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Best Focal Headphones 2024

Focal, a French audio company, has established itself as a beacon of excellence in the world of high-fidelity audio. With a relentless pursuit of acoustic purity, Focal headphones are not just devices for listening; they are instruments that convey the essence of music with unparalleled clarity and emotion. Audiophiles around the globe cherish Focal’s offerings for their sophisticated design, luxurious comfort, and, most importantly, their extraordinary sound quality. Each model in their lineup is a testament to Focal’s commitment to sonic perfection, whether it’s through the open-back Utopia’s breathtaking transparency or the closed-back Celestee’s rich and detailed soundstage. In this exploration, we delve into the heart of Focal’s craftsmanship, examining how these headphones achieve their revered status among enthusiasts.

Focal Bathys

Focal Bathys Over-Ear Hi-Fi Bluetooth Wireless...
  • Active noise cancelling for full immersion and transparency mode to...
  • Refined real leather and microfiber headband are incomparably soft...
  • Limitless connectivity with a 3.5mm jack USB-C outlet and Bluetooth...

Focal Bathys represents a significant leap forward for the esteemed Saint-Étienne-based audio company, Focal, known for its dedication to high-fidelity sound. As the first wireless ANC headphones from Focal, the Bathys is a headphone model that merges the freedom of movement with the company’s pure Hi-Fi sound signature, a feat that has garnered attention from sound engineers and audiophiles alike.

The design of the Focal Bathys is in line with the brand’s premium aesthetic, featuring aluminum ear cups with a distinctive circular cut-out pattern that houses the Focal logo, backlit in white when in DAC mode. This audiophile headphones design is not just for show; it’s a functional aspect that indicates the Bathys’ readiness to deliver high-resolution audio up to 24 bits/192 kHz, thanks to its USB-DAC mode. The use of magnesium on the yokes and real leather on the headband speaks to the headphone’s comfort and the brand’s commitment to using high-quality materials.

Sound quality is where the Bathys truly shines, inheriting the reference headphone status from its wired counterparts. The patented Aluminum/Magnesium “M”-dome speaker drivers, a technology borrowed from the best Focal headphones, ensure that the audio products from this brand maintain their reputation for detailed, precise, and dynamic sound. The Bathys’ sound profile is neutral, with excellent mid accuracy, ensuring that vocals and instruments are present and clear. This neutrality is a hallmark of Focal’s sound signatures, aiming to reproduce audio as the artists and sound engineers intended.

Bathys also steps into the modern audio industry with its active noise cancellation (ANC) feature, a first for Focal headphones. This addition allows listeners to enjoy an immersive experience without the disturbance of background noise in the audio equipment, offering modes like ‘Silent’, ‘Soft’, or ‘Transparency’ to cater to different listening environments. The ANC, combined with the Bathys’ ability to support the aptX Adaptive codec for high-quality Bluetooth streaming, positions this headphone model as a versatile choice for both casual and critical listening at an affordable price tag.

Focal Clear

Focal CLEAR Over-Ear High-Resolution Audiophile...
  • Audiophile high-end circum-aural open-backed headphones for low-noise...
  • A pure, technophile and sophisticated design thanks to their solid...
  • Open high-fidelity headphone made in France

Focal Clear stands as a testament to Focal’s prowess in crafting high-end headphones that cater to the discerning ears of audiophiles and sound engineers alike. Clear embodies Focal’s dedication to audio excellence, merging meticulous design with unparalleled sound quality at this price point.

The headphone’s design exudes luxury and sophistication, featuring aluminum ear cups with a distinctive circular cut-out pattern that elegantly showcases the Focal logo. This design is not just for aesthetics; it signifies the Clear’s capability to deliver high-resolution audio, highlighting Focal’s commitment to using premium materials for both comfort and durability.

Sound quality is where the Focal Clear truly excels, earning its status as a reference headphone among Focal’s esteemed lineup with great frequency response. The patented Aluminum/Magnesium “M”-dome speaker drivers are central to the Clear’s exceptional audio performance, ensuring detailed, precise, and dynamic sound reproduction. The sound profile is remarkably neutral, with a warm bass response, coherent and even mids, and responsive treble that strikes a perfect balance without leaning too bright or too muted. This neutrality is a hallmark of Focal’s sound signatures, designed to reproduce audio as closely as possible to the artists’ and sound engineers’ intentions.

Despite its many strengths, the Focal Clear is not without its criticisms. Some listeners have noted a slight emphasis on the bass that extends a little into the mids, and a mild bass accentuation that could be more texturally resolving. Additionally, the treble has a hint of edge to it, which some may perceive as brightness, although it does not detract from the overall sound quality. The Clear’s dynamic nature can sometimes make the soundstage appear shallow due to its potent snappiness, but these are minor nitpicks in an otherwise stellar audio product. Focal Clear is the Best Focal Headphones .

Focal Utopia

Focal Utopia Reference High-Fidelity Circumaural...
  • Designed and manufactured in France and equipped with exclusive technology...
  • Open back circum-aural headphones dedicated to low noise environments
  • Reference pair of headphones featuring full range loudspeakers made of a...

The Focal Utopia stands as a pinnacle of high-end headphones, embodying the zenith of Focal’s commitment to audio excellence. Handcrafted in Saint-Étienne, France, these flagship headphones are a testament to Focal’s dedication to innovation and quality in the audio industry. The Utopia’s design is both visually striking and functionally sophisticated, featuring M-shaped drivers and grills that not only enhance its aesthetic appeal but also contribute to its exceptional sound reproduction capabilities. The use of premium materials such as recycled carbon fiber yokes, genuine leather, and aluminum underscores Focal’s commitment to luxury and durability.

The sound quality of the Utopia is unparalleled, with a neutral sound signature that has been fine-tuned for even clearer and more accurate musical reproduction. The incorporation of Beryllium in the drivers ensures quick and impacting low ends, while a slight reduction in the trebles achieves a more balanced sound signature. This meticulous attention to detail in sound engineering allows the Utopia to deliver a refined sense of punchiness without overwhelming the listener, making it ideal for a wide range of music genres.

Moreover, the Utopia’s open-back design, facilitated by its distinctive honeycomb styling, allows for an expansive soundstage, offering listeners an immersive audio experience. The headphones’ ability to smoothly render the midrange, coupled with their dynamic complexity, ensures that vocals and instruments are presented with remarkable clarity and presence. This level of sound fidelity makes the Utopia a reference headphone for audiophiles and sound engineers alike, who seek to experience music as close to the original recording as possible.

Focal Stellia

Focal Stellia Closed-Back Circum-Aural Over-Ear...
  • Focal Stellia headphones deliver every tiny detail of every song at both...
  • Incredible dynamics within a pair of closed-back headphones
  • Each component has been developed with optimal acoustics in mind without...

Focal Stellia emerges as a remarkable achievement in the realm of high-end headphones, reflecting Focal’s unwavering dedication to audio excellence. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail in Saint-Étienne, France, the Stellia not only showcases Focal’s prowess in headphone design but also its commitment to delivering unparalleled sound quality.

From the outset, the Stellia captivates with its luxurious design, featuring a blend of aluminum, stainless steel, and leather that exudes elegance and sophistication. The choice of materials not only contributes to the headphone’s aesthetic appeal but also to its comfort and durability, ensuring a listening experience that is as pleasurable as it is long-lasting. At the heart of the Stellia’s exceptional audio performance are the patented Aluminum/Magnesium “M”-dome speaker drivers, a hallmark of Focal’s innovative approach to sound engineering. These drivers are instrumental in delivering a sound profile that is both dynamic and precise, with a neutrality that allows for the accurate reproduction of music across various genres.

The Stellia’s closed-back design offers excellent passive sound isolation, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a private listening environment without external distractions. This design, coupled with the headphone’s low impedance and high sensitivity, ensures that the Stellia can be effortlessly driven by portable audio sources, although its performance is further enhanced when paired with a high-quality desktop amplifier.

One of the Stellia’s most notable features is its ability to convey music with punchy and fun dynamics, without compromising on resolution or spatial presentation. The bass is tactile and powerful, yet controlled, allowing for a listening experience that is both immersive and emotionally engaging. The midrange and treble regions are rendered with clarity and detail, ensuring that vocals and instruments are presented with lifelike realism.

Focal Elegia

Focal Elegia High-Fidelity Closed-Back...
  • High-end closed-back design for home use and on-the-go
  • Exclusive full-range speaker-driver with an 'M'-shape aluminium/magnesium...
  • Incredible tonal balance, which is able to reproduce the subtlest sound...

Focal Elegia emerges as a noteworthy contender in the realm of high-end headphones, showcasing Focal’s unwavering commitment to audio excellence. Crafted with precision in Saint-Étienne, France, the Elegia is a testament to Focal’s rich legacy in the audio industry, blending meticulous headphone design with superior sound quality.

The Elegia’s design is a harmonious blend of functionality and luxury, featuring aluminum ear cups adorned with a distinctive circular cut-out pattern that elegantly houses the Focal logo. This design is not merely aesthetic but also functional, indicating the Elegia’s capability to deliver high-resolution audio. The use of magnesium on the yokes and real leather on the headband underscores Focal’s dedication to using premium materials, ensuring both comfort and durability.

Sound quality is where the Elegia truly excels, inheriting the reference headphone status from its predecessors. The patented Aluminum/Magnesium “M”-dome speaker drivers, characteristic of Focal’s innovative approach to sound engineering, ensure that the Elegia maintains the brand’s reputation for delivering detailed, precise, and dynamic sound. The sound profile is neutral, with excellent mid accuracy, allowing vocals and instruments to be present and clear. This neutrality is a hallmark of Focal’s sound signatures, aiming to reproduce audio as the artists and sound engineers intended.

Despite its strengths, the Elegia faces criticism for its bass performance and tonality. The bass, while slightly emphasized on paper, often feels lacking in practice due to challenges in achieving a uniform tight seal around the ears, affecting the bass frequencies. Additionally, the Elegia’s tonality has been described as wonky, with a metallic timbre that some listeners may find off-putting. However, with a generous application of EQ, these issues can be mitigated, significantly improving the listening experience.

Focal Clear MG Professional

Focal Clear Pro MG Professional Open-Back...
  • Memory foam earpads, covered with a perforated microfiber fabric, allow for...
  • An M-shaped honeycomb internal grille follows the curve of the cone to...
  • Providing a remarkable tonal balance across the full spectrum, the Clear MG...

Focal Clear MG Professional headphones are a testament to Focal’s commitment to producing high-end headphones that meet the exacting standards of sound engineers and audiophiles alike. These headphones are a part of Focal’s esteemed lineup of audio products, designed and manufactured in Saint-Étienne, France, which is known for its rich legacy in the audio industry.

The Clear MG Professional is a headphone model that stands out for its meticulous headphone design, which includes an ‘M’-shaped magnesium dome for the drivers. This unique design contributes to the headphones’ ability to deliver precise high-frequency reproduction and an impressive dynamic response. The open-back design of the Clear MG Professional allows for a spacious soundstage, giving the listener the sensation of listening to high-quality studio monitors.

Comfort is also a key feature of these headphones, with thick memory foam earpads covered in perforated microfiber ensuring that long mixing sessions do not lead to fatigue. The overall build quality is superb, with a sturdy yet comfortable headband and aluminum yokes that support the ear cups.

The sound signature of the Focal Clear MG Professional is characterized by its neutrality and transparency, allowing sound engineers to hear every detail in their recordings. The bass reproduction is articulate and controlled, the mids are clear and present, and the highs are detailed without being harsh or sibilant. This reference headphone quality makes them suitable for critical listening and professional mixing applications.

Focal Celestee

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Focal Celestee High-End Closed-Back Over-Ear Wired...
  • Closed-back headphones for home and on-the-go use
  • Outstanding design fine materials and Navy Blue finishes with Soft Copper...
  • Remarkable sound performance: incredible bass extension and tonal balance...

Focal’s Celestee headset, which has a closed-back design, is another re-tuned design influenced by Focal’s first full-sized closed-back headphone. The goal was to produce a headset that was noise-isolating while yet retaining the sound quality of previous models, even taking structure and materials from them.

With mobility in mind, the Focal Celestee was created. They can be powered by a laptop or smartphone and have a 35 Ohm impedance. Wherever you are, the closed-back design ensures sound isolation from outside sources. To qualify as a “re-tuned design” on Focal’s first audiophile circum-aural closed-back headphone, the Elegia, the Celestee’s sound had to not only exceed Focal’s standards, but also outperform its predecessor.

Celestee has been fine-tuned and re-tuned with more attention on the lower-end frequencies, as requested by many Elegia owners. It is based on the Focal Elegia in terms of driver and dome materials. Focal introduced a 40mm ‘M’-shaped Aluminium/Magnesium driver, which is identical to the Focal Clear Mg loudspeaker.

Overall, the Focal Celestee has an incredibly wide soundstage, crisp detail, and tight, accurate bass that is rare to find in other closed-back headphones. If you prefer hefty low-ends, these may not be the headphones for you, but if you prefer warmth, they will be ideal.

FAQ

Are Focal Headphones Good?

Yes.

Differences between Focal headphones and other high-end audio brands?

Focal headphones are renowned for their ‘Made in France’ craftsmanship, exceptional sound quality, and use of premium materials. They offer a unique combination of sophisticated design, acoustic transparency, and comfort, making them highly sought after by audiophiles and music enthusiasts.

How do I choose between open-back and closed-back Focal headphones?

Open-back headphones, like the Focal Utopia, are known for their expansive soundstage and natural sound reproduction but may leak sound. Closed-back models, such as the Focal Stellia, provide better noise isolation and prevent sound leakage, offering a more intimate listening experience.

Can Focal headphones be driven by portable audio sources?

Yes, many Focal headphones, including the Focal Stellia, have low impedance, making them easy to drive with portable audio sources. However, for the best sound quality, pairing them with a suitable DAC and amplifier is recommended.

Are wireless Focal headphones comparable in sound quality to wired models?

Focal’s wireless headphones, like the Focal Bathys, are designed to offer high-fidelity sound with the convenience of Bluetooth connectivity. While wireless models may slightly compromise on sound quality compared to wired versions, they still deliver exceptional audio performance.

What is the battery life of Focal’s wireless headphones with ANC?

The Focal Bathys offers up to 30 hours of battery life in Bluetooth mode with ANC activated, 35 hours in Jack mode, and 40 hours in USB DAC mode.

Can I use Focal headphones for making phone calls?

Yes, Focal headphones like the Bathys feature Clear Voice Capture technology with dedicated microphones for calls, ensuring clear conversations. They can answer calls in Bluetooth and USB DAC modes but not in Jack mode.

How do I update my Focal headphones?

Focal provides firmware updates for their headphones, which can be accessed through the Focal & Naim app. The app will notify you when an update is available for your model.