FINAL AUDIO DESIGN SONOROUS IV HEADPHONE REVIEW – SMOOTH WITH POWERFUL HIGHS

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Pros: Large soundstage for closed headphones, Amazingly detailed and powerful mids and highs

Cons: Treble may be too forward for some, Comfort

Final Audio Design is a Japan based company experimenting with some really interesting driver design. With the IV and VI in their Sonorous line they have opted to use both a dynamic driver and a balanced armature tweeter in each can of the headphones. This juxtaposition has created a very unique sound signature that should please fans of vocal oriented and treble driven music.

Build Quality of the Sonorous IV Headphone

The Sonorous IV has a metal band and black plastic cups. Where many headphones are built so the headband’s sides are pulled up and down to adjust the size, the Sonorous cans slide up and down on the headband’s extending arms. This makes the headphone feel more secure while being adjusted. The 3.5mm detachable cable is a solid black rubber that plugs into both sides of the headphones. The cables’ length is a bit shorter than I’d like for desktop listening but better measured for staying close on the go.

Sonorous IV headphones

Sonorous IV Audio Quality

With a super low impedance of 8 ohms pretty much anything can put out good volume on the Sonorous IV. Overall the IV has solid detail and clarity though especially focused on the mids and highs. The balanced armature focused tweeter produces fantastic vocals, orchestral instruments, and synth pads. The headphone definitely has a sweet spot that is hard to understate in the upper middle. Below that, the driver handling bass does throw out some tight low end but not quite as punchy as other similarly priced headphones such as my reference pair of Beyerdynamic DT1770.

Design & Look

Super simple design with silver and black. The headband has arms reaching down below the earcups which is really the most distinguishing design flair of the Sonorous IV. Something about the simple rounded can design and bare metallic band makes the headphone feel like a throwback. I could imagine listening to vinyl with these headphones plugged into the record player. The headphones are very large when worn and the metallic arms poke out below the cans, so for image conscious listeners that is something to consider.

side shot of Sonorous IV being worn

Comfort

The Sonorous IV is perfectly comfortable for compact listening sessions. The headband is thickly padded enough that I never had an issue with pressure on top of my head. While the padding on the cups is good, I did notice my ears being squeezed against the driver inside the can. Putting a pad over the grill would definitely help prevent fatigue after more than an hour or two of use but on the flipside would dampen the strength and clarity of the mids and treble that make the IV special. The IV are better suited to stationary listening as the cups easily rotate and if you were jogging or moving around the headphones could fall off.

Sonorous IV Performance

Soundstage: Pretty big for a closed back headphone. The soundstage really separates out the drum kits well as the track Narayan by the Prodigy demonstrates. The kick hits in the low back, piercing hats clicking above the snares in the middle and cymbals way off to the right. Because the headphone is so upper mid and treble forward, tracks with less of that feel a bit wider and lusher. The headphones are also great for gaming. Coming from the darker DT1770’s the Sonorous IV having a mid and treble focus was perfect for keeping track of the action. Using them for sessions with Overwatch I immediately noticed an increase in sensitivity to footsteps, movement effects and projectiles in all directions. The headphones helped me maintain more awareness of my environment which enhanced my ability to perform.

Sonorous IV medium

Highs: Powerful and detailed but occasionally a bit too forward. Zomboy’s Bad Intentions is filled with synth bleeps and bloops that are boosted with crazy energy on the Sonorous IV. On the same track the synth plucks and leads are super clear and twangy and really capture your attention over the bass. Sometimes trebly synth and keyboards can overpower the rest of the mix, such as on Rush’s YYZ.

Mids: Very strong and crisp. Percussion elements especially are pushed forward with great detail and clarity. On The Demon Dance by Julian Winding the shakers, claps and hats crackle and click as if I was standing in the middle of the drum kit. On Rush’s YYZ the guitars and drums were driven hard with great energy but were a bit too sharp for the rest of the track. Orchestra oriented music such as John Williams Star Wars Episode I soundtrack are also a great fit for the balanced armature tweeter of the Sonorous IV. The harp and woodwind runs are reproduced clearly and given space among the lively strings and marching horns. Diana Krall’s voice on S’Wonderful is also super smooth and naturally present amongst the soft strings and meandering piano.

Lows: The low end on the Sonorous IV is mostly tight but not extremely punchy. I found the bass and kick on Nero’s Into the Past (Reboot) to be clear with details such as the distortion and reverb tails. At the same time the bass was not hitting near as hard as the mid and treble. Other electronic music such as Micky Noise’s Phoebus also had bass on the more reserved side.

Should I Buy the Sonorous IV?

For fantastically sharp and crisp mids and treble the Sonorous IV delivers. If you’re a gamer I think you’ll enjoy the enhanced sense of awareness the headphones will bring your gameplay. I’d say the IV is more oriented towards rock, acoustic, classical, or vocal focused music. Those looking for pounding bass for EDM or hip hop may find the IV on the bright side. For longer listening sessions those with large ears may find the cans a bit too small.

Verdict

Great mids and highs while still maintaining detail and clarity in the lower range. Overall a solid headphone with a hi-fi sound and unique driver design.

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