final A8000

General Information

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final’s flagship model realizes transparent sound for the uplift that can be gained by listening to music.

Awards

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General Information
Brand:
final
Country: Japan
Series: A series
Model Name: A8000
Price: USD1999
Official Website: [Link]
Intro / Q&A thread in Head-Fi: [Link]

Specification
Drivers:
Truly Pure Beryllium Driver
Housing Material: Stainless Steel
Finishing: Mirror Polished
Cable: final OFC silver coated cable 3.5mm/1.2m
Sensitivity: 102 dB/mW
Impedance: 16 Ohm
Weight: 41g

Accessories
Aluminum & Silicone Hybrid Carrying Case, Final Type E Black Ear tips, MMCX ASSIST, Dust Filter

Review
English

Audio46 - [Review]
Currawong - [Youtube Unboxing]
Headphones HiFi Reviews - [Youtube Review]
MajorHifi - [Review]
Nobsaudiophile - [First impression]

Korean
Scheherazade - [Youtube Review]

HongKong
feverSound com - [Youtube Review]
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Latest reviews

Pros: Bass is the best from an IEM I can remember. Mids and treble have a stunning clarity. They look beautiful.
Cons: Fit. Too heavy. The angular edges can create some pinching sensations in the ear. They tend to want to slide out of the ear. The accessories are lacking and cheap. They are expensive; very expensive.
The ultimate IEM? The Final Audio A8000

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May I thank you for at least reading these first few words, in a World where everything seems like it's taking too long or is out of date before it's on the shelf. Bear with me, if you will, for a 15 minute dip into the thoughts of a like minded individual just like you. You are caught up in a maze of choices, all of which seem to good to be true, and too tempting to avoid. I'm here for you. Stick with me, let us see where the journey takes us:relaxed: and welcome to my first written article for some time.
First of all, shout outs to the people behind the scenes who made this possible. @ostewart - Oscar, a great great reviewer and an asset to this hobby. A man of integrity, something to be admired in this day and age. Oscar introduced us all to a distributor, John Creigan of K & S Technology, who has supplied the tour model and been kind enough to cover our postage costs. Why have a distributor, a middle man between us and another company? I hear your cry. And I am extremely glad you have asked the question! Take the company in question here, Final Audio, for instance. Final are based in Japan. Without a UK distributor, it's a direct from Japan deal. No auditioning of said item, outside of the usual audio shows. Customs charges. Yes! And handling charges! And delays. Oh the wait! It can be agonising! And what if it gets lost in the post? Or damaged? Or goes wrong? OMG! This is putting me into a cold sweat just writing about this! A distributor solves all of these problems. They send them out to shops. The shops have them available for demo. You put your card into the machine, they hand you over the box. Any problems, you go back to the shop, the shop sorts your problems out. Simple. Stress free. In a life where trouble lurks behind every click on the "Buy Now" button of our souls, redemption can be found through the distributor. Distributors; what's not to love?

About the Final A8000

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The Final Audio A8000 is a flagship IEM. It is the best 1 they do. The statement product, against which Final are willing to compete with the best of the best. Make no mistake, flagships are a tense business. They are serious. And they tend to command an equally sobering price tag. The A8000 are available in the UK, in all good outlets, for a cool £2000.
Let us look at what you get for £2000. The A8000 is a single driver design. It has a detachable cable feature. It is sensitive enough to sound half decent from the headphone port of a smartphone, but ideally would look for something with a slightly better amplifier. How could a tiny little thing like an iem justify such a lofty price tag? Final Audio informs us that they have spent a great deal of money on the materials used in the A8000. The flagship has a special driver in it. The driver is made from beryllium. Beryllium is expensive to make. It needs some of the most stringent quality control standards of any factory. It is extremely toxic when being produced. Don't worry; once it gets to us, it is as safe as any other iem for sale. The manufacturer takes all the risk. We just have to bear that risk in the retail price.
This metal is incredibly strong, and can therefore cope with being stretched. This creates the right conditions for a driver to keep to low distortion levels. Low distortion levels are what we seek in our journey to find the best in the World. Most every iem at this price level will have more than 1 driver doing the work. A driver in an iem is tiny. Most drivers would not be capable of really decent full range reproduction. To overcome this, a manufacturer will put in drivers for bass mid and high frequencies. More drivers, bigger sound. Each driver will have a cut off point, or a come alive point, in the frequency range. Each driver will need a crossover. Crossovers create distortion. There is a trade off. If a full range driver with low distortion could be made then just maybe it could outperform the rest of the pack.
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This is where Final Audio come in. They believe they have created just that; a single driver that will conquer them all. You may be reading this and thinking; so if I get these, I can hang up my hat and say I'm finished; I've got the best IEM and the curtain is closed once and for all and no other will ever compete. No my friend! No! Never! There will always be more innovations, more claims to greatness. Even Final will not rest on their laurels for long. Something else will force us out of complacency and get us back looking at these reviews. I am not aware of anything being made with kryptonite yet! There is much left to do!
A driver is, of course, a very important part of what makes an iem great. However, there are other factors involved. This is where I come in. I will take you on a journey. We shall scour every detail I think is important. Then you can see whether this is truly the object of your desire.

Accessories/build

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The Final Audio A8000 is a relatively simple affair. You get a cable. You get the iems. You get a small box of tips. You get a metal pouch to carry them in. Apart from a few odds and sods, that's it. No frills. No interchangeable filters. No posh booklets. No certificates of frequency response curves etc. I didn't know what I was expecting. But, for £2000 I was underwhelmed. You will say, who cares? If it's got the sound quality I want, I'll do without all the paraphernalia, they can keep it! And you might be right. Let's see. But let's go through this stuff first. Because, it can make a difference.

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We start with the box. Cardboard outer sleeve, cardboard box inside. Typical iem size. No leather swankiness. Let us move on.

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First layer protects the contents with silk paper.

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Then wax paper follows.

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And we open up said paper to reveal this metal pouch. It is a brushed steel affair and looks like it cannot be scratched. It's a weighty thing. It has more than a passing resemblance to a pebble in both size and heft.

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The A8000's are opened from the bottom. 3 soft clasps keep the iem tightly under wraps.

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The pouch is open and we can now see the A8000s. They are tastefully coiled together to get the iems neatly tucked away. There are no bands or wires to keep the cable from doing it's own stubborn thing and it takes some practice to get these in the box. A bit of patience and they're safely away for the night.

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The rest. At the bottom we have a set of different size tips. Top left - a cable detachment device. It looks cheap and cheerful. But it does work really well. A bag of black dots is in the top right. These are replacement dust filters. The filters are presumably easy enough to change, because those dots are tiny. So it must be child's play. I didn't spend much time deliberating over this, my apologies. Lower right we have a set of silicon ear hooks. They look cheap and would detract from that silver braided cable for sure. Why didn't they make the cable with some memory wire attached? Each to their own. There'll be a reason.

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A shot of the twisted braid cable. It looks lovely doesn't it? It's quite heavy. But then, so are the driver shells.

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A close up of the terminations. Not a blob of solder or silicon to be seen. As you'd expect from a flagship. And no hand need ever pull at these to prise them out of the respective drivers, thanks to those tweezer/plier things.

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A side view of that stainless steel finish. Almost like 2 pieces of jewellery.

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The underside offers the only clue to the untrained eye that these are made by Final. The laser etching is nicely done, but mysteriously absent from the front.

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A view of the unbalanced jack plug. Some strengthening here and some plastic alas is forced into our picture. This right angled plug has to be pulled out of the socket by hand and stainless steel gives way to slightly lighter, cheaper material, although it is almost transparent. There are some advantages of plastic over metal, though, of course, not normally in the lustre of the finish. Put these down on a glass table outside on a hot summer's day for very long. I'm sure your ears might regret that decision! Safe to say; keep these tucked away in that pouch if you're not using them.

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As we admire the beauty of these iem's, we must also bear in mind that beauty needs function as well. Can you see the right hand edge of that driver? That had the nasty habit of giving the cartilage of my left ear a good seeing to after 30 minutes of use.

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The flawless lines of these stainless steel drivers are difficult to argue against. But stainless steel is heavy and smooth as silk. With only a small eartip to keep these trapped in the ear canals, they were often trying to sneak out.The shells had a habit of sliding out of my ear canal, more so when I was leaning to one side.

The sound

I admit to not giving the most positive impressions above regards the lack of accessories and problems I had with the fit. All this will pale into insignificance if we can get the sound quality right. Headfier's can put up with some hardship if they are transported when they press play. That is a known fact. Let us now get to the nitty gritty.

Bass

I am pleased to tell you that the bass that comes out of the A8000 is the best bass I've heard from an iem. I will do my best to explain why, in as jargon free a manner as I can summon. There is subbass, the type of bass that you can feel more than hear. There is air moving against the ear. The sensation is almost fleeting at times. It stays there just long enough for you to wonder if it was really there at all. So it is fast and tight. The mid and upper bass has that similar viscerality. It just sounds right. I know the bass must have been tweaked to achieve this impression. I remained enchanted and enthralled throughout my time with them.

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Mids/highs

I had a mixed reaction to the rest of the frequency range. The driver did do some great things. There was a delicacy and poise to the sound, in many tracks. Even some of the older numbers showed an ethereal quality to them. Albatross by Fleetwood Mac, with it's minimalist approach and the way in which the guitars ask and answer each other in harmonic bliss. Yes, we definitely have something here.
The longer I listened for, the more I became aware that many of the tracks have too much going on in them for them to properly benefit from the approach of the A8000. The fact is that the driver is very close to the eardrum and nothing is left out on the A8000. I found that fatigue was starting to set in after several loud rock tracks. There is more in my YouTube presentation shown below:




Conclusion

With much to like about the A8000, a bass that underpins the pedigree of these flagship iems, and a mid and high presentation that can bring out the very best in acoustic and orchestral music, there remains some question marks as to whether these can justify the £2000 price tag. I know that some have already bought these. They are absolutely delighted with their purchase. If you can, please try these out for yourselves. If you can get a satisfaction or your money back, even better again. Please keep in touch with the growing numbers that are showing interest in these products, as your opinion as an owner has an equal validity to mine. Thank you for your time, keep listening, keep reading and keep headfi'ing!
Pros: Outstanding clarity. Comfortable fit. Attention to details such as earpieces and cable removal tool. Good cable. Repairability. Very neat carry case.
Cons: A bit bright in the treble, to the point of sibilance on some tracks. TOO revealing of flaws in the music. Earpieces are a bit heavy. Packaging is a bit basic.

Final approached me to review their latest flagship IEMs and I had no idea what to expect. Possibly the biggest surprise was the single, pure beryllium dynamic driver. I have been a fan of dynamic driver IEMs, such as the DITA, Campfire Atlas and HiFiMan RE2000 though the tuning of the latter two weren't always the most friendly with all types of music.

The A8000 arrived in somewhat of an un-remarkable box -- at this price many people expect something along the lines of what Sony provides with the IER-Z1R (but, granted, Sony has always been the king of overkill packaging, even with their cheaper offerings). A small amount of critique is also worth putting towards their use of plastic in this day and age, though that is as much a reflection of Japan and its high-tech incineration of burnable garbage as anything.

A nice surprise is the remarkably thin case. I consider most zip pouches (think Campfire and Meze) to be sufficiently small, but the clever metal-and-rubber case of the A8000s is no thicker than one of my average-sized hands, and makes those aforementioned zip cases look unsophisticated in comparison.

The attention to detail is what makes the A8000 special. One has to start with the yellow cable removal tool. Why has nobody thought of this before?!? It takes much of the stress out of removing the cables from the IEMs.

The optional ear guides, which appear to be made of silicon, can, with a bit of fiddling, be attached to the cables and provide a comfortable way to maintain a good fit of the IEMs. This balances nicely against their weight which, being polished steel, are on the heavy side.

The cable, while not being particularly remarkable beyond the matching metal parts, is particularly good. At one point I swapped it with the Campfire Audio Reference 8, and found that to be possibly a slight downgrade, rather than an upgrade to the sound so I'll say no more about it. Maybe those more enthusiastic about cable rolling will find a good match.

Sound, of course, is where the A8000 is excellent, initially surprising with a large soundstage (as much as an IEM can have soundstage). Listening through a wide variety of music from my Hugo 2, the degree of clarity surprised me. In getting a handle on the sound signature, I found the A8000s delivered bass to what seemed the exact degree that it was in the music. If there was a lot, then a lot of was delivered. If there wasn't much, then that is what you heard. It was of sufficient quality that during some tracks, I felt that I didn't like the bass presentation, and it wasn't the IEMs, but clearly the result of the mastering itself that I had disagreement with.

The spaciousness of the sound made me feel initially that the mid-range is a bit recessed, as vocals and instruments were not up-front. I think part of this may have been to do with the treble, which, while outstanding in quality, is on the bright side and, if Jude's measurements are anything to go by, slightly higher than the Harman target curve for IEMs. Patricia Barber's Higher album was sibilant, for example. Memories of the HD800 when they were released and our issues with SCHWEEET Jane come to mind. When this wasn't an issue, however, the most difficult of instruments were reproduced with excellent clarity, such as cymbals and violin.

It was this brutal reveal, and complete lack of editorialisation of the sound that are the hallmark of the A8000. High-quality recordings were outstanding. Stuff that I like a lot but clearly has distortion was fairly unlistenable. Compare that to, say, the HiFiMan RE2000, which, with its v-shaped sound, brings plenty of bass to the sound, while the hot treble brings air, colouring everything (as most IEMs do) but, where the music is good, in a pleasant way. The A8000, on the other hand, gives you the music exactly as it is (plus a bit of brightness).

Unlike the RE2000, which has to be used with narrow-bore tips, or the sound goes all wonky, the A8000 has the output of the driver going through four holes, providing sufficient restriction that wide-bore tips have less effect. This made the use of Spiral Dot tips possible, though they didn't seem to provide a significant benefit over the stock, and very good Final Type E tips that are included.

Ultimately, Final's A8000 is sonically too good. If it weren't for the treble being a bit too hot, I might have considered giving them 5 stars.

Silent unboxing:
Infoseeker
Infoseeker
If you go to Japan again, any chance you can try out the Simphonio Vr1 to compare?
Another japan scene iem of the same tier that people probably won't get to try.
Final Audio
Final Audio
Hi @Currawong , thank you very much for your review. What you think about the A8000 is very good references for our other future A's. Thanks!
Pros: Exciting, airy, huge stage and excellent imaging, great extension, transients and detail
Cons: Quite unforgiving, two driver resonances in sibilance regions, heavy and not very comfortable with stock cable
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A8000 is the new flagship from Final Audio, featuring a single beryllium dynamic driver.

This review was organised by K&S Technology and Final Audio and I'm thankful for this opportunity.

In the box:
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  • IEMs
  • 1.2m 3.5mm cable
  • MMCX Assist tool
  • Metal case
  • 5 Sets of silicone tips
  • Replacement mesh filters
  • Earhooks

Accessories:
It's hard to approach build quality of such a luxury item without expectations, especially considering how much the cheaper market has improved over last year. Thankfully the A8000 delivers in this regard.

The IEM shells, made out of steel feel very well finished, with substantial weight to them, the edges are, even though they look quite sharp are perfectly finished.

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The cable is nicely braided and light, it doesn't keep much memory and isn't prone to microphonics, to me the included "earhooks" are kind of a strange idea but they are the best implementation of this kind of system I've seen so far, but more on that later.
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The case has an extremely premium feel to it, the finish and texture are just a pleasure to handle even though I would have preferred slightly roomier one if I was going to change the cable. The MMCX Assist tool is probably one of the best tools for IEMs I've seen, as someone who owns a lot of cables, it proves very useful and saves from the stress of disconnecting MMCX plugs which are prone to breakage.

The added mesh filters are a really nice touch, the amount of IEMs where those got dirty and had to be cleaned and re-glued with DIY methods I had over the years is hard to count. This proves Final is taking the longevity of the A8000 seriously.

All in all, the quality of the accessories is very nice, however, I wish a second balanced cable and some different tip options would be provided in such an expensive package.

Fit and comfort:
The A8000 is made of steel which makes them very heavy, this combined with their shape proved to be quite fatiguing to wear for prolonged periods of time. After a couple of hours, the IEMs would start hurt the back part of the ear and it would only get worse over time.
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The cable without the ear hooks was quite difficult for me to use, it wouldn't provide enough support to take some of the IEM weight off of the ear which in turn made them fatiguing to wear even faster.

Sound:
A8000 has a U shaped with great speed, extension and amazing staging capabilities.

Bass:
Tight, fast, with a subbass emphasis. The A8000 manages to play the deepest notes of "Bonefied - Window" effortlessly, presenting all the detail in a volume of clean extremely detailed sound. There's absolutely no bleed or lack of control anywhere. The beryllium driver definitely does its job here.

Midrange:
Again, fast and very detailed sound, with great timbre with maybe a touch of metallic sheen to it which to me was most noticeable with acoustic guitars getting. Vocals are more forward than they should be considering the U shaped signature which is surprising but welcome to see. Female vocals can get slightly hollow depending on tips used (I recommend acoustune AET08 and spinfit CP145). No matter how busy the mix, A8000 present everything effortlessly. As I was listening to some badly mastered music it became apparent the A8000 isn't forgiving of badly recorded tracks, especially of sibilance. To make matters worse, the resonance region of the driver seems to overlap with the voice sibilance region which made the effect even worse for those tracks.

Treble:
Yet again, treble is very detailed, fast and extends very well. It has a substantial amount of air and creates an incredible sense of air within the music. All this comes at a cost, A8000 doesn't forgive a bad mix or slightly emphasised cymbals presenting them as quite harsh. Scrubbing through a frequency generator it's easy to find another driver resonance in the 7-8k region.

Imaging and Soundstage:
Staging is probably where the A8000 shines the most, you are presented with this room like experience. More than a few times, during my listening, I had to check whether my speakers were off, that's not an easy feat for an IEM. On top of that, the imaging and layering are excellent.

Conclusion:
Final A8000 are unique, they create a portable listening experience which can compare to a room with speakers. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost, driver resonances rendering most of the average or badly mastered music hard to listen to. Is it worth the asking price of £1999? I think that largely depends on what music you listen to and whether you can justify the price tag of uniqueness.
skedra
skedra
I meant more to tune the driver, I assumed it is based on the hole looking thing in front of the driver and another one at the bottom of the iems.
Final Audio
Final Audio
Oh! That is correct. There are 4 places involved in the tuning, The one in front of the driver, and the one under the housing as you mentioned. And another 2 are inside the housing.
tunes
tunes
To date, nothing I have heard can match the wide open sound stage of the Empire Ears Zeus Adele and very disappointing that this technology has not been adapted by others. It simply makes the IEM experience as close to open back circumaural headphones as possible for home use.

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