Up to 35h
If you’re into this hobby, or at least you read our website sometimes, Final is a company that needs no introduction, but regarding that UX3000 is maybe not the cheapest but let’s say, it’s a go-to model for entry-level audiophiles, I will write something about the maker.
The company is known for making great accessories, various price range IEMs and full-size headphones, but some time ago they also entered the wireless headphones market and this time I will review their newest wireless over-ear headphones with ANC. If you’re interested in more ‘audiophile’ stuff, you definitely should read Paweł’s review about their flagship IEM – A8000. These earphones are a wet dream for many audio hobbyists, including myself.
Nonetheless, it is great to see high-end audio manufacturers entering more lifestyle and budget price markets. Having all that experience in making top-tier headphone audio surely adds value to even their least expensive models. It is more tempting to buy a $20k Bugatti than a $200k Lada isn’t it?
Final UX3000 arrives in neat cardboard, with a similar graphic design to other Final earphones from the 3000 line. Inside the box, you will find a USB Type C cable, basic 3.5mm jack cable, carrying pouch and of course the headphones. I would love to see less plastic inside the box, but at least the headphones are well secured during the distribution.
Nothing fancy, just like the latest tendency of the market. Keep the prices low, and the number of accessories as well as the quality of the unboxing experience itself won’t really bother anybody.
Design, Build and Comfort
When I saw the Final UX3000 for the first time, I thought that there was a lot of plastic, but it feels like it’s good quality. Each plastic part has a premium Shibo finish (from Japanese Shibo is a word meaning a wrinkle on the surface of paper or leather). Thanks to the finish the headphones are pretty scratch-resistant, for the last few weeks they were my daily drivers. This means I’ve been throwing them into my backpack to the compartment with e.g. keys, MacBook charger, or glass Keep Cup. After these weeks, the headphone still looks perfect and I can’t find any flaws.
The build quality and fit are top-notch, the headphones feel rock solid, you can do anything with them and you won’t hear any creaking. My only wish is that I would love to see some more metal in the construction, but on the other hand, even more expensive stuff, like Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700, or Sony WH-1000X M4 are mostly covered with plastic (sometimes it’s even lower quality than the one used in UX3000) and synthetic leather.
According to comfort, memory foam earpads are pretty comfortable, but they could have been bigger. For me, there was no problem, but people with bigger auricles might complain about the size and hence the comfort. The clamping force is just fine, not too strong so I could use them comfortably for a few hours, but also not too loose, so I didn’t feel that they would fall off my head when I was in a rush.
First of all, let me mention Bluetooth codecs, Final UX3000 supports SBC, AAC, and AptX Low Latency – if you’re looking for headphones to watch movies or play games, the latency is really low. Some people might miss LDAC or UAT, but first of all, I’m an Apple fanboy, so while listening to music from phone or laptop, I don’t need anything more than AAC and secondly, these are mobile headphones with ANC, so you shouldn’t expect them to reproduce the sound as good as e.g. HiFiman Deva Pro. What’s worth mentioning, while we are talking about the tech, is that it’s possible to pair up to two devices at the same time. This means you can watch Netflix on the PC with ANC switched on, and you will hear when your phone will ring.
When writing about tech I have to mention the battery life, in specs, there’s written that with ANC on the battery lasts for 25 hours, with ANC off headphones should be able to playback music for 35 hours. I can only say that with the volume set to 60% and with ANC on from time to time the battery easily lasts one and a half of the week.
The last thing I will write about in this paragraph is Active Noise Cancellation. I have to admit, that it works pretty well, the sound of the air conditioning in my office is being reduced really well. When canceling this kind of noise, ANC of Final UX 3000 does an almost as good job as the passive noise cancellation of my Craft Ears Fout CIEM, but when my colleagues start talking, then I can hear only their voices separated from the environment, that’s the thing hard to get used to.
In this review, I spent a lot of words writing about build quality, design, or tech inside the Final UX3000, but now let’s move to the most important thing, how these Japanese bastards sound. When I received them I thought, “Bluetooth headphones? With ANC? Come on, we are writing audiophile, not tech reviews”, but when I paired them with my phone and played the first song, I understood. Final isn’t like AKG, or Sony, they didn’t forget about their heritage and don’t produce a line for people who care only about the sound like Sony Z-R1, or my beloved AKG K712 Pro, and a second one “lifestyle” line for people who cares more about fancy features and the look of the headphones than the sound. The newest ANC headphones made by Final have some cool features, but also sound great for the price.
The first part about the sound I wrote, listening to music with UX3000 connected via Bluetooth (AAC codec) without ANC.
Let’s start from the soundstage, it’s not the widest or deepest soundstage reproduced by headphones, but when we take apart that the Final UX3000 are closed-back, wireless headphones for $179, it’s getting better, or even really good. Dimensions of the soundstage are one thing, but the consistency and positioning are even more important and for me, these headphones do it great. I can easily locate each sound source while listening to Bubbles by Yosi Horikawa, and at the same time the soundstage is big enough, so I don’t feel the sound coming from the inside of my head.
If I had to describe the treble, I would write that it’s fine, without any excesses, just properly implemented. Maybe details aren’t reproduced as good as they might be with for example HiFiman Susvara, but I wouldn’t expect that budget, mobile closed-back, dynamic headphones could compete with these planar-magnetic beasts. The highest audible frequencies reproduced with these headphones are still very pleasant to listen to, you probably won’t discover new details in the music you already know, but you shouldn’t feel that you’re losing too much of them when compared to other decent headphones. For example, the effects of hisses and crackles in Testarossa by Matt Lange are perfectly audible, of course, they could be more engaging, but on the other hand, the line is very narrow and treble could get too bright and even tiring. With Audio-Technica M50x I can’t listen to that song, because I feel like these hisses drills directly into my brain.
Yet another review, and again I have to write that the midrange is the weakest part of the reviewed headphones but don’t get me wrong, it’s still pretty decent, but if I have to find any fault with the headphones, that’s their weakest part. It’s slightly recessed, vocals are pushed back. While listening to We Know Who U R by Nick Cave, I still feel a lot of emotions in his voice, but I hear that Nick is far away from me. The same song played with Craft Ears Four, or even Focal Elegia makes me feel like the vocalist is singing just directly into my ears, I’m missing the intimacy in the vocals reproduced with the Final UX3000. But on the other hand, the texture of the midrange is pretty good. Maybe I don’t feel that Imelda May’s voice would rip the skin off my ears, of course in the positive way (that might sound weird), but still, I can hear her great, harsh timbre in the song 11 Past The Hour.
In the previous paragraph I slightly complained about the UX3000, but now let’s move to the best part of these headphones – the bass. It’s very powerful, but also tight and fast. This kind of sound tuning works great with electronic music. I really like how the bass bit is reproduced by the Final headphones when listening to Crystal Ball by Carolin No. It’s not overwhelming the rest of the audio band, but it definitely makes the listener feel its presence.
When switching the ANC on, the generic lector’s voice says “Noise Canceling”, but instead some DJ should scream “ARE YOU READY FOR SUPER BASS BOOSTED MODE?”. When I was describing these headphones with ANC off, I wrote the bass is powerful, but not overwhelming, in ANC mode the bass crushes the rest of the audio bandwidth. The midrange is also slightly amplified, but when compared to the bass the amplification is only cosmetic. With noise-canceling Final UX3000 is getting too tiring for me, so I could use them only for several minutes, this mode is designed only for the real bassheads. For me, the headphones with ANC mode off sound way better, but on the other hand when sitting in the plane I would listen to overwhelming bass more likely than to jet engine hum.
What’s interesting, is when plugged into a good DAC and amp Final UX3000 begins to shine. To be honest I didn’t expect that a source could improve wireless headphones’ sound so much. When finishing the review I decided to plug them into A90/SU-9 setup and I’ve just discovered completely new headphones. The soundstage opens up, the positioning of sound sources is still perfect, but now with way more space around my head. Thanks to SMSL SU-9 (you can find our review here) the midrange is much juicier, more present. The only issue of the reviewed headphones just disappeared. I can expect that if you’re buying this kind of headphones, you don’t want to use them with a wired connection and get more stuff, but if you have a possibility to plug them into a good source, you definitely should try to do it.
Sony WH-1000X M3
When released, Sony WH-1000X M3 headphones way more expensive than the UX3000, but currently, they’re available for about $200 and that’s quite near to the Final headphones.
The build quality is ok-ish, maybe not the worst but parts covered with a satin plastic after a few months of normal usage are slightly scratched, UX3000 with their “wrinkled” coating doesn’t want to show any signs of wear even though I’m just throwing them without any cover into the backpack with my keys, laptop and much other stuff that is likely to scratch plastic stuff. Overall I feel that Final UX3000 are slightly tighter fitted headphones and feel more durable than Sony WH-1000X M3. You can connect up to two devices To Final UX3000 , while Sony allows connecting only a single one, that’s a new feature in WH-1000X M4, but it costs twice as much as Final headphones.
Sony is known for their best-in-class ANC, but to be honest, the sound when active noise cancellation works is crappy, UX3000 ANC reacts worse to inconstant noise, but the sound quality is still acceptable. Another important thing to compare is that apart from codecs mentioned above, Sony headphones also support LDAC, which allows to stream Hi-Res files, but the most important thing, at least for me – is the sound.
The soundstage in Sony is slightly wider, but shallower. The listener is placed not in the center but slightly moved to the forward. The sound signature of both headphones is fun-biased with amplified bass and trebles and recessed midrange, but the bass is not as crispy as the one reproduced via the Final headphones, slightly overwhelms midrange and definitely leads the way over the rest of the audio band. Shortly speaking (or writing), Sony WH-1000XM3 are warmer sounding and way more fun tuned, while Final UX3000 are more natural and precise.
If you’re looking for warm-ish sounding, on-the-go headphones with ANC (that actually works pretty good), you should strongly consider the Final UX3000. If only your device supports AptX LL, the reviewed headphones will work great for gaming or watching videos, but Apple users also don’t have to worry – AAC also works without noticeable lag, even in pretty crowded places.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – AKG K712 Pro, Audio-Technica M50x, Focal Elegia, Craft Ears Four CIEM, Sony WH-1000X M3
- Sources– iPhone 13 pro (AAC), MacBook Pro 14, Fiio M11 pro (AptX LL and built in dac/amp), SMSL SU-9 + Topping A90, JDS EL DAC II + SMSL SP200.
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