Up to 35h
As I wrote in a previous review of the Final UX3000, the maker of the earphones needs no introduction, but they are entry-level stuff, so some of the people interested in the product might not know the company. The company was established in 2007 and it’s based in Kanagawa, Japan. They produce very high-end headphones like over-the-ear Final D8000 or IEM – Final A8000, but since some time they are also entering more budget-friendly segments like previously mentioned UX3000, already reviewed by Matz Final A3000 and the star of today’s entry – Final ZE3000. It also wouldn’t be fair not mentioning that they also make great audio accessories, like my beloved Final Type E tips.
I really appreciate that high-end manufacturers enter the lifestyle markets. Thanks to this, more people can get into the hobby, going down the rabbit hole even with a single manufacturer.
Final ZE3000 arrives in a simple box similar to other low-budget IEM made by the company. Inside the box, you will find the earphones, a charging case, 5 sets of Final Type E tips, and a USB-C charging cable. Nothing fancy, but thanks for this the price may be low and you know that each cent is spent on sound engineering and build quality, not on junk you will throw away right after unboxing the earphones.
Design, Build and Comfort
In terms of the design, they are pretty similar to UX3000, they have a premium Shibo finish (from Japanese Shibo is a word meaning a wrinkle on the surface of paper or leather), if you are familiar with Nikon DSLRs, it’s pretty similar to the plastic parts finish. Thanks for the texture, the plastic parts are very scratch-proof. After over a month of heavy-duty in my backpack, it still looks great.
The build quality is amazing, I feel like the quality of low-range Final headphones is almost as good as their high-end stuff. The fit of the faceplate is perfect – almost invisible, the case feels rock-solid, the only issue I had is that sometimes a headphone doesn’t connect with charging pins in the case, and when I wanted to listen to music its battery was empty.
In terms of comfort, I can’t write much. They are very good. As I mentioned above, I love Final type-e tips, and the rest of the earphones don’t interfere with enjoying the seal of the tips. Unfortunately, I’m not a sporty guy and when I do some sports I don’t wear headphones. That’s why it’s hard to say if it will be good TWS earphones for sports, but the IPX4 certificate and my custom headshaking pogo test (during which my girlfriend asked me WTF I was doing), lets me assume that the ZE3000 will do the job during jogging or gym workout. The only issue I have to mention is that it sticks out of my ears and while wearing the hat, rubbing the earpiece against it causes a loud humming noise.
In the price range of Final ZE3000, many people may expect Active Noise Canceling in the TWS earphones, but the maker of the currently reviewed earpiece didn’t implement the technology. That decision is bad in terms of PR and advertising, but in terms of everyday usage, doesn’t really change anything, the passive noise cancellation with properly matched eartips does the job more than fine, to be honest, some earphones with ANC suppress the sound worse than the Final TWS earphones.
Here I will write some numbers and many acronyms that some of you may not know how to expand, but after reading a comment of one guy from a Facebook group, that “I don’t care that I can’t hear anything above 20kHz (especially while listening to Spotify), I just feel better when I know my headphones can reproduce sound up to 40kHz”, I know that this part of the review might be more interesting than the part about the sound.
The main part of the Final ZE3000 is the 6mm “f-core for wireless” dynamic driver, which is characterized by ultra-low distortion. Thanks to this kind of driver design the THD does not exceed 2% and through most of the frequency range, it keeps below 0.5%.
Bluetooth 5.2 allows connecting any device supporting one of SBC, AAC, aptX, or aptX Adaptive codec, but unfortunately, only one device at the same time can be connected with the TWS earbud.
The battery allows playback audio for up to 7 hours with a single earbud charge and up to 35 hours when supported with a battery case.
The last thing worth mentioning is that Final promised an app for iOS and Android but till the publication of the review it wasn’t available in my region, so I can’t write anything about it.
Yet another very balanced earphone with highs covered in a thin blanket, thanks to that tuning they are very pleasant to listen to music for hours. Of course, the resolution isn’t as good as in HiFiMan HE1000s, but on the other hand, the price of Final ZE3000 is way lower and in commute, or in the streets the resolution and details are getting lost because of city noise.
Let’s start with the description of the soundstage. After my small experience with some of the “mainstream” TWS like Sony WF-1000X M3, or Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, I expected nothing, but Final ZE3000 surprised me in a very positive way. The soundstage exists and it’s pretty wide and deep, of course, it’s not as spacious as it can be produced with open-back headphones, but when compared to other products in their market range, the space and imaging are pretty good, but that’s all. In the song Bubbles by Yosi Horikawa, the drops are surrounding my head, but I feel like they are very close. It’s fine when we talk about TWS priced below $150 because there are plenty of headphones, even way more expensive, that produce way worse soundstage, but after listening to this tune with Susvaras it’s hard to any headphone that will please me.
As I wrote above, the treble sounds like it’s covered with a blanket, it’s very smooth and not disturbing but also devoid of detail. Thanks to these characteristics, the Final ZE3000 are very easy to listen to for a long time, but the lack of this sparkle in the highs makes the song titled Dronning Fjellrose by Helene Bøksle and Hoff ensemble even more boring than usual. On the other hand, it’s really hard to release a song that will be unlistenable with the earphones.
The midrange is very powerful, but not too forward and also not too recessed, it sounds very natural. What’s very uncommon in, let’s call it the “lifestyle TWS IEM class” the midrange doesn’t only serve a supporting job in the overall sound, but it even takes the lead sometimes. The vocal of Butch Ross in Here Comes The flood is very intimate, I really like how it’s presented and I nearly felt his presence. The body of the sound is very well built, the guitars played by Rodrigo and Gabriela in Mettavolution have an amazing impact in the midrange.
The bass is very well controlled. It doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the audio band, but it’s present and does a great job. The mid-bass is very fast, it could be juicier, and the sub-bass could be slightly more impactful so it would fill the low ranges better, but if I have to choose between fast but not too powerful, or very muddy one that overwhelms everything else, the decision would be easy and I don’t understand why so many popular companies producing TWS earpieces pick the second option. I’m complaining about the lack of the bass in ZE3000, but don’t get me wrong, I was on holiday last week and most of the time I’ve been using Campfire Audio Vega 2020, so as you can read in Paweł’s review, it’s very bass-heavy earphone, so my perception may be slightly biased. The bassline in Vertigo Valley by French 79 sounds really good, it’s just strong enough and controlled very well.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
The MSRP of Buds Pro was $199, but they are available at a discounted price of $149 via Samsung’s website, so I decided to compare them with the Final ZE3000. In 2017 Samsung bought legendary headphone maker – AKG, so we could expect that they also acquired AKG’s know-how and now they can produce as legendary earphones as the Austrian company. Well actually no. I’ve received the Buds with Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and I’ve gotten rid of them in a week, so don’t blame me that I won’t show you a picture of them. Let’s start from similarities, both have a touch panel allowing to pause, change volume, and rewind the music, but in Samsung TWS the placement of the panel was very unfortunate so every putting on the earphones caused the music to be skipped or Google Assistant enabled. With ZE3000 I didn’t have any issues. Buds Pro also has ANC, but to be honest the passive noise canceling in Final earphones muffles the noise way better. When we compare the sound both Galaxy Buds Pro has a more V-shaped sound signature versus quite linear on the ZE3000 side. The treble of Samsung earphones is more aggressive, so the flaws in the music production process were very audible. The bass is very pushed to the front, but unfortunately, it’s not so well controlled. These two facts combined up together lead us to another issue of the buds – bad distinction between instruments and poor soundstage. It means that the listener feels like all sounds come from the inside of their head.
Fiio FD3 is a $99 IEM, with warmish, but still pretty balanced tuning similar to Final ZE3000. Of course, it wouldn’t be fair if I would compare the reviewed TWS earphones with the Fiio IEM connected to Fiio M11 Pro, or SMSL/Topping stack, so I decided to use the Apple lightning dongle DAC, this means that the whole setup costs about $110, the MSRP of the ZE3000 is slightly higher but apple dongle doesn’t have it’s own battery and Bluetooth, so let’s say that when compared price to features, the value is similar. As I wrote in the FD3 review the IEM likes power, like a lot of power, unfortunately, the Apple DAC doesn’t deliver that much power, and doesn’t drive the earphones properly. This causes the bass to be thin and it doesn’t sound as good as it should, the bass produced by Final ZE3000 is fuller and more vivid. The midrange is also less engaging when listened to with the Fiio/Apple set. The only place where FD3 shines is the treble, and I mean it’s really damn shiny, for me it’s too bright. Yeah, the same Fiio FD3, I used to write about, they are fun-focused. But plugged into a cheap source, they became very cold and analytical. What I want to say with that comparison is that If you want to buy headphones and just use them without any additional costs, then ZE3000 is a great option, but it’s pretty hard to upgrade them without some advanced tools. But when you want to play with different sources and cables, then Fiio FD3 may be a great pick.
Final ZE3000 is a solid option in the sub $150 TWS market. If you are looking for reasonably priced and well-made earphones they can be a good option. The only issue is that you have to accept that they don’t have ANC, but the noise reduction is even better than provided by some of the TWS earpieces equipped with the ANC. You should take them into consideration while picking the next wireless equipment.
Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
- Headphones – Bqeyz Summer, Bqeyz Autumn, Campfire Audio Vega 2020, Craft Ears Four CIEM, Final UX3000, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
- Sources– JDSLabs El Dac II + SMSL SP200, SMSL SU-9 + Topping A90, Fiio M11 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, Apple iPhone 13 Pro, Apple MacBook Pro 14,