The launch of the S80 shows Astrotec’s desire to provide a high-quality listening experience for audiophiles who value freedom.
Astrotec is an in-ear monitors (IEMs) and earbuds manufacturer from China. It was founded in 2002 by several experienced members of the audio industry. Astrotec believes in continuous exploration. Driven by this belief, they produce quality products with cutting-edge technology that ultimately deliver a premium listening experience to users.
The S80 IEM is the second true wireless model from Astrotec. With the experience gained from the first generation (S60), Astrotec aims to deliver well-extended high frequencies, clear, layered mids and rich, articulate bass with Dupont’s 4μm ultra-soft Beryllium dynamic drivers. Without further delay, I will introduce you to the new Astrotec S80.
- Classy and glossy shell
- Good sonic performance
- Relatively affordable price compared to other models with similar specifications
- Insufficient impact from the lows
- The shell is relatively big and this could be an issue for those with small ears
The packaging of Astrotec S80 is simple yet modern. The white outer sleeve is printed with an Astrotec logo and an image of the S80 with its charging case.
Removing the sleeve, there is a silver Astrotec logo printed on the grey box. The box is opened from the side. Upon opening the box, you find a matte plastic cover with a basic user manual printed on it that protects the S80.
Removing the plastic user manual, S80 makes her first appearance, shining brightly like a diamond. The S80 is sitting comfortably in the charging case and the package includes an additional case to store accessories like ear tips and the charging cable.
Users find these accessories in the accessory case:
- Charging cable (Type-C USB)
- Two pairs of “angled” ear tips (one pre-installed)
- Three pairs of silicone ear tips
- A pair of foam ear tips
- Driver Unit: Beryllium Dynamic Driver
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Sensitivity: 98±3 dB
- Frequency Response: 5Hz -25kHz
- MIC Type: MEMS
- Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 5.0
- Transmission Distance: 10m
- Audio Coding: AAC, CVSD, mSBC, SBC
- Supported Profile: HFP, HSP, A2DP, AVRCP, SPP, PBAP
- Earphone Continuous Playback Time: About 5-6hrs
- Charging Capability Supported By Charging Case: About 4-5 times
- Earphone Charging Time: About 1.5 hrs
- Charging Case Charging Time: About 2 hours
- Charging Case Charging Method: Type-C USB
The S80 has a glossy and shiny faceplate that doubles as a control panel. This is a full touch control panel (explained in full later on). The glossy surface looks attractive; however, the surface tends to “collect” fingerprints and this makes the surface oily after usage.
The nozzle is relatively short compared to conventional in-ear monitor nozzles. With wireless earbuds increasing in popularity, there are now more choices for ear tips, but you still won’t have as many rolling options as a traditional IEM. That said, most of the true wireless ear tips such as SpinFit CP100z and CP360 fit pretty well on S80.
The charging case is pocket-friendly. I keep it in my pocket when I am commuting and I do not find it uncomfortable. The surface of the lid is shiny – literally like a mirror. Unfortunately, this creates the same issue as the glossy faceplate: it’s a fingerprint-magnet.
The bottom part is covered by a grey cloth-like texture. This lends it a classy and modern appearance. Users can find the USB Type-C charging port at the side of the charging case.
Fit and Isolation
The size of S80 is considerably bigger compared to some other recent releases such as Aviot TE-D01G, Mavin Air-X and Advanced Sound Model X. This could be an issue for those with small ears. I have big ears, so I do not have any issues inserting the S80 and wearing it for hours.
Isolation wise, none of the ear tips provided in the box gave sufficient isolation for my weird ear canals. I explored other aftermarket ear tips and eventually found that the Sony EP-EX10A ear tips fit me the best. I can happily listen to my music when I am commuting, without getting disturbed by the hustle and bustle of the noisy city.
Before writing this review, I owned Sony WF-SP700N and used it mostly for sports purposes. I totally understand the potential frustration of intermittent signals due to interference. I frequently experience signal cut-off with my Sony when running near traffic lights and railway tracks.
By using Bluetooth version 5.0, the S80 provides a more stable connection than my Sony. This is something I need from a wireless earbud and I believe this is a good selling point for S80. With the AAC codec and paired with my iPhone, I can happily walk around the city without getting interference from the environment. Well done, Astrotec!
The S80 carries an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of IPX5. With IPX5, users can safely use the S80 for sports purposes because it is tested to withstand sweat and light splashes of water.
As mentioned earlier in this review, there are touch sensor control panels embedded in the S80. Users can use the following gestures to trigger actions:
- Play / Pause: Single tap on either side
- Increase/ decrease volume: Double tap on left to decrease and right to increase
- Changing track: Touch and hold on the left panel to go back to the previous track or right panel to go to the next track
These functions are useful especially when users are working out. However, I find the touch sensor to be slightly too sensitive. I frequently pause or play the song by accident when I am adjusting the fit.
During the three weeks review period, I paired Astrotec S80 with my iPhone XR through AAC codec. I used Sony EP-EX10A ear tips, so I cannot comment on the provided ear tips.
After looking closely at the physical attributes of S80, now let’s look into what the S80 delivers in terms of sound performance. In general, the S80 has a slightly warm sound signature that is comfortable for long listening. The soundstage is moderately wide and deep.
The amplifiers embedded in the earbuds are sufficiently powerful to generate a good audible level without pushing the volume to the max. On my iPhone XR, I need around 50% of the volume to get a good audible level.
The S80 has good body in the lows. The sub-bass kicks in accurately when called upon. After thumping the eardrums, the sub-bass excuses itself slowly. This slow decay injects some warmth into the sound signature.
As a Sony user, I find the sub-bass extension to be shy on the S80.
I would appreciate deeper extension more than the S80’s tuning, which emphasizes the mid-bass. The slightly slow decay speed in the mid-bass bleeds subtly into the mids. However, the decay speed also helps smooth the transition from lows to the mids, so it’s a subjective trade-off.
The mids are where I love S80 the most, making it my first choice in a true wireless earbud in the USD $100 price range.
The mids are meaty and juicy like a medium-cooked sirloin steak. I am a Mandopop fan and the mids could be the most important frequency region for Mandopop. The S80’s warmth from the lows is carried forward to the mids due to the slight bleeding in the mid-bass. This warmth injects good emotions into male vocals.
Moving forward to the upper-mids, the warmth recedes and the overall turning is airy and spacious. This results in sweet sounding female vocals. Everything about the mids hits the sweet spot and they perform flawlessly to serve my needs.
Similar to most of the true wireless earbuds I have auditioned in the market, the highs of S80 rolled off slightly early. This is another reason for the overall warm sound signature. As a Campfire Audio Nova user for many years, early roll-off in the highs is an issue I am used to. That said, while not an issue for me, other users should not expect sparkling highs from the S80.
Although there is roll-off in the highs, the overall space and air created by the highs is still sufficient to yield a good fidelity and resolution. The details are delivered in an accurate manner without distortion. I would rather choose highs that roll off earlier than an uncontrolled treble.
The S80 retails for USD $89.00. It can be purchased through HiFiGo.
The Astrotec S80 is a great choice for audiophiles who are looking for affordable true wireless earbuds. This could be one of the most affordable true wireless earbuds on the market that features both Bluetooth version 5.0 and a touch sensor-enabled control panel. Despite the freedom given, the S80 is able to preserve good sonic performance and fulfill your high-quality audio cravings.