Edited by HiFiGuy528 - 9/22/13 at 8:01am
Already in this thread...
That thread has over 270 posts and it's mostly about the consumer version Spirit One not the Spirit Pro. A separate thread for the new model may be helpful to new members and others who aren't following the original thread.
I'm very impressed by the sound of the Pros. It's has the high-end Focal sound found in their studio monitors - refined, fast response, & accurate. It's very easy to drive. I ran it on my Meridian Explorer DAC & Apogee ONE for iOS with wonderful results. I can't stop listening to it. It's worth owning.
Hi Guys !
I acquired both Focal Spirit Pro and AKG K550's today. Hence I have no favourites, no pros or cons at the beginning of the test. Serious review needs some time so please consider my short review a primer.
If you do not want to reed THE REST read this:
My fiance's opinion: “AKG's let me hear the music while Focals let me hear separate instruments, quite schizophrenically. I consider the later annoying”
My opinion: Focals are the Yamaha NS-10's of the headphone industry. AKG's are just very, very decent listening headphones.
THE REST :
My listening set included both above mentioned headphones, Musical Fidelity X-Can V3 headphone amp, a pair of decent cables and Pioneer BDP 140 Blu Ray player. The later one is by no means the hi end player but my NAD M55 has finely gone out. Nevertheless, this Pioneer works surprisingly good as a red book CD player so it should not interfere with our tests.
My previous experience in a serious headphone industry include AKG's K400 and K601. Both were “no lows” phones. I do not blame the AKG for such a strategy, since most of us experience low ends with our chests and bones rather then ears. The excess of bass in the headphones will not give you that bass “phump” feeling whatsoever. I mean the bass excess to to equalize the speakers' low end punch.
It is difficult to compare those headphones as one pair of them is a consumer type (though a decent one) and other is a tool for a sound engineer. Maybe. Please notice the fact that my fiance liked the AKG's at the first listening. It is nothing bad neither for the headphones nor herself. Just consider who you are and what do you want.
In my opinion Focal's are superior in all aspects. First of all, for serious listener and sound engineer the important fact is that Focals keep to your ears at the same position while slightly moving headphones all over your head. The AKG's do not. Slight movement changes the frequency range dramatically. While you are listener, nothing happens. When you work with these, it really matters.
Second, the AKG's favor a little bit low mids and highs. Slightly, unlike most of of he consumer phones which do it massively. Focals remain flat mostly all over frequency range, with just a minor increase in a volume of the frequency about 1 kHz. At least by my ear.
One strange thing is that Focals flatten the dynamics slightly. Therefore I consider them a useful tool for frequency range adjustments. But no means for dynamics. Especially the bass drum and snare drum.
From consumer's point of view both pairs of headphones are manufactured beautiful and are very convenient to wear.
Both are closed type. Unlike AKG K400 and K600-700 they do not offer that wide sound stage but they keep your music for yourself exclusively during night.
Yes, NS10 is what they are ;) They do not favor any frequency range. Maybe there is an impression that they favor mids a little bit. Remember the impressin when you first listened to NS10's? Mids, mids, mids. But after some time you might have noticed the difference between them and consumer speakers (which seem to sound superb in comparison to NS10).
These headphones do not overemphasize the bass. I was afraid that they do after reading the tests of Focal Spirt One. Both cans look very similar but these must be very different headphones. At the beginning I thought there is a lack of the lowest end of the frequency range but I made some further tests with "sub bass" music and 30-40 Hz is clearly audible. The bass is also "short and crisp" - very "disciplined".
I am very impressed cos I did not like the Focal brand very much as I am not the fan of any French products: neither cars nor wine (except few kinds of cheese). The guy from the music store where I made some bigger shopping recently just send them to my house with the courier "so I could make the tests". I did not liked the idea but after some listening I changed my mind.
usually if at the beginning someone thinks the bass is shy then it is. Their brain adjusted to the sound and appreciated everything else about the headphone.
No bass no go...