Final Audio Design headphones launched at Munich High End Show

It takes something to make a new headphone range stand out, at a time when every company you can imagine is jumping on the personal audio bandwagon, but Japanese company Final Audio Design looks like it has a unique approach.

The company, founded, owned and run by Kanemori Takai, has been making high end audio equipment since the 1970s, with some striking designs including a massive 800kg speaker, the Opus 204 (above), using sand-filled ultra-thin aluminium cones, and an innovative cartridge design with stylus and cantilever made in one piece by shaving down a 2ct diamond.

Now 64, Takai (above) was at the Munich High End Show over the weekend to explain more of the company's history, including the fact that those massive speakers, with their 8g cones and all-up 800kg fighting weight, were so big and hefty that the only solution was to install the speakers before a house was finished, then complete construction around them.

Final Audio Design moved into the earphone market in 2007, starting a two year research project with connector maker Molex Japan, and in 2009 started sales of its in-ear products, with models such as the Pianoforte IX – above and at the top of this story – selling in Japan for ¥100,000 (£650). The housings are hand-milled from solid brass, and then chromed.

It's expanding its range into Europe and introducing headphones, with the release of five Pandora models to run alongside the extensive earphone line-up, all of which will be sold in the UK through Final Audio Design Europe.

The Pandora models are unusual in combining a balanced armature with a 50mm dynamic driver, which Takai says has the intention of making 'a diaphragm as light as a dragonfly's wings', while the design of the housings draws on the construction of traditional Japanese taiko drums.

UK selling prices are yet to be announced.

Written by Andrew Everard

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Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.