The A3000 is a budget offering from the well-known and respected Final Audio. It uses a single dynamic driver, and its price is set at $129.
Around late last year, Final Audio added 2 new products in their “A Series” line, the A3000 and the A4000, priced at US$129 and US$159 respectively. Their A-Series first came into fruition with the introduction of their highly praised “pure beryllium” flagship, the A8000. So, could their A3000 and A4000 compete in the budget market like how the A8000 competed with the big boys in the TOTL market? Well, sit tight, and let’s find out!
Today, we’re gonna be taking a listen to the smaller sibling of the two, the A3000.
As expected from an entry-level IEM, the packaging is pretty basic but does come with solid accessories one may need. Inside the box, you have the IEMs, a standard non-tangling 3.5mm single-ended cable, a set of the tried and tested Final E tips inside a nice eartip case, a pair of ear hooks that can be used to make the cable more comfortable around the ears, and finally, a nice and compact rubber protective case which is actually quite similar to the one that comes with their flagship A8000 but instead of it being a combination of metal and rubber, it’s purely rubber this time around.
Having in mind the price of the A3000, I got to admit that the included accessories as well as the overall packaging experience is quite good, and it won’t give you the feeling of needing anything more.
Build quality and comfort
The A3000 shares the same angular shape as the rest of the A-series. It has a sleek form factor and is on the thinner side. Unlike the heavier stainless steel shelled A8000, the A3000 uses a lighter ABS resin for its shell. It’s not bad, it actually feels sturdy and I am confident it could last quite a bit of beating; and at this price, this is already great! Another difference from the A8000, and even from the rest of Final’s IEM lineup, is the use of recessed 2-pin connectors instead of the usual MMCX connectors. For cable rolling, I definitely would prefer 2-pin, and it would be amazing if Final could release 2 versions of their IEMs.
Due to the thinner form factor and shorter nozzle, the IEMs sit comfortably on my concha. It’s pretty much flush on my ears, making it an IEM I can actually use while lying on my side. It’s quite the plus in my book! Another thing with the fit is the overall comfort due to the IEMs and the included cable being extremely lightweight. This “lightweightedness” doesn’t bother parts of my concha even though the shells are quite angular, they don’t have the sharper edges that the bigger brother A8000 has, and no matter what I do, they just stay in place inside my ears.
The A3000 uses a newly developed single dynamic driver system called the f-CORE DU. This driver makes use of a PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) diaphragm instead of Beryllium, the more complicated and time-consuming driver used in the A8000. It may not be as “premium” but Final did some rigorous R&D to make sure the new system sounds “perfect” to their standards. As a result, they were able to supply a high-performance driver at a fraction of the price of their flagship.
For greater details, I recommend reading more about the f-CORE DU system by checking out the link down below.
Link : https://snext-final.com/en/products/detail/A3000
The A3000’s overall sound can be categorized as somewhat v-shaped with a hint of brightness. For the price, it’s a pretty decent performer. The brightness causes it to sound a bit more technical but in return, it suffers from sounding unnatural to my preferences. I can’t hate it though, it’s just the limitation of the price bracket it’s in.
Also, for a single DD IEM, it’s surprisingly power-hungry, so don’t be surprised if you’d see your DAP/DAC/AMP’s volume go higher than usual.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of single dynamic driver IEMs to compare it to, especially in this price bracket. But I’ll be comparing it against my very first IEM, the Shure SE215, and I’ll also be comparing it to a much cheaper IEM, the TRN TA1. Before we get to the comparisons, let’s take a deeper look at how the A3000 sounds below.
Bass: The A3000’s bass goes decently deep. It somewhat emphasizes the sub-bass quite a bit more than the mid-bass, but it has enough energy there to give a solid punch when needed. Bass texture and detail is what I expect from this price, while enjoyable, it isn’t really the type to give you the “wow” factor. Personally, even though it does give a solid punch in the mid-bass at times with bass heavier mixes, it lacks warmth to give some genres the needed engagement. I wanna mention the track ‘Ascendead Master’ by the J-Rock band Versailles as an example of this. It’s missing warmth in the lows to make the track more engaging.
Mids: In the lower midrange, that lack of warmth haunts the presentation of male vocals. This presentation gives male vocals a somewhat hollow sound. I’ll use the exact same track I mentioned earlier in this example as well. Kamijo, the vocalist, lacks weight in his voice and it just doesn’t connect with me. However, when we move to the upper-mids, the A3000 improves substantially. Strings have better clarity and bite. Female vocals are more forward with a nicer timbre compared to their male counterparts. For my preferences though, I feel like having a bit more weight to the lower midrange would give a touch more body to the female vocals and make them more rounded. Other than that, I greatly enjoy the presentation the A3000 gives to the midrange.
Highs: The A3000’s treble is well extended with a sharper presentation. If you like to hear micro-detail, these deliver. The A3000 brings detail on your plate like it’s a buffet, and it’s never-ending. But the energetic upper treble can be harsh at times with poorly recorded/mastered tracks. This also becomes apparent when you use these for other media consumption, like watching YouTube videos. It can sound very unbearable from my experience, so do keep that in mind. With well-recorded/mastered stuff though, these are amazing, especially for the price.
Staging/Imaging: Stage size is pretty decent, so I’d say it’s a bit above average. It concentrates more on width rather than height and depth. Imaging is also decent and accurate for the most part. Since the stage isn’t exactly huge, imaging is tighter as well. I honestly think with how technology is now, even IEMs in this price range have excellent imaging compared to the ones from the past decade. It’s a great time for audiophiles and “normal” people to get into the hobby with IEMs like the A3000 as a starting point.
Vs Shure SE215
Bass: The bass on the SE215 always proves to provide a lot of fun, while it’s not the cleanest bass presentation out there, it is definitely engaging. The A3000’s bass provides a respectable oomph but nowhere near the fun the SE215 gives. The advantage of the A3000’s bass is its texture and cleanliness. Generally, the SE215’s bass bleeds through the lower-mids, especially with bass heavy songs. If you’re after an engaging and fun bass presentation, the SE215 got you covered. If a less energetic but cleaner bass is what you’re after, the A3000 is your guy.
Mids: Mids on the SE215 sound thicker, especially on the lower-mids. The thickness is somewhat a hit or miss though, since the bass heavy tracks the lower-mids at times get bloated by the massive bass bleed. The A3000’s lower-mids lack a bit of body and warmth. Deeper voices can seem “thin” on the A3000, and while it’s not horrible, it does make me want more. In the upper-mids though, the A3000 presents itself with a lusher and full-bodied presentation without sacrificing “air”, especially for female vocals. The SE215 has a sharper edge to female vocals. This sharpness can be pretty fun but at times can lead to earlier fatigue as it is quite prominent.
Highs: The SE215 presents itself with heaps and heaps of energy down in the lower to mid-treble. This energy provides you with an extremely satisfying sparkle, but this also leads to a harsher presentation. If you’re overly sensitive to sibilance, I’d say it is better to avoid the SE215. The A3000 has a more controlled treble presentation in comparison, but can still be harsh and unforgiving when it comes to poorly recorded/mastered tracks.
When listening to well-recorded/mastered tracks, the A3000’s treble shines. It’s probably my favourite treble presentation at this price point next to its bigger sibling, the A4000.
Vs TRN TA1
Bass: The bass on the TA1 has a slower rumble and decay, which is quite satisfying with R&B. But with faster genres like EDM, the A3000 would be a better choice since it has a faster and more precise bass. There’s no contest here if you’re looking for the better, more detailed bass. The A3000 wins!
Mids: The TA1 is a true V-shaped IEM. The lower mids are completely overpowered by the bass, causing the lower male vocals to lack presence and are drowned out in the mix. Meanwhile, the A3000 has a better neutral presentation. Males vocals on the A3000 usually have a thinner sound but sounds full when compared to the TA1. In the upper mids, the TA1 is sharp… almost painfully sharp even though I have a high tolerance in this area. The A3000 has a smoother presentation here, and female voices just sound natural compared to the over-sharpened presentation of the TA1. I really have to give it to the A3000 here as well.
Highs: Even though the TA1 is a V-Shaped IEM, the treble energy is in the lower-treble regions. This makes it somewhat problematic to people who can’t tolerate sharpness in that region. Although I have treble tolerant ears, I found it overwhelming in this region. The A3000 handles the overall treble presentation with more control and just enough sparkle to be engaging, while the TA1 lacks sparkle and upper-treble presence in general. The A3000 is just the better IEM in this section as well.
Vs Final A4000
Bass: The A4000 gives more authority in the bass department, the A4000’s sub-bass just reaches deeper and gives off a warmer tonality in the mid-bass. The A3000 can pack a punch in the mid-bass regions but it just doesn’t have enough power in the sub-bass regions to give weight to those mid-bass punches as its bigger sibling. Overall, the A4000 takes the cake here for me.
Mids: The A3000 has a bit more presence in the lower mids, thus giving male vocals and other lower-midrange instruments more blood in the mix. As nice as the lower mids might be, the A3000 is lacking a bit of body and energy in the upper mids, the A4000 on the other hand gives a full-bodied and lush upper mids that sits close to my preferences. Needless to say, the A4000 is my winner here once again.
Highs: The A3000’s treble can lean on the harsher side of things. This might be due to the lack of upper mids/lower treble energy to somewhat balance the sharper mid-treble. With a lot of poorly mastered tracks or heck even just watching YouTube videos and other recorded media, It’s almost too unbearable to listen to. The A4000 has a better overall treble presentation, it still has that nice sparkle and upper-treble energy the A3000 has, just this time, sounds a lot more controlled and no too in your face.
With all that said, the A4000 is the “better” IEM of the two in accordance with my preference target. It’s just a more polished sound, and it’s not that much more in price. So if you’re looking for an IEM in this price point that has a somewhat “brighter” and a very detailed sound, look no further than the A4000.
Overall, the Final A3000 is an IEM that performs way above its price. It’s a good first pair of IEMs for people who want to have a step up over their generic buds or ones that come with their phones. I’d even recommend these to veteran audiophiles who want to have a respectable budget “everyday carry” IEM with them. It’s highly detailed enough and doesn’t break the bank. If you like an IEM with neutral bass, lush mids, and detailed highs, the A3000 should be on your list. And hey, they’re under $200.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Final A4000, Shure SE215, TRN TA1
- Sources– Sony NW-WM1A, Onkyo DP-X1, Topping E30+THX 789, FiiO BTR5