Review: Final Audio F7200 – Polite, Reverent, Reference

Disclaimer: I purchased these earphones, used, from e-earphone in Akihabara. Typically, they go for about 450$. You can find out all about them here: Final Audio F7200 Balanced Armature Driver Unit.

Relevant links:

Nuforce HEM2
Review: JAYS QJAYS
instant ohmage: Jays new q-Jays

Not sound

When they’re not flaunting fake fur, or intimidating a pair of otherwise good-sounding dynamic drivers with balanced armatures, Final Audio are up to good. Tiny, fit, and tough the 7200 are statement products for the entire market. Like a non-garage version of the Mycroft Nail 2×2 that people actually queue for. Seriously. I purchased it on 9 September. The Final Audio 7200 was sold out until 10 September at e-earphone. My copy may have been the only free one in all of Japan.

final-f7200-5 final-f7200-4

Check this out. It is the only elegant over-engineered tote pouch I’ve seen. It is silicon origami, flapping over the top and under the bottom on gentle flanges. It protects every scar-prone bit of the F7200. It is more a bugger to use than a zipper case, but is far, far superior to the hard-edged haptic nightmares that accompany Sennheiser IE800 and Beyerdynamic AK T8iE I and II.

From its detachable MMCX cables to its L-shaped plug and metal-necked y-split and rubber neck cinch, every bit is elegant. Chamfered edges. Polished metal surfaces. The stress relief at its plug is almost Dhalsim-supple. Those covering the MMCX necks are robust, bespoke, and tightly finished heat shrink. Tough. Pretty. Elegant.

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That’s the fourth time I’ve used that word. It’s not a term I like to use when discussing physical or stylistic design. But the F7200 is so well designed to work. I’m unsure that any but obsessed portable audiophiles will dig the F7200’s shape. Too machinelike, too much like your tool-box says my wife. She isn’t a fan of translucent cables. They look like worms, she says. She’s got a point. Beyond earphone geeks, the F7200 may appeal to engineers intent on utility-based-design. Snapping on and off the F7200’s worms is easy. And rotating the earphones and cables from hanging to over-the-ear position is painless. Sure, this earphone fits in the ear like bolts fastening Frankenstein’s monster’s head on. And its wormy cable cable is heavy and microphonic. And its tote pouch picks up lint. And which earphone is left? And why aren’t the metal stopping flanges angled forward? Every ear piece I use slides right over them and down toward the MMCX mount. Which is probably why the F7200 ships with plastic sleeves. These ensure ear tips don’t slide down the earphone.

Of course, that flange stuff is inelegant design. The rest just works.

Final Audio’s user base isn’t Joe Everyman. They’re also not Joe Every Audiophile. Typically, they don’t track well on price/performance metrics. They track well along branding quality metrics. Typically they also hold resell value well. They enjoy as large a detractor base as they do a fanbase. This is healthy.

Whatever you think, it is my opinion that good and bad considered, the 7200 is the culmination of everything Final have been trying to do since the late 2000s. It is everything a Final fan should expect in 2016.

Sound and more after the jump:

Review: Final Audio F7200 – Polite, Reverent, Reference
4.5 (89.41%) 17 votes

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Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

9 Comments

  • Reply September 29, 2016

    Barun C

    Very nice Nathan, an enjoyable read as always, the 2 weeks wait was worth it. They seem to be a very balanced IEM with equal extension in the Highs & Lows, reminds me of my Final Audio cans without the hiss off course.

    Can you please expand on what you mean by “too natural” and do you still consider the DN 2002 to be a better overall IEM in comparison to the F-7200?

    Thanks

    • Reply September 30, 2016

      ohm image

      Barun, I really screwed the pooch there. Essentially, the F7200 has no single characteristic that jumps up front. Some other reference-oriented earphones are similar, but usually include sharper highs, sometimes lowered bass pressure, etc. This one is polite in that it fronts no single trait above another.

      ‘Too natural’ in that while it sort of disappears, there is very little sound styling which is specific to the F7200 to really recommend it for the first, second, third, or fourth listen. It’s trite to say that it gets out of the way. But perhaps it does: too much so.

  • Reply September 29, 2016

    Mr. T

    Polite and reverant. Sounds Japanese to me!

    • Reply September 30, 2016

      ohm image

      I’m not sure that reverence is necessarily Japanese. But yes, these are Japanese earphones. In a good way.

  • Reply September 30, 2016

    Rhyan Paderanga

    Will you do a single armature/driver IEMs shoot-out, what with all there comfort and design?

  • Reply October 2, 2016

    Luis Armstrong

    Eek, they didn’t have trance until I was nearly 30. Still, Heart and Soul…

  • Reply July 20, 2017

    riku

    Elegant IEM. Exceptional sound. Its only real disadvantage is that you end up gravitating towards its competition.

  • Reply February 4, 2019

    Henry Hsu

    I don’t even care if they don’t sound good, these look sick.

    Most hated band? Does 98 Degrees count?

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