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Focal Utopia headphones...with Beryllium driver


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Think HD600 but with better detail, much better dynamics, more linear and extended bass, and elctrostat-like imaging, but at the same time slightly artificial tembre and peaky, somewhat piercing highs.

I so badly want to like them but they're too fatiguing for me. But for someone less treble sensitive they should be perfect.

Edited by catscratch
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34 minutes ago, swt61 said:

Well, that clears that up!

well if you want to be that way 🙂 

 

super detailed with to be accurate tone and timbre, extremely fast. I liked the bass in that is went low enough for my tastes rock and jazz but was tight with detail (think being able to tell the difference between a fender jazz bass of p bass) 

I regret selling these to Raffy but you can't own all the headphones 

 

they were not peaky to me but one persons detailed is another peaky. 

 

Also F these new fuckers 

 

they also sound like this 

 

Edited by jp11801
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2 hours ago, Aura said:

i'm back to support my homie @morphsci and his opinion that the dude's opinion is FUCKED 

also these arrived today from @justin and after five drams i can tell you these headphone are the absolute GOAT and please go right fuck off if you feel otherwise because obviously your ears are broke AF okay adios bros 

edit - also shout out to @naamanf because he's a manly man

CD6BF83A-6532-43FD-AA6D-483F8261751C.thumb.jpeg.ddad462907856307bd0c1e1b74d4e107.jpeg

HE HAS RETURNED

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On 3/14/2021 at 2:30 PM, swt61 said:

Bryan, as one who has not listened to any Focal headphones, can you give me a broad idea of the Utopia sound signature?

Not Bryan either, but IMO the Utopia sounds like an attempt to recreate the OG SR-009 with a dynamic driver and an uncomfortable headband. If you don't mind a hotspot on your head and like the 009 sound and don't want to deal with electrostatics, you'll enjoy the Utopia.

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I've only heard the Utopia at one meet. At the time, it sounded quite good - detailed while not "too" anything FR-wise. Not peaky, and I don't like peaky these days. To compare to something else, maybe...a properly fitted Qualia 010 with more satisfying bass?

Although this was out of a Woo Audio tubed headphone amp (dunno which one) fed by a Lampizator DAC with a tubed output stage. So the upstream components could certainly have mitigated/masked (tomAto/tomahto) any peakiness of the headphones. Like alot of higher-end stuff, I guess they take work to sound best.

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On 3/14/2021 at 4:30 PM, swt61 said:

Bryan, as one who has not listened to any Focal headphones, can you give me a broad idea of the Utopia sound signature?

i had general impressions of Utopia ready within an hour of receiving them but took the week to work through various material (still a lot to go).

  • significant upgrade from Elex and Clear. there's a bigger gap from Clear to Utopia than Elex to Clear and i think it's because Utopia does things that Clear simply cannot
  • HD600 comparison is apt, actually i think Utopia is more in-line with presentation of HD600/580 than Clear or Elear. there's a subtlety and smoothness to Utopia that is not in Clear, in hindsight i actually may be finding Clear a little wild now in it's presentation
  • god-tier detail, imaging, bass, PRaT
  • not bright. not to me. had some female vocals at time that i thought were slightly-off tonally and then went back to HD580 to compare and it was effectively identical
  • the most unexpected thing is how easy they are to listen to. you'd think with this insane level of detail that it would be devoid of emotion or push you out of zen state... well i have the complete opposite experience. shocking ability for intimacy.

so... yeah. this headphone concludes my adventure. there's nowhere else i care to go.

 

On 3/14/2021 at 4:33 PM, jp11801 said:

while not Bryan they are like super hot (you pick the gender) angels licking your ears and caressing your brain all at the same time

TLDR Nums put it right.

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The Utopia is super efficient and sounded utterly great from my lower power walkman all the way to my SuSy Dynalo.  The treble and smallish head stage did me in though...so I sold it over 2 years ago.  I can’t deny the speed, and sense impact the Utopia brought to the table though.  

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2 hours ago, Aura said:

i don't understand the staging critique of Utopia. since when does any headphone ever do a proper sound stage?

R10, Qualia, and K1000.  Also, the HD800 done right can also do that but to a lesser degree.

Edited by purk
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The R10 and Qualia are still two cups on either side of your head. The soundstge is still inside your head.

It might be wider, but you can't close your eyes and locate the instruments on a stage.

They'll never be in front of you, but instead they're inside of you. 

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4 hours ago, Aura said:

i don't understand the staging critique of Utopia. since when does any headphone ever do a proper sound stage?

 

2 hours ago, swt61 said:

The R10 and Qualia are still two cups on either side of your head. The soundstge is still inside your head.

It might be wider, but you can't close your eyes and locate the instruments on a stage.

They'll never be in front of you, but instead they're inside of you. 

I agree with both of these. Some headphones do better than others but speakers do better and unless you have a shitload of money to throw at your system, live concerts are always better.

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6 hours ago, Aura said:

i don't understand the staging critique of Utopia. since when does any headphone ever do a proper sound stage?

I don't think it's a question of 'proper' sound stage, of course no headphones can do that.  It's fair however within the context of headphones to critique the Utopia's (really any Focal for that matter) for having a smallish sound stage.  It's just not a focus of the sound they are going for and that's perfectly fine.  They excel in detail and dynamics and are fantastic headphones in those regards.

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53 minutes ago, tkam said:

 It's fair however within the context of headphones to critique the Utopia's (really any Focal for that matter) for having a smallish sound stage.

Maybe you are using the wrong amplifier ...

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6 minutes ago, dsavitsk said:

Maybe you are using the wrong amplifier ...

Your L3 & DSHA-4 are really the two amps that brought out better "headstage" out of my HD800 & R10 and really make them to compete with the 007/009 for me.  I agree with Steve that the K1000 has widest soundstage, but the Qualia is the best at depth cues and second at the width so it really enhance the illusion of being "there" despite its rather odd tonal balanced.  Plus the K1000 is more of a stationary listening device....you really can't move around the house with those.  I really enjoyed the Utopia when I had mine, but treble was a little much for me and I preferred just a little more headstage out of them.  I really can't fault the Utopia on anything else...maybe on how heavy it is.  

The HD800 SDR mod is actually the headphone that I use the most.  It fits my lifestyle better for fraction of the price.  It is my all around beater headphones.  I toss it in my backpack and take it to work on a daily basis.  It sounds great out of my mod Sony NW-ZX507 and glorious out of Doug ECP L3/DSHA-4.  

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  • 1 month later...

Bro, you just made my day. The HD800, a headphone that — when released — redefined pricing for non-exotics (i.e., not the R10, not the Orpheus, and not Stax) at a then-eyewatering 1400 USD, is now considered a beater, great for tossing in a backpack. 🤣

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9 hours ago, gepardcv said:

 at a then-eyewatering 1400 USD, is now considered a beater, great for tossing in a backpack. 🤣

I thought it was a good headphone back then, but way overpriced. I'm still of the opinion that it's price point should be around $600.

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Bro, you just made my day. The HD800, a headphone that — when released — redefined pricing for non-exotics (i.e., not the R10, not the Orpheus, and not Stax) at a then-eyewatering 1400 USD, is now considered a beater, great for tossing in a backpack. 🤣

It’s over 10 years old man and condition  wasn’t great to begin with (got it used from Justin).  What I wanted to say was the HD800 is a very durable workhorse and it sounds wonderful to me for much cheaper.  I normally use a headphone traveling case with it too but lately I got lazy so just put it in my backpack without using the case.

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  • 1 month later...

Also late to the party..Utopia is the first headphone that I actually think it's kinda worth an hi-end price, game changer to this ears. The only negative point is the hot treble, but that could just be the amp.

Which amps are known to pair well with them?

Edited by Spychedelic Whale
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I am currently running them through the GS-X MK2 and the treble is straddling that fine line between hotness and resolve. I have a DIY Beta22 and it's a bit better in this regard, the treble is not as resolving but the attack/edge/bite is softened a bit. Justin told me that the GS-X Mini is supposed to sound warmer and may be a better fit with the Utopia. 

There is also @dsavitsk's DSHA-3F that's supposed to be a great pairing with the Utopia but I haven't heard this personally. 

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4 hours ago, K3cT said:

There is also @dsavitsk's DSHA-3F that's supposed to be a great pairing with the Utopia but I haven't heard this personally. 

I had this pair, and it works VERY well.....ultimately, still a bit of artificial edge to the Utopia's for my taste, but they really are something special!  I gave up some of that ultimate transparency in getting the Clear, but tonally it matched my taste a bit better.

Still an incredible headphone, and the ecp amp is spectacular with it!

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