The Focal Utopia and Elear headphones are considered among the best headphones in the world. And right now as the limited-time promotional prices for both headphones are at their lowest ever, audiophiles are asking themselves if they should “bite the bullet” and fork over the big bucks for one of these highly coveted headphones. But some people are asking themselves if it’s worth the extra cash to just go straight for the Utopia. So I decided do a side by side comparison to see what the main differences are between the Focal Elear and Focal Utopia headphones.
It’s always best to start off a good headphone comparison with a look at the specs. Checking out everything from impedance to frequency range can give you a better idea of what kind of sound signature you’re going to get for your hard earned money. Take a look at the chart below.
|Focal Elear||Focal Utopia|
|Type||Circum-aural open back headphones||Circum-aural open back headphones|
|Impedance||80 Ohms||80 Ohms|
|Frequency Response||5Hz – 23kHz||5Hz – 50kHz|
|Sensitivity||104dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz||104dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz|
|THD||<0.3% @ 1kHz / 100dB SPL||<0.2% @ 1kHz / 100dB SPL|
|Weight||.99lbs (450kg)||1.08lbs (490kg)|
As you can see, the Focal Elear and Focal Utopia have quite a few similarities as far as specifications go. The big spec difference is in the frequency range. The Elear headphone spans 5Hz to 23,000Hz while the Utopia is much wider at 5Hz to 50,000Hz.
Another aspect of these Focal headphones is the design. Clearly the appearance is different but there are even physical build differences that really set these two headphones apart. The Focal Elear has an aluminum yoke in the headband while the Focal Utopia uses a carbon fiber yoke.
Another difference is in the drivers. The Elear uses aluminum-magnesium in the 40mm drivers but the Utopia uses pure beryllium. These subtle differences can make a world of difference in the sound, comfort and overall performance of any headphone. So far however, there doesn’t seem to be a significant difference in specs or features to justify the huge price difference. But the sound test is next.
How Do They Sound
Right off the bat the Focal Elear is a comfortable headphone with a warm incredible sound. The overall sound signature of this headphone is warm and toasty without sacrificing the clarity or presence in the mid-frequencies or high-end. It’s an excellent headphone for listening to rock and electronic with increased intensity. It also works well for jazz and symphonic though music because it doesn’t attempt to expose too much of the noise floor you might get on wider “room-microphone” recordings. The soundstage on the Focal Elear headphone is quite amazing too. In an ideal listening environment you can close your eyes, fade away and become moved by your favorite tracks. The high-end tops off at 23kHz which is more than adequate for most recordings.
The Focal Utopia is another beast all together. This headphone is somehow even more comfortable. It feels like a high-end luxury car turned into a high-fidelity machine. You still get a punchy balanced bass and a warm clarity in the mid range but the top-end of your music will open up in a brand new way. Combined with the even wider soundstage, the Focal Utopia utilizes the 50kHz frequency range to make your listening experience like nothing you’ll hear in any other headphone. The Focal Utopia works very well with all genres from rock to classical. It’s warm, balanced and features intense soundstage.
Although the Focal Elear and Utopia have similar specifications they are quite different headphones once you listen to them. If you’ve been nudging yourself for a reason to grab one of these well built music machines I think they’re definitely worth the money and the current sale prices are likely as low as they’ll ever get.
For rock and electronic fanatics looking for punchy bass and a decent soundstage, the Focal Elear headphone will get you what you’re looking for. However if you’re the kind of person who loves massive soundstage and listens to extremely detailed recordings you’d be well advised to shoot for the Focal Utopia.
I can safely say you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck with the Utopia. I’ve been told by several Focal Utopia owners it’s worth the bigger price tag too. Either way you’ll likely find each headphone has it’s own strengths and for the price right now… you might want to get one of each. The promotional sale ($1000 off Utopia and $300 off Elear) lasts until September 30, 2017.
Both the Focal Elear (use code “mhelear“) Focal Utopia (use code “mhutopia“) can be purchased at Audio46 Headphone Store
You can also find them on Amazon.