Focal Elegia Review

by Bruno Brozović

I have new headphones to test in a new Focal Elegia Review article.

Intro

The French company Focal has been an almost unavoidable name when it comes to speakers for decades. I would dare to say that they used to be a bit controversial with their solutions, sometimes picky, regarding the accompanying equipment and space, but when they found a suitable system, they generally stayed in it for a long time. Starting with simpler series, all the way to huge constructions such as the Utopia model, which is still one of the most impressive series-produced loudspeakers in general, the company had its attitude and path, and consequently its sound.

Focal Elegia Review

Focal is gradually migrating towards mobile headphones that can be used daily with various sound sources without potentially disturbing the environment, but whose quality will be able to meet the wishes of a more demanding audiophile. Of course, the prerequisites for such an achievement are not entirely simple, but the competition these months also raises similar concerns. It remains to be seen which solutions Focal decided on.

Focal Elegia Specifications

  • Type: Circum-aural closed-back headphones
  • Impedance: 35 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL / 1 mW @ 1 kHz
  • THD: 0.1 % @ 1 kHz / 100 dB SPL
  • Frequency response: 5 Hz-23 kHz
  • Speaker driver: 1.57″ (40 mm) ‘M’-shape Aluminium / Magnesium dome
  • Weight: 0.95 lbs (430 g)
  • Cable provided: 3.94 feet (1.2 m) asymmetric cable (0.14″ – 3.5 mm TRS jack), 0.14″ (3.5 mm) to 0.25″ (6.35 mm) stereo jack adapter
  • Hard-shell carry case provided: 10″ x 9″ x 5″ (250 x 240 x 120 mm)

You can download & view the manual here->Focal Elegia Manual

Design & Construction

Painless cooperation with many devices implies the ability of headphones to properly cooperate with portable players or mobile phones of different power and quality. This is why the company decided to install sensitive speaker units. The membrane is made of a combination of aluminum and magnesium in the “M'” shape (their patent), the driver has a diameter of 40 mm with a sensitivity of 105 dB and a frequency range of 5 Hz – 23 kHz.

Precision manufacturing and excellent materials allow the construction to be maximally economical, which is why they decided on a closed design. Its advantages in this segment are clear, but so is comfort when listening in public spaces.

On the other hand, the closed design has its questions, the most obvious of which are vibrations and waves that can theoretically be retained in the earcups. For this reason, Focal approached the problem by installing valves that, with their optimized operation, relieve the parasitic pressure on the membranes and thus reduce vibrations, ensure purity, and provide definition to the entire sound image, especially the extremes and bass area. In the desire to achieve three-dimensionality in the sound, the units are slightly directed and positioned towards the front with an exceptionally elastic and precise suspension so that the precious displacements of the membrane are not lost in that place. The physical axis of the construction consists of a specially ergonomically designed base made of pure aluminum.

Focal Elegia Travel Box

The headband is made of a combination of leather and microfiber. The ear cushions (22 mm) are a combination of memory foam covered with microfiber, and interesting details include a detachable cable with a locking mechanism and a practical and beautiful box for headphones and equipment. The first real praise goes to the simple fitting of the headphones on the head. The aluminum base is strong enough that there are no major difficulties with the initial placement, while the pads are placed on the ears almost by themselves.

Adjusting according to the size of the head is not at all problematic even for people with larger heads. So, the French did not add anything in that segment beyond the basic and logical, and it paid off. For the basic ergonomics and comfort provided by the headphones, Focal Elegia deserves a clear five. There is no need to say anything special about the external appearance of the headphones themselves. The construction was assembled in France, it is full of top-quality solutions and quality materials. I find the headphones very nice and decent, but pictures speak louder than words.

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Focal Elegia High-Fidelity Closed-Back Circum-Aural Headphones
538 Reviews
Focal Elegia High-Fidelity Closed-Back Circum-Aural Headphones
  • High-end closed-back design for home use and on-the-go
  • Exclusive full-range speaker-driver with an 'M'-shape aluminium/magnesium dome (patent pending)
  • Incredible tonal balance, which is able to reproduce the subtlest sound details at both very high and very low...
  • Excellent performance when connected to a portable audiophile player.
  • Very good ambient noise soundproofing - Comfortable and ergonomic

Sound Test

I need to emphasize that these headphones require a running-in period to operate at their best. They will run themselves in naturally after several hours of listening time. If you want to speed up the process, we recommend playing very bassy music through them for at least 24 hours at a relatively high volume. This will stabilize the speaker drivers and allow you to get the very best out of your headphones.

The basis of the sound that came out of the headphones at the beginning of the test was a combination of strong, dynamic, airy characters with a lot of detail and a clearly defined space.

Since the sound source was a smartphone, I stayed in the same configuration for a little while, knowing that many listeners listen to their music that way. And I have to admit that with the sound source that is included in every pocket, it wasn’t bad. The headphones were clear, finely defined space and instruments, and a solid dose of microdynamics was visible in the picture.

The next stop is a laptop (Asus ROG Strix II) in a standard configuration with a Realtek sound subsystem. The dynamics have already become even better at this point, there were noticeably more details in the picture, and the background was calmer. It is clear that the headphones have a lot to show even in these environments, but it was also clear that it is worth working a little on better quality headphone preamplifiers and choosing a few test strips that can better describe the sound of the Focal Elegia in appropriate conditions.

Focal Elegia Exploded View

Thus, Pioneer U-05 was returned to the shelf and HAD Audiolab Maestral Two, Meridian Explorer 2, and Fiio X5 were added. With a small Meridian DA converter and a few MQA files, the thing has already become audiophile-defined with a dark stage, great timbre, and a completely unexpected stage drawing that is especially related to solo brass and vocal music. In one sentence, the sound became completely spatially orderly, and timbral accurate, but also interesting, fast, dynamic, and somewhat closer to the listener. I was honestly impressed by the combination of inalienable audiophile elements with a bit of endearing imprecision and unabashed naturalness in the midrange. It should certainly be noted for those who might want to try this combination that the dynamics and momentum of the orchestra, and the naturalness are immanent, which is not usual, especially in this price class.

There is almost no track that does not sound clear, defined, natural, and somewhat attractive. The next step was the FiiO X5 portable speaker, but that wasn’t the end of the extensions that headphones can make. In addition to the qualities that the headphones have shown so far, the biggest shift happened in the amount of microdynamics and the bass area, which took me several floors lower with fine definition and a lot of detail to the very bottom of the spectrum. It was not difficult to notice the details and finesse that permeated the picture, and finally, the layering of the music became clear, especially those performed by large orchestras that sometimes like to play loud, and strong, and maintain the crescendo as long as possible.

Focal Elegia Test

In the end, the Pioneer U-05 and the HAD Audiolab Maestral Two put an end to it, each in their way. In both cases, the sound was a full, wide, and deep stage with a lot of macro and micro dynamics, almost unmistakable in timbre, but still easy to listen to. Details in the low-frequency range were clear, present, and bright, but never unpleasant. Of course, Focal has experience, knowledge, and technology with which it can move many of its wishes into practice and real life. There are not many complaints that I would have to make about the Elegio model. Listening to them almost non-stop for more than a week, I perhaps missed a little warmth, liveliness, and a little more presence when listening to the vocals. But, of course, there was a cure for that too. The tube preamp served me with a few drops of warmth and sound intimacy.

Focal Elegia Video Review

Final Verdict

Focal has done a great job with these headphones. It is always possible to offer more and differently, but on the one hand, I would not question the relationship between the price of headphones and the quality of production. A combination of engaged, dynamic sound that has enough microdynamics throughout the entire spectrum, but also well-defined extremes with great space. The hearing test was done with a large number of sources and it turned out that the tested headphones can work with most devices quite well and wait a bit for the upgrade they deserve. For those who already have better conditions, there is no doubt that the Focal Elegia are excellent headphones in their price category.

Focal Elegia Pro & Cons

Pros

  • Impeccable midrange performance
  • Attractive, well-built design
  • Produces amazing sound across all audio devices
  • Wide soundstage
  • Luxurious feel

Cons

  • Lack of accessories, controls, and extra features
  • Bleeds sound at high volume
Focal Elegia are excellent headphones in their price category. They offer great sound regardless of the source.
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