Mon dieu! The Focal Elegia has arrived at MajorHiFi, bringing with it the aromatic traces of crepes and fromage. So today is the perfect time to take a break from smelling the new pine wood Grados and buckle down with the Elegia. But how does it sound? And is this new Focal worth the $899 price tag?
Focal Elegia Review
Like other Focal headphones, the Elegia arrives in a snazzy cardboard box with a user manual, a carrying case, and a 1/4” stereo adapter included.
The announcement of a closed-back Focal was turning heads when it was announced at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest earlier this month. By far one of the more important design features, this headphone retains much of the flavor of the older Elear.
Indeed, the comfort and fit remain nearly identical, while the included interchangeable cable looks identical to that found on the Focal Clear.
Frequency Range: 5-23,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 35 ohms
Sound Pressure Level: 105 dB
A cursory glance at the specs shows us a headphone with a fairly standard frequency range, but with perhaps a little more than usual going on in the low end. Impedance and sound pressure remain relatively low and high, respectively. As such, this headphone should remain somewhat easy to drive, while still delivering more-than-adequate volume.
The low end of the Elegia sports a decent level of detail that remains clear of bleed, compression or distortion. Here the sound receives loving attention, giving music a natural but energetic presence as it surges into your ears. Complimenting this, the Elegia delivers a precise, competent bass, which lands with impact and lends gravity to the lows. The overall sound, despite being highly detailed, still waxes more emotive thanks to that heady bass.
In this part of the frequency range, the Elegia puts forth some admirable imaging. While not entirely forward-leaning, the mids seem highly present, with good clarity. The fidelity is on-point here, too, with no compression or distortion to speak of. Despite the closed-back design, the Elegia still sounds fairly “open” in the mids.
Not as bright as I was expecting, the Elegia’s high end seems slightly rolled-off, leading to a smooth and relaxed sound. Vocals sound velvety, but strings and other instruments never truly lose their edge. The resultant sound is at once rich and uncompromising, while also tempered and controlled. If you’re looking for that kind of high end that struts the fine line between tons of detail and too much detail, your long search is over.
Ah, the part of the review where I gab about soundstage. How can the Focal Elegia compete with the Elear? Of course, this headphone suffers here from a closed-back design. But, the Elegia still puts up a fantastic fight, with a robust sense of depth and placement. The sound is still airy and light and spatial, but just a little less so when stacked up against the Elear. This is a shame, as I have a feeling a lot of people won’t give the Elegia the props it deserves in this regard. Honestly, Focal has done an amazing job retaining the soundstage in the Elegia, and anyone who says otherwise isn’t giving this headphone its due.
Comfort remains the same as that of the Elear. However, now you can take that comfort anywhere. Bus, train, plane. Even your office. And because of the closed-back design, your coworkers will never know you blast Vanessa Carlton while banging out some headphone reviews. What’s not to love?
The closed-back design, while detracting somewhat from the overall sense of soundstage, might actually improve the sound of the Elegia. With the Elegia’s closed-back design adding to the impression of bass, and the slightly rolled off high end, this headphone feels heavier in the low end. Compared to the Elear, the Elegia sports a classic, warm sound that remains more distinct and precise in the low end, while not completely writing off the highs.
As a premium closed-back headphone with a warm, slightly relaxed sound, the Elegia excels with any bass-heavy track. If you’re a fan of rock, hip-hop, or electronica – or, if you’re a fan of that kind of sound profile – you’ll fall head over heels for this headphone.
For those wanting a slightly less warm sound and more soundstage, I might recommend the MrSpeakers Aeon Flow ($799). However, this unit requires decent amplification to get the full extent of the sound, whereas the Elegia is easier to drive.
If bass is your thing, I’d recommend the Campfire Cascade or possibly the Final Audio Sonorous VI. These models offer more bass than the Elegia and retain the low impedance, but may lack the relaxed-but-detailed highs of the Elegia.
However, when it comes to fans of the Elear (or even the Clear), the Elegia may be the only option out there at this price point. As a closed-back Focal, it lands dead-center in a place between closed-back convenience and open-back sound.
At a solid $899, the Focal Elegia offers clear value to anyone won over by the Focal Elear. Thanks to it’s rich low end and relaxed highs, though, the Elegia also calls to those in need of a warmer sound profile. Despite a clear bent towards bass-heavy music, it still performs admirably as an all-in-one listening machine. Is it worth buying, or at least demoing? Oui. Tres oui.
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