Final's Mitsuru Hosoo took over the company's leadership after their founder Kanemori Takai passed away. Legendary designer Yoshihisa Mori who was involved in the creation of CD and SACD at Sony continues as Final's long-term consultant. Hosoo-San remains deeply imprinted by the beauty of a Pioneer SE-L40 from his childhood home. As is obvious, his early headfi exposure influences Final's current full-size designs even today. For the Sonorous X, Mr. Hosoo highlights for distinctive features the low-mass but rigid Titanium diaphragm two years in the making, a very powerful motor and the fact that baffle and drive unit are machined from aluminium in an integral process.

To control quality, they produce all important parts in-house. Here their design offices and production lines are deliberately in the same building to assure best vertical integration. Final the brand is embedded in the S'NEXT Co. Ltd of Japan whose operational capital is ¥315'000'000. Like Pioneer Corp. and Toshiba, they're located in Kanagawa prefecture's Kawasaki City and there in the Saiwai ward that borders on the same river's Western bank which eventually flows past Haneda International Airport into the sea.

Three different Final patents.

As written out by founder Takai-San, their motto reminds us that "music is 'power'. This is the basic premise behind Final. It is not just about music constructed out of soft and sweet sounds. It is 'pianissimo', deeper than the abyss; and 'Fortissimo', with crushing force. This is our belief: to deliver the sensation and reenactments of the performers’ outpouring of passion." Befitting their noble build materials, the X arrive in a wooden tomobako box fitted with faux white fur. Such boxes are the preferred solution to protecting and presenting fine hand-crafted Japanese pottery. Adapting them to hifi as Japanese Urushi lacquering has been elsewhere serves as a fine visual reminder. Final see themselves connected also to the traditional artisanal ways of their country, not just our 21st century's corporate hi-tech sector.

Look closer at the right cutaway to appreciate the difference to the Sonorous VIII. Whilst duplicating the overall look, that more affordable model replaces the machined aluminium housing 'C' with a textured ABS equivalent [above]. This reduces weight to 490g. The VIII also positions its driver behind the baffle and loads it through a central vent. The obvious net effect is that it sits the transducer a bit deeper inside than the integrated 'B' assembly of the X does, hence moves the driver a bit farther away from the ear. With otherwise shared ingredients, Final clearly believe that the 'B' and 'C' parts of the X structure give it an audible advantage to justify the surcharge over the VIII.

In this overlay of the Sonorous VIII over an original Pioneer brochure for their vintage SE-L40, we appreciate once more how Final's interpretation of its design cues does respectful homage whilst updating what today might be considered steampunk cosmetics to 2015 luxury fashion standards. Here removal of Pioneer's cabling above the cups was key. Insight into just how much ear pad construction and geometry affect sonics has benefited from advanced headfi-specific test gear for quantification; and from hi-tech foams for material choices which Pioneer didn't have back then. Progress is a beautiful thing. So is a return to noble materials to refuse plastics. If some of this goes beyond just sound into pride of ownership for other reasons, that too is deliberate. Appreciation for how well something is made; how its surfaces and textures respond to touch - all of it flows into a purchase decision and subsequent owner satisfaction.