Focal Elegia Review: Precise tonal balance

With Focal Elegia you get precise tonal balance and the details are maintained at both the highest and lowest volume levels.

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Focal Elegia is the first closed-design audiophile on-ear headphones from Focal. The novelty, according to the developers, features a comfortable fit and excellent sound insulation, and was presented today at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. According to the manufacturer’s assurances, the headphones are distinguished by an even tonal balance and high detail both at low and high volumes. They play in the range from 5 Hz to 23 kHz, their weight is 430 grams.

The ergonomic design provides incredible comfort and excellent sound isolation, making these headphones ideal for extended use. While working on Elegia, the Focal engineering team implemented several innovations at once to improve the quality of sound reproduction. A 40mm aluminum / magnesium wide-range driver with an M-shaped cone delivers crisp response across the entire frequency range and is the basis for the dynamic sound of Elegia.

The closed format and 35 Ohm impedance will allow the Elegia to be used not only with stationary, but also with portable sources. A short (1.2 meters) cable also hints at portable use. The kit includes a 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm plug adapter. The ear cushions are thick – 20 mm, filled with memory foam and finished with microfiber. The headband is made of aluminum alloy, adapted to the shape of the head and decorated with genuine leather and perforated microfiber.

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In addition, the frameless voice coil is lightweight yet stiff enough to reproduce the finest details, adding credibility to a wide variety of music. With its precise tonal balance coupled with long-term listening comfort, the Focal Elegia makes a serious claim to leadership in the closed-back headphone segment.

Before I open the box with the latest Elegies, I would like to convey three important messages for anyone interested in personal audio in general and the Focal brand in particular. First, these models use the same engineering and technological base as in other Focal headphones of the audiophile series, which have collected a lot of awards over the past two or three years. Second: the parameters of proprietary drivers with M-domes have been significantly changed in comparison with their open counterparts – a reduced impedance from 80 to 35 Ohm with a slightly increased sensitivity (105 dB) opens up excellent possibilities for using headphones with any mobile audio devices of standard power. And the third (and, I think, the most pleasant) message is that that the manufacturer kept its promise to meet the price category up to 1000 euros and even slightly exceeded it in your favor – the recommended price of Elegia turned out to be even lower than that of Elear, the closest open classmates. Well, now let’s open the package.

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The new items are great. The design of the headband is the same reliable and comfortable as that of other representatives of the Focal audiophile series, and the cushions of the ear cushions differ only in the design of the casing – in Elegies it is made of microfiber in two colors with a light compacted inner insert, which gives the product a rather fashionable and memorable look. If you look closely, you will notice another difference – inside the cases there is no characteristic “transparent” perimeter of the driver basket, and the ovals themselves, bearing sealed covers with a metal insert, do not look as bulky as in open models. By the way, the weight is less – by 20 grams in comparison with the Elear.

But despite the relative compactness, these new items should undoubtedly be attributed to headphones of a real all-round type without any “overhead” compromises – in this regard, they are more advanced than the entire Listen-series. The size, shape, strength and uniformity of pressing the soft bolsters to the head are selected so that both good sound insulation and the necessary comfort for long hours of listening will be achieved, which will be highly appreciated by everyone who often has to fly long-distance airplanes (if I have such a business trip, I I can say for sure how long you can sit with “Elegies” on your head).

There is only a small problem – there are no aircraft adapters included with the headphones. And in general, the contents of the box are minimalist: the buyer is entitled only to a transport case, a 1.2-meter cable with 3, 5mm jack and quarter-inch adapter. The wire has a normal Y-configuration, is removable and equipped with standard connectors – it will not be a problem to replace it with another one, including a balanced one. Ear pads also lend themselves to easy dismantling.

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The main feature of “Elegies” is, without a doubt, the heads. They are unique in that the emitter, printed from a thin sheet of lightweight aluminum-magnesium alloy and suspended on a highly elastic suspension with a thickness of only 110 microns, has a complex profile and resembles an inverted M in section. This shape not only gives the 40 mm cone additional rigidity, but it also forms a thin inner flange on which the voice coil is wound. This achieves a minimum moving mass.

In the open models, the M-drivers also featured a tubeless magnetic drive design. A similar solution was inherited in general by Elegia, but in this case it is no longer possible to consider the heads as “tubeless” due to the closed design of the headphones themselves, moreover, the cavity on the other side of the radiating membrane is supplemented with a large ingenious insert with different-caliber honeycombs to suppress resonances.

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Conclusion

The phrase “first closed”, which the company uses in the presentation of “Elegies”, may scare someone away, but it should not be taken literally. This only applies to the audiophile series. In general, Focal has a very enviable experience in the development of closed headphones, and not only in the household, but also in the professional studio sphere. I would be very surprised if in the new models there were at least some acoustic flaws or compromises inherent in “raw” models. Here they are not. At first glance, even cold “Elegies” sound with luxurious full dynamics without the compression of the range, typical of other closed models.

According to the passport data, the distortions introduced by them are absolutely negligible – even less than that of open structures. But the main thing is that they have neither a pronounced “shell” tint, nor sharp local curvatures of the frequency response, caused by internal resonances. The frequency range is really huge and linear in a Focal way – I heard only two weakly pronounced smooth rises (by about 400 – 500 and 1200 – 1400 Hz), which, most likely, will be smoothed out after the drivers are fully warmed up.

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