With the original D8000 and now the D8000 Pro, Final is trying to make their mark among the top headphones in the world. The original D8000 was the first headphone to use their patented Air Film Dampening System which allows planar magnetic drivers to be driven harder to create a more dynamic response without elevating the volume to uncomfortable levels. The D8000 Pro promises to take this technology and add a more robust low-end response to create headphones with top-of-the-line speed, impact, detail, and accuracy.
The Build and Design
The D8000 Pro has an almost retro-futuristic look to it, with angular bends in the headband, and a web-like support structure on the earcups. Without close examination, it also looks a bit like a closed-back headphone, but careful observation reveals that the back of the driver is fully vented. Part of the reason it looks to be closed, or semi-open is that the driver is on the smaller side for high-end planar magnetic headphones, but the earcups are still designed to be fully over-ear.
In the package with the headphones, you get a molded travel case, a cloth bag for storing the headphones, and a 6.3mm and 3.5mm cable. Both cables are unbalanced silver plated copper, with the 6.3mm cable being 3m with a transparent coating, while the 3.5mm is 1.5m with a black coating. The case is a good stylistic match for the headphones, and both looks and feels great.
The comfort is good, but not exceptional. The D8000 Pro is fairly light compared to other headphones in its class and the weight feels well distributed across your head. The earpads are a cloth design, chosen specifically for the sonic characteristics, and are soft and comfortable. The clamp force and pressure all around are well balanced, and the D8000 Pro is definitely capable of “disappearing” on your head – it just requires a bit of trial and error to get it in the right position.
The D8000 Pro provides top end detail and resolution with ample low end support. It balances a clear, transparent sound with a nice elevation in the bass. There’s a nice sizzle and splash in the high end from instruments like cymbals along with good transient response that provide a fast attack and natural decay. Instruments have an incredibly lifelike feeling that’s dripping with detail and texture.
The soundstage isn’t quite as large as some of its high end competition, but the layering and imaging are excellent, with a great sense of separation enabling you to pull the smallest details out of any instrumental or vocal performance. The soundstage has good width and depth, but mostly lacks in height compared to other headphones in its class.
The bass is the real highlight with a great amount of impact and texture, as well as that extra mid-bass thump that many summit-fi headphones seem to shy away from. The mids are very well balanced, with minimal to no feeling of bleeding or congestion. Vocals have a good presence and detail with a nice blend of intimacy and space. The treble is smooth, but with a touch of peakiness that can add some fatigue depending on the genre. With some jazz recordings, the trumpet in particular had a touch of harshness. The treble had the most variation in terms of source, with brighter sources bringing out the harshness, while sources on the neutral-to-warm end of the spectrum smoothed out the treble just enough to remove any harsh overtones.
The D8000 Pro is also quite sensitive for a top of the line planar magnetic headphone. I wouldn’t try to drive it off your phone, but most DAPs seem quite fine with it, and there was plenty of slam apparent from portable devices like the iFi iDSD Signature. I tested it with the usual array of Astell&Kern DAPs, as well as the Burson Conductor 3X (a clear favorite), Questyle CMA Twelve (a bit bright in the high-end), and iFi iDSD Signature (very warm and smooth combo).
Listening to “Ectogenesis” by Animals as Leaders on the D8000 Pro is almost disorientating as the physical impact from the bass drum combines with the insane polyrhythms and leaves you wondering when the next hit is coming, and where it’s coming from. Every intricacy of the performance from the pick attack on the guitar, to the opening and closing of the hi-hats is on display. The delivery is powerful and immersive, with the visceral response from the bass and drums putting you in the middle of the performance, and the transparent delivery of the guitar and keys letting you hear every note.
On the other end of the spectrum, Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” is similarly intricate and dynamic, but feels open, spacious, and uplifting, rather than feeling like you’re in a boxing match with a double bass drum. In place of a double bass drum on the low end, you have a double bass violin, which provides a bit of physical response, but with a much smoother, softer feeling. The main strings which carry the melody are smooth and clear, and the accompanying woodwinds have a good sense of breath to them. The D8000 Pro gives an excellent sense of rising and falling dynamics, with a large spread in volume from the quietest passages to the crescendo.
In “The Bucket” by Kings of Leon, the D8000 Pro provides a good sense of the band’s positioning and an intimated, close-up feeling with the vocals. The two guitar tracks feel like they’re on opposite sides of the stage, with the bass and drums behind the vocals in the center. Surprisingly, the drums felt a little bit back in the mix, with the guitars and vocals really dominating, and the bass and drums feeling not just positionally in the back of the stage, but also a bit recessed.
Alanis Morissette’s vocals are up close and personal on “Head Over Feet,” with all the character of her voice coming through clearly. While the vocals are clearly the highlight of the song (and are well highlighted by the headphones) the D8000 Pro helps bring out the small nuances in the studio performances. It what is otherwise a fairly straightforward “four chord” type song, the D8000 Pro helps reveal the little bits of character each of the musicians added to the performance, from an extra hi-hat accent on one verse, or small changes in the guitar part on another, you get all of the detail expertly delivered.
Comparison: Meze Empyrean
The Meze Empyrean and D8000 Pro are two different takes on what ends up being the same core idea: top of the line headphones that are fun to listen to. As you climb the summit of most headphone brands’ offerings, you get a skew towards neutral, analytical, or reference tunings. For listeners who primarily enjoy genres like rock, pop, EDM, or hip hop, a crystal clear presentation of micro-detail is great, but you don’t want to lose out on the fun and energy of the music.
The D8000 Pro and Empyrean both try to bridge this gap by balancing technical capabilities and the presentation of detail, with sound signatures that work well with a number of popular genres. Both also represent completely different design philosophies. The D8000 Pro has a functional, industrial design with it’s primarily stainless steel and magnesium construction, and simple leather wrapped headband. Empyrean, on the other hand has a complex ornate aesthetic with a suspension system that delivers incredible comfort.
In terms of sound, the D8000 Pro starts with a more neutral, reference tuning, and adds a bit of a bump in the low end, while the Empyrean has a bit of a more warm character overall, but still loaded with intricacy and detail. Both have soundstages a little bit smaller than other headphones in their class, with the Empyrean having a generally more intimate presentation, while the D8000 Pro is wider and deeper, but still lacks in height.
The D8000 Pro has a generally crisper, more transparent sound, with significantly more feeling or air in the treble. The mids are also more forward which provides a stronger vocal presence. Empyrean has more recessed mids, and smoother treble. In the low end, both have well-textured, dynamic, physical bass. I hear a bit more of a warm midbass in the D8000 Pro, with Empyrean having a deeper slam.
Ultimately, between the two, Empyrean is really in a category all by itself, with a sound signature that you’ll either instantly fall in love with, or find to be too lacking in technical performance aspects. The D8000 Pro has a sound more comparable to other headphones in its class like the Focal Utopia, but with the added bass emphasis that helps it stand out.
The Bottom Line
The D8000 Pro has strong technical capabilities, and delivers flagship level detail and resolution, but also delivers a low end punch to keep the bassheads on board. If you’re looking for truly top tier headphones tuned for rock, pop, hip hop, and EDM, the D8000 Pro will give you a true top of the line experience that doesn’t leave out the bottom end.