Focal Launches New Headphone Range
Renowned for their exclusive speaker driver technology, Focal's new range consists of three new models each equipped with major innovations in acoustic components and mechanical design. Four years in the making, Focal now introduces the entry level Listen, as well as Elear, and the flagship Utopia, both of which will be manufactured exclusively at Focal's brand new production line in Saint-Etienne, France.
Wearing the title of the company's flagship loudspeaker, the name is apt. Focal says the sound quality is striking in terms of realism, neutrality, dynamics and clarity. While comfort and overall aesthetics was crucial for Utopia and significant advancements have been made in this area, the aim was simple; "build a high-end, cost no object world beater open-back reference headphone, taking on and beating specialists such as Sennheiser, Audeze, HiFiMan and more". A big statement indeed.
Focal's Headphones Product Manager, Romain Vet, told StereoNET:
Focal's ambition is to consolidate its position as a reference brand for high-end headphones. Today we are launching three innovative models featuring all our acoustic expertise as well as Focal exclusive technologies. The new production line, dedicated to Elear and Utopia headphones and located on our manufacturing plant in France, allows a total control of the manufacturing process. This ensures our customers high-end headphones, resolutely audiophile and handmade in France.
Elear and Utopia are said to share the core R&D that stems directly from the $275,000 Grand Utopia loudspeakers. Focal has designed and patented a miniature full-range driver equipped with Focal's new 'M'-shaped dome. The acoustic quality of this development allowed Focal designers to avoid the use of any crossover or passive filtering process to achieve an impressive frequency response from 5Hz to 50kHz.
Elear has an aluminium dome, while Utopia uses a berylillium dome not dissimilar to their flagship domestic loudspeaker.
Hand‑finished with superior quality materials to match the quality of their performance and to firmly establish their position as high-end products, to achieve perfection and to offer audio quality close to that of a loudspeaker, the structures of the Elear and Utopia headphones have been designed to offer maximum comfort for all shapes and sizes.
Another achievement with Utopia is the removal from the conventional rotation included on the yoke and its integration into the headband to ensure a total purity of the design. The Pittards leather, used on the cushions, reinforces the character of classically elegant lines, as well as the expression of comfort and overall performances.
Both Utopia ($5500 RRP) and Elear ($1675 RRP) will be available from selected Focal specialist retailers late 2016.
For more insight, watch Head-Fi's Jude Mansilla and his take on the new range:
Completing the range is 'Listen', a more affordable, yet premium headphone designed for mobile use. Benefiting from the same research in mechanics and acoustics that went into designing Elear and Utopia, as well as the experience gained from developing the existing Spirit headphone ranges, Listen will be available from mid-year. Pricing is still to be confirmed.
They are said to provide excellent noise isolation with large ear cushions that ensure Listen headphones preserve all their acoustic qualities, even in loud environments. The heat-sensitive, very high density memory foam offers impressive comfort for the listener.
Listen are supplied with a flexible carrying case and an aircraft adapter. A 1.4m cable is also provided with a 3.5mm jack and a bayonet connector locking device, where a quarter-turn holds the cable in place to
ensure it stays connected to the headphones, however demanding the environment.
The in-line omnidirectional microphone offers excellent sound pickup, even in loud surroundings. Finally, the large remote control with just one button (compatible with all smartphones) makes it extremely simple and quick to manage calls and control your music.
Chris Murphy, Managing Director of Focal's Australian distribution, told StereoNET:
At the source of Listen’s acoustic quality is the innovative 40mm driver. A Mylar cone has been used on the entire driver, and the dome has been given a titanium coating. This ensures optimal suspension compliance and gives the dome a lot more rigidity. Thus, Listen also has an excellent dynamic range, tight bass and remarkable tonal balance.
The end result is truly exceptional - the comfort of the headphones, the way they adapt to the head and their precise and natural acoustics make them an ideal solution for mobile use.
Embodying Focal’s core values, this new headphone range combines exclusive technology, remarkable audio performance and the brand’s own design codes.
In an already crowded headphone space, it can be hard to breakthrough, but with Focal's ambition to make the brand a key-player as well as their genuine ability for acoustic perfection, we're sure audiophiles and enthusiasts will embrace the new range once available.
StereoNET's Founder & Publisher and still buried deep in the review room auditioning everything from docks to soundbars, amplifiers and headphones. Marc is also the founder of the annual International HiFi Show.
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