Focal Utopia Open Back Headphones
$10,000 Headphones for much less
Leave it to a French speaker maker to change headphones design in epic ways. Focal built on 35 years of high-end speaker designs to create a revolution in headphone sound, design, and comfort. Thanks to Focal’s lambskin leather these high-end headphones are comfortable headphones. Focal’s headphone tech is a big part of why they sound so good. The driver is similar to their voice coil. There is no trapped air behind the dome so your music sounds better with a great DAC or headphones amp.
Please Note: Utopia, Clear, and Elear headphones require an external DAC and amplifier. They cannot be plugged into a portable device such as an iPhone or android smartphone. We recommend the Chord Hugo 2 DAC headphone amp with the Black Dragon Premium Cable or our original Black Dragon headphone cable.
Suddenly our best selling Black Dragon audio cable is the cable Drew developed for Focal’s Utopia headphones. We’ve sold our Utopia Black Dragon cable around the world. If you want the best sound out of the best headphones, level up to Dragon audio cables.
First Fully Open Back Speaker-Like Headphones
Utopia is the only full range fully open back loudspeaker design built headphones in world. The acoustic quality of the pure Beryllium formed "M" shape dome achieves an outstanding frequency response from 5Hz to 50kHz! When listening these headphones disappear revealing your music’s precision, realism, dynamics, and clarity. Comfort and durability define the headphones aesthetic.
Removing the conventional yoke in favor of integration into the headband creates great design and comfort. The pittards leather, used in Utopia’s cushions, reinforces classical and elegant lines. Epic sound, great design, and comfort live together in France.
Moon Audio Customer Reviews discuss sound speed, clarity and warmth. “...the Utopia has it all: presence, warmth, clarity, articulation, and balance.
"I couldn’t be happier with them,” Peter notes in his Utopia headphones review.
We love John P Wirick’s Utopia quiz:
What do the Utopias sound like? (Select all that apply)
C. Both A and B.
The Utopias sound like nothing: Nothing between you and the music. Nothing you have yet experienced. The Utopias sound like everything: Everything on the recording as presented by Everything upstream in the audio chain. Everything is revealed. Nothing is hidden. Ahhhhh, Utopia!
You’ll find this pair of headphones so special Peter noted their “value”. What is the value of really hearing your music as if for the first time? For Peter and many others, the answer is Utopia.
Utopia headphones: Designed in France
The Utopia is the result of more than 35 years of innovation, development, and manufacturing of speakers and loudspeakers in France. As a world first, Utopia features the only full range and fully open back loudspeaker built within a pair of headphones, using pure Beryllium formed in the brand new "M" shape dome.
The acoustic quality of this exclusive solution allowed Focal to avoid the use of any crossover or passive filtering process to achieve a frequency response from 5Hz to 50kHz!
The listening experience is outstanding in terms of realism, natural sound reproduction, dynamics, and clarity. When listening to the Utopia, the headphones virtually disappear and the audio signal is revealed with a level of precision never achieved until Utopia.
Design is also a key point, be it in regards to the way of using the headphones, comfort, as well as the aesthetic. Another achievement with Utopia is the removal from the conventional rotation included on the yoke and its integration into the headband to ensure a total purity of the design.
The Pittards leather, used on the cushions, reinforces the character of classically elegant lines, as well as the expression of comfort and overall performances.
- 50 mm diameter
- Only 70 microns thanks to the NBR Material
- The lightest surround never made
- Innovation coming from K2 Power
- 40 mm diameter
- Beryllium for Utopia
- First voice coil without any support
- 25 mm diameter and 4,4 mm high
- The smallest and lightest voice coil never made
- Total weight:135 mg
Beryllium « M » shape dome
For a tweeter the deciding factor is the MASS of the dome. The lighter the dome, the better the acceleration of the dome. Resolution is directly proportional to acceleration, rigidity and damping!
- Beryllium is 13 times more rigid in flexure than Aluminum
- Sound velocity in Beryllium is 2,5 times faster than Aluminum
- Very good thermal conductivity
- Very hard: scratch the glass
- 7 times more rigid than Titanium or Aluminum at the same mass
- Extended Frequency response up to 40 kHz
- Undoubtedly the best stiffness to weight ratio
- High internal damping
- Handcrafted in France
- Open back circum-aural
- Low noise with the least distortion we've heard
- Full range “loudspeaker-like” sound
- Patent Pending Pure Beryllium “M” shape dome with no air behind it
- Easily adjustable to any head size or shape
- Balanced cable (bi-amp)
- Leather headband
- Pittard leather cushions
- Carbon fiber yoke
- Easy cable customization
- Circum-aural open back headphones
- 80 Ohms
- 104dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz
- <0,2% @ 1kHz / 100dB SPL
- Frequency response
- 5Hz - 50kHz
- 137⁄64“ (40mm) pure Beryllium “M” shape dome
- 1.08lb (490g)
- Cable length
- 13.1ft (4m)
- 1 x Jack 01/4“ (6.35mm) stereo
2 x 03⁄8“ (9.5mm) Lemo®
- Carrying case
- 12.8" x 10.2" x 6.5" (326mm x 260mm x 164mm)
- Rigid carrying case with magnet locking system
- 13.1ft (4m) OFC cable (1 x Neutrik® 01/4“ (6,35mm) stereo Jack Neutrik® 2 x shielded 03⁄8“ (9.5mm) Lemo® connectors with self-locking bayonet system)
- 5-Year Warranty*
*The very first production batches of Elear and Utopia headphones contained some voice coil issues. To ensure the best warranty service possible, Focal has extended the coverage of these models to 5 years from original purchase date. If you experience any driver failure, please contact your local dealer.
I bought them as an upgrade to my HD 800Ss, and I'd agree with everything others have said here comparing the two. The Senns are a little cool and laid back, with a wider soundstage, and I'm still happily listening to them when I'm watching DVDs or streaming videos.
But for listening to music, the Utopias have it all: presence, warmth, clarity, articulation, balance. I couldn't be happier with them.
For the record, I listen primarily to classical, opera, and some jazz. The signal chain is PS Audio PerfectWave Transport and PerfectWave DirectStream Jr DAC linked by Cardas digital cable, IHA 1 Inspire headphone amp, and Black Dragon interconnects and Headphone cable.
Focal Utopia provides that extremely rare and precious vintage that is so very difficult to define but so eminently enjoyable that your senses and brain will thank you each time you sample it.
What do the Utopias sound like? (Select all that apply)
C. Both A and B.
Correct answer: You can�t go wrong with Utopia.
The Utopias sound like nothing: Nothing between you and the music. Nothing you have yet experienced.
The Utopias sound like everything: Everything on the recording as presented by Everything upstream in the audio chain.
Everything is revealed. Nothing is hidden. Ahhhhh, Utopia!
(Summary of many hours of happiness listening to Utopias with Silver Dragon cable attached to either iPad with Silver Dragon lightning cable and Oppo HA-1 or the better sounding Melco HA-N1 with a Silver Dragon USB cable and a Chord Hugo2. As a classically trained musican (french horn and voice) who has been buying audio gear since 1975, hearing the Melco push well recorded 96/24 or 192/24 through the Hugo2 and the Utopias is the best combination of Nothing and Everything that I have ever heard.)
I was initially disappointed with the lower bass of the Utopia, but was amazed at the resolution and detail. Even well recorded 44/16 music sounded awesome. I still think low bass is a bit lean but not more so than say the HD800(s). I said (perhaps) lean base ... not lacking base.
I do agree that they sound less ... spacious than the HD800S but do think they have even more clarity'.
Fit and finish is first class and they feel substantial (others might say heavy) but I can listen for hours and for days on end and still not find them uncomfortable.
Glad I have the HD800S, but my 'go to' headphone for very serious listening will first be the Utopia.
I've been reading about Focal's foray into the Headphone game - they made a big splash in 2016 with two amazing units - a Flagship / TOTL pair, and what many consider as the best value in the headphone world (relatively speaking). Jude�s video with the Focal representative was another big push in the direction of appreciating the technical aspects of the design.
White Paper that I found on Focal's website to be a very good read:
The Focal Utopia and Elear. A friend got a pair of the Elears on a demo program......didn't like them at first with the tube set up he prefers with his Sennheiser HD800's. He changed tubes, it got better.......changed again and, WOW! He was very impressed......well, that meant a lot to me because I view him as very established ears......and his preferences and mine typically align.
That recommendation enticed me to set up a demo at Moon Audio in Cary, NC. Drew provided me plenty of time to evaluate the various headphones, and he set it up so I could use my FiiO DAP to play music I was familiar with. I spent about 1.5 hours between the Focal Utopia (w/Black Dragon cable) and Elear (w/Silver Dragon cable) and Fostex TH900 (Zoltis mods and stock cable). The Utopia�s head stage, imaging, frequency response, and dynamics was overwhelmingly good compared to the Elear and especially the Fostex TH900. In particular, a track from Chris Jones, �Roadhouses & Automobiles� � the Fostex only reproduced about 60% of Chris�s low, full, chesty vocals. The track clinched it for me.
At that point.....I was going to do 1 of 2 things.....either pull everything out of the car and sell it to get the $'s to buy the Utopia or 'save up' for about a year or so to get them. Getting the Elear + a good cable was a very viable option.....but my psychosis is......I would always wonder......would what I'm hearing sound much better on the Utopia's.
I negotiated the purchase with my wife, and I was able to bring home the Utopia, a Black Dragon cable for the Utopia, and Drew made a Black Dragon RCA cable to run between my DAC and the Headphone Amplifier. I have been �burning them in� for the last few weeks, and I believe they have opened up beautifully. The staging and bass response seem to be better and the highs have settled in to perfect balance (I admit that these impressions may be psychoacoustics from feedback others have posted � but the sound has noticeably changed from when they were first connected).
Regarding comfort � the Utopia is heavier than the Fostex with similar clamping feel. I�m a very sensitive headphone wearer (unfortunately) � if the pads push into the mastoid process � I get a very sick, woozy sensation over time � and I have worn a Kevlar helmet for several years, so the top of my head is sensitive to pressure (reasons why the Audeze offerings can only spend about a minute at a time on my head). My Sennheiser HD650�s needed to be adjusted quite a bit to reduce the clamping pressure, but the Utopia is perfect. The pads are extremely comfortable, and they do not get warm like other pads I have demoed. So for me, I find the Utopia to be a very comfortable headphone � not the �barely there� feeling of the HD800 or the HiFiman HEK � but my friends this weekend at a mini-meet felt the Utopia was not heavy or uncomfortable at all.
My listening has been primarily through this chain: AURALiC Aries (source), AURALiC Vega (DAC), Moon Audio Black Dragon RCA, Eddie Current Zana Deux S, Moon Audio Black Dragon Utopia headphone cable. I probably have over 300 hours on the cans at this point, so they should be considered �broken in�. These headphones are fast�..they excel at fast paced music, but they are dynamic � even at low volumes. For some listeners � this may lead to fatigue or at least � as a headphone they can only listen to when they want to �critically� listen. I really haven�t found that to be the case � I have been listening to them for about 6 hours a day (changed jobs � working from home now before I start traveling again) � and I have not experienced fatigue. But comparing to the HEK this weekend, the Focals outpace the HiFiman with everything that I played. We noticed a bit better focus with the voice as well with the Utopia versus the HEK. We surmised that in an attempt to get wider staging, the voice is a bit diffuse with the HEK � but the Utopia has great width (IMO) without sacrificing the tight image of the voice.
Another interesting aspect of the Utopia � they are easy to drive, but they scale incredibly well. One reviewer said that if they are driven by a DAP or similar portable solution, they loose some detail, but they don�t loose their overall character. I found them to be very enjoyable to listen to out of the FiiO X5iii and the Mojo. I felt they were amazing out of Drew�s Pass Labs HPA-1 solid state amp, and my friends DNA Stratus, my EC ZDS, and my friend�s Trafomatic Head2. This amp brings up an interesting point as well � the Utopia is easy to drive, but there was a very nice improvement in bass presence and overall impact when they were driven by the more powerful Head2 amp. This amp puts out 2 watts @ 50 ohm, and that increased power over the ZDS provides a �weight� to the sound � dynamics even at low volumes.
The overall sense of the sound on all amps was that the frequency response was very linear � the headphones excel in the highs, mids, and lows � there is no weakness (to my ears � confirmed with three fellow listeners this weekend). So, in summary � I find these to be the most incredible sounding headphones I have had the privilege to listen to, they offer really good comfort, and they have top-notch aesthetics (to me anyway).
My friend Vernon's take away from the time spent with the Utopia at the meet:
- I think its level of detail retrieval is on par with the HD800 without some of the analytical sounding tone that comes with the HD800. Never felt like I was missing out on details
- Very balanced frequency response without any noticeably distracting spikes
- Seemed to be a genre master. It could play fast songs with authority and slower songs with delicacy
- Great sense of focus and very musical while having top notch technicalities. Very hard to find in headphones
- Build quality is superb. Love that carbon fiber band. Classy looking pair of headphones as well
- Cable swaps seem to make a noticeable difference in tonality
- Extremely comfortable for me, though I didn't wear it for several hours in order to determine if the level of comfort applies over time
- Sounded excellent out of every system we tried, which likely means it's easy to drive
Cons: (Really nitpicky here, as it was tough to think of any...)
- With the stock cable, there was a tendency towards a mildly hot treble with some passages
- Soundstage is above average, but not 'ethereal' as commonly attributed to the HD800
- Bass seems like the most scalable aspect of the Utopia, but that may or may not be a good thing
- Mad expensive
- Stock cable is unruly
Favorite amps with the Utopia were the ZDS w/Sophia tube and the Trafomatic Head 2
ZDS for its capability to showcase the Utopia at its finest and the Trafomatic Head 2 for its sheer authority to turn the Utopia into a rage machine with finesse
My friend Tom's take away from the time spent with the Utopia at the meet:
The fast speed and high resolution of the Utopia was obvious the minute I put it on. These contributed to the high dynamic nature of these phones. For me, it surpassed my HD800 in both of these aspects. The Utopia� sound was also very punchy, reminding me of the HE6 I used to own. Both of them gave me some aspects of listening to hi-fi speakers, such as the sense of power, authority and ironclad control. But the HE6 is less resolving than the HD800 and one more level lower than the Utopia.
I felt the sound of the Utopia was overall quite forward, a little over my comfort zone. But here I should add a cautionary note. This was the first time for me to listen to it and my experience may change over time should Jason let me have more time with it over several occasions. I recalled that the HE6 also sounded very forward the first couple times I listened to it but before long it ceased to sound like that to me. Assuming the forwardness was true for a minute, I thought it might be engendered by some emphasis on the mid-bass (tight and punchy), and some emphasis in the high mid and in some treble bands.
I agree with Vernon who pointed out that the Utopia was free of the spikes present with the HD800s. Even with two types of modifications to the 800�s and a Norne Draug 2 cable, my HD800 still has residual problems with the artificial treble spikes. In contrast, the Utopia had no such problems at all. It is a truly remarkable achievement considering how resolving the Utopia is and it does so without an exaggeration of the edges. This is also an indication that the HD800 might have a tendency to present false details manifested as some of those spikes.
With the above cautionary note, I do wish the Utopia could move a little towards the relaxing sound signature of the HEK. For instance, the mid-bass was very tight and impactful from the Utopia but the extension to the sub-bass was somewhat lacking. The HEK was much better in this aspect. I am very sensitive to the tightness of the mid-bass and prefer a tuneful bass range with a moderate level of energy. Another example was that while I like the aliveness and beautiful timbre of violins with the Utopia, I wish the sound could soften and darken a little for better conveying of mood states. The same thing could be said about cello sound. I prefer a little less bass energy to convey certain emotions that are supposedly at relatively low energy levels.
I read earlier that many felt the soundstage of the Utopia was on the small and close-in side. I think the size and shape of its soundstage were both decent. Plus the imaging and separation were very, very good. One thing I want to mention was that with some tracks, I clearly detected a spherical border of the soundstage: everything was clear and alive inside of the border; outside of it sounds abruptly disappeared. I thought this might be one of the reasons why some listeners perceived a close-in soundstage. In contrast, the HEK and HD800 did not create the impression of such a border. Sometimes, if I closed my eyes while listening to my HD800, the stage seemed to extend endlessly. Anyway, likely due to that I do not often listen to large orchestra works, the Utopia�s soundstage was not an issue to me. It has its own characteristics but not necessarily a shortcoming. The Utopia�s soundstage might help create an enhanced sense of realism and immersiveness.
And, last but certainly not least, I had a wonderful buying experience with Drew, Nichole, and Martin. I want to thank Drew for answering questions via phone and email � for setting up a wonderful demo experience � for getting the cables done so quickly � and for making the exchange of the 5� headphone cable for the 10� cable so easy when I was knucklehead with my order. Moon Audio is an excellent company with wonderful people and top shelf products!