Final Audio E3000 Review – Mainstream Boutique
I’ve always had a somewhat bittersweet relationship with Final Audio’s earphones. I love their unique and quirky designs like the Piano Forte in addition to their more conventional models like the FI-BA-SS. Furthermore, their tuning methodology is totally unique. Many companies levy that their earphones sound “unlike anything else”, but for Final Audio that was always genuinely true; they are a company that is unafraid to take daring moves in both tuning and form factor.
However, this challenging ethos was always juxtaposed by very premium price tags and eccentric in-ear housings that came off more as luxuries and proof of concept designs rather than consumer products. As innovative as Final Audio’s products were, they simply didn’t make accessible products. But that all changes with the new E2000 and E3000. Instantly, these models are very reasonably priced at $45 and $65 respectively, they also feature some very unique feats of design and a sound that promises to be balanced with a touch of Final’s magical house sound sprinkled in. Let’s see whether Final Audio’s new and accessible in-ears can recreate the magic of their high-end designs.
I would like to thank Mark from KS Distribution (UK distributor for Final) very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the E2000 and E3000 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
The E3000 has a conservative unboxing with a nice accessory suite. The earphones come packaged with a soft faux leather pouch and 4 pairs of ear tips in addition to the set installed on the in-ears themselves. Final also include two ear guides should you want to wear them inverted over the ear. The tips are actually quite interesting in design, they’re similar to Sony hybrids in shape but are a bit firmer overall. They have a ridged sound tube designed to conform to the bends of the ear canal similar to Spinfits. However, they do so without obstructing the sound tube, improving transparency. While I did find a more comfortable fit with other ear tips, the stock tips provided the most ideal sound signature to my ears.
Both of Final’s new E-series earphones carry a super simple bullet shaped housing similar to earphones like the Flares Pros and Aurisonics Rockets. They are designed to be worn cable-down but lend themselves well to over-ear wear due to their simple shaping.
The housings themselves are metal with a raw chromed finish that looks quite stunning. Basic model number and orientation letters are laser etched into the stainless steel housings and their semi-open nature is clearly denoted by their exposed rear vents. The nozzles are plastic and quite short but some ridging prevents tips from slipping off unintentionally. In addition, the housings are also vented at the front which explains their tip sensitivity. Overall, the E3000’s fit and finish is superb given their asking price, comparing well to class leaders like the Fiio EX1 2nd Gen and Meze 11 Neo.
Comfort is also great on account of their minute dimensions, they are easily one of the smallest in-ears I’ve handled. As such, they disappear in the ear with minimal weight and no hotspot formation during extended listening. Due to their open nature, isolation is below average though they are similar to the vented Fiio’s and Meze’s. Home listeners will enjoy the added spatial awareness but they do tend to lean out on public transport.
My main issue with the Final E3000’s, when compared to competing models, is their cable. I can forgive the use of a fixed cable but the unit Final opted for it very thin and poorly relieved at all terminations. In return, the cable is super supple and very compliant with no memory or springiness, it also has a nice matte finish and minimal microphonic noise given the earphone’s cable down fit.
Luckily, the gold-plated right-angle jack looks to be pretty sturdy with more extended strain relief though the y-split and housing reinforcements are more dubious. The cable is a far cry from the excellent unit used on the Fiio and the much hardier cable utilized by the Meze’s though I still prefer it to the Shozy Zero’s ergonomic nightmare of a cable.
The Final E3000 forgoes the usual brighter tuning carried by most Japanese in-ears in favour of an easier listen. They are an L-shaped earphone with a mid-bass focus and descending emphasis above. Some small bumps in upper midrange clarity and extra lower treble aggression ensure that the E3000 never comes off as explicitly veiled much like the Oriveti BASIC though treble is very polite in tone. And considering their asking price, the Final’s are quite mature in their execution though not without their flaws.
Bass is very full with a mid-bass and to a lesser extent, sub-bass focus. They have a lot of power and weight to their low-frequency response at the cost of speed. Lows don’t drone but drums radiate for a little too long and quicker electronic tracks do tend to get muddied. They aren’t as concise as the more balanced Meze 11 Neo but they extend more into the sub-bass frequencies with depth and rumble that easily exceeds their asking price. Sub-bass isn’t quite as tight as I would like and bloat is apparent, but the E3000’s warm tuning and excellent range provide a very pleasing listen that is just as compelling as other offerings around this price.
Listening to The XX’s “Islands” and the E3000 provided awesome rumble to the song’s heavier sub-bass tones but drums were a little hazy and some smearing of finer texture was apparent. The Shozy Zero provides more apt comparison as a more bass orientated earphone, it does have greater definition and power though Final’s budget offering possesses more balance and sounds less bloated overall. The E3000 still isn’t perfectly balanced and can easily come across as muddy but they have a very organic tone and the best sub-bass rumble and extension I’ve heard around this price.
Mids are reasonably balanced overall with a darker tone though the Final’s lack the scooped sound that a lot of budget earphones succumb to. Upper mids are clear and smooth with nice extension, as is common for Final and Japanese in-ears in general, while lower mids are full-bodied with a rounder note presentation. Male vocals and acoustic sound very organic but border on thickness though clarity is above neutral throughout, especially with regards to upper mids. Layering isn’t super apparent and resolution doesn’t match that of the Fiio EX1 2nd Gen, but midrange detailing, both background and foreground is just as good.
The E3000’s also sound pretty natural, some older Final earphones tended to sound oddly voiced but the E3000 definitely carries a more “mainstream” sound for lack of better terminology. Vocals are natural if full bodied and instruments such as piano and guitar are smooth and mostly clear considering their fuller style of tuning. Listening to Eric Clapton’s “Layla” and the E3000 provided nice separation and air to each instrument with well centred if slightly distant vocals. The EX1 2nd Gen by comparison, was more lower-mid recessed though that earphone also has greater clarity and a more neutral sense of body with increased resolution of layering. The E3000 produces a smooth, laid-back midrange that retains enough clarity and aggression to satisfy more energetic genres.
Treble is great considering the E3000’s asking price thoug its very smooth tuning will not suit all listeners. The first thing I noticed was that treble was very detailed, one of the most detailed earphones I’ve heard at this price, though their laid-back nature translates to a more polite high-frequency presentation. This is aided by the E3000’s treble body that grants cymbals and strings with nice depth and texture. The main downfall of the E3000 is a roll-off at the top which can make higher details sound truncated and some middle treble details are a bit distant. As a result, they aren’t the airiest earphone around though they have some nice crispness within their lower treble.
And coming back to one of my personal favourites around this price, the Fiio EX1 2nd Gen has more extension and sparkle to its highs in addition to much more aggressive detailing. That being said, the difference in outright detail retrieval isn’t huge and the E3000 is considerably smoother in its presentation. This was especially notable when listening to PSY’s “Last Scene” where the Fiio provided more bite to strings and shimmer to cymbals as opposed to the more laid-back Final. However, the Fiio sounded slightly artificial and thin within its high-end, it also isn’t suited towards longer listening sessions. The E3000 may sound dull in direct comparison, but it is a very natural, refined sounding earphone that thoroughly impresses with its listenability.
Soundstage, Imaging and Separation –
The E3000 is another earphone whose smoother sound is salvaged from outright veil and congestion through a spacious soundstage presentation. The E3000 is the most immediately spacious earphones I’ve heard around this price despite not having the airiest, most extended treble response. Even the semi-open EX1 2nd Gen fails to match the space and projection of the Final. Width is excellent, stretching just outside the head and depth is well above average. Imaging is on a similar level to the other earphones around this price; instruments are easy to locate but they are lacking some speed and sharpness to their image. Centre image is also slightly hazy, especially when compared to more expensive models. Separation between frequencies is great, their large space preventing bass from encroaching upon the midrange and mids upon treble. That being said, due to the nature of their tuning, bass notes tend to become a little congested though I had no issue with their midrange or high-frequency presentation.
Fiio EX1 2nd Gen: The E3000 is more L-shaped where the EX1 carries a more aggressive V-shaped sound. Bass is similar on both, the E3000 extends a little more while the EX1 is cleaner due to less mid-bass bloat. The EX1 2nd Gen has a brighter midrange with considerably more clarity than the E3000. However, the E3000 has much more body to each note where the EX1 sounds slightly thin and unnatural. The EX1 has a lot more treble bite and better extension producing an airier presentation. Both are very well detailed, the Fiio more obviously so due to its aggression though those sensitive to treble will find similar technicality hiding behind the Final’s mellower tone. Both have great soundstage space, the EX1 has more depth, the E3000 more width though the Fiio does separation better on account of its clearer sound.
Meze 11 Neo: The 11 Neo is one of the more balanced earphones around this price, but its sound is granted a little extra warmth through its mid-bass focused low-end. The E3000 clearly produces more rumble and low-end impact though the 11 Neo is tighter and more controlled. The 11 Neo has a similarly warm, laid-back midrange to the Final though it has more balance throughout combined with more neutral body. That being said, it isn’t quite as technical as the E3000 which has a little extra detail and resolution at the cost of transparency. Treble is also more laid-back on both however, the E3000 is more aggressive within its lower treble and smoother above it. On the flipside, the 11 Neo is slightly cleaner but is also slightly grainier as treble creeps higher. The Meze has a nice width biased soundstage though the E3000 is more open with even more width and appreciably more depth too.
Final didn’t recreate their more exotic in-ears of the past when designing the E3000 and I have no issue with that ideology. Because the E3000 is far more accessible than any of those models in essentially every way, they are ergonomically orthodox and tonally polite. Of course, I wouldn’t point buyers looking for the most energetic, engaging listen towards the E3000 but its more V-shaped sibling, the E2000 however, Final’s higher model is a warm yet detailed earphone that finds an easy listen. Their limited isolation makes them better suited towards listening in quieter areas as does their build, but considering Final’s very reasonable asking price, the E3000 provides great sonic qualities that more than make up for it.
Verdict – 8/10, The E3000 is a very nice earphone with a smooth, warm tone complimented by some extra high-end detail. While their thin cable and L-shaped tuning won’t please every buyer, Final nonetheless provides a lot of earphone for a meagre amount of money.
The Final E3000 is available from Amazon (International) for $55 USD, please see my affiliate link for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations.
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