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This year’s best-value earphones are the $45 Final E2000

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Big sound for a little price

Final E2000
Final E2000
Photo by Vlad Savov / The Verge

Around this time last year, I came across the sensational Zero Audio Carbo Tenore earphones, which cost $38 but sound an order of magnitude better. I still consider them outstanding, however today I can add a new pair of earbuds that may rank as their equal: the Final E2000. Like the Carbo Tenore, these are made by a relatively obscure Japanese company and have a price ($45) that’s hard to beat.

The similarities are more than skin-deep. The E2000s are structured around a single tiny dynamic sound driver, measuring just 6.4mm in diameter. This makes for a minimal tubular design, which could be easily confused for that of the Carbo Tenores. Both sets of earphones consistently surprise with the depth and impact of the bass they produce from such tiny enclosures. Neither is tuned to exaggerate any particular portion of the sound spectrum, but both are incredibly satisfying to listen to.

Final has done a terrific job of balancing the sound of the E2000s to make it dynamic and emotive. The company admits it has boosted high frequencies by just a touch to make vocals feel more present and immediate, and I think combining that with the substantial bass response is what makes me enjoy these earphones so much. It also helps that they have a broad and realistic soundstage, presenting music with a ton of separation between the various sources of sound.

Interestingly, Final also has a very similar pair of E3000s, which cost slightly more and are made out of steel rather than the E2000s’ aluminum. They sound nothing like the E2000s. I find the E3000s boring to listen to, flattening out the peaks of excitement that the cheaper pair produce with ease. I note this only as a reminder that brand loyalty can be a foolish undertaking, especially when it comes to headphones.

Beside their great sound, the E2000s also provide good isolation from external noise and are super light and comfortable. That being said, they’re not without their limitations, as their thin wire feels flimsy and lacks any remote control or microphone options. Very much like the Carbo Tenores in that respect. The E2000s are also not to be confused with any sort of high-fidelity or high-resolution headphones: they don’t have the finesse and resolving precision of something like the Beyerdynamic Xelento that I reviewed earlier this week. But then the Xelentos cost 20 times as much, so there’s that.

Unlike Zero Audio, Final is a company that makes more than just affordable earphones. It also sells the hopelessly eccentric Piano Forte X, which cost $2,199, and has a full line of over-ear headphones. Soon, Final will be releasing a pair of planar magnetic headphones, which I tried out at CanJam London last month and was blown away by. This company knows how to make my heart beat faster, and though the E3000s show it doesn’t always get it right, the E2000s are a great example of Final at its best.

If your top priorities are great sound and a low price, the E2000s will not disappoint.