Far from final thoughts. Into the G box so named for grams not Geez, we put 480g. That's 10g less than the VIII, 150 less than the full-metal X. Don't ask the VI's stainless steel housing to count for nada. Even the entry-level II and III with their ABS versions put 410g on the scale. For context and costing twice of what today's VI wants, Sennheiser's iconic HD800 park just 330g on your skull. Their impedance is 300Ω where most portables deliver a fraction of their power. Our hybrid lowballs that with 8Ω instead. That hits smack in the torque zone of most players like Questyle's QP1R or Soundaware's Esther M1Pro. Even a Classic iPod can bench press a VI. Back on weight, AKG's K812 flagships weigh 390g. Beyerdynamic's T1 do 440g. An Audeze LCD-CX is 650g. Now you have references. As do all Sonorous models, the cables here detach. But that doesn't mean they're readily replaced by after-market leashes. Final's twist-lock connector is proprietary, hence not interchangeable with standard plugs. As does the entire Sonorous range, source termination is via 3.5mm, not 6.3mm plug. To go full size requires an adaptor. And forget XLR. Final say boo to balanced and don't offer such cables.

Pandora Hope VI precursor still with the previous Final font.

On hi/lo filters, matching resistors, slopes and handover freqs, I put in word with Final's techs to get the facts not fiction. My contact Jojo Hiramatsu was the usual go-between. As an engineering-driven outfit with their own OEM/ODM branch, Final make most everything in-house. Here it even includes the balanced armature driver. For how one of those works, look left. Making their own speaks to Final's tech resources and ambitions. It also reminds us. 2/3rd of their catalogue are IEM, the BA's native habitat. Little surprise then that the Japanese team mints their own.


As the graphics show, a balanced armature operates in very tightly defined quarters. All SPL generate inside a tiny canister. A bore in its nozzle emits sound. A rectangular diaphragm very close to the canister's upper wall attaches to a U-shaped armature via a rod. Magnets around the armature's free end enfold it in a magnetic field. Input electrical signal moves that arm, hence also the attached diaphragm. It's an effective solution. At the sizes typical for IEM—some parallel five or more BA per channel—full-range output for circumaural designs is insufficient. And to my knowledge, nobody yet has scaled up a balanced armature for solo 20-20'000Hz use in an over-the-ear design. Thus like EnigmAcoustic's self-biased electrostatic segment in the Dharma, one expects the VI's BA to just handle treble. Is this model headfi's version of a widebander + super tweeter? A Zu Druid V on raw concept perhaps?


Quite raw as it turns out. Mostly bloody in fact given that the Druid needs a high-pass cap on its tweeter. "No crossover is used in the Sonorous VI, neither low-pass nor high-pass. The BA driver and dynamic driver work in parallel." That shuts down zero-order, even 2-way objections. Look ma, no xover. Seeing how in IEM use, BA do cover the whole bandwidth, here the tiny driver is allowed to roll off acoustically. As IEM users know, LF response hinges on a perfect seal. Where inner-ear monitors suffer leaks—i.e. "see" air beyond the inner-ear cavity—bass response drops off precipitously and well premature. In fact, anyone who ever sat an IEM on the table in front of him whilst signal passed knows that in free air and from just 50cm away, one now hears nothing; or badly skewed HF whispers at best.


Finally there is geometry. The VI's BA isn't positioned centrally like a Tannoy/KEF dual concentric. It sits eccentric, hence quite off axis. One expects that where on the 50mm clock face the BA is positioned relates strategically to our outer ear's geometry. Whatever response trims were needed to add up both drivers's output in linear fashion is manipulated passively. That's clever and gets at least the thumbs way up of any diehard purist.


Or as Final put it, "a BA usually functions inside a pressure field. For the Sonorous VI, we designed ours for free-field operation. That means its output is quite weak. As such, it doesn't really impact the amplitude response. It does, however, enhance the soundstage. By function then, it's not like a conventional tweeter. It's more of an ambient restoration device or soundstage enhancer." On how the Sonorous VI and Pandora Hope VI precursor differ, "on specifications they are identical. We simply had an issue with the owner of the Pandora trademark. Thus our upcoming F series models will only use numbers. We also changed our brand name from 'final audio design' to 'final'. Our company goes back more than 40 years, to very high-end hifi products like speakers, turntables, amplifier, cartridges etc. Seven years ago we started with consumer headfi product as a different category. Now we became 'final audio design'. But because we plan to reintroduce hifi products into our line in the near future, we reverted to our original 'final' branding to reconnect with our tradition also by name."