final D8000 Pro Edition - Reviews
Pros: Excellent detail retrieval. Transparent/neutral/uncoloured presentation. Great build quality. Repairability.
Cons: Heavy, and can be uncomfortable. Price

Over the many years that I’ve attended the Tokyo FUJIYAAVIC headphone festivals, Final (or Final Audio as they used to be called, and now trading under the S'NEXT brand) were something of an enigma. Their original stewardship under Kanemori Takai resulted in some very unique headphones and IEMs that gained a loyal following amongst some Head-Fi members, though many were put off by their rather unusual tuning.

Every time I tried their flagship headphones, I was not at all impressed, though their mid-range offerings seemed to have something worthwhile going. It wasn’t until after Kanemori passed away, and the company folded into S’NEXT that things started to get interesting.

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The D8000 headphones, their first planar magnetic, were announced at a special private event at one of the Tokyo festivals. Detailing the in-house manufacture of the headphones, and offering an audition, I liked what I heard.

It wasn’t until I was offered the new flagship A8000 IEMs, which I agreed to, not knowing what to expect that I got an understanding how Final had transformed. Impressed with those, I arranged a review of both pairs of their flagship headphones.

As far as tonality goes, I have to adjust my perspective relative to how I thought of it before. As far as headphones go, I’d consider the D8000 Pro as relatively neutral, though compared to a free-field speaker response, the mid-range might be considered slightly recessed. I’m more partial to a Harman Target Curve in headphones, and the D8000 Pro is closer to that, and my preferences.

I would describe the D8000 Pro as not emphasising any particular frequency range, unlike, say, the Focal Utopias, which are upper-mid/lower-treble forward, or the warmer-tuned Meze Empyrean, for which I consider an aftermarket cable to bring out the top end a bit more to be a necessity.

The D8000 Pro, to me, has a fascinating character of seeming to have only the character of the music playing. If there is a lot of bass, there is a lot of bass. If there isn’t, there isn’t. If the music is bright and harsh, then bright and harsh is what I hear. Depending on what I’ve been listening with recently, they might seem thin and bright, or warm and dull.

If I’ve been listening with the very lively MYSPHERE, then the D8000 Pro seems dull. If the Empyrean, then they seem lighter on the bass and brighter. This leads me to feel that they sit closest to a “listening neutral” than other headphones I have here.

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In a different direction, detail retrieval is where the D8000 Pro excels. Whether it be a precise bass that delivers deep drum hits with glorious precision, or the passionate expression of Miles Davis’ trumpet on Solea (Sketches Of Spain 50th Anniversary), or the full texture of cymbals on a direct-to-tape recording of Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry (Jex Saarelaht Trio), the music just seems to come through as it is.

I began noticing, as I listened to my usual very eclectic mix of tracks on my 1600-track TIDAL playlist, which I assembled from the music I rated the highest while listening to Radio Paradise, that I could hear how each track was assembled, as it were, from parts (in the case of modern pop/alternative) or the nature of the venue (in the case of traditional stereo recordings). This brought the feeling that I was actually listening to the music, and not the headphone’s editorialising of the music, as is often the case.

Unforgiven was distortion, revealing tape hiss in all its (in)glory on Miles Runs the Voodoo Down (Bitches Brew Live) or the less than stellar mastering of I am Kloot’s Natural History album. But what it brought out in such raw form included, to use the Miles David track just mentioned, was all the glory in the weirdness of that peculiar track. What was interesting was that I noticed a grainy artefact in that album I hadn’t heard before. Checking that it wasn’t an issue with the digital transmission and finding none, it seems that the D8000 Pro had revealed yet another layer of that recording I hadn’t found before.

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The D8000 Pro was no less revealing of up-stream components. Amplification wise, it picked the subtleties of each tube I had put in the Studio Six. The slight mellowness of Audio-gd’s Master 9 also came through cleanly. Out of the Drop THX 789, the D8000 took on a super-lively character, emphasising even the most subtle of details, even with the slightly mellow Schiit Bifrost 2 feeding it.

Likewise, the slightly “musical” character of Soundaware’s P1, which I find to be just the right pairing for the Schiit Yggdrasil when sharpness is less desired, was readily apparent.

For preference, I liked them most on a more lively set-up. I rolled a sharper and clearer-sounding Sylvania or Russian MELZ 6SN7 into the Studio Six, or, sacrificing a bit of depth, used them with the Drop THX AAA 789. I really wish I had one of the Benchmark amps here. Direct out of the Hugo 2 was fantastic as well.

It seems crazy to use this description with what are headphones capable of rendering extreme detail, but the Utopia and Empyrean felt more "one note" when listening for the subtleties in music. The precision of the bass from the D8000 Pro was, for example so blatantly noticeable that even the beats on Sophie Tukker tracks came through more clearly than they did from the other two headphones.

The ever so slightly muted treble, which make the D8000 Pro hard to appreciate when listening at meets, arguably takes away from the liveliness of the sound ever so slightly. Think of the effect you get putting Clear or Elex pads on the Focal Utopia.

However, the result is a balance in the sound that puts them firmly between the Utopia and (re-cabled) Empyrean that is perfect for me. I really wish I could compare them to the Stax SR-009 and T8000 set-up again, as the jump up for me felt like my experience with that system.

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I only wish that the D8000 Pro was as comfortable as the Utopias or Empyreans. Really, that is its only fault, alongside the weight (a result of the heavy magnets used) and slightly unwieldy (if beautifully over-built) stock cable with it’s custom-made plugs on both ends. I weighed the D8000 Pro at 528g, with the cable adding up to another 118 grams. Compare that to the Utopias at 497g, Empyrean at 444g and Susvara at 418g (all measured without the cables). That weight and the big, round ear pads weren't doing me any favours at the end of a long day when I was heading towards getting a headache.

But their construction is excellent, with custom made locking connectors on the headphone end, and a plug on the other that has just the right-shaped entry for the cable. The ear pads stretch on, and the whole set-up can be disassembled into parts for repair.

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That leaves me ultimately impressed with the Final D8000 Pro. I have thought for a long while that planar headphones would eventually catch up with electrostats, but they never quite managed to get there. Now I think that, with the D8000 Pro, at least, they may very well have.

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Source set-up for amps mentioned:
Chord Hugo 2 + 2go
or
Schiit Yggrasil Analog 2 with Unison USB fed by an isolated Raspberry Pi with DietPi.

Attachments

K
Khronos
I wonder how these compare to the RAAL SR-1As, especially since those, when paired with the Johtunheim R are $4k versus the $3.8k these run (while still requiring an amplifier, a duty something like the Schiit Magni could take at that price).
TiborM
TiborM
And they look terrible. Like a cheap toy you will break in a week. Sound must be good 😁
betula
betula
@Currawong, have you tried the original D8000? If you have, any comments on the difference?
Pros: Natural tonality. Very satisfying bass. Extremely smooth transition from bass to treble. Great Build quality. Tight and comfortable fit. Noticeable improvements in clarity and resolution compared to original D8000. Easy to drive.
Cons: High Price. Relatively heavy. Comparatively small soundstage when compares to more expensive headphones (1266 TC and Susvara).
Intro
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The original Final D8000 was one of my favorites headphones. I was planning to write a review about the original D8000, however, when the review was scheduled I saw this brand-new beauty coming up and so I made my immediate purchase purely based on how much I love the original.

After 2 months of experience with D8000 Pro, I can finalize my thought and share some of my impressions with the community. This impression will mainly focus on sound impressions as well as some comparisons with the original D8000 and some other high-end headphones.

Comfort

The original D8000 is reasonably comfortable. However, to me personally, the original pads are a bit too soft, thus, sometimes my ears can touch the drivers. The newer earpads are slightly firmer and it seems that I can get more ear space. The original pads are also a little bit stuffy in the hot and humid summertime. It seems that the newer open-type earpads would provide better breathability, but it needs to be tested when summer comes.

Both original D8000 and D8000 Pro are on the heavier side compare to other hi-end headphones I have. However, the weight is very well distributed, I don’t feel any hot spot on the top of my head. Both D8000 and D8000 Pro fits very tight and secure, I can easily use them for hours. As a matter of fact, D8000 Pro is probably one of the most comfortable headphones I have used, only slightly behind Empyrean and HD800s due to the extra weight. They are lighter than headphones such as LCDs and Abyss and they are more secure than Susvara and Utopia.

Sound Impressions
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D8000 Pro has a sensitivity of 98dB/mW, and impedance of 60Ω, same as original D8000. They are certainly not power-consuming. I heard they can be used on portable players or with portable amps though I never tested them on portable equipment.

This review is based on PC -> Burl B2 Bomber Dante -> Cayin HA300 as the main amplifier/ SMSL sp200 as the alternative amp.

Soundstage and Imaging

The stage out of D8000 Pro is very well scaled. It doesn't have huge dimensions like HD800(mainly width) or 1266 TC but it is very three dimensional. The soundstage from D8000 Pro is more natural and intimate than Susvara, while Susvara has more air (D8000 Pro has enough air for my taste, Susvara just has a little bit more).

The separation for D8000 Pro is outstanding, instruments are not separated too far like HD800 nor stay too close with each other like Utopia. The separation is just about perfect for genres like rock, metal, EDM, and pop. I can easily catch a clear yet concentrated image from D8000 Pro.

The overall imaging stays close enough to let me feel emotionally engaged, unlike Susvara which is a bit distant. It is also very clean; I would say much cleaner than the original D8000 which sometimes makes me confused when listening to some extreme genres like thrash metal and metalcore.

Bass

The bass from D8000 Pro is almost perfect if we consider Abyss 1266 has the perfect bass. Deepness, clarity, rumble, impact, speed… D8000 Pro can meet almost every desire you wish from a headphone.

There are only a few things that D8000 Pro can’t beat Abyss 1266 in the bass such as the “subwoofer alike” plangent bass from Abyss 1266, and Abyss 1266 reach slightly deeper in the sub-bass. However, in my opinion, D8000 Pro has a faster and fuller mid-bass.

D8000 Pro has noticeably less bass quantity than the original D8000, but the bass from D8000 Pro is better controlled with significantly better clarity. D8000 Pro is never a "basshead" headphones, it focusses more on quality than quantity. If you desire lots of bass quantity with relatively decent quality, you might want to check out the original. To me, enough is enough, original D8000 is too bassy for my taste.

Mid

The mid from original D8000 is my favorite part. It is not overly pronounced, and it is very sweet and creamy. The mid-range of the original D8000 is quite unique. You can catch all the details behind the warm and musical tonality. It is like twilight when you can see the sharpness of moonlight behind the afterglow. I won't deny the original D8000 is slightly V-shape in terms of energy distribution. But in my opinion, D8000 is one of the most artistic V-shaped headphones. I haven't heard any other V-shaped headphones better than D8000.

The mid from D8000 Pro is slightly more pronounced with better clarity and better separation. The overall mid-range sounds a lot more energetic, and it is no longer a V-shaped headphone. When listening to metal tracks, the snare slams and guitar riffs are cleaner and more concentrated. I can't stop headbanging when listening to Lamb of God, fortunately, D8000 Pro fits tight enough on my head.

There are some tradeoffs from the D8000 to Pro edition. From the original D8000 to D8000 Pro, you will lose some warmth and uniqueness I mentioned above, but you will get a cleaner and more energetic presentation in D8000 Pro. That’s being said, if you want a relaxing sound signature, go for original, if you want a fun and engaging sound signature, go for Pro.

Treble

The treble from D8000 Pro is slightly warmer and thicker than the original D8000. In my opinion, this is a good thing. From my experience, the original D8000 sometimes delivers some unexpected sharpness in the treble. It happens no matter what quality or genre of music. D8000 Pro cut off some edges in the treble, it now sounds better controlled and more coherent with mid and bass. D8000 Pro still has enough beautiful sparkles and treble decay to remind me it comes from D8000.

Comparison
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D8000 Pro vs D8000

I have stated enough differences between Pro and OG in the body of sound impressions. Here I just want to summarize some main points:

· D8000 Pro has better clarity, better separation where is the biggest improvement from the original to Pro. You paid extra money not only for different tastes but also for some honest improvements.

· D8000 Pro is more towards “mainstream” tonality, it is clean and very well balanced. D8000 OG is one of the most unique yet appealing headphones I have heard, it is lush, musical and attractive.

· D8000 Pro is professional in rock and metal, so far, the best headphones for these genres I have ever heard. D8000 is better for jazz, old school pop and rock, and some small to medium scale classic. Both are capable of most music genres.

D8000 Pro vs Utopia+ Dana Lazuli Reference

Utopia+ Dana Lazuli Reference is one of my most familiar setups. I have used this combo for about 2 years. For a very long time, Utopia with Dana cable is my "to go" headphones. The Lazuli Ref adds just the right amount of warmth that makes Utopia unexpectedly versatile and suit almost all music genres. However, I have to point out, Utopia has a very intimate soundstage, it is narrower than most headphones in this price range. With Lazuli Ref, Utopia does not sound as "metallic" as it is with the stock cable, but it does sound a little bit unnatural compared with high-end planars.

D8000 Pro is the replacement of Utopia+ Dana combo. D8000 Pro is at least as versatile as Utopia if not better. Besides, D8000 Pro sounds a lot more natural without sacrifices in detail and resolution. In direct comparison, D8000 Pro has a warmer tonality while Utopia is more analytical. Utopia has a brighter treble and a more forward image in mid, D8000 Pro has a slightly roll-off treble but a lot more natural in both treble and mid. D8000 Pro has a more linear bass, while Utopia has a noticeable mid-bass boost. Also, the sub-bass from D8000 Pro reaches deeper, has more impact and sounds clearer. The soundstage from D8000 Pro is wider and deeper.


D8000 Pro

Pros:

· Larger soundstage

· Natural tonality

· Very impactful in the sub-bass

· Smooth transition from bass to treble

Cons:

· Too heavy in comparison

Utopia

Pros:

· Brighter treble (could be a con for some)

· More forward mid

· More comfortable fit

Cons:

· Narrow soundstage




· Lack of sub-bass impact




D8000 Pro vs Susvara

I have owned Susvara for about a year. In my opinion, a well-driven Susvara has a perfect treble, it is pure enjoyment when listening to acoustic guitar, violins, and pianos with Susvara. Despite there is a small dip at around 1k, the overall presentation of Susvara is rather smooth. To me, Susvara is a perfect headphone on its own. Susvara has its clear music preference, it is like the Muse is singing beside you when playing with elegant genres. Such an enjoyable and divine experience. However, if you play metal genres with Susvara, it soon becomes an endless nightmare.

D8000 Pro is much more versatile in terms of both music genres and drivability. The smooth and natural tonality gives D8000 Pro the ability to handle almost all the genres, it might not get a perfect score for all music but a solid 80+. Also, you will never have to use a powerhouse amplifier for D8000 Pro, even a portable player is capable of D8000 Pro. In comparison, D8000 Pro has more sub-bass decay, while Susvara has a tighter bass. The mid from D8000 Pro is a little bit flatter, Susvara is livelier. The treble from D8000 Pro is noticeably darker, while Susvara is brighter yet extremely smooth. Susvara has better resolution and more details. The soundstage is slightly wider and deeper on Susvara.


D8000 Pro

Pros:

· Natural tonality

· Very impactful in the sub-bass

· Richer and fuller in mid

· Easy to drive and capable of various music genres

Cons:

· Too heavy in comparison

· Might be too dark for some

· Slightly fall behind in resolution and details in this comparison

Susvara

Pros:

· Bright yet smooth treble

· A clear image in mid

· More comfortable fit

· Excellent clarity and resolution

Cons:

· Extremely hard to drive

· Limited music adaptability



D8000 Pro vs Abyss 1266 TC

I recently acquired the 1266 TC. I had owned 3 versions of 1266 (OG cross screw version, Phi w/o CC pads and TC), TC is the most balanced version. 1266s are always the attention-grabbing headphones in my collection. The enormous soundstage and the speaker-like image are always impressive no matter what music I'm listening to. Not mention that 1266 also has the best bass in headphones so far, it is like the anger from the thunder lord.

D8000 Pro could be a great complementary headphone for your 1266 TC system. Unlike Susvara which is almost the opposite side of 1266, D8000 Pro shares some similarities with 1266. Both of them have a very solid bass performance with a great amount of bass rumble, which to lots of 1266 fans is an essential requirement (not saying Susvara has a bad bass, but the bass from Susvara focus more on speed and texture). However, their tuning focuses are completely different. D8000 Pro focus more on coherency from bass to treble, it delivers music mildly and fluidly. 1266 focuses more on horizontal expansion and momentum, the sound from 1266 TC is magnificent but sometimes too aggressive. Thus, for many genres like POP, country, old-school rock, and EDM I tend to grab D8000 Pro. For classics, progressive metal and thrash metal I will put on 1266 TC. I use D8000 Pro when I want to have a rest, or I am multi-testing; I use 1266 when I need to cheer up my mood.

Also, D8000 Pro is very flexible to the amplifier, so it shouldn't be a problem for these two headphones to share the same system. So, for budget concern, I prefer D8000 Pro over 009s or Susvara as the partner of 1266TC.

Summary

D8000 Pro is a great subsequent work after D8000. It fixed the existing potential technical limitation on original D8000 and brought out some noticeable improvement in clarity and resolution. But what indeed impressed me is how versatile D8000 Pro is. It can be played on powerhouse tube/SS amplifiers, it can be played on portable players and even cellphones can give it a reasonably good sound. It is multitalented in various music genres. I have used D8000 Pro for two months, but I haven't found one single track that D8000 Pro can't handle properly at a high level.

Technically speaking, I would rank D8000 Pro slightly behind 1266 TC and Susvara due to the comparative limitation in resolution, transparency, and soundstage. But practically speaking, if I have to choose only one pair of headphones for the rest of my life it has to be D8000 Pro. D8000 Pro is ideal for audiophiles who have a varied music taste and seeking ultimate headphones for both house and portable use.

Attachments

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DrummerLeo
DrummerLeo
Powerful AMPs can provide more details, better resolutions, more solid bass, they will reveal the full potential of D8000 pro. Most DAPs are powerful enough to give D8000 Pro a healthy sound, it would not sound weak or weird like you plug some low sensitivity planars or high impedance dynamic headphones in your DAP.
D8000 Pro and Empyrean are the only two high-end full-size headphones that I think can be used with DAPs and still give an enjoyable sound. I personally prefer D8000 Pro, because D8000 Pro is more energetic more fun and engaging, and thus can "hide" some disadvantages of lacking power.
iBo0m
iBo0m
@DrummerLeo Sound promising. However, I still suppose it's a good thing to have the possibility of adding AMP to the D8000 combo :)
DrummerLeo
DrummerLeo
@iBo0m Sure, I do recommend connect D8k pro with a powerful amp for the optimal experience. But they are really not something hard to drive as planars.
Pros: Superlative overall performance with a revised design that allows higher listening levels than the original D8000, micro detail retrieval that contributes to a highly atmospheric and ethereal sound
Cons: None
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Introduction
Back in March of this year, I wrote a review on my newly acquired final D8000 ($3,799) proclaiming it as "my desert isle headphone." It's tonal signature matched up perfectly with my sensitivities, and I preferred it to my Focal Utopia although the Utopia still remains in my collection because there are some things it will do that are quite stellar and it makes for a great stablemate with my D8000. The D8000 has slightly emphasized mid-bass and beautifully portrayed upper frequencies, all with an atmospheric presentation. At the time I wrote my review, I had not experimented too much with very high listening levels, but I did later on and noticed that music with heavy bass lines caused the planar drivers to hit the magnet structure causing a clicking sound. I was afraid I may have damaged the drivers, and after speaking with the US distributor of my concern, he agreed to replace it under warranty. The replacement had slightly better headroom, yet still, with music like Trip-Hop—a favorite genre—I did have to temper my enthusiasm in playing louder in order to protect my considerable investment as well as, more importantly, my aging ears.

Apparently, many other reports of this phenomenon reached back to final Japan, especially from members in the music profession industry, and a revised version with greater headroom was introduced a few months ago, the D8000 Pro Edition ($4,299). Final Japan recently asked if I would like to review a sample of the Pro Edition used at a recent show in Japan, and I jumped at the chance.

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Impressions
I'd first like to take this opportunity to thank Kyo-san, final's International Sales and Marketing Manager, for providing me the loaner for this review. I'd also like to thank Michael Brown, the US final distributor. Those interested in purchasing either model who don't have a local dealer should visit Audio46.

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On receiving the loaner, I burned-in the Pro Edition for over 200 hours using my AK240SS player. My critical listening was done using my main setup: MacBook Air / Audirvana / Qobuz; Chord Qutest DAC; HeadAmp Pico Power amplifier. I used my purchased final Silver OFC cable ($499, 1.5m) with a 3.5mm termination for this review since the loaner came to me with a Silver OFC cable with a 6.3mm connector. No EQ was used during my listening sessions.

The D8000 and the Pro Edition are cut from the same cloth, so my review is not going to be a typical one for me, more a comparison with an emphasis on the sonic differences. For those who are new to final's top-of-the-line models and would like more design/performance information, I refer you to my D8000 review.

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The big issue for me initially was whether the Pro Edition fully addressed the planar drivers hitting the magnet structure at high volume levels since that was my main interest. Where the D8000 maxes out with a sound pressure level (SPL) in the mid-90dB range, the Pro Edition reaches into the high-90dB, low-100dB range according to my modest SPL app (accuracy aside), however, please keep in mind the bass content if emphasized either by mastering or user EQ settings will drop these numbers down a few dB on both models. True to its marketing, final addressed this issue to my satisfaction.

The sound difference between the two is not subtle, yet the family resemblance is apparent. The bass on the Pro Edition is tighter with greater accuracy, and there is no bleed into the lower midrange as there is with the D8000. Additionally, the decay on bass notes is more present on the Pro Edition due to greater articulation of micro detail thus providing a more involved listening experience. Truly spectacular bass performance, in my view.

The midrange has greater presence than that on the D8000, so vocal and instrument portrayal come through with better clarity and expressiveness. Again, as with the bass performance, the decay one hears is mesmerizing. The mids, however, can get a little hot sounding with certain recordings, especially those with questionable sonics. In this area, I prefer the comparatively recessed midrange performance of the D8000, but I certainly can understand the appeal of the midrange some may have with the new model.

The trebles, to my ears, sound bumped up by a few decibels. I understand now why Kyo-san commented to me why the Silver OFC cable is included with the Pro Edition: he was emphatic the Pro model sounds its best with this cable. I do feel this cable provides a slightly warmer top end thus keeping the trebles from getting sibilant, the cables included with the D8000 are brighter sounding.

Summary
I've written around twenty reviews on Head-Fi, yet only two of the products reviewed deserved five stars in my estimation: the D8000 and the HeadAmp Pico Power (for its performance at such a modest price—$475). The Pro Edition brings the total number to three. Will I upgrade my D8000? I would have to take a big hit in selling it, and although I find the Pro Edition a superlative product, firstly, I can't justify spending the money since I am retired, and secondly, I am still captivated by the overall tonal signature of the standard model. Nevertheless, final has again shown why its products are so revered by so many users, including myself. The D8000 Pro Edition will bring its owner auditory bliss and is a serious contender for anyone desiring state-of-the-art performance.
jwbrent
jwbrent
I know that final differentiates the two by the genres each is targeted for, but I found both models work well with a variety of music.
john1711
john1711
If I already own the original D8000, is it worth getting the Pro?
jwbrent
jwbrent
If you like to listen to bass heavy music at louder levels, yes, the Pro is the way to go. However, the tonality is more mid centric with the Pro. The best thing would be to audition a set.
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