A fellow reader recently asked for a comparison between the Final Audio Sonorous VIII and some of the other popular high end headphones on the market. So the one that peaked my interest the most was the Focal Utopia. I sat down side-by-side to listen to them both, so I’m excited to share my experience with them here with this Final Audio Sonorous VIII vs Focal Utopia comparison review.
Final Audio Sonorous VIII vs Focal Utopia Comparison Review
In the Box – Final Audio Sonorous VIII vs Focal Utopia Comparison Review
|Final Audio Sonorous VIII||Focal Utopia|
|Final Audio Sonorous VIII headphones||Focal Utopia headphones|
|2 detachable cables (one 1.5 m and one 3 m with 3.5 mm connectors)||detachable cable (3 m with 6.35 mm connector)|
|stainless steel warranty card with serial number and license key||rigid case with magnetic closing mechanism|
|wooden storage box|
Specifications – Final Audio Sonorous VIII vs Focal Utopia Comparison Review
|Final Audio Sonorous VIII||Focal Utopia|
|Driver||50 mm, dynamic||Beryillium “M” shaped dome, dynamic|
|Sensitivity||105 dBSPL||104 dBSPL/mW @ 1kHz|
|Impedance||16 ohms||80 ohms|
|Weight||490 g||490 g|
Design – Final Audio Sonorous VIII vs Focal Utopia Comparison Review
Both the Final Audio Sonorous VIII and the Focal Utopia are pretty large headphones with some weight to them. They both weigh 490 g, so it makes their designs somewhat easy to compare. Both of their headbands are coated with leather. However, the Utopia’s leather is a bit softer, is perforated, and covers more padding. On the other hand, the Sonorous VIII’s leather is firmer and it coats a thinner, firmer layer of padding. As a result, the they’re both comfortable in different ways. The Sonorous VIII has a solidity to it that provides support, while the Utopia has a softness that provides lightness and comfort by touch.
Additionally, the headbands are made of different materials and have slightly different shapes. The Sonorous VIII’s headband, which is made of aluminum, has a bit of a tighter angle to the bend of the headband. Conversely, the Utopia, whose headband is made of carbon fiber, has a wider stance to it.
Lastly, both headbands are flexible, although their size changing mechanisms are a bit different. The Sonorous VIII’s mechanism lets the headband slide to become longer or shorter. By contrast, the Utopia’s sliding mechanism is detented.
The headbands connect to the earcups/driver housings by a yolk. The design of this mechanism on each headphones is quite different. The Final Audio Sonorous VIII utilizes a ball joint which connects directly to the earcup. As a result, the earcup can swivel, albeit modestly, around the center of the joint. On the other hand, the Focal Utopia attaches via a “Y” shaped yolk which attaches to both sides of the earcups. This connection is spring loaded, so it can move and meld to the shape of different heads comfortable and automatically. Additionally, it can move a little further forward and backward than the Sonorous VIII.
Both earcups are large to fit the unique drivers inside the headphones. And while both are over ear, the Sonorous VIII has a closed-back design while the Utopia has an open-back design. The classy closed back of the Sonorous VIII has a brown and gold color scheme. The gold is metallic, and as a result, is sort of both aesthetically loud and sophisticated at the same time. On the other hand, the Utopia’s open-back design is walled by a black grill. It’s look is more industrial looking, with less of a vintage feel. It feels more futuristic and more masculine.
Both the Final Audio Sonorous VIII and the Focal Utopia have leather-coated earpads. However, the Utopia’s leather is perforated (whereas the Sonorous VIII’s leather is not). Like the headbands, the Sonorous VIII’s foam padding is firmer than the Utopia’s. As a result, I find the Utopia’s earpads a bit more comfortable. Additionally, the Sonorous VIII has a circular earpad hole. On the other hand, the Utopia has a more oval shaped hole to reflect its earcup shape.
The Final Audio Sonorous VIII and the Focal Utopia both employ OFC (oxygen free copper) cables. The Sonorous VIII comes with two light and tidy cables (one 3 m cable and one 1.5 m cable). On the other hand, the Utopia’s cable, which is 3 m, is bulky and a bit obtrusive. This fact, in addition to their open and closed back design statuses, indicates that the Sonorous VIII can be a portable can whereas the Utopia really should be staying at home.
Additionally, the cables of the Sonorous VIII have 3.5 mm connectors. Conversely, the cable of the Utopia has a 6.35 mm connector. As a result, it is seems the manufacturers of each company are trying to tell us something… Perhaps the Utopia needs a heavy duty amp. In fact, upon trying both cans with an expensive amplifier and then my phone, it was clear that the Utopia, while loud enough on my phone, was not being fully driven. The Sonorous VIII, on the other hand, handled my phone extremely well and actually sounded great there.
Sound – Final Audio Sonorous VIII vs Focal Utopia Comparison Review
The low frequencies of the Final Audio Sonorous VIII is even and quick. However, its level in comparison to the Focal Utopia is a bit modest. The Utopia’s low end is modest too to some degree, especially for the bass heads out there. However, it has dramatic extension, and thus comes across more fully. Additionally, a little bit of a cut in the low-mids of the Utopia leaves tons of space for the low end to really breath and move with the transients. On the other hand, the Sonorous VIII is thicker in the low mids. As a result, the low end is less clear and has less space. In particular, the low synth part in the song After Thoughts by Oddisee clearly showed the difference in these two headphones’ low ends
When I was listening to the song No Woman by Whitney, it was clear that the Focal Utopia had a bit of a high-mid emphasis. Despite this emphasis, it still sounded full, yet spacious. On the other hand the Final Audio Sonorous VIII had a more level midrange. As a result, the vocals in the tune sounded louder on the Utopia than on the Sonorous VIII. Meanwhile, the Sonorous VIII had a beautiful sense of smoothness and warmth that showed its face in the representation of the strings and horns. Additionally, both headphones had a good sense of quickness to them.
As a result, drums and acoustic guitars, and other dynamic instruments had good movement and energy.
Another example of the differences between the midranges of the Final Audio Sonorous VIII and the Focal Utopia was with the song Image of Control (II) by Sumac. The heavy electric guitars sounded a little less thick in the low mids with the Utopia. However, the energy in the low frequencies and the details in the high mids restored the energy of the guitars. On the other hand, the guitars sounded HUGE on the Sonorous VIII. However, the guitars had a bit less separation from the bass guitar.
The high frequencies of the Final Audio Sonorous VIII have a good sense of realism, without too much emphasis. While it has a lot of detail and clarity, it isn’t overly airy or extravagant. It was a pleasure listening, in particular, to Cobra by Miles Davis. However, both headphones had some sibilanced with the super hard, muted trumpet at times. Additionally, the Focal Utopia’s high end had a great sense of extension and lots of details in the high highs. It had a sense of airiness that the Sonorous didn’t have, which worked for and against it in certain situations. This emphasis meant that the highs didn’t seem completely even, so certain recordings sounded more lenient than others.
I really enjoyed the soundstage of both the Final Audio Sonorous VIII and the Focal Utopia. As you might expect by its open-back design, the Utopia had a greater sense of spaciousness in the soundstage. It was most noticeable to me in the high and low frequency extension which contributed to its tall and long sense of height. Meanwhile, I the layering abilities of the Sonorous VIII were super impressive. It had a sense of depth in the midrange which, for me, rivaled the Utopia’s. For example, when I was listening to Chris Pureka’s song, Burning Bridges, the relatively quiet drums, bass and cello came through three dimensionally and with separation on the Sonorous VIII. And while the Utopia had a harder time with the separation of these instruments, its sense of spaciousness and width replicated the acoustic guitar’s room microphones in a pretty and emotionally impactful way.
Overview – Final Audio Sonorous VIII vs Focal Utopia Comparison Review
Both the Final Audio Sonorous VIII and the Focal Utopia are super high quality headphones for serious audiophiles. There are so many differences in their sound signatures, listening back to back was a bit jarring at times. However, if I had to categorize them into the simplest form, I’d say the Utopia is incredible if you have access to a nice amplifier and a stationary setup at home. On the other hand, the Sonorous VIII is best for those that want to listen somewhat on the go. Maybe you want them for work so that sound won’t leak out, maybe you want to listen in different areas of your home at different times. Thanks for reading this Final Audio Sonorous VIII vs Focal Utopia Comparison Review.
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