Focal Stellia Closed-Back Headphones - Official Thread

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#1
Specifications (from Focal)
  • Type: Circum-aural closed-back headphones
  • Impedance: 35 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 106dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz
  • THD: 0.1% @ 1kHz / 100 dB SPL
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz–40kHz
  • Driver: 1.6" (40mm) pure Beryllium “M” shape dome
  • Weight: 0.96lb (435g)
  • Cabes: 1 x 4ft OFC 24 AWG cable with 1/8" (3.5mm) TRS Jack connector
    1 x 10ft OFC 24 AWG cable with 4-pin XLR connector
    1 x Jack adapter,
    1/8" (3.5mm) female – 1/4" (6.35mm) male
  • Includes a hard-shell case

Although it was leaked yesterday, we were under embargo from talking about these headphones until today. Focal has made another closed-back, this time at $2999 with Beryllium drivers. The full specs are below:

We haven’t had the chance to see them in person yet so can’t comment on what the brown looks like in person but here are some lifestyle shots!

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SOLD: Focal Elegia - $549
Focal Stellia - Review & Impressions Index
#2

This should be very interesting!

The Elegia fell somewhere between the Elear and the Clear on technicalities, so I’ll be very interested to hear if the Stellia wind up falling between the Clear and the Utopia in the same regard - and how close to the Utopia they get.

Where the Elegia didn’t really need to elevate the bass or sub-bass over the Clear (and especially not over the Elear), I think many Utopia owners would argue that a 1-1.5 dB lift at the bottom end might not be unwelcome for the Stellia when compared to the Utopia.

Can’t wait to hear them!

As for the aesthetics … when I first saw the leaked images, I was very skeptical about that color scheme! I think the picture with the gloves provides a better perspective of what Focal were going for here, though. And in that perspective, I quite like them - though as with listening, the proof will be in how they are “in real life”.

I do know in the camera world, especially on the Leica end of it, this would have legions of people drooling all over them just on the basis of the aesthetics. Of course, that’s also a world where an Arte di Mano half-case with a neck and wrist strap (or finger loop) can easily run you $1,000+.

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#3

I read somewhere that they are using the Utopia drivers, it might have been the Verge article. Also the brown showing on the circles of the cups is apparently a layer of leather, also gleaned from the Verge article that @pwjazz posted in the Focal Elear deal chain.

Not sold on the color scheme…but I can appreciate the artistry of it, and the effort that went into making it a “luxury” item.

I’m a little more interested in the amp they announced as well.

Leather…leather everywhere! looks up and waves hand towards the sky

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#4

It says this article on Verge was 1 hour ago:

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#5

It looks like a variation of the Utopia driver. I’d guess the same Beryllium M-dome, surround/suspension, mounts etc. But for the published impedance, it has to have a different coil. And at 35-ohms, I would bet they’ve gone for the shorter depth coil winding like they did for the Elegia - something they can do due to the bass-reflex loading that a closed-back design permits (unless they’ve completely changed that up, but I doubt it).

As for the DAC/amp, the “Arche”, that’ll be interesting …

Dual mono, class A, with separate power-supplies for each channel, switchable drive modes, and presets (not sure if those are EQs or just drive mode/other configuration settings) for every Focal headphone model, fed from an AK 4490 DAC … which hits all the right check-points.

When I saw that in the leaked images, I had hoped it was a collaboration with NAIM and who’s gear is generally stellar (and also suitably expensive). Instead it looks like a partnership with Micromega.

The last Micromega product I heard (which I think is still current) was the MyDAC, and I thought it was thoroughly average at best (for 2012) - despite it garnering a smattering of awards. So hopefully that doesn’t let things down.

DAC/amps are an interesting space. All too often one side of the equation is weaker than the other. So it’s good to see that amp can take an external analog input (looks like singled-ended RCA only), and also that the DAC output can be accessed via RCA and XLR outputs.

Makes me wonder if using the analog inputs will disable access to the presets for Focal headphones - which will depend on what those actually do - I’d suspect if they’re EQ then it’s being done digitally, so either they’d not be available from an analog source, or the analog inputs would have to be run through and ADC, then the DSP, and finally back out via the DAC.

Guess we’ll learn more about that shortly!

Certainly intriguing though.

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#6

Color me intrigued. I just scanned the Verge article so didn’t pick up on the details, but as of right now I’m looking forward to seeing how these two shake out.

#7

PS. he’s pronouncing Elegia correctly now. :slight_smile:

update: still pronounces Elear wrong :frowning:

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#8

Must have been reading discord :stuck_out_tongue:

#9

Nope. I have never actually used discord before actually! I just saw this posted on HF

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#10

ah - there was a similar discussion haha

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#11

We should all start pronouncing it E-Leg-Ia …

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#12

I’ve not read the Verge article. I generally don’t. I can only take so much of the “entitled” and/or “poor me, these are too expensive” and/or “might have to skip my fancy-coffee” blathering before it sours me to everything else that spews out of the respective persons pie-hole/keyboard.

Not everything is meant for everybody or every pocket book, and whining about it achieves nothing.

There are a couple of other sites I don’t frequent for similar reasons.

That aside …

I just poked around in the press and then looked at Focal’s own releases and product pages for the stuff, especially for the Arche. Which have some details, but don’t answer my question about whether the analog input routes via an ADC or if the “presets” are EQ or just other settings (I’ll be surprised if they’re not EQ from the wording, but we’ll have to see).

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#13

Yeah, that is why I just scanned sped read the interesting bits. I can only take so much myself. Evaluate the thing on its merits, then let the price be known and if you like it and can afford it great, if not move on.

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#14

Whining is indeed unappealing (I’m currently working with my toddler on improving that particular behavior), but I don’t see anything wrong with pointing out that at that price there are other headphones that the reviewer prefers, like the LCD4z. There might be a better way to say it, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable to account for price in the discussion.

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#15

I have no issues with discussions about price, comparisons to alternatives (more or less expensive) and considerations of value.

It’s when a piece reads like the author feels entitled or is otherwise a borderline sob-story that the thing is out of the reviewers reach, is “unfairly” priced (which is different to it being unreasonably priced for reasons of relative price/performance), then it just sours the piece and my opinion of the reviewer for me.

Others are different I’m sure.

I don’t visit the Verge anymore because that’s been my perpetual takeaway from their reviews for anything beyond “mass-market” pricing - and not just for audio gear.

It’s more about how it’s addressed than that it’s addressed.

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#16

Fair enough. In the case of this particular Verge article, the author fairly well gushes about the “sumptuous” build quality and describes the Stellia as a proper luxury item. He even concludes with “I can’t dictate to anyone what a particular gadget or product is worth, because each person’s budget and circumstances will differ”, which sounds an awful lot like your admonishment that “not everything is meant for everybody or every pocket book”.

I very rarely read The Verge, so I may have lucked out in that this is one of their better pieces of headphone review, but other than being a bit light on sonic impressions, I didn’t find it off-putting.

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#17

I just found it long in the tooth, and like you said not much substance in the areas I would care about to put forth the effort to read the whole thing.

Luckily I am decent at scan reading and determining if I should a actually read a thing. But I think value and cost are things to consider, but shouldn’t be detractors on somethings performance.

Also value is a relative thing just like sound so let us be careful in this conversation, by not putting anyone on the defensive/offensive. We all live by our individual means.

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#18

Vlad, the headphone guy for The Verge, seems to be getting better at writing reviews on audio gear as he’s gotten more hands on with more stuff over varying price ranges. Some of his older articles were cringey IIRC.

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#19

The DAC/Amp combo strikes me as a “me too” product that they can jack up the price and make money on due to the Focal name. Seems like the kind of product someone who isn’t into headphones but has a shit ton of money would buy along with their Stellia. “You need a DAC and an amp to best enjoy your new headphones sir” “whats good?” “well…Focal does sell their own DAC/Amp combo unit called the arc…” “done.”

Anyhow. I could be wrong. Maybe it will be awesome.

@taronlissimore @andrew have you guys heard these yet? Any impressions?

#20

As one comfortably in the sub $500 range (for now), headphone gear would have to be a recognized “gold standard” for that kind of price. I certainly appreciate “luxury” appointments, but the function has to be there.

I get the sense that reviewers want to like these because they’re so pretty, but I bet those of you with true hi-fi kit would have another choice for their dream system.

That said, the Stellia are very pretty to me. I like the finishes, etc. But I think I’d like a flagship Sennheiser at that price point.

My 1.5 cents…

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