Earlier this week, I got the rare opportunity to demo the ultra-budget-minded Tin T2 Pro, but today I’m reviewing a more premium earphone: the Westone W80 Bluetooth 2nd Gen. Built on the success of the original W80, this refreshed version comes with more accessories – including the Westone V2 Bluetooth cable. But at $1499, how good can this in-ear monitor sound? And is that sound worth the price?
Westone W80 Bluetooth Gen 2 Review
The W80 Bluetooth Gen 2 comes in a fairly stately box with two carrying cases, a cleaning tool, three sets of faceplates, two cables (including a Westone V2 Bluetooth cable), a charging cable, and ten pairs of eartips.
The biggest difference between the Gen 2 and the older W80 comes in the form of cabling. In addition to the Westone V2 Bluetooth cable, you also get a nifty silver-plated cable from ALO Audio – the same company that makes cables for Campfire.
The inclusion of the silver-plated ALO cable does make a slight difference, as the sound quality does seem a little sharper or clearer right out of the box. In regards to the Westone V2 cable, pairing remains painless, and the connection remained secure without any drops during my listening sessions.
In terms of appearance, weight, and specs, the W80 2nd Gen is identical to its predecessor. There’s no real glaring differences here. Fit remains comfortable, with the relatively slight earphone fitting gracefully in my giant soup-bowl ears.
Inside each earpiece, a total of eight BA drivers handle sound – with two drivers each in the lows and mids, and four more handling the highs.
Frequency Range: 5-22,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 5 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 111 dB
The W80’s specifications reveal a decent frequency range with some extension in the low end, but a fairly moderate high end. A super-low impedance of just 5 ohms allows this IEM to work just fine with phones, computers, and DAPs. Finally, Sounds Pressure lands at a fairly robust 111 decibels, ensuring you’ll have plenty of volume even in the hairiest of listening situations.
Like the W40, the W80 offers a fairly accentuated low end – for a Westone IEM. With that in mind, the lows come across as slightly warm. Overall, the W80 feels pretty fun and engaging in the low end, and there’s a thick, luscious bass that rounds out the sound. This results in a low end that works well with almost any genre. However, the W80 really shines with any rock, hip-hop, or electronic tracks due to this robust, immaculate low end.
With good detail and a relatively clean nature, the mids remain free of any compression or distortion. Vocals seem to lean just a little forward – a common characteristic of Westone IEMs. While not as mid-heavy as the UM Pro models, the W80 delivers good clarity and separation here, allowing vocal work to stand out against background music. Instruments still sound very good, but the vocals really steal the show here.
Slightly boosted, the highs sound just a little bright – but never get too harsh or piercing. Certain notes give off a sparkling quality, leaving me really impressed with the level of nuance and subtlety at play here. Female vocals sound just fine, but instrumentation in the high end takes full advantage of the W80’s attention to detail. This also works well in relation to the warm low end, leading to a slightly v-shaped sound profile – but one where the mids don’t skimp on any detail, either.
Exhibiting an excellent sense of space and some good depth, the W80 shows some great soundstage for an IEM. While still not a match for an open-back over-ear headphone, the fact there’s this much airiness to an in-ear design still seems pretty impressive. Closing my eyes, it’s easy to pick apart a test track and hear different instruments occupying their own spaces. While this can get a little convoluted on some of my more sophisticated test tracks, in general the soundstage holds up for just about any song I throw at it.
Until now, I’d forgotten how slim and comfortable the Westone can be – even in my giant Dumbo ears. While the added ALO Audio cable constitutes a thoughtful gesture, I found myself spending more time with the Bluetooth cable than I thought I would. Because, despite a whisper of compression, the sound quality remains pretty dreamy for a wireless cable.
If you need a whopping great earphone with good soundstage and the ability to go wireless, the Westone W80 Bluetooth Gen 2 offers a pretty fair bargain.
If you want more soundstage and less energetic lows, you might consider the Campfire Solaris at $1499, though this earphone is bulkier and more analytical (or dry) than the Westone W80.
Folks who want an even more v-shaped sound can also take a gander at the Sony IER-M9. Also at $1499, this IEM delivers more emphasis in the lows and highs, though at the expense of some midrange presence.
Still, at $1499, the Westone W80 does a fantastic job of handling just about any genre, thanks to a very adaptive sound profile that can work wonders with almost anything. As such, this would be my first recommendation for a headphone at this price that will work for pretty much all listening tastes.
With it’s rich sound profile, impressive soundstage, and copiously-detailed frequency range, it’s hard not to love the Westone W80 Bluetooth 2nd Gen. For folks who also want to listen wireless, the deal just gets sweeter. Our take? Buy this earphone if you listen to everything, or if you want the earphone that sounds great with everything you do listen to, and enjoy with a wire or without.
Get the Westone W80 Bluetooth 2nd Gen for the best price here: