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Final Audio is best known for its range of high-end wired earphones and hi-fi headphones, with its D8000 planar magnetic headphones costing several thousand dollars.
In recent years, they have started to embrace modern audio technologies with a range of Bluetooth ANC headphones and earphones.
Today, I am reviewing their flagship ZE8000 MK2 ANC true wireless earphones, which claim to produce 8K sound and support for Qualcomm aptX Adaptive for high resolution audio.
The MK2 model I am reviewing was launched at the end of 2023, less than a year after the original ZE8000 earphones were announced.
The new MK2 model claims to achieve a 32% improvement in sound isolation with ANC active. The earbud tips are now designed with a shield fin which claims to improve sound insulation performance. The active noise cancelling algorithm has been optimised to provide better noise control. Finally, the maximum volume has been increased by 5dB.
- Communication Format: Bluetooth 5.2
- Codecs Supported: SBC, AAC, Qualcomm aptX, aptX Adaptive
- Continuous Music Playback: Maximum of 5 hours for earphones (Maximum of 15 hours including case)
- Charging Time: 1.5 hours for earphones / 2 hours for case (Fast charging for earphones: 5 minutes for up to 45 minutes of music playback)
- Battery Capacity: 54 mAh for single side earphone / 420 mAh for case
- Water Resistant: IPX4
- Accessories: Charging case, ZE8000 MK2 exclusive ear tips (SS/S/M/L/LL sizes), USB Type-C charging cable, acoustic fixture, dust filter.
Features – 8K sound
The ZE8000 MK2 features 8K sound, which is basically an upscaler that can be enabled within the Final app. The 8K sound name is largely a marketing term, but the technology itself does improve the overall sound quality.
This is a technology development by Final that goes beyond traditional sound tuning methods. Instead of focusing solely on fine-tuning specific frequencies, 8K sound technology, as used in Final’s ZE8000 MK2 earbuds, carefully calibrates the time element of every single bit of sound with digital signal processing. This approach allows for the distinct revelation of all information residing inside a musical piece, delivering an exquisite sound experience at a level of distinction, detail, separation, and speed that has never been accomplished before.
The ZE8000 MK2 earbuds have been upgraded in various aspects, including their internal structure, digital signal processing, and ear tips. These enhancements enable the earbuds to rapidly sense and adapt to the musical experience presented by 8K SOUND, providing an unparalleled level of clarity and immersion.
In summary, 8K sound technology offers a new approach to audio technology by:
- Carefully calibrating the time element of every single bit of sound
- Delivering an exquisite sound experience with distinction, detail, separation, and speed
- Enhancing the overall clarity and immersion of the musical experience
The ZE8000 MK2 earbuds feature a new design over the originals with an angular look and gloss finish on the outer surface of the buds. An aluminium alloy is used for durability while keeping weight down to 6.4g per bud.
The charging case has an oval shape with a matte finish. It’s compact and pocketable while providing decent capacity for on-the-go charging. The case LED indicates charging status and battery level.
The earbuds themselves have a unique design, with the main earbud comprising of two sections. The large circular disk section doesn’t go inside your concha but hands a bit out, and then the smaller protruding section is a bit closer to the ear canal in comparison to other earbuds.
Adding to the premium design is the inclusion of dust filter replacements for the nozzle of the ear tip, plus a tool to help switch them.
I am indifferent to how earbuds look; my main concern is how well an earbud fits, and this design does seem to impact the overall fit.
Ear Tips and Fit
Getting a good fit with a good seal between your ear canal and the silicon tips is important for both overall comfort and sound quality. A good seal will significantly improve the quality of the bass, and a poor seal can make amazing earphones sound lacklustre.
Along with the unusual earbud design, the ear tips are none standard as well.
Final Audio includes silicone ear tips in sizes from SS to LL. Rather than slotting onto the small protruding section that goes into your ear, these cover the full earpiece and then have built-in stabilisers helping to keep them in place.
The angular design of the buds may not suit all ear shapes so spending time to try all the tips is worthwhile. For other earbuds, I can normally safely select the largest ear tip and get a good seal and overall fit, but these took much more experimentation. I had to try medium, large and XL to find the one I preferred. I did eventually settle on the largest ear tip, but I found that the way I inserted them made quite a bit of a difference. Normally, I just shove the earbuds in, and all is good, but these need a gentler touch, with me not shoving the earbuds in as far as possible.
Once you have the right tips installed and found the best fit, the ZE8000 MK2 feel very secure in the ear and is comfortable for hours of listening.
The earbuds are IPX4 rated, which is not the best but standard for most TWS earbuds. I have used these for the gym and running, and they have worked well with minimal adjustments required during vigorous exercise. Due to the high price and IPX4 rating, these are probably not earbuds I would use all the time in the gym (I sweat a lot).
App and EQ
The Final app for iOS and Android provides some customisation options for the ZE8000 MK2 earbuds. Firmware can be updated to take advantage of any future improvements.
Though basic, it allows users access to updates and direct control over listening modes.
It also features an equaliser that lets users adjust up to four bands and select two other frequencies to tweak. However, the equaliser can only boost or cut frequencies up to 3dB, which may limit its effectiveness.
I would have liked some preset options for the EQ as it makes it a bit easier to customise the sound quality to your liking. Manually changing the EQ requires a bit of experimenting to get the best results.
Basic controls for playback, volume, ANC mode and transparency mode are also configurable in the app.
The earbuds have touch control with one tap on the left changing ANC, one on the right for play/pause and various other functions going up to five taps. The controls cannot be remapped within the app.
With 8K sound processing enabled, the ZE8000 MK2 deliver outstanding audio quality. The overall signature is neutral with a touch of added brightness in the treble range. This gives the sound an airy quality while avoiding harshness or listening fatigue.
It is unsurprising that they don’t have the same bass forward U or V sound signature that most mainstream brands have adopted nowadays and if you favour bass heavy sounds, these may not be the best choice, but the neutral sound allows these to have exceptional detail. You can hear subtle textures and micro-dynamics in recordings that lesser earbuds miss. This helps make tracks sound more realistic and immersive.
The time domain calibration provided by 8K Sound gives notes incredible speed and precision.
Despite the neutral signature, bass still has pleasing impact and extension down to around 30Hz. Sub-bass rumble is clearly audible on tracks that call for it. There is no bloat or bleed into the midrange – bass is tight and controlled at all times thanks to the speed delivered by 8K Sound.
On tracks with complex or fast-moving basslines, the ZE8000 MK2 keep up flawlessly where lesser earbuds fall behind.
The mid-range is smooth and natural. Vocals sound clear and lifelike. There is no harshness or sibilance even at higher volumes.
Acoustic guitars and strings have realistic texture and body.
Even at loud playback levels, the mid-range stays composed with no signs of strain or distortion.
Treble is well extended and airy thanks to the added brightness in the tuning. This helps open up the soundstage without going too far. Cymbals have realistic shimmer and decay.
There is plenty of detail in the upper registers – you can hear the resonance of violin strings or the subtle reverb tails on vocals and percussion.
Perhaps due to the 8K sound, the highs seem to do a job of balancing between sparkly while not becoming too sharp and fatiguing.
The combination of 8K sound processing and the neutral tuning gives the ZE8000 MK2 an impressively expansive soundstage. Imaging is holographic with excellent width and depth. Instruments and vocals have clearly defined positions with ample space around them.
Even busy tracks with lots going on stay composed and organised. You can easily focus in on any element without congestion or confusion.
Active Noise Cancellation
The ZE8000 MK2 features hybrid ANC utilising both feedforward and feedback microphones for maximum noise-blocking capability.
Unfortunately, I’d say the ANC is one of the weaker aspects of these earbuds. There is a small to moderate amount of noise reduction, which may be useful to improve the overall sound quality in noisier environments, but we are a long way from effectively reducing noise.
I tested these with my usual synthetic test of playing airplane cabin noise on my Edifier speakers at 80% volume. There was a negligible impact on the overall noise; subjectively, I’d say they might have reduced the perceived noise by 10%.
It is possible that the unusual fit of these earbuds had a negative impact with my experience, so other people may find the ANC is better. For me, I ended up leaving the ANC off allowing me to extend the battery a bit more.
Battery life is decent but not class-leading. You get around 5 hours continuous playback with ANC enabled or 7 hours with ANC turned off. Including the charging case, total battery life extends to 15 and 21 hours, respectively.
I didn’t time the battery life properly, but with ANC off and 8K on, I seemed to get over 5 hours, which is acceptable.
The case provides 2 full charges to keep you going on longer trips. Quick charging support lets you top up the buds for 45 minutes of listening time from just 5 minutes in the case.
Price and Alternative Options
The older Final ZE8000 are available for £179, considering the significant price difference and moderate differences between the two models, I would be inclined to at least try the older model before committing to the MK2.
At the £300 price point, this makes the Final Audio ZE8000 MK2 one of the most expensive TWS earbuds on the market.
Alternative options around this price (none of which I have reviewed) would include:
- B&W Pi7 S2 at £350
- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II at £280
- Powerbeats Pro at £270
- Bose QuietComfort Ultra at £260
- Sony WF-1000XM5 at £260
- Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) at £230
With superb clarity and musicality provided by 8K Sound, the Final Audio ZE8000 MK2 deliver an exceptional listening experience.
The neutral yet engaging tuning reveals details in your music you’ve probably not heard in TWS earbuds before.
They are far from perfect, the ANC is poor and getting a good seal with the unusual design can be tricky. Then they are also priced quite high.
They may not seem appealing compared to other premium options with all the bells and whistles, but I think Final has done a good job at producing a pair TWS Bluetooth earbuds that cater for more discerning listeners that can appreciate a neutral sound profile.
Final Audio ZE8000 MK2 Review
The Final Audio ZE8000 MK2 may not seem appealing compared to other premium options with all the bells and whistles, but I think Final has done a good job at producing a pair TWS Bluetooth earbuds that cater for more discerning listeners that can appreciate a neutral sound profile.
Overall - 80%80%
- Outstanding audio quality if you like a neutral sound signature
- 8K sound seems to make a difference
- Poor ANC
- Can be difficult to get a good fit/seal
I am James, a UK-based tech enthusiast and the Editor and Owner of Mighty Gadget, which I’ve proudly run since 2007. Passionate about all things technology, my expertise spans from computers and networking to mobile, wearables, and smart home devices.
As a fitness fanatic who loves running and cycling, I also have a keen interest in fitness-related technology, and I take every opportunity to cover this niche on my blog. My diverse interests allow me to bring a unique perspective to tech blogging, merging lifestyle, fitness, and the latest tech trends.
In my academic pursuits, I earned a BSc in Information Systems Design from UCLAN, before advancing my learning with a Master’s Degree in Computing. This advanced study also included Cisco CCNA accreditation, further demonstrating my commitment to understanding and staying ahead of the technology curve.
I’m proud to share that Vuelio has consistently ranked Mighty Gadget as one of the top technology blogs in the UK. With my dedication to technology and drive to share my insights, I aim to continue providing my readers with engaging and informative content.