The gorgeous Focal Utopia Hi-Fi headphones are the fruit of over 35 years of experience and research into acoustics. With this product, the French brand’s main goal was to create a pair of headphones that combines exclusive, cutting-edge technology with astounding, unrivalled realism, neutrality, dynamic range and purity. They have been produced entirely by hand in France, in Focal’s Saint-Etienne workshop.
These Hi-Fi headphones come in a striking matte black case. This case provides optimal protection when transporting and storing the Utopia headphones. We were pleasantly surprised by the feel of these Hi-Fi headphones and their smart design. It has almost everything a music lover could want from a pair of headphones in this category. But it’s still very understated, without any unnecessary bells and whistles. The yokes (which hold the earpieces) are made from a single piece of polished carbon fibre, which was selected just as much for its remarkable rigidity and lightweight structure as for its striking aesthetic. Just like Formula 1!
The Focal Utopia Hi-Fi headphones are the world’s first to be fitted with totally open-backed full-range speaker drivers with pure beryllium M-shaped domes. With these headphones, Focal’s engineers have uncompromisingly pushed the boundaries of acoustic innovation and succeeded in recreating the feel of the very best Focal speakers. And the fruit of these efforts is a transducer that works without any crossover or passive filtering and a frequency respons ranging from 5Hz to over 50kHz. The headphones completely disappear and the reproduction of the audio signal is flawless. Unlike its competitors, which use a standard circular magnet, the Utopia uses a motor made up of 6 neodymium magnet segments. A similar system can also be found in the ‘Flower Power’ bass driver from the Utopia range.
The Utopia connector cable has been specifically designed for these headphones. It was selected for its ability to preserve the original audio signal without any loss or distortion. In order to do this, it has a very low impedance (< 90 mΩ/metre), and as it is fully symmetrical, crosstalk is reduced to a minimum (< 70 picofarads). It is shielded to protect against electromagnetic interference, which also means that the cable can be longer (4m) without any attenuation. The driver is fitted with stereo 9.5mm Lemo® and 9.5mm Neutrik® jack connectors, which makes it very easy to change for an XLR connector or two!
From the opening bars, we were impressed by the sound quality. The top end of the spectrum boasts a level of clarity and definition unheard of in dynamic headphones, making rival products seem dull and stifled in comparison. This quality is particularly noticeable at low volumes, when the sound stage takes perfect shape without the need to turn up the volume. And it’s a comfortable headset, even after several hours of listening – no hint of fatigue, either listener or physical! It’s also super user-friendly, with no unnecessary frills needed to maximise their full potential.
Let’s not beat around the bush, the Focal Utopia headphones are the best dynamic headphones we’ve ever had the good fortune to listen to! All of the technology used is geared towards a truly refined sound. So much so that we now use it as a reference when we test phono cartridges and phono preamplifiers!
The essential benchmark! Franck
Principle: open-back circum-aural
Driver: 40mm full-range, beryllium M-shaped domes
Impedance: 80 Ohms
Sensitivity: 100 dB SPL/1mW at 1 Khz
Distortion: <0.2 % at 1 Khz/100 dB SPL
Frequency response: 5-50 000 Hz
Cables: OFC, symmetrical, 4 metres
Connection: 1 x 6.35mm stereo jack/2 x 9.5mm Lemo
Travel case: rigid with magnetic fastening
Travel case dimensions: 164 x 326 x 260 mm