The release of the Final's series-topping Sonorous X headphones last year was met with a good sprinkling of critical acclaim from industry reviewers and audio-loving consumers alike. But the arresting $5,000 ticket price wasn't so welcome. The Japanese audio house has now announced two new Sonorous family members boasting the same design techniques, technology and tonal characteristics as the company's flagship headphones, but at a faction of the cost.

As you might expect for less expensive Sonorous series headphones, the II and III models don't sport the luxurious machined aluminum and polished steel high-end look of the eye-catching X over-ears. The earcups of the newcomers are ABS plastic, with synthetic leather pads for optimum contribution to clear sound quality and a balance of pressure mechanism for 3D space reproduction. But the new materials have resulted in significant weight savings – 410 g (14.5 oz) instead of a heavy-on-your-head 630 g.

But the new series additions do share the same titanium diaphragm as the X, which is said to deliver a heightened resolution and wide sound field. The dynamic driver has also been integrated with the front plate to help keep vibration in check, though the plate is hard polycarbonate strengthened with 30 percent glass rather than machined aluminum used for the flagship.

The Sonorous II and III headphones come with detachable cables and should both be suitable for use with mobile music sources, with 16 ohm impedance and 105 dB/mW sensitivity.

Other than the price, the only appreciable difference between the Sonorous II and Sonorous III models appears to be the sound, with the former tuned to deliver top notch high frequency overtones for a hi-res listening experience while the latter is promised to offer a clear, transparent sound signature with wide staging.

Launched in Asia and Europe yesterday, the Sonorous II and III will be available in limited quantities in the US from March 1 for US$329 and $399, respectively.

Products pages: Sonorous II, Sonorous III

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