Final, a Japanese audio brand known for its high-tier products, has recently introduced the second generation of its flagship model – the ZE8000 MK2 true wireless earphones.
Following up on its predecessor, the ZE8000, this latest offering aims to elevate the auditory experience for audiophiles with its unique ‘8K Sound’ feature and improved design.
Priced at a premium, the ZE8000 MK2 aims to target a niche market segment that values exceptional sound quality and distinctive design.
They boast a range of features including improved passive sound isolation, multi-device Bluetooth connectivity and touch controls. However, they also reveal some shortcomings, especially in terms of Active Noise Cancellation and battery life, which are somewhat surprising given their high-end positioning.
But of course, it’s first and foremost about the audio quality: Do the Final ZE8000 MK2 justify their hefty price tag with their performance?
In this review, I’ll dive deep into the capabilities of these earphones, examining whether they stand out in the crowded market of premium wireless earbuds.
Quick Look – Final ZE8000 MK2
What are they: Premium (and expensive), portable True Wireless Bluetooth earphones with “8K Sound”. Price when reviewed: £299.00.
Value for Money
- Excellent audio quality with very clear sound
- Very good in-ear seal (and they go DEEP into your ear)
- Multiple ANC/Ambient modes
- aptX Adaptive support
- Active Noise Cancelling is not very impressive
- Low battery times
- ‘8K Sound’ doesn’t make a big difference
- Quite expensive
Features and Specs
- Driver unit: 13mm Dynamic Drivers
- Battery Playing Time: Up to 5 hours (Depends on ANC and 8K Sound usage)
- Additional Battery Time on Case: Up to 15 Hours
- Full charging time: Case: 2 hours / Earbuds: 1.5 hours / Quick Charge – 45 minutes playtime with 5 minutes charge
- Case charging port: USB-C (No wireless charging)
- Codecs: Bluetooth 5.2, aptX Adaptive, AAC, SBC
- Extra Features: Smartphone app for extra personalisation / IPX4 Sweat & Water resistance / Wind reduction mode
The ZE8000 MK2 came to do one job – provide excellent, balanced sound – and they certainly managed to deliver on that. However, at this price point, buyers tend to expect more features, better ANC, and better battery times (especially when the earbuds and case are so big) – and you’re not getting those here – so the price feels a bit too much.
Table of Contents
Who Are The ZE8000 MK2 For?
“Final”, a distinctive name in the audio equipment landscape from Japan, has been in business since 2007 – so they know a thing or two about audio, typically in the higher-tier ranges.
The ZE8000 MK2 earphones step into the market as an evolution of Final’s predecessor, the ZE8000.
The earphones’ unique feature, termed ‘8K Sound’, claims to offer an immersive soundstage, elevating the listening experience across various music genres.
However, with a price point of £299 (as of this writing), the Final ZE8000 MK2 seem tailored for audiophiles who prioritize sound quality and unique design over more conventional features like extended battery life or advanced ANC – which are lacking in this model.
Its steep price point places it in competition with brands like Apple, Sony, and Bose, yet it lacks some of the key features these brands offer.
For example, while Final boasts a 32% improvement in sound isolation with its Active Noise Cancellation compared to its predecessor, there’s an apparent lack of advancement in ANC technology, especially when compared to competitors in the same price range.
Ultimately, the Final ZE8000 MK2 represents a specific niche in the market – one that values the purity and clarity of sound and design innovation over comprehensive feature sets.
But even then – is the sound good enough to justify the high price point? That’s the £299 question.
Using The ZE8000 MK2 Earphones
The Final ZE8000 MK2 earphones certainly make a statement with their size – they are noticeably larger compared to many of their competitors.
This size, however, doesn’t compromise their comfort. The earphones maintain a surprisingly comfortable fit, thanks in part to the ‘Shield Fin’ eartips that provide an excellent in-ear seal.
This seal not only enhances sound isolation but also contributes to the overall auditory experience (more on that below).
In the box, along with the earphones, you will find a selection of ear tips in five different sizes (SS, S, M, L, and LL), ensuring that users can find the perfect fit for their ears.
Alongside the earphones, the box includes a USB-C charging cable (there’s no support for wireless charging, which is surprising at this price level), an instructions manual, and – uniquely – they also come with additional dust filters that you can replace from time to time.
Despite their size, the earphones are crafted to sit comfortably in the ears, even for extended periods. However, the in-ear seal is almost too good at times, creating a vacuum – which can be a bit painful when you pull them out (but going down one size may help with that).
It’s worth noting that due to their larger build, I did find them a bit heavy during prolonged use – and of course, the stems do stick out quite prominently.
The charging case of the ZE8000 MK2 is also on the larger side, reflecting the earphones’ overall design ethos – though it feels a bit flimsy and quite plasticky – and may very well break down if you drop it when it’s open, or push it too hard in the wrong direction.
This overall bulkiness might be a consideration for those who prefer a more compact and portable charging case – but at least it looks kind of pretty.
Pairing And Controlling
Pairing the Final ZE8000 MK2 with Bluetooth devices is straightforward. They support multi-device connectivity, allowing you to connect them to two devices simultaneously – a feature that adds a layer of convenience for those who frequently switch between, say, a phone and a laptop.
In practice, the Bluetooth connection of the ZE8000 MK2 is stable and reliable. During my time using them, I encountered no significant issues with connectivity – the earphones maintained a consistent connection without any noticeable dropouts or interference, even in environments with multiple wireless signals (as in – a crowded tube).
One notable omission in the ZE8000 MK2’s feature set is in-ear detection. Unlike some other models in this price range, the music does not automatically pause when you remove an earbud.
While not a dealbreaker for everyone, this feature is increasingly common in high-end earphones and its absence is felt here.
As is the norm these days, the ZE8000 MK2 have touch controls, which were very accurate and easy to use during my testing – though it can be hard to pull the earphones out of their case, or out of your ears, without accidentally pressing the touch area.
While Final’s app does let you make quite a few setting changes (such as control the ANC, change the equalizer, etc.) – it doesn’t let you change any of the touch controls/commands, unfortunately.
ZE8000 MK2 Audio Quality
In evaluating the audio quality of the Final ZE8000 MK2, one can’t ignore the expectations set by their premium pricing and “8K Sound” promises.
At £299, one would anticipate a sound experience that not only impresses but also sets new standards. While the ZE8000 MK2 deliver clear and pleasant sound quality, it falls short of providing a groundbreaking auditory experience.
The earphones’ touted ‘8K Sound’ feature, which can be toggled on or off, aims to enhance the listening experience by offering more detailed and nuanced sound.
However, in practical usage, the difference with ‘8K Sound’ activated is subtle, almost imperceptible.
This feature, while innovative in concept, does not markedly change the overall sound profile, and its activation leads to quicker battery depletion, which might be a concern for some users – especially with just 5 hours of usage available to begin with.
In terms of sound reproduction, ABBA’s Don’t Shut Me Down showcased the earphones’ ability to deliver clear vocals and pop melodies.
Agnetha Fältskog’s voice came through crisply, highlighting the earphones’ proficiency in handling higher frequencies.
However, the bass response was somewhat lacking, missing the punchiness expected in the lower frequencies for earphones at this price point (if you’re a deep bass fan – as I am – these probably won’t give you the heart-thumping experience you crave).
Similarly, while listening to Meet Me in the Hallway by Harry Styles, the earphones excelled in the midrange.
Harry’s vocals were rendered with emotional clarity, soaring above the piano accompaniment. Yet, once again, the low end could have been tighter and more impactful.
Tweaking the EQ settings (via the app) did provide some improvement, but the weak bass seems to be a feature and not a bug – as it does provide a more balanced sound – but again, some people want to feel those deep thumps.
The Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) feature of the Final ZE8000 MK2, again considering their high price, is underwhelming.
It moderately blocks lower-frequency sounds like train engines or aeroplane hums, but higher-frequency noises such as conversations, keyboard typing, and car sounds remain audible.
This suggests that the earphones’ effective noise isolation is largely due to the excellent passive seal provided by the eartips, rather than the ANC technology.
Frankly, these days, you get the same level of Active Noise Cancellation with some earphones that cost less than a third.
The ZE8000 MK2 also includes an ‘Ambient Sound’ mode, which performs well in allowing environmental sounds when needed, and you can also turn on a ‘Wind Cutting’ feature, which did help a bit when I was walking on a very windy day.
Phone calls do get a thumbs up, as the other side always sounded well, and people were able to hear me without any issue – even when I was walking in noisy environments.
The Final ZE8000 MK2 offer a continuous music playback time of up to 5 hours on a single charge, which can be extended to up to 15 hours with the charging case.
While these figures are adequate for casual use, they’re not particularly impressive for true wireless earphones these days – especially when the earbuds themselves, and the case, are so big.
Furthermore, battery times are reduced if you use the ‘8K Sound’ feature (as the earbuds have to do more computations, apparently), and as always, battery times will also suffer from turning on ANC.
The earphones themselves take approximately 1.5 hours to fully charge, and the charging case requires about 2 hours.
However, they also have rapid charging, which provides 45 minutes of music playback with just a 5-minute charge. This can be quite convenient for quick top-ups.
Bottom Line: Are The ZE8000 MK2 Worth It?
The Final ZE8000 MK2 land in a complicated spot in the market of high-end wireless earphones.
On one hand, they deliver very good sound quality, with clear, balanced audio that is outstanding for casual and keen listeners alike.
However, when considering their lofty price point of £299, they fall just shy of the exceptional mark that one would expect.
A key point of contention is the lack of certain features that have become commonplace in premium and even mid-range earphones. The underwhelming performance of the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), in particular, is a notable gap.
While the ‘8K Sound’ feature is an innovative concept, its subtle impact on the overall listening experience doesn’t contribute significantly to a ‘wow’ factor. Moreover, the diminished battery life when using this feature, coupled with an already average battery performance, is a drawback.
On the positive side, the ZE8000 MK2 shines in providing a comfortable fit and a well-balanced sound profile. The earphones handle midrange and vocals beautifully, though the bass could use more depth and punch.
To sum it up, the Final ZE8000 MK2 straddle the line between high-end quality and high-end pricing, ultimately appealing to a specific niche in the market rather than a broader audience seeking both excellence and value.