1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

2019 New model, B1 from final, Japan.

final B1

Rating:
4.5/5,

Recent Reviews

  1. jwbrent
    The B1 - Hybrid Design With Spectacular Immediacy
    Written by jwbrent
    Published Jul 18, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Beautiful aesthetics with top quality build, low profile comfortable fit, high performance sound with big bass and smooth mids/trebles, scales really well with better gear/source material, updated and improved silicone case, great value for its level of performance
    Cons - The bass can be a bit thick sounding with certain recordings, needs power to sound its best
    874_ext_08_en_3.jpg

    Introduction
    With the introduction of the MAKE series of IEMs last year, final began an exploratory mission with a new, sleek casing design that was meant to surpass the comfort level of its previous efforts for the widest variety of listeners. The MAKE series was unique in that it also allowed the user to open up the casing in order to tune the sound to their liking with supplied filters. This exploratory undertaking was launched to document data via user feedback on the most popular tuning choices, and to ensure the geometry of the new casing design had met its target.

    The just introduced B series from final is the result of its endeavor to create a line of IEMs that maximizes comfort, and to also establish a new paradigm in the price/performance equation. The B series includes three models with the top end version—the B1 ($699)—the subject of this review.

    874_ext_08_en_1.jpg

    Impressions
    I'd like to first mention my thanks to Michael Brown, the US distributor for final products. Michael provided free samples of all three B series models in exchange for my forthright assessment (I will be writing reviews in the near future on the B3 and B2).

    My source component for this review is the Astell&Kern AK240SS ($3,000). As you will read, it had just enough power to properly drive the low sensitivity B1 (94dB). I didn’t engage any EQ during my evaluation. The music used spanned many genres with CD rips from my music library as well as purchased hi res files. Finally, per the advice of final, I burned in the B1 for 150 hours before I did any critical listening.

    The B1 is perhaps the most beautiful IEM I've ever used. The rose gold color is quite stunning, and it is finished with a polished luster. The shimmering silver OFC cable included (1.2m) only adds to the elegance of the total package. The casings are smaller than I had guessed from the photos I had seen, and easily fit within my ears, showing little sign of their presence when viewed straight on from the front of my head. The picture below of the MAKE3 (again, same casing) should demonstrate this quality:

    692_ext_16_en_15.jpg

    I'm somewhat anal about fit and finish, and the B1 meets my expectations of a finely made product. Just gorgeous!

    874_ext_09_en_8.jpg

    With such precision in its construction, I was surprised when I read the B series was made in China. Now, I understand China is capable of manufacturing world class products, but being half Japanese, I appreciate the pride that goes into Japanese products of this caliber. I reached out to my contact at final and was told that final engineers were on hand to oversee the manufacturing of the first few weeks of production, completely satisfied with the results. It just comes down to the cost of materials and labor, its less expensive in China and final wanted to achieve reasonable price points for its new lineup. It's a great thing that more enthusiasts will be able to afford the B1, as well as the B3 ($499) and B2 ($299).

    The B1 is a hybrid design which uses a dynamic driver and a balanced armature driver. What's unique about this design is neither driver uses a crossover circuit, rather, they are tuned by final to musically assimilate with each other over the entire frequency range. Let's see how this turned out in my listening sessions. ...

    81yeg-RiZfL._SX425_.jpg Rachmaninov / Symphonic Dances / Non allegro (24/48)

    I'm a fan of the Romantic period and Rachmaninov in particular, easily one of my favorite composers. I used this recording to test out the bass performance since this is a noted design feature of the B1—it did not disappoint. Early in the first movement, the kettle drums are reproduced with such force, it made me jump on first listen. Although final suggests in its literature the B1 is designed with a narrower dynamic range than the other B series models, the impact and consequent reverberation of the drums was clearly heard without strain or compression, bringing drama to this beautiful composition.

    image.jpg The Doors / L.A. Woman / Riders on the Storm (24/96)

    My favorite group from the 60s, and their best album, in my view. Ray Manzarek's electric piano play figures prominently in this song and sets up a good sense of a lateral soundstage. Jim Morrison's voice sounds big and immediate adding a sense of stage height, and all the while a soundtrack of rain falling creates an illusion of depth to the sound. The B1 reproduces this 48 year old recording with intimacy and great rhythm, and I kept on replaying the song over and over fully immersed in the music.

    41zVT3L-IyL._SX425_.jpg Leftfield / A Final Hit / Afro-Left (16/44.1)

    The B1 is well suited for electronic music, and this song shows that capability quite well. The bass line sounds expansive with good detail, yet there is some overhang due to the tuning of the B1. Pace, rhythm, and timing (PRaT) are excellent, my feet tapping to the beat, and leaving me in a state of musical bliss. With this song, I began to understand final's contention that the dynamic range of the B1 is designed to be narrower, but my view is it's with macro dynamics where the B1 shows this character; there's a flattening to the sound at high volume levels that's heard. Finally, due to its low sensitivity, if loudness is your game, you're going to need some power, cell phones likely will falter.

    image-5.jpg Alanis Morissette / Jagged Little Pill / All I Really Want (24/44.1)

    Alanis Morissette has a unique voice that can easily reveal any sense of stridency or sibilance in the playback chain. It is due to the refinement of the B1's upper frequencies that this characteristic doesn't come forward. In fact, one of the outstanding areas of performance on the B1 is how smooth sounding the trebles are. The harmonica playing comes through with bite, yet is never overbearing, it just sounds like a harmonica in real space. There is great layering within the soundstage, even with this dense recording.

    image-3.jpg ZZ Top / Eliminator / Gimme All Your Lovin' (24/96)

    Turn it up! Great song, great album. Even though the B1's mid-bass is slightly thick sounding, with this kind of music this becomes a positive attribute. PRaT is wonderful, head bopping, my legs can't stop moving. This is what high fidelity is all about, raising one's emotions to such a level, the connection to the artist creates a hedonist's dream come true. Pure pleasure.

    image-2.jpg Miles Davis / Doo-Bop / Doo-Bop Song (24/192)

    Big, big fan of Miles. Add another genre to the B1's repertoire ... hip-hop fusion. Although Miles Davis is best known for his 50s-60s jazz albums, later in his life he experimented with other styles of music. This song has an emphasized bass track which the B1 reproduces with added emphasis, yet it doesn't intrude much on the lower midrange, to my ears anyway. His trumpet playing is very clean sounding, fully expressed with harmonic overtones, dynamically moving along with the groove of the music. Great sense of depth, too. Check it out!

    Summary
    When the research and development team at final began working on the B1, they hoped to produce an IEM whose sound and comfort would raise its profile against other similarly priced models from other brands. I believe they have achieved their objective. Comfort is very important for long listening sessions, and the B1's smooth edged geometric casing, sleek in design, is a clever way to minimize the contact points when the B1 is paced in one's ears. Couple that to the excellent E series tips that are included to create a good seal, I was able to listen for hours without any discomfort. And what a sound to listen to! A weighty bass that blends nicely with the upper registers of the frequency range which themselves have great clarity but are absent of any grain or stridency. This is an IEM for those most interested in tone. Macro dynamics are somewhat ordinary in this model, and soundstage capture is smaller than other IEMs I've owned in the same price range, e.g., the Sennheiser IE 800. But the tone of the B1 is what makes it a worthy option for consideration, as beautiful as its rose gold finish.

    When properly appointed, the final B1 will bring incredible pleasure to the listener at a price that competes strongly with other IEMs under $1,000. It certainly has rocked my world!
    1. View previous replies...
    2. iBo0m
      Exactly what I was talking about :), it's always nice to hear others opinions because we usually hear the things slightly differently... By the diagram, FA tried to give a general idea... Based on the drivers, it would be even surprising if both B2 and B3 have almost a similar sound signature/response.
      iBo0m, Jul 21, 2019
      jwbrent likes this.
    3. TooPoorForHiFi
      Eyes On Me by Faye Wong is horrifying on the B1, That 7K spike is Ear-Piercing, it hurts. It is manageable at low volume but this IEM shines w/ Higher Volume? =(
      TooPoorForHiFi, Jul 27, 2019
    4. jwbrent
      I never had this issue in my listening sessions, but I don’t have the album you’re referring to.
      jwbrent, Jul 27, 2019

Comments

To view comments, simply sign up and become a member!