Final Audio A4000 Review: soundstage specialists; HD800's in your pocket!
Hey guys, welcome back to the Neighborhood. It’s Your Friendly Neighborhood Reviewer with InToit Reviews. And thanks to Final Audio, I’ve got both the A4000 and B3 in the house for reviews. Today we’re taking a look at one of the newer offering, and more economical of the two; the A4000. And with only a 6 mm dynamic driver and price tag of $160 dollars can the A4000 keep up with others in-ear-monitors in the range? Let’s get InToit!
So, the build is here is special, but maybe not in the way on would be expecting from Final. The design here is one that promotes function and form over placing an emphasis on bougieness or fancy, extremal aesthetics. To start with these are extremely light weight, in just about every facet, from the shell to the cable.
The shell is comprised of ABS, soft-touch plastic. It is in the same size and shape as their B series or the A8000, but since it is made out of plastic, it is much lighter. These rest in my ears, and I barely feel that they are even there. I could probably wear these all day, without any comfort issues.
Be aware, that the nozzle is on the shorter and smaller side, but it has a nice lip to hold onto the provided Type E silicone tips, which are some of my favorite tips, and aid this set with its comfort. Although experimented with alternative tips, in my testing, I found the Type E tips to sound the best, so its nice that they come inside the package here. These are normally decently pricey: costing about $20 at the time of this review on Amazon for the same case and set of 5 tips that comes supplied here. For your reference, these come the A4000 comes with a set of SS, Small, Medium, Large, and LL-sized Type E silicones.
The cable here doesn’t look like much, but it is one of my favorite cables of all time! It’s a straight, 2-cored OFC cable, which terminates in a nice-sized, angled 3.5mm TRS connection with some nice, rubber-reinforced, strain relief. The cable initiates at the shell of in what is listed to be a properly recessed 2-pin 0.78 standard connector, but I will note that I was not able to fit other recessed 2-pin cables on this set, as the divot here is much deeper-grooved than normal Further, its corresponding plastic tongue on the inside of the connector of the IEM itself would not allow for alternative cables to slide in properly. While it might be possible to shave this plastic down or force an alternative cable in, I was unwilling to do so here, out of fears of damaging the set.
So, it’s a positive turn of fate for Final that I do really like this cable, because in most cases, I’d be turned off by its connection being, at least somewhat, proprietary here. What I love about this cable is that it is basically untangle-able. Not that I recommend it, but you can ball it up with the IEM, throw them both in your pocket, pull them out, and the cable just falls out almost seamlessly perfect, without kink memory, or other issue- returning to a relatively flat state almost every time. People have trumped up the Moondrop SSR and SSP cables as playing similarly well when in use, but honestly this cable is at least twice as good as either of those. It feels more light-weight, and unlike the Moondrop cable, there’s a fully functional chin slider that hold tension well and is integrated to the y-split on the Final cable.
Final also provides locking, but removeable, silicone ear hooks with this cable; which supposedly help with microphonics, but I didn’t find the cable to be microphonic on its own. These silicone ear hooks did improve the fit and comfort with the A4000; however, and were surprisingly easy and without nuisance to use. Furthermore, these silicone ear hooks are softer to the touch and much more comfortable than the plastic that is generally used in that manufacturing of preformed ear hooks these days.
And before I forget, Final also includes very nice, appropriately-sized, easy to use silicone carry case to protect your in-ear-monitors. The inverted silicone dome on the underside of the case provides support for your IEMs so that they don’t move around too much or bang into each other during transport. In general, Final has put form and user experience first with this set, and largely put together a package here that functions well within practical use case scenarios, even if it isn’t the fanciest construction like some of their other sets.
So, now that we’ve covered the build, let’s Finally get into the sound. Timbre here relatively neutral, but bright leaning. It’s not as neutral as something like Final’s own B3, and its probably a smidge brighter than the Shozy Rouge, but its not brittle by any stretch of the imagination either. In fact, the tonality and technical ability here reminds me a lot of the Shozy Rouge and the Ikko OH10, two other sets that are priced similarly, but unlike those sets, which are hybrids making use of dynamic and balanced armature drivers, the A4000 uses only a single, 6 mm dynamic. So, in the case of the A4000, there’s a lot of sound coming out from a tiny driver. And, in term of detail, resolution, and clarity it, I’d say that the A4000 at least keeps up with these other sets, which, given its driver type and size, I found to be astounding.
With specific regards the tuning these are “a weeb’s wet dream.” Or put another way, these are the SSP that the community wanted from Moondrop, but never got. The treble here has a good amount of airiness to it, and extends well overall. In comparison to the OH10, the treble is a bit more present and slightly sharper in quality, but I never really felt the emergence of any treble glare. Instead, the treble was clear and focused, and although it rubbed up against my upper tolerance limit with regard to its accentuation, it was fairly unfatiguing overall to my ears. For instance, rimshots on the song “Black or White” by Michael Jackson were prominent, but not overdone and relatively realistic sounding. Nevertheless, some people might find these to have a bit too much energy, or be elevated a tad to high in the “shouty” range of the upper mid-range and lower treble, that is if one is particularly sensitive to shout. I also found some very, mild sibilance on the track “ILY2” by Charli XCX, but I didn’t find this sibilance to be of the overly unnatural variety. On this song, there were hints of sibilance in the T-range, but not in the S-sphere. To be specific, there was some mild harshness on the phrasing when Charli repeatedly recites the line: “talk a lot, talk a lot,” but I’m ultimately unsure if this would be something that most listeners would pick up on. Overall, I’d say that the treble flows smoothly, and there is a decent amount of air here, that is, without going overboard into artificiality.
In terms of the mids, for the most part, I also found the mid-range to sound as transparent, clean, and engaging as the treble; with the only exception being the lower midrange at times, which, on graphs, it seems, rises a little too slowly to meet my preferences. Auditorily, this causes the lower portion of the mid-range to sound less forward than one might expect it to sound on particular tracks. In other words, the mid-range sounded somewhat “shallow” or “scooped” on occasion. Lower-toned guitars and lower-timbred male vocals were particularly vulnerable at times, and came across as less pronounced than their higher-toned or higher pitched counterparts, such as in the case of female which, in comparison, were spotlighted well by the A4000 and sparkled for the listener.
For instance, the main guitar riffs on “Of Wolf and Man” by Metallica, off the Black Album, and “Immigrant Song” by Led Zepplin, off of Led Zeppelin III, were a bit recessed and less “in your face” than they would be on other sets. The track, “My Love” by Lionel Richie, also depicted this loss of energy, as the intensity of his vocal performance goes “in and out” when played back on the A4000. Nevertheless, this lack of energy was only observed on certain tracks, and its not something that would prevent me from buying this set, as its clarity across the board makes up for it. In other words, despite some lethargy in its lower mid-range prominence at times, sonics were always audibly clear, even if they lacked some energy from this portion of the range, in particular, every now and again.
The bass is extremely fast, punchy, tight, and upon first listen may appear somewhat lean. But instead of referring to it as lean, I would classify it as nimble. There is “enough” sub-bass presence for most genres, and it comes out in the mix when it is called for, but there is some definite roll off towards the tail of the bottom-end, and the bass seems to always present itself from beneath the vocals. Much of the bass energy here in the A4000 is therefore derived from the mid-bass region, but executed somewhat masterfully by Final- without a trace of bloat, bleed, or overly elevated intensity. These sound like a very well-tuned 10’ subwoofer in an audiophile, 2-channel setup; thumpy and musical. Bass clarity isn’t what I would call “endgame,” because the sub-bass does resolve a tad too quickly on some bass centric tracks, but bass detailing is well done, and better than most at this price-point. Yet, bassheads and listeners whose playlists focus on rap and other similar genres, may be left yearning for some additional bass presence from the A40000, because this is more of a sophisticated bass tuning; implemented not for wow-factor, but for balance- to generally enhance and mostly never detract from the overall presentation. Overall, I would describe the A4000’s bass as punchy and pleasing, without ever being domineering.
But let’s move onto the soundstage, as this will be one of main reasons that most audiophiles choose to purchase the Final A4000. The staging here is wondrous! These sound open and airy, spacious and vast; like taking a swim in the ocean. They excel at separation of instruments, instrument distinction, placement, and other imaging characteristics. Decay is a particular strength of the A4000, and done mostly well from the top to the bottom of the frequency response range, with only some mild chinks in the armor with regard to its subbass decay, which is still better than average, and sufficient enough for most genres. Peripherals are just as detailed as the rest, and I was awestruck by the definition and detailed nature of the stage on a number of test tracks, even on busier tracks which have a tendency to confuse other sets. For example, each note came across individually and with stellar definition on Pearl Jam’s “Crazy Mary,” and “Creep” by the Stone Temp Pilots, which can sometimes come across as compressed, was another song that was seemingly well mastered for this set. The stage on “Back to Life” by Hailee Steinfeld from the Bumblebee Soundtrack felt almost immeasurable when listening on the A4000.
Power sourcing was somewhat important; however, as it did impact both staging and imaging. So, this is an IEM that you’re going to want to find an appropriate source with appropriate synergy for it. My favorite sources were the Gold Note DS-10 Plus, BTR 3K, and the THX AAA 789, but it also sounded pretty great off my phone, while the staging was somewhat squashed and imaging capabilities restricted on the Zen Can Signature. The A4000 was also somewhat sensitive to high output impedances, which was a surprise from Final Audio for me given that some of their other IEMs, such as the B3, which mind you, use balanced armature drivers, are less sensitive than this one. Nevertheless, the A4000 performed remarkably well on low impedance sources, and potential impedance issues were easily remedied by an iFi IEMatch on the “High” setting.
To summarize my findings, the Final Audio A4000 is one of my favorite IEMs in the price-range, and a “must consider” for anyone who wants to experience stellar staging in an IEM at a reasonable price. To date, many others have analogized the A4000 to the HD800 in terms of comparing this IEM to a headphone, and I’m finding it hard to disagree. But, in the case of the A4000, tonality is more on point, and the overall sound profile comes across as more natural to my ear. Yet, it goes without saying that the A4000 doesn’t quite live up the resolution capabilities of the HD800, in any case, as its resolution is more equitable with its price. Nevertheless, aside from some lack of emphasis in the lower midrange, tonal balance is pretty spot on in the A4000, and, similarly to the Ikko OH10, the frequency response is tuned in a manner that most should enjoy; albeit with a somewhat less thunderous, and less accentuated low-end in comparison. Also, unlike the OH10, the A4000 is more suited to portable carry due to its emphasis on function over aesthetics; including its lighter weight, more comfortable fit, and extremely manageable cable. In the case of the A4000, Final Audio seems to have put in a lot of thought into this IEM from its design to its accessories, and it shows both in terms of its listen and its use. Overall, the Final A4000 is a superb everyday carry IEM that is easy for this reviewer to recommend for its $160 dollar price tag.
*Gold Note DS-10 Plus available from Gestalt Audio Design: https://gestalt.audio/
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