HEDD Audio HEDDphone ($1899): The HEDDphone doesn’t sit in the same price class but surely offers a TOTL technical performance with its unique driver type. Though it represents good value by relation, this does come at the cost of a much bulkier and heavier form factor, likely it’s most polarising quality. The D8000 Pro also has a more premium BOM and much better cables from factory.
In listening, the D8000 Pro offers a more expansive and physical sub-bass extension, it has a little more bass overall but neither are bassy per say. Rumble and slam are both delivered with noticeably greater definition on the Final. While both have a slight rise above for fullness, the HEDDphone decays a little too fast to the extent that it sacrifices some texture in favour of superior separation. The D8000 Pro is more dynamic and has more mid-bass texture. The approach to midrange tuning is similar in a sense, but with differing executions. The D8000 Pro has a bit more contrast with a warmer tone counterbalanced by greater clarity and definition in the upper-midrange and a more articulate lower-treble.
The HEDDphone has a smoother, more coherent voicing but also delivers a more neutral tone, deriving fullness from its lower-midrange rather than its bass. It has less separation around this region and a slightly fuller note structure. In addition, the HEDDphone has a noticeably smoother articulation, so it is more coherent overall at the expense of openness. Despite this, it is not lacking definition or separation as it has a faster note presentation with a sharper leading edge and quicker decay too. Due to its smoother and fuller tuning, it ends up sounding essentially as natural in its voicing as the D8000 Pro despite being a bit more atypical in its approach to colouration. Treble tells a similar story.
The HEDDphone has a smoother lower-treble but quickly picks up after, providing a slightly brighter tuning than the D8000 Pro. The D8000 Pro has a more linear foreground and a more “normal” note presentation, being just a little more delicate. The HEDDphone has much quicker transients, its presentation is thinner but has a lot more bite and higher definition. The D8000 Pro is more refined, its more linear tonality means it flatters micro-details more even if the HEDDphone has a more aggressive detail presentation. Both extend terrifically, the D8000 Pro has a bit more air, while the HEDDphone offers a slightly darker background and a bit more upper-treble energy.
While both headphones offer superlative soundstage depth, the D8000 Pro does offer a noticeably wider stage, being more well-rounded. Both have very sharp imaging, the sharper HEDDphone is more holographic but less pinpoint precise, while the more linear D8000 Pro is more layered and a bit more organised on complex tracks.
Focal Utopia ($2900): The Utopia provides a slightly brighter and more revealing midrange paired with a slightly more balanced top-end. Both have a similar bass tuning and voicing, the D8000 Pro comes across as slightly fuller, warmer and more powerful to my ears while the Utopia is slightly cleaner and more articulate. While both extend terrifically into the perceptual, the D8000 Pro provides a more affirmative slam at the very bottom and is slightly more discerning of fine detail in the sub-bass. The Utopia has a slightly cleaner, tighter and punchier mid-bass by comparison. It has a pacier note delivery in general with slightly higher note definition and a more aggressive texture. The D8000 Pro’s note presentation is smoother. While it is slightly more robust with greater slam, the Final lacks the same tightness and speed as the Utopia.
The Utopia has a notably more forward midrange presentation, arguably representing greater balance, while the D8000 Pro is more U-shaped. The D8000 Pro has a more coloured voicing, calling upon greater low-end warmth and structure combined with a higher contrast, glossier articulation in the treble. As the midrange itself isn’t too forward, it is actually slightly more forgiving and full-bodied than the Utopia. Meanwhile, the Utopia benefits from a more neutral tonality. It is cleaner with superior separation and slightly higher definition. The D8000 Pro has a smoother texture once again, its background is more resolved which gives it superior layering despite being less separated. The Utopia teases out slightly more fine detail in the mix but in terms of pure resolution, the two are quite evenly matched here.
The D8000 Pro has a considerably more energetic top-end though is represented more by its top-octave lift than huge sharpness or forwardness in the audible regions. The Utopia, meanwhile, has a slightly more isolated lower-treble peak giving it a more focused detail presentation and a sharper leading edge alongside greater foreground/background contrast. It has a slightly cleaner transient response, delivering slightly better fine detail retrieval. The D8000 Pro has a more even voicing in the lower-treble but also greater wideband elevation. Its note timbre is slightly more natural to my ears, lacking the over sharpening of the Focal. It has much more air and sparkle above and, as its note presentation is smoother, doesn’t introduce any grain or glare in so doing. The Utopia does sound darker and more contrasted here, if that is your preference, but it also has less sparkle and micro-detail at the very top.
The D8000 Pro has a more spacious soundstage while the Utopia once again provides a more intimate and focused sound. The same goes for its imaging performance, the Utopia has sharper directional cues and commands a keener sense of direction. The D8000 Pro is a bit floatier but has better layering with its more resolved background. The Utopia has an advantage when it comes to separation due to its slightly more defined note presentation and cleaner tuning. This means that though it has a smaller stage and a darker upper-treble, it still sounds well spaced and airy.
Audeze LCD-4z ($3995): The reference take on Audeze’s now former flagship headphone makes for agreeable competition to the D8000 Pro. It is an equally hefty headphone but with plush lambskin pads and a wide suspension headband. Sonically, the 4z retains Audeze’s darker house sound, a foil to the bright and energetic D8000 Pro. The 4z has a similar bass presence, it has a thicker, fuller voicing but not necessarily more warmth. The D8000 Pro is pacier and extends a bit deeper, delivering greater slam at the very bottom. The D8000 Pro is a bit more articulate and separated overall while the 4z has thicker notes that some may enjoy.
The midrange is darker and more coherent on the 4z. Both occupy a similar positioning, being laid-back, the D8000 Pro is slightly more balanced in this regard. The 4z will suit those wanting structured, complete notes while the D8000 Pro benefits from greater clarity and articulation due to its more open top-end. The D8000 Pro has a more obviously warmer tone while the 4z is smoother and slightly roomier instead. The D8000 Pro has slightly higher resolution and a more engaging voicing while the 4z epitomizes coherence and smoothness.
While the D8000 Pro has a crisper and brighter top-end, the 4z does have a slightly more focused lower-treble detail delivery and a hint more separation and fine detail here. The 4z doesn’t have the same openness above, but superb background cleanliness that gives its foreground a bit more pop. The D8000 Pro has much more air, sparkle and headroom meanwhile. It doesn’t have the same sense of distance and dimension but this lends the impression of greater detail on first impression. In actuality, the 4z is a bit more detailed but it is hard to appreciate due to its darkness.
The 4z has a smaller soundstage but very immersive, multi-dimensional imaging. In particular, its jet black yet well-resolved background gives it a holographic presentation and transients pop a little more upon it. The D8000 Pro is brighter and more energetic but lacks that same contrast. It has better separation in return.
Hifiman Susvara ($6000): The Susvara provides a slightly sleeker design and, similar to the Utopia, comes across as more revealing and forward in the midrange, representing slightly better tonal balance overall. However, here, both have a similar sparkly and extended top-end. The D8000 Pro once again has a bit more power and body in the bass, despite measuring similarly. The Susvara has a hint more sub-bass power and it has a tighter, more affirmative slam at the very bottom. The D8000 Pro provides a slightly warmer voicing, it has a fuller note structure and a slightly smoother texture. The Susvara is more articulate with better separation and cleanliness, it has more texture and a pacier presentation in general.
The midrange tells a similar story, the Susvara is more honest, clean and balanced; the D8000 Pro being more coloured and laid-back. The Susvara has a more neutral tone and note body, the D8000 Pro is warmer and lusher. The Susvara has better separation and higher resolution, fine details are more clearly resolved and presented, especially due to the compounding effects of its more revealing tuning. The D8000 Pro has a smoother and more forgiving voicing. It has high resolution but doesn’t quite match the performance and sense of space crafted by the Susvara.
Up top, both are relatively similar in terms of tuning. The D8000 Pro has a hint more air while the Susvara comes across as slightly more evenly voiced. Both are well-bodied, textured and superbly extended with great energy and sparkle in their top-octave. The Susvara has a slightly cleaner transient response. It has a bit more bite on the leading edge of notes and brings out more fine detail in turn. The D8000 Pro is a bit airier, bringing background details forward more at the cost of contrast and, to some degree, space. The Susvara resolves micro details slightly better than the D8000 Pro, though no listener would be disatisfied with either listen.
The Susvara does have an otherworldly soundstage and this is the key differentiator on first listen. The D8000 Pro is flexible and hugely capable here, but the Susvara extends much more overtly out of the head in both width and depth. Its presentation simply sounds more palpable and gives a more open sensation. Both have sharp, holographic imaging, the Susvara has better separation. As the Susvara also has more space, each note has a fair bit more “ether” surrounding it which further enhances this impression of openness.
If you want a goose bump inducing, all-encompassing, shivers down your spine euphoric listening experience, the D8000 Pro is the instrument for you. Well, perhaps there’s just a bit hyperbole in there, and surely such statement are requiring of some logical contextualisation. With such an exorbitant asking price, you would not be wrong to expect not only a versatile performer, but something that, in some sense, redefines one’s audio experience. Indeed, the D8000 Pro excels in all regards and also pushes the boundary of performance in almost all of them too. From its balanced sound profile straight out of the box to its top-class ability to resolve fine details in an effortless manner, the D8000 Pro has the groundwork to craft such an experience.
It does so with exemplary build quality and a comfortable fit that lets you enjoy this experience all day long. After spending an extended amount of time in the high-end headphone space, I can convincingly say the D8000 Pro would be my personal pick before stepping up into truly cost-is-no-object summit-fi space including the Susvara and flagship electrostatic headphones. With the new crop of high-performance flagships just recently announced, I suspect the Final will remain relevant for a long time to come. While not for the purist wanting the most neutral tonality, or super linear signature, this headphone meticulously balances summit-fi technicality with an inviting, luscious and genre-flexible tonality that I haven’t yet heard in such equal measure.
The D8000 Pro can be purchased from Apos Audio and hifiheadphones for $4299 USD/£3999 respectively at the time of review. I am not affiliated with Final Audio or hifiheadphones and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.
Track List –
AKMU – SAILING
Billy Joel – The Stranger
Bob Seger – Night Moves
Cream – Wheels of Fire
Crush – OHIO
Daryl Hall & John Oates – Voices
Dire Straits – Communique
Dirty Loops – Next To You
Eagles – Hotel California
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
H.E.R – I Used To Know Her
Jaden – BYE
Joji – Sanctuary
Kanye West – Donda
Maneskin – Chosen
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of The Moon
Radiohead – OK Computer
TALA – ain’t leavin` without you
The Beatles – Abbey Road
The weeknd – After Hours