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Taron & Andrew Lissimore
The new top-of-the-line Focal Utopia headphone is already being described by early reviewers as “The World’s Best Headphones.” Boy, we’ve heard that one before. But if anyone can do it, Focal undoubtedly has the design chops and engineering acumen to be able to really pull it off.
Please look for our no-holds-barred headphone.com review of the Focal Utopia shortly. Meanwhile here’s what we can tell you about this long-awaited headphone and the three other new headphone models just released by the French reference speaker audio gurus.
The $4,000 Focal Utopia is an open-back earcup design featuring Focal’s very highly regarded pure beryllium 40mm transducers with a proprietary ‘M-shaped’ dome driver construction. The transducer design is derived directly from the best big Focal room speakers, some of which can run well into the six figures. As clearly indicated by the Utopia’s steep price, Focal's design goal was simply to manufacture the very best-sounding, most comfortable headphones available at any cost. Perfect tonal balance, huge life-like dynamics and astonishing musical precision are to be the hallmarks of the Utopia and its superlative musical performance is expressly intended to take on the very best headphones available today and exceed their sound quality, hands-down.
Manufactured and engineered in St.Etienne France, the Utopia's large circumaural earcups sport a supple leather headband with a unique material construction combining true lambskin leather and a specially developed super-soft microfiber fabric for utmost long wearing comfort. The detachable cable design is a double-shielded Lemo Y-type cord with bayonet-style locking connectors into the earcups and extends for a long 13 ft. The cable is terminated to a high-quality Neutrik stereo ¼” plug. A hard-sided storage / carrying case is provided with a neat magnet lock feature. The Utopia headphone acceptably weighs in at just over 1 lb (1.08 lbs w/o cord). We look forward to telling you all about our team’s personal experiences with the Focal Utopia headphone in an upcoming installment of our newsletter.
Perched at a significantly more affordable $999, the new Focal Elear headphone is also a full-size open-back model utilizing a completely unique 40mm Focal driver made of a proprietary aluminum/magnesium material blend and utilizing the company’s same M-shape driver dome design as the Utopia. A thin mylar sheet is employed in the Elear driver internals while a painstakingly precise titanium coating is applied to the only dome structure itself. In essence, the Elear benefits from many of the same superlative audio R&D advancements showcased in the Utopia and it is expected to deliver among the best audio ‘bang-for-the-buck’ value and sound quality performance found in the entire headphone world. The Focal Elear has a comfortable leather headband along with a very ergonomic lightweight aluminum frame, which saves a bit on cost over the Utopia’s super-advanced bantamweight carbon fiber yoke construction. The Focal Elear is rated at 80 Ohms impedance and 104 dB sensitivity and comes with a detachable 13 ft cord and nicely plush [20 mm thick] memory foam ear pads. The very soft microfiber fabric on the Elear ear pad cushions should provide an extremely comfortable wear for all head shapes and sizes. The total Elear headphone weight comes in at just under a nicely lean 1 lb (0.99 lb).
The portable racehorse in the new Focal headphone stable is called the Listen model and it is geared for mobile listeners and travelers on the go. Priced at a wallet-friendly $249, the Listen has a sealed-back mid-sized circumaural earcup design and freshly developed Focal 40mm mylar/titanium driver arrays surrounded by thermosensitive earpads that stay cool on the earlobes even on warm days. The 32 Ohms impedance and 122 dB sensitivity rating is ideal for easy matching with all portable devices, tablets and smartphones with no outboard amp required. The closed-back cups provide ambient noise isolation and the extra high-density memory foam padding softly conforms to the ear to keep your music from leaking out when jamming in close quarters. The secure, adjustable soft-touch headband is optimized for maximum wearing comfort and perfectly even weight distribution with minimal clamping force applied to the head. The Listen headphones comes with a detachable 4 ½ ft OFC cable featuring a multifunction remote control and omnidirectional smartphone mic on the cord. The Listen weight comes in at just over a footloose ½ pound (0.6 lbs) of portable headphone goodness.
The first ever Focal in-ear headphone is called the Sphear model and its offered at an extremely attractive price of $149 bucks. Featuring large Focal-engineered 10.8mm electrodynamic mylar microdrivers and a cool stainless steel earpiece housing that’s both durable and comfortable, the Sphear offers in-ear listeners the same high-fidelity sound signature that drives the big Focal room speakers but at a kilo fraction of the cost - and with slightly easier portability. The Sphear in-ear headphones have a 4 ½ ft OFC cord length with a multifunction remote controller/omnidirectional smartphone mic built into the non-detachable cable. Silicone or memory foam eartips in various sizes are also included in the Focal Sphear package.
Our headphone.com review team is working themselves into a froth preparing for an in-depth breakdown and extensive analysis of each of these Focal headphones. Yeah, it’s a tough job but someone has got to do it. So keep your eyes peeled on this blog as well as on our individual Focal headphone product pages for more Focal headphone information very soon!See All Focal Headphones