A few days ago I reviewed the new Focal Elegia. But today I’m kicking back with one of Focal’s previous releases: the Focal Listen Wireless Chic Edition. Sporting a racy raspberry-violet hue, this Chic Edition offers the same Listen Wireless sound, but in a stylish new package. But how does it sound? And will it be the next stylish addition to my growing headphone collection?
Focal Listen Wireless Chic Edition Review
When it comes to packaging, Focal is no slouch. The Listen Wireless Chic Edition comes in a robust box with a charging cable and an AUX cable in tow. There’s also a nice neoprene carrying pouch and some literature about the headphones.
Design-wise, the Focal Listen Wireless utilizes a good deal of plastic, keeping things relatively lightweight. Yet, these headphones still feel decidedly well-built, with large over ear cups and a ruggedly-flexible headband. Deep rubbery padding on the top of the headband delivers some decent comfort while further adding to the sturdy nature of this headphone.
When it comes to comfort, the Wireless Listen is hard to fault. As mentioned, the lightweight build makes for the perfect companion on a daily commute or during extended travels. But the large, over-ear cups are perhaps the best feature, fully enveloping my giant salad-bowl ears. The soft PU leather covering the earpads helps in this regard, too, allowing me to enjoy the Listen Wireless Chic Edition for hours and hours.
Pairing via Bluetooth is quick and painless, while the rubberized playback and volume controls on the right earcup allow easy access to my jams. Battery life lands at 20 hours, but may lessen depending on volume settings. This headphone uses Bluetooth 4.1, but is compatible with APTX, and features a 50 ft (15 m) range – almost twice as much as your standard Bluetooth headphone.
Frequency Range: 15-22,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms
Sound Pressure Level: 122 dB
These specifications reveal a fairly normal frequency range with a little extra kick in the lows. With the low nominal impedance of 32 ohms, this headphone will work just fine with phones and computers. Volume also shouldn’t be an issue – especially when sound pressure is taken into account. At 122 dB sensitivity, the Focal Wireless should have no problem delivering your tunes at an acceptable volume.
In the low end, the Focal Listen Wireless Chic Edition packs quite the punch. There’s ample detail in this part of the frequency range, with a natural joie de vivre. This energetic low end is punctuated and further complimented by a full, throbbing bass. Drums snap and thump with weight, while bass guitars seemingly jump to life. In all, this is a lovely low end with no weakness.
A bit recessed, the mids offer some detail and accuracy, but seem overshadowed by the intense low end. Slightly veiled in appearance, this part of the frequency range still remains listenable, but the Listen Wireless won’t be winning any awards for its mids. Pop, rock, hip-hop, and electronica seem to suffer less from this sound, though I would hesitate to recommend this midrange to anyone who enjoys classical music.
There Focal Listen Wireless Chic Edition sports a hint of brightness in the highs. Far from ruining the sound, this only seems to create and overall dynamic nature when married to the lows. Vocals and instrumentation still come across as precise and crisp, with good contrast and plenty of fidelity.
There’s a decent sense of soundstage lurking inside the Focal Listen Wireless Chic Edition. While not on par with other, open-back models from the manufacturer, the Listen Wireless still sounds spacious enough to accommodate some fairly complicated records. On my go-to test tracks from composer Max Richter, I’m struck by the impression of space. But that sense of space appears in every track, regardless of artist – from Missy Elliott songs to Asian Kung-Fu Generation ballads, the sound strikes me as surprisingly lifelike and three-dimensional.
The $299 price tag of the Focal Listen Wireless Chic Edition puts it squarely in competition with the likes of Sony, Bose, and Beats. And while the Sony offerings might run neck-and-neck with this Focal headphone, the Bose and Beats falter and fail next to the Listen Wireless.
If you don’t mind spending more moolah for slightly more detail, you could opt for the Sony WH-1000MX3 at $349 instead. However, the Sony might miss a little less emphasis on the highs and lows. The Sony only comes in two colors, too – black and silver.
In comparison, the Listen Wireless Chic Edition packs some extra punch in the treble and the bass, while coming in three different colors: blue, green, and purple. You can also pick up the non-chic regular edition in black.
With a rich and dynamic sound and a surprisingly comfortable fit, the Focal Listen Wireless Chic Edition features a fantastic sound in a fashionable form. At $299, this headphone won’t be for the budget-minded shopper, but for well-fashioned sound and sound fashion, there’s really no alternative.