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Focal has a great reputation for studio monitors – we’ve loved both its Alpha range and Twin monitors, for example. But can it transfer this expertise to headphones, which more and more of us are using either as main monitors (when we have restrictive environmental conditions) or as secondary comparison monitors?
Focal is attempting to cover all bases here: an accurate sound quality for mixing, comfort, noise cancellation and a ‘lively’ listening experience more akin to the type you’d get with open headphones.
Certainly, they tick the comfort box. They have a very flexible headband with ‘soft touch material’ for extra comfort. The phones are relatively lightweight and the ‘memory foam’ cushions over the drivers do clasp around your ears without being excessively hot. This ups the noise isolation, too. It’s not good enough to match the active cancellation offered by the likes of Bose, for example (and you’ll still hear the TV when using them), but it’s pretty good nonetheless.
Good isolation can also mean quite a closed experience and we’d say it’s probably more enclosed than the semi-open experience Focal is aiming for, but the soundstage is wide enough to enjoy a very good mixing experience nonetheless. Good mixing relies on being able to accurately place elements in that soundstage and you will be able to achieve that here.
They exhibit a pretty flat response, too, with very little colouration that we could perceive, while still maintaining a pretty good vibe. This, combined with the comfort and weight, means accuracy and longevity for your mixing. Accurate and flat headphones can often be wearing, so these Focals have achieved a rare balance. Next to our cheaper reference headphones, they really are streets ahead and actually closer to our mid-range reference phones, which perhaps reveals how good the sound quality of these Focals really is.
So has Focal achieved that four-pronged goal? We’d say it’s a ‘yes’ on all counts. We’re now really looking forward to getting our ears around its top-end Listen headphones next time around.
- Circum-aural closed-back headphones
- 40mm paired transducer with a Mylar/Titanium cone
- Impedance: 32 ohms
- Sensitivity: 122 dB
- Freq response: 5Hz – 22kHz
- 22mm heat-sensitive ’memory foam’ ear cushions
- 1.4m cable with RMC and omni-directional mic, 5m coiled low-impedance cable
- Rigid carry case and 3.5mm to 6.35mm stereo jack plug
- Weight: 280g