Our review of the final ZE3000, which is the Japanese firm’s latest true wireless system featuring BT5.2, aptX, and up to 35 hours of battery life. It is priced at £119.
Disclaimer: This was sent to us as a sample for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no affiliate links or services. We thank the team at final and HiFi Headphones for giving us this opportunity.
To read more on the final products we have previously posted on Headfonics click here.
Note, this 2-page article follows our latest scoring guidelines which you can read up on here.
Overall, the almost feather-light housing, non-intrusive tuning approach, agile response with plenty of air, and excellent distortion control on the final ZE3000 brought by newer driver technologies add up to a perfect companion for long listens without any fatigue.
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It is not surprising that final would release a True Wireless System in their own name after their successful Evangelion-themed collaboration, the EVA2020 TWS.
final has named it the ZE3000 with a close link to the final A3000 wired IEM which is known for its natural timbre.
This is an extremely compact, Japanese-styled design TWS with exceptional clarity that could beat some wired items. Little wonder why final is confident to call it a breakthrough for the TWS category.
f-Core for Wireless
final is one of the very few manufacturers that are able to design and produce their own drivers. In the ZE3000, the latest f-Core for Wireless dynamic driver with a 6mm diameter and Copper-clad Aluminum Wire (CCAW) voice coil is used. What makes it really exciting is that final claimed that it performs similarly to a 9mm membrane and I take their word for it.
The center area of the membrane is maximized for higher efficiency and light-weight material is used on the supporting structure around the membrane.
Besides that, a special production process called “Adhesive-less Injection Molded” that doesn’t use any glue to hold together different parts is used. Final claims that this promotes a higher level of assembly accuracy in production and weighed down the design. This in turn helps to push forward the degree of distortion control.
f-LINK Damping System
If you remember the engineering inside the A8000, the ZE3000 actually mimics its chamber design. This is an inner chamber inside the housing of the earphones with an airhole to facilitate the control of air pressure between the two chambers, passively damping the drivers.
The ZE3000 carries onboard Bluetooth 5.2 technologies, and good battery life, with the pairing speed enhanced compared to Bluetooth 5.0. You can stream your high-resolution music over SBC, AAC, Qualcomm aptX, and the low-latency aptX Adaptive codec up to 24BIT/48kHz.
The ZE3000 claims to achieve 7 hours max playback possibly measured with SBC/AAC and aptX gives it around 5-6 hours on the go. With the charging cradle fully charged, you will get a total of more than 35 hours of playback.
Stepping up from the EVA2020’s Qualcomm QCC3020 solution, ZE3000 is powered by the QCC3040 which is a much more advanced chipset with internal FLASH, ANC, aptX-adaptive support, and low latency mode. Perhaps we could expect final to release other products with some additional ANC functionality given the competitive landscape at the moment.
In terms of design and material choice, the ZE3000 is absurdly beautiful and elegant, possibly the best I have seen so far. These are the coolest combination of curves, edges, and irregular shapes from final with an avant-garde, futuristic outline.
The ZE3000 is IPX4 graded for water resistance while decent sound quality is maintained. That means you don’t need to worry to use it in the rain and it can withstand moisture or light water splashes.
The ZE3000 comes in Black and White colors. On either design, the frost coating on top is finely textured and some of you may probably associate the coating with Nikon camera bodies and lenses, where the patterned paint that looks like hammered steel promises greater resistance to wear and tear.
The earphones are touch-operated and fairly intuitive in terms of learning curves. Users can tap on the area where the logo is not printed on the faceplate and easily operate music replay/stop and call/end call functions.
Similar to the EVA2020, tapping once will pause or resume playback; tapping twice on the L side will increase the volume, and R will decrease the vol. If you hold the right or left side until you hear a beep you will get to the next or last song.
You can also take an incoming call by tapping once, ending it with another tap, or turning it down by tapping twice. You may have guessed what would happen when tapping three times, which is to bring up Siri or Google assistant after you pause the music playback.
Also similar to the EVA2020 and like many TWS earphones the ZE3000 isn’t very strong with its mic, possibly due to the mic design that points outwards. It works pretty well indoors but if talking on transport you may need to speak louder, or else the listener on the other side of the phone may not hear clearly.
Comfort & Isolation
The ZE3000 follows final’s usual housing design with 3 supporting points, similar to the A4000 or A3000 we have just reviewed earlier. With the supplied set of tips in 5 sizes, you can easily get a firm fit, and the ZE3000 stays in the ear without any discomfort for a few hours of listening due to its feather-light housing design.
Regardless of the short nozzle, the closed design with final’s tips seals quite well and offers satisfactory isolation, also helping to achieve more energetic bass. No matter how you move your jaws it still hangs on the outer ear firmly.
Cradle & Battery Life
From final’s official promotion material, you can see their effort in finding the best shape for the cradle, to make sure it is portable and ergonomically designed. It feels perfectly compact and textured in the hand with the same frosty coating on top of the earpieces, anti-scratch, and keeping it oil/fingerprint-free.
While the cradle is incredibly light it has a 300mAh capacity and offers up to 4-5 charge cycles and a total of 35 hours max playback. It takes around 1.5 hours to charge and 2 hours for the cradle to fully recharge with a USB-C cable plugged into my phone charger. There are LED indicators that will light up in red when the cradle has less than 10% power.
Packaging & Accessories
The packaging goes back to the A-series design which has the earphones and cradle imprinted. Opening the box, you will find two user manual booklets, and below sits the ZE3000 earpieces and the cradle. In the small compartment box, there are 5 sets of tips of SS/S/M/L/LL sizes also a Type-C charging cable.
The accessories, in particular, is top-notch, especially the Final E tips supplied which are finely molded.
Naming after the E3000 and with a silhouette similar to the A3000/ A4000, the ZE3000 captures the best bits in designs and sound technologies by final.
In fact, final claimed that they want to exceed the performance of the E3000, and in practice, I think final has achieved it. The ZE3000 sounds balanced but much more expansive and airier than the E3000 on my laptop and phones, though wired earphones may still have more potential to scale up with stronger outputs.
The ZE3000 achieves a very nice level of articulation, plenty of clarity, and air in the treble with decent fullness in the mids. There is no obvious high cut or low cut, and it works perfectly with different vocal profiles.
final explained on their site that this is a rather flat tuning without boosting the lows and treble for clarity similar to what many TWS do. It helps to maintain naturalness and not to curtain the vocals.
Overall, the ZE3000 is exceptionally expansive and unaltered in the midrange frequencies. It does not stress certain frequencies to achieve a stronger transient response or bass power to compensate for the weakness caused by hardware limitations.
By using their chamber design and tuning expertise, final has created a delightfully natural expansive and expansive soundstage that is low in distortion also. It is an immersive-sounding TWS earphone perfect for those who prefer an airy sound.
Having said that, the ZE3000 takes a “flatter” approach doesn’t mean that it kills the bass and sounds dull. In fact, the very lower end was trimmed down and the mid-bass is still well present such that acoustic instruments are forwarded.
You may find the bass slightly shy when listening outdoors but there is sufficient mid-bass and good control in the upper register to free it from harshness.
The polite lower bass of the ZE3000 is clean and fast attacking for percussion and it can handle J-Rock and fast instrumental pretty well even under higher volume. It sounds very punchy and dense considering it is a TWS earphone or an IEM with a 6mm driver.
You will not get fat glass shattering bass with the ZE3000 but pop and rock feel expansive and textured with a good punch. Darker voices are also energized and have a good presence with the tuning and it is articulated very swiftly to the mids.
The separation in the vocals is excellent though the voicing isn’t very forward sounding. I would call the vocal neutral and rather unaltered, with edges in the recording unpolished to keep the air but without overly sharpening it for clarity.
Cleaner and stronger voices cut through the mix more easily and the harmonics are beautiful. However, darker voices, especially rock singers and male vocals may feel less separated from the backing track. Most voices sound very smooth and natural with no artificial filtering and the change in vocal intensity is nicely captured.
Testing with Aimer’s – Zankyou Sanka from Demon Slayer, the vocal line is trying to stand out and the accompanying instruments have good presence and intensity. An excellent balance is maintained while the 5kHz range is pressed down to take away sibilance without affecting both the air and the harmonics.
With good mastering, the ZE3000 displays great intensity when the track calls for it. It works surprisingly well with orchestra and western music such as Aurora’s soft side and female vocals especially cleaner, lighter voices are swiftly presented with good authority.
The resolution on the ZE3000 is decent considering it still sounds very firm and intense when pushing the volume to maximum output. The mid-bass is well layered and the mid-bass is pronounced, while the upper vocal has some good energy to define itself from the backing instruments.
The small peaks around 7kHz emphasizes the air and texture in the treble zone and boosts the transient performance, allowing the ZE3000 to work with fast electronic music.
Staging & Imaging
Perceived staging is expansive especially in the X-axis on the ZE3000, without compromising the midrange to achieve the width. Instruments in the midrange frequencies are imaged rather densely and the vocal body is kept at an adequate distance that is not too close nor curtained.
While the resolution is limited in a TWS design there is still sufficient resolving power to handle a small band and quartets pretty well, and the way it renders the staging performs really well with live recordings.
Click on page 2 below for wireless performance and select comparisons