The warm summer sun washes over the rooftop pool and bar atop the MajorHiFi Review Headquarters, but I’m hard at work inside today. The new Final Audio B3 has arrived at MajorHiFi, waiting for a much-needed review. Since trying the impressive B1 a few days ago, I’ve been itching to try the slightly lower-tier B3. But at $499, how does this earphone far at such an intensely-competed price point? Is the sound worth the clams? Or will this Final ‘phone fall flat?
Final Audio B3 Review
The B3 comes in a snazzy white cardboard box. A silicon carrying case, one pair of earhooks, and five pairs of eartips also come in the box.
Cabling arrives in the form of a braided 4 ft (1.2 m) braided silver-plated copper affair – lightweight yet resilient, it feel like it could take a trouncing and still deliver flawless audio.
Using the same housings as the Final Audio MAKE earphones, the B3 features a silvery anodized aluminum finish that looks snappy but doesn’t collect smudges and fingerprints like the B1. And while it may look tasteful, the housing performs a utilitarian function as well. Boasting seven points of contact with the wearer’s ear, the B3 feels comfortable enough. However, it also remains secure during even the most excited listening sessions – whether you’re rocking out at a desk or hoofing it around town.
Internally, the Final B3 rocks two BA drivers. According to Final, it’s aimed at folks who want a wider dynamic range in their sound, but a more intimate sense of soundstage. As a result of this tuning, the B3 should be a shoe-in for rock and hip-hop tracks, where extreme shifts and contrast between highs and lows remain of utmost importance.
Rich, emotive, and not too overblown, the low end delivers some kick. Detail feels thick, and tracks like Out of Gas by Modest Mouse and Hit or Miss by New Found Glory sound punchy but accurate. Bass guitars sound deliciously fat, but the bass impact from kicks and snares sound impressively tight as well. The result is a decidedly energetic listening experience that remains engrossing, but not so inaccurate as other, more colored low ends.
Like the B1, the mids on the B3 sound gorgeous, with vocals presenting themselves well, and seeming to float above surrounding instrumentation. This makes the B3 a great choice for rock and hip hop, as well as some pop tunes. Songs like Life’s a Bitch by Nas and Mutt by Blink 182 showcase this impressive separation, with vocals virtually dripping with contrast and body.
Slightly bright, but by no means overpowered, the high end sounds just a little emphasized. Taken with the deep, emotive lows, the result is a somewhat v-shaped sound profile that sounds impressive with rock and hip hop. Yet, this high end also works well with pop and electronica (and to some degree, classical music) due to the rich, sparkling detail. Pop tracks like Technique by Mai Lan and I Don’t by Misstress Barbara exhibit a certain smoothness to vocals. Contrasting with this, instrumentation sounds a bit sharper and more pointed, with violins on Ludovico Einaudi’s Due tramonti showcasing this higher resolution perfectly.
There’s actually an impressive sense of soundstage here. Even though Final claims to be aiming for a more narrow sense of space, the depth between individual instruments can still be sensed to a greater degree. While not as lifelike as a pair of over-ear open-back headphones, the B3 still offers a robust listening experience that brings your music to life.
For rock and hip-hop music lovers, the Final Audio B3 offers an interesting sound profile that oozes detail. Despite running a 2 BA driver setup, this earphone doesn’t skimp on the bass, and the lows in general feel disconcertingly good for a Balanced Armature. That being said, is it the only option out there? No.
If you’re a diehard basshead, I would recommend spending a bit more for the Empire Ears Bravado, at $599. While more expensive, this model delivers a darker listening experience that will render bass guitars, drums, and back beats with stunning emphasis.
However, if you’re not a basshead, the biggest contender here is going to be the Campfire Audio Polaris II. Priced alongside the B3 at $499, this earphone might feel a little more colored in the lows and highs. While not exactly accurate, it’s still fun.
Personally, for me the Final Audio B3 seems like a no-brainer; unlike other models at this price, the B3 offers a fairly even-keeled sound that can still pass for fairly accurate. And yet, I can’t listen to this earphone without getting “into it”. Once a tune gets rolling, and the low end comes in, I feel myself naturally grooving to its sweet, seductive sound.
With its robust low end, detailed sound, and impressive build, the Final Audio B3 offers an impressive bang for your buck – even if will run you a fair $499. While not as colorful or overboard as some earphones out there, the Final Audio B3 offers the best of both worlds in the form of an accurate yet fun listening experience. Our take? Another solid win for Final Audio, and an impressive option for anyone who needs a solid and satisfying low end.
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