For many years Focal has delivered some of the best headphones on the market. From open to closed-back, their standard for pure, uncompromised sound has been an admirable feat. One of their most premium models is the Utopia, which has been around for quite some time. Since its release, there have been a few variations and repackagings, but now Focal is totally reimagining the Utopia. This new 2022 version of the Utopia adds some new bits of design on the inside and outside. With these new additions, sound performance is bound to change. Can Focal manage to make one of their best headphones even better?
What You Get
- Utopia 2022 headphones
- Carrying case
- Two cables
- 1 5ft (1.5m) mini-jack cable with 1/4” (6.35mm) Jack adapter
- 1 10ft (3m) cable with XLR connector
Look and Feel
I was surprised to see the appearance of the Utopia change. The original Utopia had a dazzling design, and the new Utopia takes on more of the design you’ll see on newer Focal headphones like the Clear MG. However, instead of the sleek bronze of the Clear MG, the new Utopia is all black. The grille is more exposed here compared to the former Utopia build but keeps part of the middle piece that intersects with the Focal logo.
I don’t think the new version is as striking as the original Utopia, but it was still sleek and incredibly well built. Its carbon yokes give great support to the ear cups, keeping the headphones sturdy. Their perforated ear pads make a return here, encapsulating your ears nicely for a comfortable fit that is perfectly in line with Focal’s other over-ear headphones.
While the new Utopia keeps some of the driver properties from the last iteration, it also adds some new materials that shape its output differently. The 40mm beryllium driver and M-shaped dome are carried over, but with a new voice coil that aims to fix some of the problems some experience with the original. This new voice coil is made up of 30% copper and 70% aluminum and looks to increase the longevity of the Utopia’s driver. It also significantly bolsters the performance, making timbral changes to the 5Hz – 50kHz frequency response. The 80 Ohm impedance of the driver makes the new Utopia drive well with any type of amplifier.
There are a few aspects of the soundstage that this new Utopia does differently than the original. It doesn’t lose any amount of precision in its stereo field, but the individual elements have an even clearer identity in the mix. From what I can hear, this is due to the even greater dimension given to the imaging. The new Utopia doesn’t go out of control with how wide and open it can get though, as everything in the mix still appears like it is exactly where it should be in the soundstage. There’s no airiness to the imaging, but the new Utopia definitely has a more dome-like appearance than the original model.
The music is close to you, but it also engulfs your headspace with spatial environments to get easily immersed in. This new Utopia also has a far greater height to it, with more sound elements appearing above you, especially vocals and treble details. My most memorable experience with the new Utopia was listening to Bear McCreary’s “Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power” soundtrack, lining up to make the perfect pairing. Focal headphones always tend to do well with classical music and movie scores, and the new Utopia was never going to let me down in that regard.
The soundstage of the new Utopia does everything about these tracks justice, capturing the sweeping orchestral performances with fullness and accuracy, while also being dynamic in the way it presents more relaxed instrumentation with more bombastic sections of the tracks. Each portion comes through with the same balance and extension, with unparalleled spatial distinction.
You get a lot of depth in the low frequencies on the new Utopia and are extremely well balanced with the rest of the sound signature. If you’re expecting a thicker tone you might be left disappointed, but I do think the new Utopia has some more subtle warmth to it compared to the original. It reminds me of Focal’s Clear MG, which is also on the warm side but doesn’t appear as clinical. Sub-bass tones start to emanate deep in your throat, but their timbre is completely natural and clean. It’s bodied while still keeping its details evenly leveled with the rest of the frequency response. Bass guitars have a smoothness to them that always feels rich, while other elements like sound effect sweeteners give the new Utopia a more subtle low-end presence.
The midrange is nice and elevated in the sound signature. Plucky details in instruments are as clear as day, preserving the natural qualities of the recordings. Musicality on the new Utopia feels more engrossing to me compared to the original too, highlighting sound elements in an unveiled manner without appearing too critical in their tone. Instruments and vocals come through with a level of purity that showcases realism with just a little bit of texture that gives certain frequencies that extra pop. It is lively and smooth with strings and lush with acoustic guitars and piano notes. Just an extremely well-balanced frequency response throughout.
Like the rest of the sound signature, the highs are revealing without anything artificial in their response. The treble only brightens up when the track calls for it and offers a tight shine throughout. Although some sound elements have a nice sizzle to them, I never thought it colorized the timbre, rather feeling just as natural and controlled as the bass and mids. While the highs aren’t as elevated, they still appear in the mix with fullness and resolve. A crisp timbre that is not shy of more biting resonances, but never gets too hot. A fantastically energetic and sweet response.
You always know you’re getting something special with Focal, and the new Utopia is no exception. Its new profile makes this update worthwhile, and with its added longevity, hopefully, even more audiophiles will see its value. Without this new version, the Utopia is still one of the best headphones around. However, with this new update, more layers are added to it, culminating in a more improved product. The 2022 Utopia redefines one of the best headphones around while adding new components that only enhance this phenomenal design.
The new Focal Utopia 2022 is available at Audio46.
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