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Focal Elegia

Closed-back over-ear headphones

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Item # 091ELEGIA

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Overview

Our take on the Focal Elegia

Sometimes I just have to pause and reflect on the high-end headphone magic that's come from Focal's French headquarters these past few years. Since Focal went all-in with their game-changing Utopias, they've been releasing world-class headphones at an amazing clip. They just announced the Elegia — their first premium closed-back model — at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with a finished product before the official launch.

Focal Elegia in case

The closed-back Focal Elegia headphones include a premium braided cable and protective case.

Focal's premier closed-back headphones

Sometimes I just have to pause and reflect on the high-end headphone magic that's come from Focal's French headquarters these past few years. Since Focal went all-in with their game-changing Utopias, they've been releasing world-class headphones at an amazing clip. They just announced the Elegia — their first premium closed-back model — at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with a finished product before the official launch.

These headphones share many of the attributes that made me such a big fan of the Utopia and Clear headphones. Like those two instant classics, the Elegia delivers a deluxe personal audio experience with pristine, über-detailed sound. But the closed-back design offers better noise isolation for wearing in public, while also adding just a bit of low-end oomph.   

Fashionable and functional design

They arrived in a form-fitting case that's both attractive and practical for carrying around. The design is everything I've come to expect from Focal's flagship headphones — as easy on the eyes as they are pleasant to hold. You'll find sturdy, industrial-styled black earcups, punctuated with a splash of silver, and held together by smooth-sliding aluminum headphone yokes.

Focal lined the headband with leather, and covered the earcups in soft, breathable micro-fiber. And they filled each ear pad with over an inch of memory foam. The headphones are large and heavy for sure, but the weight is distributed nicely. I had no problem wearing them for long listening sessions during work.  

Focal drivers

Focal uses their signature "M-shaped" domes and a rigid, all-copper voice coil for better high-frequency extension. 

Driver design

As handsome as they look on the outside, the Elegia headphones are even more impressive under the hood. I think my buddy Archer — a Crutchfield Advisor who geeks out over headphones as much as I do — really drove home what makes Focal's high-end drivers so special. "What I dig most about Focal drivers is their quickness," he told me. "That fast attack makes them incredibly accurate, especially in the highs."

The key is their patent-pending “M”-shaped diaphragm domes, originally developed for the Utopias. This special design gives the drivers a more fluid movement, which greatly reduces distortion and phase problems. It's why they sound so dynamic and yet controlled, across a wide frequency range.

State-of-the-art build

The domes are made from a sturdy, lightweight blend of aluminum and magnesium. These are the same materials found in Focal's stellar Clear headphones, but the Elegia drivers are constructed in a completely new way. Rather than building each part of the driver separately and piecing them together, Focal uses robotics so they can sculpt the driver as one unit.

Focal told me that this construction method allowed the drivers to fit and perform better within the closed housings. Focal also added some shrewdly placed vents to allow air to flow smoothly through the closed-back chamber. This keeps the powerful bass response tight and linear rather than bloated or muddy.

More from my hands-on experience

These headphones have a first-class feel from the moment you take them out of the case. Like Focal's other top-flight choices, the Elegia headphones sound strikingly lifelike. Perhaps not quite as revealing in the highs as the Utopia and Clear, but still very articulate.

Unlike Focal's flagship open-backs which allowed sound to escape freely, these closed-back 'phones keep the listening experience intimate if not entirely private. (I would have to crank the volume to dangerous levels before disturbing office neighbors, but I'm sure they could identify what music I was listening to even at reasonable volume.) 

You may assume, based on the sheer size of the earcups, that the Elegia produces a large, wide soundstage. But what you get here is a focused, tight-quarters feel — I've heard Focal refer to their headphone drivers as "extremely near-field monitors." And within, there is a great deal of detail and several layers of depth. 

And man, that bass. It's pronounced and mildly emphasized, but never seems to distort or distract. From the complimentary stand-up bass punch in Twisted Pine's bluegrass/folk cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass," to the physical, ever-present thump throughout Lil Wayne's Carter V album, the low-end presence is satisfying and completely dialed in. 

Product Highlights:

  • 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
    • frameless copper voice coil creates strong magnetic field for greater musical detail
  • 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
  • leather-lined headband and micro-fiber fabric-lined earcups
    • 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:
  • 47-inch 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 storage case with padded interior
  • frequency response: 5-23,000 Hz
  • sensitivity: 105 dB
  • impedance: 35 ohms
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
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Details

Features and Specs

General
Earcup Type Closed
Earcup Width x Height 3.771" x 4.189"
Noise-canceling No
Bluetooth No
Mic For Taking Calls No
iPhone Control No
Lightning Connector No
Android Control No
Frequency Response 5-23k Hz
Sensitivity 105 dB
Impedance 35 Ohms
Weight 16.4 ounces
Cord Length 48"
1/4-inch Adapter Included Yes
Volume Control No
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year

Product Research

Features

Overview: Elegia is Focal's first high-end closed-back headphone. Many of the features from Elegia's predecessors Elear, Utopia, and Clear (all with open-back design) were brought into the creation of these new audiophile headphones. The French-built Elegia comes with a 4' fabric-covered cable and a handsome zippered hard carrying case.

Drivers: Elegia features large 40mm "M"-shaped, full-range inverted dome drivers made of aluminum/magnesium alloy. The drivers are lightweight and highly rigid, with excellent damping properties, high quality sound, and low distortion. The speakers are angled directly toward your ear canals to allow you to hear details in your music that you've never heard before, with great dynamics and depth.

Closed-back Design: Focal integrated the same high-end speaker drivers into a closed-back headphone without making any concessions on the lower frequency range. The closed-back design creates an intimate sound bubble that naturally shuts out ambient noise that interferes with your listening pleasure.

Comfort Design: The plush (20mm thick) circum-aural memory foam ear cushions are covered with a soft microfiber fabric for maximum comfort. The luxurious leather and perforated microfiber headband molds perfectly to the user's head. The solid aluminum yoke is perfectly angled so the ear cushions can effectively seal out ambient noise.

Cable: Elegia comes with a 48" (1.2m) audio cable with a stereo 3.5mm plug for use with high-end portable music players. The cable has a cotton-braided sheath, and low-resistance 24-gauge OFC copper for maximum signal transfer. A screw-type 3.5mm-to-1/4" adapter is included, so you can use the headphones with your home components or headphone amplifier.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 5Hz - 23kHz
  • Impedance: 35 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 105dB SPL / 1 mW @ 1kHz
  • THD: <0.1% @ 1 kHz / 100dB SPL
  • Ear Cup Dimensions: 3.771" W, 4.189" H, 2.36" D
  • Weight: 16.4 ounces (with cable)

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