In this new article we review the Westone Audio Mach 80 In-Ear Monitors. They are selling for $1,599 USD.
Disclaimer: KS Distribution / HiFi Headphones UK sent us the Westone Mach 80 IEM for this review, free of charge. As always, I am here to share my real experience with the product.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 15 years, there’s no way you’re an audiophile who hasn’t heard of Westone Audio. Westone Laboratories Inc. was founded in 1959 by Ron Morgan, Sr., in Colorado, USA. The company’s earpieces are used for hearing healthcare, recreation, industrial and military applications. Its core business is specialty earpieces for hearing healthcare (i.e., used in combination with hearing aids), but it also serves the professional musician and audiophile market. You can reach Westone Audio’s webpage via this link.
Shortly after I became interested in this hobby, I was introduced to Westone products. I had the opportunity to use IEMs like the UM30, W40, and W60, which were way ahead of their time. At that time, options were limited, the industry was not nearly as big as it is today, so there were not many options other than some monitors from big companies like Shure and Phonak. The UM30 and the W60 were quite impressive. I was listening to a lot of metal and rock tracks, and I was totally taken away by the sound quality of the multi-BA monitors.
Many years later, I am here to review another high-performance in-ear monitor from Westone, the Mach 80. The 80 is the current flagship of the Mach series and sits at the top of the Mach product line-up. It is also the most expensive universal that Westone offers at the moment.
You can check out our previous Westone reviews here: https://www.headfonia.com/?s=westone
Westone Audio Mach 80 – Flagship In-Ear Monitor
Westone Audio’s product range consists of 2 series. The Pro X series and the Mach series. The Pro X series is marketed as artist-oriented stage monitors, while the Mach series was developed with sound engineers and audiophiles in mind. As you may have noticed, the older UM and W series had more or less the same distinction. Speaking of the series, let’s share the meaning of the word “Mach.”
A Mach number is the ratio of an object’s speed in a given medium to the speed of sound in that medium. It is often used with a numeral (as Mach 1, Mach 2, etc.) to indicate the speed of sound, twice the speed of sound, etc. Westone’s Mach series includes eight different products in total, and the product names are in direct proportion to the number of drivers.
The Mach 80 comes with eight drivers on each side, housed in a really compact shell that screams “comfortable” right out of the box. The configuration is as follows; dual low, dual mid, and quad high drivers and a passive, 3-way crossover. The retail price of the Westone Audio Mach 80 is 1599 USD/EUR/GBP.
Configuration: 8 BA + 3-Way Passive Crossover
Impedance: 66Ω @ 1kHz
Frequency Response: 5Hz-22kHz
Sensitivity: 104dB @ 1kHz
Cable: Linum 4-braid UltraBaX – T2 Connector – TRS L Plug
Packaging & Accessories
The Westone Audio Mach 80 comes in a medium-sized box. On the box, we see Mach 80 written in large fonts. Westone Audio’s newly designed logo and Estron Linum’s name are featured on the box.
On the back of the box, the product details are explained. From the list of accessories that come in the box to the configuration details, the back side has all the information.
When we slide the cover off the package, we are again greeted by Westone’s new logo and the text “inspired by Lucid Hearing.” For those who don’t know, Lucid Hearing recently acquired Westone’s Audio department. In addition, Lucid Hearing merged with Etymotic Research not too long ago.
Let’s talk about the box contents. The Westone Audio Mach 80 comes with a Pelican case, which is quite spacious for IEMs. If my eyes are not deceiving me, it has the same proportions as Pelican’s 1040 model.
As soon as you open this nuke-proof black carrying case, you are greeted with a QR code with a link to the product manual. Right next to this is a sticker of Westone Audio’s new logo.
The box includes the following accessories; an elegant 2-color carrying pouch, a microfiber cleaning cloth, five pairs of silicone ear tips, five pairs of dense foam ear tips, a cleaning tool, a cable tie tool, and Linum’s flagship cable, the UltraBaX.
As we expect from Westone, the accessories are made of high-quality materials. The ear tips have the same quality that Westone has been offering for years and come in 5 different sizes and two different materials. Let’s talk a little bit about Linum’s UltraBaX cable.
First of all, if you are not familiar with Estron-Linum, let me bring you up to date. Linum is a sub-brand of Estron company. Estron Linum cables are built and designed based on Estron’s more than 25 years of working with litz wires, connectors, and cable solutions for the Hearing Aid industry. The Linum brand, featured on HFN many times, has been designing cables for in-ear monitors since the year 2014. I first met Linum cables around 2015 and had the opportunity to try and experience Linum’s first cables, such as Linum Music and Linum BaX. I vividly remember the first time I picked up a Linum cable. Litz cables were much less common than today, at least in the audiophile industry.
The upgrade cables in those years consisted of thick, multi-braid wires. Linum’s Music cable was one of the thinnest cables I’ve ever seen. I was fascinated by its form; it was more of a fishing string rather than an earphone cable.
It was very thin, light, and elegant. Then, I immediately bought the BaX and SuperBaX cables and used them for many years. It is a pleasure to see their upgraded versions now available as default accessories.
Linum UltraBaX is the flagship of the series. It features a 4-braid litz-configuration. Each cable consists of 224 strands of silver-plated copper wire. As with all Linum cables, the tensile strength is just downright impressive. The UltraBax is strong enough to withstand pull forces up to 40 pounds, so there is no possible way you can damage this cable by pulling.
In addition, the cable is built to be extremely lightweight using specially selected materials. The total weight of the cable is around 9 grams, and it has a length of 127 cm. It features 90 degrees angled, gold-plated 3.5mm connector and gold-plated T2 connectors.
The T2 connector is a waterproof (IP-67) and durable alternative to MMCX and 2-Pin connectors that is now considered the industry standard for stage monitors. As someone who has been using IEMs with MMCX and 2-Pin connectors for over ten years, I can say that both connectors have significant problems, and the T2 is a promising solution. Time will tell!
In addition to its physical characteristics, UltraBax has an ultra-low impedance of just 0.6Ω and has no impact on the sound. This basically means that the cable directly reflects the sound quality and the signature of the paired IEMs.
Design & Build Quality
From the E series that Westone developed and produced for Shure to the W and UM series, Westone has always come up with compact, comfortable and ergonomic monitors. The Mach series is no exception. After the lightweight, compact, and oval-shaped W series, Westone did not change the form of the monitors’ inner side facing the ear, but it is clear that there is a slight design change on the outer side.
The new Mach series adopts a dual-color design, and all models from 10 to 80 come in the same black-gray dual-color design. The outward-facing portion of the monitors has a triangular shape resembling a custom IEM’s faceplate. Although this part is plastic, the color and finish make it look like an anodized coating on metal.
Compared to the W series, which is the old-generation equivalent of the Mach series, the design form factor seems to be the same, which is fantastic because Westone’s monitors were always one of the most comfortable offerings on the market. W and UM series was extraordinarily light and had a durable case. The W series had a design that featured interchangeable faceplates, and I would’ve liked to see that with the Mach series too.
Despite housing eight drivers inside, the shell of the Mach 80 is very compact. I can easily say that the new chassis is a clear improvement over the previous gen. The old W series’ case joints were much more visible, and the MMCX connectors were the most sensitive part of the earphones. Most of the issues originated from these connector parts. Apart from that, the MMCX sockets could oxidize, and sound interruptions could occur in case of prolonged use combined with insufficient care.
The new chassis looks much more monolithic than the old one, and the joint points are not visible at all. Furthermore, I believe the switch from MMCX to the T2 connector was an excellent decision. The T2 is a much better solution than the MMCX and 2-Pin in terms of robustness, ergonomics, and signal transmission. It is also sweat-proof and does not become loose after continuous use.
As for fit and ergonomics, I honestly forgot I had the earphones on many times during my time with the product. There are five sizes of ear tips and two different textures to select from, and my relatively big ear canals love the orange-colored silicone tips. They are extremely comfortable for me. Additionally, the microphonic effect of the Linum cable is close to zero, and when you combine that with a lightweight chassis, you get exceptional comfort.
The Westone Audio Mach 80 provides impressive passive isolation thanks to its shape and optimized tips. Naturally, the included foam ear tips provide more isolation compared to the silicone tips, but I didn’t feel the need for more isolation as it was already excellent. Foam tips may be more suitable for on-stage and outdoor use.
To summarize this section in one sentence; the Mach 80 offers an improved design and an improved material quality compared to the previous generation, while not compromising on the comfort we all love and got used to.
The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.
Page 1: Westone, Mach 80, Packaging & Accessories, Linum UltraBax, Design, Build & Fit
Page 2: Sound, Low, Mid, High, Technical Capability, Comparison, Source Selection, Last Words