About the Focal Celestee
Designed to look, feel, and sound special
The closed-back Focal Celestee headphones are impeccably packed inside a form-fitting protective case.
Designed to look, feel, and sound special
There's nothing quite like a new pair of high-end headphones from Focal arriving at your door. I recently received their latest closed-back model, the Celestee, for audition. And I had to pause for a moment to appreciate the presentation.
Lush, oversized packaging gives way to a sturdy, form-fitting hard-shell case. The designer case is attractive enough with its patterned cloth lining, but it unzips to reveal an even more gorgeous gift inside. These headphones hit the trifecta — among the most visually stunning, well-put-together, and articulate-sounding closed-back headphones I've experienced.
A premium audiophile pedigree
The Celestee wired headphones share many of the physical attributes that make the Utopia, Stellia, and Clear 'phones so popular. They all sport an identical frame, built from lightweight, premium materials like aluminum. Visually, each presents an elegant mix of curves and sharp angles.
But I think the deep navy color pattern here is my favorite of all, especially how it's punctuated by the copper-finished hardware and logo plate. It manages to pop in a way that's both striking and tasteful. And like Focal's other instant classics, the Celestee delivers a deluxe personal audio experience with pristine, super-detailed sound.
High-grade drivers for powerful, nuanced sound with deep bass
A specially designed driver with aluminum/magnesium domes produces focused, articulate sound.
In each earcup, you'll find Focal's fast-attack drivers, complete with their acclaimed "M"-shaped diaphragm domes. This special design gives the drivers a more fluid movement, which greatly reduces distortion and phase problems. It's why Focal headphones always sound so dynamic and yet controlled, across a wide frequency range.
Here, Focal's tuned their drivers to perform better within the Celestee's closed housings. That striking Focal logo doubles as shrewdly placed vents to release excess energy and avoid distortion. The oversized leather ear pads help further absorb resonances — keeping the powerful bass response tight and linear.
Efficient headphones that sound best when properly powered
The Celestee's closed-back design offers some noise isolation, making it more suitable for wearing in public. With that in mind, Focal made sure they were efficient enough to work with a portable music player — and I guess technically even your phone. However, if you want to hear them at their best, I strongly recommend a separate headphone amp.
My listening impressions
After a week or so of listening, I'd put the Celestee high on my list of favorite closed-backs. The soundstage hits a nice sweet spot — larger than you'd expect from closed-back headphones, but not overly spread out. It extended roughly as far left and right as my shoulders, and lead vocals were typically about the same distance in front of me.
I first used a supersized Naim Audio headphone amp, and no surprise — it drove the Celestee 'phones with grace and clarity. Naim is a partner company of Focal, so they know what their drivers need in terms of power and damping.
But these headphones also sounded performed well with my everyday home office listening rig: a stack of the iFi ZEN DAC connected to the ZEN CAN dedicated headphone amp. I enjoyed the full effect of those telltale Focal dynamics.
How they compare to other Focal closed-back headphones
These replace the Elegia headphones in Focal's lineup, and I recognize — and enjoy — the improvements here. I was a fan of the Elegias, but these offer a step-up in detail and definition, with stronger, better-controlled bass.
"Gauze" by underground hip-hop legend Aesop Rock features a head-spinning mix of crunchy guitar licks, sub bass thump, DJ scratching, and what sounds like the strum of a mandolin. Each sound is so clearly defined, with no audible distortion or frequencies bleeding into each other.
For sure, you'll get even better resolution from the beryllium drivers in Focal's top-flight Stellia closed-backs. But we're playing in the same league here — at a significantly lower price point.
Deeper listening — and a lighter mood
When I auditioned these headphones, I had just finished watching the Bee Gees documentary How Can You Mend a Broken Heart. The film got me really into their earlier, pre-Disco stuff — so I had to fire up the soundtrack. I streamed it in CD-quality from Qobuz, and fed it to the Focal headphones through my iFi ZEN rig.
On the stripped down, almost Beatle-esque ballad, "New York Mining Disaster 1941," the Gibb brothers' layered harmony seemed to emanate from dead center. As Noel Gallagher pointed out in the documentary, when they sing together, it's "like an instrument nobody can buy." And I could pick out each individual voice, even as they all blended together.
On the later dance tracks, when Barry's falsetto became more distinct and the production got more complex, there was still a sense of cohesion through the Celestee. Basslines punched with precision while the drum loops and synths seem to leap off the track. There was plenty of detail and space between instruments. Yet it never felt overly analytical — instead the musical moments were even more engaging and undeniably toe-tapping.
Fashionable and functional design
Focal premium headphones are always as pleasant to wear as they are easy on the eyes. This is by design. Focal uses the same shape, frame, and general make-up for all of their high-end models. Last year, we asked 20 Crutchfield employees to test the comfort of more than 50 headphones — and Focal dominated the list of most comfortable "Audiophile headphones."
These headphones are large and heavy-duty for sure, but the weight is nicely distributed. Plus their leather-lined earcups and headband are generously padded. And the large, sturdy earcups are held together by smooth-sliding aluminum headphone yokes that helps keep the fit secure, yet relaxed.
- over-the-ear, closed-back design for focused, precise sound
- 40mm dynamic drivers made of high-grade materials
- specially-designed "M-shaped" aluminum/magnesium domes deliver wide-range frequency response
- a separate headphone amplifier is required to properly power these headphones for optimum sound quality
- drivers positioned in closed-back headphone chamber to emulate the sound of near-field speakers
- specially placed air vents help manage the tonal balance of the bass and midbass
- headband and earcups lined with leather
- generous memory foam padding on the headband and earcups
- aluminum headband yokes slide comfortably and sturdily into place
- designed, developed, and assembled in Saint-Etienne, France
Accessories and specs:
- 4-foot oxygen-free cable with 3.5mm stereo plug
- two 3.5mm connectors lock into headphones for secure, high-quality connections
- 1/4" adapter included
- rigid, form-fitting carrying case with padded interior
- frequency response: 5-23,000 Hz
- sensitivity: 105 dB
- impedance: 35 ohms
- weight: 15.2 oz.
- warranty: 3 years
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # Celestee
- Large earcups
- Soft padding (earcups and headband)
- Good for focused listening
Focal Celestee reviews
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More details on the Focal Celestee
Features & specs
|Earcup Width x Height|
|Mic For Taking Calls||No|
|Voice Assistant Access|
|Frequency Response||5-23k Hz|
|Parts Warranty||3 Years|
|Labor Warranty||3 Years|