It is nice to see a new name on the planar market, in this case, Final from Japan (previously known as Final Audio). They now join the likes of Audeze, Hifiman, MrSpeakers, and Advanced Alpha to name but a few in what is still a fairly niche line-up of manufacturers. Sorry Oppo, you don’t count anymore.
Final has been known to bring out some weird and wonderful creations both cheap and hugely expensive. Previous endeavors such as the Pandora Hope VI were infused with a balanced armature and dynamic drivers selling from around $699 We have one here lingering in the office for the last few years. Over the last year or two, it has been their IEM’s that have received the major attention.
So, the D8000 constitutes their first of the D Series and it is their TOTL planar headphone stuff with a brand new approach to planar magnetic design and costing a not-insignificant $3999.
With a price like that it is going head to head with the likes of the LCD-4, HE1000 V2, and a few other lofty statement headphones. Can it compete? Oh yes, it can and then some!
Final is touting the D8000 as a planar headphone with a completely new diaphragm design to avoid coming into contact with the surrounding magnet system. AFDS stands for Air Film Damping System, which Final claims as reproducing bass purity at a much higher level than conventional planar magnetic designs.
Final state that in conventional designs low amplitude responses tend to expand the diaphragm in such a way as to regularly come into contact with the magnets thereby increasing the level of distortion and ‘warping’ the frequency response at the lowest level.
The use of air film between the magnets acts like an air buffer and cushions the diaphragm in such a way as to reduce the level of contact with the magnets to produce a more even and coherent bass response.
The D8000 is an ‘open-back’ full-size or circumaural planar magnetic headphone. At a distance, it does actually look like a closed headphone with its hard black plastics covering a large portion of the front cup plate. However, towards the center and behind the headband supports you will see the open design in silver.
This is not a huge driver by the way at 50mm. I am presuming 50mm is the moving part and not the cup opening. As a point of comparison, the moving part of the Verum 1 Kickstarter planar driver at $350 is 82mm in size. I would also hazard a guess and say the smaller driver diameter is part of the reason why a large portion of the external cup is not completely open or grill-back in design. It is possible, therefore, to classify the D8000 therefore as semi-open.
If the design looks somewhat familiar to veteran audiophiles that’s because the D8000 was inspired in part by the vintage orthodynamic Yamaha HP-1 launched in 1975. It is ironic I am reading that and speaking to them about it because the HP-1 and HP-2 headphones used to be sought after for many years in our local headphone meets. I could probably source one of them locally if I tried hard enough.
Similarities include the elongated headband with its slightly arched curve to allow for the cups to swivel and the matte black finish on the outer edges of the cup plates. The cups are of course much bigger than the original on-ear design of the HP-1 and the coating is a little more advanced.
Of course, Final fans will argue it is not the first time that design accents such as the arched headband have been used by the company since our Final (Audio Design) Hope Pandora VI has a very similar shape also. I suspect it more down to the flatter cup design and materials finishing and the fact it is a planar that the HP-1 reference comes more into focus.
If you are into photography you will notice in the picture above that Final use a similar “blotchy” resin to Nikon DSLR’s to finish the cups. Final claim that this coating improves resistance to vibrations on the D8000.
The rest of the materials in the D8000 design include a tasteful mix of magnesium alloy for the inner cup rings and headband adjuster, padded protein leather for the headband strap and hard resin coated plastics for the headband blocks and cup plates. The angular elongated 3.5mm dual entry connectors can be found at the base and are formed from the same exterior plastic cup moldings. The pads are foam-based with a fabric covering.
Cables & Connectors
The D8000 uses an angled dual-entry mono 3.5mm jack connector system with clear markings for left and right on each side. The channels are further marked by white and red rings on the cable’s terminated jack barrels. To connect you simply insert and twist slightly to lock.
You get two cables packaged with the D8000. The first is a 3m twisted OFC wire with a black rubber jacket, terminated with 3.5mm left and right-angle mono gold-plated 3.5mm on the connector side. This one is terminated unbalanced with a gold-plated quarter jack and an understated but very nicely finished black aluminum y-split barrel. This is a fairly hefty but well-insulated cable with zero memory retention and microphonics on the physical wire.
The second cable mirrors the first cable in terms of wire and twisted design, including the aluminum finished barrels. However, it is much shorter at 1.5m and is terminated with a 3.5mm TRS jack as opposed to a quarter jack. It displays the exact same physical properties in terms of handling. It is quiet, does not tangle much and has the advantage of being much lighter than its bigger 3m sibling.
The only issue I have is the wide girth of the 3.5mm barrel which prevents it from connecting to my smartphone jack output. Not that I would be considering that kind of pairing but a slimmer one might have been a more flexible choice.
Comfort & Fit
This is a more refined and better-finished leather-bound form of the Sonorous and Hope Pandora VI headband design and materials. However, the band arch is somewhat wider than the Hope Pandora VI band so the pressure distribution is actually quite a bit narrower or centered. The Hope Pandora VI has additional pressure points on each side of my head that distribute a little better.
The large cup sizes may have necessitated a wider arch but the slightly thinner leather contact area generally makes it slightly less comfortable than I was hoping for. Combine this with the fairly substantial 523g weight and suddenly the D8000 feels like an old-school planar on your head.
The pads are quite an interesting design using a fabric-covered breathable foam material. Final explain this as being much more suited to how they want the D8000 final tuning to sound. This is in particular reference to high-frequency reproduction compared to the larger well-sealed leather pads used by the likes of Audeze. They do seem to be detachable also so I am presuming you can order replacements but I do not see that option on their website at present.
Foam Pros & Cons
The foam material also feels fairly stiff and retains its shape quite well. You are unlikely to ever get that sweaty feeling from long-term use in hot climates nor can I see them flaking or falling apart over time. However, the outer fabric is a touch loose so the foam has a bit of movement inside.
The degree of foam padding movement depends on your head shape and size as the overall size of the D8000 is quite big. On its smallest setting, I get a fairly nice level of clamp and minimal movement but I have to position the headband quite far back on the top of my head.
If I get the setting just right the D8000 is quite comfortable, perhaps more so than the LCD-4. If I tip it further forward too much it creates a downward force that pushes down on the pads and top of my ears. This tends to create a little bit of uncomfortable pressure and continual minute adjustments that take away a little from the levels of comfort.
The D8000 comes in a large two-piece black box with what seems to be almost a croc-skin style laminate finish. It is the inside however that just gave me nightmares. The packing is extreme, complex and at times just darn right frustrating. Leave aside around 30 minutes to slowly work your way through the twists and turns of the cardboard and foam layering. They will eventually reveal most of the accessories and the headphones.
The D8000 does come with a fairly sold and well-built black metal stand as well as the two aforementioned cables. There are no additional pads or gadget such as airline adapters. The stand is a little unique for me in the way they hold the D8000.
Instead of resting the headband on the horizontal t-bar at the top you get two indented areas, one on each side of the end of the t-bar. Here you simply rest the D8000 on top and it should fit into place around the top of the alloy part of the headband below the plastic block.
The benefit of this is a lack of creasing or deforming of the headband since it is no in contact with the bar itself. The downside is the possible scrapes and chips you could incur if you are not careful when resting the headphone onto the indents. This is metal on metal at times so there is no cushion from the force of contact.
Aside from that, it has a good height, solid base so it will not accidentally move around. It also has plenty of space for the headphones plus cables without dragging on any surface below.
Click on Page 2 for Sound Impressions & Comparisons