Once I knew that the Sonorous VI were perfect Pandora Hope VI doppelgänger, I pulled up Oz contributor John Darko's December 2014 review of them. Instead of bench-pressing antique iPods, John had gotten sweaty dumbelling Samsung Galaxy S5, Astell&Kern AK120II & Sony NW/-ZX1. "Stout SPLs were reached on each player at around their respective half-way marks." No surprise there but useful confirmation nonetheless, for very specific players.


By owning and loving the EnigmAcoustics Mythology M1 über monitor speakers with Sopranino super tweeter, I'm well familiar with the unexpected benefits of the latter. I've transplanted them atop other resident speakers like the Albedo Aptica as well. As it happens, their maker, verbatim, refers to them as ambient restoration devices just as Final do for their BA implant. I was curious then what benefits or effects John had ascribed to it.


"The latter lends the Pandora Hope VI a detailed presentation that pulls apart music layers; think of pulled pork falling from the bone. Immediacy and intimacy emanate from a headstage that’s unusually wide for a closed-back design... Fans of electronic music will find themselves in awe of the Pandora Hope VI. Their ability to unveil the minutiae buried deep in the mix is immensely satisfying. That said, such skill would also be of worth to listeners forever mishearing lyrics. These headphones cleave a good amount of space around each performer."


So, unusually wide soundstaging for a closed design; steep separation powers; and high detail magnification. Those were all goodies I'd heard already with the X and III models, with the extremist full-metal flagship clearly leading the parade. Still, the III retain a good portion of the same virtues simply packaged in plastic without gold anodize and radical mass damping. Hence they walked off with our award.


The luxo X had long since hoofed it back to the European distributor who provided the loaner. But the III dispatched straight from Japan were still on hand. Now I had a rare op to report on the 'twice the coin, how much better sound' thing between two very similar designs. By sharing the 50mm driver, I could suss out whether the BA addition had any impact on perceived frequency response; or purely expressed itself on specific staging points. With DHL delivery just one day off, introductions were now wrapped. Time to perk up the pink bits and assemble a playlist that'd be caloric on both production and musical values.


(Right: even to the sticks on Ireland's rural west coast, delivery from the Japanese factory took just 4 days.)



Twice the price, double the trouble? The Final X had rolled to town in a fancy wooden presentation box. That was repurposed from how traditional handcrafted Japanese ceramics are packed; lined in synthetic white fur; and accompanied by an owner's registration/warranty card made of gold-finished metal the size of an extra-thick credit card, serial number engraved. The III had come in a gloss-paper box perfectly safe for transport but zero glitz during unpacking. Not that most of us expect to pay big for things that end up in the shed or garage. Thus the VI arrived in the same lacquered paper carton with integral brochure printed on it. Standard issue was a 1.5m cable, a 3.5/6.3mm adaptor plug and an owner's manual with warranty card. The following closeups, on trim bits the III renders in black ABS, the VI in smooth stainless, show how moving up within this range soon reflects near maniacal obsession with finish quality. As far as feasible, our Japanese treat fine headphones like the Swiss treat fine watches: as showcases for pride in advanced metal finishing. Because the same concern extends to premium sonics, this is no case of flash over substance. It simply honours the complete package. It's why Final's connectors slip in fuss-free like ordinary 3.5mm plugs but then twist to lock. It's why their cables are thin, slinky and smooth. It's why their uni swivels conform perfectly to your anatomy with just the right clamping force, why their sliders move easily, then stay put. If God is in the details, then Final have strong religion.


Beyond a certain price of course, the 3.5mm porta focus gets questionable. Again, that's never because Sonorous don't look the fashion biz. It's because they're full-size, heavy and costlier than seems worth the risk of damage, rip-off or unwanted attention. Where that line gets crossed is purely personal. Today's top Astell&Kerns as potential mates carry €3'000+ stickums after all. Regardless, being efficiency champs isn't just good for smartphones. All amplifiers are happier working smarter, not harder. With these cans, your choice of amp will never be predicated upon being powerful. You purely go after what sounds best to you. If stout 'n' steep big-boy stuff doesn't sound demonstrably better (if at all), what works best just might be a digital player like a Soundaware Esther M1Pro or Questyle QP1R as two that I play with. Or, it could be a 6.3mm lesser op-amp socket on a receiver or integrated which like magic suddenly turns out a lot better than expected. Anyone who's ever tried to distill the best from a HifiMan HE6 or AKG K1000 knows. Don't underestimate the easy-load angle. It's the low-power SET + Voxativ logic. A 2-watt 45 triode amp with a very simple circuit might sound spectacular even though it wouldn't work with anything else. Owning a Final Sonorous VI means that the entire world of 3.5mm to 6.3mm sockets is your oyster. And that's a good place to be. Cheerful chucking!