Admittedly we’d not previously heard of Final Audio Design (FAD) and the Adagio earphones have also missed our scope of knowledge. So much so we have just discovered them on their third iteration. Straightforwardly referred to as the Adagio III earphones, with a claim to fame of a big bass on a small £70 budget.
Plastic just can’t attain the luxurious feeling of aluminium for the construction of earphones; although from a distance this pair do cheekily have an aluminium-like persona due to the nature of the Thunderbirds stylings coated in glossy paint. They’re also airy and light to hold, and seem to deal well with stress. As an unintentional example we sat on them for a good hour or so and they survived to play another tune. Whilst the cable is rectangular, so is marginally easier to untangle, it unfortunately doesn't have an inline remote or mic.
This is a straightforward affair; there are small, medium and large sized silicone ear-tips. Not quite as generous in the selection of tips we were greeted with by the SoundMAGIC E80 earphones in the same price league, where the Comply memory foam tips were our personal favourites. Nevertheless, even without such adaptive choice, the small and medium sizes which we all took advantage of fitted snugly. They insulate the ears well too; we can hear most surrounding sounds when there’s no volume, but once engaged at the midway volume point and beyond, medium levelled hustle and bustle is left out of your music listening.
Reviewing these straight on the heals of the SoundMAGIC E80 earphones presented quite a startling contrast in bass, as the E80s were diluted down to broadcast an even sound. The Adagio III earphones are possibly the most bass heavy earphones we’ve ever popped into our ears and they get loud - excruciatingly, in fact! This does sound like it could be a pitfall, but it honestly isn’t! That low end bass range plays away in and amongst the mid and high ranges in perfect peace. Not to forget to mention that the bass is noticeably airy, evoking the appearance of a refreshingly roomy sound stage. Indeed, individual instruments and vocals are unmistakably unwrapped from one another; in honestly these are obtaining character from 8mm drivers that we’d expect to hear from many sets of on-ear headphones. In fact they sound better than the boldly designed Urbanears Zinken headphones we reviewed in January. Popular bass heavy song this summer ‘Peanut Butter Jelly’ by Galantis, was extraordinarily punchy, with all vocals and other elements firing forwards.
A good test for harmony of frequencies was ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ by Room Eleven & Donavon Frankenreiter. Having a bright keyboard, shadowy strings and drum beat, intertwined by Donavon’s husky dark voice and the smooth voice of Janne Schra, it’s a track that relies on a clear mid range and healthy highs that can play nicely with dark and deep bass levels. Thankfully the Final Adagio III earphones hit every single one of these necessities to perform the song with balance in the mid and highs, with still greater emphasis on the bass. These are acoustically detailed too: ‘I Do’ by Colbie Caillat, which is a rather bright song featuring just her voice, a guitar and bass drum, had lots of substance in those high ranges and was a near flawless rendition. Our only real complaint in audio performance would be that the high range can be a little screechy sometimes, most noticeable with acoustic guitars, but in general flaws can’t be heard and definition just isn't lost, which seems slightly unbelievable for the price.
Now we’ve listened to the Final Audio Design Adagio III earphones, we regret that we didn't know about them sooner. They’re dependable daily performers with resonate definition in all the ranges, possessing bass performance as the wow factor. This combination of attributes is complementary to music of all genres, and for a price of £70 the value truly cannot be argued with!