FINAL AUDIO A8000: A first look into Transparent sound
I’ve been blessed enough to receive a loaner unit of the last flagship Final Audio earphones: the A8000. Like with any flagship, I will not rush myself to write a review about them but fully, patiently, and selfishly explore their sound like a meticulous epicurean.
Today, I will share with you some of the insight about how the A8000 comes up as well as some first subjective sound impressions.
Final Audio sound engineers are extremely serious about acoustic phenomena, they don’t only go by ears like any tuners do, but about the sound perception of music in a more cerebral way as well. Why did some audiophiles perceive sonority that cannot be explained scientifically like timbre thickness, naturalness and most of all transparency? Must of all, how can they measure such phenomenon and apply it in their acoustic tuning?
Well, they invent ”subjective evaluation methodology” based on psycho-acoustic research they done for years. This is why no other earphones sound like a Final Audio. This is why E series became such bestsellers as well. The frequency response measurement does not tell everything about how Final Audio iem sonority, it’s way more complex than that.
To have an idea about the approach to sound tuning of Final Audio, I suggest you to read their fascinating ACOUSTICS LECTURE
Now, with the A8000, they push the acoustic study even further by focusing on an even more abstract audio perception that most audiophiles are enamored off: Transparency. Unlike the amplitude of frequencies response that most tuners rely on, transparency cannot be measured, it can only be created ”subjectively”, to achieve this Final engineer uses a new subjective measurement technic call ”Perceptual Transparency measurement” evaluation methodology. Through this evaluation, they have tested different drivers and diaphragm searching the one that will deliver the most transparent sound. They conclude the ideal diaphragm should have the highest speed possible so transient response will never struggle to represent different layers of sound and offer highest and fastest possible soundwaves freedom.
And there’s come the idea to use an Ultra-Thin beryllium foil made of 100% pure beryllium.
” With a specific gravity of 1.85 and a sound propagation velocity of 12,900 m/s, second only to that of diamond, Beryllium has ideal characteristics for a diaphragm material. The adoption of pure Beryllium will lead to improved time response that greatly transfigures sound into transparent.”
You can read more about Final Audio A8000 HERE.
Priced at 2000$, the A8000 is Final Audio flagship earphones, which can be seen as the counterpart of D8000 flagship headphones. Now, let’s share some more subjective insight into this high-end luxury.
CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN follow the same path begun with the B series they launch some months ago. The chassis has a luxurious steampunk look to my eyes, it is glossy thick stainless steel with refined angle and curves.
Similar to B series, the A8000 is bigger but as comfortable. While the B series housing use 2 part put together, A8000 use 3 parts. As well, you don’t have any screw in the back which keeps the surface fully glossy and free of any asperity. Another interesting detail is the fact nozzle does not have the same metal mesh like the B series, it has 4 holes and a very thinner barely visible mesh. Designed to be worn with cable over-ear, the fit is both comfortable and secure. As I have rather big ears, no angle of the iem rub against my skin.
FIRST SOUND IMPRESSIONS was a hypnotizing one…is it due to beryllium radiation? Nope, to how refined, effortless, clear and indeed Transparent was the sound.
The A8000 present music in all it’s nuance, and this time it’s not really about new micro details that I discover in my music (have test so much analytical item already), not, it’s about inner sound layers of timbre. It’s complicated to describe and perhaps critical listener will find this spectacular as I do, but now violin playing together all sound full yet transparent and attack full too.
Nothing feels forced, yet everything is lively and revealing. In this rare case, Tonality is perfect, detailed yet smooth without losing its definition edge.
BASS is dictated by your music, not the A8000, you will have rumble if asked too, or natural extension with acoustic bass. Again, resolution and definition is supremely accurate and natural. The attack is fast, tight, and does not warm the mid-range.
Laser fast transient response is not just measurable scientifically with the A8000, your ears to discover the benefit of its speed which permit the sound to never struggle with the busy track as if it can read the future (sorry I became esoteric here).
MID RANGE is vivid in attack while smooth and realistically textured in timbre, imaging is something near ethereal, in the sense of how layering have space between them in deepness while you have a sense of proximity and spatiality that is just slightly intimate, like a small concert room just make for you. The vocal is both excellent for male or female, benefit from transparency without sound thin or dry. Agnes Obel and Sabrina Claudio sound lush and extremely present, near you, while Rhye and Steve Lacy sound perfectly centered in middle of their instrumentation.
TREBLE is delicate, accurate and balanced. Highs are very snappy while staying where they should and never sounding artificially forwarded. A8000 highs aren’t as relaxed as E series while more delicate than B3, they are sharper and more vivid, but never out of control or splashy. I’m not afraid about treble sensitive people with them, in fact, I think they will get goosebumps listening to their favorite classical guitarist, percussionist or harpsichordist.
Okay, here I think it’s justified that I get overwhelmed about how delectable sound the A8000 even if I’m far from the finish to explore the numerous galaxies in its fascinating acoustic universe. Having heard or own other TOTL earphones like the Meze Rai Penta, DITA Fidelity, and Fealty or Hifiman RE2000, I can already confidently say the A8000 is the more agile, transparent and natural-sounding of them. But this is first impressions, so stay tuned for a more detailed review that will be published in at least 2 weeks!