PP Mixtapes is a collection of playlists curated on Spotify that brings out the best in a certain earphone, created for owners and non-owners alike: The PP Mixtapes are a nifty snapshot for the deliberating hobbyist with a budget. Does the earphone you have your eyes on jive with your musical tastes? Dive in to find out!
The second earphone to be created for the B Series’ lineup, the B2 is cosy, intimate and sweet, with a vocal presentation so intimate that the listener can detect each breath, shiver, nuance and crack in a singer’s voice, allowing the listener to fully explore the texture and mood of each track.
Characteristics: Smooth, intimate, cosy, warm,
This mixtape aims to highlight the sense of intimacy, vulnerability and honesty the final Audio B2 can introduce into any rig.
Red Right Hand, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
The B2 brings out this track’s sense of grit and grime, pushing the impactful, semi-spoken word vocals to the forefront while retaining texture in the background. Letting the track’s vintage goodness shine through
Up Where We Belong, Joe Cocker, Jennifer Warnes
The cosy, intimate quality of this classic romantic ballad shines through with the B2’s vocal presentation. The B2 also makes apparent the graininess and growling in Joe Crocker’s voice, making this track seem like it’s almost whispered into the ear of the listener.
Leaving on a Jet Plane, Sophie Barker
Barker’s unique aspiration takes front and centre in this track, her mellow vocals and clear instrumentation playing against each other to make for a mild, pleasant listening experience.
Jupiter, Little Glee Monster
The track opens with a bit of harmonisation from the members of Little Glee Monster, the B2 presents the soaring group and solo vocals in a way that almost seems to wrap itself around the listener.
One Year, Six Months Acoustic, Yellowcard
One Year Six months sounds surprisingly mellow and sweet in this acoustic version, even more so when filtered through the B2, violin, piano and vocals make for a simple, clean song and an easy listen, bringing back the best of the 2000s.
All My Tears, Ane Brun
Each breath, shiver and exhale present in Brun’s voice is presented in a stunningly intimate manner by the B2, allowing listeners to be wrapped in the emotional nuances that pepper the song.
Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing
The B2 makes the light growl in Queen Kwong’s sultry vocals stand out.
This classic ballad style track is mellow and smooth, both qualities highlighted by the B2, which makes its gentle warmth known throughout the song.
A Whole New World
Vocals take centre stage in this new rendition by Leroy Sanchez and Jessica Sanchez as the track opens with raw vocals and light instrumentation, this track shows off the best of the B2’s vocal presentation.
Someone You Loved
Lewis Capaldi’s vocals are in turn mellow and emotionally evocative. Listen to the way they sit neatly atop the piano melody, and the way the B2 pushes both vocals and melody to the forefront.
Find final Audio's Southeast Asian Stockists here!
Lotoo's PAW 6000 is now available in stores across Southeast Asia!
Your hardy, quality, everyday carry, the PAW 6000 is a product that stands on its own, offering Lotoo’s stellar sound quality, pitch black background and signature user experience in a compact, streamlined package:
Scroll on for product highlights, a comparison between the Lotoo PAW Gold Touch and the Lotoo PAW 6000 as well as specifications!
Being a branch of the professional audio company Beijing Infomedia, Lotoo has always placed its focus on bringing good sound in quality products to music lovers and hobbyists. The PAW 6000 makes use of the LTOS, Lotoo's operating system, built from the ground up and designed specifically by Lotoo for Lotoo.
When testing or using the PAW 6000, look out for:
3.5mm and 4.4mm Single ended and balanced inputs
Micro SD and Type-C Support
Lotoo's signature 5-second startup speed
Resolution and clarity against the 6000's pitch-black background
A stunning, 16 hour battery life
300mW/ channel @ 32 Ω
The Lotoo PAW Gold Touch vs the PAW 6000
Both the Lotoo PAW Gold Touch and the PAW 6000 supports 3.5mm Single Ended and 4.4mm balanced. A key difference is that the new PAW 6000 supports micro SD cards, unlike its predecessor.
Both models also support USB Type-C.
The PAW 6000 Retains Lotoo's super-fast startup speed and rapid-fire, an ideal companion for those finding themselves less-than-tolerant of DAP lag.
In terms of tuning: The PAW 6000 carries on Lotoo's knack for developing a clean, reference sound on their players, however, we've received user feedback that the PAW 6000 sounds a tad bit more musical than the LPGT. Visit a stockist nearby to check if the PAW 6000's sound signature might be what you're looking for!
The PAW 6000 retails at S$1799 in Singapore, check out our list of Southeast Asian stockists here and check the retailer nearest to you for your region's prices.
Supported Formats: DSD64/128/256 DFF/ DSF/ ISO/ WAV/ MP3/ FLAC/ APE/ OGG/ M4A/ AAC
Memory Card: TF Card, Supports up to 2TB
Operational Amplifier: OPA1622
Wireless: Bluetooth 4.1
Screen Dimensions: 3.77 in
DAC Chip: AKM4493EQ
USB Connector: USB 3.1 Type C
Firmware Updates: Supported
Line Out: 3.5mm Single-ended, 4.4mm balanced
PP Mixtapes is a collection of playlists curated on Spotify, made to bring out the best in a certain earphone. Created for owners and non-owners alike, the PP Mixtapes are also a nifty snapshot for the deliberating hobbyist with a budget. Does that earphone you're looking at jive with your musical tastes? Dive in to find out!
The first earphone created for the B Series' lineup, the B1 houses 2 drivers, a Dynamic Driver and a Balanced Armature driver, with no crossover between both. final Audio’s 2019 flagship owes airiness and bass to its dynamic driver, while the balanced armature driver gives the B1 its smooth but resolved mids and highs.
The B1 works best with a powerful rig, so go right ahead and bust out the favourite DAC-Amps in your collection, we used theChord Mojo in the creation of this playlist, but anything else might suit the B1 just as well, depending on your own musical preferences.
Characteristics: Natural, lifelike, spacious and sparkly.
This mixtape aims to highlight the B1’s appropriate bass, instrumental presentation and the sense of space and immersion it brings to a listening session.
Tracklist and Tasting Notes
The Vision, Victor Wooten
A maestro of the electric bass, Victor Wooten has carved out his niche in virtuoso bass playing. The B1’s lows sweeten the bass in this rhythmic, relaxed piece, allowing the listener to feel the impact of each note while also taking in the details in the higher frequencies.
Way Down Deep, Jennifer Warnes
This track’s unique introduction allows the B1’s impactful bass to shine through. This and the micro-nuances peeking through in Warne’s vocals make for a very appealing listen.
The Look of Love, Diana Krall
The B1 builds this song up from its rumbly, moody bassline, notice the natural way the sound expands, creating a comfortable, loungelike atmosphere.
Always on my Mind, Inger Marie Gundersen
Organic, airy piano notes give this track a sense of space, further grounded by Gundersen’s soothing vocals, their micro nuances on full display, making this an overall intimate listen.
The texture and clarity in Dido’s voice is accentuated by the B1, which also lets the vocals sit forward on the soundstage, appropriately full and detailed. The dynamic driver shows off this track’s textured bassline, which adds an atmospheric layer to the song. Never overpowering its impactful midrange.
You And Your Friend, Dire Straits
Detailed, textured natural bass paired with a charming midrange filled with slick, country-style guitar riffs, the B1 is a natural at handling the instrumentals of this track from Dire Straits, presenting the song’s grit and realism in a refined manner that’s not at all out of place.
Somewhere, Somebody, Jennifer Warnes
Warnes’ album, The Hunter, is an extremely well-recorded album. Allowing the B1 to show off this track’s details with its controlled, detailed and harmonious presentation, giving the listener a fun, immersive listen.
What a Wonderful World, Stacey Kent
Stacey Kent lends her soulful voice to this rendition of What a Wonderful World. The B1’s staging lends the recording a live-recorded quality, bringing to mind small, cosy jazz clubs with good tipple and good acoustics. What a Wonderful World is intimacy and lifelikeness, wrapped in a pleasantly hopeful timbre.
Find final Audio's Southeast Asian Stockists here!
Last weekend, Project Perfection teamed up with S'NEXT to bring DITA Audio and FiR Audio to the Fujiya Avic Autumn Show at Nakano Sunplaza where we were based for 2 days.
Nakano Sunplaza is a huge place, and the Fujiya Avic Spring and Autumn Shows have always been pretty gargantuan, this edition is no exception! So we've chosen to focus solely on our little room on the 6th floor and the brands that are within and around it!
Scroll in for highlights on DITA Audio, final Audio, FiR Audio, STAX and a little bit on S'NEXT's new TWS contender, Ag.
Singaporean Manufacturer DITA Audio unveiled the final version of its new flagship, the DITA Dream XLS to its Japanese audience. The Dream XLS is a continuation of The DITA Dream, which was quite the cult hit in Japan. For anyone in Japan interested in picking it up, The Dream XLS has went on sale on 31 October 2019 at 278000 JPY (tax included).
DITA Audio also mentioned that the Dream XLS is running on a limited production schedule of approximately 300 units per lot, the next lot will be released in January, so to-be-buyers can take their time in deciding if the XLS' is the IEM for them!
The exhibit is set to find its new home in final Audio's new boutique space in AkiOka beside Akihabara's Electric Town entrance: Just next to the Gundam and AKB48 Cafes, prime real estate for any electronics retailer.
We'll be on the beat to bring you more photos and details regarding this new development! In the meanwhile, folks in Southeast Asia can head here for a list of DITA Stockists you can go to to give the XLS a spin, be sure to give them a ring first to confirm its availability first!
Exciting times lie ahead for final audio as they get ready to open their brick-and-mortar boutique store at Akihabara! The boutique's future staff were also seen interacting with visitors at the show in preparation for their opening in 12 December 2019.
Following in the footsteps of final's Make Series and B-Series, the A8000 features a reassuringly hefty, but nevertheless comfortable metal chassis. The A8000 contains a single beryllium driver and is set to retail at about US$2100. This pilot demo of the A8000 features a fast, dynamic sound augmented with forward, clear mids. final is set to deliver the A8000 to its markets by the end of 2019, perfect for rewarding yourself in the festive season.
Find out where to find final by clicking through to our list of final stockists here.
An view of the booth DITA Audio and FiR Audio made their home at for 2 days: The 2019 Autumn Hpfes also marked the unveiling of FiR Audio's new M Series to the Japanese public.
Founded by Bogdan Belonozhko in 2018, FiR Audio started its run providing IEM maintenance equipment to professionals in the music industry. The M Series' is comprised of 4 products and is estimated to be available worldwide by January 2020.
A Quick Look at the M Series
STAX set up their new semiconductor driver unit, the SRM-700S: The new 700s employs JFET technology throughout the amplification process and is built to mine even the most layered of musical pieces. More news to come regarding this one!
S'NEXT took the opportunity to unveil it's newest TWS contender, Ag. The brand currently features a 3 product lineup. More news to come!
It feels like an eon since the E2000 has been released (2017!) and we've belatedly decided release a playlist of songs, sourced internationally that vibe well with the clear, honest nature of the E2000.
While Spotify isn't, by any means an audiophile source, it gels nicely with the yielding and forgiving nature of the E2000. This is a playlist for E2000 owners who find their collections somewhat stale, or for those who simply happen to be seeking something fresh and easy on the ears: Perfect for anyone needing a dash of afternoon pep,
12 Songs, for your listening pleasure.
Easy listening: Made for the E2000
Tracklist (As of 29/8/19)
1) 水星 feat,仮谷せいら (Young & Fresh mix) - Tofubeats
2) And July (feat. DEAN and SJ Friz) - Heize
3) Palatte (Feat. G Dragon) - IU
4) Reality - Jacob Lee
5) Lover Boy - Phum Viphurit
6) Ikkyu San - Wednesday Campanella
7) I Wouldn't Know Any Better Than You - Gentle Bones
8) 如烟 - Eve AI
9) Landslide - Dagny
10) Twiggy Twiggy - Pato Fu
11) A Night in Tunisia - Ella Fitzgerald
12) I'm Not the Only One - Sam Smith
final Audio's reputation has been on the rise, especially with the affordably priced E Series making big sound quality available to music lovers on little budgets. With the recently launched B Series, those with slightly fatter purses can also look forward to even better sound quality and more tuning options. (You can read a review of their newest flasghip, the B1, here.)
All in all, the first half of 2019 has cemented the fact that final Audio's earphone lineup has something for everyone.
As far as deviations from their classic lineup go, final took time to dust off the collaborations they have worked on in the past few years, putting together an exciting showcase of their special projects at the Hong Kong AV Show.
Featuring idol groups, anime and craftsmen among other things in between: Here are 5 Collaborations in and around Japan by final Audio.
1) final x Momoiro Clover 10th Anniversary Commemorative Edition Earphones
We're starting off the list of collaborations strong with final x Momoiro Clover's 10th Anniversary Commemorative Edition Earphones. Momoclo may be a name some of our readers are well acquainted with, but did you know that Ariyasu Momoka, a former member of Momoiro Clover Z, is also quite the fervent music enthusiast? A bit of digging into the recesses of the internet yields videos of her going earphone shopping.
The video we've embedded below, though, is a little different, it shows Momoka seated at final Audio's Shinagawa facility, being involved in the thick of the sound tuning herself, breaking down the E3000's existing sound and giving suggestions to final Audio's tuning team.
2) ANT20 Collaboration: Countdown Friday TOP 20 Anime Songs
Limited to just 300 pieces. this special edition was crafted for Ms. Riho Iida, host of Countdown Friday TOP20 for All Anime Songs (ANT20).
If that's not a name that rings a bell, Iida san is also happens to be the voice actor of Hoshizora Rin from LoveLive! School Idol Project.
This project was carried out in collaboration with i-dio, with Iida san herself tweaking the earphone's sound tuning.
Instead of the yellow you might expect from Hoshizora Rin's LoveLive! image, the set comes packaged with turquoise blue earpieces, ear hooks and a silicon case in the same colour, a homage to Ms. Riho Iida's own image colour in real life.
3) E1000SE Green Collaboration Edition
The Headphone Book is a Japanese audio magazine considered locally to be the definitive audio bible.
Due the E-series's recent rise in popularity, the publisher of the Headphone Book published a special edition featuring the final E1000 with half of the magazine's contents dedicated to introducing final's product lineup. To increase the issue's exclusivity, the E1000SE GREEN is attached to book as a little extra for its readers.
4) LAB I 3D Printed Parts
Forms in audio gear reminiscent of alien architecture isn't just the domain of companies like Devialet, the final Audio LAB series has also produced its fair share of curious but functional forms.
The LAB Series was conceived as a safe space to allow final Audio to experiment and conceive never-before-seen kinds of items.
The LAB I's distinctive shape is formed from Titanium using a cutting-edge 3D metal printer requiring "a very particular set of skills".
The Lab I was born through a process that combined this specialised knowledge with a craftsman's intuition and numerous rounds of prototype testing. The 3D printer irradiates metal powder over an extremely small area with a laser, melting it and then hardening it over and over, crafting the earphone's form. The surface of the shape is pocked with the marks left by the laser's irradiation, giving the lab I it's signature appearance.
5) LAB II 3D Printed Parts
To achieve a never before seen vast soundstage, the LAB II is designed to be a unique structure that can only be created using a 3D printer. With a 3D metal layering printer and a level layer of 30μ, metal powder is irradiated using a laser and fused together to create a form.
A drawback to this was that the formed metal was susceptible to warping, owing to the heat created during the molding process. This was a huge challenge that final Audio managed to overcome through their collaboration with NTT Data Engineering Systems (NDES) to handle a large amount of data calculation. Products that have been created with a 3D Metal layering printer can be few and far between: Such a process is only possible when you have engineers who are also craftsmen in the realm of 3D shaping.
This review has been translated and adapted from a review by Bai He (白河). Mr. Bai He is an industrial designer, a founder of Zinc Audio in Hangzhou, as well as a key opinion leader in the Chinese market.
A small disclaimer, while we have omitted some of the infographics used in he original Chinese review, the original version can be found here for your perusal
Translated by Asher Yeo
The 1985 Winner of the Oscar’s Best film award, ‘Amadeus’, had a segment in which King of Austria, Leopold II introduces Mozart to the court Musician and director to the Italian opera, Antonio Salieri. Here's what he says:
“Here is our illustrious court Composers Maestrol Salieri"
“Maestro” is an Italian word that serves as the root of the English word “Master”. It represents the highest level of mastery and is widely used in artistic circles, especially within the realm of classical music.
As classical music aficionados will know, musicians in history that have been bestowed the title of ‘Maestro’ by time have been far and few between. A Maestro is not only good at his craft, he is influential and knowledgeable.
Even though Salieri is nowhere as popular as Mozart is in the modern world, but he was one of Mozart's most outstanding contemporaries, living up to his title of 'Maestro'.
Aside from traditional masters of classical music the likes of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, among the ranks of Maestro, we can also find interpreters of music: Conductors and Composers like Celibidache, Karajan, Gould and Milstein. Only the most refined are suitable for the title "Maestro".
For the longest time, I have been searching for a pair of earphones with the same interpretive abilities as the maestros of yore. My search ended at the Shanghai International Audio Visual Show this April where I told final Audio's Kudo San "This is it! This is the sound I've been searching for!“.
The pair of earphones I am speaking of is final Audio's new flagship: B1 of final's new B Series.
My friends know my habits when it comes to testing gear. "If it's not good with classical music, it doesn't make the cut." is the oft-repeated mantra the people around me are familiar with,
If musical gear cannot achieve the precision, realism and natural presentation a live classical performance can achieve, it's probably still going to sound manufactured and unnatural (by my own standards) in other genres.
When I first heard the B1 at SIAV, I sat down at final Audio's booth and plugged the earphones into my WM1Z.
Being a creature of habit, I put on the EMI recording of Tchaikovsky 5 played by the Munich philharmonic and conducted by Celibidache. Despite how noisy the exhibition grounds were and despite me later knowing that the unit hadn't been burned in properly, I still heard elements in the music that blew me away. I followed up with Bruckner's Symphony No.8, Brahms, Wagner.
Piece after piece, section after section, the next I knew, I had been seated at the booth for a good half hour, I stood up and told final Audio's Gaku Kudo what I wrote above. "This is it! This is the sound I've been searching for!“.
Then I excitedly posted "BEST of SIAV DAY 1" on my Wechat timeline.
After a bit, I came to realise that B1' s reception among the enthusiast community was miles away from what I had envisioned.
"Average resolution", "Okay soundstage", "recessed bass" were some terms I heard being bandied about. That was when I realised that, during my 30-minute long listening session, I completely neglected to listen for these oft-mentioned rubrics. I was fixated on the music, and what came through the earphones was the music I wanted to hear.
I have only just received the final tuning of the B1, B2 and B3 in the past months. And I have gotten the opportunity to savour them properly (especially B1). When finally I put on my reviewer's hat, diving into B1's sound, I realised that these earphones truly had a maestro-like ability to interpret music. I found this to be a frightening realisation.
Geared for Classical Playback Across All Frequencies
Classical music is quite the tough mistress: Earphones that subscribe to modern tuning conventions will find it difficult to satisfy her demands.
High frequencies are the first benchmark in classical music playback. Friends know that I am in the habit of modifying the gear I love, adjusting the EQ so that the resulting sound isignature s better aligned to my preferences: These modifications are almost 100% centered on tweaking a earphone's highs.
The mainstream perception of high frequencies has shifted slightly, no thanks to the proliferation of mainstream music. 80% of earphones possess high frequencies that are a little too bright for classical music playback. While string instruments tend to sound lively and beautiful under these tuning circumstances, giving the listener a breathtaking listening experience, brass instruments can sound harsh and grating.
That certainly doesn't mean that a "dark or overly warm sound" is the sound that's more ideal for classical music. As much as darker treble can contribute to a more comfortable listening experience, it also causes the instruments to lose much of their texture and vibrance. When it comes to the playback of classical music, the main challenge is presenting the treble in a measured manner without subscribing to use an overly dark sound, or defaulting to an overly bright sound. B1's Treble is exceedingly appropriate in this sense.
The B1 also has an outstanding sense of space and harmonics, so much that it might just be the spiritual successor to the nuanced way the FITEAR ToGo 334 and UM Mason V2 handles their highs.
In classical music playback, the mids play as big of a part as the highs. After all, our ears have been primed to pick up mids.
Classical mids need to be full and rich in order to fulfill the requirements in the playback of most instruments. The B1's mids have that fullness, but without the necessary power to drive these monitors, the fullness originally apparent in the B1 can take quite a hit. When driven with the appropriate device, the B1 can present classical mids in the most amazing manner. (The cello and piano sound particularly good.
A lot of listeners feel like the B1's lows are it's biggest weakness, the general consensus is that a lot of bass is lost in the mix of the B1's other sounds.
The ideal presentation of bass frequencies in classical music is a little more nuanced.
For one the way the listener experiences bass in the concert hall goes beyond sound itself.
Readers who listen to classical music played live will know that during particularly dramatic, bassy segments, you can actually feel your body responding physiologically to the music, the same goes for high-end hi fi systems. (You almost feel like you're experiencing heart palpitations).
However, the playback of classical music demands that bass be presented in a way that acknowledges the spatial magic that happens in a concert hall while remaining relaxed and clean enough to manage the big, dramatic rises and falls of the sound in brass-focused moments.
These are the requirements classical music has towards the playback of low frequencies and these types of lows are extremely rare in the sound signatures of earphones.
The UM Mason V2 is one that gets close to this: Its bass is full but relaxed, but what’s sacrificed is that the lows become less atmospheric.
The B1’s lows are refined and actually manage to be more relaxed the lows found in the Mason V2, the lows extend nicely and are less artificial than the contrived bass found in traditional hi-fidelity earphones. There is a natural harmony to the bass, making these lows perfect for classical music, it’s not contrived or artificial. While there’s definitely room for improvement, it’s already great.
Perhaps you’d feel like the B1’s high aren’t as extravagant as you like, or that its mids aren’t smooth or rich enough or that the bass lacks punch. But all bands of the B1’s frequencies seem to be tailored specifically for classical playback.
Grounded but Spectacular
When we talk about classical playback, people tend to think of a wide soundstage and stunning, sweeping highs and lows, rich details, ecetera. But all these labels really don’t apply to the grounded nature of the B1.
That’s because, if you’re a classical enthusiast that’s often exposed to live classical music, all these labels with diminish in importance the moment you hear the final B1. That’s because, over the traditional review rubric, classical music playback tests the overall interpretative ability of the earphone. In a market saturated with high end earphones, there’s a glut of earphones that are competent at almost everything. That makes tuning a major differentiator, as manufacturers tweak and adjust aspects of the sound as a whole.
Almost every one of the ridiculously priced earphone offerings in the market can manage all frequency band well, have a great soundstages and dynamism. however, these earphones miss the mark on factors as basic as being natural. It’s like a person whose facial features are stunning individually, but these same features can look atrocious when combined, no matter how you throw them together.
Friends have recommended me 64 Audio’s U18T and the VE13 for listening to symphonies. But when you compare the playback on these earphones to live classical music, you realise that these expensive monitors don’t cut it for classical music playback. This is the reason why I rarely write earphone reviews: it’s exceedingly rare for the classical playback on a pair of earphones to appeal to me. The last one that did is the UM Mason v2 (not the v3), which is now officially out of production.
The B1’s soundstage isn’t top-tier, it’s also not small by any sense of the word, but it’s certainly stripped down compared to the Z1R and FW10000. But classical music isn’t a genre that tests an earphone’s soundstage in terms of width, but it’s coherence and dimensionality. The UTOPIA’s soundstage width may be panned by almost everyone, but is still loved by listeners of classical music, this is because the UTOPIA’s soundstage possesses a sort of dimensionality. The B1 handles its soundstage well, it’s natural and dimensional. The “live experience” is at the core of B1’s tuning, and what’s contributing to this effect isn’t only the B1’s soundstage, it’s also the way the B1 handles resolution. The B1’s soundstage and imaging is quite similar to FOCAL’s earphones, it’s a bit forward, allowing the listener to get a “live-experience”.
Sophie-Mutter’s “The Wanderers Song” is a Deutsche Grammophon 4D recording that’s a staple in the music libraries of classical music fans. I don’t listen to this recording much, because I don’t quite like the way Mutter interprets the music. The reason why this disc is so widely collected is because it was recorded in 1993, just when DG-Records overhauled their recording technology, making Mutter one of the first musicians to be recorded in 4D. Because of the stellar quality of the recording itself, it was the perfect recording on which to test and boast about the technical merits of a rig, making it a sought after recording by enthusiasts.
In my playback of this recording, on the last crescendo, the B1 displayed stunning resolution. In comparison with 2 other monitors that handle classical music beautifully, the Z1R and the Mason v2, the B1 is meticulous in its presentation of the violin, layered and detailed. The Z1R, at double the price of the B1, beats out the B1 in terms of soundstage and power, but loses to the B1 in terms of its presentation of layers and details. The Z1R’s resolution is comparatively fuzzier and more backwards sitting. (Please note that this is a Z1R I’ve tuned for a long time… adding damping and cable rolling TT)
Speaking of detail, the way the B1 presents detail is reminiscent of the D8000, it doesn’t overemphasize explosive details or the amount of data it presents at a time. If you’re not listening to a widely lauded classical track or a “publicly-lauded reference track” you might feel as if the details were slightly fuzzy. I once described the D8000 as high-end fuzz-fi. It’s a comfortable, fluid way a earphone presents its details.
The B1 is more or less similar. The B1’s sound isn’t as full as the D8000’s, it’s a little bit more direct in the delivery of its details as compared to the D8000, but it’s still layered. No matter how big the orchestral piece, the B1 delivers the detail in clear manner, it might to be superb in the sheer amount of detail, but you’re unlikely to feel cheated out of detail.
In fact, the details are all present, but they’re natural, not overly extravagant or messy. It’s almost perfect in it’s playback of most classical recording mainstays. The reason why it’s perfect is similar to how the D8000’s detail presentation was perfect: It’s not about the detail, or the explosiveness, but about the way these details are presented.
The B1’s speed and dynamism loses a little to the Z1R in terms of excitement, but this doesn’t come through when playing recordings of symphonies that are already grand and dynamic in and of themselves. If you’re extremely used to live and home hi-fi playback, though you’d certainly feel like the B1 is lacking. When playing speedy tracks like Paganini’s concertos, the B1 is competent in its speed, it’s fast without being jittery, it retains a great fluidity.
Transparency is also important in terms of classical playback. A properly transparent pair of earphones can bring out the layers in a classical piece. The B1 is really one of the best in terms of transparency, perhaps even leagues above its price. When listening to the Beethoven’s 7th, 2nd Movement,the B1 seems to bring to life details that went unnoticed in previous plays.
When driven properly, the B1 can indeed sound clean and rich.
B1 is as impressive in its standard as the rest of final Audio’s high-end products. Upon first listening, the B1 seems to be a little far from top tier, but upon further listening, you’d realise that it adheres to final’s previous standards, except that the B1 now sounds a lot more natural.
A Sonic Experience at the Peak of Classical Music
If you’re a hardcore audiophile, then you’d probably feel as if the B1 isn’t hi fi enough. However, I personally feel as if the meaning of Hi-Fi has been moving away from High Fidelity, “Hi-Fi” these days seem to mean the sensory excitement a listener derives from his gear and not the faithful replication of sound. I often tell audiophiles “If you listened to the sound of a cup shattering on a STAX SR-009, it’s going to be a great deal more exciting than listening to a cup shattering in real life.” Granted, that’s a semi satirical statement. But it’s reflective of the way Hi Fi has been defined in recent years. Listeners chase after sonic excitement more than reality. This is true even for modern listeners of classical music. People often use the word “grand” to describe a symphony, it’s widely agreed that how grand a piece sound depends largely on big bass fluctuations and the dynamism of a pair of earphones. However, after years and years of listening to classical music live, I’ve yet to have a run in with a piece of live classical music that’s “grand” in the way that’s described above.
In my consciousness, there’s something oppressive about this sense of manufactured grandeur. For instance, if your troops were grand, you could potentially crush the enemy with this sense of grandeur. Enemy troops would feel crushed by your troops grandeur, while your troops would celebrate this sense of grandeur.
Grandeur, when interpreted on my personal terms, will have nothing to do with big, sweeping changes in mood, punchy lows or explosiveness. What I look for in grandeur is the a sense of the sound remaining stable and pliant even with the huge ups and downs in classical music. This sort of grandeur is the sort of grandeur we can celebrate.
This is the sort of presentation one might expect from a competent pair of IEMs. Why are the recording levels for classical music so low? It’s to showcase the fluctuations in mood in a classical piece. In large symphonic pieces like those from Mahler and Bruckner, playback gear needs to flexible enough to flow with the fluctuations in a piece and not solely geared towards the grandiosity of the symphony, earphones that can achieve this effect are few and far between, and B1 han dles this aspect the best. The larger the symphony, the more the B1’s merits shine through.
The basic requirements of classical playback is that it’s relaxed, full and lively. The B1 is beyond reproach in all 3 of these aspects. On a friend’s recording of Kleiber’s Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, 2nd movement, you can truly feel how relaxed and charismatic the B1 sounds. Even when the B1 isn’t properly driven, it doesn’t take to sounding too peaky or sibilant.
mastery of the ultra-soft segments in each piece came through perfectly, rich and stable. The touchstone of classical playback is the clarinet, not the piano. It’s a breathy instrument with high expectations for both richness and fullness, the sound of the metal keys and breathing also puts the detail-playback for the B1 to the test. I’m personally also particularly sensitive to the Clarinet, particularly since I’ve played it since grade 4 and occasionally play it since.
In my experience, as long as the clarinet sounds good, other instruments won’t have too big of a problem as well. Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A, K.581 sounds realistic, natural and smooth with the B1. Listening to Brendel’s piano after allows it’s realism, detail and vibrance to shine through. Although I feel like the 334 still beats out the B1 in it’s piano playback (yes, you haven’t heard wrong, I think the 334 is great for instrumentals). B1 is outstanding in how meticulous it is less contoured, fans of strings might feel like the B1’s playback goes a little too soft on them and get disappointed. The lack of contours might be an attempt to make the B1 sound sweeter. It really isn’t a problem, though. I’ve once described good sound as being like water, flowing, flexible and natural. This is why like the sound of EAR Yoshino and Jadis. A lot of people aren’t quite sure why the HP4 commands the prices it does, but I personally feel like it’s expensive because of its smoothness.
Perhaps after reading all this you’d start to think that the B1 was bulletproof. It really isn’t. It’s indeed bulletproof, if we’re talking about the realm of classical music, but it may very well sound lacklustre when handling other genres. If you’re looking at pop music, I don’t recommend using the B1, the B1 lacks the ability to express the texture of pop music, possibly expressing it in a way that can seem grating. Also, due to it’s propensity to focus on the instrumentals within a track, the B1 can make vocals seem separated from its background. That really doesn’t mean that the B1 isn’t good at handling vocals: In Acappella tracks for instance, the B1 holds its own by recreating a live environment. In short, the B1 is better for natural sounds, not so much for sounds produced by digital mixing.
The B1 is frightening for one other reason, and that is its impedance. A sensitivity of 94dB makes these earphones hard to place. The B1 relies on a large amount of power to be driven well. In the DAPs I’ve used for testing, only the Cayin N8’s Vacuum Tube Mode can drive the B1 to a satisfactory level. The Lotoo Paw Gold Touch does well in driving the B1, but it’s reference tuning can often be at odds with the flow of the B1. With any other DAP, the B1 reveals a fraction of its true potential. But even without the necessary power needed to drive the B1, it remains one of the stunners in it’s mastery of classical music. (My experience with the B1 driven by the WM1Z at the SIAV was already verging on spiritual)
Unravelling just a bit of the B1’s true capability is enough to stun. I plugged the B1 into the Low Impedance jack of the EAR Yoshino’s HP4 and pitted it against the way it sounded paired with the full-blooded Ether 2 from MrSpeakers. The B1 still sounds great when paired with these unique amps, so much that it surprised everyone in the Zinc Audio studio. Until today, the B1 still delivers plenty of surprises, I’m still not quite sure of its full potential, just as well, really, a maestro should have unlimited, untapped potential.
The B1 is underrated, made by what some netizens might see as an unnecessarily luxe brand, using a 1 DD, 1 BA combination that’s eschewed by most enthusiasts and it retails at somewhere in the ballpark of 1000USD, you’d probably think I was mad for lauding it as much as I’m doing.
But what’s undeniable is that, final has always made use of a scientific process when designing its products. From the D8000 to the E5000, final Audio has delighted me with the amount of easter eggs and surprises in the sound of their products. Through B1, I’ve seen the care final Audio puts in the tuning of its products (unlike Takai San, Hosoo san is a perfectionist and a lover of classical music, which explains final’s new tuning). You could probably interpret final’s previous incarnation as “overly esoteric” and “borderline neurotic”, but final’s new sound is slowly taking a more musical, human touch.
*FINAL B1，A TRUE MAESTRO！
The BEST classical IEM available on the market?
Not you’ve read what I think perhaps, you’re thinking that I’m overexaggerating the B1’s strengths, I feel like I’ve already exercised a healthy amount of restraint. That being said, here’s a disclaimer, the Zinc Audio isn’t commercialised, and will never be. There’s never any exchange of interests between us and the manufacturers we review and most manufacturers don’t want us to talk about them anyway. We’re only keen to talk about the products we love .
Reading 1000 reviews isn’t as good as listening to the real thing just once. It’s easy to listen and enjoy, but it’s a little harder to listen to pair of monitors from the point of view of a reviewer. Everyone has their own pet subjects and pet peeves, myself included. A lot of earphones I’ve found mediocre have earned the love of a lot of audiophiles, and that’s okay. But our stand has always been that the gear serves the music, and our reviews aim to tell you how well it does that.
If you happen to be in Hangzhou, you’re more than welcome to pay a visit to Zinc Audio to give the B1 a spin.
Bonus: What about the B2 and B3?
I’m very very much into the B1, so I’ve talked about the B1 this whole time. So I’ll talk a bit about the B2 and B3 for the bonus section. The numbering is a little weird, with B3 being 2BA the sub-flagship and the B2 being the IBA entry level model. Is B2 and B3 as outstanding as the B1?
Final isn’t known for being particularly orthodox, but they’ve been slowly been compromising a little more to fit in better with the market. So having a series of earphones that are unorthodox in chasing the live experience does seem more in line with final’s typical modus operandi.
B3 is the sub-flagship of the B Series, it’s compatible with a wide array of genres and takes to both instrumentals or vocals beautifully. The B3 bass is a fair bit faster than the B1’s, its vocals are a great deal more detailed than the B1’s, it’s almost meticulous in its vocal presentation: All these things made the B3 the real attention grabber during the SIAV. B3 is similar to the make 1 in pricing, save for the fact the B3 is missing a BA driver. The B3 has more subdued sound than the make 1, so fans of anisong might feel like the make 1 is better. I have a great overall opinion about the B3 as well. I feel like the B3 sounds refined, gentle and balanced, overall a very meticulous sort of presentation.
The B2 is nowhere near as full as the B1 or B3, it sounds lean, contoured and raw. The B2 focuses on bringing out a visceral sort of emotional nuance, the vocals are incredibly intimate and the lows are relaxed. Expect less detail but more speed.
Between the B2 and B3, I personally prefer the B3, it’s the most balanced member of the B series. But it’s nowhere near B1 in the way it handles extreme frequencies in classical music. For a person like me who listens to classical music 95% of the time. I stan the Maestro B1, no questions asked.
A $599 Cable with Exceptional Cost-performance? The OSLO Cable isn’t Just About Convenience: A Phileweb Review
This OSLO review was sourced from phileweb and written by Atsushi Takuma.
Translated and adapted by Asher Yeo
See the original article here
Sound Preferences Aside, This is a Cable that’s Objectively Convenient:
The elements earphone uses look for in a replacement cable can roughly be divided into 3 categories
Whether a replacement cable is suitable for a pair of monitors largely depends on what kind of sound compliments monitor’s original tuning. This means that an individual listener’s favourite cable-IEM combinations are almost entirely dependent on their own preferences: These are just some reasons why a universally good cable does not exist.
One aspect of this element is the portion of the cable we know as the ear-hook. This bit of the cable may be enhanced by a mouldable metal wire, resin or even “free-form” non-moulded hook-types. The fit of this portion and the way it loops around the users’ ears also depends on what the user likes. This means that it's impossible for a universally fitting cable to exist, too.
However, when it comes to functionality, there’s a replacement cable on the scene with the sort of practicality most everyone will welcome.
That is DITA's latest OSLO Cable, and it’s presently retailing for $599 USD.
As of time of writing, a universal MMCX version and DITA Twins version is available.
The 2-pin and FitEar terminations are still awaiting release in Japan.
From 3.5mm to 4.4mm to 2.5mm: The Awesome Plug Supports (Almost) Everything!
What's this prattling on about ”functionality”?
I’m talking about DITA’s ultimate weapon “the Awesome Plug!”
As you can probably see, the images above contain multiple connector sizes:
All these plug options come included within the packaging of the OSLO cable.
This really is a universally convenient function for most everybody, especially for those who want the immersion that comes with using the balanced output on the DAP but also want the convenience of listening to their radio subscriptions on their smartphones.
This can also be a useful feature for those who have transitioned entirely to TWS earphones for their smartphone and only need, say, a 2.5mm plug for their DAPs. These users now have the convenience of an available 4.4mm plug should they choose to switch machines, letting them use the same OSLO cable on 2 entirely different setups. This system goes a long way in giving the end user a peace-of-mind.
Given that high-end cables really don’t come cheap, a cable that’s functional in multiple situations and that’s convenient to use on most machines is a huge boon that DITA wants to provide. The Awesome Plug gives the OSLO cable a high cost-performance factor that’s certainly going to be a big reason to own this one.
Moving Along from the Plug, The Cable Itself is Quite the Powerhouse
Despite what we’ve talked about above, a replacement cable of the OSLO’s price bracket isn't going to get by with simply being “convenient”.
I’d like to reassure my readers that the OSLO cable’s merits don’t just end at the convenience of the Awesome Plug.
In fact, even if you took away the Awesome Plug system entirely, the OSLO cable still has ample strength to stand on its own. It's a strong contender in the high-end cable category.
Let’s kick off by talking about the product’s specifications, we’ll move into talking about the sound a little later.
The conductors themselves are made from oil-soaked PC-Triple C Long Crystal Copper. While the nanoparticle oil the conductors are soaked in is made from squalane, an oily substance found in the bladders of deep-sea sharks. Gold and silver nanoparticles have been added in the mix.
Applying this mixture to the conductor’s surfaces will smooth and fill fine irregularities, making for smoother, more accurate, signal transmission.
Incidentally, it should be noted that squalane oil is widely used in cosmetic applications and is safe. It’s widely used as a lubricating agent. This writer personally uses squalane oil to facilitate the removal of the nuts and saddle on his guitar. Some audiophiles also use squalane oil to maintain highly complicated equipment with small moving parts.
The cable sheath is made of polyethene, its not too thick, it’s flexible and easy to handle. It’s easy to wind up and put away. While cables that are too thin and soft may get tangled easily.
The absence of a memory wire allows the cable to drape naturally around the ear making wearing experience smooth and comfortable
The splitter is made of what looks like aluminium with brand name emblazoned on the top. It’s appropriately weighty. While weight may sound like a negative, it’s beneficial in this case, helping to pull the cables snug around the ears, applying downward tension and stabilising the earphones.
The current OSLO lineup is as follows
Cables for the company’s Twins Series and a universal MMCX configuration is out. Universal 2-pin and MMCX will be released in the future. I’ve managed to borrow an MMCX prototype and a 2 Pin prototype for the purpose of this review. As far as I know, the 2 termination will be undergoing a revision very soon. As such, please note that what is written above may be subject to change!
There’s a little bit of a protrusion after the connector, this is to accommodate monitors with a sunken-in connector. However, on the flip side, there’s going to be a bit of the connector’s base showing when the cables are used with normal IEMs, the connector itself also becomes slightly longer.
One of the main boons of the OSLO cable seems to be its versatility regardless of the monitor its combined with: As such, the cable certainly works with most IEMs. This characteristic of the OSLO Cable, paired with the universal connector on the DAP-end of the cable makes the OSLO cable suitable for various configurations
Giving Reference Earphones Warmth and Nuance
The OSLO cable does make an impact on the sound of the earphones. But it generally enhances the earphones in terms of making them the sound more liquid and richer. These are also two of the major takeaways for the OSLO cable.
I paired it with my Shure SE846 thinking “This is going to be great!”, the SE846 is, after all the most reference offering in Shure’s lineup. It’s a relatively uncoloured sound.
Combining the SE846 with the OSLO Cable produced a sound that was richer and more fluid than the SE846's original sound. The OSLO cable took the edge off the stock tuning of the SE846 giving a smooth, liquid feel to the whole setup.
That said, there’s always the concern that making the overall tuning of a setup warmer and more fluid would sacrifice the resolution and sharpness of the earphones. Thankfully, I haven’t ran into this issue and the sharpness and detail remained the same as always.
A good example of which earphones are and aren't suitable to be paired with the OSLO cable are the E5000 and E4000, both members of final’s E Series.
The E4000, with it’s clean sound, was a great match with the OSLO cable, much like the SE846, the E4000 doesn’t possess a lot of its own colouration, allowing the cable to take the edge off the earphones and the allowing the E4000's monitors to tamp down the sweetness of the cable, resulting in a sound that can be described as “clear but rich”.
On the other hand, when pairing it with a pair of earphones that are already fluid, like the E5000, the effects of the cable rolling doesn’t come through too easily, there isn’t a particularly large need for a combination like that.
Giving Great Cost Performance to Fans of the Sound Signature
The OSLO cable is versatile and all-purpose, however, its sound profile does suit some users more than others.
That in addition with the fact that certain monitors may be better suited to the OSLO cable, makes the OSLO a product that should be purchased according to the listening profile of each user.
That being said, the OSLO cable is by no means flawed. It is cable that changes the character of a pair of earphones, while upping the resolution of the monitors in general.
If you’ve fallen in love with a cable, you’d want to use it for a long time, the OSLO cable comes with a plug change system. Thanks to this, even if you changed your DAP you could still use this cable for a long time to come. And as you use your cable for longer and longer periods of time, its cost-perfomance will increase.
For instance, if you used your OSLO cable for 5 years (60 months):
US$599/60=the cable would cost just $10 per month.
It’s really about the same price as a music subscription service, and a cable really is something you can use above and beyond that, so it’s performance at a non-intrusive price.
I personally liked the cable's functionality and sound very much. But I'm troubled that you can only choose one sort of termination on the earphone side.
The OSLO cable may be excellent for long-term cost performance. But your humble writer doesn’t have the short-term funds to buy all MMCX, Fitear and 2-Pin terminations.
My money troubles aside, the OSLO Cable might be the perfect thing for you if you're looking for a long-lasting replacement cable.
Guests at Project Perfection's Post-Lunch Launch and Listen got chance to catch the best of July's new audio gear releases at KOMYUNITI @ YOTEL, among friends and food.
Featuring the final Audio B Series and Lotoo PAW 6000. Last Saturday saw a unit of the B Series' B3 being given away to a lucky winner.
The Post-Lunch Launch and Listen also saw little nuggets of information regarding both the B Series and The PAW 6000 being revealed for the first time. This recap post is geared at letting you catch up on the latest in specs and listening notes for these products.
B Series Presentation Highlights
The B Series is final Audio's exploration of ideal sound: The B Series comes in 3 driver configurations featuring a crossover-less design for better coherence.
B1: 1 DD+1 BA
B2: 1 BA
B3: 2 BA
In the case of the B-Series' multi driver offerings, each driver picks up where the other one rolls off.
The B Series is already available for sale from our sales partners at Zeppelin and Co. and Music Sanctuary, purchase your unit before 3 August to pick up some little launch bonuses from them:
PAW 6000 Presentation Highlights
The PAW 6000 can be considered a younger brother of sorts to the LPGT. Compact and affordable, the PAW 6000 can be considered An Everyday Reference to the Lotoo Paw Gold Touch's Ultimate reference. The Lotoo PAW 6000 features:
Lotoo's newest player boasts a playback time of 16 hours on top of it's signature super-dark background and reference tuning. At about half of the price of the Lotoo Paw Gold Touch, the PAW 6000's size, playback time and non-fatiguing qualities might make it an ideal everyday-carry companion for the listener on the go.
Making Musical Memories
Here's a little gallery of shots we've put together over the weekend, you can see more of these shots on the Project Perfection Facebook Page or on our Instagram page!
Spring rolls, samosas and cupcakes courtesy make up our event's extremely well-patronised mini snackbar.
A lot of us at PP are also entirely guilty of filtering out of the event to spirit away a spring roll or four.
We'd like to thank each-and-every one of our guests who attended this event, as well as our sales partners at Zeppelin and Co and Music Sanctuary for their kind support before, during and after the event!
Project Perfection is set to make it's maiden voyage into Vietnam with the upcoming Headphile Show 2019!
PP curates and distributes audio products with the aim of making quality sound available and accessible to music enthusiasts and hobbyists in Southeast Asia. We carry wide selection of products from international brands, including final Audio Japan, DITA Audio, Lotoo, STAX and Furutech.
For the inaugural edition of the Headphile Show in Ho Chi Minh City, PP has prepared a veritable spread of audio products from final Audio, DITA Audio and Lotoo, allowing us to share our own little slice of good sound with you.
Established in 1974 by Kanemori Takai, final has had 45 years of experience doling out quality audio products within the Japanese market.
Good Sound for Everyone
Combining final’s desire to make audiophile-type detail and quality to accessible the everyman with its expertise in good sound, final Audio has found success with its recent foray into the budget audiophile market with its widely lauded E Series.
The E series is a line of audiophile-quality earphones starting from only $35 USD making them quite the pint-sized powerhouses in terms of size and pricing. The E-Series has been covered by publications like CNET and The Verge, hailing them as some of the best value-for-money earphones in the market today.
A Deep-Dive into “The Ideal Sound”
final Audio is also on the cusp of its newest release: The B-Series.
This new series consists of 3 intricately crafted, jewel-like earphones representing three iterations of final Audio’s ideal sound, listen to the B-Series in final Audio’s suggested order of B2, B3 and B1, for the full experience: There’s bound to be something for everyone.
The Headphile Show 2019 in Ho Chi Minh is the B Series’ 3rd stop in Asia outside of China and Japan.
Lotoo was founded in 1999 and is the professional audio brand of Beijing Infomedia electronic technology co. ltd . Over the years, Lotoo has been committed to providing the world's highest levels of professional recording and playback products.
It’s 2015 flagship, the Lotoo Paw Gold, made waves in the market for its stellar sound quality upon its release.
The New Gold Standard
The Lotoo Paw Gold Touch continues in this vein, boating a custom-built OS, ultra-silent noise floor, 2-second startup time and its ability to read SD cards instantaneously.
Each and every one of Lotoo’s flagship releases are aimed at pushing the boundaries of the existing market in one way or another, solidifying Lotoo’s reputation as a company with a heart for its consumers and a n unwavering focus on quality.
A Singaporean earphone manufacturer, DITA builds products embodying a quest for the sublime, based off the premise that a well-crafted product is an experience in itself.
Beyond the realm of audio, DITA looks to engage partners and clientele with a curiosity and passion for complete design integration and execution. Driving collaborative ventures in the fields of design, engineering and manufacturing to that end.
Established in 1971, DITA’s parent company, Packagers Pte. Ltd, possesses 47 years of research and experience in automation and engineering: treasured and translated into the uncompromising commitment to craft imbued within every DITA product.
The DITA Dream XLS
DITA’s previous flagship, the limited-edition DITA Dream, was a cult hit in Japan and China. Stemming from a desire to do even better, the Dream XLS is a culmination of everything DITA Audio has gleaned through years of experimentation in its quest for good sound, melding the lessons learnt from the development of the original Dream with new technologies and industrial know-how.
Slated for release in Summer 2019, the DITA Dream XLS will be available for listening during the Headphile Show 2019.
Project Perfection looks forward to bringing you the cream of the crop in audio circles in Japan, China and Singapore.
Swing by and come say "xin chào" to us at the Headphile Show 2019 at Trung tâm Hội nghị 272 on 29 and 30 June 2019!