Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac (5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.02), HP Z230 Workstation Win7/64, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming and Spotify Plus 320mbps on both computers, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Aqua Hifi La Scala II, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Questyle QP1R (AIFF), Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio (AIFF)
Headphone amps: April Music Eximus DP1, Aura Vita, Bakoon AMP-12R, Questyle CMA-800R (x2), Eversound Essence, Vinnie Rossi LIO
Headphones: Forza Audio Works recabled Audeze LCD-2/XC & Sennheiser HD800; MrSpeakers Alpha Prime], stock HifiMan HE1000 (3.5mm, 6.3mm, 4-pin XLR), ALO-rewired Beyerdynamic T1 & T5p; Aëdle VK-1; Meze Headphones 99 Classic [on loan]
Review component retail: €379

This is a companion review
to my writeup of Final's' Sonorous X model. As our first assignment on this brand, it covered all the requisite background. Refer to it for that. The 'Ten' is their flagship full-size headphone but they also make very ambitious IEM. Finished in gloss gold and stainless steel, X marks a heavy full-metal affair finished to the Nines. I dubbed it an on-ear Magico to properly communicate its extreme approach to resonance suppression. At €4'599, it's also wildly dear; a true reach-for-the-stars effort where engineers were given carte blanche. For today's Sonorous III, henceforth 'Three', they were given the bright red card: shave off costs by more than 90%. A byproduct of replacing the range topper's precision-machined metal parts and their superlative surfacing with polycarbonate, ABS and a textured black finish is a far less bling look. We're no longer sashaying down Rodeo Drive. We're more on the Venice Beach boardwalk to mix it up with Beats by Dre and Skullcandy flash. Surprisingly, Final's basic full-size look and geometry remain unchanged. It's mostly the materials whose nobility was downscaled to achieve the new €379 positioning. Even driver size, impedance and sensitivity stayed put. So really, design genetics remain tightly focused on the more than 10 times costlier flagship below.

In this graphic, our Japanese itemize how the models III and II compare in this growing range.

What's been downscaled from the Ten too is weight; from 630g to 410g. That's a very significant neck-muscle savings. What remains are the dual-entry proprietary cable terminations with their smart twist lock and a solitary 3.5mm plug, hence no 6.3mm or XLR. Given the 105dB spec, the Three is iPod-ready just like the Ten was. Translation? It takes very little power for these to take off. Whilst dedicated boutique designer amps should offer sonic advances over basic portable drive, it won't be about power. It'll be purely about a refinement/resolution advantage.

With the Ten having long since hoofed it back to the European distributor, I won't be comparing Ten to Three. Obviously there'll be keen curiosity. Is the Ten really a mostly leathered-up version with all the luxury options but a shared engine of identical cubic inches; or does it actually run faster and smoother because it's been bored/tuned differently plus its extreme build shaves off chassis resonance in very demonstrable fashion? That's a very valid question. I simply won't be the one to answer it. Aural memory is too untrustworthy to stand in for a proper A/B.