Around late last year, the A4000 was announced together with the A3000 that I had just previously reviewed. They were the “entry-level” options in Final’s A-Series lineup. Being the “bigger brother” of the two, the A4000 holds a US$30 premium over the smaller sibling. Does the additional premium make a difference? Well, sit tight and let’s find out!
Similar to the A3000, the A4000’s 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 could be used to make the cable more comfortable around the ears, and a nice and compact rubber protective case. The rubber protective case is quite similar to the one that comes with their flagship A8000, but it is pure rubber instead of being a combination of metal and rubber.
While keeping the price of the A4000 in mind, the included accessories, as well as the overall packaging experience, are quite good. You won’t get the feeling of needing anything more than what comes included.
Design and Build
The A4000 shares the same shell as the A3000, but it is a dark navy instead of matte black. The A4000 has a sleek form factor and is on the thinner side. Unlike the heavier stainless steel shelled A8000, the A4000 uses a lighter ABS resin for its shell. Personally, I find it quite sturdy and I am confident it could last quite a bit of beating. Considering the price, this is already very good. 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 the 2-pin connectors since 2-pin connectors are less vulnerable to wear than their MMCX counterparts. It would be amazing if Final could release 2 versions of their IEMs with either 2-pin or MMCX connectors as an option.
With most of the energy in the bass and treble department, I’d call the A4000’s overall sound signature V-shaped. Personally, I find it closer to my preferences than its cheaper sibling, the A3000. I’m also glad it’s not as power-hungry as the A3000. I’m confident that you can get a presentable performance out of an iPhone dongle with the A4000. In the section below, I will be going over its performance within the different ranges.
Bass: The bass has quite a bit more energy in the sub-bass regions, and it extends well. I’d say the overall bass presentation is to my liking. It’s very enjoyable and packs a heavy punch when the track needs it and only when the track has it. If you like bass that’s well balanced and well presented, look no further than the A4000.
Mids: Just like the A3000, the A4000 slightly favours the upper mids. However, the A4000 delivers a bit more body in the lower mids, enough to add some flavour to male vocals. Moving to the upper mids, it would be rare to find another IEM that delivers such well-detailed and well-textured female vocals in this price range. The A3000 has decent air but sounds thin because of it, resulting in a lack of presence for higher-pitched female vocals in the fundamental tone. The A4000 doesn’t have that issue since female vocals sound full-bodied while still having a nice bite to the overtones. Good job, Final!
Highs: In my opinion, the A4000’s treble sounds smoother and more detailed than the A3000. The A3000’s microdetail presentation sounded somewhat artificial, and while the A4000’s microdetail presentation still has a tiny bit of that unnaturalness to it, it’s a more satisfying listen and doesn’t distract the listener from the overall sound. I’m guessing the added energy in the lower treble alleviates the harshness the A3000 had to its treble presentation. Overall, it’s the most enjoyable treble I’ve heard in this price range.
Staging/Imaging: The stage size is a bit more on the intimate side with the A4000. The A3000 feels wider, but the A4000 presents music bigger and more dynamic. I actually don’t mind the intimacy the A4000 gives as the imaging is even more accurate than the A3000. This may have been due to the smaller stage, but it’s a closer listen. There is nothing to nitpick, especially with the price to performance ratio the A4000 gives.
Vs Final A3000
Bass: The A4000 gives more authority in the bass department, and its sub-bass 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 lacks the power in the sub-bass regions to give weight to those mid-bass punches. Overall, the A4000 takes the cake here.
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. On the other hand, the A4000 gives a full-bodied and lush upper mids that sits close to my preferences. Needless to say, I would choose the A4000 over the A3000.
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 simply watching YouTube videos and other recorded media, It’s almost unbearable to listen to. Although the A4000 has the A3000’s nice sparkle and upper treble energy, it sounds a lot more controlled and less aggressive.
Ultimately, I would say that the A4000 is the “better” IEM of the two. The sound is more polished, and it’s not that much higher in price. If you’re looking for an IEM at this price point that has a somewhat “brighter” and a very detailed sound, look no further than the A4000.
Bass: The SE215 has a looser bass presentation, making it a very fun listen. However, the bass tends to bleed into the mids on heavier bass tracks. Whereas, the A4000 has a more controlled and well-balanced bass section. Texture and detail on the bass are also a lot more prominent on the A4000. Even though the A4000 might not be extremely fun, it’s more pleasant to my ears.
Mids: Due to the bass bleeding in quite a bit onto the mids, the lower midrange sounds quite a bit thicker in the SE215. Unfortunately, this leads to a somewhat bloated presentation. In comparison, the A4000 handles the mids with much more finesse. The A4000’s mids have enough richness and body to satisfy midrange lovers. Of the two, there is no doubt that the A4000 shows its superiority on the mids.
Highs: The SE215 has quite the energetic treble presentation, but due to the overwhelming bass, the treble is not as prominent. It’s fun, but a bit exhausting. Meanwhile, the A4000 has a bit of a bias on its treble presentation. It is not very obvious, but it does make it the cleaner IEM of the two. Detail and resolution aren’t hindered by an overwhelming bass presence. The A4000 is the more technical of the two, so for those who are into technical IEMs but with some added enjoyment, the A4000 is your cup of tea.
Overall, I believe the SE215 could no longer keep up with the newer IEMs in the technical aspect. This isn’t uncommon, as the SE215 has been around for a very long time. Nonetheless, the SE215 is still a very enjoyable IEM to listen to, and it can be a nice EDC. But between the two, I would definitely choose the A4000.
Bass: In terms of bass tonality alone, I’m surprised to say that the A4000 is quite a bit more enjoyable. The sub-bass of the A4000 reaches deeper, and it achieves an overall funner sound. While the ZEN has a quicker response, heftier punch, and better overall bass texture, the A4000 is my clear winner of the two. This little guy is quite the performer in the bass department. However, if you enjoy a punchier mid-bass, you would probably prefer the ZEN.
Mids: Both the A4000 and the ZEN have very clean lower midrange, with no bass bleed whatsoever affecting the midrange. When it comes to the overall midrange presentation, the ZEN has a slight edge. Voices, whether male or female, give off more weight than the somewhat lighter presentation the A4000 displays. But around the upper midrange, the A4000 extends a bit more air in that region, giving female vocals a bit more edge.
Highs: The ZEN presents itself smoother in this region while the A4000 gives you more excitement and energy. This energy gives the listener the illusion of having more detail. It can sound somewhat artificial, but it’s a needed “trick” to compete with the higher-end IEMs, including the ZEN. With my initial listening, the A4000 presented me with more detail, but at the cost of having to sound brighter. I have quite a high tolerance for forward-leaning treble, so it didn’t affect me much. However, for those who are treble-sensitive, the ZEN might be a better choice. The ZEN has the ability to present detail effortlessly while being smoother in the treble.
Just like with the A3000, the A4000 proves to push itself further than its asking price. The A4000 provides the listener with more bass engagement, a clean and presentable midrange, and most of all, a highly detailed treble rendering (though, it can still appear slightly unnatural at times). It would be my highest recommendation if the A4000’s sound goes in line with your preferences.
While I do enjoy both the A3000 and A4000, my preferences definitely favour the latter quite a bit more. But don’t let my opinion and the price difference hinder you from trying both. They’re different enough that owning both would provide different experiences.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Final A3000, Shure SE215, DUNU ZEN
- Sources– Sony NW-WM1A, Onkyo DP-X1, Topping E30+THX 789, FiiO BTR5