FINAL AUDIO B2 REVIEW :
- Well balanced sound with lush timbre and articulate mid range
- Good controled bass
- Nice imaging and details
- Excellent construction and design
- Soundstage will be too intimate for some
- Too soft attack and lack of highs sparkles-details
- Basic cable
NO BS RECOMMENDED!
Welcome back for my second B serie review.
After having review my personal favorite wich is the dual BA’s B3, I decide to continue analyzing potential of Final Audio balanced armature drivers tuning with the B2 model.
Final Audio B2 is the entry level model or their ‘’flagship’’ single BA depending on how you see it, priced at 300$ its 200$ less than B3 and 400$ less than B1, making it the most budget minded iem of the serie. It have very same housing quality and design than pricier models, but not a 4cores SPC cable. I can already say that the B2 offer biggest price value both in term of sound and construction-durability. The difference with dual BA’s B3 is sure evident, but in fact, they are tuned very differently, so much that I wonder why they are in same serie….but I could have say that for Hybrid DD+BA flagship B1 model too. This different flavors of each models proove that Final Audio try to cover different music taste with the B serie, unlike the E serie wich was more similarly tuned.
Final Audio engineer describe the B2 as well suited for instrumental music like classical, this is their description :
‘’The B2 is a model particularly well suited to rich spatial recordings. It is well suited to classical music recordings that take adequate advantage of the reflections and reverberation of a concert hall as well as live recordings to reproduce the feeling of “being there”. ‘’
‘’Being there’’ surely mean that you are near the instrument, but still can feel spaciality of sound. As well, quality of recording will have great impact on sound rendering, wich I can confirm. To my ears, the B2 are the more intimate sounding of B serie, but in a very particular way due to good imaging capabilities. As well, they don’t sound like a single BA earphones, and this is really what impress me the most.
Now, let’s see in this review if they can be consider as the very best single balanced armature ever made!
You can buy the Final Audio B2 for 299$ directly from Amazon.com or Audio46 store.
DISCLAIMER : I wanna thanks Final Audio and my kind friend KYO for sending me whole B serie as reviews samples. As well, I wanna thank them for their patience, due to long listening session and well, life issues that make my reviews work take ages. DOMO ARIGATO!!
INFO & SPECS :
Series: B series
Model Name: B2
Price: USD 299
Drivers: 1 Balanced Armature
Housing Material: Stainless Steel
Finishing: Gun Metallic
Cable: OFC Cable
Sensitivity: 109 dB
Impedance: 41 Ohm
final E-Type Eartips 5 sizes, final black earhooks, final black silicone case
ACCESSORIES, CONTRUCTION & DESIGN :
UNBOXING is a real joy and a step up from the boxing of E serie. Now, we have a very elegant solid white box with a big B on it, its minimal yet luxurious in the choice of design and material. As expected, theres plenty of accessories included, wich is this time very similar to higher E serie model. The unique silicone protecting case, extra ear hook the nice final silicone eartips as well as a pair of memory foam. And a strange sticky fabric to help you unconnect the mmcx cable that can be slippy due to its metal part. The cable included is average one and I admit I would have prefer they include same cable that we have with B1 and B3 as well as E5000 wich is a great 4cores SPC cable. But nope, we have the same cable included with the E4000.
CONSTRUCTION is top notch and you know you have an high end earphones in your hands as much due to the weight of it than the feel of it. No sharp corner touch your ears even if the housing is sculpted with a mix of curve and angle, all is smooth, no asperity, and it is soft too, mate type of softness. Unlike many metal earphones , the B2 do not look easily scratchable, i do not always cary him in its case and as seen their not a single scratch on it. This look just invincible and i’m pretty sure it is, the metal is thick and the two part are stick togheter with 2 screw but i’m pretty sure it’s more complicate than that, so why not look inside? Well, okay, I try unscrew it but the front screw have some kind of hot glue on it, so I will not push the experience further.
DESIGN is just mesmerizing and sure have take lot of time to be achieved. More you look at it, more you discover the number of details in its conception and are in awe : nothing was let to hasard. The curve of the housing is made so it slip in your ears smoothly and comfortably, the back being sharper at edge do not touch the ears, and if some corner touch is its more polished and smoother than upper back angle. Nozzle is molded in same front metal housing part, and is just long enough for perfecrt fit with eartips, you can push it very far in your ears due to housig shape and as say, it will be the curvy, organicly shape part that will be in contact with you ear hole.
MMCX connector look heavy duty industrial and just unbreakable, but be aware connection with cable will be extremely tigh, wich make this a little too hard for cable swapping lover like me, Even with the sticky fabric ‘’tool’’ its extremely hard to disconnect…to the point I litterally hurt my thumbs and have a white spot on it for 3 days. So, yeah, that is sure securre connection for the iem but less so for your fingers! But, finally, the mmcx connection became smoother after connecting disconnecting it with the B1 and B3, strangely I still struggle with B2 so I let the upgrade cable connected because i’m not very patient with this type of struggle.
COMFORT is excellent and in fact you dont feel the weight due again to meticulously thinked design, as the curvy part sit on your inner ear naturally. I can wear this all day without problem, no joke.
ISOLATION is insanely good as well, due to thick metal and excellent fit, it literally block all the outside noise once you put musc, and passive isolation without music is extreme as well. So, be aware it can be a little risky to do jogging or biking with the B2, but I do it anyway.
Even if their a little front venting, sound leakage is way above average and near dead silent. Only bats will be able to hear any sound as I can conclude with high volume music playing while i block nozzle end with my finger. I need to put my ear on the vent to hear something.
DRIVEABILITY isn’t that easy with a 41ohm impendance even if sensitivity is enough high at 109db. The B2 will sound better if well amped, either by powerfull DAP or portable amp. As well, its sensible to harmonic distortion of your audio gear, so I suggest pairing it will super clear amp, not a warm one or unstable one. My Xduoo XD-05 do good and can drive the B2 perfectly at mid gain.
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS was rewarding out of the box, first thing I tough was : is this really a single balanced armature in there? And if so, how is possible it sound so full and have such bass impact without any distortion even at super high volume? Nobody give me answer about second question, but the first one was evident : Yes, the B2 only score one little full range balanced armature drivers and act as at least a micro dynamic driver! Unlike the nice and super fast sounding single BA of Final Audio F serie, the B2 offer a full bodied sound with slight W approach to frequencies range. Its not a warm sounding iem like the E5000, but less bright and sharp than F serie too, the bass have more emphasis in lower mid range and offer softed tigh attack that suit rock music incredibly well, vocal aren’t recessed and very clear and highs are crips and clear.
SOUNDSTAGE is rather intimate,with a near your head stereo presentation, it isn’t super airy or hall like, but well articulate in spaciality for a single BA.
IMAGING is from another level and again make you wonder how a single BA can achieve such a realistic spaciality with good space between instrument, because unlike most BA that tend to have transparent layering to compensate lack of dynamic imaging, the B2 offer good holographic impressions.
BASS is thick and tigh, it dig very deep and you will not hear notable roll off even if perhaps it go down to 30HZ instead of 20HZ. Lot or iem tuned neutraly will not bump lower region so this is how the B2 feel, you do not lack details in lower region and sub line are just enough easily hearable due to their rich timbre and good separation, but no bassy slam here, or weighty sub, it stay in the back and let the mid bass win extra weight and energy to deal with drum attack with soft refined hit. Yes, this punchy, well rounded, textured and super agile mid bass is extremely addictive. Due to present but soft punch, it do not feel to fowarded and agressive, drop after the hit is rather smooth in fact and did not have artifical silence between end of attack and the lower mid range, it just imperceptively touch it so transition sound natural. If the record is ultra clear, kick will sound ultra tigh, if not, well, its not the B2 fault. The fact that IDM sound marvelous as well as well recorded fast rock, indie or jazz, proof how the bass is well balanced with fast transient response.
MID RANGE is the star of the show with the B2, and the more emphased frequencies range tough its very balanced with bass and treble so it sound neutralish and not artificialy fowarded. Smooth, transparent, just a little hint bright due to little extra upper mids bump and textured timbre, the mids have a high level of clarity that benifit an intimate imaging. Female signer sound particularly good with these, even if lower mid body is not particularly thick, it have great amount of texture and especially a good separation that give extra presence and centered presentation. No sibilance to be hear too. In song where the singer is accompanied with minimalist instrumental, the B2 show how rich voice timbre can be, its buttery smooth and envelopping. Piano sound great too especially in tonality and timbre, but attack lack sharpness and snapiness to permit energic rendering, this occur too with violin, but with wind instrument this soft attack is a plus and make saxophone sound very enjoyable.
TREBLE is rarely very emphased or extended with Final Audio and the B2 is no exception and perhaps among the more rolled off upper treble in all Final Audio series. All the treble emphasis is in lower highs, wich give a sens of wide range lushness until it seriously drop around 10khz, still you can hear enough micro details, but they will not be fowarded and even a little tamed depending how mid range take place in the music. This sure affect highs sparkle and decay, wich lack with the B2 and this tuning affect air between instrument and give an ovrall very mid centric sound. Strangely, unlike too mid centric tuning, the B2 manage to give an illusion of smooth balanced neutral sound, due to enough bass, good details retreival in mid range and enough clarity in lower high so the percussions have enough presence.
SUB : 7/10
MID BASS : 7.5/10
MID RANGE : 8.5/10
TREBLE : 7.5/10
TIMBRE : 9/10
ATTACK-DECAY : 7/10
SOUNDSTAGE : 7.5/10
IMAGING : 8/10
RANDOM TRACKS TESTING :
(Gear used : Xduoo X3 (CS4398 dac)+Xduoo XD-05 (Burson V5i Opamp) at mid gain)
SILJE NES ‘’Symmetry of empty space’’
Intro to the song with accordeon and guitar is clear with good decay, well separated and very clean with realistic wooly timbre, it surround your head until the smooth signer voice appear. Now, the voice have a soft transparent timbre, its super centered with all instrumental surrounding her very clearly, level of imaging is excellent and very accurate, the kick have smooth punch, its a little thin in timbre but permit the voice to benifit in presence and definition, the guitar is very well done, even when both play togheter you can hear them separately, when the bass came with other instruments, it have good body to it wich permit to follow bass line accuretely without flooding other instrument, it do not warm the voice wich stay in front seat with great transparence in timbre and slightly intimate presentation. When lot of instrument play togheter, you can still hear micro details, like the maracass playing, the wood block, the guitar stay very clear but overall imaging became a little more congested due to intimate sounstage. Clarity of imaging as well as timbre richness is what impress me with this song, the highs brilliance too surprise me, due to rather smooth upper treble I wasn’t expecting chime to sound that sharp even if they stay (rightly) in background. Indie and Folk is well suited for the B2 rich mid range and lower-mids treble.
SOKRATIS SINOPOULOS QUARTET ‘’Walking’’
Begining with fast piano that sound extremely clear with softed timbre that benifit more from brilliance than weighty note attack, sens of deep silent background is superbly clear. Now the drum came and mix with piano line in a transparent way, its not particularly vivid and weighty in attack, extra dynamic energy came in when the lower mids percussions mix, at first, both kick and piano line struggle to gain separation in same frequencies range, the violin is a little to soft in timbre to have energic attack too. Acoustic bass stay far away in the background, and its a little hard to hear it properly even if we perceive a sens of bodyness to it. But once the piano mix with percussion without toms or kick, a miracle happen, imaging gain in deepnest and piano show all its liveliness when playing in mid range, still, note aren’t that well rounded up, lower highs have more energy. All in all, this song sound darker than it should be and lack texture in timbre as well as attack-decay agility we can expect from balanced armature driver. I tend to prefer brighter sound for violin.
MR TWIN SISTERS ‘’Buy to return’’ :
Sub bass line are quite well presented but stole some kick punch, wich lack for proper rythm of the song. The female signer is very clear and sit above all the rest of instrument, percussion are extremely clear, as well, the synth is well separated. Bass is a little too dry and thick and distract me instead of making me feet taping. Synth definition is too softed and lack grip too, wich make this song lacking dynamic and spaciousness in instrumentation. Appart from the vocal, their not alot going on in mid range, wich explain why it do no take advantage of B2 qualities. This perhaps confirm B2 aren’t suggested for POP song where more V shape or W shape soundsignature will suit this style better.
VS FINAL AUDIO F4100 (280$):
The F4100 being a single balanced armature as well, I was curious to compare both. One thing sure, the housing design is opposite, F4100 being near as big and long as the BA that its stock inside while the B2 have a big spacious metal one that sure look more than 30$ pricier. As well, the standard mmcx design make it more easy to swap cable while the F4100 need proprietary FA cable that is quite pricey.
SOUNDSTAGE of B2 is wider-taller while the F4100 is deeper, IMAGING is strangely airier and clearer with the F4100 but in a less accurate way than B2. BASS is anemic with the F4100, as well, it can create distortion at too high volume, wich it never happen with warmer, bassier B2 that have less agressive mid bass but a rounder fuller one and most of all it have clear sub bass that F4100 cannot even dig without sounding too thin, dry or distorted. MID RANGE of both is fowarded, but F4100 is brighter and way more pushed foward than B2, but again, in a sharper and more peaky way wich do not offer an as rich presentation than more whole range presence of B2. Vocal are more bodied and have smoother lusher timbre with B2 wich make it sound more natural than more vivid F4100. TREBLE have notable emphasis in mid highs where percussions gain in extra clairty and impressive attack accuracy, making the F4100 more detailed on top than B2 tha have more presence in lower treble, still, this presentation can be bothersome and distract you from mid range and (anemic) bass, so, again, B2 sound more natural and smoother even if less prompt to specific wow effect about complex percussions work. All in all, B2 is a more balanced, musical and forgiving sounding iem, while the F4100 have a fast, energic and vivid sound that lack versatility (and bass).
B2 is a single balanced armature while the FLC8P score 1 dynamic and 2 BA, but thinking this battle is unfair is forgetting how masterfull are audio engineer and tuner of Final Audio team.
CONSTRUCTION of the FLC look like a joke compared to the sumptuous and ultra sturdy metal housing of B3. The thick metal is just invincible, while FLC cheap plastic used can be surely easily broken by accident, as well, B3 have screw toopen the housing in case of damage…like dust, water or such. Its thinked to last, FLC is not.
COMFORT is both great, but isolation is better with the B3.
SOUNDSTAGE is slightly wider with the B3, but its minimal, while FLC is taller in presentation and just slightly wider, anyway, again, FLC presentation sound less airy and out of your head.
BASS is more emphased with the FLC, and B3 perhaps begin to drop just before 20hz, but the timbre is more realist and thick thant FLC dryier presentation, as well, mid bass is better rounded up even if less fowards and punchy, the separation tough is less clear and can mix up with lower mids.
MID RANGE is well balanced and near flat in the mid centric approach of B3, it sound lusher with better tonality and smoother thicker timbre, the FLC have slight artificial push to it, especially in upper mid range wich can make vocal a little shouty or sibilant, taming upper mid range with tuning setting is possible but this will not change overall tonality and timbre, making in this case more recessed than B3. With complex music, B3 can sound a little congested, especially at high volume, this do not occur with FLC very agile attack and imaging. Anyway, for vocal lover, the B3 is sure better and mora natural sounding as well as more versatile for female and male signer that have lush and thick body.
TREBLE is more emphased with the FLC, while the B3 have extra emphasis in mid treble the FLC climb to the top and have a more analytical approach to the cost of sound overly agressive with some tuning, the B3 have an organic treble that do not offend the ears and can still crave rich details. This make it for a more balanced overall tuning, whatever the setting you will use with FLC. So, yeah, brighter as well as more clinical is the treble of FLC .
Now, i’m a little surprise to prefer a single BA to multi drivers Hybrid, but this is really about the soul of musicality, and the FLC timbre and tonality is just not natural sounding to me. You can’t change his soul whatever the tuning you choose.
Now, well, even if I feel its an unfair fight both of this iem are priced the same, so, hum, yeah, the T800 score 8 Knowles BA’s in its chunky body and yes, it’s an unfair fight even if I sincerly think the B2 have the best single BA I ever heard. Anyway, the T800 are less comfortable and you struggle more to find a good fit too, wich is of first importance to be rewarded by its incredible sound. In other hand, the 8cores cable included is of better quality than the basic one included with the B2. I’m not sure the T800 will have as long durability than B2 too, one thing sure, it will be way more complex to repair!
Well, the sound, I mean, T800 are my favorite sub-1000$ iem right now so what do you expect? SOUNDSTAGE is more out of your head, with an holographic spaciality that surround you while the B2 feel very intimate and average wide compared to this giant spherical soundstage of T800. IMAGING is razor sharp with T800, its really like being in the middle of 8.1 surround system and there way more space between instruments than B2, with T800 every instrument have their own space and singularity, while with the B2 they can feel compressed togheter and lacking air.
BASS is thicker, weightier, have good slam and chunky body, its faster and tigher but have less transparence than dryier B2 wich have softer attack and less good separation in low end. MID RANGE is just a hint brighter wich give better attack-decay and more definition as well as way better imaging than more relaxed B2 that have smoother timbre that make it less agressive and perhaps a little more natural in timbre and balance. TREBLE is more energic and fowarded with the T800, so you have plenty more micro details especially in upper range, highs are more sparkly with better definition than more laid back B2 wich sound more neutral than W shaped T800. All in all, as said, it was an unfair fight and the T800 sure sound more spectacular, vivid and lively than more laid back , intimate and natural sounding B2.
I suggest to pair the B2 with a very clear and powerfull audio source, a revealing delicate (slightly analytical but not cold) one with extra treble details like the Ibasso DX90 is an excellent pairing. AK4490 smooth sounding DAC isn’t helping to get more energic sound presentation while the Cirrus CS4398 (Xduoo X3) pluged into an amp give extra texture and highs but isn’t as black in background as the Ibasso DX90 with its dual ES9018 dac that inject great dynamic and take advantage of clear sounding B2 driver.
I’ve never ever been disapointed by Final Audio earphones, because I always find the tuning well made and the timbre very inviting. Sure I have personal favorite like the E2000, E5000 and B3, but its subjective and surely due to the music I listen with them, wich is mostly classical, jazz and female signers. I don’t know why, but I rarely listen to electronic music with any Final Audio iem, even if i’m a big fan of IDM.
The B2 is no exception to this rule and could be in my top 5 favorite Final Audio iem I try, I prefer them over F serie single armature as well as all other single BA I own like Brainwavz Koel, Audiosense T180, Kbear F1 and yeah, Etymotic ER4 I own before and feel timbre was too dry for me. This say alot, but not all, because of the fact it push single balanced armature potential further really inflict on my enthusiasm too and perhaps make me even more subjective.
Yes, the B2 sound like a dynamic driver tuned neutraly with mid range emphasis, the bass it offer is never heard before as well as richness of timbre, for this ‘’tour de force’’ alone, it worth its 300$ price. But they have an incredible construction that promess very long durability too.
If you’ve always been underwhelmed by single BA bass, tonality or timbre and dream to own a sumptuous looking iem with invincible construction and accurate, natural sound that will cuddle your hearing instead of beating it with agressive treble, I think the Final Audio B2 singular approach to musicality migh really please you.