Well, well, well; I suppose it was inevitable. Audio-specialists final audio finally drops the wires and their MMCX connections for a truly wireless earbud in the final ZE3000. It’s a package that will satisfy many, infuriate some, and excite others. Yes, a mixed bag, but I’m okay with that. Here’s why.
- Great, clean and balanced audio
- Comfortable for long sessions
- Good battery life
- Lack of ANC might irk some
- No wireless charging
- No companion app available
The final ZE3000 sees final audio finally produce a premium wireless set of earbuds. Whilst they did release the extravengently-named “Collaboration Series” of products within which sat the EVA2020 which coincided with the release of the anime film, Evangelion, the ZE3000 is the first premium TWS product to be released by the company.
final audio introduces a new driver process here too that they call “f-Core for Wireless” and looks to lessen distortion present in many TWS buds by changing the materials used to create the driver chamber. A lot of thought and precision machining has been involved in creating this product. They even introduce some graphs to identify the lack of distortion at the low-end compared to other 6mm drivers. Impressive.
The ZE3000 come with several specifically engineered spare tips to allow for optimum comfort when listening, something that final have been keen to emphasise in their design as well. The buds are angled to sit neatly within the ear cavity whilst not putting too much weight on the ear canal.
Classed as “audiophile-grade” by the Japanese audio company, the ZE3000 arrives in a small package, with a mottled resin design which is coined “Shibo”. Shibo translated relates to a pebble-like texture, and this extends beyond the charging case to the buds themselves. It’s an interesting pivot from the norm.
The ZE3000 are available in both white and black.
- Bluetooth Version 5.2
- 6mm “f-Core for Wireless” Dynamic Driver
- AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX Adaptive Codec Support
- 7 Hours of Playback per Earbuds on Full Charge, Maximum 35 hours with Charging Case
- IPX4 Water-Resistant
In The Box
- Charging Case
- TYPE R Spare tips SS / S / M / L / LL 5 sizes
- USB Type C Charging Cable
Audio & Use
Starting by looking back at the design of the final ZE3000 shows an attention to detail from the outset. The Shibo finish though not only looks and feels quality, it allows a greater grip on the buds when they are in the charging case. This might well be a happy coincidence, but it’s something that is all too easily overlooked, as evidenced by some of our recent reviews.
Once you grab these out of the case and put them in the ear, they are instantly comfortable. I tried a few of the TYPE E tips but went back to the mediums. They fit snuggly without too much pressure, and without the resin casing, as angular as it is, causing excess weight fatigue on my ear. These don’t look as though they would be comfortable. Luckily I don’t judge a book by its cover!
Over the years we’ve been shaped to expect certain features in earbuds at this price range. Active noise cancellation, wireless charging, waterproofing, long battery life and a companion app to boot, are all to be expected in 2022. The ZE3000 bravely (or foolishly depending on your viewpoint) stands aside from the norm and drops a lot of these features.
Balanced is cool
The lack of any active noise cancellation (ANC) here is a difficult decision to understand at first glance. final engineered the ZE3000 to have the largest space to organically create the best audio reproduction possible. As such I imagine there is less space for the relevant circuitry required to deliver ANC. During use though I can honestly say I haven’t missed ANC at all. The fit of the ZE3000 in my ear, and the general isolation that provides have delivered me passive noise cancellation to a level budget earbuds with ANC included, manage to deliver. Unless you’re jet setting across the globe or on the Tube all the time, you’ll likely have a similar experience to me.
That isolation also helps to alleviate another potential issue some might have; a lack of low-end. The ZE3000 do not lack bass at all, but it’s just not bass-heavy as many products are now. Instead, and unsurprisingly, final audio has opted for a more balanced soundstage. These are the only earbuds I have used that sound equally good across all genres of music during my testing, and that has not required some EQ tweaking. On some Drill tracks, the 808 isn’t quite as destructive as the track might require, and the snares come through a little more even. As somebody who likes his bass, I did find myself reaching for the volume button a little more often. To summarise, the bass is precise and crisp, not dark and rumbling.
Listening to acoustic or vocal tracks is an absolute delight. There’s a real depth to these tracks that bring the vocals to the fore and there are very distinct levels of percussion as you walk back from the front. Pro-tip; just listen to Fireboy Dml’s “Peru” on the ZE3000, and the depth and range on that track will have you repeating it!
It’s really exciting to listen to tracks like this with the ZE3000 – period.
The lack of a companion app to allow changing of the touch panel actions (which thankfully are intuitive enough) as well as managing EQ profiles is a bit of a kick in the teeth. Again though, I can’t complain too much, such is the quality of the stock offering. It might be an issue when it comes to updating though.
Battery life lived up to the marketing thankfully. In my torture test, I averaged just under the 7-hours suggested at 50% volume. In one test at 20%, I managed 7.5-hours. Something else to note is that there is, disappointingly, no wireless charging here, and no fast-charging either. The charging cradle houses around 4 cycles without having to reach for the cable. I can’t give them a pass on the lack of wireless charging, try as I might.
There’s so much missing here that this should be, on paper, a very low-scoring review. A lack of active noise cancellation, app, wireless charging, auto-pause when removing the buds, fast charging would support that. That’s a rather large list for a set of TWS buds in 2022. The final ZE3000 manage to brush aside the majority of those worries though as a result of its stellar audio performance and clear and intuitive controls.
If you’re after quality audio above and beyond all other creature comforts, give the final ZE3000 a shot. The lack of wireless charging is the only hump I can’t get over here.