Monday, September 4, 2017

Westone Signature Series W80 In Ear Monitor Review

A company that needs no introduction in regards to hearing products is Westone. For decades they manufactured hearing aids. They used that technology and expertise to expand their product line to IEMs. And being cutting edge isn’t good enough. Now they offer an eight driver model, and it’s offered in a universal fit in the Signature Series W80.  With an MSRP of $1,500, these are for those who enjoy the finer quality sound.

Features and specs:

  •  Westone True-Fit Technology: 50+ years experience with in-ear applications has yielded a low-profile, lightweight, universal earpiece which delivers maximum comfort and in-ear coupling for dynamic transfer of sound.
  • Balanced Armature Driver: Eight-driver system with dual bass, dual mid and quad high, linked with a 3-way crossover.
  •  Precise Acoustic Symmetry: Left and right earpiece responses are matched to an extraordinarily tight +/- 2dB tolerance extends well beyond typical in-ear solutions.
  • ALO Audio Reference 8 Cable - Westone Edition: Eight braided silver-plated copper and OCC copper wires deliver intense musical resolution and fine inner detail.
  •  Industry-Leading Noise Isolation: Hear more of your music and less of the outside world with up to 35db of noise reduction.
  • Sensitivity: 111dB SPL @ 1mW
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 22 kHz 
  • Impedance: 5 ohms @ 1 kHz 
  • Passive Noise Attenuation: Up to 35dB 
  • Driver: Eight balanced armature drivers with three-way crossover 
  • Cable: ALO Audio / MFi Replaceable 
  • 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, a ALO Audio cable, Premium Deluxe Carrying Case, Premium Small Carrying Case, cleaning tool and cleaning cloth.
  • Warranty: 2-year warranty (Warranty Information).

The Westone Signature Series W80 came in an elegant looking black box, that included photos and specs and features of the W80. Opening the box revealed the most advanced storage system I have seen in the hard zipper storage case. Materials used in the construction is mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of materials used is excellent. I love the feel of the soft plastic cable. Fit and finish is also excellent. I also like the extra cable. So with the IEM’s you get two sets of high quality cables. One of them has a built-in remote. In addition to the two cables is a ton of other accessories in cases, bag and multitude of different sized ear tips, different colored back plates that can be switched out, a wax tool, microfiber cloth, and manual. The Westone Signature Series W80 is a top of the line product, and it shows. The product, accessories, and even the presentation of the product. Westone nailed it!
Now briefly back to the hand zippered storage case. My first thought was how big it was, then it’s impeccable quality. I opened it up to see multiple compartments. A stretchy fine mesh material on the left side of the case helps to hold the items in the 3 compartments underneath in place. In the middle is a divider to separate the two sides of the case. On the right side is a custom hard foam molding to hold the W80’s in place while they’re stored. Below it was a 2nd smaller hard zippered case. Also included was a cloth carry bag. So there’s a large hard case, a small hard case and a cloth carry bag. I’ve never seen so many storage options provided by a manufacturer! Whatever your needs may be, Westone seems to have you covered.  Now let's see how well they sound. 

Twenty One Pilots: Heathen, vocals were so clear and clean it was like I was right there in the recording studio!  Timbre and texture was excellent.  Percussion was dynamic and crisp.  Piano sounded very natural with excellent harmonics and spot on imaging.  Bass was tight with very good low end extension and played with authority.  Kansas: Carry On Wayward Son, vocals were extremely natural and smooth like honey, with tons of resolution.  The texture of the timbre was out of bounds!  And the realism was just bananas!  Why go to a concert when you can have this kind of aural bliss as if you were just feet away from them.   Keyboard was very natural with excellent harmonics.  Soundstage was large and imaging was just as it should be.  Bass had very good depth and extension, with clean tight punch with good authority.  Fresh Aire: Going To Another Place, strings were extremely crisp and clean with excellent resolution, hearing the decay of the strings and cymbal, and very dynamic.  Kick drum was tight with good depth and played with sufficient  authority.  Flute was silky smooth with plenty of resolution to hear the tonguing technique.  Piano was very natural with very pleasant harmonics.

 With the Westone Signature Series W80,  Westone took the sound up a notch to a level I had not experienced before.  Having an extra pair of drivers for the highs, I was expecting the W80 to be more on the bright side.  But it wasn't.  The sound was more neutral, and the focus was more on the mids and highs frequencies with the quad drivers for the highs.  The bass response was good, but the output and fullness was not quite as big as some others I had recently heard.  But the level of realism was at a level I had never heard before in a pair of IEMs!  And unlike a savory rich desert that is just too rich to have much of, there's no having too much of the Westone W80's!  The only problem....if you have a significant other, and they hear the W80''re going to have to share!  Based on their design, features, quality, and performance, they have earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at