The Focal Listen headphones were launched at the same time as the prestigious Elear and Utopia. Very different from the latter, it proudly displays its “nomadic” dimension, and offers great acoustic performance for a reasonable price. No need for a headphone amp or external DAC, we are told, it is ideal as is, with a smartphone or tablet! To confirm all this, we tested it for a mocha on an iPhone 5S with Qobuz…
these portable Focal Listen headphones reproduce the music with a lot of enthusiasm, and above all, without any aggressiveness. The amount of detail is very satisfactory: we can thus perfectly perceive the choirs or even the nature of the effects applied to the voices and the instruments (reverb, echo, etc.). Admittedly, transparency is not its main asset, but the musicality is excellent, and we appreciate the music rather than spending our time determining the sound aesthetics of this or that frequency register… The bass is well controlled , and is not pushed forward like on some competing headphones: this contributes to a very pleasant feeling of balance, the midrange remaining slightly forward to promote musicality. Even better, the sound stage is surprisingly wide for a closed headphone of this range! One thing is sure, we take pleasure in each listening, whatever the genre of music selected… Don’t be fooled by the first listenings on a new model: these headphones will reveal their true face after a few dozen hours of running-in. A good opportunity to test the Moshi Burn-in Tool app that we were talking about last week!
Whether you have an iOS, Android or Windows smartphone, you can use the functions of the microphone + remote control unit located on the detachable cable. The remote has only one button, which you need to press multiple times to get the action you want. One press pauses the music, two presses takes you to the next track, and three presses skips to the previous track. When a call rings, just press this remote control once and you switch to hands-free mode, the microphone being located a little higher to facilitate communications. We will also emphasize a very good comfort, in particular thanks to circum-auricular atria with shape memory, and thanks to a generously padded height-adjustable headband. As a good closed headphone, the Focal Listen offers effective isolation against sounds coming from outside, which makes it completely legitimate in noisy environments such as the metro or the street. A small criticism all the same (you have to find one): we would have liked a more qualitative aspect, but at 160€, difficult to be so demanding…
This Focal Listen therefore offers a very good price/performance ratio, and will delight nomads looking for musical headphones that sound good in all circumstances. Those looking for the highest level of transparency will probably want to look for other references, but at what cost?
[MàJ 15/03/2017] RESULTS OF THE DRAW: Congratulations to Mr. Patrice C. (email@example.com), who wins the Focal headphones put into play!