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Focal Bathys Review: A pleasant surprise

The French company Focal specializes in the production of high-end audio equipment. During its existence, the company gave the world a number of…
Focal Bathys Review
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Focal Bathys Review

The French company Focal specializes in the production of high-end audio equipment. During its existence, the company gave the world a number of recognized creations that became classics and acquired the status of legendary. To date, Focal has a wide manufacturing profile, impressive experience and success in many audio segments where their devices are represented.

What should you expect when a well-known brand introduces premium Bluetooth headphones with a full set of modern functionality and the highest pricing on the market? Let’s watch. On review today Focal Bathys .

Set, design, structure and features

The headphones have the usual aesthetics of full-size Focal headphones. “The classics don’t get old,” as if the French are reminding us once again, playing with their usual headphone design in Bathys. And indeed, it is not the first time that I catch myself thinking that Focal headphones, despite the usual basis in design with the addition of individual features to each individual model in particular details, do not feel secondary or boring to me. Bathys, as usual for the manufacturer, are attractive at the same time with a durable and stylish design with the use of premium materials.

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Although the design of Focal headphones is actually familiar and does not offer anything fundamentally new, looking at the sophisticated combination of black and silver tones of the Bathys, you immediately understand that in front of you are obviously one of the most beautiful wireless headphones.

The headband is made of genuine leather and has a soft velor inner surface. It has a good shape and quality materials, so it looks compact on the head and does not cause pressure. The ear pads are also made of leather and have a memory effect. They are changeable, easily detached from the cups.

The headphones are light (350 g), fit comfortably. The compression force of the cups is excellent and provides some of the best passive isolation I’ve experienced in full-size headphones . The cups are deep enough to avoid physical contact of the ear with the inner surface of the cup.

Adjusting the length of the headband, made of metal, is implemented with clear steps and a smooth movement. There are no notches for orientation during adjustment on the headband.

In the middle of each cup is the usual Focal logo – a flame, which in the case of the Bathys has a beautiful white LED backlight, which can be used in two brightness modes or turned off.

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In general, the structure, materials and design of the headphones are at an excellent level. There are no backlashes, creaks and other problematic nuances.

Headphones are controlled using physical buttons located on the lower edges of the cups.

The following controls are located on the right cup: volume control and play pause buttons, on/off/DAC mode slider (for connecting headphones via USB-C cable), USB-C port, voice assistant interaction button, 3.5 audio jack mm

On the left cup there is a button for turning on the noise reduction and transparency modes.

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The successful placement of physical buttons allows you to use the necessary functions comfortably with the headphones on your head.

Focal was pleasantly surprised when it came to product support. The Focal & Naim application used to work with Bathys appealed to me for its pleasant monochrome interface, simplicity and intuitive comfort even from the experience of interacting with Naim devices. The interface from Focal is noticeably more aesthetically pleasing, but the overall elegance and ease of use leave the same pleasant impression.

With the help of the application, the headphone firmware is updated, the equalizer settings, noise reduction and LED lighting of the manufacturer’s logo on the headphone cups are carried out. The battery charge is also displayed in 10% increments and the wireless codec used to connect the source to the headphones is indicated.

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There is also a “quick tips” section that links to the Bathys page on the official Focal website. On the specified page, there are advertising materials about headphones, technical characteristics and features of the model, and reviews. Headphone manuals and other useful and interesting materials from Focal are also available for download.

Separately, I would like to mention a number of short video instructions on using headphones available on the website. Materials of 10-20 seconds each clearly explain all possible questions, from the presentation of the set of headphones, their operating modes and operating scenarios to the nuances of using the application and recommendations for Bathys care (there is even a video instruction on replacing the earcups). Link for those who want to get acquainted:

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By the way, Qr-codes with links to the Focal & Naim app and the Bathys page on the Focal website are carefully printed on the inner surface of the headphone box. Thus, the manufacturer did everything possible to optimize the process of getting used to interacting with headphones. Headphone support is implemented at a really excellent level.

The use of headphones causes exclusively positive feelings. Focal is actively working on the software and has eliminated all the shortcomings and problems that were present at the beginning of sales. The speed and quality of the connection to the source are excellent, there are no delays, the use modes and the application work without errors.

Technical characteristics and features

Focal Bathys are built around patented dynamic radiators manufactured in France at the Focal factory. The emitters are equipped with an M-shaped dome made of aluminum-magnesium alloy, which, according to the manufacturer, ensures purity and high sound accuracy, detail and sound dynamics.

The headphones offer a wide range of connectivity options. Supporting Bluetooth 5.1 technology, they are compatible with SBC, AAC, Apt-X and Apt-X Adaptive codecs
. In DAC mode, using a two-way connection via USB Type-C, it provides wired information transfer and playback of Hi-Res files with characteristics up to 24 bit/192 KHz. The complete 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm cable allows you to make an analog connection of headphones to the source.

According to the results of the tests, I can note that the emitters of the headphones are optimally configured to work with the built-in DAC. In USB DAC mode, the sound is added with a bit of clarity, precision in the low frequencies and plenty of high frequencies. I liked the wired connection via a 3.5 mm cable less. After trying several sources, I could not find an optimal connection and a good sound that would surpass the sound of the standard Bathys DAC.

The manufacturer claims that the headphones will last up to 30 hours in Bluetooth mode with active noise cancellation, and the quick charge function – 5 hours of listening time thanks to only 15 minutes of charging. The Bathys have really cool battery life and charge time ratios. The specified characteristics make the operation of such a device as comfortable and carefree as possible.

Eight microphones located in the cups of the headphones perform noise canceling functions and ensure high-quality transmission of information during phone conversations thanks to Clear Voice Capture technology and two noise canceling modes. In addition, Focal Bathys supports interaction functions with voice assistants (Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant).

In phone conversation scenarios, the microphones performed excellently, clearly transmitting the voice and competently cutting off all background noise – conversations, traffic, wind, etc.

The noise canceling function works in two modes: silent – to block loud noise, optimized for trips with high background noise (planes, trains), and soft – designed for home, office, etc.

A transparency mode is also available and allows users to hear ambient sounds in scenarios when needed.

The above-mentioned functions are implemented qualitatively. They do not introduce appreciable distortion into the sound, active noise cancellation has no disturbing background noise.

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Low frequencies please with definition and control. Of course, woofers are implemented in the spirit of wireless headphones – they are massive, moderately soft and warm. But unlike a large number of simpler wireless headphones, they are devoid of obvious technical problems. The low frequency range is very confident for wireless headphones. The woofers have good speed characteristics (they play heavy music well), are not noisy, not smeared, without clipping. Do not interfere with the middle frequencies and are generally organically coordinated with the rest of the frequency range.

I believe that for the format of wireless full-size headphones, low frequencies in Bathys are optimally implemented quantitatively and qualitatively.

Medium frequencies are close to neutral. Slightly warm – exactly as much as is necessary to ensure a beautiful timbral saturation. They have a good body, although they are not obviously fat. The good news is that the SC in Bathys is not relegated to the background. And thanks to the beautiful and detailed processing of the middle, the headphones can often even feel middle-oriented. Although it is not quite so.

The presence of upper middle frequencies is balanced, without peaks and sharpness, the range of sibilants has enough control not to draw attention to itself and not to cause discomfort. But this is not a “safe” tuning, so those sensitive to VHF should familiarize themselves with the sound in advance if they want to buy headphones.

Lower midrange frequencies are properly designed. They are moderately full-bodied – not highlighted and not excessively coarse.

In general, the technicality and detail of the midrange makes them one of the strong points of the headphones.

Also Bathys, in my opinion, are devoid of a rather widespread problem of wireless headphones of the middle and premium segments – attempts to give transparency to the signature of headphones, which is implemented with the help of the design of subtle images and tools. However, according to my listening experience, no one managed to do it well enough. The presence of elements of the signature focal handwriting in the design of the midrange in the case of Bathys seems to me to be a very good decision.

High frequencies . We have a slightly restrained presence here. They play macro, without obvious emphasis on technicality and detail. At the same time, they are played integrally, clearly and with proper realization of the length. Quantitatively, they are slightly muffled and do not have disturbing sonority. In general, we have a setting that, given the closed design of the cups, is comfortable and not tiring during long-term loud listening, while it is high-quality and pleasant.

The stage width is moderate, quite intimate, which is usual for closed headphones. In depth, the scene works well. The play of foregrounds and backgrounds is rendered beautifully. Playing decays and reverberations left a very pleasant impression – rich and quite sophisticated, without obvious simplifications. Positioning of tools is correct.

Bathys shows great results when working with not the best records. Successfully avoids overload thanks to the control of low frequencies, does not stick out dirt thanks to a single, carefully tuned delivery, and nicely controls the peaks on “screaming” vocals. It is unequivocally clear that the setup took into account a number of aspects related to the specifics of wireless headphone usage scenarios – non-audiophile recordings, streaming services, comfort of listening at high volume, listening to podcasts and similar conversational materials without voice processing.

The headphones’ ability to work with musical genres left a positive impression. In fact, they are genre universal. They confidently handle heavy music, they play vocal music with class, instrumental and electronic music are played interestingly and richly. They feel equally comfortable with calm music, as well as with cheerful or aggressive music.

There is no degradation of balance and sound quality at low and high volumes.

In general, the headphones pleasantly impressed with their level and balance. For those who prefer relatively smooth sound without variations in the Harman curve and accents on low and high frequencies, Focal Bathys can be an excellent solution.

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The time spent with Focal Bathys was a pleasant surprise for me. Cool sound, pleasant aesthetics and comfort, high-quality software work – the French presented a device of the highest level on the market of wireless full-size headphones with modern functionality. But all this is expected. Everyone knows what Focal headphones can do. Something else surprised me.

Having gotten used to the sound of high-end full-size headphones, I’m not particularly impressed with the possibilities of the wireless headphone market. Direct competitors Focal Bathys, of course, play music, but these are fundamentally different things with high-end wired headphones.

As a result of getting to know the Focal Bathys, I realized that until this moment no full-size wireless headphones offered me such a conceptually clear and coherent sound character.

The presence of an individual handwriting and own style is one of those things for which people appreciate the precious goods of the premium segment, in particular, in the field of audio. And Focal Bathys demonstrate that wireless technologies have the potential for development and evolution, and little by little, with their own philosophy, are moving towards blurring the boundaries between the worlds of quality wireless and wired sound.

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