The Final Audio Design E3000 are going to be huge for the Japanese company traditionally associated with uber pricey models like the Piano Forte Series of audiophile earbuds. In fact, these are the best cheap earphone I have heard in a long long time. Forget the Zero Audio Carbo's, the E3000 have just set the bar for what an earphone around $50 is capable of.
"Competes with headphones x times the price" is a phrase bandied about all too often in the audiophile world but if anything is deserving of that title it's the Final Audio E3000.
Tuned for Modern Music
Final Audio Design are big in Asia and in Asia earphones are most commonly tuned for Asian music (surprising right?). That usually means they are leaner and brighter sounding compared to IEM's issued to western markets. Final Audio do have a range of warmer and more bass enhanced earphones called the Adagio.
I was a huge fan of the Adagio III, a monstrous bass cannon of an earphone that could smash your eardrums like you were standing next to a subwoofer. They did, however, lack some refinement, they weren't versatile outside genres that did well with an enhanced low end.
The Final Audio E3000 are now set to take the place of the Adagio and are tuned to play best with contemporary music. Having gone through the full review process, and have picked my jaw off the floor many times, I can easily say the have not just met but exceeded all my expectations.
Packaging and Accessories
There is absolutely nothing to write home about with regards to the packaging and accessories that come with the E3000 earphone. The box is a tasteful enough yet low-quality cardboard affair with clean graphics and a picture of the E3000 earphones. On the inside its just a plastic container.
Accessories are also nothing special, you get a low-quality pouch that you probably won't use, some ear tips in various sizes and a comically large instruction manual (aka, a waste of paper)
The ear tips from the outside don't look anything special but when you look on the inside you see there's a rather large flange and some additional ridges that on closer inspection seem to do something to the sound due to the front facing driver venting you can see in the image bellow.
Build and Design
The Final Audio E3000 are just a simple set of earphones. There is nothing too fancy going on here. A simple barrel design earbud that is very small. The size aside they do feel up to the task of standing up to light daily wear and tear but nothing more than that.
The 3.5mm jack has good strain relief the cable is reasonably tangle resistant yet does display some microphonic properties. The ear tips are very comfortable and create an excellent seal in the ear canal.
The back of the housing is somewhat vested in what they are calling a semi-open back design. But the real venting is evident when you remove the ear tip and look directly down the barrel of the earphone. There is turbine like venting surrounding the barrel that seems to have a huge effect on the sound when not using the included ear tips.
Strain relief on the IEM housing is where I would be most concerned as a possible breaking point over the long term as it is virtually nonexistent. Just a few mm of extra protection is there to prevent a cable break.
Looks wise they are a very petite and pretty looking set of earphones. The polished chrome finish adds a touch of class and whilst they may not be as wild in the design department as some of FAD's other offerings they are nonetheless attractive. I won't say that when compared to other models that retail under $50 they stand out in any way though, they still look and feel like a cheaper set of earphones but thankfully there are no poor quality plastics or glaring deficiencies in the design.
Comfort and Isolation
Comfort is right up there with the best of them. Very easy to insert due to the small size and excellent included tips easily form a tight seal. I found the E3000 to be extremely comfortable for two reasons. Firstly the size of them means that there is minimal contact with the rest of the ear and secondly they are extremely light weight.
To get the most of the E3000 sound you don't have to insert them too deep. In fact, I found that shallow to medium worked best and again that makes them easier to live with on a day to day basis. Something similarly shaped like the Etymotic ER4 usually requires quite a deep insertion and can be bothersome for the first few weeks until your ears get used to it. The E3000 are just straight up comfortable so I think people with all different ear shapes and sizes should really enjoy them.
Isolation is average. I have heard much better, and, conversely, much worse. The driver housings are vented which lets in a bit of external noise. I could easily still use them on a commute or in the office but they won't completely block out all the external noise.
The Final Audio Design E3000 sound incredible
If these earphones came in a fancy shell with a fancy cable people would be outright raving about the sound. I only hope that they still get the respect they deserve given this setup has been used in a more modest build.
The sound is extremely fun and engaging plus they pull out a whole lot of detail from the track. The soundstage is big and an almost out the head experience is created as there is and there is plenty of width and depth to be heard. It's classic Final Audio Design tuning, on the grand side and very much in line with the way I listen to music
Listening to electronic tracks from the likes of Infected Mushroom and Glitch Mob is a blast due to the crystal clear mids and tight punchy bass. It really gets your head bouncing and brought a stupid grin to my face on more than a few occasions.
Rock and pop also sound excellent as the midrange is incredibly strong and spacing between instruments and vocals are all very defined. It's easy to pick up on the level of spacing between everything and even in complicated classical tracks like Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture the E3000 remain completely composed
If I was to try and describe it it would be like taking all the good stuff from a Yamaha EPH-100 building on it and adding a little more to the top end. Or maybe even taking the best bits of the flawed Flare Audio R2Pro, ie that spacious 3d presentation and fixing the issues with speed.
Vocals sound incredible thanks to the warmth across the midrange and male vocals, in particular, can carry a hefty and grain to them that you often miss in more neutral tuned IEM's (In Ear Monitors).
Treble is smooth for the most part but there is still good levels of detail. Surprisingly Jazz also worked very well with these earphones and I flicked through the Whiplash soundtrack and Miles Davis's Bitches Brew looking for some nasty peaking but none was to be found. As mentioned above its smooth but not overly so that you lose too much top end definition.
Mids are very reminiscent of the Yamaha EPH-100 (one of my all time favorite earphones). Lots of detail, lots of clarity and enough warmth to make you want to keep listening for hours. Performance across stringed instruments was very well received with a nice decay to the notes especially in the case of acoustic tracks from the likes of Rodrigo Y Gabriela. In fact, I outright recommend everyone who buys a set of Final Audio E3000 to download RyG's song Hanuman right away and take them for a spin.
The bass is enhanced in a way that a whole lot of people are going to enjoy. You get the tight pop that I have been familiar with from other Micro-Driver IEM's but they also manage to hit very deep when required. They aren't as sub-bass driven as something like the RHA t20 but then that makes them suitable for a wider range of genres. There is absolutely no bleed into the midrange, perhaps adding the overall spacious sound and boy can they handle fast paced electronic music well.
Honestly, when you take price into consideration the sound of the Final Audio Design E3000 is just incredible. I have been listening to them for 3 weeks now in preference of many far more expensive models I have in my stable.
Pairing the Final Audio E3000 - Sources and Amps
The majority of this review was done using a simple 02 DAC/Amp setup that I use for all my reviews for the sake of consistency between my reviews. However, for the past few weeks, I have also used the e3000 range of other sources and can report that they can be driven easily and to full power from just about anything.
In fact, the majority of sources have been far more capable than what someone who spends under $100 on earphones would be driving them from. Of course, they sounded incredible paired with the Opus #1, AK120 and Questyle QP1r but that is definitely overkilled. You don't really need more than your phone to enjoy listening to the E3000.
My day to day rig right now is pretty simple (the LG G5 with B&O HiFi plus Dac and Amp), they sounded great out of that but even just straight out of most smartphones I tried always sounded like they were being the effortlesly drive.
What's not to like?
Nothing really, again when you take price into account I see no better way to spend your money right now. Build and styling are nothing fancy but there isn't really anything wrong with them. In the hand, they don't feel premium but then, they aren't meant to be, and when you hold them up against similarly priced earphones the build is more or less in line with what you expect.
Where the Final Audio Design E3000 do excel is on the sound front. They do so much that makes the listening experience enjoyable and despite my contempt for the statement they really do compete against far pricier models from other companies... and dare I say it even withing Final Audio's own lineup of earphones.
A great earphone that is so far one of the best sounding earphones of 2017 when the price is considered.