Final is a Japanese personal audio specialist with a reputation for offering products exhibiting very high build quality, innovative designs, and fine sound quality. Lately, Final has been pushing both the envelopes for performance (through its D8000 and new D8000 Pro planar magnetic headphones) and for value-for-money (through its affordable E-series earphones). Now, Final breaks new ground with its new B1, B2, and B3 earphones. With these B-series Final’s engineering team focuses on three critical aspects of earphone design: perceived spatial presentation, perceived dynamic range, plus the ergonomics of the earphones’ earpieces.
The B-models are named in order of their development and Final advises listeners not to read any sort of performance hierarchy into the products’ names or prices. Rather, Final says the 'B' models offer three distinctive listening perspectives, any one of which might best fit a given listener’s musical preferences or listening tastes, and are predicated on common recording techniques that tend to be used by specific musical genres. Final describes its 'B' models in terms of two axes of performance: the continuum between 'Wide' and 'Narrow' dynamic range, and the continuum between 'Clarity' and 'Spaciousness.'
The B3 offers the strongest emphasis on clarity, followed by the B1, and then the B2. In turn, the B2 offers the greatest emphasis on wide dynamic range, followed by the B3, with the B1 skewed toward narrow dynamic range—a voicing that, on narrower dynamic range recordings, helps “each of the instruments and vocals to ordinarily appear before the listener’s eyes.”
The 'B' models share a common earpiece design featuring somewhat angular two-piece shells made of injection-moulded stainless steel. The shell’s shape provides three touch points in the ear (in the auditory canal, the Tragus, and the Concha cavity), which Final likens to a ‘tripod’ that holds the earpieces in a stable position with “no sense of pressure” in the ear.
The B1 features one dynamic and one balanced armature-type driver with no crossover network and a Rose Gold-plated, mirror-like finish. The B2 features a single balanced armature-type driver and a gunmetal grey satin finish. The B3 uses two balanced armature-type drivers with no crossover network and a silver satin finish.
All three B models need run-in to sound their best, but the B1 needs more than the others. Hence, Part 1 of this review focuses on the B2 and B3 models (in Part 2, we’ll revisit the B1 once it is fully run-in).
As advertised, the B2 offers greater clarity than many like-priced earphones and a strong emphasis on wide dynamic range, which works well for many genres of music and especially for classical music and acoustic jazz. As an example, consider the B2’s performance on the Barbirolli/Philharmonia Elgar: Enigma Variations [Warner, 16/44.1]. As the Variations unfold, the B2 does a fine job of conveying the richness and sonority of the orchestra, plus a spectacular job of revealing the sharp dynamic contrasts heard within and between the Variations. The B2 also offers “cut from whole cloth” coherency that is very appealing.
In contrast, the B3 sounds almost like a B2 that has had its imaginary 'Clarity' knob turned up to '11'. This, too, works well for classical and acoustic jazz recordings, but has the effect of pulling the listening perspective much closer than with the B2. Where the B3 really thrives is on recordings that offer panoply of rich musical details to explore. A superb example would be “1 Speed” from bassist Dean Peer’s Airborne [Eles Records, 16/44.1], which features mind-bendingly fast and precise, staccato bass guitar runs. Many earphones turn these into a sonic mush, but the B3 renders Peer’s rapid-fire notes with exceptional levels of clarity and definition, thus showcasing the bassist’s masterful fingering dexterity.
I encourage listeners seeking earphones in the price range of Final’s B models to hear all three variations. Odds are one of them will provide a listening perspective that perfectly fits their musical sensibilities and tastes.
Final B2 universal fit earphones
Type: Universal-fit earphones with single balanced armature drivers
Driver complement: One balanced armature driver
Frequency response: Not specified
Impedance: 41 Ohms
Finish: Satin-finish gunmetal grey
Accessories: Saucer-shaped silicon protective carry case, five pairs of silicone ear tips (XS, S, M, L, XL). 1.2m signal cable with MMCX earphone connectors and OFC conductors in a smooth black jacket, black slip-on rubber ear hooks
Price: £259 UK, $299 US
Final B3 universal fit earphones
Type: Universal-fit earphones with dual balanced armature drivers
Driver complement: Two balanced armature drivers with no crossover network
Frequency response: Not Specified
Impedance: 19 Ohms
Finish: Satin-finish silver
Accessories: Saucer-shaped silicon protective carry case, five pairs of silicone ear tips (XS, S, M, L, XL). 1.2m signal cable with MMCX earphone connectors and silver-plated OFC conductors in a clear twisted -air jacket, clear slip-on rubber ear hooks
Price: £439 UK, $499 US
Final/S’NEXT Co. Ltd.
3-12-7 Kitakase, Saiwai-ku, Kawasaki-shi,
Kanagawa 212-0057, JAPAN
KS Technology Ltd.
A4 Dolphin Way, Shoreham-by-Sea, BN43 6NZ United Kingdom
URL: ksdistribution.co.uk | +44 (0) 1903 768919
Final Audio USA