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Focal Utopia headphones...with Beryllium driver


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On 6/12/2017 at 12:47 PM, purk said:

My mistake.  What I find pretty impressive about the Utopia is its ability to sound wonderful out of portable DAP.  I don't think the LCD-4 or the HD800 can do that.  

Granted, depends on the  DAP. For example the Fiio X7 with balanced module can output over half a watt of power per channel before clipping, definitely can drive the HD800 to and even the Hifiman HE1000 to earbleeding levels. Not sure about the LCD-4.

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  • 2 months later...

I pulled the trigger and bought one. New toy and all, but man I’m really loving the sound of this thing. Finally a not-fucking-around, dead serious ultra High-end dynamic driver headphone that isn’t cheaply built and/or uncomfortable. This is how an expensive headphone should look and feel on and off your head.

I know a LOT of effort went into that Beryllium driver, but its shocking to me just how smoothly, accurately and realistically it can convey every little harmonic and dynamic swing of an orchestra, from deep bass to the highest of highs. I’d even go as far as saying I’ve never heard treble so smoothly extended and cleanly and naturally textured from any transducer that I can remember. The 007s might have the ultimate upper hand on the mids and deep-bass (altough this is, amazingly, definitely no slouch) but on dynamics, treble coherency and ultimate resolve I rank the Utopia as a superior performer personally.

A fine recording of Verdi’s Requiem Dies Irae popped up earlier and the dynamics actually scared the crap out of me, while every little component in the recording was kept clear as day and separated in a free floating three dimensional space. The sound isn’t thin or lean at all, it’s lively, powerful and authorative and ready to fight should it be called upon to do so. 

This is the best dynamic driver headphone in the world to my ears and, all things considered, somewhat deserving of its high price relative to cheaply built crap a la Hifiman and Abyss. I’m just blown away by its capabilities, and it achieves this driven from a Chord Mojo should you want to stay ”portable” with something like just an iPad and Tidal HiFi. 

9B8C3F45-FF03-4DE0-BBBF-E5AC8974A40A.thumb.jpeg.99103ffd88fcad492c755e696435092b.jpeg

Edited by Bjorn
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2 hours ago, Bjorn said:

I pulled the trigger and bought one. New toy and all, but man I’m really loving the sound of this thing. Finally a not-fucking-around, dead serious ultra High-end dynamic driver headphone that isn’t cheaply built and/or uncomfortable. This is how an expensive headphone should look and feel on and off your head.

I know a LOT of effort went into that Beryllium driver, but its shocking to me just how smoothly, accurately and realistically it can convey every little harmonic and dynamic swing of an orchestra, from deep bass to the highest of highs. I’d even go as far as saying I’ve never heard treble so smoothly extended and cleanly and naturally textured from any transducer that I can remember. The 007s might have the ultimate upper hand on the mids and deep-bass (altough this is, amazingly, definitely no slouch) but on dynamics, treble coherency and ultimate resolve I rank the Utopia as a superior performer personally.

A fine recording of Verdi’s Requiem Dies Irae popped up earlier and the dynamics actually scared the crap out of me, while every little component in the recording was kept clear as day and separated in a free floating three dimensional space. The sound isn’t thin or lean at all, it’s lively, powerful and authorative and ready to fight should it be called upon to do so. 

This is the best dynamic driver headphone in the world to my ears and, all things considered, somewhat deserving of its high price relative to cheaply built crap a la Hifiman and Abyss. I’m just blown away by its capabilities, and it achieves this driven from a Chord Mojo should you want to stay ”portable” with something like just an iPad and Tidal HiFi. 

9B8C3F45-FF03-4DE0-BBBF-E5AC8974A40A.thumb.jpeg.99103ffd88fcad492c755e696435092b.jpeg

You will like it even more when you try them out of portable source.  The HD-800 out of top end ECP amps still have them beat but they sound incredible out of my Sony NW-ZX100 DAP with 15 mw @ 16 ohm on tap.

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2 hours ago, Bjorn said:

I pulled the trigger and bought one. New toy and all, but man I’m really loving the sound of this thing. Finally a not-fucking-around, dead serious ultra High-end dynamic driver headphone that isn’t cheaply built and/or uncomfortable. This is how an expensive headphone should look and feel on and off your head.

I know a LOT of effort went into that Beryllium driver, but its shocking to me just how smoothly, accurately and realistically it can convey every little harmonic and dynamic swing of an orchestra, from deep bass to the highest of highs. I’d even go as far as saying I’ve never heard treble so smoothly extended and cleanly and naturally textured from any transducer that I can remember. The 007s might have the ultimate upper hand on the mids and deep-bass (altough this is, amazingly, definitely no slouch) but on dynamics, treble coherency and ultimate resolve I rank the Utopia as a superior performer personally.

A fine recording of Verdi’s Requiem Dies Irae popped up earlier and the dynamics actually scared the crap out of me, while every little component in the recording was kept clear as day and separated in a free floating three dimensional space. The sound isn’t thin or lean at all, it’s lively, powerful and authorative and ready to fight should it be called upon to do so. 

This is the best dynamic driver headphone in the world to my ears and, all things considered, somewhat deserving of its high price relative to cheaply built crap a la Hifiman and Abyss. I’m just blown away by its capabilities, and it achieves this driven from a Chord Mojo should you want to stay ”portable” with something like just an iPad and Tidal HiFi. 

9B8C3F45-FF03-4DE0-BBBF-E5AC8974A40A.thumb.jpeg.99103ffd88fcad492c755e696435092b.jpeg

You should have a listen to Final D8000. We really like Utopias, but these new cans by Final blew us away. Utopias are slightly more expensive.

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22 minutes ago, purk said:

You will like it even more when you try them out of portable source.  The HD-800 out of top end ECP amps still have them beat but they sound incredible out of my Sony NW-ZX100 DAP with 15 mw @ 16 ohm on tap.

Yeah I really like that about them. They do not need a big, heavy amp which is a huge thing for me as I grew tired of being locked to my desktop listening to the STAX. I can just use my Mojo with them, best portable DAC/amplifier I know of with shit tons of volume to spare with the relatively easy to drive Utopias. Connected to my iPad Pro with Tidal and an app to play High res FLACs. Much prefer that chain to DAPs as those are always slow and laggy with awful displays for some reason. 

Must say though that I am surprised you think that way about the HD 800, I owned it and I am not a fan of that headphone at all. Lacklustre bass and thin, distant uninspiring sound. A tube amplifier does help for tone but it certainly doesnt match the technically superior Focal driver to my ears. 

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Well, you need a really good amp to wake up the HD800.  Doug makes several that compliment them perfectly and the KG SuSy Dynahi and the old Headroom Balanced Max are also great options.  Once they are mated with those amps they are even better than the Utopia.  But Utopia is superb out of portable source and that's an amazing quality to have.  They also match well with Sony NW-WM1A.

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Hm. I disagree, back when I had the 800 I tried loads of amps to get them right but I just dont like the headphone. Its not natural sounding and cant reach the low bass. If you force it you get distorsion so its always a compromise. 

The Leben CS300 tube amp was kind of a fun pairing but hardly a purist approach :P 

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2 hours ago, purk said:

Not going to debate with you, but ECP L3 & DSHA-4 are amazing with the HD800.  My HD-800 + L3 combo is near the KGSSHV + SR009/SR007 level.

Alrightie then. Pretty impressive if so. :)  (Not that I’m a fan of the 009, but that’s another story he he...)

Edited by Bjorn
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2 hours ago, Bjorn said:

Hm. I disagree, back when I had the 800 I tried loads of amps to get them right but I just dont like the headphone. Its not natural sounding and cant reach the low bass. If you force it you get distorsion so its always a compromise. 

The Leben CS300 tube amp was kind of a fun pairing but hardly a purist approach :P 

Did you also try repositioning your head?  They are apparently very sensitive to position.

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On 1.12.2017 at 8:25 PM, purk said:

Well, you need a really good amp to wake up the HD800.  Doug makes several that compliment them perfectly and the KG SuSy Dynahi and the old Headroom Balanced Max are also great options.  Once they are mated with those amps they are even better than the Utopia.  But Utopia is superb out of portable source and that's an amazing quality to have.  They also match well with Sony NW-WM1A.

A REALLY good amp, yes. So much potential in HD 800. Still, with most things they sound very average. I tend to think that Utopias are much more easygoing.

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12 hours ago, Forza AudioWorks said:

A REALLY good amp, yes. So much potential in HD 800. Still, with most things they sound very average. I tend to think that Utopias are much more easygoing.

I've got a DAVE here (along with one of Justin's amp) and while I hold the HD800 in high regard, there is no comparison to the Utopia.

Edited by Audiojunkie
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"completely different animal"? i find that hard to believe having tried the hd800 with a variety of amps. not even the hd800s is a "completely different animal" from the hd800. an amp would have to reduce the 6khz peak and increase the bass in order to transform the hd800's sound signature into something approaching significantly different. i'm yet to hear an amp do that and it's arguable that no amp should.

Edited by tin ear
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Check out the ECP amps and report back and you will understand why.   I completely agree about the HD800 vs. HD800S though.  TMoney should share his thought.  His DSHA-3 is an excellent match to the HD800 as well.

Edited by purk
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I agree with everything Purk has been posting.

That being said, some people really just don't like the 800/800S. Their loss. Different people like or are sensitive to different things. I don't think there is a "one size fits all" choice in this hobby.

I personally think a well amped 800/800S stands toe to toe with just about anything that isn't a 007/009 on one of the mega KG amps.

Edited by TMoney
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