Today I was given the honor of writing a review for the Focal Utopia. I am a huge fan of Focal and I have been hearing about the Utopia for some time. Utopia is their highest fidelity and highest priced headphone on the market, so I know I am going to be in for a treat. Without further ado, here is a review of the Focal Utopia.
Review of Focal Utopia Headphones
In the Box
The first thing I notice as I lift up the Focal Utopia’s box is the softness of the leather that coats it. There is a line of thin red stitching along the sides of the box and it just looks classy. I open the box by pulling on the small red ribbon, pulling the box apart from its magnetic locking system. Inside, the headphones are hugged tenderly by foam. In addition to the headphones is a small black envelope containing the user guides and a 9.8” long OFC cable (Neutrik 6.35mm to Lemo Connectors with self-locking bayonet).
I lift the headphones carefully out of the box and again notice the softness of the leather. I place the headphones on my head and wow! These are comfortable. They are perfect. The headband is cushiony on the outside but supportive on the inside. It is coated with lambskin leather and the workmanship is the highest quality. The shape of the band contours the head so that the ear pads rest lightly, but securely over the ears. The weight is distributed so homogeneously that it is even comfortable to the neck, a quality I have never felt about a headphone before.
The ear pads are coated with the same lambskin leather and filled with malleable memory foam. The grill patterns look both modern and elegant against the smoothness of the carbon fiber yoke.
The Focal Utopia is an open-back full-range speaker driver with a Beryllium dome. Beryllium foil is heated up to 700 degrees creating a brittle but extremely strong Berylla (Beryllium Oxide). As a result, the Utopia’s transients and distortion performance is unlike anything a normal fabric dome can recreate. It has the result of making the headphones transparent.
The connectors of the OFC cable are a stereo 1/4” (6.35mm) Neutrik to two Lemo connectors. When connecting the Lemo’s to the headphones, be sure to align the red dot on the connector to the red dot on the receiving end. The cable itself is thick and sturdy. It is long enough (9.8”) to shift your body around while keeping the headphones in place.
Now I am ready to listen to these beautiful ear goggles!
The first thing I notice about the low frequencies is how quickly the Focal Utopia responds to the transients and dynamics. You can really hear the start and stop of low frequency notes and hits. The tech sheet also mentions that the frequency range goes down to 5 Hz. While you can’t hear those super low frequencies you can feel them to some degree and results in the low-end feeling spacious and clear.
The mid-range is also spacious feeling and delivers the dynamics transparently. The reverb tails are able to fully decay, swell, and decay again. There is a roundness and warmness in the mid-range that makes it detailed and alive without sounding hard or harsh. The clarity is maintained across genres. I was especially impressed when I played some Brahms. Over the course of my listening session, I got goosebumps multiple times.
The tech sheet mentions that the frequency range goes up to 50kHz. This fact doesn’t necessarily change the sound, but the physical feeling of the sound. The high frequencies have an airy quality to them which gives vocals, cymbals, and stringed instruments a pleasurable openness. It is hard to put into words, but trust me. It is quite beautiful.
The stereo field is wide and accurate. My favorite example of this width is listening to recordings that have stereo room mics. It feels like you are actually in the room with the musicians and it adds to the emotional quality of the music, again, summoning goosebumps.
This is a warning to folks out there who buy or try these headphones. They sound amazing and there is a constant urge to turn the volume up. The Utopia sounds great at loud levels, but they are so clean and clear that sometimes I’d neglect to notice how loud I was listening. Protect yourself, and be aware of the loudness while you enjoy the Focal Utopia.
The Focal Utopia Headphones are the Cadillac of headphones. They look, feel, and sound incredible. The Beryllium drivers give them an accuracy and transient response rivaled by few. They are expensive, at $3999.99, but if you can afford it and appreciate highly detailed music listening, you should drop everything right now and buy these headphones. I don’t say that often, but for these headphones it is true.
As a reminder, these headphones are 80 ohms which means you will need a DAC to listen at their full potential. Right now at Audio 46, you can purchase the Focal Utopia in a bundle along with the iFi Pro iCan Headphone Amplifier.