Focal’s new high-end headphones offer something for most budgets

The brand name might not be as well known in the U.S. as in other countries, but Focal has built a solid reputation as a manufacturer of high-end audio gear. If you’re looking for proof of that, look no further than the company’s new trio of headphones, announced on Tuesday.

Utopia

The star of the show is clearly the company’s Utopia reference-grade open-back headphones, which the company calls the “world’s first full-range loudspeaker in a pair of headphones.” With drivers crafted from beryllium, which offers an ideal rigidity to weight ratio, the headphones offer a claimed frequency range of 5 Hz to 50 kHz. Beryllium also happens to be more expensive than gold, so it’s clear Focal is sparing no expense here.

The Utopia headphones boast a carbon fiber yoke designed to be strong yet light, with both the ear cups and headband featuring True Lambskin leather from New Zealand. Meant to be paired with a high-end headphone amplifier, the headphones connect via an included 13.1-foot (4 meter) OFC cable with a 1/4-inch Neutrik connector on the input side and two shielded Lemo connectors to connect to the headphones themselves.

The headphones also feature an included case with a magnetic locking system to protect your investment, which is welcome considering the Utopia headphones will retail for $4,000.

Elear

While the Utopia headphones are designed for the most critical audiophiles, the Focal Elear open-back headphones are meant to offer similar performance at a more affordable price point. That rules out the beryllium driver; the company opted for an aluminum-magnesium blend instead but kept the same shape as the Utopia. As a result, the frequency range isn’t quite as vast, but is still impressive at a claimed 5 Hz to 23 kHz.

The included cable is the same length as the cable included with the Utopia, but does away with the locking jacks in favor of a standard 1/4-inch connector on the input side and dual 3.5-mm jacks that plug into the headphones. The magnetic locking case is included as well.

The Elear headphones aren’t exactly cheap, but they’re much more affordable than the Utopia, with a retail price of $1,000.

Listen

Both of the above models are meant to be paired with a quality digital-to-analog converter and headphone amp. While the open-back design is widely recognized as providing superior sound, it isn’t ideal in an office or other crowded environment. Focal’s Listen headphones are meant for the listener who wants a pair of headphones they can use on the go, but doesn’t want to sacrifice sound quality.

The Listen headphones feature a closed-back, over-ear design with a 40mm driver constructed from a titanium-coated Mylar sheet. Frequency response is a claimed 15 Hz to 22 kHz — not as impressive as the more expensive open-back models, but still capable of covering the entire range of frequencies found in most recorded music.

A memory foam headband aims to provide extra comfort, and while the cable is shorter at roughly 4.5 feet, it is still removable and features an included mic and remote. The price is also much lower, with the Listen retailing for $250.

Both the Utopia and Elear are slated to arrive June 29, while the Listen will arrive a little later on July 15. For more information on any of the new headphones, see the Focal website.

Updated on 06-21-2016 by Kristofer Wouk: Edited with new information that the Utopia headphones use True Lambskin leather, not leather from Pittards as originally stated.

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