FINAL AUDIO B1 REVIEW: Sensuous guilty pleasure with voluptuous bass

FINAL AUDIO B1 REVIEW:

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SOUND: 8/10
CONSTRUCTION: 9.5/10
DESIGN: 9.5/10
ACCESSORIES: 9/10
VALUE: 7.5/10

THE PLUS:

  • Lush, mellow, luscious musicality
  • Natural timbre
  • Good vocal without any hint of sibilance
  • Excellent construction & Design

THE SO-SO:

  • Unbalanced bass response
  • Bass can overly warm the mid range
  • Treble lack crispness, sparkle and decay
  • Sound value is on the low benifit return side

NO BS HALF-RECOMMENDED!!

Okay, after having review the B2 and B3 model, I keep the B1 for dessert, and its appropriate as they are such sweet eye candy you wanna lick it to know if they really taste like gold.

The Final Audio B1 is higher end model of B serie, priced at 699$ they sure look like expensive luxury and put to shame lot of pricier TOTL earphones that have underwhelming construction for their over 1K price. But did fancy look is everything? Nope. Sometime its just flashy and will not have long durability, again, the B1 isn’t from this luxury gimmick.

If you invest hard earned money in the B1, it will must probably follow you until your last days on earth…well, if the lush laid back sound it deliver please your ears in first place.

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And this is where it became even more interesting, because the B1 is very first hybrid model from Final Audio, using one dynamic driver and one balanced armature. The goal of B1 tuning is to give a sens of proximity to the music, as if you really enter in the middle of your favourite band. You will feel the bass, and your singer is suppose to be very near you.

Here it’s how they describe B1 sound:
‘’B1 is a model designed with particular emphasis on proximity of sound and sense of reality. In music represented by animation soundtracks, recordings make the proximity of sound more conspicuous. For this type of music recording, the B1 has been designed to achieve playback more consistent with the balance of sound as created by the engineer. ‘’

Again, I mostly agree with sound description of Final Audio, but not fully and this is why we need reviewer to share how they subjectively perceive sound with their own ears. Mine perceive hint of E5000 bass flavor mixed with hint of B1 mids resolution.

Let’s explore the Final Audio B1 sound further in this review.

The Final Audio B1 can be found on Amazon.com for 1400$ (!!) so I suggest you to buy them somewhere else like on Ebay (599$) or Audio46(699$).

Disclaimer: I wanna thanks KYO and Final Audio for offering me the whole B serie review samples. As a Final Audio Fanboy, it’s an honour to be selected by this talented Japanese audio company. As always, I will be fully independent of mind even if I feel very spoiled.

SPECS:
Product code: FI-B1BDSSD
Sensitivity (dB/mW): 94
Impedance (Ω): 13
Material: Stainless
Finishing: Ion Plating
Driver 1: 6.4mm Dynamic
Driver 2: BA Tweeter
Weight (g): 36
Cable length (m): 1.2
Cable type: OFC Silver Coated Cable
Connector: MMCX
Accessories: Silicone Case / E Type Ear pieces/ Ear hooks

ACCESSORIES, CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN:

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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, there’s plenty of accessories included, which 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 unconnected the mmcx cable that can be slippy due to its metal part. For the price, well, perhaps we would have love an second cable but this is very rare that we are spoil that much and to be honest I prefer one great Final Audio 4cores silver plated cable than 2 bad ones.

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CONSTRUCTION is top notch and you know you have a 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. The rose gold stainless steel metal finish is supreme luxury for they eyes, and wearing this in public will sure make heads turn, the B3 seriously look high end luxury.

Unlike B2 and B3, the B1 look more easily scratchable, i do not always cary him in its case and as seen their small micro dent on it. As well, its a finger print magnet. It’s not as easy to scratch than very cheap metal iem like KZ ZS10PRO, but I suggest you to take very good care of the B1 and always bring it in protective case. Real gold too is easy to scratch….treat the B1 as precious jewel.

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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 hazard. 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 moulded in same front metal housing part, and is just long enough for perfect fit with ear tips, you can push it very far in your ears due to housing shape and as say, it will be the curvy, organically 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 thigh, which 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 literally hurt my thumbs and have a white spot on it for 3 days. So, yeah, that is sure secure connection for the iem but less so for your fingers! But, finally, the mmcx connection became smoother after connecting disconnecting it, it still securely thigh but easier to disconnect which it’s a BIG relieve!

COMFORT is excellent and in fact you don’t feel the weight due again to meticulously think 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 go hiking in the boreal forest invade by wolfs and bears because you will not hear potential attackers until you get bite by him.

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 is quite easy and will most likely be properly amped with any audio source because of low 13 ohm impedance, but the 94db sensitivity is not the highest for proper sound pressure dynamic so yeah, I tend to prefer using powerful source or portable amp than cranking the volume higher with less powerful DAP like the Xduoo X3.


SOUND:
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COZY sounding is the B1, warm and delicate as a good reassuring gentle fireplace. How can’t you not be comfy in such a welcome audio territory? While it’s far from being a spectacular firework, the lush inviting sound of B1 cannot offend the listener and will please those searching for laid back musicality with smooth thick woolly timbre. The bass is beefy but tender, mids are natural and soulful, treble is liquid. These are the perfect earphones for lazy afternoon, but be sure to have a coffee with it to keep you awake.

While I do appreciate this effortless warm sound, it will be a lie to say a passionate love story is born between us. With its superb look, like with the most beautiful golden haired girl of town, love expectation was too high and I find the personality lacking even if the physical look is gorgeous. In other words: I’m not as wowed by B1 sound than by it’s luxuriously sexy look. At 700$, I was putting the bar very high in term of sound quality, and after having praised the dual balanced armature B3 model, I find the sound of B1 lacking in excitement and high end technicalities. Compared to vivid detailed sound of B3, the B1 feel bassy, dark and laid-back. In some sense, it have a similar sound flavor to the one of E5000 but with an even more rolled off treble and less punchy bass. I adore the E5000, but it’s a guilty pleasure for me, and not even suppose to be as adored as it is by me due to my penchant for sharper clarity and tighter bass. I’m a W sound signature type of guy, and the B1 is U shape with extra smoothed treble, so it’s normal passion is born born between us.

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SOUNDSTAGE is rather intimate, it have restrain wideness and deepest with above average tallness, making it sound barely out of your head. It’s not an airy, spacious sounding iem.

IMAGING is more about thick layering with contrasted transparency than accurate spatial placement. Due to compact soundstage, instrument do not have lot of space between them, and lack air and silent gap.

TIMBRE is smooth and, let’s use this word, BUTTERY, yep, thick butter with a hint of honey in it. Sweet and super polish, you will not find any grain in it, but perhaps feel you would have prefer peanut butter for a more textured and crunchy timbre. This thick soften lushness permit to have just enough transparency to offer a more immersive listen. For male and some female vocal, this type of timbre is very tasty.

CLARITY isn’t sharp at all, some will find the B1 too dark in fact when big bass happen. Yep, whole sound of B1 is fully warm and the treble roll off sure do not help to offer high resolution and definition of different instrument playing together.

BASS is lazy and opulent, voluptuous and liquid, the waves of lower end gently splash on whole sound like an ocean awakening on the beach in a wind free morning. Lower bass is notably more prominent than upper mid bass, which make the slam weightier and more authoritative than the kick punch. Texture is very soft and extension isn’t the most natural. The lower end bump sure give more body to instrument like cello, but will make acoustic bass sound to thick as well. Full natural extension down to 20hz isn’t there due to notable bass bump beginning around 40hz. U shape is the bass, and not in the most controlled way as its a little sloppy and too juicy, but in a very subtle way because of how smooth overall bass feel. Something the result of this 40-200hz bumpy curve is very impressive, being able to extract synth bass line while keeping clean the mid range, but when drum kick mix with it this is where the sloppy control lack definition and tightness, making it mix too much with high bass and lower mids. I think this type of warming bass is done voluntarily, so whole sound feel more like a big dynamic driver than clinical hybrid. Unfortunately, unlike with single dynamic, the mids from balanced armature cannot earn real natural thickness with bass bleed.

MID RANGE is slightly recessed, warm and lush in timbre, smoothly rendered without any sibilance or grain in it. Super polish to the point we can wish for more details in resolution and texture in timbre. Still, the timbre feel rightly done, very natural, near organic, it’s opposite of artificial or clinical. Vocal aren’t as forward as I would expect and here it really depend of number of bass presence in your music. Listening to Susanna Walumrod ‘’Intruder’’ song, I tremendously enjoy how vocal are presented, thick, natural, full bodied yet transparent, not affecting the piano playing, which sound full and weighty as well. Here we do not have any bass and it’s very rewarding how the B1 can inject extra life and emotionality to this calm song. The imaging too get affected by bass, so less there is, more it will be clearer and more accurate in mid range, but still rather constraint in spaciousness. Definition is lush and polished, not sharp and detailed, while the attack too is on the soft side, so fast violin will lack grip but piano will have natural weight and impact. I feel this type of mid range excel with singer songwriter like Susanna, or Folk, jazz, some pop, some indie, some classical like piano or cello solo and post-rock, less so for fast rock, IDM, classical symphony or metal.

TREBLE is very gentle even if its pushed foward in lower highs to inject extra energy to the rather relaxed B1 sound. This offer just the right amount of texture to instrument and vocal so it never sound bright or overly textured. You will not hear strange breathing or micro details of instrument that can distract from lush natural flow of whole musicality, but you will miss some exciting micro details as well. The B1 treble is laid back without being dark, smooth without sounding thin, delicate without being very crisp. If you search super snappy highs and lot of sparkle and decay, you will not like how the treble roll off after 10khz. Instrument like harpsichord and acoustic guitar sound thick but lack attack, definition and brilliance in upper range.

LOWER BASS: 7.5/10
MID BASS: 7/10
MID RANGE: 8/10
TREBLE: 7.5/10
TIMBRE: 8.5/10
CLARITY: 7.5/10
SOUNDSTAGE: 7.5/10
IMAGING: 7.5/10
ATTACK-DECAY: 7.5/10

RANDOM TRACKS TEST:

CHARLOTTE DAY WILSON- ‘’WORK’’:

Here, everything is thick in lower end, bass line and kick are super chunky but lack definition refinement and tend to stole place to my beloved singer voice. Still, the nice lush transparent timbre offer a well done intimate layering. But as said, Charlotte voice feel very centred and in second seat compared to rest of instrumental. Percussion lack crispness and are hard to follow in far background. More than ever the B1 show its true U shape bassy nature as well as limitation. Vocal lack clarity and forwards presence and this is due to sub bass invasion. I choose this very tracks because I think it will give full bodied vocal presentation of Day Wilson Goddess. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

DAISUKE TANABE-’’Ten Spikes’’:

Now the B1 feel more at home with this kind of experimental downbeat electronic. It show what its sub bass can do and dig very deep offering quite intense rumble, tough a little boomy and not super tightly controlled. Anyway, the sub bass slam tend to be more lively and weighty than kick punch, which is very smooth in definition, near liquid in timbre. This track can be aggressive in treble with brighter iem, and the B1 tender treble avoid any harshness in percussion and snare, the counter effect of this is a lack of sparkle and micro details. Layering is okay, but far from being the clearest. Its like if I listen to this music trough a tube amp. Strangely addictive experience.

COMPARISONS:
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VS DITA TWINS FIDELITY (1300$):

Yeah, I have a big crush about housing design and construction of the magnificent B1, as well, they are more comfortable and even block more noise than the FIDELITY. The mmcx cable is more flexible and I can use any other cable of my collection without limitation with the B1. But, in term of sound it’s another story and this is where price difference is more evident.
SOUNDSTAGE is notably wider, taller and more out of your head with the DITA, delivery a sens of airy holographic instrument placement B1 crualy lack.
IMAGING too is more accurate and sharp, while B1 feel intimate and even congested when bass occur. DITA offer more realist and extended spaciality, instrument have more air between them and level of clarity is higher. BASS is thicker, weightier but smoother too with the B1, it lack control, texture and transcendence of DITA but will sure satisfy more the basshead because of its warmer, bassier (and boomier) presence. MID RANGE is warmer, thicker and softer in attack than more vivid, energic and detailed one of DITA. Level of accuracy is more refined with DITA, as well as the revealing articulation of imaging. With the B1, vocal are more intimate, opaque and juicy, which tend to shadow instrumentation more than better balanced DITA. Definition of instrument is as well better with DITA. TREBLE is more balanced, richer and snappier with DITA, which deliver highs with thigh crispness compared to more shouty highs of B1 that can make cymbals splashy. About the balance, it that B1 have mid highs push that tend to push aggressively some highs in a rather artificial way due to overall smooth response curve of all rest of spectrum.

All in all, the B1 is warmer, bassier and thicker sounding, but to the cost of having more opaque, intimate sound than more refined, articulate, neutral and detailed DITA FIDELITY that are from another league both in price and sound.

VS MEZE RAI PENTA (1000$):

Both this earphones share similar warm, bassy and intimate soundsignature, but the B1 is more V shape and warmer. SOUNDSTAGE is similar, just enough wide to don’t feel stock in your head, but the PENTA are notably deeper as well as a little taller, make it more out of your head and spacious than B1.
IMAGING is more accurate with crisper clarity with the PENTA, as if with the B1 your too near musicians to have proper instrument separation.
BASS is more controlled and linear with the PENTA, it sound faster than more pumped up sub bass of B1 that tend to warm lower mids more than the PENTA. B1 have slightly thicker and juicier sub bass but it’s less textured than PENTA.
MID RANGE is clearer, slightly brighter and more accurate with the PENTA, the presentation is wider and less intimate and prompt to congestion than B1. B1 have more mellow mid range, but female vocals are more prompt to (rare) sibilance, dynamic and attack is more energic with the PENTA.
TREBLE is more extended with the PENTA, delivering crisper highs and more micro details on top, this make them more W shape while the B1 are more L shape with extra mids push. No doubt that the PENTA deliver higher definition, more texture and a livelier musicality.

All in all, the B1 will please those who search thick sound with lush mids and intimate laid back musicality, while the PENTA is clearly superior in technicalities, bass control and imaging.

VS FINAL AUDIO B3 (500$):

A dual balanced armature will sure not sound similar than an hybrid dynamic-balanced drivers iem, so this is not surprise that here it will more depend on your flavor preference. B1 is warmer and bassier, while B3 is more vividly accurate and mid centric.

SOUNDSTAGE feel about same wideness but B3 sure have more deepness to it. Imaging is where the B3 stand apart in term of definition and accuracy, as well as better spaciality that offer more clear space between instruments. Strangely, even if B3 use balanced armature which are know to lack bass extension, I feel it extend as far as the B1 in a flatter more realist way, while B1 bass is more boomy and thick but less fast and punchy. MID RANGE is clearer with better accuracy and technicalities than more laid back mids of B1. While the B3 mid range sound forwards, sharp and detailed, the B1 tend to mix bass and mids at same level which is very different to the mids that sit properly on bass. TREBLE is more extended with the B3, offering more micro details and an overall better resolved sound imagery than softer and darker B1.

Overall sound signature of B1 is more U shape, lusher, bassier, warmer and more laid back while the B3 is slightly W shape and offer better technicalities from low to highs and a more balanced, accurate and controlled dynamic.

CONCLUSION:

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FINAL AUDIO B1 is as beautiful to look than to listen, and while the lush and warm sound signature of their top of the line model might not offer spectacular clarity and accuracy, it sure deliver a unique addictive musicality with sweet thick timbre and voluptuous bass and mids that would appeal to those searching for a laid back innoffensive sound presentation.

The construction and design of B1 is a real piece of art in its own right, and should be show in museum so people can contemplate them for hours and hours like I do….just for this I feel the high price is justify to some extend. It’s not just durable, it’s adorable too.

If you are fan of U shape sound signature with lush mid range and vocal, thick juicy bass and gently smooth treble and want an high end earphones with a jaw dropping sturdy and sexy construction that will let nobody indifferent, just stop right now contemplating the beautiful pics of Final Audio B1 and give it a try!

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