focal headphones review

Utopia and Elear are made in France and about to hit the market. Up Next NAD VISO HP70 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphone Review The Focal Clear headphones are a benchmark design that is one of the top performing headsets I’ve experienced. The perforated earpads maximize comfort by ventilating sweaty ears. Raising the headphone volume didn’t fix this issue. Disclaimer: The Focal Utopia sent to us for the purposes of this review is a loan sample that was returned after this review. Focal includes three cables with the Clear: one with a balanced XLR plug, one with a 1/4-inch plug, and one terminated in a 3.5mm connector. I chose to use the Focal cabling for this review, one is a 3-foot cable with 3.5 mm plug and ¼" screw on adapter, while the second set is a 10-foot cable using a 4 pin DIN termination arrangement. The Focal Utopia and Clear headphones are tuned to be used in an open configuration – what Focal calls a low acoustic impedance environment. Being indoors didn’t fare any better, as I could hear analysts speaking during live football games with the TV at low volume. This includes a 3.5mm aux cable, gold-plated 3.5mm adapter, and a large, durable zippered case with molds on the inside to store everything nicely. “World’s Best Headphone.” This was the proclamation made by the man who gave me my first job doing headphone reviews, my mentor and predecessor at Innerfidelity, Tyll Hertsens.As a young teenager I remember learning a lot from Tyll and Innerfidelity, and the exciting discussions of his reviews and measurements that made their way onto the forums at head-fi and … Focal Utopia. Freelance contributor, The Elegia’s cable is the same black and white zebra-styled braid as the cable included with the Clear. Typical headphones place drivers directly to the sides of your ears. 3 were majestically rendered. Separation between frequencies was impressive, but it was better on plantar magnetic drivers; the transition from lows to mids was smoother on the Audeze LCD-3. Please refresh the page and try again. But if money isn't an issue and you're looking to go big, the Focal Clear are among the best headphones in the premium price range. Today, Focal focuses on more than just top-tier loudspeakers. I can’t think of another speaker manufacturer that has embraced the headphone movement as effectively as Focal. Seeing how the Elegia and Clear share the same driver, audio should sound the same, correct? Even the overdubs (the song apparently has over 180) like the “Galileo” repetitions and Chinese gongs at the end have more transparency to them. Focal's first high-end, closed-back headphones are a sonic champion. The screw-on adapter ensures the adapter won’t slide out. Focal’s Utopia headphones are a bleeding-edge statement from a pedigreed loudspeaker manufacturer that has made the most of its speaker-designing experience. The result? Note: The Radiance – made in collaboration with high-end automotive manufacturer Bentley – was kindly loaned to Headfonia for this review by Busisoft AV, Focal’s local Australian distributor.Our thanks go out to them as always for their support. Focal includes a 3.5mm cable that terminates at a 45-degree angle, a micro-USB charging cable, a neoprene carrying case, and the Focal Listen Wireless headphones—which are available in four colors: black, olive, blue, and purple. This design, which is also common to Focal’s Utopia, Clear, and Elear headphones, creates a solid soundstage that feels less “in my head” and more akin to traditional loudspeakers. Elegia comes with just with the 3.5mm connection. Focal uses Beryllium in its flagship Utopia headphone, but the manufacturer relies on an aluminum/magnesium alloy for the Elegia. I’m also fond of the circular cutouts that offer a generous amount of space for listeners with larger ear shapes. They are very good for what they do and deliver. TechHive has reviewed two—the Clear and the Elegia —deeming both to be exceptional, though not inexpensive by any means. Focal’s continued foray in high end headphones hits another high note with the Elegia. Their open design makes them a poor choice for any other use cases as they don’t block any ambient noise and don't have a microphone or wireless technology. The look and feel of these headphones is to die for. Audio is also more uniform with smoother frequency response. Focal absolutely had to pull out all the stops here, or the entire exercise would have been written off as nothing more than naked profiteering. The Focal Stellia headphones look like they’d be at home on location at the season’s showing of the new Chanel or YSL line. I’ve never noticed this when testing popular mid-luxury headphones like the Bose 700 and Sony WH-1000xM3. The stylish, dark gray hard case is a thermoformed construction. The Clear has a flatter sound signature that reveals the purest details from the most complex recordings. It screams industrial, yet class, and upholds the refined appearance of top-tier studio speakers. Two vents help this headphone deliver outstanding frequency response, rated from 5Hz to 23kHz. I use Focal’s Clear as my everyday reference headphone, and I observed similarities and differences between the two models. The group’s harmonies at the start of the record sound beautiful and crisp; the synthesized vocals have a naturalness to them. If that’s the case, then the Focal Clear deserves your full attention. Price-wise, it’s actually in the middle of the Focal open back lineup, between the more expensive Focal Utopia and the lower priced Focal Elear. … The Clear, I felt, was a more outspoken, brutally honest headphone; the Elegia always played the diplomat, tending towards a euphonic musical interpretation. I played high-res tracks stored locally on the players. Here, we’ll help you decide if Focal’s most expensive headphone is worth the flagship price-tag. The Elegias certainly look like a premium pair of headphones. Again, $1,500 is a lot to ask for any pair of headphones, but an investment worth considering if you want natural-sounding cans that look and sound this good. While some models go for a workmanlike design, you’ll find nothing of the sort here – even at this price. A cutaway view of the Focal Elegia’s closed-back ear cup. Everything about this headset remains premium as well. After I whipped up a batch of Coq au Vin and got out a bottle of vintage Bordeaux, I sat down to listen to some Serge Gainsbourg. The earphones have a balanced sound with comfort for long sessions of listening. The $2,490 USD Focal Arche is the flagship all-in-one headphone amplifier, DAC and preamplifier from French high-end audio manufacturer Focal. In just a few short years, Focal has produced both excellent entry-level and uber high-end models, such as the exquisite $4,000 Utopia. When I did get the chance to pull up Spotify in a private setting, hip-hop songs had more oomph to them. I can’t think of another speaker manufacturer that has embraced the headphone movement as … I’ve always loved the WH-1000xM3’s strong bass performance on mobile devices, but the Clear wasn’t as overpowering on my ears and elevated vocal clarity on the Google Pixel 3 XL. I used a Fiio X7 Mark II and Astell&Kern Kann DAPs for my testing. The Elegia’s impedance is a mere 35 ohms. Like the Elegia, these cans employ Focal’s proprietary ‘M’-shape aluminum/magnesium driver. It’s perfectly molded to store, protect, and carry the Elegia wherever you go. Clarity was so spot-on that I felt the vulnerability in Liam Gallagher’s voice on the somberly-crooned hook. Its entry-level Elegia headphones are well constructed, and these pricier cans share similar attributes, but with a more elegant look that stays true to the company’s design pedigree. “Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to … While I wasn’t able to test the company’s older and more beloved beryllium driver for comparison, I can say that this alternative delivers on its promise. My take? When playing bouncy selections like Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money Mo Problems,” the drums and guitar licks had a striking presence that made vibing along to the record joyous. Its design will turn heads while offering snug comfort on your head. The first detail that immediately caught my eye is the mesh grille on the exterior, which has become symbolic with the open-back circumaural category (thank you very much, Sennheiser). These are, of course, purely comparative differences. The full-range speaker driver includes a vent to manage the balance between the bass and the midbass. Fine expect noise isolation. I felt as though the Elegia had a tighter grip, with less shifting when I turned my head or was on the go. Given its stellar audio performance, the Focal Utopia is a fairly efficient headphone at 80 Ohms impedance with 104dB sensitivity specs, so any great headphone amp should do it full justice. This is a headphone for the serious audiophile who wants to make a long-term investment in a reference-grade, closed back headphone. One of the best things about the Focal headphones we’ve been reviewing is that they have such a great build quality, and the Focal Elegia headphones are no exception to that rule. They’re similar to the Focal Elegia but have a more retro look with a cognac and mocha design and leather ear cups. Focal has just drastically upped its headphone game with two very high-end models. Focal Utopia Review - True Audiophile Perfection Focal has always been at the top of the game when it came to high-end audio products, but before 2012 I … If only it was longer. Detail of the high-quality cable included. The Elegia’s ear cups have a dimpled design. Today we’ll be taking a look at the new Focal Radiance, a $1,290 USD closed-back headphone from Focal. Elegia is designed, developed, and assembled in France. Every time I picked them up, I couldn’t help but stop and admire some new facet. Specifically, the aluminum yoke and click-adjustable headband are noticeably more snug on the Elegia than on the Clear. 92 and the Minnesota Orchestra’s performance of Aaron Copeland’s Symphony No. My fiancée identified every Jay-Z song I played from about 25 feet away. Essentially, these are the closed-back version of the Utopias. Focal is known for its high-end equipment, but it obviously has to seriously impress to warrant the price tag of an eye-watering $4,000. To simplify the technical jargon, the driver doesn’t just optimize volume levels across different audio sources (e.g. But if you thought the Elegia had its fair share of compromises, the Clear presents the biggest with its noise isolation struggles. Most professional and high-end audio gear come with 1/4-inch connections. Note: Focal’s Australian distributor Busisoft A.V kindly lent us the Arche for this review, along with Focal’s Stellia and Clear. In addition to the natural difference between an open- and closed-back design, I felt as though the Focal Clear had more sizzle and shine on the top end, a hair more bottom-end control and dynamics, and slightly more resolution and air around instruments and vocals. The new Naim Mu-so speaker and Focal Radiance headphones will be available in October at selected Focal, Naim and Bentley retailers. Beryllium is one of the best-performing headphone driver materials in the world, but it’s extremely expensive. And they don’t just look expensive, they feel it too. The ultra-strong structure with carbon fiber ensures that the Focal Utopia will last for years on everyday use. The case is the same as the one that comes with Focal’s Clear headphones. These are open back headphones Alex. At the same time, the recessed vocals and guitar riff diminished its boomy appeal. ), but also eliminates the need of any extra hardware like a headphone amp to boost sound. It might be natural to think of the Elegia as a closed-back version of the Focal Clear. These are not headphones designed to be worn outside, and if worn inside, you’ll want to be in a secluded area to fully enjoy them. Not too blingy but a certain unmistakable French elegance in fit and finish. A second vent, located at the back of the ear cup, picks up the rear wave coming from the center of the motor. The Clear has zero noise isolation. The acoustic guitar on Oasis’ “Wonderwall” pulled me in with every strum, but it was the different string arrangements sprinkled throughout the recording that made the listen more enchanting. Pairing headphones with the right electronics for maximum performance matters. High-quality, closed-back headphones like these always help me get lost in the music. Gorgeous. The Elegia, by contrast delivered more midrange presence and perceived warmth. Elegia has angled drivers, positioned towards the front of the headphone, that are visible when looking at the ear cup from the side. No open back headphones offer noise isolation and if they do you miss out on what makes open back headphones great. NY 10036. The closed headphones in an ear-enclosing design come with a handy carry box. Bass levels on the Clear are carefully balanced as well. Thank you for signing up to Tom's Guide. But it’s the slate-gray finish that gives these headphones their charm. You have to be a serious audio head to consider spending $1,500 on a pair of headphones. Sheer sonic bliss housed in a luxury shell. The memory-foam ear pads covered in plush microfiber create a spa-like cocoon. Focal’s industrial design team paid attention to every detail. The Elegia’s penchant for dynamics enlivened my listening. The Focal Clear headphones from the front Focal Clear have plenty of padding for ultimate comfort These headphones are kind of large, but comfortable The Focal Clear headphones sitting on a desk These are open-back so you get an amazing soundstage Everything that comes in the box with the Focal Clear headphones Female vocals basked in Elegia’s sunlight. The barrel on the 3.5mm adapter is big—about three times the size as what you’ll find on some other cables. Under the beautiful shell, Focal says that Elegia features a new generation of full-range drivers that can operate in the small space required of a headphone design, while delivering exceptional dynamics and pristine sound reproduction. Here’s how Focal thought through the problem. The Elegia’s drivers are shifted towards the front of the ear cup and are angled towards your ears to mimic the way we experience sound through traditional speakers. Get instant access to breaking news, the hottest reviews, great deals and helpful tips. The ear pads also did wonders to block out the noise around me. Focal Professional headphones meet the expectations of the most demanding artists and sound engineers: precision and neutrality are the guarantee of a perfect mix. Even with such a thick barrel, however, the threaded neck allows you to plug in the 3.5mm adapter through many (but perhaps not all) smart devices or high-res digital audio players when they’re in cases. The Utopia is Focal’s third headphone and flagship model priced at $4,000. spiral cable, which extends to a length of 5 metres, and a 1.2-metre long cable are also included. We got the exclusive on the Elear review sample. The yokes appear shorter as well to ensure a more secure fit. That cable has a threaded neck capable of accepting the included screw-on 1/4-inch adapter. Design? The headphones are stored safely in this hard-shell case, allowing you to take it with you on your travels. The Elegia should be both on your short list to audition, and your Christmas list to own. While the Stellia’s 40mm Beryllium dome drive unit is heavily based on that used by the older model, the closed design means that Focal’s engineers have had to rework it considerably. Focal clear comfort and fit At nearly a pound (15.8 ounces), the Clear is in the same weight class as the Elegia, but far heavier than most noise-cancelling headphones. I couldn’t help but pause and notice the hairs on my arms start to rise on the 24-bit/192kHz recording of City of the Sun’s In the Sun and the All the Cities in Between. The headband feels just as comfy with premium leather wrapped around it. This avoids any compression and extends the frequency response of the driver. © Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. TechHive |. Not only is the Elegia easy to drive, the headphone will also perform extremely with ordinary smart devices. The Focal Elear are good open-back critical listening headphones. The micro-knurled polishing, meanwhile, gives off a rainbow-hued sheen like the back of a CD. Focal Listen Wireless Review. They are expensive for a reason. The aluminum yoke has a brushed finish, with beveled screws at the ear cups that make light dance. With Elegia, Focal has thrown down the gauntlet at the closed-back competition. These characteristics were laid bare on “The Greatest Show” and “From Now On” from the Greatest Showman soundtrack. Yes. The Elegia delivered the goods on Holly Cole’s “Train Song,” an audiophile favorite for testing bass lines. You will receive a verification email shortly. The etched logo in the middle is a sweet finishing touch. It’s a shame too considering how much the Clear improves sound quality on music and video apps. With the Fiio X7, I also used the Android Roon app to access files from my music server. The Elegia features a 4mm frameless, copper voice coil and an aluminum/magnesium alloy M-shaped inverted dome. It was tough listening to music outside due to all of the environmental interference that made its way onto the soundscape; car horns and construction tools sounded like background effects on hip-hop songs. The earpads are extremely soft. Furthermore, you get good value for enjoying your favorite tunes in the comfort of your home. Focal includes the same high-quality carrying case that comes with the Clear headphone. Paired with a new copper voice coil, these two components are said to improve “dynamics over the entire spectrum,” producing tighter bass and highs. Theo Nicolakis is a C-Level technologist and digital communications professional. Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc. Focal Elegia, the company’s first high-end, closed-back headphone, is a winner. Too often high-end products neglect appearances; if you’re spending this sort of money, we think you should get a product t… S review, you ’ ll find on some other cables beveled screws the! And an aluminum/magnesium alloy M-shaped inverted dome headphones like these always help me get lost in the world, also! Consider spending $ 1,500 on a technical level, much has been building high-end audio manufacturer Focal an... High-End headphone manufactured by Focal s perfectly molded to store, protect, and a hardy loop. 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January 8, 2021