To follow up to its Focal Spirit One headphones and Focal Sphear in-ear headphones, French manufacturer Focal is unveiling its three newest headphone models just in time for summer. Baptized Listen, Elear and Utopia, all three have been designed with audiophiles in mind and each features a unique driver.
Focal’s newest range of hi-fi headphones: legendary craftmanship
Focal has clearly set its sights on becoming a leader in the headphone market. Is it up to the task? When you consider that perfecting headphones isn’t all that different from perfecting loudspeakers, Focal is undoubtedly poised for success. The brand has fine-tuned its craft over several decades to become a master in speaker driver design, while many of its competitors have produced average or even mediocre products which don’t seek to raise the bar in terms of quality. Instinctively, we can assume that Focal has no interest in being just another second-rate headphones manufacturer.
Focal’s newest range of hi-fi headphones: brand new transducers
Focal’s Listen, Elear and Utopia models are all fitted with the brand’s latest transducers. No question of outsourcing here; these transducers were specifically designed for these headphones. Focal has also created a new type of membrane, dubbed the “M type,” which was developed for audio playback in close proximity to the ear. The dome found in the Focal Utopia model is made of pure beryllium, a material which offers an unbeatable mass-durability-damping ratio. Focal’s Elear headphones feature an aluminum-magnesium membrane, reminiscent of the tweeters used for the brand’s Aria 900 loudspeakers. The Focal Listen’s transducer dome is composed of Mylar, a material which is known to offer an especially soft and detailed sound.
Aside from the impeccably molded M membranes, Focal has also developed exclusive single-layer coils – lighter than previous models – in order to reduce the mass of each transducer’s set of mobile parts. The advantage? To use longer copper coils on M membranes transducers and thereby increase their power handling and minimize distortion. In addition, the transducers’ surround on all of Focal’s newest headphone models is only 70 microns thick, resulting in more precise movements (and, consequently, a better frequency response).
Focal’s newest range of hi-fi headphones: overview
The Focal Utopia is the flagship model of Focal’s newest range of headphones. We had the opportunity to listen to one paired up with Naim electronics, and the Focal Utopia knew how to leave a lasting impression. These headphones offer a restitution quality notable above all for its transparency. Exceptionally comfortable, they feature memory foam earpads and a headband fitted with Pittards leather. They should be entering the market at around 3999 €.
Specifications: Sensibility 100 dB/1 mW at 1 kHz, impedance 32 Ohms, 5 Hz at 50 kHz, 40 mm driver with beryllium M-membrane, 1.4-meter-long cable, 490g.
The Focal Elear matches the Utopia’s DNA in every respect, except that it trades carbon fiber for aluminum. It should be entering the market at around 999 €.
Specifications: Sensibility 104 dB/1 mW at 1 kHz, impedance 32 Ohms, 15 Hz at 22 kHz, 40 mm driver with M-membrane, 1.4-meter-long cable, 450g.
Taking after the Focal Spirit Classic, the Focal listen has similar characteristics but is offered at a more affordable price. Its 40 mm transducers are composed of mylar and titanium. With their closed-back design, these over-ear headphones come supplied with a wired remote control which is compatible with any smartphone or tablet. They should be entering the market at around 199 €.
Specifications: Sensibility 122 dB/1 Vrms at 1 kHz, impedance 32 Ohms, 5 Hz at 23 kHz, 40 mm driver, 1.4-meter-long cable, 273g.This post is also available in: French