Monday, August 27, 2018

Westone Elite Series ES80 Custom In Ear Monitor Review

Westone has been doing audio products for over 50 years. All of this experience has provided some extensive know how in creating excellent products. The best of which is their Elite Series. They have a new eight driver IEM design, and their best of the best is the custom version which is their new flagship model, the Westone ES80. MSRP starts at $1,899, before any customization.  After customization the review model came to $2,187. 

Features and specs:
·         Westone Custom-Fit Technology
Fully custom earpieces are cast, sculpted, and polished by hand from actual impressions of your ears, resulting in the best fit and acoustic seal possible.
·         Balanced Armature
Westone’s proprietary balanced-armature drivers provide enhanced sonic detail and frequency range that extends well beyond typical in-ear solutions.
·         Flex Canal
This body temperature reactive material provides increased comfort and acoustic seal.
·         Cold Pour Acrylic
Earpiece shells are cold-poured in acrylic for a thicker, more robust acoustic enclosure. This process increases durability and provides a more luxurious appearance.
·         Deep Open Bore
The Deep Open Bore design provides a smoother transition between the monitor mix and the ambient sound and also increases comfort and acoustic seal.
·         Precise Acoustic Symmetry
Left and right earpiece responses are matched to an extraordinarily tight +/-2 dB tolerance.
·         Replaceable MMCX Audio™ Cable
Durable, supple, light-weight cable features low resistance and minimal cable noise.
·         Designed and Hand-crafted in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
All of Westone’s products are meticulously assembled by a staff of dedicated artisans and lab technicians.
·         Sensitivity: 111 dB @ 1 mW

·         Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 22 kHz      
·         Impedance: 80 ohms  
·         Passive Noise Attenuation: Over 25dB  
·         Driver: Eight, Balanced-Armature Drivers, with a 3-way Crossover     
·         Cable: Replaceable MMCX Audio ™ Cable, 52”/128 cm    
·         In the Box: Monitor Vault III, desiccant, cleaning cloth, cleaning tool, Oto-Ease™, Owner’s Manual, and 2-year warranty          

·         Warranty: 2-year warrany.

The Westone ES80 came shipped in an excellent water resistant plastic case. On the front of the case is a custom printed label with the Westone logo, my name, serial number, and manufacture date. Opening the case showed off the excellent Westone E580’s sitting in cut-out foam molding. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish. It’s their top of the line product and it shows. Also included was the owner’s manual, a cloth carry case, cleaning tool, a tube of oto-ease, a microfiber cleaning cloth, and an extra cable. 

I love the design of the new Westone ES80. The body is made of hard acrylic for durability, and the bottom section that actually goes into the ear cable is actually a silicone, so it got a little softer as it warms up, to give you more comfort and a better seal. The tuning has also changed to a more audiophile neutral sound. And there’s something about having custom IEM’s that are made custom fit to your ears. It is just so cool. It reminds me of the scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, where he’s talking about the Ferrari. I think Ferris said it best, “It is so choice.  If you have means, I highly recommend it.” The same is true of the Westone ES80.
Ordering the Westone ES80 was simple. There are tons of options in styles, colors and face plates. I opted for the silver, and pacifica face plate. The silver looks like pieces of silver in the body, and the pacificalooks like a shell. Very cool looking. Once you decide on the look, you print out your design, and find an audiologist. Westone has an extensive list that they work with. Print out your design, pay for it, and bring your design sheet with you to the audiologist, who will ship your design to Westone along with the ear impressions. And Westone’s website also walks you through the whole process. Once they are built in Westone’s facility in Colorado, they get shipped to you. Now let’s see how they sound.

Eric Bibb: Why are People Like That-Vocals were so silky smooth like honey, and the texture and timbre are excellent. Piano sounded very natural. Bass had excellent depth and played with excellent authority. Percussion was crisp and clean with excellent impact. And dynamics that had to be heard to be believed. Harmonica also so clean with excellent dynamics. Soundstage had good depth and really wide.  Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue-Clarinet was silky smooth with excellent resolution to hear the woodiness of the reed and tonguing technique. Piano was extremely natural sounding, very dynamic, provided excellent low level harmonics. Bassoon had excellent midbass extension and texture. Brass was smooth, extremely dynamic without being edgy, and not too brassy. Imaging was spot on, and the soundstage was both deep and wide.  Earth, Wind and Fire; Let’s Groove-Vocals were as smooth as a Dove chocolate bar, with excellent resolution of the texture and timbre. I felt like I was right there in the recording studio. The realism was just bananas. Bass was good and full, with great impact and authority. Percussion was crisp and clean with good dynamics. Claps were also crisp and very dynamic. Imaging was spot on. Soundstage was deep and very wide.  Katy Perry; Dark Horse-Vocals were so silky smooth, with excellent resolution of the texture and timbre. Bass was very deep, really clean, and hit like a sledge hammer with excellent output. Claps were also really crisp and dynamic.

Just when I thought the sound couldn’t get any better from a pair of in ear monitors, it did with the Westone Elite Series ES80. Using eight drivers, four of which are for the highs, I would have expected the sound to be overly bright. But the sound is actually neutral, and the realism and resolution is bananas!! It has to be heard to be believed! Based on their design features, quality, and performance, the Westone Elite Series ES80 has earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at