FINAL AUDIO B3 REVIEW :
- Clear, neutral, accurate and vivid sound
- Excellent imaging and layering
- Versatile reference tuning with fast transient response
- Ultimate durability. Superb looking and comfortable housing design
- Sub bass slightly dry compared to mid bass roundness
- Treble lack a bit of extra sparkle
- mmcx connection is too tigh at first (this is resolve with more use)
There you go, the self-procamed biggest fan of Final Audio earphones is in the house for another fascinating review. After having listening a whole month to the whole B serie, its time I share my impressions and comparaisons of the marvellous B3 model, wich is my favorite one and explain why I listen more to it than the other very nice B models.
The Final Audio B3 is a dual balanced armature earphones, with same housing shape than 2 other models, and while it’s not gold plated like the more expensive B1, it still use same type of metal injection stailess steel housing. This housing is not just candy for they eyes with its gun metal finish, the shape have been thinked as much for inner acoustic spatiality than universal fit and comfort too. B serie are perhaps the most beautifull earphones I ever seen or use, perfection cannot be achieve with sound, but with housing constructon it can and I think Final Audio nailed it with the B serie.
Priced at 500$, the B3 isn’t the most budget friendly earphones from Final Audio, but a serious investment that will be rewarding in long time of use. Why? Because this type of sound never get old and the top notch housing construction with changeable cable was thinked for life-time use, to the point Final Audio create the housing with 2 screw for futur easy repair (if needed too).
For B serie, Final Audio sound approach was about the relation between spatial impression and dynamic range, all models have their own approach to it, with different drivers implementation. B1 is a BA+Dynamic driver Hybrid, B2 a single balanced armature and B3 a dual BA’s.
For B3 models, they try to tend toward a high level of clarity with tigh vocal and delicate presentation that do as good for live recording than movie soundtrack and EDM (this is their toughs I share here not mine). One thing sure, they are right about B3 being the clearer and faster (tigher) sounding models of the bunch, for a better idea of how the B serie are tuned, look at their schema, but I really suggest you to give a read HERE too, because its very revealing and interesting about whole models approach.
DISCLAIMER : I wanna thanks Final Audio as well as my friend Kyo for sending me this review sample. (Arigato!) I have no official affiliation with this company even if yes, as said, i’m a big fan and even a groupie. Even if I feel humble and rewarded to receive such high end earphone, I will stay as objective as my subjective ears and mind can. As well, I will be cold blooded about overall price value too.
For more info about Final Audio products, give a look to their S’NEXT WEBSITE, its the most eloquent audio company website out there and you will enjoy the articles.
As I do not really know any other place to buy it, give a look at AUDIO46 STORE if you want to buy the B3.
- Product code: FI-B3B2SSD
- Housing: Stainless steel (frost silver)
- Driver: 2BA (Networkless)
- Connector: MMCX
- Cable: OFC silver coated cable
- Sensitivity: 102dB
- Impedance: 19Ω
- Weight: 36g
- Cord length: 1.2m
ACCESSORIES, CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN :
UNBOXING is a real joy and a step up from the boxing of E serie. Now, we have a very elegant solid white box with a big B on it, its minimal yet luxurious in the choice of design and material. As expected, theres plenty of accessories included, wich is this time very similar to higher E serie model. The unique silicone protecting case, extra ear hook the nice final silicone eartips as well as a pair of memory foam. And a strange sticky fabric to help you unconnect the mmcx cable that can be slippy due to its metal part. For the price, well, perhaps we would have love an second cable but this is very rare that we are spoil that much and to be honnest I prefer one great Final Aduio 4cores silver plated cable than 2 bad ones.
CONSTRUCTION is top notch and you know you have an high end earphones in your hands as much due to the weight of it than the feel of it. No sharp corner touch your ears even if the housing is sculpted with a mix of curve and angle, all is smooth, no asperity, and it is soft too, mate type of softness. Unlike many metal earphones (including B1), the B3 do not look easily scratchable, i do not always cary him in its case and as seen their not a single scratch on it. This look just invincible and i’m pretty sure it is, the metal is thick and the two part are stick togheter with 2 screw but i’m pretty sure it’s more complicate than that, so why not look inside?
DESIGN is just mesmerizing and sure have take lot of time to be achieved. More you look at it, more you discover the number of details in its conception and are in awe : nothing was let to hasard. The curve of the housing is made so it slip in your ears smoothly and comfortably, the back being sharper at edge do not touch the ears, and if some corner touch is its more polished and smoother than upper back angle. Nozzle is molded in same front metal housing part, and is just long enough for perfecrt fit with eartips, you can push it very far in your ears due to housig shape and as say, it will be the curvy, organicly shape part that will be in contact with you ear hole.
MMCX connector look heavy duty industrial and just unbreakable, but be aware connection with cable will be extremely tigh, wich make this a little too hard for cable swapping lover like me, Even with the sticky fabric ‘’tool’’ its extremely hard to disconnect…to the point I litterally hurt my thumbs and have a white spot on it for 3 days. So, yeah, that is sure securre connection for the iem but less so for your fingers! But, finally, the mmcx connection became smoother after connecting disconnecting it, it still securly tigh but easier to disconnect wich it’s a BIG relieve!
COMFORT is excellent and in fact you dont feel the weight due again to meticulously thinked design, as the curvy part sit on your inner ear naturally. I can wear this all day without problem, no joke.
ISOLATION is insanely good as well, due to thick metal and excellent fit, it literally block all the outside noise once you put musc, and passive isolation without music is extreme as well. So, be aware it can be a little risky to do jogging or biking with the B3, but I do it anyway.
Even if their a little front venting, sound leakage is way above average and near dead silent. Only bats will be able to hear any sound as I can conclude with high volume music playing while i block nozzle end with my finger. I need to put my ear on the vent to hear something.
DRIVEABILITY is quite easy and will most likely be properly amped with any audio source because of low impendance, but the 102db sensitivity is not the highest for proper sound pressure dynamic so yeah, I tend to prefer using powerfull source or portable amp than cranking the volume higher with less powerfull DAP like the Xduoo X3.
First impressions was very positive, and perhas my more immediate crush of whole b serie. Does it mean it give me a violently joyfull Wow effect at first second I listen to the B3? Well, not exactly, and this is why in fact I still i’m as much (or more) impress one month after that the very first day I listen to them.
For people familiar with the E serie like me, they will feel in secure territory with the B3, but to a next level of definition, attack and imaging only well tuned balanced armature can offer. Mix the E4000 and F4100 sound and you pretty close to what the B3 will offer to you, wich is a sumptuously balanced sound with thick timbre, tigh attack and revealing clarity for those who contemplate the sound with curious ears. For passive listener, even if yes, the B3 will impress by high level of clarity, it will not be as much fascinating than those that explore musicality.
Whatever music style you throw to the B3, it will deal with it likeslightly warmed studio monitor , should it be ultra fast and complex jazz rock, electronic IDM or solo violin, the rendering will be accurate yet never harsh or agressive even if the B3 is sure brighter than E4000 or E5000.
We know we are in high end territory when an iem feel as much well rounded in timbre than tonality and attack, yes, these BA’S are fast and have weight impact, but it do not sound forced, all is natural and musical. Treble is buttery and do not push the highs in front of other sound layers, its neither rolled off like the E serie, micro details are their own space in back layers and they aren’t thin, dry or too sharp or brilliant. Perhaps some will prefer more decay to classical guitar or some type of percussion, but this would interfer with overall treble articulation, wich is to my ears extremely well controled.
About the balanced armature limit for bass rendering, from what I read, no BA can dig lower than 50hz, but I think psychoacoustic as well as housing acoustic can solve this issue, because with the B3 bass dig very low, have weight and even a tigh rumble in lower end, but sure its not a basshead earphones and the slam weight is more in mid bass tough not in an peaky overly coloured way.
SOUNDSTAGE is wide and deep, with average tallnest and not the most airy, its quite spacious for a dual BA’S and surround your head nicely, never feeling too intimate or frontwarded. As always, the soundstage isn’t particularly airy, and I think this is due to how the treble play it as neutral as it can, but I would like that Final Audio engineer find a way to give more decay to upper range instrument like harpsichord, I think its possible with multi BA without affecting imaging or distraction the listener.
IMAGING is excellent and accurate , instrument placement are very clear and articulate and offer a mix of layers and spacial placement that give a rich, realist and energic presentation to whole musicality.
TIMBRE have good thicknest that do not interfer with their textured transparence, it have a palpable sens to it due to how well rounded instrument note sound, this type of approach make it for a versatile neutrality in sound approach, in the sens there is not emphasis colouring to affect frequencies range wich would result in brighter timbre for some instrument and dryer one for other etc.
BASS is fast, weighty and midly punchy, it’s not your normal BA type of bass as it have quite a lot of body to it, even sub line have plenty of presence and well rendered texture that do not feel forced. Yep, I can bang my head listening to heavy sub kick without distortion (!) in ‘’Pick Six’’ track from Gila at high volume, but I prefer way more listening to Bach cello sonata that sound utterly delicious, realistically bodied and lively.
Fascinating is the bass due to extremely well articulate presentation that separate lower end and mid bass without any hint of muddyness, as Final Audio explain in their B3 presentation, you will enjoy EDM as much as classical with those and it’s true, when I listen to super fast ‘’Tessellations’’ electronic track from Peverelist, we are in for a complex rythm treat were the 2 type of kick (sub and mid bass) stay layered and keep their tigh agility without affecting spaciality and definition of other percussion, so perhaps I was lying when I say the B3 don’t Wow afterall.
MID RANGE is gently fowarded, very clear and articulate, with polished bright timbre that have just enough thickness to keep great transparence. Accuracy and imaging of whole mid range is cover naturaly, nothing feel forced or favorised, every type of instruments or vocal keeping their lush individuality. Piano is particularly enjoyable and will not mix with signers voice, making definition incredibly refined and spot on, every note have good weight and impact with just enough decay to not make them dry. I always beleive Final Audio audio engineer are either passionate about Glenn Gould, piano tuner or player, because rendering is really accurately reproduce and life like. But as said, every part of mid range sound great, sure perhaps some will prefer thicker warmer reproduction of male vocal, but this would inflict other instrument surrounding this voice and make it for a less clear representation. Signer like Rhye do not sound thin at all, its like a mix of brightness, thickness and breathyness wich give rich transparent presence to its sweet voice and never create sibilance in upepr mids even if detailed in this region. Agnes Obel, wich play piano and have often cello l arrangement in its song, benifit from next level of clarity the B3 offer, as we can heard its voices layering clearly as well as her piano playing and cello, all fully bodied and with natural texture.
TREBLE extend well until it begin a drop in mid treble around 14khz, after we have a little bump in far upper treble wich help with decay. It’s emphasis is more in lower and mid treble wich continue a near neutral curve that begin at lower end, this make the B3 near reference monitor sounding with a high level of revealing accuracy in principal human hearing range. Highs are thick and crips, fast and accurate, but not peaky or overly sharp. Treble sensitive people will be rewarded by this treble approach, as it act as if it was very extended without the agressivity or harshness i can have created with a too peaky approach. I do not consider the B3 as analytical or extremely revealing in an artificial way, everything is there for you to discover by yourself and if you are a critical listener, you will understand level of richness this treble deliver smoothly.
SUB BASS : 7.5/10
MID BASS : 8.5/10
MID RANGE : 9/10
TREBLE : 8.5/10
SOUNDSTAGE : 8/10
TIMBRE : 9/10
ATTACK : 8.5/10
DECAY : 8/10
With RADSONE ES100 : Do justice to its fast attack, good imaging but tigher decay, timbre well defind but less thick, vocal very clear but more fowards and bright. Good pairing with enoug power to drive properly the B3, give a hint more brightness-fowardness, but still very neutral if perhaps lacking bass body.
With IBASSO DX90 : Thick bass and good body, great clarity and attack, soundstage is wide and deep, treble extended nicely without peakyness. Plenty of power to drive them. Natural, rich timbre. Excellent.
With Xduoo X20 : Colder sound and more trebly on top, thinner timbre and lighter in bass, vocal slightly harsher on tope, great clarity, very detailed in upper range. Attack isnt as good in mid and low than in highs. Not the best pairing, too sharp and brilliant.
With Xduoo TA-10 hybrid Tube DAC-AMP : Plenty of power, warmer overall sound that thick the bass but affect imaging negatively, vocal sound wider and smoother but less transparent, upper treble feel veiled. Soundstage very wide but lack deepnest. Interesting pairing but not versatile.
With Xduoo X3 : Unamped it sound rather bright and lack dynamic, wich affect imaging and weight in attack. Once amped sound open deliciously, giving very detailed timbre with good thickness, fast tigh bass well rounded, fowards intimate vocal and crips high with good decay. Great pairing with the Burson V5i amp.
MUSIC STYLE PAIRING :
CLASSICAL : 2 thumbs up
JAZZ : 2 thumbs up
ROCK-INDIE : 2 thumbs up
METAL-FAST AGRESSIVE MUSIC : 2 thumbs up
FOLK : 2 Thumbs up
SINGERS SONGWRITERS : 1 thumbs up
ELECTRONIC-IDM-EDM : 1 thumbs up
BIG BEAT-RAP-D&B : 1 thumbs down
POP : 1 thumbs up
VS FINAL AUDIO E5000 (300$) :
One of my favorite sub-500$, the E5000 have lush and thick bass and mids with an addictively smooth timbre, as well, the vocal are very bodied and clear for such a U shaped towards neutral soundsignature. It will be interesting to compare single micro dynamic drivers against the dual balanced armature drivers of the B3. For this comparaison I use my Xduoo X3 pluged into Walnut V2S+Burson V5i as portable (powerfull) little amp. Xduoo being slightly bright and detailed, the warm V5i dualOPamp made it for a great pairing with both earphones. To note that E5000 is quite harder to drive than B3 with its lower sensitivity. As well, I use the Ibasso DX90 without extra amping because this DAP is already powerfull.
SOUNDSTAGE of E5000 is as wide as B3, but less deep and tall, it have as well a less out of your head holographic presentation.
IMAGING have again a more stereo like presentation than surround one of B3, its less clear and accurate due to important bass warmth of E5000. Still, instrument placement is good, its just that the space between instrument is less warm with B3, wich make layering more transparent too with it.
BASS is thicker, weightier, warmer but slower in attack than B3. E5000 timbre is addictively juicy and its sub dig deeper, making the E5000 more impressive in term of bass extension and presence, but the presentation is warmer, less controled and less detailed in timbre than B3. Slam is weightier and will please basshead, while B3 is tigher and faster with higher resolution, making it better for rock, fast jazz etc. Mid bass is more fowards and punchy with B3, but body feel a little thin after listening to thick E5000, still, again, resolution and accuracy is better due to tamed mid bass and drop of E5000.
MID RANGE isn’t as much warmed or recessed than one would think with E5000, in fact, lot of audiophile are addict to their warm and full sounding vocal that avoid any sibilance without loosing too much in clarity or presence. I’m one of them, and while the B3 have clearer and more fowards vocal, they are more intimate and centered, so we can say they are hyper realist compared to analogish E5000 vocal. But even if the vocal win in musicality, mid range isnt just about that and its were the B3 sound way more accurate and refined as well as detailed, the E5000 have limit to its transient response when it come to music playing lot of instrument togheter like jazz sextet or classical symphonie, it can even came to the point it sound congested and messy while the B3 will deal with anything and show an unseen level of agility for a dual balanced. Sure, the B3 is more agressive than the laid back and sensual E5000, but never to the point of creating sibilance, harshness. Mid range is fully covered by the B3 and life like sounding while E5000 have a more poetical way that make it less versatile for complex music style.
TREBLE is more emphased with the B3, but still quite softened in upper range, highs have more sparkle but mostly more micro details from lower to upper range compared to more relaxed overall treble of E5000. Still, E5000 deliver plenty of details in lower and mid treble and do not feel anemic in term of detailing. Where it differ its in clarity and vividness, with E5000, even the percussion sound thicker in timbre wich is incredible but affect attack speed and decay to some degree. B3 is sharper, more accurate but still balanced and not coloured in upper region, here, its all about well framed realism.
Like the beautifull luscious lazy lady wondering on the coach in the Francois Boucher painting, E5000 sound is slowly contemplative and voluptuous while with B3, we have a grand realist old master painting that you feel you can enter and travel into.
E5000 make me think of this indolent and sensuous 18th painting of Francois Boucher :
While B3 make me think of this grand, lightful, alive and detailed 17th painting of Claude Lorrain :
VS AUDIOSENSE T800 (300$) :
Now, well, this new budget flagship earphones have 8 Knowles Balanced armature in its big resin shell, is it a fair fight against 2 BA’s of the Final Audio B3? Priced at 500$, B3 is neat twice the price of T800, but tuning work is sure from another level and let’s see why in this comparaison.
Firstly, T800 even with 4 times more BA’s is easier to drive than the B3, but this make him more prompt from background hissing with bad pairing audio source, in another hand, the B3 benifit from powerfull source to open its overall sound.
In term of construction, both are mindblowing and well, quite different, resin housing have the advantage of not becaming cold in winter, while the stailess steel housing of B3 have the advantage of being way smaller and comfortable as well as practical for futur repair if needed because of 2 part screwed housing concept. The T800 will not fit every ears, this is an unfortunate fact, while the B3 will fit even the smaller ones.
SOUNDSTAGE is wider with the B3, but the T800 is taller in deeper even if less out of your head and airy.
IMAGING of both is quite incredible, and even if B3 win in term of cohesion and realism it is less analytical and sharp in instrument separation than the T800. In real life, the soundwave mix togheter on the stage, but if every instrument have their own spaekrs, we have something more revealing and fowards, like the T800.
BASS have more slam and weight with T800, its more fowards too, but loose in timbre as well as definition being sometime boomy in lower end where B3 is more accurate. B3 is smoother in attack, notably less coloured in sub region, wich make it way more neutral in low end than muscular and fun oriented T800. In some sens, B3 sound like a well balanced slightly bright single dynamic driver compared to super muscular bass Knowles Bas used for T800. For acoustic music, B3 bass is more appropriate, while T800 is delicious with well produced electronic and Pop.
MID RANGE is again very foward and clear with the T800, but it have more a balanced armature than B3 and lack a bit of thickness in timbre, here I seriously find the B3 from another league even if the vocal do not feel as singular and appart from rest of sound spectrum as T800. Male or Female vocal soud full, natural and textured, they have more body than T800 wich feel dry and slightly harsher in upper mids. T800 is more capricious about vocal, more their will be instrument, more the mid range transient response will be affected to some degree. Cohesion is perhaps warmer and less vivid with B3, but tonality and timbre is better. For example, piano note have more well rounded not and sound right compared to more artificial sounding one of T800.
TREBLE is more peaky with the T800, wich sure extract more micro details but have less balanced highs wich can sometime make the percussions being too fowarded and stole the whole show, again, sometime this is very pleasant and spectacular but the softer and more natural treble of B3 will never create ear fatigue like the T800. Final Audio tuner are genius about treble, they do not want to over emphasis any region and in fact the treble help more the mid range richness and accuracy than upper highs, wich are rarely fowarded (with the exception of F serie). Even if more analytical than E5000, they sound quite laid back in treble compared to T800. While attack is softer in upper range, decay is longer and I think its due to housing space being fullfill by BA’s with T800.
Here, the Audiosense T800 make me think about vivid colorfull expressionist painting (Starry Night) from Van Gogh. The glowing stars represent the treble.
When you eat too spicy, sugary or salty food, your long term tasting can be affected so you can’t discover more subtle flavors that are hide in whole recipe. I like well balanced spice that do not hide subtle natural flavor of aliments, and with the music listening more and more I mature and more I tend towards epicurism instead of intense hedonism.
With Final Audio, you rarely have a sound shortcut that give a spectacular sudden wow effect to the cost of omiting certain part of sound spectruc or dynamic, sure, if you are a critical listener you will be wowed, but what I mean is that the meticulous tuning of the B3 is so rightly done that its naturalness even if vivid and very clear did not emphasis any frequencies range. Its quite flat but in a life like and energic way that respect musicality too, unlike cold sounding monitor speakers or iem, the B3 timbre is slightly smoothed for a balanced armature and the treble even if revealing never sound agressive to me.
Only music style that will not impress you is the one that are thinked for coloured sounding iem, in other words, for bass head, and to me, basshead aren’t bass lover they are physical slam lover. A bassist will love the B3, but not an amateur of boomy iem.
With a construction that is as beautifull than comfortable and durable, the 500$ price tag of B3 is justify due to the fact it’s a lifetime investment with a reference tuning that will stand test of time with its wide versatility. If your on the search to invest wise money into a superbly crafted iem that offer neutral, vivid and accurately revealing sound as well as long durability, great isolation and great comfort, the Final Audio B3 should be on your Top List and that even if you already have other iem from this company.