|Final 0.3 Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Tuesday, 01 May 2001|
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The Final 0.3 ($2,399) is Final A.I.P. of The Netherlands first speaker to be released in the United States. The Final 0.3 is an electrostatic hybrid design, utilizing a 48-inch electrostatic panel and a seven-inch metal alloy woofer. (For more on the pros and cons of metal woofers see the RBH review.) The review samples were finished in anodized aluminum, with the panels suspended at a seven degree reclined angle between two brushed aluminum posts. The cylindrical woofer cabinet sits behind the panel and fires upward and forward at thirty degrees. The Final 0.3's must be used either with bi-wire speaker cables or jumpers, both of which must be terminated with banana plugs.
Comparisons between the Final electrostatics and those of Martin Logan are inevitable. There are significant notable differences between the two, even before listening begins. The Final 0.3's are shipped unassembled. The user must attach the panel to the woofer cabinet with a molex plug and two screws. Easy enough. It took me less than 20 minutes to unpack and assemble both speakers. A word of advice: slide the connector attached to the panel into the base from the front. At first glance, it appears as though it should slide in from the top, but it simply plugs in from the front. The panel is then placed in the corresponding holes cut into the base of the woofer cabinet and secured from the bottom with two screws. Once assembled, the Final 0.3's take on a very clean and modern appearance, with the panel running the entire length of the speaker.
The next noticeable difference between the Final 0.3's and the majority of the Martin Logan line is that the panel on the Final 0.3 runs the entire length of the speaker, instead of beginning above the woofer. The design utilized by the Final 0.3's allows the panel area to be significantly larger with the same overall speaker size. In comparison, the similarly sized and priced Scenario’s panels are approximately half the height of the Final 0.3's.
The entire line of Final electrostatics utilize flat panels, rather than the curvilinear design employed by Martin Logan. Final claims that this is to maintain a symmetrical push/pull configuration.
I placed the Final 0.3's into my two-channel reference system, joined by the Conrad Johnson Premier 17LS (review pending) preamplifier and Conrad Johnson MF2500 amplifier. My digital front end is a Pioneer Elite CDR19RW. The bottom end is at various times rounded out by either a RBH TS-12AP or Sunfire Jr. Subwoofer. I used Analysis Plus interconnects and Monster Cable Z2 Bi-Wire speaker cables to connect everything. I ended up with the panels of the Final 0.3's approximately three feet away from the wall and just under eight feet away from each other. I toed the speakers in until they were crossing just behind me. The set-up of the Finals wasn’t as bad as audio myth makes it out to be. Part of the fun and pride of ownership of the Finals is the exploration of their highest level of performance in your listening room.
The flat panel design utilized by Final has its tradeoffs. The downside of the flat panel, as opposed to the curvilinear design, is a narrower sweet spot. I found that the Final 0.3's had a smaller sweet spot and required much more care in set-up than the Scenarios. I tried a variety of positions with the Final 0.3's, including an extreme amount of toe-in, with the speakers crossing just in front of me. While the aggressive toe-in resulted in stellar, rock-solid imaging, it was at the cost of tonal balance. With the speakers in this position, I found the sound to be beamy and bright. Accordingly, my listening was done with the speakers toed in just enough to cross behind me. I also experimented with the B&K ST 1400 Series II amplifier.