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The Japanese art of sound: Final Audio


Much can be said about the Japanese.


As the Italians are known for their eccentricity, the nordics known for their subtlety the Japanese are synonymous with an obsessive desire for perfection and an inconceivable eye for detail.


Some may say superfluously so, but I for one stand on the other side of that fence.


However, before I wax lyrically about the impact the Japanese way of life has had on me I must put all my cards on the table.


The first time I was exposed to the way that a single Japanese family would dedicate generations of their existence in to perfecting a simple ceramic plate I felt as though that maybe it was overkill, I asked myself is there an element of needless over engineering here? After I purchased my first Japanese denim jeans it all made sense, the flawless stitching, the depth of the dye and heft of the fabric, only a monomaniacal nature could’ve created such a product.

I haven't been shy about my affection for Final Audio.



Final Audio ZE3000 and UX3000 Taken on Nikon Z6

I have been using the A8000 IEM’s for a while now and they have been my choice earphones to keep on me, these are essentially used for high quality music listening and also as reference monitors while editing podcast episodes on the move.


I would urge you to read my description on those earphones in my previous BLOG POST. Just in case there is an air of doubt, I still have a burning and unquenchable desire to continue exploring the world of wired IEM’s however, recently a new flame has been lit for me.


The world of wireless audio beckons me.


Outside of my Bose NC700’s and AirPods Pro I really haven't paid much attention to wireless and true wireless. I don't know if you guys can relate but I have always viewed my wireless audio equipment as tools rather than items of enjoyment.


What do I mean by that?


Allow me to explain.


No one NEEDS wireless headphones but they are a massive convenience, particularly when travelling or commuting. There are few things more annoying/embarrassing than having your headphones yanked off your head due to a cable snagging on a door handle.


For anyone who as ever travelled on the London Tube you will know that the noise is borderline untenable, in fact, i’m surprised an audiologist hasn’t made the case that noise levels that high can probably cause permanent Tinnitus. So I need strong passive noise isolation or active noise cancelling to actually hear my damn tunes.


The final check box is since I'm wearing these things in public I have a certain level of street cred to uphold so they have to look good too.


Hey presto, the Bose NC700 were my choice for a while. The same pretty much applies for the AirPods Pro, as I mentioned in my previous post, there is nothing extraordinary about them, however they maximise value in terms of convenience since I am deeply embedded within the Apple Ecosystem.


As of recently I have decided to venture in to the unknown and apply my curiosity to wireless technology and explore what else is on offer. You guys know that I was using the Cleer Audio Ally Plus II and Alpha Headphones, I was very impressed with them and from a value perspective, they essentially offered everything their much more expensive competitors offer but in a much cheaper package.


At the time of writing that post I couldn’t put my finger on why - as good as those products are - they didn’t have my heart but now I realise it was primarily due to a lack of personality. Words I would use to describe the Cleer kit is feature rich and insane value, they check all the boxes but there is a paucity of the intangibles, very difficult to get that bit just right.


Enter my beloved Final Audio.

When I heard that Final had released a wireless headphone and earphones I was at first confused, as far I knew, these guys were known for the highest echelon of audio fidelity, both in performance, aesthetics and an eye-watering price.


Choo Choo!


All aboard Omars' emotional train! First shock then denial, let's ignore the less interesting stages, as my emotional train pulled in to acceptance station I braced for the impact that would be the price.


“Go on John (Final Audio distributor), how much are they charging for the Final gear?”


“Well Omar, the earphones will be…”

“Just beat around the bush John, just rip the band aid off!”


“£119”

“Huh?”


“And the headphones will going for £119”


“Right…”

And so the emotional express departs acceptance station, ready to loop the entire circuit again.


Allow me a moment to divulge my intentions here, do I plan on inundating you with phrases like aptX, hybrid noise cancelling and sound chambers? Not really.

I have tested and owned too many products that bombard you with technical phrases in an effort to overwhelm you and coerce you in to a false sense of appreciation. At the end of the day, for me - as I’m sure it is with you. - it is all about the experience, if the product fails at the hurdle, I'm afraid all those fancy phrases and jargonistic abbreviations really are all for naught.

Now let's crack on and talk about the bloody products.


Firstly let’s deal with the earphones, from here on out ill refer to them by their model name, the ZE3000. I am proud to say these have officially replaced my AirPods and the Cleer as my everyday carry’s and I really can’t seem them being dethroned (challenge issued). These earphones aren’t what you’d call ‘feature rich’. They don’t have wireless charging, noise cancellation or an app, but I love them.



Final Audio ZE3000 Taken on Nikon Z6


Why?

Any initial interaction with a product is visual and these are beautiful, the rounded pebble like shape of the case blurs the line between an artificial design and an organic item.


A stone that has travelled down stream, eroded to perfection equally by the river and time. Once in the hand you start to experience the texture of the case, made of a lightweight resin, the texture is akin to that of high end up Japanese paper. In fact, for those who are familiar with high end cameras, that same speckled finish makes a showing here on the ZE3000, it is called Shibo, in Japanese, translated it means a wrinkle in a surface of paper.



Final Audio ZE3000 Taken on Nikon Z6


From what I understand, this coating/texture is typically applied to metal surfaces and it was a relative innovation from Final to work out how to achieve the same coating on resin. The over all effect of this matt finish is not only one that feels satisfying in the hand but one that is mightily resistant to fingerprints, dust, dirt and general shit, thus always keeping your ZE3000 looking pristine.


Being equip with the latest bluetooth 5.1 means pairing is a breeze, flipping open the top lid they pair almost immediately with you device of your choice.


Do I really care about the lack of wireless charging? To be completely honest, not really. Since my earphones live in my bag I very seldom remember to put them on charge so I end up - last minute - fumbling around and connecting them to a fast charger for half an hour.

For me, the absence of noise cancelling was going to be a deal breaker until I put them in my ears. I would love to learn more about this but Final seem to have an exceptional understanding of the anatomy of the ear, this is shown by the great design of their ear tips and ergonomic contours of the ear piece. The result of this understanding has resulted in an earpiece that fits perfectly in my ears, so well in fact that the passive noise isolation is better then the active noise cancellation of many other true wireless earphones.



Final Audio ZE3000 Taken on Nikon Z6


In a nut shell, I don’t miss those extra features.


The one thing I hope Final introduce sooner than later is the ability to connect to two devices at the same time, this helps power users like myself to switch between a laptop and phone.


Finally my favourite part of the ZE3000. I mean no hyperbole when I say this but these are by far and away the best sounding true wireless earphones I’ve ever heard, in fact they wipe the floor with most of the wired earphones I've heard.


It maintains the Final DNA, a clean, clear, articulate, fast sound that has been tempered by this beautiful low end warmth allowing you listen for hours with little to no fatigue.


How have they done it?


My initial prognosis was a pact with the devil, perhaps a blood sacrifice? No, it's far cleverer than that. Final have decided to design a new driver, coupled with an interesting driver housing design and boy oh boy can you hear it.

Another aspect of the ZE3000’s that surprised me was the interface, a tiny touch panel that works brilliantly, very responsive without being easy to accidentally touch or activate. In my opinion, the combination of the styling, the fit, price and sound make these a no brainer.

Moving on to the Final Audio headphones, the UX3000 and arguable these are even more impressive and perplexing then the ZE3000’s!



Final Audio UX3000 Taken on Nikon Z6

Unlike the earphones, these come with everything plus the kitchen sink, noise cancelling, multi point connection, the whole shebang, for £119, writing that feels wrong, a fact my puny mind is unable to comprehend.


These come with the same Shibo finish which is of course exquisite, having both the black ZE3000 and UX3000 is a real killer look.


Before I get in to the details of my experiences with the sound or comfort I'd like to address the noise cancelling.


Now, a lot of fuss has been made about this hybrid noise cancelling feature, allow me to save you a ton of time to explain firstly how it works and what the real world effect is. If your not aware how standard NC works, essentially it uses microphones to listen to and detect the frequencies of your environment. This then allows them to send out an opposing frequency to cancel out the sound of the outside world, the UX3000’s also work like this but the difference is (from my understanding) it can adjust the level of noise cancelling on the volume of your surroundings.


Does it work?

Sure.


Is it noteworthy?


Not really.


Its decent noise cancelling, but nothing to write home about. I’m glad its there but I believe offerings from Bose, Sony or even Cleer do a better job at making you feel you’re the last person on Earth. What I can say is that Final manage to mitigate the feeling of pressure that many people find objectionable about ANC (Active Noice Canceling).



Final Audio UX3000 Taken on Nikon Z6


What I do find noteworthy is the comfort, in fact these are the first headphones since the Bose QC35’s that I can wear all day, have no problems with clamping force, over heating or pressure points at the top of my head. This remarkable comfort is achieved by being very light, having supple leather ear pads/headband with a foam that has a high ‘squish factor’ (new technical term).


Once these grace your head with the elegance of a cloud you now have a chance to understand what a pair of Final headphones sound like.



Final Audio UX3000 Taken on Nikon Z6


Let me put this in to perspective, these are the guys that make a near £5,000 pair of headphones in the form of the D8000 Pro’s, so for £119 you get to crack the door open and through a crevice see what’s on the other side and may I say, as crevices go, this is perhaps the best I've seen.

Take the sound signature I described for the ZE3000’s and make everything bigger, the primary difference between UX and ZE’s are size, not physical but auditory. The bass is deeper, the vocals richer and the soundstage, mind-blowing, not the kind of performance you would expect from an affordable pair of wireless headphones yet exactly what I would expect from something with the Final Audio brand.

I guess my only criticism would be the pouch the come with, let me repeat that, the SOFT POUCH. I understand that for the price exceptions must be made but come on chaps, I would happily pay £150 for them and have a beautifully made hard case more in line with the companies design language.



Final Audio UX3000 Taken on Nikon Z6


The UX3000 and ZE3000 are now my go to true wireless products, yes they may not be everyones cup of tea but I feel if you use these products with an open mind you realise slowly but surely, like a dream after you’ve just awoken, the negatives drift away until you are left bobbing your head to your favourite tracks, engulfed in the audio prowess of your new Final Audio headphones.


I would love to hear about your experiences with Final products or any true wireless products you guys have had great experiences with! But for now, I bid you all adieu, thank you for your time and attention, I hope you are all staying safe and more importantly, staying curious.


For my UK readers please do visit the below links to purchase these items.


Final Audio ZE3000


Final Audio UX3000

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