Focal Elegia – latest arrival... tres bien!

While I was at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in October, one of the highlights of CANJAM for me was hearing French high-fidelity juggernaut Focal’s latest closed-back circum-aural headphones: The elegant, supremely comfortable-fitting, tone, timbre and bass-rich Elegia. So when Focal got a hold of me following the show and asked if I’d be interested in taking on the Elegia for review I didn’t hesitate.

As mentioned in my RMAF coverage, the $900 USD (MSRP) units feature an “M”-shaped magnesium and aluminum dome, full-range, dynamic patent-pending transducer that features an easy-to-drive 105dB sensitivity coupled with an 35-Ohm impedance.

This helps to make the Elegia a smartphone’s best friend for portable listening where you don’t want to intrude on others vibes and want to keep as much of the outside world sealed away from the tunes you’re vibing through the Elegia. A difficult proposition for open-back planar designs due to their design precis and the fact that any driver is exerting as much force back (and out into their surroundings) as it is forward to your ears.

Weighing in at 430 grams, they are not the lightest over-ear closed back units I’ve had on my pointy head, but during initial listening sessions up at the cabin via a dedicated MacBook Air running Roon with the Naim DAC-V1 being powered from the AudioQuest Niagara 5000 Low-Z Power Noise Dissipation System (with Hurricane Ultra-Linear AC cables and Coffee USB cable) where I’d wear them for at least an hour uninterrupted while writing, they were incredibly comfortable with no pressure points anywhere across the crown or around my ears.

AudioQuest Niagara 5000 Low-Z Power Noise Dissipation System

found the supplied 1.2m asymmetric cable with a 3.5mm TRS jack and 1/4-inch adaptor to be a tad short for my liking during home listening, but when plugged into the Astell & Kern SR15 (A&norma) tucked into a coat or trouser pocket the length was perfect.

Sound through the Air/Roon/V1 (reputedly used to voice the Focal Utopia and featuring a 24/384 synchronous USB input with 40-bit SHARC DSP chipset and single-ended Class-A head amp) with about 50 hours of burn-in on the Elegia was incredibly linear, with plenty of jammy mids, sultry timbral/tonal color and deep, defined bass showcased the ‘phones balanced approach to reproduction. Not exactly juicy, but not lean either, the Elegia presented with excellent separation between instruments and vocals and a deep-V sound stage disappearing both into the horizontal and vertical aural horizons with real internal depth between the ears on everything from EDM mp3 mixes to DSD64 mono jazz recordings.

Switching things up for a walk around the local woods behind the cabin, the Elegia was driven with ease by the A&K SR15 and its Cirrus Logic Dual-DAC CS43198, MasterHIFI chipsets and Quad-core CPU. The difference between the two DAC/amp setups was instantly noticeable with the SR15 lacking the V1’s bass depth, midrange guts and spatial imaging, but adding a touch more sparkle and shimmer up top from cymbals, high hat and electronic keyboard/effects and boosting upper frequency extension, especially noticeable on vocals – leaner, tighter more forward listen. Again, two very different sources, circuit topologies, usage factors and price ranges all contributing to two very different types of presentation, but a nod to the ultimate transparency and resolution Focal has achieved with the Elegia.

For all of those lamenting the lack of full headphone reviews look for them starting soon as our new measurement tool is ready and Keith Howard will be starting to take delivery of review units for testing shortly.

Thanks to all of our readers for your patience as we had to build in a lot of new features to bring the updated data plots up to speed for proper online implementation, because really, what’s the point of not doing it right the first time?

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

Simply Nobody's picture

........ in the meantime we are all logging into 'BoredPanda' website waiting for the reviews and measurements :-) ............

Rafe Arnott's picture
Are out of my hands and I wish they weren't, but those are the cards I've (we've) been dealt. They are REALLY close and I can't wait until we've got the pipeline flowing.
von Schatu's picture

Hi Rafe,

I am also eager to wait for the measurements.

As a general comment I would highly welcome that after you have done the first batch of headphones waiting for review you (Keith in fact) do an actualized measurement on the Wall of Fame models.
That would be a good jumping off point in order to assess the difference between your system and the older IF database and to serves as a re-interpretation of the older data.



Rafe Arnott's picture
Great to hear from you, unfortunately there is no more "Wall of Fame."

I have a few select models that were sent from what was left of it and I can ask Keith if this could be possible as I get where you're coming from. Biggest issue is availability of the models for him and whether he has time, as he's in the UK and I'm in Canada.



von Schatu's picture

Hi Rafe,

Thanks for your response. I see your issues.
I live in Germany, and since we are in a tax free zone - hopefully after Brexit as well - if we could manage the postage in a reasonable way I would be happy to send some headphones for measurement as I have fairly well known models at hand (M50x, DT880, DT990, DT 1990, MSR7, HD600, K712, TH-X00 PH, PM-3).
I know those are not identical to the ones Tyll measured, but it could serve as a starting point for some.
Please let me know if you need me!

Bye, Andras

Simply Nobody's picture

muy bien! :-) ............