Focal Elegia - Closed Back Headphones - Official Thread

been spending an increasing amount of time with the Elegia running from my Pendant amp on low Z, and i am really liking this pairing. it’s a slightly smoother delivery than the Phonitor, with slightly rounded edges/attack, and a slightly thicker and slower bass response. i find it a bit less fatiguing, and more musical and engaging. the low Z output is 8ohm on the pendant, which violates the 1/8 or 1/10 rule on impedance matching. but despite this, it sounds good. i don’t get the feeling it’s under dampened. it’s still relatively tight and controlled, not bloated or slow. the Clear also sound good on the Pendant too, but i feel the Elegia/Pendant pairing more synergistic.

4 Likes

I took my elegias and went to demo the hip dac. Was amazing. Love the pairing. Bot one on the spot

3 Likes

My Elegia’s are dead silent at 12". So not sure what others are talking about “sound leak”.

1 Like

I hope it’s not too late to post my impressions after living with them for almost 4 months as my daily driver.

I shall start at the beginning!

Design (Intent):

To start this whole thing off, I would like to explain what I think Focal was shooting for when designing the Elegia. I could be very far off considering I wasn’t involved in the development process, but I’ll give it a shot.

From the first time I unboxed the Elegia up until the present, it has been the most luxurious headphone I’ve ever owned. They have a heft and materials that make me want to care for them more than something like my HD6XX. In terms of watches, the Elegia is closer to the stereotypical fine swiss Rolex than the workhorse Japanese Casio G Shock. Neither is better than the other in general but more a matter of preference.

This design is a highlight of the ownership experience as they do indeed look and feel special. However, this comes at the expense of perceived durability. I don’t know, nor will I test the actual durability of the Elegia versus something like the HD6XX, but I’d feel more comfortable using the Sennheiser as an everyday workhorse in less-than-ideal environments. The Elegia feels like a headphone that you listen to at home, in a comfy chair, with expensive alcohol at the end of a long day.

Design (Execution):

As far as the fit and finish is concerned, I am happy with the execution of the design. Materials feel premium, from the leather (pleather?) on the top of the headband to the metal yokes to the suede/cloth materials of the earpads. I see no issues with what Focal has done here.

Comfort:

The earcups are deep enough for the drivers to not touch my ears and the pads are nice and soft. However, the weight at 430 g and the size (girth?) of the headphones leaves the comfort level just short of the “forget you’re wearing it” mark. They won’t fall off if you glance downward, but I wouldn’t head-bang too hard unless you want them somewhere other than on your head.

Accessories:

The Elegia comes with a very nice, very French, fanciest of the pants carrying case. In stark contrast to the hard plastic pelican case that a lot of Audeze headphones spend their time in, the cloth Focal case is tastefully flashy, if not a bit purse like. It can hold the headphones along with a few accessories including the cable, which I guess we need to cover now…

I’m not sure what I can say about the original cable that hasn’t already been said. It’s worse than a disappointment. It would be one thing if it was just a piece of garbage that you threw away with the packing materials, but it’s not. It’s beautiful, which makes the fact that it’s awful even worse. If it weren’t for the wire itself being stiff and heavy, I would LOVE to use it. It’s 4’ long and terminated in 3.5mm at both ends (or should I say all three ends?). The hardware is aluminum with the focal label printed on the side. Like I said, it’s a shame that they chose the wire that they did. Luckily, a new-fantasia cable off amazon is peanuts.

Sound:

Overall : I think it’s safe to say that these are my favorite sounding closed back headphones. Granted, my experience is mainly with things like the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the V Moda Crossfade series, but with the current pricing (don’t worry, we’ll talk about this later) These actually aren’t crazy comparisons to make.

Now I know “favorite” doesn’t mean jack squat, so I’ll try to flesh out and justify my opinion.

Lows : I believe it was Resolve who I first heard describe the lows in a way that I completely agreed with. These aren’t a “bassy” headphone, but that doesn’t mean they lack punch. Actually, I think tightness and punch are two of its best characteristics and while the quantity of low end may not wow most at first, the execution and control is spot on with what I look for in a headphone, especially a closed back.

Mids : I don’t have too much to say here, other than I have no complaints. The mids do what they need to do, and they do it well. I think the timbre is notable, but I’ll cover that later.

Highs : I’m impressed by the way that the Elegia can provide an airiness and sparkle in the highs without crossing over into the harsh/bright territory. I’m personally very sensitive to sibilance, harshness, brightness or whatever you want to call it. This means things like the Beyerdynamic DT1990 or the Fostex T50RP are a no-go for me because the fatigue will start get to me after only a few minutes. The Elegia suffers from none of this. The top end gives a ton of detail, while being smooth enough to listen to and enjoy that detail for hours on end.

Timbre : This is something that I’ve just recently been paying attention to and will try to describe as best as I can. Where all my other headphones have a more plasticky sounding timbre, the Elegia could be best described as a little metallic. BUT, and this is a big but, I feel like that metallic nature is a quality that enhances the overall experience. I’m not sure if it’s a good analogy, and I don’t know if I’ve ever actually heard one, but it reminds me of how I think a full titanium car exhaust should sound. No, it’s probably not doing any favors for realism and is probably coloring the sound a bit, but I have come to really enjoy its smooth, strong character. It’s different from all my other headphones and actually brings to mind the Focal Utopia, that I’ve spent all too little time with. Fun fact, listening to the Utopia at Paragon Sight and Sound in Michigan is what caused me to look into Focal headphones, and end up buying the Elegia when it went on sale.

Scaling : Again, not much to say here, other than I’ve been running them off a Grace SDAC > Schiit Magni 3+, but ended up selling the Magni because my FiiO A3 did just as good a job, and also has a bass boost switch for when I need to feel more wub wubs.

I did notice a difference between the SDAC > A3 setup and something like my phone and the Hidizs Sonata HD. The phone/Sonata seemed to drive them OK, but was lacking in detail. I have not tried them with anything higher end than the Magni 3+, but I’d like to in the future.

Value :

So as mentioned a couple times before, I bought these on sale from Adorama when they were discontinued. I believe original MSRP was around $900, but ever since their discontinuation you can easily find them used in the $400-$500 range. I personally think that at that price, for an excellent sounding, well built closed back, even if you pretty much need to buy an aftermarket cable, these are an excellent option, if not the best. I highly recommend them!

10 Likes

Thought I’d link to soon to be announced closed backs from Focal, seems to be the Elegia’s replacement

2 Likes

I think, I read and viewed ALL reviews of the Elegia in the past couple of weeks and finally bought the B-stock (so-called because they are discontinued) from a German retailer.

Not another unboxing story but a few quick shots:

Curt and Roland and our Vietnamese puppets approve!

First listend to some vinyl (T4F, JM Jarre, Arcadia) and now listening at my desk (via my ifi ZEN DAC) and yes, it was the right decision. Comfort is great (as everybody said), and I have no trouble with bass (even with glasses). Seal is also good: already missed one Teams call - ops!

Some wow-tracks:

  • Supertramp - School
  • Saga - A brief case
  • Beatles - Get Back
  • Sting - Tea in the Sahara
  • Shy’m - Mes fantasies
  • Tears for Fears - Woman in Chains
  • … and anything Marcus Miller

Now, this will be a lovely long Easter weekend with lots of music …

6 Likes

Nice! Congrats on getting a pair. It’s good to see some love for the Elegia. I liked them very much when I auditioned them last year (if it weren’t for already having a pair of closed-back headphones and saving up for some other things, I’d have leapt on a pair).

Looking forward to reading more of your impressions!

5 Likes
3 Likes