Introduction to the Final Audio ZE8000 review
Final Audio is one of the most respected headphones/IEM manufacturers in the market. It is a Japanese company that is known for its impressive lineup of different kinds of products.
Even though their high-end models, such as the legendary A8000 and D8000 Pro are widely appreciated, Final Audio also offers a lot of more affordable options. The entire E series has been selling like hotcakes for years.
Final also offers a range of wireless products, such as the ZE3000 (review here) or the UX3000. It was when they announced the ZE8000 that they got A LOT of attention. Is it a wireless version of the A8000 at a fraction of the price?
Well, not really, the naming could be misleading a bit. It’s called 8000 not because it’s a wireless version of the A8000, but rather because it’s a flagship of this series, which makes sense.
So in this review, we’re going to take a look at the Final Audio ZE8000 (many people actually requested this review) and see if it’s worth the price tag and the hype.
Reviewed Final Audio ZE8000 comes in a rather standard, white box. It looks good but is definitely nothing fancy, like their high-end models for example. It’s understandable though, this product is priced much more aggressively and there’s no need to burn the budget on fancy packaging and extras.
Inside the box, you’ll find the TWS IEMs themselves with the charging case, a set of silicone eartips, a cable for charging, and manuals.
Take note that the eartips are proprietary, so if you want to use your favorites…no luck this time. This is understandable from the design point of view, AirPods Pro 2 use their own style of eartips as well.
The overall unboxing experience is good and I have nothing bad to say about it. Let’s move on to the more important stuff.
Build Quality, Design, and Comfort
The design and build quality of theFinal Audio ZE8000 are both very good. These are definitely on the bulky side, and they definitely protrude from your ears a lot. Forget about wearing this to your bed (if you’re a side sleeper), under a helmet, or even a snug-fitting hat.
They are made of plastic with an interesting finish, that hides all scratches or imperfections perfectly. The finish is good and they definitely don’t feel like falling apart anytime soon. The AirPods Pro 2 are all-plastic as well and their build quality is also exceptional. While the reviewed ZE8000 don’t feel as sturdy and dense as the APP2, their build quality is definitely good and you wouldn’t have to worry about them too much.
The design is also interesting. They look rather futuristic and clean, but not too stealthy though. If you like your IEMs to be not grabbing attention while you’re wearing them, the ZE8000 wouldn’t be a great choice. However, the design language is attractive and they do look very good, especially in white (at least for me).
As far as the fit goes, these are going to be a hit or miss for many. Unfortunately, I’m okay with wearing the reviewed Final Audio ZE8000 for an hour or so, after that I just have to take them out of my ears. The round part that houses the driver irritates my concha and antihelix, which leads to slight pain. However, I know people who can use the ZE8000 for hours and hours with no problems whatsoever, so this is all going to come down to your ears. For me personally, the AirPods Pro 2 are much, much more comfortable.
Now, let’s get into the case. It’s rather light, and the quality is okay, but definitely not great. Once again, definitely not the APP2 level, and it’s much bigger so it’s not as convenient as it could have been. Also, the sliding way of opening the case doesn’t feel too obvious at first, and I’ve seen people trying to just open it by lifting the lid, almost destroying the case. The case is definitely something that Final could work on if they plan to release the successor anytime in the future.
Luckily, the case uses USB-C for charging, and I couldn’t even imagine it being different. I still see some audio products in 2023 that use Micro-USB, and this is just ridiculous. Actually, when I see that, I immediately lose all interest in the product, it’s not 2012 anymore. Final went with USB-C, so no complaints here.
The biggest complaint with the case I have is its size. The AirPods Pro 2 case is so small it fits in the little pocket of your jeans, while the case of the ZE8000 is not ideal even for big jeans pockets. It’s much more of an “in your jacket” type of case, and in the summer months…well, no luck. Maybe you always bring your backpack with you – this wouldn’t be a problem then, but still, the case is just too big to be convenient.
The Final Audio ZE8000 houses some interesting technologies, so let’s dive right into it.
First of all, the reviewed ZE8000 uses a Final Connect App, that you can download on both Android and iOS devices. The app itself is nothing to write a book about, it’s okay, does the job.
It offers a few ANC modes, an 8k Sound mode (more on that later), an equalizer (with 4 bands only sadly), and a “volume step optimizer”.
First of all, let’s dive into the ANC and ambient sound modes performance. The ANC is okay-ish, nothing even close to what AirPods Pro 2 offers, it’s not even a context here. Additionally, the wind is a nemesis of the Final Audio ZE8000, as its microphones pick up the wind noise a lot when you’re wandering the city during a windy day. The problem is big, to the point that I just turn off the ANC when it’s windy outside. Yes, there’s a wind-noise reduction, but who would like to constantly switch between all the modes?
While using the APP2 I only use the ANC mode and switch to transparent when I need to hear my surroundings, that’s the maximum level of “interaction” that I’m okay with. The ambient sound is basically a transparent mode from the AirPods Pro 2, but worse. It does the job however and is quite useful if you decide to go to the shop for example.
Next up, the 8k sound. I’ve tried, I really did, but I cannot hear even the slightest difference between it being turned on or off. For the sake of this review, I’m keeping it on, to ensure the highest quality (regardless if the difference actually exists or not).
There’s no wear detection to be found in the reviewed Final Audio ZE8000, unlike the aforementioned AirPods Pro 2, so you’ll have to manually pause and play while putting them out of your ear for a moment.
The battery life using the 8k sound option is decent at 4h, and the case allows you to have another 15h of juice. This is okay, but considering how bulky and big the case is, I wish it’d give you more battery life.
Lastly, let’s address the big topic. Final Audio has drastically changed the tuning of the ZE8000 with a firmware update, which is quite unusual. Take note that this review has been made using the 1.8.1 firmware, and the tuning COULD change with future updates.
How does the Final Audio ZE8000 sound?
Final Audio is not known for its wireless products, but rather for its exquisite sound quality. Considering the fact that the ZE8000 is a premium-priced TWS, you surely expect these to sound great, so let’s see how it goes.
Reviewed Final Audio ZE8000 is a thick and lush-sounding TWS IEM, with an emphasis on the enjoyment factor over the detail-chasing. The overall sound is smooth and relaxed and the timbre is great. While this is not the most dynamic-sounding TWS on the market by any means, it shines with more delicate recordings, giving you a very pleasant type of experience.
Whether this is good or not will depend hugely on your preferences. I personally prefer my TWS IEMs to sound punchy and dynamic, as I mostly listen to powerful tracks while on the go, but it is just me. If you prefer a more relaxed sound, these will definitely steal your heart.
Actually, the overall tuning is the most mature I’ve heard in a pair of TWS IEMs. These definitely sound like a good pair of wired IEMs, resembling the Dita Perpetua for me, which are 3k USD. Of course, reviewed Final Audio ZE8000 is not even close to the Perpetua when it comes to technical performance, but they do share some similarities in the overall performance.
It feels like Final has put all its power into the smooth and enjoyable sound of the ZE8000, giving you an “audiophile-tuned” option in the current TWS market which is rather occupied by IEMs that sound big and bold. This is a good approach, as Final gives you something that other manufacturers don’t.
Listening to music like Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, or any prog-rock actually on the ZE8000 is fantastic. It gives you an incredibly wide soundstage and the melodic and rich character of the sound makes these songs sound very involving. Reviewed Final Audio ZE8000 is very good with vocals, as it offers that lush and full-bodied type of sound that truly benefits male vocalists.
Electric guitars sound good as well, while they might lack a bit of crunch, the string action is well-audible and it has that dark, rich tone to it. The ZE8000 is even better with acoustic guitars. The smooth and delicate treble response will never sound overpowering, but the weight of the treble itself sounds great with the bronze strings of an acoustic guitar. It gives you that flavorful, thick, and shimmering type of sound that is just perfect for acoustic music.
When it comes to technical performance, the ZE8000 is good enough for a pair of TWS IEMs. The detail retrieval and resolution are both good, as they won’t give you a feeling that you “miss” something from the recording. However, the rich and smooth tuning of these IEMs will not overpower the details, making them pop from the recording. This is more of a subtle detail that is a part of the overall sound, rather than being in the spotlight. This makes the ZE8000 great for long listening sessions, as it should never get tiring or overly engaging.
Overall, the ZE8000 sounds like a pair of TWS IEMs made by an audiophile-grade company. The most important aspects are the tuning and the soundstage, with both being exceptional for this kind of product. While I wouldn’t call the ZE8000 the most detailed TWS on the market, it shines in different ways that for this type of product, are even more important.
Let’s start this comparison with the things that are not sound-related. Here, the AirPods Pro 2 takes the cake in every single category. The build quality, charging case, ANC, transparent mode, battery life, controls, and fit – the AirPods Pro 2 are significantly better in all these categories.
It’s not really a surprise though, as Apple has been the biggest player in the TWS market for years now, damn…they actually created the market on their own, so it’s not surprising.
When it comes to the sound though, these two trade blows, but they do have different strengths.
The AirPods Pro 2 is more dynamic-sounding, punchier, more neutral, and fun-oriented. The ZE8000 however has a more “audiophile-grade” tuning, better and bigger soundstage, and smoother treble.
The AirPods Pro 2 works better with genres like metal, hip-hop, and electronic music, while the ZE8000 is better for acoustics, jazz, and classical music. It is a more relaxed listen, and if that’s your preference, you’ll definitely be happy with those, if you can live with some of the ZE8000’s quirks.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the AirPods Pro 2 is rather limited to iOS users, while the Final ZE8000 works better with Android, thanks to its codecs. This should also be a very important aspect before choosing between the two – which system are you using.
Now let’s compare two TWS IEMs manufactured by companies that specialize in audiophile-grade headphones.
The Svanar Wireless and Final ZE8000 have similar strengths and weaknesses. Both have cases that are simply too big and unpractical, with ANC performances that are decent but nothing too extraordinary.
When it comes to sound, the Svanar Wireless is more detailed, punchier, and more dynamic sounding. They do sound great with dynamic music, offering a very lively, involving, and fun sound.
The ZE8000 on the other hand is smoother, more delicate, and relaxing of the two. It does better with acoustic and jazz, while the Svanar Wireless sounds better with music that needs power and dynamics.
Both IEMs are valid options for an audiophile on the go, who values the sound quality the most. They do have different sound signatures, so this will be the aspect to focus on while deciding between the two.
Final Audio ZE8000 Review – Summary
The Final Audio ZE8000 is a bag of mixed feelings for me. The sound quality and tuning are both great and highly attractive for audiophiles who have been waiting for true “audiophile-grade” TWS IEMs.
However, Final definitely has some things to improve with the MK2 version. The case design, or rather its size, the ANC, battery life, and comfort could all use an upgrade, and then the ZE8000 mk2 could be a huge rival for the AirPods Pro 2 for example.
For now, even though the ZE8000 has many quirks and small problems, I’m still going to recommend it to those who value the sound quality the most.
Big thanks to Final Audio and Jackrabbit Media for providing the ZE8000 for this review. I wasn’t paid or asked to say anything good or bad about this product, all of the above is just my personal, unbiased opinion.
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.