Focal Hi-Fi Headphones: Exploring the brand’s high-end lineup [Video]

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Starting with loudspeakers, professional reference audio, and even car audio, Focal has built a reputation on hi-fidelity audio. One line of hi-fidelity headphones has been making huge waves since 2012. We were sent samples of their entire hi-fi line, which isn’t all they offer for headphones and are excited to share some thoughts on the collection with you. Be sure to check out the video below for more details.

All things Audio

We’ve covered a few things Focal this year ranging from the Sphear Wireless to their Sib Evo 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos system to the 40th-anniversary event they held in July at their headquarters in France. Be sure to check those out for a deeper look into all things Focal.

While headphones from Focal start at $97 for the Sphear Wireless, and include other great on-ear headphones like the Listen Wireless, the line of H-Fi headphones start at $900 for the Elegia and goes up to a whopping $4,000 for the Utopia.

Focal Hi-Fi Headphones: Video

This line is developed and manufactured at its facilities in France. When I was there earlier this year for their 40th-anniversary event I was able to see some of these headphones being made and drivers being assembled but wasn’t able to take any pictures at the time.

While I enjoy good sounding audio and may be a budding audiophile, my expertise in hi-fidelity headphones isn’t very extensive yet. But Focal offered the chance to check out this entire line-up and I thought it would be a great time to share some thoughts with you all.

Overall Design Cues

One thing you’ll notice about the line is that at their core they all share a similar design. A large, padded headband provides a sturdy support for large earcups that fit securely on your head. One thing that amazed me is that these are big headphones – and they’re relatively heavy. But, because of the large soft headband, they never felt uncomfortable on my head – even when I wore them for hours on end editing videos.

Elegia

At the start of the line is the Elegia which comes in at $900. This closed-back headphone incorporates many of Focal’s impressive technologies into a hi-fi headphone that provides great audio at home or on the go. The M-shape aluminum/magnesium dome measures 40mm to deliver frequencies from 5 – 23k Hz.

Focal’s main focus on audio has always been a true reproduction of what was recorded. Even from this “entry” level pair of Hi-Fi headphones, Focal delivers incredibly tight bass and clarity.

Elear

The entry point for Focal’s open-back headphones, the $1,000 Elear has earned a reputation for its impressive clarity and openness. 5- 23kHz are pushed through a 40mm Aluminum-Magnesium M-shaped dome to deliver incredibly detailed audio. The large leather-wrapped headband matched with memory foam ear cushions covered in microfiber fabric are plenty comfortable for extended use.

Clear

As its name would suggest, the Clear open-back headphones are even more clarity than the Elear. Reaching far beyond what the Elear and human ear can actually hear at 5Hz – 28kHz, the Clear headphones reveal incredible detail in music. Clear is priced at $1,500 which is a steep price for a pair of headphones, but a great deal compared to the next two pairs of headphones.

Microfiber ear cushions keep the Clear comfortable for long listening sessions thanks to the large overall design. Aluminum yokes give a satisfying click when being adjusted and give the Clear headphones a solid construction.

Stellia

While open-back headphones are often regarded as the best way to experience audio, they do often require specific listening conditions. With the success of the Utopia headphones which we’ll take a look at next, Focal decided to put some of that same technology, mainly the M-shaped pure Beryllium drivers, into a closed-back design for mobility or listening conditions that aren’t always perfect – enter the Stellia at $3,000.

Unboxing and packaging on the Stellia are premium as well. The package is substantial, with a color scheme that matches the headphones. The protective travel case can hold some extra accessories, but also in the box is another separate case for the manual and extra cables.

The Stelia also sports an incredible design with its cognac and mocha finishes matched with full-grain leather across the headband. The ear cups are memory foam wrapped in full-grain leather. Their soft supple finish feels great on the ear.

Insane clarity is one of the top features in all of Focal’s line-up but even better with the M-shaped Beryllium drivers found in the Stelia and Utopia.

And although Focal would probably smack the Stellia off my head if he saw me using them this way, they are incredibly good for gaming. Obviously, overkill, but if clarity and positioning are what you’re after, and those are probably the most important aspects when gaming, then the Stellia is an absolute beast. And I used the Stellia more often than the Utopia for gaming because the closed-back design blocked more of my keyboard noise from the Razer Huntsman Elite.

Utopia

At the top of the line sits the Utopia – Absolute Acoustic Purity. Coming in at $4,000, this pair of headphones incorporate all of Focal’s highest end tech to deliver the clearest audio experience I’ve ever heard in a headphone.

On the design side, the Utopia features a similar overall shape of all of Focal’s other hi-fidelity headphones. A large headband wrapped in leather with lambskin leather on the cushions makes the Utopia extremely comfortable and able to be worn for long listening sessions. The carbon fiber yoke adds another high-end feature to this impressive pair of headphones.

Obviously featuring an open-back design, the Utopia has an incredible openness to it. Matched with the clarity of the M-shaped beryllium drivers and the headphone is by far the best sounding pair of cans I’ve ever heard. Is it $4,000 worth? Well, that just depends on what value you place on sound. There are a ton of other great headphones for much – MUCH less money, but if you’re looking for the ultimate experience in clarity to hear music at an incredible level, then the Utopia is worth a look.

While visiting Focal for their 40th-anniversary event earlier this year we were able to see where they make the Utopia and what stood out was the process for the beryllium drivers. The worker must wear a protective suit as the room is heated to some pretty insane temperatures during the manufacturing process. So seeing some of the behind the scenes also makes you appreciate what goes into making these world-class headphones.

We also have the brand new Arche headphone amp from Focal here which I’ve been using for a bit while testing these headphones, but we’ll save that for another video/post.

For more thoughts on audio from Focal, check out my review of the Sphear Wireless earbuds, the Sib Evo 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos theater setup, or take a look behind the scenes from the 40th-anniversary event we attended earlier this year.

Overall

If you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve been blown away by what Focal is doing. They’re a premium brand but have also diversified their offerings to reach a broader audience. If you get a chance to check out some of what Focal offers, I would definitely suggest it. From their wireless earbuds to the Utopia headphones to the Grand Utopia loudspeakers, Focal’s dedication to high-quality audio is astonishing.

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