final ZE8000 MK2 Review featured image

final ZE8000 MK2 Review

Today, James reviews the final ZE8000 MK2, which is a 2nd-generation True Wireless System (TWS) with improved ANC performance and a new “Shield Fin” design. It is priced at $399.

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 Jack Rabbit Media for giving us this opportunity.

To read more on the final products we have previously featured on Headfonics click here.

Note, that this 2-page article follows our current scoring guidelines which you can read in more detail here.

final ZE8000 MK2 Review featured image
final ZE8000 MK2 Review
Summary
The final ZE8000 MK2 True Wireless System delivers an excellent wireless and sonic performance across a wide range of genres with improved practical noise reduction and DSP features over the original version from last year.
Sound Quality
8.8
Design
8.6
Comfort & Isolation
8.7
Performance & Features
8.7
Slide here to add your score on the gear!46 Votes
9.1
Pros
Flexible ANC modes
Exceptional fit
Functional DSP implementation
Cons
Big cradle to carry
Limited battery time
8.7
Award Score

The final ZE8000 MK2 True Wireless System is the successor to the ZE8000 first-generation TWS we reviewed just over a year ago.

Despite having the same housing shape, final has made several improvements including changing the internal designs, as well as upgrading its Active Noise Cancellation algorithms.

Additionally, they have elevated their 8K Sound+ technology, further pushing the output quality and S/N ratio performance by DSP.

While the original ZE8000 was already a reliable performer, I feel the ZE8000 MK2 has pushed the performance up a notch with stronger performance dynamics, a darker background, and improved ANC.

Read on to find out how I came to those conclusions in more detail in my full review below.

final ZE8000 MK2 paired with HiBy DAP

Tech Highlights

The final ZE8000 MK2 is a universal IPX4-rated True Wireless System using a single 13mm dynamic driver in each earbud.

It is equipped with Bluetooth 5.2 technology powered by a Qualcomm chipset with a codec decoding capability ranging from AAC and SBC, up to the latest aptX Adaptive but has no LDAC option.

The driver design of the ZE8000 MK2 is once again based on the f-CORE driver that adopts an adhesive-less structure.

While most TWS earphones use a Class D circuit, the ZE8000 MK2 stands out with its Class-AB amplifier, which we found to offer a more competitive sound quality than many competitors in the original MK1 review last year. 

The ZE8000 MK2 can play music for up to 5 hours on its own, and an additional 15 hours with the charging cradle. Considering its performance, this battery life is adequate.

Even with the ANC functionality and 8K SOUND+ function enabled, it still lasts for more than 3.5 hours in practice, which is quite decent for its high performance.

DSP

Similar to the ZE8000 MK1, you can access the final Connect App to activate the proprietary 8K SOUND+ digital enhancer. This feature reprocesses the audio output, further enhancing the definition and tonality.

The DSP implementation by final is benchmarked on S/N (Signal-to-Noise) measurements, possibly an impulse response corrector that can effectively alter the output. When enabled and in a quiet room, you can experience a noticeable boost in micro details and musicality.

It’s worth noting that depending on your audio source, you may experience faster battery drainage.

However, the improvement in sound quality is quite discernible, particularly with a darker, cleaner background, and a more balanced, rounded output, with a heightened sense of control and precision.

Mic System

The ZE8000 MK2 earphones incorporate Final’s exclusive beamforming algorithm to improve phone call quality.

With strategically placed dual high-performance microphones, they capture the user’s voice and ambient sound simultaneously. The algorithm then calculates the time difference between the microphone signals and cancels out the user’s voice during phone calls, resulting in clearer communication.

In practice voices are picked up clearly when I answer a call on the train and the experience is satisfactory, picking up nicely my voice and isolating it from other people’s voices and the ambient.

final ZE8000 MK2 shield fin

Design

I have been using the original ZE8000 for almost a year and it remains one of the most unique yet adorable earbud form factors. The key reason is its tip design which embodies the whole area that touches your outer ear. 

final has enhanced this design even further with a new “Shield Fin” mechanism. This boosts noise isolation and allows the ZE8000 MK2 to stay even more securely in the ears. The shape also reduces the mass of the front chamber by shifting it to the protruding parts, resulting in improved wearability.

The remaining design closely resembles the ZE8000, featuring a textured finish that provides a tactile grip and is as rugged as heavy-duty gears or camera paint jobs. This finish ensures that scratches are not easily noticeable.

Once again, the design is exceptionally lightweight yet remarkably solid. In windy areas, the slightly protruding design may cause some wind noise to be captured. However, switching to the wind noise-cancelling mode can effectively eliminate it.

final ZE8000 MK2 cradle open with earbuds inside

Controls

The ZE8000 MK2 offers intuitive control with convenient gestures. Double tapping allows users to answer calls effortlessly. By holding the faceplates for 2 seconds, users can seamlessly switch between the four usage modes, and the difference in sound can be instantly noticed.

The transition is voice-guided and responsive, particularly when switching to the voice-through/ambient sound mode, which allows users to engage in conversations or stay aware of their surroundings.

As mentioned above, the volume can be fine-tuned in the final app, but it is perfectly fine if you don’t want to download the application and use the ZE8000 MK2 standalone, though you may be missing out on the 8K SOUND+ feature.

final Connect App

The final Connect App can be found on the Apple and Google Play Store markets and is free to download.

It provides various options including fine-tuning the output volume, switching between ANC modes, and customizing the 4-band PRO equalizer. You can also toggle the 8K SOUND+ on or off and perform OTA firmware updates.

The final Connect App features a thoughtfully designed interface that embodies the aesthetics of Japanese design. In the upper left menu, users can conveniently access the user manual and choose their preferred voice guidance language between English and Japanese.

final ZE8000 MK2 earbuds

Comfort & Isolation

While the ZE8000 MK2 may appear slightly larger than typical TWS earpieces, it feels lightweight and securely fits in the ear thanks to its enhanced Type Q silicone ear tips with a special shield fin design.

I was tempted to try how well it sticks to the ear while jogging, and surprisingly it holds on to the ear extremely well and remains secured in place even when I am sweating and shaking my head. The shape of the front chamber covered by the silicone tips also passively blocks outside noises.

Besides, the upgraded algorithm and various noise cancellation modes effectively reduce wind and ambient noises, ensuring excellent isolation.

This is particularly important for a design that slightly protrudes from the ear, as it may be more susceptible to wind noise. It is also worth noting that the earpiece boasts an IPX4 waterproof rating, making it resistant to light rain and sweat.

ANC

Aside from the active noise-canceling mode, the ZE8000 MK2 has other ANC features including wind-cut, ambient sound, and voice-through modes.

The active noise-canceling feature is improved by 32% in terms of noise reduction strength compared to the previous generation. When powering these features on through the app or pressing the faceplates, there is voice guidance to notify users of the current noise cancellation mode.

During practical testing, the ANC feature proved effective in blocking out a significant amount of noise and maintaining a balanced and dynamic output with ample low-end energy, which I found to be a legitimate enhancement.

The voice-through mode, as the name suggests, allows for seamless conversations with others without any uneasiness or the need to remove the earphones.

Just like the original ZE8000 the design sticks out from the ear and has a rather large surface area which may catch wind noise while jogging or in an open area.

Turning on the wind noise cancellation mode eliminates the wind noise in most scenarios but may hamper the dynamics slightly when the wind is strong. Consider this a bonus feature for fun and may be useful if you jog along a windy coastline.

final ZE8000 MK2 accessories

Packaging & Accessories

The packaging of the ZE8000 adheres to the high standards set by other final audio products, showcasing meticulous attention to detail and an elegant Japanese style.

final provides an assortment of six additional pairs of filters, in addition to the preinstalled ones. You also get a metal stick for convenient application when the filters become dirty.

Furthermore, the package includes five sets of newly designed tips in various sizes, allowing users to discover the optimal fit to suit their preferences.

Click on page 2 below for my sound impressions and selected comparisons.

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