Final E3000 ($55): The two earphones are identical in design but differ in finish and materials. The E2000 has a matte black aluminium enclosure while the E3000 employs a chromed stainless steel housing. This is another instance where price and model number do not denote quality because E2000 rather represents a different style of tuning rather than a downgrade in technical performance. The E3000 is more L-shaped with greater mid-bass emphasis and bloat, the E2000 is tighter and more defined but retains nice low-end kick and fullness. The E3000 has a thicker midrange throughout, lacking the clarity of the E2000 but also that slight raspiness to female vocals. The E3000 has slightly more midrange resolution and space but the E2000 is universally clearer and more detailed. The E3000 is smooth and laid-back within the higher frequencies while the E2000 is crisp and slightly lifted in emphasis. The E3000 has a larger soundstage but lacks the separation of the E2000 due to its thick tuning.
Shozy Hibiki ($45): The Hibiki has a nice build with authentic carbon fibre faceplates and a very solid 2-pin removable cable that contrast to the more delicate E2000. Sonically, the Hibiki places greater emphasis on the higher frequencies while the E2000 is more low-frequency focussed. The Hibiki has more sub-bass weighting with a slightly cleaner response though both are similarly defined and textured. The Hibiki has a brighter, more forward midrange that contrasts to the slightly darker Final though the E2000 has a touch more resolving power and notably greater separation that enables greater definition of nuances. The Hibiki has a forward treble response but details lack the “bite” of the Final due to a dip in the lower treble. In return, the Hibiki extends further and middle treble elements are resolved with greater clarity however, I feel that the Hibiki is slightly too bright and source dependent. Chiefly, its high-end can dominate lower notes while the E2000’s more balanced sound tastefully heightens engagement with lesser sacrifice though this will ultimately come down to individual preference. Finally, the E2000 has a larger stage in all directions combined with greater separation though the Hibiki does image very well considering its asking price.
Kinera H3 ($100): The H3 is plastic but its design is more stable and isolates far better. It also has a removable cable that feels much sturdier than the unit on the E2000. The H3 is more obviously v-shaped than the E3000 with a somewhat scooped lower midrange and brighter overall tonal balance. Bass is similarly tuned and emphasized though the Kinera has a more impactful, extended sub-bass response and is cleaner and markedly more defined throughout. Mids are brighter on the H3 primarily due to their recessed lower midrange and thinner character up top. The H3 also has greater clarity and slightly more resolution while the E2000 has more separation and space which acts almost to the same effect while maintaining a more natural presentation. Treble is noticeably more detailed and extended on the H3 though its spiked lower treble will not suit every listener. The E2000 isn’t quite as nuanced but is still admirably detailed and its more linear tuning picks up certain details that the more uneven Kinera can muddy. The E2000 has a larger soundstage in addition to greater separation while the H3 images slightly better.
I can’t commend the E2000 more for their price/performance ratio, as far as sound is concerned, the E2000 makes for a very easy recommendation. They are V-shaped but very tastefully so, clear and natural in their presentation and their soundstage is separated and spacious to top it off. While they aren’t explicitly neutral, the E2000 is very engaging without overstepping any boundaries with their bass or treble emphasis. Unfortunately, I can’t freely recommend them as a daily beater on account of their thin cable and meagre strain relief, both of which fail to inspire confidence in their longevity. This is compounded upon by their mediocre isolation due to their semi-open nature. However, if you’re looking for a natural, clear yet vibrant in-ear for listening in quieter environments, the E2000 is sonically competitive with a lot of the better $100 in-ears out there. This is one of those rare instances where an earphone truly outperforms its price class rather than simply placing well within it.
Verdict – 9/10, The E2000 manages to best competing models in terms of balance, detail and refinement while simultaneously sitting near the bottom in pricing. If you’re not too hard on your earphones and don’t mind the lack of isolation, the E2000’s are a comfortable and resolving earphone that sonically outperform their asking price.