Final ZE8000 MK2 review: wireless earbuds that actually make me believe in 8K sound

Big, expensive, and (Finally) beautiful sonically

Final ZE8000 MK2 earbuds and case held in a hand on grey background
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

I scoffed at the term '8K sound' initially, I admit that. And although I still think Final's terminology is ill-advised, the company's ZE8000 MK2 earbuds are anything but. If you read only this verdict, know that the clarity, depth and breadth of sound here is remarkable. These wireless earbuds deliver dynamic nuance and musical cohesion in spades. Yes, they're a little big, and the decidedly average battery life is further compromised if you deploy Final's '8K Sound+' upscaler (in the rudimentary app), but they're so good sonically I don't care. Plus, the neutral presentation is aided by refreshingly effective noise cancellation.


  • +

    Layered, zealous, spacious sound

  • +

    Lossless audio codec support

  • +

    Surprisingly effective ANC


  • -

    Battery life is average

  • -

    Rudimentary (and occasionally buggy) app

  • -

    Not the smallest option

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I've given Final something of a dressing down over the term '8K sound', but I'm ready to eat some humble pie. If ever the term '8K Sound+' (an upscaler option in Final's dedicated ZE8000 MK2 and ZE8000 app) could apply to something you detect with your eardrums rather than pixels perceived as light hitting your retinas, that is what you'll hear with these earbuds. The term still doesn't sit well with me, but oh, the sound from the ZE8000 MK2 certainly does.

For sound quality alone, these are some of the very best noise-cancelling earbuds in the business. Rarely have I heard the cymbal taps and heavy bassline in D'Angelo's Untitled (How Does It Feel) with such snap, clout and clarity through the leading edges of notes, thus giving the silky stylings of the one they also call D Mike extra yardage to soar above it all. 

So let's give them a real challenge. Pink Floyd's Money is deftly handled as the chink of coins in cash registers slip right behind my left earlobe, then pounce over to my right and back in a zealous, expansive, and honestly joyous soundstage. The bassline slinks in centrally but never at the expense of saxophones, key progressions and David Gilmour's inimitable vocals, all presented in a beautifully layered and balanced mix. I could go on, so maybe I will: each musical passage is given ample due diligence; dynamics are spot on; sonic articles come through with pinpoint accuracy and a three-dimensional quality scarcely heard at any level. In Eagles' Hotel California, you get the whistling wind through the second half of the intro, a detail lesser hearing gear can only dream of. 

So why shave half a star off the rating? Because these excellent earbuds are held back by a slightly disappointing battery life (which is five hours tops or 15 including the case, but closer to four when you deploy 8K Sound+) and an app that only supplies the basics – and sometimes fails to fire up at all, during my testing. 

Final ZE8000 MK2 app, three screen-grabs showing noise cancellation and 8K Sound+

The ANC profiles work – and 8K Sound+ provides excellent audio (Image credit: Future)

The Final Connect app offers four noise cancellation modes, a volume step optimizer (which essentially gives you better precision to tweak the volume levels around your chosen listening level and is a welcome feature), that 8K+ sound toggle, a four-band EQ tab, the option to deploy multipoint (why would you not? Although for me, this didn't seem to work convincingly) and firmware updates. 

When you consider that cheaper options offer hearing tests and fit tests (Denon PerL Pro and Nothing Ear 2), sound zones (Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless), the option to tweak what the on-ear controls do, auto-off wearer detection, sidetone to help you hear your voice in calls (Technics EAH-AZ80), 360 Reality Audio (Sony WF-C700N), and proprietary immersive options that work in tandem with ANC (Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds), Final's offering does feel a little bare-bones. 

More than the app's features, though, is the fact that when using my iPhone 12 Pro and MacBook Pro to deploy multipoint connectivity, switching from music on my phone to a call on my laptop often makes the iOS app disconnect from the ZE8000 MK2 it is paired to. While I can come back to the earbuds and stream music from my phone, the app (running the latest firmware update) no longer recognizes the product it is specifically designed to optimize, so I lose those in-app features.

Final ZE8000 MK2 held in a hand, in their case, outside

It's not the smallest proposition on the market, but the design  is refreshingly robust  (Image credit: Future)

In Final's defense, app software can be updated and refined but the class AB amplification (known for its superior sound quality over the power-efficient Class-D amplifier used by many TWS systems) and huge 13mm driver cannot – not in this iteration at least. Yes, it's a double-edged sword (better sound quality, poorer battery life), but top audio quality often involves taking a hit on stamina and balance. I know what I want most.

It is a testament to the excellent sound quality Final has achieved that these second-generation buds still get the rating they do. Final told us upon unveiling them that it had achieved a 32% increase in isolation with ANC active, and I can tell you that having heard it, the claim rings true. While the February 2023 inaugural ZE8000 received mixed reviews, this surprisingly early update is both justified and a different kettle of fish entirely, particularly where noise nixing is concerned. Simply put, it really works now. The near-bubble of silence provides a top backdrop for that delicious Qualcomm aptX and aptX Adaptive sound quality – that is when the app also works (you can scroll between ANC and ambient with a single tap of the left earbud, but in my tests, Noise Control has to be 'On' in the app first). 

Final ZE8000 MK2 held in a hand, to show the Shield Fins

See the useful little, er… fin flaps? (Image credit: Future)

In terms of design, you now get 'Shield Fin' eartips (there are little flaps on the big circular part covering the driver housing before the neck and nozzle) which really help with isolation and fit. I downsized to the smallest 'SS' pair and found them both secure and comfortable, even though these stem design earbuds are on the large size, as is the charging case. 

Again, a quick glance at the rating above reveals that I'm prepared to forgive almost all the Final ZE8000 MK2's software and battery life shortcomings, even at this premium level. Why? Read the analysis of the sound quality above. If you need any more on that, you'll simply have to listen to them… 

Final ZE8000 MK2 review: Price & release date

  • Officially priced $399 / £289 (around AU$609)
  • Launched December 8, 2023

However you look at it, this is premium territory. Final's pricing is not too far from the recently-reviewed bijou and beautiful Montblanc MTB 03 (at $395 / £345 / AU$640) and those I also noted as a little hot and heavy, given the feature set. 

Let's compare that $399 asking price by way of a quick rundown of top-tier options from the big names in audio. Bose's QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds will set you back $299 / £299 / AU$449. Sony's 2023 flagship WF-1000XM5 sit around $299.99 / £259 / AU$499. The Technics EAH-AZ80, which boast triple-device connectivity and some of the best call quality on the market, also come in at $299 / £259 / AU$499). 

So yes, they're a little too expensive to be truly competitive given today's market. Then again, the Final ZE8000 MK2's sound quality trounces their rivals. Yet as always, that's not the whole story. 

Final earbuds case and accessories, including dust filter replacements

Note the total of five eartip options and dust filter replacements for the nozzle, plus a tool to help switch them (Image credit: Future)

Final ZE8000 MK2 review: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Drivers13mm dynamic
Active noise cancellationYes
Battery life5hrs (earbuds) 15hrs (case)
WeightNot specified per earbud (104g total)
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.2, USB-C, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, Snapdragon Sound
Frequency rangeNot specified
Other features8K+ Sound toggle, volume step optimizer

Should you buy the Final ZE8000 MK2?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Features5-star ANC; volume step optimizer adds value; a little low on extras4 / 5
Sound qualitySublime sonic talent5 / 5
DesignNicely textured and secure, if just a little large4.5 / 5
ValueIf you want top sound, you have to pay – but you can get more features for less4.5/ 5

Buy them if...

You want the best sound quality in a wireless design
I truly think this is among the most nuanced, detailed and just best audio you can buy in a set of true wireless earbuds. And the ANC is solid too. 

You need buds that don't scrimp on volume accuracy
If you find your earbuds go from too loud to too quiet in a single increment, Final's new volume step optimization is what you need.

You pay for a top-tier music subscription
With aptX Adaptive and Snapdragon Sound support, you're going to want to take full advantage of it with a Tidal, Qobuz or Apple Music subscription. 

Don't buy them if...

You like an all-singing, all-dancing app
The companion app is an area for improvement, it must be said

You want to easily slip 'em in a pocket
The earbuds and case are larger than many of the market's current heavy-hitters – look to the Montblanc MTB 03 or Sony WF-C700N instead.

You desire personalized fit tests and listening profiles
There's a four-band EQ tab and options for ANC, but if you want to put your shell-likes through the pips and pops of hearing-test software, you need to look to something like the Denon PerL Pro or even the Nothing Ear (2)

Final ZE8000 MK2 case, seen on the side to reveal LEDs for battery life

The case lid slides open, but it is durable and the LEDs for battery life are useful (Image credit: Future)

Final ZE8000 MK2 review: Also consider

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Final ZE8000 MK2Montblanc MTB 03Bose QuietComfort Earbuds UltraTechnics EAH-AZ80
Price$399 / £289 (around AU$609)$395 / £345 / AU$640$299 / £299 / AU$449$299; £259; AU$499
Drivers13mm dynamic7mm Beryllium9.3mm10mm
Active noise cancellationYesYesYesYes
Quoted battery life(Up to) 5h (buds); (up to) 15h (case)(Up to) 6h (buds); (up to) 18h (case)(Up to) 6h (buds); (up to) 24h (case)(Up to) 7h (buds); (up to) 25h (case)
WeightNot stated (104g in total)6g per earpiece6.24g per earpiece7g per earpiece
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.2, aptX Adaptive with Snapdragon Sound, aptX HD, USB-CBluetooth 5.2, aptX Adaptive, USB-C and Qi wireless chargingBluetooth 5.3, aptX AdaptiveBluetooth 5.3, LDAC
Frequency rangeNot stated20Hz - 20kHz Not stated20Hz - 40kHz
WaterproofingYes, IPX4Yes, IPX4Yes, IPX4Yes, IPX4
Other features8K+ Sound, volume step optimizationN/AImmersive Audio Dirac Virtuo

Montblanc MTB 03
Have this budget but want something in a smaller design that still sounds very good indeed? These could be the buds for you! The case and earpieces are small and the sound is very talented, although the ANC isn't as effective as rivals – including the Final option here. Read more on this (and how beautiful they are) in our Montblanc MTB 03 review. 


Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds
They're also big and, for me, not quite as comfortable as Final's earbuds, but Bose's facility with active noise-cancellation and ambient-aware features is some of the best in the business. More importantly, you now get Bose's proprietary Immersive Audio feature (there's nothing like that with the Final ZE8000 MK2), which represents excellent value, depending on your priorities. Undecided? Our Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds review can help. 


Technics EAH-AZ80
As with the Final ZE8000 MK2, there's no spatial audio upmixing here and the earpieces look a little deep (they're actually a gram heavier per bud than the Montblanc option listed above), but they're comfortable and have a premium build quality. The sound is just under what the Final ZE8000 MK2 can deliver but the thing is, you also get multipoint to three devices. It's an industry first – as you can read about in our full Technics EAH-AZ80 review

TechRadar's Becky Scarrott wearing the Final ZE8000 MK2 earbuds on a rainy day in the UK

Despite their size, they are secure and comfortable (Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Final ZE8000 MK2

  • Tested for 10 days, listened against the Technics EAH-AZ80, Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, Samsung Galaxy Buds FE and Montblanc MTB 03
  • Used at work (train commute; in the office; walking through London) and on the wild Dorset coast
  • Listened to Tidal Masters, Apple Music Lossless tracks, Qobuz and Spotify on an iPhone 12 Pro, Sony Xperia 1 V and MacBook Pro

When testing earbuds or headphones, time and attention are imperative – as is switching off and letting the kit surprise you. The Final ZE8000 MK2 have been my musical companions for 10 days solid, following a thorough 48-hour run-in period. 

And I've certainly enjoyed it. It's impossible not to enjoy audio of such high quality.

To better test the comfort levels (and disappointing battery life claims), I wore them throughout the working day in a busy office and on the noisy London Underground network. I also wore them while pole training and in a ballet class (I used to be on stage, you know) to check the fit and security. They exceeded my expectations by staying put despite their somewhat bulky appearance.

The Final ZE8000 MK2 accompanied me to work on weekdays (walking brusquely to the station, boarding a train and the London Underground, and at the office) and outside while on the phone to a builder regarding something falling off a neighbor's roof in the storm – a great way to test any wind-interference from mics during calls. Here, the wind-cut function worked a treat.

When testing the audio quality across the frequencies, I listen to myriad playlists (spanning everything from free jazz to kawaii core and on to funk) on Apple Music and Tidal, podcasts and albums on Spotify, and TikTok videos on my MacBook Pro. 

I’ve been testing audio products for five years. As a classical dancer, aerialist, and musical theater performer in another life, sound quality, fit, and user experience have always taken priority for me, and having heard how wonderful ANC can sound when done well, I also know where that particular bar is set.

Becky Scarrott
Senior Audio Staff Writer

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.