Like the TA-N80ES, the TA-E80ES was export only and unseen in Japan - so who designed it will probably remain a mystery...
Unlike its companion TA-N80ES powerhouse, the E80ES was an all new design and bore little from its TA-E77ESD predecessor.
More precisely, it was partly derived from a Japan-only integrated amp (TA-F555ESG), with added balanced inputs and outputs for good measure.
Although it needs a few mods to be brought to full speed, the stock E80ES is neutral, transparent, dynamic, dead silent and built like a tank. Mine has been running about 12 hours/day since I bought it in 1994 and that is what I call reliable.
Its very good MC preamp is a nice touch as well, alongwith the motorized ALPS 4-gang volume pot, (fairly) low-impedance balanced outputs, 2x 10,000µF of Great Supply Nichicons, dual transformer, the massive copper busses and shielding bars, sealed relays for all i/o switching, gold-plated terminals, 2,5cm G(ibraltar) chassis, steel structure and 3mm steel top plate, 2mm steel sections, massive aluminium knobs and motor-activated rotary switch inputs & outputs.
Sure : the E80ES is adorned with a few quite dispensable functions, but if the "source direct" switch is on, these are completely absent of the signal path, including -strangely- the 'subsonic' switch.
More useful than the stereo/mono switch would have been an "old style" stereo/L/R/reverse selector ; the output switch/relay could have been multiplied to select the 3 pre-outputs separately ; the bal/unbal selector for the CD input really could have found its way on the front plate...
And, yes, the rec-out selector could have used an "off" position, too, and the unbal terminals and their connections to the main board are a bit cheapish.
But the sane design of this preamp does allow for a few tweaks that will catapult it on another level of performance and musicality.
The E80ES was alas too quickly replaced by the TA-E90ES, a down-sized preamplifier boasting an understated kind of slim-line looks...
But unlike the latter, the E80ES sold extremely well in Europe, either in its original champagne color or in the black version. It didn't sell nearly as well in the US where it was available in black only.
I really regret selling mine. But my "old" TA-E86B is, clearly, better everywhere.
Contemporary but above would be the Onkyo P-388F - not nearly as pretty but sonically arguably better.
The TA-E80ES is affordable (even today), very reliable, very pretty and very well built and finished.
Fully modded, it will slash a lot of what is available now.