sound.  When it comes to low end quantity, both are on the same level but quality wise there is a very noticeable difference.  W80 bass is faster, tighter, more articulate, and has more control with better separation from lower mids.  On contrary, W60 bass is slower and a little more bloated in comparison to W80 w/Ref8.  Lower mids are very similar with a full body, but upward from there W60 mids and especially upper mids are pulled back in comparison to W80.  It's very noticeable in 4k-8k region responsible for definition of the instruments and vocals.  The treble definition is very similar, but upper mids difference is what sets laid back lush signature of W60 from a more balanced and forward detailed signature of W80.
    W80 vs UMPro50 - The wider soundstage of W80 is the first noticeable change to differentiate these two.  They both have a similar sub-bass but mid-bass of UMPro50 actually has a stronger punch with a little higher quantity.  But regardless of similarities and difference in bass quantity, W80 w/Ref8 still has a tighter and more articulate faster bass with a better control and separation from lower mids.  Lower mids are similar with a full body sound, while similar to W60 tuning, UMPro50 upper mids pulled a little back and don't have as high level of definition in comparison to a more forward balanced W80 upper mids.  All these changes are especially noticeable when analyzing vocals where going from UMPro50 to W80 feels like a layer of veil was lifted off.  Treble has a similar definition and sparkle, though I feel W80 has a little more airiness.
    W80 vs ES60 - ES60 sounds is a little wider, finally someone can challenge W80!  The bass has a similar quality being tighter, faster, and more articulate with a great control to separate from lower mids, but W80 w/Ref8 has a deeper sub-bass rumble and more noticeable impact in the mid-bass.  When it comes to lower mids, while W80 has a fuller body and sounds a bit thicker in comparison, ES60 is leaner and maybe a little south of neutral.  ES60 upper mids are more forward with higher definition and more transparency, while W80 have more body and a little smoother which gives them a more organic feeling in comparison.  Also, ES60 treble is a little brighter and with a touch more airiness.  When you compare W80 to ES60, ES60 is more reference quality while W80 is more fun.  I would definitely position W80 tuning to be somewhere in between W60 and ES60 where it borrows the best from both and enhances it with Ref8 cable.
    W80 vs S-EM9 w/Thor II+ - EM9 has a little more holographic soundstage with more width/depth, not significantly, but noticeable.  EM9 has a little more sub-bass quantity, while mid-bass is very similar, but I still hear an overall bass to be tighter and more articulate in W80 w/Ref8 due to a little faster speed.  Lower mids are a little leaner, closer to neutral in EM9 while W80 has a little more body.  Upper mids are a little more forward and more revealing in EM9, while W80 is a little smoother and more organic in comparison.  Treble is very similar in both.  Overall, these two have more similarities than differences.
    W80 vs U12 w/B1 and TWau - W80 has a noticeable wider soundstage while U12 has more depth.  U12 has heftier sub-bass and a little harder mid-bass punch, but W80 bass is tighter and more articulate (and faster), and has better control where I hear U12 has a little more spillage into lower mids.  U12 lower mids have more body and sound thicker and upper mids are smoother and lusher, while W80 upper mids are more upfront and better defined with more details.  Both have a similar treble extension and sparkle.  Difference between W80 and U12 reminded me a lot of the comparison between W80 and W60.
    W80 vs UERR - Both have a very similar soundstage width, though UERR has a little more depth and a touch more width.  Low end in here, as expected, is night'n'day difference where W80 has a deeper extension with high quantity of sub-bass and stronger mid-bass punch, while UERR is all about the neutral quality.  Lower mids of UERR are more neutral while W80 has a little more body, but not a huge difference, and when it comes to upper mids I feel UERR being just a little leaner but otherwise they have a very similar level of detail retrieval and transparency.  Both have a very similar treble sparkle and airiness.  Since UERR is about to be available in universal fit with mmcx connector, it makes me curious how its performance will scale up with Ref8 cable, though I don't expect a miracle with low end boost.
    W80 vs Andromeda - Both have a very similar soundstage width, with Andro having a touch more depth.  Low end also has a lot of similarities though I hear Andro sub-bass going a little bit deeper and mid-bass punching a little harder, while I find W80 bass to be tighter.  Lower mids are very similar, while upper mids in Andro are a little more upfront and brighter in tonality, while W80 is a little smoother.  Treble is where you get more difference with Andro being brighter, crispier, and having noticeable more airiness, while W80 is still crisp and well defined, but scaled back in comparison.
    W80 vs K10UA - W80 soundstage is a little bit wider while both have the same depth.  Low end is very similar, if not nearly the same when it comes to sub-bass rumble and fast mid-bass punch, and I hear both being tight and articulate.  K10UA lower mids are a little leaner, more neutral while W80 have a little more body, and upper mids in K10UA are brighter and more upfront while W80 is a smoother and a little more organic in comparison.  Treble in both cases is very similar with the same extension, definition, and sparkle.
    Westone family:
    westone_w80-45.jpg   westone_w80-46.jpg
    In my opinion, the synergy of pair up with a right source is very important, and that’s where Sensitivity and Impedance parameters play their significant role, especially when it comes to hissing.  Also, gotta keep in mind the cable which could play an important part in sound equation.  W80 has a decent average sensitivity of 111 dB/mW, but the impedance is down to 5 ohms, which in some cases would be a red flag for excessive hissing.  It did vary across different sources, and I indicated that in my analysis below on a hissing scale of: noticeable > mild > faint.  But in many cases it wasn’t too bad at all.  Also, during my testing I always try my best to volume match by ear.
    Opus#2 - balanced detailed sound with a deep sub-bass rumble, moderately paced mid-bass punch, fuller body transparent mids with a natural retrieval of details, and well defined treble sparkle.  Soundstage is very wide with an average depth.  Mild hissing.
    Opus#1 - very similar to Opus#2 sound sig with a narrower soundstage (still above average) and less transparency.  Mild hissing.
    LPG - balanced sound with a deep sub-bass and a higher impact level of mid-bass punch.  More neutral lower mids and transparent detailed upper mids, and well defined treble sparkle.  Soundstage is wide with an average depth.  Noticeable hissing.
    AK120ii - balanced sound with a deep sub-bass and aggressive mid-bass punch.  Lower mids have more body and upper mids are detailed, yet smooth and natural.  Treble is well defined and with a nice sparkle.  In comparison to Opus and LPG, the sound is not as transparent.  There is a faint hissing.
    Plenue M2 - a very balanced sound with a deep sub-bass and a faster mid-bass punch.  Lower mids are closer to neutral and upper mids are revealing and detailed.  Treble is well defined and with a nice sparkle.  Soundstage is very wide and deep.  There is a faint hissing.  The sound really scales up with JetEffects BBE Headphone 2 preset which takes W80 to a whole new level.
    FiiO X7 w/AM2 - a balanced sound with a slight low end tilt.  Sub-bass doesn’t go deep and actually has a little more impact, and the same with mid-bass being a little stronger in comparison to other daps.  Lower mids are neutral, while upper mids are detailed and smooth, and a little pushed back and not as transparent.  Treble is well defined but not as airy.  Overall sound is a little more congested.  Soundstage is above average but not super wide.  I also hear a very faint hissing.  Surprisingly, this pair up wasn't as great as I expected.
    Cayin i5 - balanced detailed sound with a deep textured sub-bass rumble, fast punchy mid-bass, well controlled articulate bass, fuller body lower mids, clear and detailed upper mids with a natural revealing tonality, and crisp well defined treble. The sound has a great level of transparency and layering/separation.  Soundstage is very wide with an average depth.  There is a noticeable hissing.  After Opus#2, this was my next favorite pair up.
    Galaxy Note 4 - the sound sig is still nicely balanced, sub-bass has a deep extension with a nice rumble, mid-bass punch is more rounded, analog, with more of a dynamic warmer performance.  Bass is not super tight or articulate, but still well defined.  Lower mids have a fuller body while upper mids are still forward but smoother and a little less revealing.  Treble is well defined, though not as airy.  I expected the sound quality to scale down when testing with a smartphone, but it was more in technicalities of transparency and articulation, while the overall sound signature doesn't stir too far off.  The sound stage is still wide, but not super wide, and there is no hissing at all.
    W80 release definitely caught me by surprise, especially with an updated sound tuning, premium cable, and a deluxe travel case.  Some might assume Westone joined driver wars, but maybe it was a necessary step to go beyond 6 driver tuning limitation to get to the next level with 2 additional "building" blocks.  In my opinion, W80 did break the mold of Westone flagship W-series laidback lush house sound tuning, though it’s not a night'n'day difference when comparing to W60.  Instead, it felt like W80 bridged a sound gap between their W60 and ES60 flagships, making something new while still keeping the roots in a traditional Westone tuning.  Thus, instead of completely retuning the current 6 driver config, they added 2 High drivers to refine the W60 signature.
    Without a doubt, we hear things differently and have our personal sound preference which changes over time.  Going down the path of Westone IEMs, I moved from UMPro50 to W60 and then ES60.  After a more revealing balanced signature of ES60, going back to W60 required switching to a different aftermarket cable and playing with EQ to bring back the upper mids clarity.  W80 delivers all that without any extra effort of EQ adjustment or premium silver cables.  Don't get me wrong, I still love ES60 and hope one day Westone will bring its signature to universal shell so more people can discover its sound.  But lately, I have been spending more time with W80 while enjoying its synergy with ALO Ref8 cable which, after a proper burn in, delivers a wide expanded sound with a tight well controlled bass impact, smooth and more revealing dynamic mids, and a well defined treble.  I believe diehard Westone fans won't be disappointed with this new Flagship release, and other audiophiles and audio enthusiast, who are not after a super revealing analytical sound, will find W80 sound tuning to be very impressive.
      Kundi, XSAMURAI, sanjeewasam and 10 others like this.
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    2. masterfuu
      Awesome review and comparison analysis.
      masterfuu, Jan 9, 2017
    3. Imusicman
      Awesome review. I only wish you could include the QP1R in your pair-up sections (I am thinking of pairing these with my QP1R)
      My only slight concern and what may prevent me from purchasing these would be the "hissing" you refer to on pretty much all players except the phone?
      Imusicman, Feb 23, 2017
    4. twister6
      @Imusicman : I'm very sensitive to hissing, and in many cases what I find mild others can't even notice :)  So, it's a subjective opinion relative to your hearing level.  And by no mean, it's overwhelming or distracting from enjoying the music...  Also, I don't have QP1R, sorry.
      twister6, Feb 23, 2017


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