Focal Announces New Closed-Back Stellia Headphone, Arche DAC/AMP 

Focal’s newest member to the family fits right under the tentpole of the flagship $4,000 USD Utopia. The new Stellia ($3,000 USD) incorporates some of the same beryllium driver material as the Utopia, but in a closed-back design. On top of a similar yoke and headband framework, Focal applied revamped full-grain leather ear pads and learnings from the more recently released Elegia closed-back.

Some of the same surround, “M”–shaped dome and voice coil can be found within the innards of the “cognac and mocha color scheme” but new magnets and some internal bracing have been adjusted for an entirely new approach to fit alongside the France-based company’s Clear and Elear options.  A more mobile-friendly 35-ohm impedance has been applied to the equation along with high-end packaging that pushes for a blended line between audiophile and luxury markets. This is also reflected in the included detachable cable options, which now come with a longer 3m option for home (terminated in 4-pin XLR) and shorter 1.3m for on the go listening (3.5mm).

Focal has clearly taken an overarching look at the outward-facing style for the Stellia. Both the unique color of the headphone itself and the fancy carry case/faux leather wrapped packaging make it stand out from the rest of the line, if not audiophile headphones in general. Regardless, if this appeals to your individual preferences or not, it is still nice to see a complete package approach to a product launch at this price tag. Occasionally audiophile brands may lean a little too hard on the sonics and not enough on a full presentation when their wares clearly start to reach the orbit of a luxury goods category.

Alongside the new headphone is a new accompanying amplifier with built-in digital section called Arche ($2,500 USD). Developed in partnership with the hi-fi manufacturer MicroMega, the amplifier comes with a removable stand that slides into the top of the unit. The dual mono design of the Arche incorporates two AK4490 chipsets which feed two separate class-A, one-Watt channels. Conversion on the digital side includes up to DSD 256 with USB, COAX and TosLink and headphone connections for both the aforementioned 4-pin XLR and quarter-inch. Intended to be a companion for any of the high-end Focal headphones, the design includes two “integrated amplifiers (voltage and hybrid)” which, along with selectable presets, can be dialled into a specific headphone model. These presets are not actually EQ augmentations, but a more complicated state of affairs that includes adjustments to the voltage being sent to the selected headphone. They are intended to bring out the best in Focal’s existing options, and not to emulate any sort of preexisting sound for outside headphones. 

Availability for the new closed-back Stellia starts in February, with street dates for the new Arche amplifier projected for March.

Focal JMlab
108 Rue de l'Avenir, 42350 La Talaudière, France
+33 4 77 43 57 00

Simply Nobody's picture

Peachy :-) ..........

Simply Nobody's picture

"Shake Your Groove Thing" .......... Peaches & Herb :-) .........