Written by Chrono
Review unit provided by Headphones.com for evaluation.
The D8000 Pro (which I’ll refer to as “D8K Pro”) is Final Audio’s flagship open-back, over-ear headphone, and it retails at the jaw-dropping price tag of $4,299. Whilst I haven’t tried the original D8000, it seems as though the D8K pro is–as suggested by its name–geared or tuned more towards professional use in recording and mastering studios.
Given that I haven’t auditioned the D8000 , then, I’ll mainly focus on sharing my listening experience with the D8K Pro and seeing how it compares to other headphones I’ve tried around this price bracket.
The Amplifier/DACs used in this review were the SPL Phonitor XE (with built-in DAC), Grace Design SDAC + A90 , and the JDS Labs Element II connected via USB to my desktop computer. For the listening tests I used music from a wide variety of genres including Rock, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Hip-Hop, and latin. I played tracks from my own FLAC library as well as from Qobuz streaming service played via Roon (exclusive mode).
Included with the D8K Pro is a molded, hardshell case alongside two cables. The first one is a 1.5m OFC black cable that has a 3.5mm, single-ended termination, and the second one is a 3m OFC silver-coated cable with a ¼” termination.
The D8K Pro’s accessory selection is one that I think is acceptable, but I definitely would have appreciated to have seen a bit more for a headphone in the over $4000 range; the likes of a balanced cable or adapters would have been a welcome addition.
The build on the D8K Pro is outstanding, and undoubtedly one that I think is fitting for a headphone with the “Flagship” label. Its chassis consists primarily of an aluminum-magnesium alloy that is very precisely machined, which gives the feel of a headphone that’s sturdy and has certainly been made with both top-notch materials, and the utmost care in its assembly.
Now, I will mention that although I really doubt that any issues will arise from the D8K Pro’s build, I commend Final Audio for designing their headphone with longevity in mind, as every part on the headphone can be disassembled and easily repaired or replaced.
As for comfort, I think that the D8K Pro is one the more comfortable headphones I’ve had the opportunity to try out recently. Weighing in at roughly 523g they’re on the heavier side for headphones, so if you’re very sensitive to a headphone’s weight these may not be the ones for you. However, I personally didn’t find them to be that heavy when actually wearing, and I think that this is due to the pads and headband being very efficient in distributing the headphone’s weight. I do have one gripe with the D8K Pro, though, and that is that the earcup height adjustment is on sliders, so every single time I took them off and back on, I had to readjust them to the setting that was comfortable for me.
The D8K Pro is using Final Audio’s AFDS Planar Magnetic Transducer. AFDS refers to Final Audio’s Air Film Damping System, which is a driver structure they created to improve bass reproduction, and to blend some of the best qualities of both planar and dynamic driver headphones.
I’ll be completely honest and say that originally, before looking at the spec sheet or learning more about the D8K Pro, I thought it was using a dynamic driver. For me, its presentation was just very reminiscent of something like the HD600 or HD800S in that it had that smoother, more relaxed, and in my opinion, more musical transient response. Additionally, the D8K Pro proved to be a very controlled and precise headphone that possessed great technical capabilities.
Unfortunately, though, the D8K Pro did have some issues in its tonality, particularly around the midrange; and as we’ll discuss briefly, it does hurt the headphone’s timbre.
I found the D8K Pro to deliver excellent bass reproduction. Low tones were well-textured, with exceptional definition and articulation that when paired with the headphone’s sub bass extension made for a bass response that was clean, nuanced and deep.
For my tastes and preferences, I also found the stock bass shelf to be quite enjoyable and balanced in the context of the D8K Pro’s tuning; it gave the mix some warmth by keeping the bass present, but it never felt over-powering or intrusive of other frequency ranges. The one thing I will note, however, was that to me it sounded as though the frequencies under 35hz could have used a little more energy to pronounce the sub bass’s rumble, but this was extremely subtle and something that could be alleviated with EQ or a bass boost toggle.
The midrange is, without a doubt, where I think the D8K Pro faces most of its shortcomings. Whilst the fundamental range in the lower mids, between 300hz to around 750hz is fine and free of any deviations that I could hear, the upper midrange is uneven and feels lacking in presence.
First there is a bump at around 1Khz that introduces a sort of nasally or congested quality to the D8K Pro’s timbre. This is then followed by a very significant recession at around 2.5Khz, which is what affects the D8K Pro’s tonality the most. This upper midrange dip sucks out a lot of the natural overtones that enrich vocals and instruments. Oddly enough, In my experience, I didn’t find this deviation to be as severe when listening to instrumental music, but it really did dampen vocals, making them come across as muted and lacking in bite when they were present. Lastly, this could be because I tend to be sensitive to this area of the frequency response, but I found 4.5Khz to be ever-so-slightly too energetic for my preference, making the upper mid to lower treble transition a tiny bit harsh.
The treble range I find to be well-represented on the D8K Pro, and for me personally there wasn’t really anything to take note of. The highs were even and level throughout, with very good upper treble extension that accurately portrayed all the harmonics and intricacies of the higher frequencies without feeling harsh or unnaturally bright at all.
The D8K Pro is one of the most resolving headphones I’ve heard thus far, and I think that for its price tag it performs well. It didn’t strike me as being as detailed as the Focal Utopia , but it was very close, and it still displays some of the best internal resolution I’ve heard in a headphone. Needless to say, then, the D8K Pro easily created a pristine image of the music with all the tonal intricacies and tonal subtleties being precisely and transparently reproduced.
Soundstage, Imaging, and Layering
For spatial qualities, the D8K Pro again delivers great performance. Its soundstage is akin to that of the LCD-X but is perhaps even a bit more spacious and is more effective in conveying a sense of distance. The D8K Pro displays good imaging capabilities with some of the most accurate left-right localization I’ve experienced in a planar magnetic headphone; even when using them to play Apex Legends, I had no issues discerning the positioning and directionality of sound. Then, as for instrument separation and layering, the D8K Pro provided top-tier performance, with all the various tracks that made up a piece being distinct and adequately spaced from each other.
It may not hit as hard as something like a Utopia or a ZMF Vérité , but for a planar magnetic headphone, the D8K Pro does have a decent sense of punch and slam. Low tones are still accentuated by a satisfying impact, whilst upper registers have a tactility that makes the music more believable. Overall, whilst it may not be the most impressive in this category, the D8K Pro is certainly still energetic enough in its dynamics to create an engaging listening experience.
Whilst I don’t think that the D8K Pro has a particularly bad or offensive tuning, I do think that it’s one that can be improved with the use of EQ. All the issues I mentioned in the midrange can be mostly or entirely resolved with the use of EQ; really benefiting the headphone’s timbre, and giving it a much more natural presentation. If you’d like to try out my settings for the D8K Pro, these are the filters I used:
- Low Shelf at 35hz, +2dB Q of 0.7
- Peak at 1000hz, -2dB Q of 1.41
- Peak at 2500hz, +4dB Q of 1.41
- Peak at 4500hz, -1.5dB Q of 4
At a personal level, I think that the D8K Pro is a superb headphone and my favorite amongst the flagship models that I’ve tried. It’s very comfortable to wear, it’s got performance that is suitable for its price point, and because I am an EQ enthusiast, its tonal shortcomings were not an issue for me.
However, I know that using EQ isn’t a solution that works for everyone, so I think that for most people looking for an “end-game,” top-tier headphone, my recommendation would still go to the Focal Utopia as I think that its out-of-the-box tuning is more agreeable and it’s also $300 less expensive than the D8K Pro. I will reiterate, though, that if you don’t mind using EQ the D8K Pro is a great option to have on your shortlist if you are in the market for some of the best that high-end personal audio has to offer.