Review: ag Audio – Japanese Precision & Quirks
Only a few years ago, there weren’t many options when it came to headphones and earphones. When the iPhone shipped, included in the box were a pair of wired EarPods with a standard 3.5mm audio plug. Then Samsung and LG and Huawei started shipping in-ear headphones with their smartphones. The first-mover advantage went to Apple and those white tangled cords were littered through backpacks, handbags and jeans pockets as they went through the wash. Bose, Beats, and Sennheiser were the alternatives.
Today, there is an almost limitless array of audio options for your smartphone, tablet, PC, gaming console and more. It’s now much easier to find the perfect device for the way you like to hear and wear your audio.
final is a Japanese audio engineering firm that has spent over 40 years developing and shipping high-end audio equipment such as turntables, amplifiers, and speakers.
Their company motto is:
the comprehensive pursuit of things that are fundamentally righthttps://snext-final.com/en/aboutus/
In that pursuit of things that are fundamentally right, final has launched a broader consumer focussed brand called ‘ag’. (Clearly they are not fond of capital letters either).
Initially offering four products, the ag lineup is littered with influence and quality from decades of knowledge and precision that has been a cornerstone of every final product.
Take the TWS04K True Wireless Earphones – the sound range of 20 to 20,000Hz is in the premium end of the market. The Qualcomm aptX chip combines with the A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP sound profiles and the 2,600 mAh battery to provide up to 180 hours of music playback.
I also loved the leather effect on the charging case. A luxury feel that differentiates the ag’s from almost all other in-ear audio.
final provides 10 super soft silicone Type E ear tips so you get a perfect fit that provides comfort and the ideal audio environment in your ears.
And because ag and final pay attention to the fit and seal of the TWS04K earphones, the sound quality is well within the envelope of performance for a $199 price tag. That is when you can get these high-quality earphones to pair and work with your device.
Pairing with a smartphone was super simple. Pairing with a PC, not so much. Once connected to my MacBook Pro, the sound is exceptional for a few minutes, then the interference starts and the sound is ‘chopped’ until the connection drops completely. A quick reconnection and the process is repeated. Hopefully, a firmware update will rectify but for now, these are excellent smartphone companions.
The other feature of these earphones that I really like is the tactile operation of the buttons on the outside to advance and pause your music or increase/decrease the audio level. This feature alone bumps these earphones up my shopping list a few notches.
At the other end of the ag audio line-up are the WHP01K over-ear headphones. Finished in a fingerprint-resistant matte finish, these are feature-packed with over 35 hours of battery life, active noise cancelling, and sound quality that has been professionally tuned by final.
I have to admit that I initially thought of these as a reproduction of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II over-ear headphones, however, the $150 retail price and features above piqued my curiosity.
Super-easy to connect to all my devices and with a sultry, possibly drunk, female voice welcoming every use, the WHP01K over-ear headphones are very impressive for the price point.
Easily folded into a compact form for storage and travel these headphones can be full recharged in 2.5 hours. External buttons for volume and mute make these ideal for phone calls and Zoom meetings.
With the placement of microphones on the outside and inside the earcups, the WHP01K headphones offer a high-quality noise-cancelling audio experience by consistently comparing the ambient noise level and the processed driver output, then making necessary adjustments to achieve high-quality noise cancelling. The ANC also works for phone calls which is a feature not offered on a lot of personal audio today. And for those times when Bluetooth lets you down, there’s a 3.5mm audio port to go old-school and connect your device via a cable.
One shortcoming, in particular, that seems to be present on many over-ear headphones is the ability to pause, advance and rewind music tracks. These are very commonplace with smaller in-ear audio hardware, so why not on the larger headphones?
A very attractive and comfortable alternative at a great price.