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The Final Audio F Series Review: The Balanced Trio.

  1. Niyologist
    INTRODUCTION:

    I'm just a man. A simple man in his mid 20s that's in the pursuit of the Ultimate Sound in Portability. I find myself constantly upgrading my sources my IEMs and Sources every few months or so. Yet I do not hear the Ultimate Sound I seek. So one day, I looked into a thread on this site about an opportunity to review either one of the F Series IEMs or the entire set from Final Audio. I signed up and hoped that I would be picked for the review. A week later. Just before Can Jam. I was contacted by one of the reps of Final Audio and they decided to give me an opportunity to review the entire set. The only way I would do this is if I were to come to Can Jam NYC 2017. So I decided to go to Can Jam NYC 2017 and I was quite excited about the whole event. Especially about receiving the entire F Series set. After the first day of that weekend, I had immediately listened to the entire set in order and consistently did so for over 3 weeks. Did I find the Ultimate Sound? You can find out if I did below.


    Initial Analysis:

    I have been listening to the FA F7200 for a while. One thing I have noticed is the intimate vocals. The F7200 is very capable when it comes to vocal distinction. It sounds very proper for male or female vocals. The presentation of the sound is large, but not commanding. It sounds liquid smooth and polite. Which is great for classical music. Not so good for big orchestral music. That's because it lacks the intensity for powerful big orchestral soundtracks. Soundtracks such as Mars, The Bringer of War by Gustav Holst. Although I must admit. Despite the F7200's polite presentation. The soundstage is very large and three dimensional. With very good imaging and great accuracy. It's definitely the best out of the three.

    The F3100 has more of a "flat" sound. The bass of the F3100 takes a back seat. Yet it's deep and impactful. It doesn't get in the way because the mid bass has been ironed out. The bass is very quick. Making sure nothing is left behind. The Mids are very forward and they are portrayed as very clean. The male vocals are slightly hearty. The female vocals are probably more true to the recording because of the enhanced frequency towards the upper registers. The treble of the F3100 is quite energetic. Very different from the F7200. It's energetic enough for big band music and with enough resolve to back it.

    The F4100 is somewhat bassier with deeper Bass tones and more slam. The bass is maybe a "tiny" bit slower because of the extended Bass. Otherwise it's hard to tell the difference with bass light tracks. The mid-range is somewhat heartier and does better with male vocals. The F4100 is the boldest vocal IEM out of the three. The treble is extended, but it's detail retrieval lags behind the other two slightly. That's because of the warmer sound that it portrays. As a result, the sound signature is more colorized and more organic.

    SIZE COMPARISON:

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    ACCESSORIES:

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    The entire F Series lineup comes with a rubber case, 5 pairs of eartips (LL, L, M, S, SS), one pair of earhooks for each in-ear. Along with 3 pairs of foam eartips (small, medium and large). Plus a set of black and special q tips (10 q tips for each IEM). One end is a normal cotton texture. The other side is sticky, glue-like substance. I haven't figured out why it's sticky yet. I'll find out soon.


    BUILD QUALITY:

    I was told that the F3100 and F4100 are machined from aluminium. While the F7200 is machined from Stainless Steel. There are some very noticeable differences between them. The housing of the F3100 and F4100 are finished with hard aluminium-magnesium alloy anodic film. The material also contributes to weight reduction, according to Final Audio. I find that to be true. The both of them are incredibly light.

    F3100: Very well done with the chrome accents in the back of the housing and on the top of the auxiliary jack. The housing itself feels very solid. Remember that the F3100 is machined from aluminium. It feels quite and lightweight. The auxiliary jack is made out metal and it has very good strain relief at the jack and the IEM housing. The cable feels like it's kevlar reinforced. So no need to worry about using these in daily activities. The chin slider is made out of a tough, black plastic. The split is also made out of a tough and black plastic. The L and R markings on the top and back of the housings.

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    F4100: The F4100 has more of a tougher look and feel. The first noticeable difference from the F4100 and the F3100 is that the F4100 has a bolt like connector and the cables are detachable. The F3100 doesn't have a detachable cable. The cables aren't meant to be removed over and over again. It would probably be best if you have the proper upgrade cable to do that sort of thing. The connector is gold colored. The left channel mark is on the well built strain relief. There's a bump under the L. So if you can't see because of the darkened surroundings. You can carefully feel which channel is which to place into the correct ear. The auxiliary jack is just like the F3100. It has chrome accents and it's made out of metal. With a reinforced plastic above the 3.5mm Jack itself for extra protection. The cable is a Y Split and the cable is also Kevlar reinforced. It's just as thick as the cable from the F3100. Above the thick plastic split is a chin slider. It can move fairly easily. Not too lose and not too hard. Just right. There's an imprint of the model number and the brand of the F4100 on the opposite sides on both of the housings. The housing of the F4100 seems to be a bit more solid. Yet overall in seems pretty similar to the F3100.

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    F7200: The most glorious of the Series. The silver housing is quite elegant and very shiny. They are made out of a tougher stainless Steel. The silver cables are braided and have a crystal like sheen when they are exposed to the sunlight. The auxiliary jack is made out of metal, but it's a chrome color with a smooth feeling. Much smoother than the auxiliary jacks of the F3100 and F4100. The strain reliefs are thicker and transparent just below the housings and just above the auxiliary jack. I noticed that the split below the transparent chin slider is a metal chrome color as well. It also says "Made in Japan" in white. The crystal-like cable is much thicker than the rest of the F Series. Ensure that the entire build of the F7200 will for many years of daily use. The sheer brilliance of the F7200 will really capture everyone's attention if you walk out with these on. So careful where you wear it. It will capture everyone's attention.

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    A CLOSER LOOK:

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    FIT: For the best possible fit. I used the Final Audio E Series Eartips that were provided from the packaging. The white eartips were given to me for free. They are also from the E Series. I used the medium sized eartips for the best seal and fit. The comfort was extraordinary. I can wear them for many hours and I wouldn't feel any pain AT ALL.


    Source Used: Aune M1S.

    Settings: MP Filter w/Moderate Gain and Volume level @63 to 73/100. FLAC files of 16 bit or 24 bit used for this review.


    SPECS:

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    Despite these slightly less efficient IEMs. The Aune M1S is more than powerful enough to drive the F Series.

    FINAL ANALYSIS (AFTER 50 HOUR OF BURN IN):


    F3100:


    Bass: The lower frequency is a somewhat less emphasized on the F3100. It is deep, yet solid. It doesn't have much of a bump in the midbass region. The texture of the bass is pretty smooth. That's why the bass works well with most sub genres. It won't work well with Hard Dance and Trap music.


    Mids: This part is pretty interesting. The upper mids are slightly forward and are compelling with plenty of sparkle. Although when it comes to vocal, it's slightly recessed. I find the vocals to be overpowered by the surrounding instruments from time to time. It's not that bad. I just would like to hear the vocals more. The texture of the vocals and most instruments are very smooth. The cymbals on the other hand have a moderate amount of impact and does not make the music seem sibilant. The upper mid-range on the other hand seems a tad bit edgy. Otherwise the upper Mids carry tons of energy and the detail retrieval. That brings out the best for Hard Rock and Classical music. Big Brass music will benefit from the slight upper mid range bump the most.


    Treble: The lower treble carries on the energy, but probably stops before 10 KHz. It's somewhat bright, but not abrasive in any way. Quite impressive because it actually seems like the upper Mids being slightly forward would have thrown it off. Yet it maintained itself in a dignified manner. The detail retrieval is quite impressive. I found myself getting captured by the alluring detail from the guitar riffs of Hotel California.


    Soundstage: Slightly above average. The width is close to back of the F3100. The height is about an inch tall. Not bad. The depth is slightly below average. Making it feel a bit cramped towards the front. The soundstage seems spherical, but based on the cue pathways. It's more rectangular.


    Imaging: Quite vivid. Most likely due to the enhanced treble the F3100 possesses. The cues are portrayed from different, but ultimately gets lost in the mix a bit because of the cramped depth.


    Now on to the F4100!


    F4100:


    Bass: Fairly deep. The bass extension is the most impressive of the trio. It does have mid bass, but it's not overwhelming. I hear the bass more heavily emphasized between 30 Hz and 100 Hz. So basically the bass is more subterranean than in the middle ground. The bass is also quick and solid. Making the speed and body perfect for Trance and Complextro music.


    Mids: I would consider the Mids from the F4100 to be natural and organic. Considering the warmer nature of the F4100. I thought that the mid range would take a toll, but it was more useful. Instead it's not forward and not recessed. The vocals are warmed up and sound more lush. The detail doesn't take a toll either. It's not overly detailed. It's just right. So don't expect it too be too revealing. Instruments such as guitars and cymbals sound natural and pleasant with some smoothness.


    Treble: This part of the frequency seems to be fairly extended, but it probably stops around 9.5 KHz to 11 KHz. Then drops off slowly from there. I would think of the texture of the treble to be silky. The high frequency flows through easily without being painful to the ears.

    Soundstage: The width is very good for an incredibly small IEM. The depth is decent. Not the best I have ever heard, but it's deeper than the F3100. The height is about average. Which gives the F4100 a more 3D Soundscape. Once again. Very impressive for an incredibly small IEM. The overall experience is slightly above average.


    Imaging: There's more distinction in cue angling and pathways. Which makes it easier to follow the music. Which also makes the resolution more apparent. So I'd say the imaging is above average.


    And finally!


    F7200:


    Bass: One thing I have noticed with the bass from the F7200 is that it's more aggressive than the rest of the F Series. So I believe that there's more midbass, but still not enough to cloud up the clarity. The bass still reaches deep. Just not as deep as some would like. Yeah. I'm talking about you bass lovers. The bass here has a more subtle approach. Yes. The midbass has a higher bump, but that doesn't mean much because the impact is soft. Soft as a bowling ball falling from 3 feet above a thin Posturepedic Mattress. It has weight, but the impact is quite soft. The transition of tonality in the bass is fascinating. It seems quite natural and engaging. I noticed that in bass heavy soundtracks like Paradigm by Leslie Wai. The octaves just sound so natural and righteous. Nice.


    Mids: This part is bread and butter of the F7200. It's so smooth and wispy. Basically the Mids are more well rounded. That doesn't stop the detail retrieval too much. In terms of tonality, it sounds more true to the recording. So probably a Reference type of tonality. Despite all of that. The impact of the percussion section is dulled a bit. Not necessarily a bad thing. Especially for me because I never had an IEM this good before. It's just that others that like and own more aggressive and neutral sounding IEMs probably won't like this as much. In terms of the vocals. Once again it sounds natural and smooth, but not forward or recessed. It's just right. The F7200 does well with both male and female vocal reproduction.


    Treble: Fairly extended. Still very smooth. The treble rolls off after 10.5 KHz or so. For all of the treble heads reading this. You probably won't enjoy the extension of the highs. Although the extension isn't enough. The clarity and detail retrieval is more than sufficient to enjoy music that needs treble. The F7200 is a great pair up with Classical, Alternative, Uplifting Trance and Rock Music. It's surprising that it works well with rock music because despite the lacking treble energy the F7200 has. It still has enough crunch for guitar riffs.

    Soundstage: The biggest soundstage of the F Series. Every dimension is noticeably bigger. The width, depth and height are above average. The soundstage is transparent and very airy. Despite the fact that the F720p is using a Full Ranged Balanced Armature, it's so well tuned that I hear similar airy sound that's found from the performance of Dynamic Drivers.


    Imaging: This aspect is very good. The cue pathways are more separated they even go behind each other. In fast soundtracks, the imaging gets slightly smeared. Mainly with Although it's still incredibly pleasant and very coherent. That's why I find myself going back to the F7200. Can't get enough of that coherent and three dimensional soundstage.





    BOXART/PACKAGING:

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    CONCLUSION:


    Well I didn't quite find the Ultimate Sound, but with the F Series IEMs. I'm even closer than ever. Much of my observations have changed either slightly or noticeably from my initial observations. I really enjoyed listening to the F Series. My most favorite F Series IEM is the F7200 because of the Reference Sound Quality and the large and coherent three dimensional soundstage. I keep using the F7200 everyday. Even more than all of my other headphones. My least favorite is the F4100. That's mainly due to the cramped soundstage from the imaging and warmth. The F3100 takes the middle ground. If you like warm and smooth sound and don't mind the cramped Soundscape. Go for the F3100. If you are into a more bright and neutral IEM and enjoy the splashy sounds of the cymbals. Then go for the F3100. What if you like a transparent, smooth and natural flat sound? Then the F7200 is for you. Bassheads won't like any of these. None of them are Bass heavy enough to meet the needs of bassheads. Thank you Final Audio for giving me a chance to listen to these excellent IEMs.

    Pros: All of them possess balanced and incredibly detailed sound. Very well built F Series IEMs. Still mostly easy to power up the F Series IEMs, despite the slight lack of efficiency. Full Ranged Balanced Armatures are so well tuned that they feel like they are moving air that's similar to Dynamic Drivers. Wide array of accessories for the F Series. Including a sturdy carrying case. The F4100 and F7200 have detachable cables.

    Cons: Dust magnet rubber carrying case. Carrying case can be a bit difficult to use from time to time. Carrying case doesn't lock in as tightly like I had hoped. I wished the F3100 had removable cables too. The F4100 needs a roomier soundstage depth. The F7200 lacks a bit of its' highest potential of refinement.

    REVIEW COMPLETE.
     
  2. Gilles De Rais
    I think you need the thread moved to "Portable headphones, earphones and in-ear monitors".
     
    Interesting observations. What tips were you using? The diff between the silicon, foam, comply and spin-fits was significant on the F4100.
     
    regards,
     
    Giles
     
  3. Niyologist

    I used the silicon eartips I got from Final Audio at Can Jam. It was white with a red nozzle on one of them.
     
  4. Niyologist

    Also how do I move the thread?
     
  5. Gilles De Rais
    Contact a moderator.
     
    The tips sound like spin-fits. Try the others in the packaging to see if that impacts your views. I found the spin-fits punched up the bass on the F4100.
     
    regards,
     
    Giles
     
  6. Niyologist

    Okay. Will do. The eartips I got weren't Spin Fit eartips though. They were made by FA. The white and red eartip were for the right side and the white eartip was for the left side. For channel distinction.
     

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