Pure Beryllium DD
If you’re in this hobby for a while, there’s no chance that you haven’t heard of Final Audio. The Japanese company specializes in producing IEMs, Over-ear headphones, and quality accessories. Who hasn’t used their famous E type tips at least once?
Their lineup is broad and really thought-out, starting with a budget IEMs like E1000 and going all the way to the flagship territory with their A8000 IEM and D8000 Pro planar magnetic headphones. While almost all of their models are popular and well-regarded, it is the A8000 that truly marked their position as one of the best in the business. A revolutionary approach to making high-end IEMs, using a pure beryllium dynamic driver and that wonderful, stainless steel shells made them one of the biggest players in the high-end IEM market.
This specific model marked a comeback of single DD IEMs to the high-end, being followed by many manufacturers in the recent months, with Cayin’s latest launch – the Fantasy for example. After all these years of pushing hybrids and tribrids, Final Audio decided to bring something fresh to the game, and it’s really something special.
See, the Japanese audio market is really different from the rest of the world. Take the legendary Accuphase or Sony as an example. While the rest of the world pushes the limits by delivering new technologies very often, Japanese brands are all about improving the technologies that are already here. Thanks to that, they might not launch new models too often, but when they do, you can be sure that they went the extra mile with RND. That’s how the A8000 was born – they took a rather old and well-known technology, and simply made it better with research and engineering.
There’s a difference between a generic dynamic driver and that piece of art that is used in A8000. Even though the principal technology is the same, the performance is just simply miles ahead with these IEMs.
The packaging of the A8000 is very…Japanese. Don’t expect a huge box with many compartments, wood, or anything flashy. It’s all about simplicity and equality between quality and functionality.
Because of that, the outer box is just a white, very minimalistic sleeve with golden engravings. It looks tasteful and elegant. Beneath the sleeve, you’ll find a white box that’s not much different from the outer sleeve. After opening it up, you’re greeted by a white cloth with a honeycomb-like print. It’s really soft to the touch and it’s definitely made of quality material. Actually, it looks so good that I used it for some photos in this review.
Apart from that, you’re getting a set of Final E Type silicone tips, which are definitely one of the most popular silicone eartips on the market, and for a good reason. Apart from that, there’s a yellow tool that Final describes as the “MMCX Assist”. This little guy is a lifesaver, I’m not kidding. It makes unplugging every MMCX cable so easy and stress-free, that I’ve been using it very often since getting the A8000. It does the job especially with the A8000, which are rather hard to hold, which is quite problematic if you want to unplug the cable.
Next up, the case. It’s made of silicone and aluminum, providing good protection to those beautiful shells. It’s stealthy and thin, so you won’t have any problems fitting it anywhere, even your pants pockets. Brilliant.
Last but not least – the cable. Final included a very high-quality cable with the A8000. It’s made of silver-coated OFC copper, and it looks like a piece of jewelry.
Build quality and comfort
The shells are made of mirror-polished stainless steel. They look like a piece of art, absolutely stunning. The materials used have a con as well, the main one being easy to scratch these beauties. Minor scratches will start to show after days of use, and some major ones will arrive in some time, even if you’ll really care about them.
Additionally, stainless steel is heavy, and the A8000 is definitely one of the heaviest IEMs I’ve been using. Thankfully, thanks to their ergonomic and interesting shape I’ll call them rather comfortable, but definitely not class-leading in this regard. They’re not even close to my Fir M5 Custom (yeah, what a surprise), Unique Melody MEST, or Dorado 2020 by Campfire Audio. Still, I’ve used many less-comfortable IEMs in the past, so I would rate the ergonomics of the A8000 as decent.
Lastly, they use MMCX connectors, of which I’m quite a big fan. I don’t understand why people are hating those. If done properly, they are very secure, they rotate and won’t lose the grip as fast as 2-pin connectors. Removing the cable is very hard due to the shells being quite slippery and hard to grab, and here the yellow “MMCX Assist” comes in handy, making the task gloriously easy and satisfying. If you’ll forget to take it with you though, you might be having problems with unplugging the cable, so keep that in mind.
I’ve covered the driver configuration of the A8000 in the introduction already, so I’ll keep this straight to the point.
The A8000 uses a pure-beryllium dynamic driver, being the main influence for many single DD IEMs that have been released in the past few years. Before the A8000, single DD wasn’t really treated seriously, so this is THE IEM that changed it all. Thanks to using pure beryllium, the diaphragm is both insanely light and fast, resulting in a very detailed yet natural sound reproduction.
Here’s a quote from Final’s website:
“The adoption of pure Beryllium will lead to improved time response that greatly transfigures sound into transparent. The sharpness of sound build-up and the lingering resonance of the sound can be clearly felt, as can the silence between sounds. Crafting thin pure Beryllium foil is difficult. Our engineers had to struggle to make it stable enough for the product, but it can be said to be a valuable material that pays off our hard works.”
All of that creates a very impressive product that was definitely a risk while developing. It was well worth it, as the A8000 is definitely one of the most important IEM released in the last few years.
The most important thing about every IEM is the sound quality though, no matter what rocket science went into engineering. Final A8000 is widely regarded not only because of its mesmerizing looks and revolutionary technology but most importantly, for its sound quality.
First of all, the bass. Since we’re dealing with a DD driver, you can expect a great slam, physicality, and decay of the low frequencies. That is exactly what you’ll find while listening to the A8000.
This was THE first thing that surprised me when I heard them for the first time a couple of years ago. They do slam pretty hard, even though I was expecting a somewhat bass-light response, similar to Cayin’s latest Fantasy IEM.
Well, not at all, the A8000 is definitely a better IEM when it comes to bass quantity and quality, giving you a more real and neutral feeling. Thanks to this pure-beryllium diaphragm, the bass is insanely fast and clean, with absolutely no distortion even on high volumes.
When it comes to detail reproduction, this is on par with some of the best IEMs on the market. The technical capabilities of low frequencies are on the exact same level as my Fir Audio M5, which are significantly more expensive and they are one of the best tribrids on the market, that should say a lot.
This gives us a very universal IEM when it comes to the choice of music, at least when it comes to the bass response. I haven’t tried a single genre that wouldn’t sound good with the A8000 in the bass category, no matter if it’s jazz or modern pop.
So, feel free to grab these regardless of what you’re listening to on the daily basis. I have fun with King Crimson, Hugh Masekela, or Post Malone, and that surely is a wide selection of music, that would definitely not be an easy task for a single IEM to handle.
Have in mind though, that the whole bass response is slightly boosted here, but that is a great choice by Final, giving the A8000 a fun, crispy yet full-bodied and rich sound signature.
The midrange was a surprise for me as well. Looking at the graphs, I was expecting a recessed and thin midrange performance, but I actually cannot really hear it. Sure, it’s not as exposed as the bass or the treble, but just by listening to it, I wouldn’t call these mids recessed. Vocals have a proper weight and timbre to them, resulting in a very natural and fun experience.
There’s one thing to the midrange, that is present in every frequency with the A8000 – the crispiness. You’re having a sensation that every sound is insanely textured and fast, thanks to this wonderful beryllium driver. Final states that this is the best material to use when it comes to a dynamic driver, and it’s definitely true when you’ll listen to these little babies.
Sure, the A8000 wouldn’t be your favorite IEM if you crave thick and boosted lower-midrange, as many of you probably do. Hell, I myself like that kind of sound performance, and guess what…it doesn’t bother me at all with the A8000. It’s probably because its absurdly fast, detailed, and natural sound in general, that I tend to listen to them as a whole, having a tough time focusing on a certain frequency. They simply sound very consistent throughout the whole range, and it reminds me of the greatest coaxial-design loudspeakers I’ve heard in my life. You just simply hear the sound as a whole, as it stretches from the very low bass all the way to supersonic treble. No crossovers, no different drivers being responsible for a certain frequency, just one driver that does it all, and you can really hear it. Brilliant.
The treble is probably the most talked-about thing regarding the A8000. You’ve probably heard it too at some point in your life – the A8000 tends to get slightly harsh and bright. Well, it’s not really true in my opinion, but it’s not false either. Hear me out.
The high frequencies are definitely boosted a bit, and they are most certainly the star of the show. But, it is so bloody fast, detailed and its resolution is simply god-tier, and because of that, I wouldn’t call the A8000 as “harsh”. The choice of eartips, the source, and the cable really matter in this situation, you simply don’t want to “overdo” it, as the treble is on the edge of being too much. But hey, plug them into a nice quality DAP like the iBasso DX220, Cayin N6ii/E01, or the SP2000cu by Astell&Kern, swap the cable for something like Erua Tawa or Nostalgia Audio Olorin, and you’ll end up with a fantastic treble response that you’ll love in an instant.
The A8000 is an IEM that definitely sounds the way the sound engineer imagined it, and it takes no prisoners. Its job is to entertain, without hiding a single thing in the mix, nor being overly “crazy” sounding. This sits on the fence of being superbly snappy and sounding a little bit too extreme for some. Luckily, I’m not having any problems with listening to them for a whole day, but it’s definitely a wild ride, instead of some late-night relax with a glass of whisky.
The whole sound signature definitely sounds “Asian tuned”, but it’s not bass-light as many of those products are. This gives the A8000 a great mix of detail, superbly fast transients, and yet natural and engaging sound.
The soundstage is really good on the A8000, but it’s definitely not its biggest selling point. The size is what I would describe as pretty good, you’re getting a good feeling of both width and depth. Also, the imaging is very good, but not on par with the likes of Unique Melody MEST or Fir M5. Still, for a single dynamic driver, the imaging of the A8000 is very good, and you’ll be having a good time distinguishing every instrument in the mix. While the two IEMs that I mentioned above do better when it comes to instrument separation and the amount of air between them, the A8000 is not bad either. It just creates bigger and more forward-sounding sound sources, which is actually a good thing having in mind the sound signature of the A8000. It is not about crazy layering capabilities or lots of air that you’d find in Vision Ears Elysium. This is a fun-sounding IEM, and its staging is fun as well, sacrificing a tiny bit of impressive technicalities. It stages really well, but it’s not class-leading.
VS Fir Audio M5
This comparison is really interesting. While both M5 and A8000 are fun-sounding IEMs, they do it completely differently. The M5 is all about that powerful, thick bass response, warm and romantic midrange, and exceptional imaging. The A8000 on the other hand is fast, punchy, and crispy. While I’d give a slight edge to the M5 when it comes to the raw technical capabilities, it’s still quite a lot more expensive, and Finals will suit treble-heads better.
Picking between the two should come down to your preferences. If you want a slightly warm, thick, and kinda “American” sounding IEM, the M5 is definitely one of the best picks you could make. If you’d want a more speed and crispiness-oriented IEM with punchier and firmer bass, the A8000 is your guy. Both are brilliant, yet are so different that it definitely wouldn’t hurt to own both.
VS Campfire Audio Solaris 2020
When comparing these two, there are more differences than similarities. While both Solaris 2020 and A8000 are fun, the latter is by far more extreme sounding – faster, punchier, and more splashy.
The Solaris 2020 is still one of my top picks when it comes to romantic, sweet, and very enjoyable sound. It sounds mellow, welcoming, and calming, and the A8000 is the opposite. It takes you dancing, while CFA invites you to sit in a comfortable leather chair with a glass of your favorite drink.
When it comes to raw technical capabilities, I’ll give an edge to the A8000, providing a more insightful, detailed, and crispier sound performance. I’m not saying that the Solaris 2020 isn’t detailed or crispy, but it’s not as good as the Final flagship.
The soundstage is slightly bigger on the Solaris, as well as its imaging being a little better, but it’s a very slight difference, to be honest.
If you want a relaxing, warm, and romantic sound, definitely get the Solaris 2020. If you want a more extreme and brighter sound though, the A8000 will definitely suit you better.
VS Unique Melody MEST
Unique Melody MEST is my favorite IEM ever since getting them last year. There’s something to them that sounds just right and very lifelike. When comparing it to the A8000, I would say that they both represent certain values. The A8000 is more crispy and brighter sounding, and it packs more punch. The MEST on the other hand is even more detailed and its soundstage is…well, you know that already, absolutely phenomenal.
I’d say that the MEST is a better value and would satisfy a wider variety of people with its more neutral tuning while having some Summit-Fi qualities. Still, the Final A8000 comes out as more fun and “crazy” sounding of the two, and that really means something, having in mind what we are comparing it to.
When it comes to the build quality though, the A8000 is just way better than the MEST with its beautiful Stainless Steel earpieces, and the cable included in the box is better as well. On the other hand, MEST is more comfortable (for me at least), thanks to its lighter and more ergonomic shape, as well as the weight being significantly lower.
Ever since being introduced back in 2019, the A8000 by Final Audio has been one of the most popular High-End IEMs on the market. It’s not a surprise having in mind how good it is. Brilliant build quality, sophisticated presentation, and that marvelously fast, fun, and punchy sound that’s very easy to like. Make sure you’ll feed a good quality signal to them, kick back and close your eyes because there’s a huge dose of fun coming your way. Exciting!
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Unique Melody MEST, Campfire Audio Dorado 2020, Ara, Solaris 2020, Final A8000, Fir Audio VxV, Hifiman HE1000se, HEDDphone, Hifiman Ananda
- Sources– Cayin N3Pro, iBasso DX220, SMSL SU-9 + SH-9, LittleDot MK III SE,, JDSLabs ATOM+,
- Cables – Nostalgia Olorin, Cross Lambda Future Jr.
Founder of Ear Fidelity. I’ve been into audio for many years, working in production, distribution, retail, and marketing throughout my career. Now trying to revolutionize the art of reviewing audio gear, but one thing will never change: Music is the most important.