Focal Stellia Closed-Back Headphones - Official Thread


Me like!


Oooh… that’s just mean!


If one does not have the ability to audition, which is often why people go to forums seeking advice, impressions, reviews, etc. then how can one get an idea as to what great sound quality is “for far less than one needs to spend on a similar rig” if there are no reviews or impressions posted of the more expensive rig we are trying to approach for far less? If for example you want to get the closest possible to an expensive vinyl rig for far less and using a DAC, would it not be useful if someone posted a review of a $2500 DAC that does indeed get you close and that goes toe to toe with much more expensive DACs and the same or different reviewer posts that another DAC half the price gets you 85- 90% to where the $2300 DAC gets you?


While we discuss the neutral colors of high end headphones, the IEM world’s most popular and expensive IEMs are green, gold, orange, etc (i’m talking about Andromedas, Solaris, Tia Fortes, U18T, Kaisers, etc) or customized with crazy designs.


Joke mode: Size matters. Are they compensating for something?





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I’m not sure what you’re getting at here (or perhaps don’t understand why what you’re saying is addressed in response to something I posted.
With the statement you quoted, I was simply trying to say that headphone listening (up until several years ago at any rate) was often seen as and pursued as a way to get great, even exceptional SQ for far less $ than a full sized speaker & amp set up.
Within what seems a very short period of time (at least to me) many seem to be spending close to (if not as much) as many used to spend on an excellent full-sized speaker based set-up.

Of course there were exceptions (when aren’t there with anything)? eg Sony R10s, Sennheiser Orpheus, Stax (and even the short-lived Sony “Qualia” headphones come to mind.

These days however, it seems many more people are willing to drop three price of a great, dedicated component & speaker set-up on headphone gear. There are obviously many factors involved; but I was simply making an observation.
Perhaps a personal example to demonstrate what I’m trying to say will help.

I believe the reason I was invited to join this forum was because I purchased gear from HeadRoom several years ago, around 2009-2010 if memory serves (it often doesn’t these days but the exact date is unimportant :wink:
I purchased a Mini-stack, which at the time, while not exorbitant, was considered by most a fair amount to invest on a headphone set up. Of course one could spend a lot more at that time; but it certainly wasn’t considered “the norm” and many (if not most) people who listened to music through headphones at the time, did so with lesser gear.

These days, dropping the cost of a HeadRoom Micro-Stack seems more the norm than an exception with many (again…if not most) people who use headphones as their preferred listening set-up (for whatever reason.
As I said in my initial posts (which seemed to garner some quick replies) there is a great deal that went unaddressed because there is a great deal to unpack regarding the fairly recent phenomenon of many people spending a great deal of money on what was often seen by many to be an “economical” way to get great sound. What seems economical is obviously different to people with varying degrees of disposable income.
I fear I’ve entered a rabbit hole that I’m ill prepared or unwilling to explore completely. And perhaps what I’m trying to say has been very expressed poorly. Please feel free to delete my comments if they’re not in any way helpful (or the managing team feels no one can relate to any thoughts/impressions I have attempted to express). I’m hardly an expert on anything! (I hope tye typos aren’t too bad as I’m using a phone again :wink:

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Aww, dude, it’s not that. You just haven’t kept up with the prices of good speakers and amps. You kind of begin to reach the mid-fi / hi-fi border band with speakers in the $5K-$10K range, with many solid lower hi-fi choices in $10k-$17k. Flagship Maggies list at $29K, midrange Wilson Audio and Magico $30-45K.

It’s real easy to spend silly money anywhere. My favorite headphone is my Infiniti Q50s.

PS: I limit my spending on wires and patch cords to about $300… So I’m not one of those spending silly money.

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We all have our vices…and only this one life to live(unless you believe otherwise) but when I’m gone I can’t exactly spend the money I made… :wink:

I intend to leave my daughter an inheritance… But I also intend to do what I want in the meantime :grin:


Any comment from Focal about having 2 flagship with 2 different connectors?

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Sorry, I now see that I misinterpreted your last post and that my response was completely inappropriate.

For me, the headphone
listening experience has always been a significant compromise compared to a modest speaker rig; the claustrophobia, the physical discomfort, the very unnatural in-your-head experience, the bizarre placement of instruments , the lack of tonal balance, the sheer danger of being a knob stroke away of piercing my eardrums, etc.Using headphones was something I would only do because I had no other choice. It wasn’t until I discovered high end gear that I felt the trade off was worth it and that’s why I have invested almost as much into my headphone setup as my other system. Well, that and the fact that apartment living forces me to spend more time using headphones but I never thought I would say that I enjoy headphones almost as much as my speaker rig until now. I also don’t think I would have been able to say that 10 years. Advancement in the sound quality of headphones compared to speakers seems to have been fast and furious.


Maybe we should start a speakers v headphones topic. I love the detail of good headphones. I love the air movement of decent speakers. I love the portability of headphones. I love the stability of speakers.
There is nothing like a good headphone. There is nothing like a good speaker. There is nothing like a good live performance, nothing at all.


As a counterpoint, I’d offer this Stereophile Review of the HD600 from 1998, in which the HD600 is compared favorably to some Stax headphones. Even after 20 years, the HD6X0 series of headphones holds up quite well against the competition and many consider it (combined with a decent amp) all that they’d ever need.


I can agree to that but it is very much dependent on the type of music I am listening to and the nature of the recording. For example, some of those early stereo Blue Note jazz recordings where many of the instruments were hard panned; unless I am using an amp like the Phonitor X that has a mono control I can not listen to them using headphones. Conversely, minimalist electronic music, like that produced by Jon Hopkins I prefer listening to with headphones.


Good point and they are very affordable.

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Yeah, I almost categorically use some sort of crossfeed when listening with headphones. I really like 112db Redline Monitor for doing this in software.

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I love this thread. - Perhaps if more people wore better quality headphones and listened to more music, we could siphon away some of the negative energy from daily life that people unconsciously expose themselves to by watching streams of disposable and redundant time-sucking content over their $7 ear buds. - I also love staying informed to the specs and impressions of the higher-end multi-thousand dollar head-speakers. Though I’m not in a position to afford them presently, I know music in my life to be just as vital to my physical and emotional homeostasis as any great relationship, personal or professional. I love my Crack w/Speedball and HD600 combo for now. There is a “party” coming… for when I -will- be able to take that leap. I want to be as informed as possible for that inevitable moment! - Thank you all for your kind and thorough impressions and for being open… to the listening of others!


We are all adventurers on the same quest to Audiophile enlightenment…some find it in headphones, some in DACs, some in amps…other neophytes like speakers (joking and sarcasm “don’t tase me bro!”)

what I’m trying to say is, it is a journey specific to each individual but I think we can all appreciate others experiences and knowledge on the topic that we enjoy.

Plus at the end of the day that sweet joy of plugging into “your” favorite headphone chain and letting go with your favorite tracks or floating the sea of random playlists


I tried the Stellia this past Sunday at CanJam NY. They were hooked up to Focal’s new Arche DAC/amp. I only spent maybe 10-15 minutes listening and Focal had a very limited local library of music (I usually use a certain set of songs I’m extremely familiar with in order to compare to other headphones), but it was enough to hear a noticeable upgrade in clarity over the Elegia (my current daily drivers). That said, despite being close to the Utopia in price and quality, they didn’t give me that same “holy frig” first impression. I also thought they look a lot better in person than photos. When I first saw the announcement photos, I kinda hated the spider web design, but they’re pretty handsome in person. I’m still more of a “does it come in black?” guy when it comes to just about anything, but I wouldn’t not buy the Stellia just because of the design.