Elegia Review by Drew
Elegia Headphones Review - Photo's don't do the Focal Elegia headphone justice. Their look and feel, something I love, is impossible to convey in a photograph. You experience Focal's new closed-back headphones value once you live and breathe with them. Once you've listened to them for long sessions over several days as I did, their outstanding performance in several areas is clear.
- Closed Versus Open
- Sound Field
Price to Performance
Elegia creates a new price to performance ratio for Focal. Focal's headphones aren't cheap, but in the ever-expanding headphones field, you get the sound quality you pay for these days. When introduced the Focal Elear was the best value in open back headphones. Now at $700, Elear is one of the best bargains in open-back headphones. I say the same is now right for the Elegia in the closed-back headphones market.
Comfort, comfort, and comfort is another thing Elegia has that I love. The velour earpads keep your ears cool even after hours of listening. Elegia feels super soft on my head. Elegia's pads reach around all sides to cup my medium-sized ears evenly. I couldn't wedge in a finger, so environmental noise is wiped out in favor of music. On the road or in a Starbucks music beats chaos.
Closed vs. Open
Closed and Open-back headphones are hard to compare. There are trade-offs to each. Headphones use air to project sound, to create a sound field also called a soundstage. Open-back cans get to use the air around them with the downside of sounds and noise creeping into what you hear.
Closed-back headphones can't tap the air around them to project sound. The Elegia depends on a powerful driver to play music and isolate noise. Noise isolating is a good description since Elegia shuts the noise out, so music comes flooding in.
Differences between closed and open-backed headphones make trying to compare Elegia to the Elear or Clear hard. There are times I prefer Elegia's sound and noise isolation over Elear, but Clear's openness and soundstage are hard to beat.
What do closed-back headphones do an open-back cant? Isolate. I can't take my Clear's to Starbucks. I couldn't hear my music. Open back headphones can be heard by people near you. So my musical choices may receive stares. Elegia's noise isolation means I disappear into the music even at Starbucks sitting next to a crying baby.
Elegia balanced across the sound spectrum like Clear but Elegia with a smaller sound field. Elegia's sound is more centralized in my head vs around my head. Open-back headphones create a more in-depth presentation. There are times when losing a little depth for the benefit of noise isolation is a must such as sitting in Starbucks.
Elegia appears to have a little dip in the 3.5 to 4.5k range nicely smoothing lower high-frequency sounds. Clear has slightly more top end energy.
Elegia headphone isn't midrange recessed. Mid-recession is in the 500 to 2k range. Interestingly in this sound range, Elegia tests a little higher than Clear. Elegia has slightly more bottom end weight to its sound. Clear is snappier and faster-paced. Elegia's flat response means they would be good studio headphones where noise isolation is essential. Studio recording engineers who've used Elegia we'd love to hear from you, please email your reactions to drew (at) Moon-Audio.com.
As a portable headphone, Elegia has a lower impedance and slightly higher sensitivity when compared to other Focal Headphones. Elegia was easy to drive with the Astell & Kern and Questyle digital players I tote around. I do suggest adding a player or a digital to analog converter (DAC) for optimal sound (see my suggestions below).
Elegia is average size. We own headphones that are bigger. Elegia's size falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. The other reason I love Elegia for road warriors is the best-engineered travel case on the market. It's easy to throw Elegi's case in just about any travel bag.
Focal departed from providing multiple cables with this one. They offer a single cable for a 3.5mm plug with a 1/4" adapter. I would love to see either a 2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced cable for portable use, but I Focal was trying to hit a price.
If you need a balanced cable, we have you covered. As mentioned, Focal Elegia and Clear are great cans capable of exciting any audiophile or music lover's ears, great headphones with different uses. When you're at home and the dog is the only one in the room Beck, Gaga, and Jackson sound amazing via Clear. At an airport, Starbucks or on the road pack Elegia's case and a pair of Silver Dragon cables.
Read Moon Audio Ambassador Marty Smith's Quiet Refined Elegia review to understand why we recommend Silver Dragon cables. Silver dragon cables add more top end energy and detail while tightening and controlling this closed-back can's powerful bass moving Elegia's sound closer to Clear's ability to push all that air. And if, like me, you'd like a balanced cable we've got you covered.
While you don't need the most powerful headphones amplifier out there, I do suggest driving Elegia with something. Here are some combinations to help optimize your Elegia's sound:
- Silver Dragon
(Select Silver Dragon when buying Elegia from us or go to Silver Dragon headphone cable V3 to upgrade to a balanced cable)
Digital Audio Players (DAPs)
(select 2.5mm TRS Balanced in Amplifier Connection Options)
DACs & Headphone Amps
- Chord Mojo (Apple cck needed for iPhone and we suggest Silver Dragon USB for the best sound see our CCK/Silver Kit)
- Sony PHA-3 (works directly with iPhone)