Final has been making good quality headphones for years, but the UX3000 is the Japanese hi-fi brand’s first pair of wireless noise-cancelling over-ears sporting what it claims is ‘hybrid noise-cancellation methodology’.
As far as an all-round specification goes, these Final UX3000 headphones tick most boxes for prospective users: wireless via Bluetooth, with a wired option for emergencies; active noise cancellation; microphones for clear voice calls; physical controls on the earcups; and a foldable design so they can fit in a bag without issue, ready for the commute back home from the office.
This is a growing and extremely competitive market, of course, but most of the big hitters are fighting at a considerably higher price bracket than this, and there is rather more room to breathe around the £100 / $100 /AU$200 mark – the entry price point for this type of headphone.
The Final UX3000 will set you back £119 / $149 / AU$200, which is certainly a tempting offer for headphones that combine both Bluetooth and noise cancelling.
Build & features
The UX3000 are nicely built for the money. At first glance it seemed that someone may have been a touch overzealous with the cleaning cloth and rubbed a shinier layer away; on further investigation, however, it seems this is the Shibo finish – Shibo being a wrinkle on the surface of, say, paper or leather. And it makes for a slightly textured finish that adds interest to the fairly bland blackness of the headphones. The only relief from the black plastic is the Final logo on each earcup.
The earcups can fold inward when the headphones are not in use – there is a soft carrying pouch to help prevent scratching in storage – and swivel out by 90 degrees for sitting nicely around the neck.
Codec support aptX Low Latency, aptX, AAC, SBC
Battery life 25 hours with ANC on; 35 hours with ANC off
Built-in mic and controls Yes
Analogue audio cable Yes
The physical buttons and inputs aren’t particularly easily found or distinguished by touch when the headphones are in place, but it doesn’t take too much practice to get things down pat, so there are no real complaints there. And between them, they do pretty much everything you would expect. The left earcup houses the USB-C charging port and a button for turning noise cancelling on and off. The right earcup has three multi-use buttons: one for power, connecting to Bluetooth, playing and pausing a track, and call answering; and a couple for volume control and track skipping in either direction.
One of the headline features, of course, is active noise cancellation. The UX3000 use what Final calls a hybrid active noise-cancelling system; there is a pair of microphones on each earcup, one taking sound from outside the earcup, the other from the driver inside (the one that outputs the music). These are designed to work together to generate the noise-cancelling signal. The noise cancelling on the UX3000 is pretty effective, and does a fine job on our commute to work, taking trains, the London Underground and the occasional bus comfortably in its stride.
Another useful plus is the multipoint connect feature, so you can link the headphones to two sources at the same time. This is particularly useful at work when, say, you are listening to something on your laptop but need to be able to answer a call on your phone as well. Switching between the two sources works pretty well, with only a minor glitch and fallout of signal every now and then – nothing serious and no permanent drop-outs.
The UX3000 are reasonably compact for over-ear headphones, and the fit is good, with a decent seal over each ear meaning that they provide a reasonable buffer from outside disturbances, even when noise cancelling is not in use.
The pleather padding on the earcups is soft and quite comfortable, but our ears do heat up fairly quickly with them in place. They are perhaps best suited for those with smaller heads, as the grip pressure is noticeable for those with a bigger hat size. It’s not discomforting in the main – although it’s certainly noticeable during long listening sessions, especially for the spectacle wearers among us.
ANC & call quality
We connect the Final UX3000 to our MacBook Pro and iPhone via Bluetooth to see how they cope with the rigours of a daily commute and work day, and for the most part they prove themselves to be reliable workhorses. The noise cancelling is decent for the price – not up to the standards of the superb Sony WH-1000XM4 (and therefore also the newer WH-1000XM5), but those multi-award-winners are more than double the price. For what you are paying though, these headphones do sterling service on the noise-cancelling front.
And, when a phone call comes in, the sound is clear from either end of the conversation and we don’t experience any dropouts. Dropouts overall are extremely rare, in fact; we wander away from our source fairly often, and a reasonable distance, and don’t have any issues.
The Final UX3000 provide an even and inoffensive sound, with no particular bias towards any aspect of the sonic spectrum. Bass is perhaps a little woolly and there isn’t a lot of punch and precision there, but it doesn’t dominate in a way that some rivals can. It’s more of a wide spread, rather than coming out to hit you.
It’s that word ‘inoffensive’ that is our issue here. It’s not inoffensive in a good way; dynamic punch and rhythmic drive are somehow missing, which means the music, while perfectly acceptable, simply doesn’t grab our attention and draw us in in a way that the best headphones and speakers can. Music is somewhat robbed of character, drive and energy.
Rather than listening to an album the whole way through (a sure sign of good music replay), we are restlessly looking for the next track to try.
Whether that track is Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or one by Massive Attack, we struggle to get over the thought that we can’t quite get a grip on the character of individual instruments. The musical whole is rather homogenised, rather than clear separate strands coming together in a satisfying union (in a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Helplessly Hoping kind of way).
There are plenty of headphones out there that bring us more joy in our music listening; not with noise cancelling perhaps, but still. We dig out our old five-star AKG Y400 (sadly no longer available) for confirmation and, sure enough, our suspicions are confirmed. It is immediately obvious that our ears prick up with the AKG headphones when they simply don’t with the Final pair.
It’s a shame, because this is a competent pair of headphones that will suit many people very well. If you want a pair of reasonably priced cans for the daily commute, that do noise-cancelling decently and are well constructed, the Final UX3000 will do you very nicely – you may not particularly expect or want hi-fi sound in those circumstances.
But if you are after a set of headphones that can transport you in a different way and truly manage to lose you in your music (without noise-cancelling, we fully accept), there are cheaper and better options out there.
- Sound 3
- Features 5
- Comfort 4
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