Focal has unveiled a new line of premium over-the-ear headphones that includes the Utopia, the Elear, and the Listen. The flagship Utopia model, whose design is detailed in the press release below, is an open-back headphone that uses a 40mm pure Beryllium dome driver and has a 32-ohm impedance and 104-dB sensitivity. It will be available on June 29 for $3,999.
Focal unveils the company's newest line of three premium headphones; Utopia, Elear and Listen. Focal's high-end headphones are the result of over 35 years of development and manufacturing of loudspeakers in France, including Utopia, a model that spared no expense in the development for the ultimate listening experience.
"For the past two years, we've offered some of the best sounding over-ear headphones with our Spirit line," said Ben Jensen, president of Focal North America. "With Utopia, we challenged our engineers and designers to create a reference headphone that equals the sonic excellence found in our other premium lines in Hi-Fi, automotive and professional monitoring and are incredibly proud of what we were able to achieve for our most discerning audiophile customers."
Utopia - World's first full-range loudspeaker in a pair of headphones
Focal's Utopia open-back reference headphones were designed to offer the ultimate listening experience for the most critical audiophile and utilize the company's 35-year history and experience with other product lines that carry the Utopia moniker. Known for creating reference products such as the $220,000/pair Grand Utopia EM Reference Hi-Fi speakers, $25,000/pair Utopia Ultima Reference automotive speakers, as well as the most sought after SM9 Professional near-field monitor, Focal spared no expense while developing the Utopia Reference headphones.
After listening to dozens of high-end cans in both open and closed back designs, Focal's designers realized that the experience users have with headphones compared to a pair of high-end speakers is one with an incredibly limited soundstage. With that goal in mind, Focal's engineers began to think of the newest Utopia project as the world's first, wearable, full-range, ULTRA near-field loudspeaker rather than strictly a pair of headphones.
Focused on creating nothing shy of perfection, designers began looking at every single aspect of the product; from the raw materials, to the construction of the drivers, to the padding used in the ear cups, to the leather used to wrap them for the ultimate comfort as well as creating an acoustic room around your ear, to the design and technical mechanism of the headband, all the way down to the quality of the cable and even the packaging used to give Utopia a premium look and feel.
Beginning with the drivers, Focal looked at many of their previous reference products that use Beryllium, which combines the ultimate rigidity to weight ratio. Beryllium is 30 times higher cost than gold. Creating a driver with a completely open front and open back design, Focal was able to avoid using a crossover or passive filtering process common in other headphones. The result, when used in conjunction with a proper headphone amplifier/DAC, is a frequency response from 5 Hz to 50 kHz, and driver assembly so light, it can vibrate 50,000 times per second, producing some of the most airy, open-sounding, yet sonically accurate music in any genre.
While designing the 'wearability' of the product, Focal again maintained a goal to create a yoke that is strong and light while paying attention to comfort in the ear cups. Engineers wanted to ensure Utopia's ability to fit all sizes and varying head shapes while creating a stunning looking product. After much research, a carbon fiber yoke was established as the ultimate design material, which offers an elegant look, while being lightweight and extremely rigid. Additionally, in order to avoid creating the joint found in conventionally designed headphones for the rotation functionality, which breaks up the aesthetics, Focal built this feature directly into the headband, using more than 100 parts.
After auditioning some of the most premium leather suppliers in the world in order to find the softest, most comfortable yet most acoustically neutral samples for use in the ear cups, designers decided to work with U.K.-based Pittards to supply the leather that would be used on both the ear cup cushions and headband.
Included with each pair of Utopia Reference headphones is a rigid packaging with magnetic locking system, a 4m (13.1ft) OFC cable, a Neutrik 6.35mm (1/4") stereo plug and two shielded Lemo connectors with self-locking bayonet system.
Utopia is slated to be available on June 29, at first in limited quantities from qualified dealers for the suggested retail price of $3,999 USD / $4,999 CAD.
• For a list of Focal North America dealers, visit www.focal.com/headphones.
• Focal Introduces New Line of Outdoor Speakers at HomeTheaterReview.com.