Focal Utopia 2022: how Focal has managed to elevate excellence

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Mis à jour le 29 September 2022.

The Focal Utopia 2022 hi-fi headphones are both an aesthetic and an acoustic restyling of one of the brand’s iconic models that also pushes the boundaries of high fidelity. The Focal Utopia’s famous beryllium transducers have been optimized. According to the French manufacturer, the sound signature is still neutral, but has more body and power. 

What is the performance of the Focal Utopia 2022 like? Is it drastically different to that of the first Focal Utopia model? Find out in this review.

Focal Utopia 2022 + Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition
The new Focal Utopia 2022 headphones have a similar design to the Focal Clear Mg, Focal Stellia and Focal Celestee models, with honeycomb grilles. The beryllium drivers have also been updated.

Focal Utopia 2022: packaging & accessories

Like their predecessor, the Focal Utopia 2022s come in luxurious packaging. They are presented in the same rigid carrying case as the whole range of Focal hi-fi headphones. The case comes in a large, sturdy box covered with black leather and decorated with a red trim. Focal includes a 1.5 meter-long unbalanced cable with a 3.5mm jack connector. A mini-jack to 3.5mm jack adapter is also in the box. A smaller box, also covered in leather, contains a 3 meter-long cable. The latter has a balanced 4 point XLR connector. The manufacturer also includes a leather pouch containing a care guide and a user manual. It’s a shame that Focal doesn’t include a headphone stand to display this beautiful model…

Focal Utopia 2022: presentation

French luxury

The Focal hi-fi headphone range has a strong visual identity and represents a certain aspect of French luxury. The Focal Utopia 2022 headphones are no exception; their design and premium materials combine sophistication and style.

Focal Utopia 2022
Very refined, the Focal Utopia 2022 headphones benefit from impeccable build quality.

We were happy to rediscover the carbon yokes and their ingenious adjustment system. The headband is made of the same soft and delicate leather as the earpads, offering excellent comfort. Despite their weight of 490 grams, these Focal headphones are among the most comfortable we have tested. The generous padding of the earpads and headband is the main reason for this, distributing the weight of the headphones evenly across the head. In addition, the perforated lambskin of the earpads and headband stop the listener’s ears from becoming too warm.

Focal Utopia 2022: lambskin covered headband
The Focal Utopia 2022 headphones’ headband is generously padded and is covered with lambskin.
Focal Utopia 2022: earpad detail
The Focal Utopia 2022 headphones’ memory foam earpads are covered with soft lambskin leather that makes them very comfortable to wear.

The earcups have a new design with a honeycomb grille, inspired by the Focal Clear MG, Focal Stellia and Focal Celestee hi-fi headphones. Like the previous model, the central grille, which is now adorned with the Focal logo, reveals the powerful red magnet of each transducer.

Focal Utopia 2022: new grille and new design for the earpieces
The earcups of the Focal Utopia 2022s have a new design, more in keeping with the French manufacturer’s most recent headphones.

The purity of beryllium

Beryllium is an extremely light and ultra rigid metal that allows the transducer to reach exceptionally high frequencies while significantly reducing distortion. Focal has been mastering and perfecting its use for twenty years now. This material was introduced for the first time in 2002 in the tweeter of the Grande Utopia Be speaker. 

Focal Grande Utopia Be (2002)
The diaphragm of the Focal Utopia 2022 headphones is made of pure beryllium, the same material used for the tweeters of the lauded Focal Utopia speakers (here, the Focal Grande Utopia Be that used the first beryllium tweeter in 2002).

The exclusive transducers of these premium Focal hi-fi headphones are designed and manufactured in France at the brand’s workshops. This is a real advantage for the manufacturer, who can control every step of the manufacturing process and fine-tune their characteristics. Without any active or passive correction, the transducers of the Focal Utopia 2022 headphones cover a wide frequency range that stretches from 5Hz to over 50kHz, from the lows to the highs.

Optimized transducer

While they use beryllium transducers like their predecessor, the Focal Utopia 2022 have perfected them to further improve their performance. They feature a new voice coil made of copper and aluminum to improve responsiveness. The latter provides more impact and presence in the lows. The grilles inside the ear cups are shaped like an “M” that sits flush with the curves of the transducers. As a result, the manufacturer has achieved superior linearity, for even more precision.

Focal Utopia 2022: transducer detail
The beryllium driver of the Focal Utopia 2022 incorporates a new, more durable and responsive voice coil. The protective grille inside the earpiece now sits flush with the M-shaped transducer diaphragm.

The beryllium transducers of the new Focal Utopia 2022 headphones are characterized by their excellent impulse response. As a result, they deliver a dynamic, lively and extremely realistic sound. The highs are perfectly clear. The mids are detailed and full. The bass has a good foundation, with deep and nuanced lows.

Open-back structure, realistic sound

The Focal Utopia 2022 headphones are an open-back model. This design doesn’t isolate the listener from surrounding noise, which remains audible. It is therefore important to use these headphones somewhere quiet. On the other hand, this open structure extends the width of the soundstage, which spreads out to either side of the listener. This gives the different sound layers more space and structure, offering a precise localization of the vocals and instruments.

Focal Utopia 2022: open-back structure
The open structure of the Focal Utopia 2022 headphones ensures a wider and more spacious soundstage. However, it requires that the headphones be used in a calm environment as they don’t provide any sound isolation.

Focal Utopia 2022: key specifications

  • Open-back over-ear headphones
  • 40mm pure beryllium transducer
  • Forged recycled carbon yokes
  • Perforated lambskin earpads
  • Impedance: 80 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 104 dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz
  • Frequency response: from 5Hz to 50kHz
  • Weight: 490g

Focal Utopia 2022: listening conditions

To enjoy the Focal Utopia 2022 headphones’ full potential, it is essential to power them with a suitable headphone amp. A DAP with a powerful amplification module can also work. For this review, we chose to use the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition connected headphone amplifier. This model delivers enough power to effectively amplify the Focal headphones. Once the amp was connected to the Netgear Orbi RBK752 mesh WiFi system, we were able to listen to music on Qobuz via the Naim app.

Focal Utopia 2022 connected to the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition
We used the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition connected headphone amplifier during our test to power the Focal Utopia 2022 headphones.

Focal Utopia 2022: listening impressions

Steal My Kisses – Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals (Burn to Shine – 24/192) 

The syncopated rhythm of the song swept us away from the first beatbox bars. The Focal Utopia 2022 had no difficulty in keeping up with the rhythm, with exceptional liveliness on the note attacks. The cymbals in the background were bright. The lows were remarkably nuanced and intense. The difference with the original Focal Utopia was striking. Some people found them too timid in the low frequencies. This has been corrected, and it is all the more appreciable that it is not to the detriment of the overall balance. The listening experience gained more texture and energy. The artist’s voice was placed with aplomb in the center of the soundstage, while those of the chorus members were distinctly distributed throughout the stereo image.

Focal Utopia 2022
With Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals’ album, the Focal Utopia 2022 headphones delivered an expressive and realistic sound. We were swept away by the music.

Nihavent – Joël Grare (Paris – Istanbul – Shanghai – 16/44)

The instruments were delineated with extreme precision and were incredibly natural. We simply had to close our eyes to imagine ourselves in front of the artists. The percussion instruments had a beautiful amplitude and the bass was reproduced with great depth and intensity. The unfolding notes of the erhu were light and lively. The plucked strings of the theorbo gave the melody a beautiful energy.

Focal Utopia 2022: lifestyle
The Focal Utopia 2022 headphones were masterful with acoustic recordings. The instruments were reproduced with extreme accuracy, providing the listener with an incredible experience.

Take the Power Back – Rage Against the Machine (Take the Power Back – 24/44)

The contagious energy—or even rage—of this track immediately drew us in. Zach De La Rocha’s fast-paced vocals were perfectly paced. The instrumental score was always controlled. The drums hit hard, the guitar roared, the bass was incredibly powerful. The headphones’ beryllium diaphragms were incredible when rendering this exhilarating track. The Focal Utopia 2022s were in their element and the sound never became muddled. Everything was perfectly controlled, both vocals and instruments, immersing us in the heart of this dynamic piece of music.

Focal Utopia 2022
The Focal Utopia 2022 headphones were perfectly at ease with any style of music and displayed excellent control, even with RATM’s raucous tracks.

Focal Utopia 2022: compared to…

Focal Utopia (Gen.1)

The Focal Utopia 2022 are a big step up from their predecessor. The acoustic balance is more realistic and impactful, which gives music even more substance. Those who enjoyed the accuracy and precision of the previous generation but want to delve deeper into the lows will be delighted with this new model.

Focal Utopia (Gen.1)

Meze Empyrean Elite

The Romanian headphones produce a soundstage that is as wide and deep as that of the Focal headphones. They are also remarkable in the lows, with more depth but a little less vitality than the Focal Utopia 2022. They have a slight advantage over the French headphones with their precision and smoothness in the high frequencies. But the earnestness, the vitality and the overall balance of the Focal pair won us over.

Meze Empyrean Elite

Focal Utopia 2022: who are they for?

The new Focal Utopia 2022 headphones are ideal for experiencing music intensely and becoming completely immersed. However, you will need to invest in a high-end headphone amplifier, or even a DAP, to get the very best performance out of them. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite music with unparalleled realism and detail.

Focal Utopia 2022: conclusion

The Focal Utopia 2022 headphones are without a doubt the evolution of the French manufacturer’s flagship that fans have been waiting for. The acoustic balance is more comparable to that of the Focal Celestee, rather than that of the Focal Elegia. The bass is deeper, more intense and more compelling. All while offering excellent overall harmony and maintaining the exceptional qualities of the first Focal Utopia.

Focal Utopia 2022: enhanced excellence
The aesthetic and acoustic restyling of the Focal Utopia 2022 is a success. The French manufacturer’s new flagship is undoubtedly one of—if not the—best pair of hi-fi headphones in the world.

Soundwise, music has room to breathe, the different acoustic layers are tangible, the elements of the mix are positioned with precision. The very versatile Focal Utopia 2022 headphones are very versatile and reproduce any musical genre with ease. Capable of conveying the most subtle notes with infinite delicacy, they are also able to demonstrate incredible energy when the composition demands it. It is all the more remarkable that this new, more appealing sound signature does not in any way detract from their overall neutrality, a guarantee of their perfect versatility.

We liked

  • The precision and amount of details
  • The power and vitality of the lows
  • The magnitude and spaciousness of the soundstage
  • The comfort

We would have liked

  • A lower price

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