Great cables and case, Gorgeous design and build, All-day comfort, Beautiful and ultra-refined sound signature, Bottomless sub-bass extension, Excellent soundstage dimensions especially depth, Natural note presentation, Barely leaks sound
Proprietary cable connectors, Delicate earpads, Still not a perfectly linear sound for professionals, Treble isn’t as defined as some competitors
The D8000 Pro meticulously balances summit-fi technicality with an inviting, balanced and genre-flexible tonality that I haven’t yet heard in such equal measure.
Final Audio are a legendary Japanese audio manufacturer with decades of experience. I am especially fond of their problem-solving approach to audio design, identifying issues with driver types, sound signatures and ergonomics, then implementing their own research in order to address this. With each product release comes a new solution to a different problem. In so doing, the company has amassed a profound stockpile of technologies that means each is better than the last. The D8000 was the pinnacle of this approach, the amalgamation of their knowledge and expertise. This is a hand-assembled TOTL headphone built to challenge the best of best. Few headphones make such an impression on you, even when cost is no object. However, even on first listen, I had more than a few thoughts I wanted to share on Final’s latest flagship headphone.
I would like to thank the team at Final Audio and KS Distribution very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the D8000 Pro for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the headphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Housing: Aluminium magnesium alloy
- Driver: AFDS 50mm Planar Magnetic
- Sensitivity: 98 dB
- Impedance: 60 Ohms
- Weight: 523g
- Page 1: Intro, BTD, Unboxing
- Page 2: Design, Build & Fit
- Page 3: Sound & Source Pairings
- Page 4: Comparisons & Verdict
Behind the Design –
Planar Magnetic Driver
It seems dynamic drivers are now a rarity as planar magnetic headphones have become the norm. There is good reason for this, planar drivers have many benefits over vanilla DD designs. They have a large magnet structure that provide electromotive force over a large, ultra-thin diaphragm with a magnetic trace, similar to a voice coil. What you get in turn, is a much larger diaphragm surface area alongside reduced modal breakup – since, the force is delivered far more equally across said surface. The downside to using planar magnetic drivers is that the excursion – the piston movement back and forth – is limited compared to a dynamic driver. This means you don’t get the same dynamics and pressure as you would from a well-designed DD platform.
Air Film Damping System is Final’s answer to those who dissert that planars can’t slam like dynamic drivers. Final reason that traditional planar designs cannot reproduce low frequencies at high volumes as the lower the frequency, the greater the amplitude of diaphragm distortion. At low frequencies, the diaphragm can contact the magnet structure, causing clipping and distortion. In addition, as sub-bass pressure is limited, these models rely on a tight seal delivered by the earpads which can cause wearing pressure for the listener and affect the sound reproduction for those who wear glasses that can compromise said seal. Final Audio used a laser doppler vibrometer and finite element method – a computerised process used to optimise the thermodynamics of a system – to design a system to combat this.
Thus, AFDS was born, comprising of a precision perforated metal filter between the magnet array and diaphragm. It uses the viscosity of air to damp the diaphragm, enhancing control and extension. As the diaphragm approaches the magnet structure, the pressure of air behind it increases, thereby increasing control and reducing distortion. The Pro takes this one step further with a further refined system that helps to more evenly disperse force across the diaphragm, resulting in a more detailed sound than even the D8000. This means the D8000 Pro is able to achieve a deeper extension and a robust sound even with breathable pads and a reduced seal/wearing pressure.
High Frequency Extension
Of course, not all planar drivers are built equal, and when it comes to high frequency extension and transient response, the mass of the driver is key. Final have engineered a diaphragm that is 1/3 lighter – than what is not mentioned. However, it is a positive that lightness was prioritised here, further augmented with an ultra-lightweight aluminium coil etched into the film diaphragm. This further reduces weight as adhesives are not required. There is further benefit to this with regards to the uniformity of sound output and it takes a lot of error out of the production and channel matching process.
Built to Last
The D8000 Pro is no small investment and the engineers at Final have designed it to last a lifetime. This begins with the magnesium alloy housings that are lightweight and sturdy whilst retaining the ability to be precisely machined. While the black model sports a soft touch leather-textured finish similar to that used in the DSLR industry has been applied in order to combat minute vibrations, the silver unit uses an Alumite anodized aluminium finish. The headphone was built with long-term ownership and ease of repair in mind in addition to the potential for future upgrades. Almost every part can be disassembled and replaced should they break or wear out over time – a great outlook shared by many but much appreciated, nonetheless. All D8000 headphones are manufactured and hand-assembled at Final’s head office in Kawasaki using in-house developed tools and materials.
Of course, the earpads too are a part of the acoustic pathway and have been carefully considered to optimise sound and comfort. In addition to AFDS, the earpads were designed to be extra breathable in order to provide an ideal bass response. This has been achieved through the use of specialised fibres in the fabric and highly breathable open-pore foam padding. The Pro edition has revised materials from the regular D8000, using Toray Ultrasuede often seen on automotive and aircraft trimming. It lines the inner surface to provide enhanced comfort and a hard-wearing surface over long-term use.