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Final Audio ZE8000 True Wireless Earphones: Review

Final Audio’s ZE8000 True Wireless Earphones may not appeal to everyone but there are some very positive things about its performance.

Final Audio ZE8000 Wireless Earphone Pair

We recently reviewed the Final Audio ZE3000 True Wireless Earbuds and felt that they offered solid performance for the money; the Japanese manufacturer has followed that up with the ZE2000 ($139.99) and the new Final Audio ZE8000 that offers a number of features that are missing from their other offerings.

The ZE8000 retail for $349 USD which is a significant increase from other models and that comes with much higher expectations.

The packaging does not offer a “Focal” experience but focuses more on product information and it is perfectly adequate; I do applaud Final Audio for actually making packaging that matches the contents of the box versus having to wonder which color and model you are selecting; the practice of putting a “check” box feels very cheap considering what some manufacturers are charging now for true wireless earbuds.

Final Audio supplies the ZE8000 with a charging case, five sets of ear tips, spare dust filters, dust filter tool, manual and a charging cable.

Final Audio ZE8000 Wireless Earphone Accessories Kit

Technology

Both the case and earpieces are polymer construction available in either black or white with the case, box, and earpieces all matching one another.

The case itself is quite large and uses a sliding lid rather than a hinged style like most. The lid slides toward the rear of the case which houses the USB Type-C charging port.

4 LED charge indicators illuminate on the front of the charging case when you open it to indicate the charging status.

Opening the case reveals the earpieces themselves which are a rather unorthodox style. Each earpiece has a vertical bar instead of a typical outer shell with a round inner shell at the center of the bar that houses the driver.

Final Audio ZE8000 Wireless Earphone Pair Front and Back

The tips are equally unique as they fit over the driver housing rather than having a typical nozzle for tip attachment. My description doesn’t do them justice as they are neither bulky nor uncomfortable which are two important features for listeners.

When worn, the inner shell rests in the ear while the bar rests outside of it running from the bottom of the ear lobe up to the fossa antihelix.

The fit was fairly comfortable and they remained in place during use, but we would warn those who wear a lot of ear jewelry that the shape of the earpieces may interfere or be uncomfortable if they make contact with earrings.

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The vertical bar on each earpiece has a pair of ports on either end that house the beam forming microphones that are used for both ANC and making phone calls.

The positioning is an issue for those who might want to run outside in the rain without a hood or hat. The ZE8000 come with an IPX4 rating and are fine in the gym but do not submerge these.

Final Audio ZE8000 Wireless Earphone Inner Side

Internal Technology

Final Audio’s F-Core Du Dynamic Drivers that are used in their “A” series earbuds have trickled down to the ZE8000; the manufacturer has not shared any details on the driver size or construction. The drivers are powered by a class AB amplification module.

Final’s “8K Sound” marketing nomenclature refers to the audio processing used in the earpieces that handles the ANC and in-call noise reduction; 4 beam forming microphones in each earpiece handle the ANC and phone call duties.

The Bluetooth receiver supports aptX Adaptive and is also compatible with aptX, AAC, and SBC; which supports both Apple and Android smartphones.

The batteries are rather small because of the form factor of the earpieces; that decision limits the battery life to between 4.5 and 5 hours and a charging time of under 2 hours when the earpieces are fully drained.

That is below average for the category at this price point.

The charging case only provides one additional full charge and a partial second charge before the it needs to be recharged itself. 

Final Audio ZE8000 Wireless Earphones Charging in Case

Controls

Listeners can control the ZE8000 by using the tap controls on the earpieces or through the smartphone app; our short-term assessment is that the app will be easier for most people to use unless they don’t mind learning the somewhat unique tap sequences.

The play/pause, forward/back, and answer/end call functions are handled by a series of taps on specific earpieces depending on the desired operation. To activate the ANC, ambient, wind reduction, and voice pass-through modes, users have to touch and hold the button on the earpiece to engage and cycle through them for two seconds.

Final’s Connect app simplifies the mode selection and offers visual confirmation to the end user; most consumers use their music streaming app to control playback and we found the sequences somewhat confusing.

Another benefit of the control app is that is provides access to the 4-band semi-parametric EQ, 8K sound option, and a volume step optimizer.

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Final Connect App Pro EQ
Final Connect App 8K Sound+
Final Connect App Volume

We think it is fair to call the EQ “semi-parametric” because the user selects one of the 4 preset frequencies to adjust for each of the 4 bands and can then select the gain or cut for that frequency.

It may not perform the same as a true parametric EQ, but it is far superior to what we have seen so far with most true wireless earbuds.

The volume step optimizer allows for smaller steps than typical phone volume adjustments and more granular control which helps better adjust the sound.

The “8K Sound” option proved not to be a gimmick, but a rather useful feature that adjusts the tuning of the earpieces as well as reclocking the source for a better experience with a higher level of separation and detail compared to the unprocessed sample.

You can turn the feature on/off depending on the track and we did notice that better recordings benefitted from the application of the processing.

Final Audio ZE8000 True Wireless Earphones White

Sound

Those looking for a pair of true wireless earbuds that emphasize low end response should seek out the ZE8000; the sub-bass has rather good extension and impact in the mid-20Hz range with a strong sense of drive. The mid-bass is also emphasized with solid definition whilst remaining transparent and surprisingly detailed.

We did not expect the ZE8000 to be good workout TWS earbuds but they fill that role rather well; the pacing and bass response will appeal to those who listen to bass heavy tracks while they exercise. They are certainly not a neutral sounding pair of earbuds but the extra emphasis keeps your attention.

There is some mild bleed from the mid-bass and upper-bass range into the lower midrange and it proved to be the ideal place to use the EQ. We decreased the emphasis around 600Hz and immediately noticed an improvement in clarity and detail in the lower midrange.

Male vocals benefitted from the tuning; notes had ample weight and detail and a high level of resolution. Female vocals are not as emphasized with the ZE8000 which some might find puzzling.

Guitar and violin notes were delivered with enough energy and tonal accuracy to sound extremely natural; many TWS earbuds struggle with this and that earned the ZE8000 some extra points from a sonic perspective.

Female vocals are not pushed as far forward as their male counterparts and there is some added coloration in the range that some might find pleasing; we felt that it did not sound as accurate in that regard, but one can use the EQ to alter that if you desire greater emphasis in the range.

There is some emphasis in the lower treble which helped balance out the bass range without becoming too strident or fatiguing with most recordings. Percussion snap was well defined overall, but the hi-hat was presented with slightly less energy to sound completely accurate.

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Final has chosen a somewhat polite tuning in the treble range overall; the upper treble comes across as more restrained compared to the lower and mid-treble range. The tuning decision gives the ZE8000 some airiness on top but it is not the most detailed sounding.

The soundstage presentation offers slightly more width than depth and there is more than enough height to create a rather three-dimensional sounding space.

The dimensions are not huge in comparison to open-back headphones but the stereo separation and imaging are rather good for closed TWS earbuds and it was very easy to track movements across the stage and place individual performers in their defined spots.

The ANC performance was average compared to the category leading Sony XM4, but it did a relatively good job removing outside noise without negatively impacting the overall sonic signature. We do wish that there was a way to completely turn off ANC and it is something that Final should add to the app in the next firmware update.

The ambient mode did allow me to hear cars as I walked on the street whilst listening to music but it also impacted how loudly I could listen to music at the same time for it to be effective.

Final Audio ZE8000 True Wireless Earphones Black Pair

Conclusion

Some will dismiss the Final Audio ZE8000 because of the odd shape of the earpieces, average ANC performance, and mid-tier battery performance.

All of those are fair points.

We would counter that the shape of the earpieces created a rather comfortable fit and there were no issues when it came to staying put whilst exercising; the IPX4 waterproof rating is good enough for those who will be using these in the gym or while they commute to work.

The EQ and 8K settings proved to be rather useful and helped us adjust the tonal balance, transparency, and overall presentation to our liking with a lot of music.

The battery performance could certainly be better at this price point and it is something for Final Audio to improve; people who use these for just working out or commuting are unlikely to use up all 4.5 hours which needs to be a consideration.

We rather like the overall tuning and we suspect that those who want better bass performance will enjoy their emphasis in that range.

Where to buy: $349 at Amazon | Headphones.com

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