Headphone Sessions 9/5/2012: Focal Spirit One....Where's the Spirit?

Early in 2012 Focal released their first headphone, the Spirit One ($279), an almost-full-size, sealed headphone with in-line Apple mic and controls. There are some rumors saying Focal is having manufacturing consistency issues and that there are Focal headphones in the hands of consumers that sound very different from each other. HeadRoom has not yet been able to confirm or disprove these charges. [caption id="attachment_2514" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Focal Spirit One[/caption] The Spirit One is a great looking headphone with build quality that makes it feel like it would withstand re-entry into earth's atmosphere. Unfortunately, that's where the compliments end. The earpads aren't big enough to fit completely around the ear, so they fall somewhere in between the categories of full-size and earpad or on-ear. They definitely seal better than most on-ear designs, but can still cause the discomfort often associated with on-ear styles. Most bass-heads will appreciate the Spirit One's hefty low frequency response, but the discerning listener will notice the cloudy presentation of the high frequencies and the lack of detail and control in bass all the way through highs ultimately causing the headphones to sound confused and muddy with no sense of separation or space around the notes. For less money, there are better options that include in-line Apple control and headset functions in a portable design similar to the Spirit One. The NOCS NS 700 Phaser is an earpad style headphone with Apple controls and mic with slamming bass and good clarity. Another with headset capability is the Klipsch Reference One, which we find a little dark and rolled off in the highs, but holds its own against the Spirit One without putting as big of a dent in your pocketbook with a nice $149 price tag. HeadRoom has great respect for Focal as an audio giant making amazing speakers, but we feel they've got room for improvement designing headphones. We hope they stay with it as we're sure they can produce a gem. For more information on the Focal Spirit One, NOCS NS 700 Phaser, Klipsch Reference One, or any other headphone call 1-800-828-8184. An extremely knowledgeable and somewhat obsessed headphone expert is standing by.

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