Japan's Final Audio Design has been turning out audiophile-pleasing, premium audio equipment since the 1970s, and has just unveiled its latest high-end earphones. Taking the core design behind the company's Opus horn speaker series, the Piano Forte X-VIII Series is said to deliver a concert hall-like sound experience thanks to a large diameter driver unit installed in a soundstage-expanding metallic earpad housing. However, there is quite a heavy price to pay for such lightweight dynamic clarity. Read on for more details ...

Each of the four members of the Piano Forte X-VIII Series has a large 16 mm neodymium magnet driver installed within a metal housing, that's said to prevent any unwanted vibrations which could distort the sound. There's also a very light diaphragm with a proprietary pressure ring in front to help keep sound artifacts at bay, and air pressure adjustment vents work with the pressure ring to help stop the diaphragm deforming due to fluctuations in air pressure levels that lead to sound degradation.

Rather than allow silicon earpads to add their own voice to the audio reproduced by the 16 ohm/108 dB Piano Forte X-VIII series earphones, Final Audio Design has instead opted for a metallic earpad that's claimed to allow the inner ear to adjust to changes in air pressure as needed.

All of the new models benefit from the same internal construction – only the material used for the metal housing differs, and each brings its own distinctive audio flavor. The X - G model has a chrome copper housing with gold-plated finish and is said to result in a pleasant, natural sound. The X - CC version has the same housing as the X - G but with an ion finish, and benefits from similar sound characteristics. The housing of the IX model is stainless steel with a mirror finish and offers a bright sound reproduction, while the VIII has brass and gold-plating that's claimed to give the audio an airy, lively feel.

Like most audiophile-grade products, the cost of purchase is quite high. Final Audio Design told Gizmag that the suggested retail for the Piano Forte X models is JPY 220,000 (US$2,668), the Piano Forte IX is JPY 100,000 (US$1,212) and the Piano Forte VIII is priced at JPY 80,000 (US$970).