Focal Utopia 2022 - Dynamic Driver Over-Ear Open-Back Headphones - Official Discussion Thread

I own the Utopia 2022s and also just ordered the McIntosh MHA200 headphone amp

I also have a RME ADI Pro SE Dac/Amp

Will the Utopia 2022, coupled with the RME Adi Pro SE dac be good pairings with the MHA200? Anyone recommend good tube upgrades over the stock tubes? Looking for holographic sound stage

1 Like

@MRHifiReviews reviewed this. He may be able to chime in.

Not sure but he may have tried the Utopia 22 on the MHA.


Hi @scfsanfran I will take a look at the tubes I bought for the MHA200 I have at home tonight and let you know as they are a bit less forward-sounding in the midrange and a bit more dimensional sounding than the stock MHA200 tubes.

To answer your other question about that pairing, I think Utopia 2022 sounded great with the MHA200 fed by my Chord DACS, which is another thing I would recommend looking at for better soundstage replication.

The RME Adi Pro SE DAC is a good DAC, but I think the Utopia 2022 can benefit from a Chord DAC in sound stage performance, amongst other things, and I feel they also have good synergy for my preferences.

I run the MHA200 with a Hugo 2 as well as a Hugo TT2 as a DAC, but you don’t have to spend that big, and even the more affordably priced Mojo 2 creates a more dimensional sound and better transients for my preferences.


Thanks for the response @MRHifiReviews !


@MRHifiReviews dropping info as always :smile:

1 Like

Since the RME ADI Pro SE is also an amp, is there a setting I need to select on the RME since I’ll be feeding it into the McIntosh MHA200 amp? Or a pre-out setting?

You’ll be using the XLR outputs from the RME, which are not driven by the amp section. However, do note that the RME’s line outputs are always variable level … so the RME’s volume control will affect the level of signal going to the MHA200.

You’ll need to choose an appropriate output reference level so that you can set the RME to 0 dBR on its volume, that also doesn’t cause the input stage of the MHA200 to clip. Try +1 dBu to start with.


@Torq thanks for this!

Not to be too critical but it does have a subbass roll off that I could hear too. Is there a dynamic open back headphone that achieves a nice deep subbass extension or is it only planars so far?

Generally planars yeah. There are some with sub bass but IMO just EQ that stuff in.

I no longer EQ after reviewing gear it just makes it so hard to compare if your constantly set up EQ haha…but i do use the ifi bass boost that can correct for this. I was thinking today that the audeze mm-100 has better subbass extension than…a $5000 headphone lol…

1 Like

Yeah that’s the planar advantage. There are some open DD headphones - or semi-open - that have full bass extension, like I think some of the ZMFs do. But also in the lower end the HD 560 S has surprisingly good bass extension for an open back DD.

While this is almost certainly true, I would argue that it’s an oversimplification and misses the broader point of what more expensive headphones are generally about. I don’t think it’s particularly hard to make a headphone that’s really good at a single aspect (e.g. bass extension) - and to be better at that one thing than headphones many times its price. What’s really difficult it to make a headphone that’s exceptional at many things, and that’s what you’re often paying for when you’re in the flagship range. The beauty and intrigue of this hobby is that no single headphone is better than all the others at everything, and every manufacturer has their own take on what tradeoffs to make. Then you, as the consumer, with your own preferences, can decide which cans match your taste the best.

So, do most planars (at most price points) have better bass extension than a Utopia? Sure! But what about detail, timbre, frequency response, macrodynamics, punchiness, and so on? Many folks - myself included - would trade subjective superiority in those areas for sub bass heft.


There is no perfect headphone but I am always looking for it! I agree I honestly think focal utopia is in my top 5 favorite headphones. It truly one of the best looking and built headphones. I think part of me just wishes it HAD better subbass than it would check all my boxes!