Final Audio A4000 - Is Soundstage the Only Skill?
The Final Audio A4000 has been a popular discussion as of late at the audiophile community water cooler because of its soundstage, does it offer anything else? Nobody seems to be talking about the other skills that the Final A4K has to offer so I will give you some thoughts.
A BIG thank you to inToit Reviews for lending the Final Audio A4000 for review, greatly appreciated. Check out the links down below and give him a subscription and tell him I sent you.
Final Audio kept the packaging very simple; a tad too simple for the price in my opinion. The box is solid and has pictures on the front and description on back. Inside you will find a plastic case of Final Audio Type E tips, silicone carry case, cable and ear hooks. All in all the accessories included are fine and dandy, if a bit limited. The carry case is a very strange build and I am not a fan. You lift up the bottom piece to open the squishy rubber case. Placing the IEM inside and closing the lid down, smashes the IEM down to hold in place but it offers very little protection other than from scratching. Final Type E tips are some of my all-time favorites so I have no complaints.
Let's start with my biggest gripe. The cable and ear hooks are adequate but don't wow me for the price. The cable is thin and well controlled, doesn't tangle or jumble up but it feels cheap. The ear hooks are a different story, they are just odd feeling and twist and turn all the time. Also, there is a bit of cable noise when walking and jogging. I am not impressed with the cable and ear hooks considering the price tag where there are so many other IEM that have better cables in similar price (ThieAudio Voyager 3, SeeAudio Yume, Tin Hifi T5).
Now onto the build of the A4000 itself. The IEM is built of ABS plastic and feels cheap and light. It is similar in shape and size to the Moondrop SSR; with the SSR providing a longer nozzle. Comfort is alright but I find that the shorter nozzle causes fit issues for me and those finicky fitting ear hooks don't help hold the A4000 securely. I can get the A4K to sit in my ears securely but any sort of tug or jiggle on the cable and I am having to reposition. So if you are a wiggle worm like me then the Final Audio A4000 may not be the best fit for you.
Driver: Dynamic driver
There is a lot to like about the Final Audio A4000 bass but there are some issues as well. The sub bass of the A4000 is pleasing and could make some bass heads happy but only if they prefer tone over impact. There is good low reach with ample rumble but it isn't the most impactful but does have some slam qualities to offer on a limited basis. The tone of the bass on the A4000 is pleasant and has a close to natural sound. The timbre on the other hand is not that great and it becomes hard to differentiate between instruments at times in the lower bass and often they will all sound the same. Details in the A4000 bass are brought in well but lack definition and can be portrayed at times as one. The middle and upper bass thins out and the detail definition improves but the overall texture loses weight and density.
The mids on the A4000 are a mixed bag. Often I felt like a confused dog that was cocking his head and twitching his ears when listening to the A4000. The lower mids are thin and lacking weight and density. The middle and upper mids are way too forward while still thin and lacking weight and density. The strangest part is the lower mids are warmer then the middle and upper mids. The A4000 mids are not cohesive or balanced. The tone of the mids is pleasing, but just like the bass, the timbre is lacking. The less then stellar definition really shows itself in the upper mids where it is just way too forward and bright. The upper mids are full of many no no's in my opinion; bright, intense, sibilant and sharp. I do not enjoy the mids much at all on the Final Audio A4000 with the stock tips.
Final Audio A4000 treble is overly energetic and sparkly. As I have mentioned on many occasions, I enjoy treble but it has to be well controlled. Sadly, the A4000 is not well controlled in the treble regions. To call the A4000 hot is being fair and honest; they have a tipped treble region. There is a lot of sizzle to the treble of the A4000. The Final Audio A4000 lacks refinement up top. They have a lot of extension and air that may be pleasing to some but if you care about treble quality at all then I highly doubt you would enjoy the A4000. Again the tone is good on the A4000 but the lack of timbre refinement and resolution just kills them for me. As with the rest of the regions, the treble is thin, lacking in weight and density.
Hey, I found something I enjoy on the Final Audio A4000. There is a width, depth and layering to the A4000 that other IEM in it's price point can't match. If you like to game or watch movies with an IEM then the Final Audio A4000 is right for you; if you don't mind the bright and hot tendencies . The way that details travel and move around the stage is fun and engaging. The precision and placement is impressive. I really enjoy the soundstage on the Final Audio A4000; it is easily my favorite aspect they offer.
Throughout the entire sound of the Final Audio A4000 the tone is pleasing and close to natural but far from realistic. Timbre is off and just doesn't do a good job of being distinctive; often I find that instruments will sound the same or similar more often then not. Detail retrieval is adequate for the price but are terribly unresolved. There is a lot of smearing and smudging of details. Attack and decay is disappointing, way too much attack and not enough decay; detail resolution doesn't sound realistic. The lackluster resolution is problematic especially in the overly accentuated mids and treble; causes fatigue and pain quickly on the wrong gear and song, which happens way too often. Also, notes on the A4000 lack weight and density ; they just seem to float in space.
Overall impressions with the Final Type E tips can be summed up with this gif:
JVC Spiral Dots to the rescue. Now this seems like an odd pairing since they are larger bored then the stock Final Type E but it actually is a benefit in my opinion. I tried all sorts of tips and I found that the wide bore tips helped to quell those bright mid and hot treble regions. Anything with a small bore enhanced the pain inducing listening sessions. The JVC Spiral Dots smooth out the mids and treble regions a little bit and the resolution benefited also. Overall the presentation isn't as energetic and sparkly and is more to tolerable levels but still not to my preference. I highly recommend swapping the tips out.
NextDrive Spectre X: This is a nice pairing as the warmth and lushness of the Spectre X helps to tame the bright, sparkly beast.
xDuoo Link: Uh oh the bright and sparkly beast is back but does show off that lovely soundstage.
Mytek Liberty: This is a lively pairing but with the JVC Spiral Dots it becomes lovely with the right music. Too hit or miss to be a favorite pairing.
Soekris DAC1421: Similar to the Spectre X in that it is warm, lush and detailed; pairs nicely with the Final Audio A4000.
Sony NW-A105 Walkman: I like this pairing a lot as the warmer tones of the Sony tame the overly bright and sparkly tendencies.
The ER2SE has a smaller stage but is more defined in it's imaging. The ER2SE has a more natural and realistic tone and timbre and the detail retrieval is similar but significantly better resolved. Note weight and density is a vast improvement.
Tin Hifi T5:
T5 note weight and density is significantly better and the tone and timbre is superior in all regards. Detail retrieval is also an improvement along with resolution on the T5. Soundstage isn't much of a loss either even though the A4000 has an advantage in width.
The Yume has more body to the notes and a slightly more pronounced bass, especially in the sub region. The Yume isn't as forward and assertive in the mid and treble and comes across as more controlled and fills in the mid region better. Details and resolution is similar and hard to determine differences. Soundstage is wider and deeper on the A4000.
Moondrop Blessing 2:
The Final Audio A4000 and Moondrop Blessing 2 have a lot of similarities and one major difference. Price difference is obvious but let's continue with the sound comparison. The tone is very similar between the two but timbre is a clear win for the Blessing 2. The A4000 has a small boost in the bass that adds just a touch of oomph that some say is missing with the Blessing 2. The mids of the Blessing 2 have better body, weight and density and are not near as forward as the A4000; nor do they sound floaty. The bottom end of the mids are more pleasing on the Blessing 2. The treble is better controlled and not as intense on the Blessing 2. BUT the biggest and most major difference between the Blessing 2 and A4000 is the detail retrieval and resolution; the Blessing 2 is by far the superior, not even close in comparison.
I really, really wanted to enjoy the Final Audio A4000 but there are too many flaws in my book. For the price tag there are too many other quality IEM that have a more natural and accurate sound even though the soundstage may not be as polarizing. If you love an energetic sound with a huge open stage then the Final Audio A4000 may be one to consider. But for me the Final Audio A4000...
YouTube reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgMj7xJ1SDxGqqxZ5l3g_jg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TalkDbs @TalkDbs
DBS Tech Talk research and review process: https://youtu.be/UkSnoZZNyYc
Audio Terms and Definitions: https://www.stereophile.com/reference/50/index.html
Meze Empyrean: https://mezeaudio.com/products/meze-empyrean
Hifiman Ananda: https://hifiman.com/products/detail/290
Sennheiser HD600: https://en-us.sennheiser.com/best-audio-headphones-high-end-stereo-hifi-hd-600
Sennheiser HD660s: https://en-us.sennheiser.com/hd-660-s
Meze 99 Classic: https://mezeaudio.com/collections/all/products/meze-99-classics-walnut-gold-wood-headphones
MrSpeakers Ether C (non flow version) https://danclarkaudio.com/
(similar to:) https://drop.com/buy/drop-mrspeakers-ether-cx-closed-headphones?utm_source=linkshare&referer=FTSS2S
Meze Rai Penta: https://mezeaudio.com/collections/all/products/rai-penta
Meze Rai Solo: https://mezeaudio.com/products/rai-solo
ADV. M5-12D: https://www.adv-sound.com/collections/pro-audio/products/m5-12d-universal
Tin Hifi T3: https://www.linsoul.com/collections/tin-hifi/products/tinhifi-t3
Tin Hifi T2+: https://www.linsoul.com/collections/tin-hifi/products/tinhifi-t2-plus
Tin Hfi T5: https://www.linsoul.com/products/tin-hifi-t5?_pos=1&_sid=a6d49043d&_ss=r
Moondrop SSR: https://www.moondroplab.com/ssr
Monoprice Monolith THX AAA 788: https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=24459
Mytek Liberty: https://mytekdigital.com/hifi/products/liberty-dac/
Soekris DAC1421: https://soekris.modhouseaudio.com/soekris-audiophile-line/dac-1421
Tor Audio Roger: https://toraudio.com/main.html#
Massdrop THX AAA 789:
Grace Design SDAC-B: https://drop.com/buy/drop-grace-design-standard-dac-balanced?utm_source=linkshare&referer=FTSS2S
Geshelli Labs Enog 2 Pro: https://geshelli.com/shop/ols/products/enog2-pro-dac-metal-case
Geshelli Labs J2: https://geshelli.com/jnog
Geshelli Labs Archel 2: https://geshelli.com/shop/ols/products/archel-pro-amp-metal-case-b5ca9a41-69ed-4786-98b2-18f72ae911bf
Geshelli Labs Erish: https://geshelli.com/shop/ols/products/erish-balanced
https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/5bbf80ce-33f3-4222-a1fc-6539a95415d6 (in order of playlist)
Tingvall Trio “Beat” - piano tonality
Sinne Eeg “We’ve Just Begun” - multiple layer soundstage
Molly Johnson “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” - female vocal tone
Leslie Odom Jr. “Under Pressure” - male vocal tone
Eric Clapton “Change the World” - soundstage, layering and placement
Yo Yo Ma “Ecstasy of Gold” - acoustic instrument timbre
Adam Baldych “Spem in Alium” - acoustic instrument timbre
Pain of Salvation “Stress” - percussion balance
Michael Buble “When I Fall in Love” - orchestral dynamics
Patricia Barber “Code Cool” - sibilance check
Christian Scott “New New Orleans” - shouty upper mids
Tool “Chocolate Chip Trip” - imaging
Hans Zimmer “Why So Serious” - sub bass extension
Marcus Miller “No Limit” - bass control
Dave Holland Quartet “Conference Of The Birds”- bass check
Ilhan Eshkeri “47 Ronin”- orchestra and bass dynamics
Hans Zimmer :2049” - sub bass extension
Cher: Believe - sibilance
Stanley Clarke - Passenger 57 main title - percussion, bass, seperation and placement
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra - The Pine of the Appian Way - soundstage, imaging and seperation
Houston Person - You are my Sunshine - tone and timbre
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