Final Audio Adagio III Review
Thanks to Hifiheadphones for the sample.
First Impressions: Well the box seems a fairly minimal affair. I know for Final Audio this a fairly low end offering but you know to some people this is a lot for earphones. I’m more than a touch disappointed that there is no case, not even a little baggy. I know it’s easily cured with ebay but still. It’s all quite Spartan, 3 pairs of tips and that’s your lot. Unimpressed with this cable too.
So in the ears and kaboom! Oh god they have a gone for a bit of a bass centric sound here haven’t they. Dear god this may be one to skip putting a pair of complys on. Holy crap this is a lot of bass.
Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-601, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5.
Lows: Holy **** there is a lot of bass here. Jesus wept, this is pushing towards oppressive. Lol okay this is just mental. The quality of the bass is far above what I’d expect for this crazy ass mountain of it. For its epic vastness it incredibly taut and textured. Oh my god there is just so much of it!!! Its pushing at comedy levels of bass. It’s of sufficient proportions that I can feel it compressing my skull and kicking my sinuses. Oh god make it stop, make it stop!!! To say these are not to my taste is a bit of an understatement. The bass is colossal. Skull smashing colossal.
It quality is nothing short of incredible for this quantity. Oh and its exceedingly deep too. Normally the more you get the softer and more flabby it gets but here its way more solid and articulated than I would have expected. Still the take away feature is, there are mountains and mountains of bass. You throw it some big bassed pop track and it will cave your skull in.
Mids: Actually vocals are quite good. Fractionally warm tonally but pleasantly so. However it doesn’t greatly matter because next to that mountainous bass the mids are more concerned with cutting through and that they do quite well. Vocals are clear, well-articulated and cleanly audible. They are as good as I would hope for its price. The level of detail is good but you have to battle with that bass pounding away. Next to it the mids are playing a clear second fiddle. It’s a shame really as they are quite nice. A little dull and smooth perhaps but very nice.
Highs: There isn’t a whole heap going on up at the top. These are rather easy on the ear treble wise. Delicate and somewhat recessed. I would say it could be doing with dialled up but given the bass I couldn’t take abundant and edgy treble too. As such then they are very relaxed about things. Its clean enough to let you know whats going on but I think it has been tuned with a “consumer” audience in mind. The same people that want this much bass are probably not using the best bit rates or the best quality tracks. So these are going to be ever so forgiving to badly mastered or low bit rate mp3’s. The Adagio 3 will be very forgiving to such music.
Soundstage: Very good. Final Audio seems to have some talent for making things sound large and grandiose. The 3 here does just that and sounds very largely scaled. Even if the mids are a bit recessed they feel like they have loads of room to move about in. This gives very non-symphonic music a taste of that vastness. It’s very well done and very pleasing to behold.
Comfort: Grand. They are light as a feather and gave not a hint of issue.
Fit: Great. They weren’t really shaped for wearing up but they still worked fine and easily.
Cable: Erm, it feels very thin and a bit cheap. What I’d expect from something under a tenner. Maybe it is tough and will last for years but I can’t say I’m wow’ed by it.
Amped/Unamped: These aren’t super likely to get an amp in the real word and it’s sure as hell not one that needs a little bass boosting amp, that’s for sure. When playing with the phone there were the usual differences. Actually there was more than I expected. The bass softened and the mids especially seemed to lose clarity. It’s not something I would expect to be amped so it’s a shame there is a noticeable difference but really, if you’re buying this it’s because you want all the bass, and it’s still all there. Just a bit more flabby that’s all.
Isolation: For a dynamic its unusually good. It’s semi-sealed with its Balancing Air Movement, whatever that is. Normally sealed and isolating IEM’s give a ton of driver flex and air pressure issues, where the pressure makes your hearing / driver combo muffled. Not any of that here at all. Not sure how they did it but they have.
Build Quality: The buds seem pretty good. The cable as mentioned, err it’s a bit naff. The jack is tiny but seems sold mind so maybe it’s just that the cable is so thin we think flimsy when it may last for all the ages, time can only tell.
Accessories: Pretty disappointing. You get 3 pairs of tips. For the price id have liked a little case or something. Oh well.
Value: Well do you want all of the bass that ever there was in the whole universe ever? If you do then step right up. Otherwise I feel Final Audio is trading a bit on their long established audio credentials.
Conclusion: I don’t know how I feel about these. Cable and no case aside there is much to like acoustically but then that bass. Oh Jesus you just can’t get around that BIG heap of the stuff. These playing a little Julie London and they do sound genuinely lovely. The vocals are sultry and well detailed; the double bass plucking away is a bit more prominent than it ought to be but no biggy. Then something radically different comes on. Scissor Sisters “Keep Your Shoes On” and oh god. Oh god I think my nose and ears are bleeding.
The other aural aspect I found myself rather being impressed with is the soundstaging. Two for two, Final Audio’s BAM thing seems to offer are very grand semblance of scale to their IEM’s. The Adagio III sounds vastly grand in a way that is very impressive. It has really good stab at a convincing emulation of being played back by a real speaker in front of you.
What the Adagio III fundamentally boils down to is the bass. It is colossal and for its size very hard. If you want that and some good mids then great. If you don’t want a mountain range of bass to pound you senseless then it’s just not for you. All other considerations just do not matter. While I’m not sure if this places the Adagio III in good stead or not, unquestionably its one I think bass heads ought to pay attention to. Its scale and its aggression would find it some admirers I am positively sure of. For little old me however, no. I just cannot deal with this much bass no matter how nice the mids, that wall of bass is so insurmountable. The bass literally feels like its pressurising my sinuses, it’s just nuts, you’ll either run fleeing from the bass here, or you’ll absolutely fall in love with the Adagio III’s.