About the Focal Utopia
High-performance headphones live up to their lofty name
Focal brought the Utopia headphones to Crutchfield for a listening event — they sounded spacious, effortless, and incrediby nuanced.
High-performance headphones live up to their lofty name
Focal dipped their toes in the headphone pool a few years back and earned rave reviews. Now these world-renowned speaker experts have decided it's time to dive headfirst into the deep end. The Focal Utopia open-back headphones employ the same spare-no-expense approach to design, engineering, and execution that made Utopia such a prestigious name in the worlds of home and car speakers.
Our special listening session here at Crutchfield
Focal stopped by Crutchfield HQ with a sample of the Focal Utopias (and their sibling, the Elear headphones). We were wowed by the strikingly realistic sound. I can't throw enough superlatives at them.
These headphones were clear and detailed in ways I've never heard. Home A/V editor Jim Richardson pointed out that “Limelight” by Rush — a song we've all heard countless times — has so much more going on in the low-end than we ever realized. You could pick out each instrument like the band was playing right in front of you.
Fine materials and state-of-the art design
"Knowing Focal, there's beryllium under the hood," said our longtime home speaker buyer Tim, while discussing these headphones. He was right. Focal uses beryllium in their Utopia loudspeakers, and includes the precious material here to help emulate the sound of those high-end drivers. Beryllium is much lighter and stiffer than titanium or aluminum, so it can move more smoothly and efficiently.
Praise from InnerFidelity's headphone expert Tyll Hertsens
I'm not surprised in the least that these cans were four years in the making. Focal has largely redefined...or better said, refined anew, what it means to be a high-end headphone. A technological tour de force... Astonishing!”
— Read the full article: World's Best Headphone: The Focal Utopia
For the 40mm drivers in the Utopia headphones, Focal formed beryllium foil domes into a unique "M" shape. This patent-pending design allows the drivers to perform with rigid agility. You get incredible sound that spreads across a wide frequency range, even beyond human hearing — all without any built-in crossover. The drivers are suspended in large, open-air chambers to cut down on resonance and create an extremely tight and lifelike stage for your music.
Focal's specially designed driver uses materials like pure beryllium, for accurate sound with speaker-like dynamics.
Sturdy, comfortable fit adds to the experience
Focal's Utopia speakers are prized as much for their one-of-a-kind looks as their stunning sound. I'd say these headphones follow suit. The carbon-fiber headband yoke blends smoothly and symmetrically with the strong open-back earcups and mesh grilles. Both the 'cups and headband slide on seamlessly. They're also both padded with 0.8-inch thick memory foam and lined with beautiful, breathable Pittards leather — the same classic material found in quality handbags and fashion accessories. (Dare I say these headphones fit like a glove?)
This solid build dampens vibrations for better sound. It also helps ensure that you'll enjoy the Focal Utopia for years to come. They arrive magnet-sealed in a padded solid storage case that befits a pair of luxury headphones. Inside you'll also find an extra-long oxygen-free copper cable with a Neutrik® stereo 1/4" jack on one end and two shielded, lock-in-place headphone connectors on the other end.
- over-the-ear, open-back design for reduced resonance and spacious, natural sound
- 40mm dynamic drivers made of high-grade materials like strong, lightweight beryllium
- specially designed "M-shaped" pure beryllium domes help reproduce a wide frequency range
- a separate headphone amplifier is required to properly power these headphones for optimum sound quality
- designed, developed, and assembled in Saint-Etienne, France
- drivers positioned in open-back headphone chamber to help emulate the sound of loudspeakers
- headband and earcups lined with Pittards leather
- generous memory foam padding on the headband and earcups
- carbon fiber headband yokes slide comfortably and sturdily into place
- 13-foot oxygen-free cables with Neutrik 1/4" stereo plug
- two shielded "Lemo®" connectors lock into headphones for secure, high-quality connection
- solid storage case with padded interior and magnetic locking system
- frequency response: 5-50,000 Hz
- sensitivity: 104 dB
- impedance: 80 ohms
- warranty: 1 year
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # Utopia
What's in the box:
- Over-ear headphones
- 13.1' Audio cable (straight 1/4" plug)
- Storage case
- User Manual
- Beryllium Precautions for Use document
- Safety Precautions and Warranty guide
- Focal brand brochure
Focal Utopia reviews
I've now auditioned the Audeze LCD-3s, Focal Clears, and Utopias for 2+ weeks each. You can find my comparison between the Clears and LCD-3s on their pages. In this review: "okay, tell me why the Utopias cost so much more. Do they really sound that much better?" The short answer is that going from cheap earphones to the Focal Clears will make you go "wow!", but the difference between the Clears and Utopias is very small by comparison. They both have a very neutral sound with great reproduction of crackling textures in the high frequencies. Try out Yosi Horikawa - Bubbles for auditions. The ping pong balls tickle your ears with both sets, but a marginal amount more with the Focal Utopias. Letting friends try both, the most common answer is either "I can't tell the difference", or "they sound different, but I can't decide which one I like best." I regret buying these given how similar they are to the Clears. Move up to the Utopias only if you have unneeded cash, or an uncurable case of audiophilia. More details: the bass is crisp here, but not the star of the show. These work great for all music. The treble can be described as "brilliant" or "harsh", not unlike looking at a bright white light. But that brilliance is why you spend the money: the fine details are there. The Clears come with 3 cables of varying connectors. The Utopias come with one long one with a 1/4" connector. I would have preferred they leave out the stitched leather case and just give me some e
Pros: * Sharp details, especially in high frequencies * They suit all listening needs well, pulling the details out of most any source.
Cons: * High frequencies can come across as harsh, like being hung over. * At this price I would prefer more cabling options. * Questionable cost vs. benefit relative to Focal Clears * The open backs on these broadcast themselves to the room more than e.g. my Grado SR-80s.
21 of 23 found this helpful
Poor sounding headphone! Very disappointed!
9 of 71 found this helpful
During the last 04 months, I have listened extensively to Audeze LCD-3, Focal Elear and now the FOCAL UTOPIA. This headphone is loaded with great laurels. Excellent build,great aesthetics and superb comfort. The LEMO connectors and the long OFC cable are excellent. In fact, Focal provides the user flexibility to make a XLR cable from the supplied cable by cutting it and soldering LEMO connectors FGG.0B.302CLAD52 and Neutrik NC4MX on the ends. Now let me deliberate on the sound quality. Utopia has bright sonics with lot of shimmer on higher frequencies- in fact a very difficult attribute to attain for the audio designer. Here is the magic of berrylium M-dome. The sound is open and all around and has the illusion of room accustics. Resolution of musical notes and human voice particularly the female is top notch. Instruments audibility is distinct and you desire no more of the impact of their sound. The real talent of UTOPIA emerges on music rich in orchestration when you can discern different instruments right in their places. Bass is decent but not like of AUDEZE LCD-3 and that is perfectly understandable. A downside of Utopia - It is not for everyone. It needs a decent amp and a rich source to deliver. Unlike Audeze LCD-3, It does not add any flavour to the input. Agreed it excels the former in treble and resolution. Ordinary sources may sound mundane,even flat at times.So make sure you have a decent amp and a good source, at least best recorded MP-3.
Pros: Excellent sound, great resolution, three dimensionality. Very fast and resolving. Not even an iota of crossover. Build Quality , Comfort, LEMO connectors and Long premium cable
Cons: A bit shy on bass. Very honest headphone. Will not add any coloration. Demands decent source to shine
16 of 19 found this helpful
Its quality is amazing i thought it was ridiculous to pay that much for headphones, but for the quality they are amazing but other than that it is the BEST headphones ive ever purchased. They are sure to last me until i pass away!
Pros: Its quality is amazing i thought it was ridiculous to pay that much for headphones, but for the quality they are amazing but other than that it is the BEST headphones ive ever purchased.
Cons: The only problem ive found with these is the price but they're worth the buy for me.
9 of 29 found this helpful
Driven by a Pass Labs HPA-1. I like these over the Stax 009 driven by the SRMtII. The Utopia is more natural, has better dynamics, and is more comfortable. By comparison, the 009 struggles with the bass, is not as harmonically accurate, and does not dig as deep into the music. The Utopia is unrivaled in my estimation for its detailed and realistic presentation. I can hear more elements of the mix. Subtle and not so subtle. Overlapping bass lines are clearly resolved. Trills sound realistic - you know those pesky 2nds. Vibrato is clean - a function of low IM distortion. I believe the low mass and stiff beryllium driver is big step forward. Closer to ideal from the perspective of physics. One difficulty with the Utopia is volume control. Be careful! There is pretty much no distortion to make you want to turn it down. It is 104dB efficient. I find lower volumes have to be used than first impressions would dictate or I'll make myself deaf. Compared to AKG K1000 driven by First Watt F1, the Utopia is not as comfortable, doesn't image as well (no surprise there), but still trumps on the detail and accuracy. You hear more of the TRUTH. The bass has more kick in the K1000, but more truth harmonically in the Utopia. Subjectively, I can listen to the K1000 louder that the Utopia - not sure that that is a good thing. Finish is elegant. This is a fine piece of equipment. Buy a pair. You will not be disappointed.
31 of 44 found this helpful
More details on the Focal Utopia
Features & specs
|Earcup Width x Height||3.597" x 4.122"|
|Mic For Taking Calls||No|
|Frequency Response||5-50k Hz|
|1/4-inch Adapter Included||No|
|Parts Warranty||1 Year|
|Labor Warranty||1 Year|
Overview: The Focal Utopia reference over-ear headphones are the result of innovation, development, and manufacturing of high-end speakers and drivers. These audiophile headphones are designed and manufactured in France, and feature the only full-range, near-field loudspeakers built within a pair of headphones. The Utopia comes with a 13.1-foot cable, and a rigid carrying case with a magnetic closure.
Drivers: The Utopia features large 40mm full-range "M"-shaped dome drivers made of pure Beryllium. Beryllium is 3 times more rigid than Titanium, and 5 times that of Aluminum, while having only 40% of the density of Titanium, and 70% of the density of Aluminum. This combination of low mass, high rigidity, and high damping factor makes Beryllium an ideal material for a speaker driver.
Open Headphone Design: Focal decided that the best way to deliver all of the Utopia's performance was to utilize a fully open headphone design for total decompression of the loudspeakers. The open design provides the lowest possible acoustic impedance to reproducing accurate and detailed bass frequencies, and gives you an extremely natural listening experience.
Ear Cups: The circum-aural ear cups feature 20mm thick memory foam cushions, covered by a bi-material construction made with true lambskin leather and perforated microfiber fabric. This combo provides a balance between a lively room with lots of reverb and a "damp" room with no reflections. The result is a flat frequency response in the upper mid and high frequencies between 1 kHz and 10 kHz.
Cable: The included 13.1' (4-meter) high fidelity cable features 24 AWG conductors with OFC (oxygen-free copper) shielding and an extremely low impedance (<90 mΩ). The 2-sided cable features shielded 9.5mm Lemo connectors with a self-locking bayonet system to plug into the ear cups. The end of the cable has a standard 1/4" plug.
- Frequency Response: 5Hz - 50kHz
- Impedance: 80 ohms
- Sensitivity: 104dB SPL / 1 mW @ 1kHz
- THD: <0.2% / 1 kHz / 100dB SPL
- Ear Cup Dimensions: 3.597" W, 4.122" H, 2.268" D
- Weight: 17.3 ounces (without cable), 24.8 ounces (with cable)
Q Crutchfield asked: Why did you buy this?