Final VR500 review: unassuming wired in-ear headphones that have it where it counts

 Final VR500 on a wooden table.
Final VR500 on a wooden table.

Final VR500: Two-minute review

The Final Audio VR500 are among the Japanese specialist’s most affordable headphones – but that doesn't mean they’ve missed out on the customary Final Audio attention to detail. The company wants to make the VR500 the default affordable wired headphone for gamers and music-lovers alike – and it’s given them every chance to succeed in the best wired headphones arena.

Specification is good, inasmuch as the VR500 are fitted with proven full-range dynamic drivers. Build quality is solid, thanks to their neat ABS resin construction. The 1.2m cable a) is long enough for most scenarios, and b) features a one-button in-line remote with mic.

And in practice, the VR500 work very well indeed. Some listeners might hanker after more outright punch, but where detail retrieval, spaciousness, precision and fidelity are concerned, the Final Audio outperform their asking price quite comfortably. In fact, the VR500 are good enough that they give the established  go-to affordable wired in-ears from SoundMagic (namely the SoundMagic E11C) plenty to think about.

Final VR500 on a wooden table, in the sunlight
Final VR500 on a wooden table, in the sunlight

Final VR500 review: Price & release date

  • Released February 20, 2024

  • $34.99 / £29.99 / AU$49.99

The Final Audio VR500 wired in-ear headphones have been on sale since February 20, 2024, and in the United Kingdom they’re a penny under £30. In America they’re a touch less than $35, and in Australia you get a tiny amount of change from AU$50.

This, it hardly needs pointing out, is not very much money for a pair of headphones from a company as auspicious and high-achieving as Final Audio – you only have to look at the price of the sort of headphones TechRadar routinely reviews to realise that.

But everything’s relative, of course; there’s no point in spending this sort of money on a pair of wired earbuds if they don’t represent decent value for money. So let's get to that…

Final VR500 review: Specs

Final's VR500 supplied ear tips, on a table
Final's VR500 supplied ear tips, on a table

Final VR500 review: Features

  • 6.4mm dynamic drivers

  • Oxygen-free copper cable

  • Five sizes of eartip included

Final Audio is keen to present the VR500 as ideal for gaming, and consequently has plenty to say about the earbuds’ ability to create a big, three-dimensional soundstage and place sound effects precisely on it. I’ll discuss the veracity of these claims in the ‘sound quality’ section, but what’s already for certain is that Final Audio has definitely specified the VR500 to do the business.

The cable connecting the earbuds to the three-pole 3.5mm jack is of oxygen-free copper. The earbuds themselves house a couple of 6.4mm dynamic drivers – they’re the same high-precision devices that feature in a couple of the company’s more expensive in-ear designs and offer full-range frequency response. And by including five different sizes of high-quality silicone eartip in the packaging, Final Audio has done its utmost to ensure your VR500 fit snugly and comfortably.

  • Features score: 5/5

Final VR500 on a wooden table
Final VR500 on a wooden table

Final VR500 review: Sound quality

  • Open, spacious sound

  • Impressive levels of detail

  • Not the outright punch you might be after

In almost every respect, Final Audio has it the bull’s-eye where the sound of the VR500 is concerned. Its drive for clarity, spaciousness and good location of effects when gaming has been a complete success. By the standards of profoundly affordable wired in-ear headphones, the VR500 are basically as good as it currently gets.

In ultimate terms they’re fractionally lightweight, and short of the sort of low-frequency heft and impact that some genres of music can rely on. The bass presence they generate is swift and detailed, which allows rhythms good expression and keeps the sensation of momentum high – but if it’s out-and-out wallop you’re after, you may find the VR500 just slightly tentative.

In every other respect, though, they’re a straightforward pleasure to listen to. The soundstage they generate is big and well-organised, so both music and games are convincingly laid out. They retain and contextualise an impressive amount of detail, locate every element of a recording or a soundtrack confidently in respect to every other element, and unify even complex information into a persuasive whole.

There’s plenty of drive and attack available when it’s required, and more than enough headroom to give dynamics decent expression. But they’re also able to do ‘small-scale’ and ‘quiet’ very well too, keeping silences nice and dark while giving as much emphasis to spaces as is required.

  • Sound quality score: 4.5/5

Final VR500 on a wooden table
Final VR500 on a wooden table

Final VR500 review: Design

  • 15g

  • ABS resin housing

  • 1.2m cable

I’m going to say it for the umpteenth time during the course of this review: everything’s relative. So while there’s nothing, really nothing, unusual about the design of the Final Audio VR500, it’s nevertheless a considered product where design is concerned and all the better for it.

An all-in weight of just 15g is a strong indication of how comfortable the earbuds are when they’re in position. The cable is tangle-resistant, and at 1.2m is long enough for all likely applications. The ABS resin the earbud- and 3.5mm jack housings are built from is smooth, nicely finished and seems helpfully resistant to scratching. The single button of the in-line mic feels positive in its action.

That’s it as far as ‘design’ is concerned, and I’m tempted to ask “what else were you expecting?”, because there’s nothing about the VR500 to suggest Final Audio has paid anything less than full attention.

  • Design score: 5/5

Final VR500 review: Value

  • Properly built and finished

  • Impressively specified at the money

  • Enjoyable sound quality

There aren’t many products on the pages of that cost less than £30, and fewer still that don’t feel like they’ve been overtly built down to a price. The care Final Audio has taken with the physical and performance aspects of the VR500 is really quite impressive.

  • Value score: 5/5

Should I buy the Final VR500?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Final VR500 review: Also consider

How I tested the Final VR500

  • Plugged into a laptop…

  • ...and a smartphone 

  • Used for games and for music

I used the VR500 for well over a week, and in a variety of situations. At home, connected to a laptop and a smartphone, where I listened to music and played a few games. And on an aeroplane, where they were again attached to my laptop but also to the in-flight entertainment system.

And at no point was I anything less than impressed.