Sunday, 20 May 2012

Final Audio Design Adagio II Review

Hi Everyone,

just want to have a share of experience with you guys about my recently new bought earphone, it’s from Final Audio Design Adagio II.

When I stumble across this brand from the audio store, it shocked me. “What the hell is this brand? I had never heard before”
*I was looking at Shure or Sennheiser that time after god knows how long on review reading.

I quickly do some research on the brand through internet, sadly not much information provided, and most of them are written in japs.

After some intensive couple of hours listening and comparing between Shure,Sennheiser, klipsch and  jays,  I finally play my bet and place money on the table for this new baby.

Well, I’m no pure audiophile music listener, so my music collection mostly on everything, modern pop, R&B, metal, acoustic, vocal, smooth jazz etc..  hopefully my review will be readable for everyone.

In this review I will be using Ipod Classic direct use with earphone, no EQ will be set as I want to keep the sound as original as possible.


Packaging & Accessories

The package comes with one earphone and 3 sizes of sleeve, I was pretty skeptical when first purchase due to without any casing or pouch, however the audio store kindly gave me a hard case, so I was quickly forgot about this issue, since it won’t really matters whether the package comes with case or without, as I experienced some earphone in the market offer much expensive price doesn’t come with case too.
The box doesn't consist anything remarkable, just bunch of “you know me, I don’t know you” Japanese words
The sleeves come with Large, Medium and Small size, they fit pretty well in my ear and provide great isolation too. Finally it comes with a warranty card full of japs.

Design & Build Quality & Fit
*Picture credited to tokayaki

Pretty unique design I would say, simple and elegant, especially the “Final” word on the housing, clean and outstanding.
At the end of the housing, it is the design of vented sort of airplane engine, I believe it might be the design required for their sounding.
Anyway, it looks fun on the earphone, at least won’t be dull and too fancy for my liking.

 Build Quality is acceptable, the cord is thin, but I wouldn’t complain much as it’s made for portable usage, I don’t expect a thick and stiff cord for my over-ear usage.

Plastic housing for lighter weight design which quite similar with other earphones I tried in the store, as heavy metallic housing might cause weight problem.
Cord Slider provided for more firm earphone usage, which kind of standard for the manufacturer
nowadays. The cord which connect to the earphone have slight angle different instead of straight line, so it shouldn't cause any disturbance when you want to insert deeply

Fitting is pretty personal, as I have a “standard” ear canal size (I wouldn’t imagine what is the means of “not standardize”), medium eartip suit my ear pretty well, and provide total isolation when the music is on, very minimal sound leakage spotted with the help from my friend (which he stick very close to my ear and listen), mainly due to the “vented” “open” air design for the earphone which able to enhance the sounding experience. However, it wouldn’t cause much disturbance to the person right next to you, as it’s not a huge diaphragm open air headphone.
I love the material of the tips, it is soft yet sit firm in my ear, with long hours of listening (2-4), I’m still able to sustain it inside my ear without much pain caused.
As the tips are presented in oval shape, so I still can fit in perfectly in position without squeezing hard with the feel of raping my ear canal.

All right, Decent build quality, standard accessories provided, awesome comfortable fitting,  here comes the sound impression.

Music Impression

First Song – Without you from David Guetta (feat. Usher)

In the first part of music, I like the way how Adagio II handle the music, I was shocked by the open sound staging of the earphone, feels like listening the music from open save,  personally I don’t like constrain sound, it just doesn’t sound comfortable to me.
Music instrument sounded pretty decent, I don’t get any sharp bright sounding towards my ear, and controllability is amazing, I get the instrument note hit clean and relaxing.
With the vocal comes in, it is natural and clear, I can feel the singer whispers directly to me. It is dynamic and smooth to my ear, I get the live element inject to my ears, high treble has nice control, however there are slight sibilance on some notes which I spotted. However from other users, with longer burn in, it will reduce the sibilance.
When the bass part kicks in, you will get amaze by the bass quality and quantity. It is tight, punchy, adequate amount and blend very well with the speed and pace. I like the way of impact from adagio II, it has a direct hit and deep presentation.

I like the synergy feeling with this combo; it has nice mid high presentation for the instrument and vocal, good mid low, low bass transition during the music.
Surprisingly it’s able to keep up the pace of the music despite the sound staging, I’m able to enjoy the music through the end without feeling any bit of boring in the song.     

Separation is decent, I wouldn’t say it has the best, but sufficient for the music, there are some overlaps but is tolerable for me.

Second Song -  We are Young from fun.

In first part, drum hits are outstanding, easy for your ear and still can feel the drum roll and feel, the texture of the drum is persistent, decay and speed matched very well, every hits just stand firm inside the music, there is no airy effect cover up.
Vocal is superb, natural, clean, dynamic and forward, I feel engaged by the music, very analog and able to present the feeling of singer to me,  personally I hate flat and cold vocal, which I couldn’t experience the musicality of the song.
Separation is pretty decent here as I mentioned on point above.  I’m still able get a clear distinguish between drum, vocal, piano, and they mixed in so well, which I get the flow of the music, everything just work fine in their way without much conflict.     

In the middle part, the transparency is slight lose out which makes the music don’t positioned very well.

Treble : 4.5/5
Good handle and control, personally I don’t feel sharp bright or squeaky in the earphone, however there is slight sibilance, but totally tolerable for me, as long it doesn’t  affect my listening.
Transition is good, vocal won’t feel squeezy to the top and smooth presentation, I’m able to feel the dynamic and synergy straight to the top end, dull and boring is not an option in this earphone, as it doesn’t link to flat sounding.

Mids : 4/5
Nice smooth, warm and thick. Airiness can enhance even more live experience inside the music. Vocal, guitar, instruments sounded precisely, very organic sound generated.  Slight recessed on mid, however every frequency chain able to present toward as balance as possible in this earphone.

Bass : 5/5
Impactful, accurate, punchy. If you like bass a lot, this earphone able to provide the bass quality and quantity that you never imagine. It provides the decent amount of quantity for certain music, but still maintain a tight and strength bass. With the dynamic driver in status, it offer much more deeper bass, straight to your heart feeling.

In the price of Rm200+, this earphone could really outshine lots of earphone in the same range, despite the brand which people don’t aware of, they are doing damn good job for their product, I believe it is time for them to create more opportunity and awareness to the market to make it famous.


  1. How's the sound compare to adagio III?

  2. Adagio III has much tighter bass, airy and live sound, while overall presentation is still pretty same

  3. Hey SpringBiscuit, can the Adagio II be compared to the Beyer XP series? What are the differences between soundquality, isolation, comfort? I know there is price gap difference though, just wondering because Im still making up mind on buying either models.

    1. Hi, sound different is pretty big, the big major part will be on Bass quantity and the staging.

      With the open air design of Adagio II, the overall sound presentation is towards airy and open, you get great stage, however each spectrum gets long decay, bass is strong and slight blur compare with XP series.

      Beyerdynamic XP offers more versatile sound, stage is average while focusing on forward and aggressive sound, the mid will be more revealing due to it's signature.

      Both are great for all-round, however if you want something more easy selection, go for Xp model which suit your taste and requirement.

    2. Hey SpringBiscuit, I auditioned both models, although I love Adagio II sound slightly better, XP definitely suits better thanks to their isolation. The XP however for me has is slightly soft on the volume side compared to the Adagio II.

      Would you recommend a portable amp to go with the XP if I want to listen in higher volume or will having an amp affect the sound of the XP till it affects the listening experience? Thanks

    3. That's great you enjoy both of them, the volume different mainly due to impedance and coil resistant different, usually won't create much problem as you will just need to slightly increase your source volume.

      If you looking for an amplifier to improve the quality, you can try out Govibe Mini box and Fiio E6 amplifier, both of them are small for portable and value in performance.

  4. Hi nice review there!

    I am new to earphones and i recently bought the JVC FX1X and FX101. Both disappoint me as its reviewed on the internet, bass is very strong but not PUNCHY enough! I am actually a bass-head lover, REALLY BASSY STUFF only suits me. So end up doing some research online again and lift up my budget to get my needs on BASS!

    End up being recommended by audiophiles both Hippo VB and this Final Audio Adagio II. And now i'm stuck! Thats why i'm gona ask you which one is better comparing to BASS, all i want is SUPER PUNCHY BASS! Can you recommend which 1 should i go for?! I only listen to HARD ROCK / RNB musics (Hardwell, Swedish House Mafia and Club songs etc.)

    Please do help me out to select one of them (bass oriented) and maybe other earphones as well?! Thanks a lot buddy!

    1. I didnt have a direct comparison, and nor i tried JVC before, so i wouldnt go for a straight recommendation.
      Adagio II is amazing is bass, mid bass hump is strong, yes it is the strongest bass i experienced in all the earphone i reviewed until now.

  5. hi, did you have a hippo vb? my hippo vb was spoiled and jaben is so nice exchange a brand new adagio II for me...Im still not decide whether wan maintain hippo vb or try adagio II for my warranty claiming...can you compare for me?? thx

    1. Hi, I had Hippo VB, it was one of my many first few earphone when i picking music as a hobby.
      Hippo VB has very fun feature, as you know it is the Bass adjustable feature, it has very balance spectrum sound if you used the lowest bass plate, pretty much a "you can't go wrong" type of earphone.
      However for Adagio II, it has dynamic + fun signature, Adagio II able to offer better impact and forward signature, induce more music engaging from you personal feeling, the Airy sound signature really does add up more icying on top of the music.

      There will be no which is better then which in my opinion, however if Jaben is offering you Adagio II for Hippo VB, why not is my question, you can actually try/enjoy/use a new sound, sort of brand new experience to spike up you hobby, hope this helps

  6. Hi, spring biscuit...
    i'm in search on those not so familiar brands of headphone in the market nowadays...

    I wanted to buy either final audio design adagio II or fischer audio silver bullet. i heard that both brand projected a great soundstage. however, i havent try any both of them now.

    what i know, final audio piano forte II sounded more full compared to my yuin pk2. not necessarily saying it better, but, it has a different character of sound, if i may say

    If i'm looking for a headphone, it will be Bowers Wilkin P5 sound-like.
    so, can you help me to choose between final audio and fischer audio?
    despite of the price, which one is better, and what is their sound character or signature?

    thanks a lot :)

    1. I'm not totally familiar with Silver bullet sound, however the point i can ensure, Adagio II has much stronger bass compare with silver bullet.
      Silver bullet should have cleaner and accurate sound, while Adagio II able to offer more airy signature and dynamic sound.

    2. airy, which means that final audio have the capacity of projecting wider soundstage, is it? do adagio II sounds like piano forte II?
      Thanks, springbiscuit

    3. Yes and No.
      Adagio II sounded more commercial compare with PF series, while PF is tuned for different type of music listening, who cares about mid and musicality instead of details and frequency.