Review of Focal Utopia Open-Back Headphones
If you are an enthusiastic music listener, you need quality audio gear to give you the best listening experience. Quality audio gears are quite expensive, and the more you spend on audio equipment, the experience is typically even better. Perhaps, listening to music is so important to you that you don’t care about the money. Then you would be a “no budget audiophile,” meaning that you are willing to spend whatever it takes to ensure the perfect listening experience- You want something more than just the best listening experience; you want luxury. Then perhaps our review on the Focal Utopia Open-Back Headphones will pique your interests.
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There are a lot of audiophile-grade headphones in the market right now that can enable you to experience that. A lot of them are excellent. But some of them stand out amidst all of these good headphones. And since they are so expensive, it probably makes you wonder what makes them so valuable.
Even if these headphones are expensive, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are overpriced or not worth it. And the Focal Utopia Open-Back is a testament to this. This is a gorgeous piece of equipment that represents a modern edge – the highest level of cutting-edge tech. Whether you can afford it or not, it definitely deserves your attention. So, let’s see what makes this headphone worth the 4000$ price tag.
The unboxing experience will give you a taste of the luxury you paid for. It comes in a premium leather box with red stitching. The leather box, along with the red accent, is very much visually pleasing. After you open the box, you will see the headphone secured in dense foam padding.
The top cover of the box is also padded so as to ensure that the headphone stays secured in its place. It is attached with a red ribbon with the box so that it doesn’t fall backward either. The box is designed to ensure maximum protection to the headphone. You will find a flap beside the headphone as well. Opening the flap will give you access to cables and other accessories that comes with the headphone.
Design and Build Quality
The Focal Utopia Open-Back headphones feature an aggressive design, which you will realize right after taking a glance at it. It is distinctive, beautiful, and very pleasing to look at.
The frame of the headphone is made out of carbon fiber to make it light, and to ensure the best comfort and structural integrity. This headphone has a combination of glossy and matte black finishing with a touch of silver accent around the Focal logo on the earcup faceplate; this adds more depth to its design. Many people might find black finishing or the less use of color boring, but we personally prefer it because it gives the perfect luxurious vibe.
The headband is constructed out of carbon fiber, and so it is very flexible. It is padded with lambskin leather, which is very premium. The earpads are also made out of very soft materials and covered with lambskin leather as well.
The earcups are made out of metal. The sides have a glossy finish, and the faceplate features a matte metal finish with silver accent Focal branding. There is metallic mesh too, as it is an open-back headphone.
Overall, the build quality is reliable and durable. You are getting what you are paying for. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should use roughly and rely on the build quality. Handle it with as much care as possible; we wouldn’t even lay a single scratch on these beauties.
Despite the carbon fiber frame, the materials and tech used in this headphone make it quite heavy. But the Focal Utopia Open-Back is designed to make sure that you feel the lowest weight possible.
The headband is quite flexible and provides a decent clamping force. It is padded too. So, your head will not be able to feel it after using it for a while. The earcups are extremely cushiony and comfortable as well. Along with the subtle clamping force, will ensure a decent fit around your ears. The earcups are rotatable, and since the frame is so flexible, it gives you all the freedom you need. You won’t feel even the slightest discomfort moving your head around.
This is a circum-aural open-back headphone that is made for listening to music in a quiet environment. So, with these headphones, make sure to sit comfortably in a quiet place and enjoy it to its fullest. The Focal Utopia Open-Back is mechanically designed so that it can fit and head side. So, fitting won’t be an issue. Besides, this headphone features loudspeakers that are full range made out of beryllium with an M shaped dome. It comes with a balanced cable that separates the channel for easy and fast bi-amp solutions.
This headphone also comes with a 9.8ft OFC cable, a 6.35mm Neutrik stereo, two shielded Lemo connectors that have a bayonet system, which comes with a self-locking feature. Apart from that, they have an impedance of 80 Ohms, the sensitivity of 104dB SPL / 1mW a 1kHz. This headphone comes with a sturdy carrying case with a magnetic locking system.
If you’re going to spend a lot of money on headphones, you would obviously want them to sound amazing. And this headphone will not disappoint you; it will rather give you an experience like never before. Using the best quality source is mandatory to do justice to this pair of headphones.
The bass response is incredible, in one word. Open-back headphones usually produce very flat bass, but it is a totally different picture for these headphones. The bass offers the perfect punch, which you will love if you are a fan of hip-hop music.
It’s impressive how the mids sound so soothing with this headphone. It smoothens out tracks that would typically seem a bit harsh on some of the best headphones out there. However, the upper mid ends get a bit resonant, which is something that you don’t want from headphones that are so expensive.
The treble is not consistent either, it is rather a bit uneven. However, the raised mid-frequency is not likely to create any sort of fatigue. Open-back headphones emphasize the soundstage, and this headphone is no exception. The staging is just outstanding; you can’t expect anything better than this.
What are the different types of headphones?
There are mainly 5 different headphone designs.
Also known as supra-aural headphones, on-ear headphones are the best portable option. Their weight and smaller size (in terms of ear cups) make them easy to carry everywhere. And, if you get a good model, you’ll get a sleek, status gear that sounds and looks great. Thanks to their smaller size, these headphones are a stable fit – ideal for workout sessions. On-ear headphones are needed where big over-ear ones just won’t make sense. Traveling DJs can be seen carrying these from one party to another.
Over-ear headphones are also known as circumaural headphones and are the biggest in the size. This is the typical headphone image that pops in your mind when you think “headphones.” Since the earcups on these are extra-large and cover the whole ear, they get the name “over-ear.” They’re the best option when sound quality and comfort are primary concerns. Think relaxing at home while listening to your favorite tunes, or studio use. If you don’t have to worry about sweat protection, portability, or if the sound leakage will both others, get over-ear headphones.
The smallest variants in the bunch, in-ear headphones are also called earbuds or buds. However, this isn’t exactly their real name. The appropriate name for in-ear monitors. Most people know and love them as earbuds, which is why we have adapted to the more common style of terms. In-ear headphones sit inside your ears, earning them the name. Generally, a tube reached inside your ear canal to transmit the music source as close as possible to your eardrums. This helps with sound quality and noise isolation. You can get them for both wired and wireless options. Wireless earbuds are rather popular these days.
Closed-back headphones can easily be distinguished by the headphone cap’s hard enclosure. This kind of headphones is usually more immersive and delivers a better listening experience. On the downside, they offer close to no situational awareness, meaning you will be completely isolated from the outer world. If you’re working in noisy environments, closed-backs will be your best friend.
Open-back headphones don’t include a cover on the exterior of the cup, resulting in sounds going straight out into the world. These headphones deliver more of a natural listening experience, but could easily be distracting for others around you. Open-back headphones are best for listening at home or going out on a run – basically when you’ll benefit from the airy sound quality and situation awareness they offer. More on that later.
What are the benefits of open-back headphones?
Open-back headphones offer quite a few advantages.
Better sound quality: In general, most audiophile-quality headphones feature superior ventilation. The ability to breathe without obstacles due to the pressure paired with a typically more of the open and head listening experience bring open-back headphones relatively closer to a true HiFi speaker system. The result? It’s a very expansive and airy sound.
Bye-bye sweaty ears: If your ears aren’t encapsulated in a small box, the air circulation prevents sweating – at least that’s what you’d expect to happen. Open-back headphones remove the problem of heat build-up after prolonged use, giving you a more comfortable listening experience.
Weight: Closed-back headphones are much heavier in comparison to their open-back counterparts. The reason behind this is the usage of excess material in certain compartments to balance out other specifications.
Improved driver options: Open-back headphones are much more developed when it comes to driver technology. By deciding to get open-back headphones, you can make the choice from a wide range of technologies and designs that are far more mature in comparison to their closed-back brethren.
How to do mixing with closed-back headphones?
Open-bac designs feature grills exposing the drivers to the exterior, ultimately reducing resonant cavity effects and delivers some cross-fade to your ears. That’s why the sound on these is more “airy” and natural. However, they aren’t of help during tracking for performers since the sound will leak into your mic recordings. But the main reason people choose between open-back and closed-back headphones is due to the factors of comfort and sound quality.
Almost all brands of open-back headphones are far more comfortable than closed-back ones. There’s airflow and the head can easily escape, preventing any sort of unnecessary warmth buildup which would also cause perspiration. And when it comes to sound quality, the open-back headphones offer a wide, deeper, almost more spacious listening experience. The completely immersive feeling is something you could never get with the closed-back versions. You can hear all the instruments separately; the entire 3D experience will surely wow you.
How to make the sound quality better from headphones?
Even after you’ve chosen the best headphones within your budget with a stunning sound signature, there are still a few more ways you can improve the sound quality – take it from great to fantastic! After all, headphones are the last element of a long chain connecting your ears and the music. To elevate your listening experience, try these tips and tricks:
Properly burn-in your headphones: Right out of the box, your headphone speakers can sound quite shallow, shrill, and downright nasty. However, after a few hours of use, the transformation is dramatic, and they sound full-bodied, warm, and cohesive. Try leaving your brand new pair playing music overnight at least 70% volume. By morning, they would sound much better.
Listen to HQ music: You can only get the full musical experience when your source content is delivering high-resolution music to your headphones. In today’s world, music streaming services have become the norm – the default source of our music.
Get a DAC: Although many people choose to listen from their PC or Mac, smartphones are the general source of music for the lion’s share of the population. A DAC or digital to analog converter chip converts digital music files into an analog signal output that your phone can process. Phones, laptops, or any electronic device with a 3.5mm output contains an inbuilt DC. Sadly, the DACs in most smartphones don’t do nearly as much as we would like. Get a dedicated DAC to truly immerse yourself in the sound.
All in all, we won’t be talking about whether the 4000$ price tag is reasonable or not, because that entirely depends on your preference and budget. Besides, the Focal Utopia Open Back headphone is now available at a much lower price, which is a matter of consideration. Other than that, we admit that this headphone has its flaws, but we cannot overlook how incredible the design and quality of these headphones are either. So, it’s your call!