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Focal’s first wireless headphones promise ANC and hi-fi sound for $799

Well-heeled audiophiles now have a new choice when it comes to wireless headphones. Focal, the French audio icon known for its superb but pricey wired headphones, has released its first-ever Bluetooth, noise-canceling headphones, the $799 Focal Bathys. The black and silver cans are available starting October 4 at a limited selection of retailers.

The Bathys take their name from the word bathyscaphe, a specialized submarine capable of extremely deep dives, which, Focal says, is the embodiment of absolute silence and calm. Focal fans will find plenty of familiar touches, like the Bathys’ deeply padded, leather-wrapped ear cushions and headband, a set of perforated earcup grilles that use Focal’s distinct multi-circle pattern, and high-quality materials like aluminum and magnesium.

Focal Bathys wireless headphones.

As the first set of Focal cans with a built-in rechargeable battery, the company is throwing in a fun extra, because why not? — the Focal “flame” logo on each earcup is backlit and you can turn them on and off using the companion Focal mobile app.

Man wearing Focal Bathys wireless headphones.

Inside, the 40-millimeter, made-in-France drivers are built from aluminum and magnesium and use Focal’s M-shaped profile for what it says will be extremely precise sound. Feeding those drivers are three audio pathways: Bluetooth 5.1 with support for SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Adaptive codecs, a 3.5mm analog input, and a USB-C port that supports charging as well as a direct digital audio connection, backed up by a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that can handle up to 24-bit/192kHz, lossless music. You’ll be able to use that digital connection on an Android device or a PC, but iPhones will need an audio-capable lightning-to-USB-C adapter, which, amazingly given the Bathys’ price, isn’t included.

Curiously, despite the ability to handle hi-res audio, the headphones aren’t actually rated for full hi-res audio playback, which is typically considered to be inclusive of 20Hz to 40kHz frequencies. Instead, the Bathys claim to offer 15Hz-22kHz — which provides more depth in the low-end, but less room in the higher frequencies.

There are a total of eight microphones — similar to what Apple and Sony provide on their flagship AirPods Max and WH-1000XM5 headphones, and you get two active noise cancellation (ANC) modes to choose from: silent mode, for places with lots of background noise (planes, trains, etc.), and a soft mode, that’s intended to help with focus while at home or in an office. There’s also a transparency mode so you can hear the outside world when you need to.

You can access your phone’s built-in voice assistant, but you can also configure the Bathys to access Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. The Bathys are capable of sensing when they’re on your head (so they can pause and resume your tunes) but the feature will need a firmware update that Focal has promised, but for which it hasn’t provided a timeframe.

Battery life, at a claimed 30 hours, is about average for headphones at this end of the market, and Focal says the Bathys’ quick charge will get you an extra five hours of use after just 15 minutes of charging.

The Bathys fold flat into their included hard-shell carry case, which also includes a four-foot 3.5mm cable and a four-foot UBS-C to USB-C cable.

Curious if these cans are worth their ultra-high price? Check out our in-depth Focal Bathys review for all of the details.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…
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