As perhaps the most welcome plus, the slim W80 earpiece is extremely comfortable and super-easy to wear all day with a very ergonomic, shallow fit into the ear canal. That's certainly not something we can say about many audiophile in-ear headphones that tend to have a much more fastidious, deeper insertion technique required to properly fit them into the ears. The huge Westone fit kit sporting 10 different sets of variously sized eartips helps with obtaining the proper fit. As with any in-ear headphone, the correct fit results in the best sound quality performance.
Sonically, the W-80 quad drivers deliver a pristine sense of musical detail in the upper highs along with a pleasing sense of air and space that lends the presentation an uncommon openness. Voices sound out front and chesty with terrific presence and body thanks to the two dedicated midrange drivers while the dual-woofer bottom end is full and authoritative with a solid slam and tight control. The Westone W-80 dynamics are literally blink-of-an-eye and can go from delicately soft, nuanced tones to loud and brawny extremes with an effortless quickness and grace. Listeners who gravitate towards modern classical or well-recorded music with lots of light and dark shadings will no doubt be terrifically impressed by the expansive range of the W80.
As we hinted above, perhaps the most impressive thing about the W-80 to our ears is how expressive and well-layered the soundstage imaging appears with a widescreen front-to-back and lateral depth that is unparalleled in the category. Instrumental placement is precisely delineated and low-level production or panning effects are rendered with a thrilling immediacy like you were standing right behind the studio engineer at the mixing console.
We compared the Westone W80 earphones against a custom-molded Ultimate Ears 11Pro IEM and the results were slightly surprising. Frankly, it was really not much of a competition. The W80 plainly beat the tarnation off the Ue11 in upper treble extension and detail resolution as well as handily besting the 11Pro's highly touted but slightly loose bottom-end with a plainly improved bass focus and texture. Granted, the 11Pro are now considered a 'classic' IEM given their age, but they were originally priced only a couple hundred bucks below the new Westone W-80. The marked improvement in audio performance is indicative of just how far modern in-ear technology has come in just the past few years.
Overall, the astonishing clarity, dynamics and acoustic power of the Westone W-80 is really only matched - but not necessarily exceed - by much more expensive in-ear monitors or headphone, most of which can run over twice the price of the W-80 earphones. With the ever-increasing prices of reference high-end audio gear, the Westone in-ear headphones likely represent a $10,000-or-above level investment in what used to be a whole roomful of Hi-Fi all condensed down to fit inside your ears. Now that's progress!
The Westone W-80 package includes 2 headphone cables (mic'd smartphone cord; audiophile ALO braided cord), 10 sets of eartips in various types (foam; silicon) and in different sizes. Also included are four metal outer earpiece shells in four different colors to personalize your earphones along with a little tool to help with the earpiece faceplate removal. All these sundry bits & pieces are housed within a large compartmentalized hard-sided case which contains a smaller portable hard case intended for minimalist travel use. The detachable headphone cables have their own mesh pouch that can be stored inside the larger case. The 2-year 'repair or replace' manufacturer's product warranty remains in place only with your authorized Westone dealer purchase - like us right here at headphone.com since 1995.
Check out the Westone Bluetooth Cable Accessory. Convert Your W80 In-Ears into Wireless Headphones!