Focal, the French loudspeaker manufacturer renowned for its speaker driver technology, is unveiling three new models of headphones. They bring ‘major innovation in acoustic components and mechanical design’. Initiated four years ago, this huge project has now given life to Listen, Elear and Utopia. This month also sees the inauguration of Focal’s new production line at its site in Saint-Etienne, (which Hifi Pig visited a while ago) France which will be entirely dedicated to manufacturing Elear and Utopia headphones.

Utopia and Elear headphones are the result of a rather risky challenge: to offer an audio experience worthy of the brand’s high-fidelity loudspeakers through two new products. In order to achieve this, Focal approached the design of the various components in these headphones very differently to other players in the market. Focal’s desire was to bring the sound and feeling of listening to its high-end Utopia loudspeakers to headphones. The next step for Focal’s mechanical engineers and designers was to improve the comfort of the headphones. There are still many high-end headphones which no doubt offer excellent performance, but comfort is a difficult issue over long periods. So, Focal focused on designing a headband with a constant bend, regardless of the size of the user’s head size. This spreads the weight of the headphones evenly over the head to avoid the feeling of pressure on the head or ears. As part of the project, Focal designed the very first voice coil without former (patent pending) that also features a monolayer coating to make it even lighter. The result is a voice coil measuring 25mm in diameter by 4.4mm in height which is actually lighter than voice coils measuring 15mm x 1.5mm used in other high- end headphones on the market. The goal is to have excellent mechanical coupling to the dome considering its diameter, and to ensure the voice coil is always controlled by the magnet’s magnetic field regardless of the excursion of the moving part.

Focal_utopia_elear_listen_headphones

Utopia is Focal’s flagship product. Focal say ‘The sound quality is striking in terms of realism, neutrality, dynamics and clarity. The user will forget the headphones are even there, and the reproduction of the audio signal is of unrivalled clarity.’ They feature a Beryllium “M” dome, carbon fibre yoke and New Zealand lambskin leather. Supplied with a 4m OFC cable, including a Neutrik® 6.35mm (1/4“) stereo plug and two shielded Lemo® connectors with self-locking bayonet system.

Elear are the brand’s audiophile headphones. In essence, they are the same as Utopia headphones when it comes to the loudspeaker design and the mechanics. They feature a solid aluminium yoke and microfibre ear cushions, the key difference being an Aluminium/Magnesium alloy dome. Supplied with a 4m OFC cable, a 6.35mm (1/4“) stereo Jack and two 3.5mm (0.14“) Jacks with self-locking system.

Listen are premium mobile headphones and like all of Focal’s other headphones, they are designed in France. They provide excellent noise isolation and feature heat-sensitive, very high density memory foam and a 40mm driver. A Mylar cone has been used on the entire driver, and the dome has been given a titanium coating. Listen also benefits from all the research that went into designing Utopia and Elear headphones with the aim of keeping the shape of the headband constant, regardless of the size of the user’s head. Listen are supplied with supplied with a flexible carrying case and an aircraft adaptor. A 1.4m cable is also provided with a 3.5mm jack and a bayonet connector locking device, an in-line omnidirectional microphone and a large remote control with just one button.

Available: September/October 2016

UK Prices:

Utopia     £3250

Elear        £800

Listen       £150

 

Sponsorship button