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Taron & Andrew Lissimore
We tend to get a little too excited whenever high-end headphones are released.
We wonder if they'll be better than what's already out there and if they'll unlock the ability to dive deeper into our favorite music.
We're like little kids waiting for a repeating Christmas Day of headphones. Except we probably drink a lot more coffee than they do.
But when all the shiny wrapping paper is strewn about and our sugar rush fades, our response to many highly touted new products is often underwhelming.
Well, not this time! We think audiophiles actually have something to be stoked about this holiday season.
The new Westone W80 flagship in-ear headphones just hit our headphone.com shelves and if we had to make a bet based on our experience so far, they won't be here for long.
Priced at an eye-opening $1,500, the W80s feature an 8-driver per side array with quad-high microspeakers buttressed by dual low and dual midrange drivers and a 3-way crossover.
The 16 perfectly tuned drivers in the Westone W-80 are 100% seamless. They offer crisp instrumental separation with a rich vocal clarity in the mid and treble frequencies that must be heard to be believed.
Guitars, voices, and brass soar free without gritty splat. They are supported by authoritative snare, tom and kick drum tones. Hi-hat work, ride and crash cymbals, in particular, have a natural shimmery decay that sounds incredibly smooth and organic.
The Westone W 80 is no slouch in the low-end either with its dual-low woofers kicking out an extended, super punchy bass response that is tight, deep and smartly controlled. The spaciously layered soundstage competes with many top over-ear headphones and totally belies the fact you're wearing in-ears. With the W80, you can kiss the old adage that "in-ear headphones can't create a fully dimensional soundstage" goodbye.
The other big plus of the Westone W80 is the surprisingly shallow fit style. They delivered across-the-board comfort for our review team with no acrobatic feats of insertion or tractor-pull ear tugging required. We simply pushed the W80 earpieces effortlessly into place where they remained until we decided it was time to remove them.
Naturally, the fit is always a critical factor for in-ear headphones. If they don't fit, nothing else matters. We think the W80s are among the most comfortable audiophile in-ears we've tried. And as another plus, they come with 10 sets of ear tip types and sizes - among the broadest fit kits provided by any maker - along with user-switchable cosmetic earpiece shells in various colors. That's a nice little feature that can help you identify the left /right earpieces at a glance (how much time have we all spent squinting for a tiny "L" or "R" on our IEMs)?
Any serious music lover who uses in-ear headphones at work, during daily commuting or for travel needs to experience the Westone W80s. One listen and we guarantee you'll be adicted to the sound that comes from these ultra-portable in ear headphones.