Focal Elegia

General Information

FIRST HIGH-END CLOSED-BACK HEADPHONES BY FOCAL

To enjoy an incredible listening experience in total privacy, without worrying about a noisy environment disturbing this moment of pleasure: this is the promise made and kept by Elegia. In these high-end circum-aural closed-back headphones, we have combined the best of our skilfully created technologies, developed and assembled in our workshops in France. Elegia incorporates a new generation of exclusive full-range speaker drivers capable of operating in a small inner environment whilst ensuring exceptional dynamics and the most precise sound reproduction. Whether it’s the motor, the frameless copper voice coil, the dedicated 110 micron surround or the “M”-shape inverted dome, Elegia's speaker drivers are a mass of innovation dedicated to sound purity. And when connected to portable audio players, these headphones are incredibly high-performing. Zero resonance, excellent soundproofing: the naturalness and realism of the sound is striking from the first few seconds of listening.

Latest reviews

Pros: Highly Detailed and Resolving, Fit and Finish, Mid Forward and Airy for a closed Headphone
Cons: Mid Bass Dip, Clamping Force, Cable Microphonics, Heat, Plastic and Build
Preface

I would like to start by stating this is my first headphone review and I have just released a video review that hopefully complements my written review. But I understand not everyone will be interested in a video and instead want to see read one


Summary

For those you who want to see just the major points please find them below, for more detailed thoughts please continue on.

Highlights:

  • Excellent detail retrieval.
  • Spring loaded cans insure a good seal/fit.
  • Open feel (not sound).
  • Mid forward, low bass presence.
  • Easy listening, no treble fatigue.
  • Good Materials and Unique Design.
Cons:
  • Poor cable and Micrphonics
  • Detail can ruin the experience for some tracks.
  • Lacking Mid Bass/Lower Tones and Vocals, almost veiled here.
  • Can get warm and pressure build up over longer listening sessions.

What's in the Box

Let's get started by what you see when you first recieve the Focal Elegia. Initially you will see a display box adorning the Focal name and product name. Apart from that it's rather minimal and not covered in marketing nonsense like some competitors.

burson (1 of 1)-11.jpg


Opening up the box we find a rather nice form fitting case with enough room for a small DAP or portable DAC, the quality of the case is very high and reminds you that the Elegia is a premium headphone. There's also the included cable (more on that later), screw on 3.5mm to 6.5mm and the usual product information.

burson (1 of 1)-13.jpg
burson (1 of 1)-22.jpg


Build and Comfort

The Majority of the external part of the ear cups are matte plastic with one gloss accent ring on a faux chamfer, there is of course the Focal logo which is metal and laser cut making the headphone ported. It does not leak sound much out of this if you were wondering and I've stood immediatley next to my brother who listened at a much greater level than myself when I let him try, I could barely hear anything and so these are more than suitable for office environments in that respect.

I would like to see the outer ring of the ear cup be made of alluminum and perhaps colour matched to the yokes. The rest of the ear cup I'm happy with being plastic.

The headband is mostly leather and has a reasonable range of adjustment, the underside is a grey fabric sort of suede like. The same is found oddly in the inside of the ear cups as well. In would prefer this to be black for concerns over wear or discolouring over time.

burson (1 of 1)-7.jpg


Moving onto the aforementioned cable, the included cable is a nice material with solid connectors. Two 3.5mm mini jacks for your stereo pair. Terminating in a 3.5mm which you can of course use the included screw on adapter with. However is very and I mean very sensitive to microphonics, slightest touch or rub of your shirt and you will hear it. It's also pretty short at 1m in length which maybe a concern for some users. It does straighten out but is very stiff and can have a mind of it's own.

The earpads are soft and a nice material, I would like to try leather but as another user mentioned pads are expensive. Here in the UK even dekonis are about £70 ($91). I have noted though over longer listening sessions can get a little warm though not enough to bother me yet. Your mileage may vary.

Likewise they exhibit a high clamping force that's great for fit and staying planted/sealed on your head but pressure can build up and become a little fatigueing.

Sound

Immense detail, can pick up pops and clicks that you maybe did not want to hear. Compressed music can begin to sound lacking and I found these benefitted from lossless CD quality or higher. But when presented with well recorded track they do shine and I appreciated the step up in detail over my previous headphones, the last of which being Hifiman HE5se.

Low impedance and high sensitivity means these are easy to drive for portables, do scale with better gear and can highlight the differences between equipment well. Resolving more details when used with my Burson Audio Playmate over HPA-2C.

burson (1 of 1)-18.jpg


Airy, but seal well. Ported at the back allows audio still to come in from surrounding environment. Does not feel closed in and boomy. Presents an intermit soundstage but wider than most closed I have listened to and more open sounding.

Some tracks where the artist has a lower voice can feel lacking or if there is a mix with heavy presence of mid bass, separation can be lacking. But as we approach the mid range they get boosted. Low bass is really impressive say below 80Hz and almost feels like a subwoofer at times when a track has a good kick to it. No sparkly highs here but treble is still present and feels neutral in it’s response, this makes long listening sessions easy as I have been known to suffer from treble fatigue.

burson (1 of 2).jpg


Final Remarks

Overall I am very impressed with the sound of the Focal Elegia, especially for a closed back headphone. I wanted a high performance closed headphone as I seldom used my open backs due to noise leak and worry about disturbing anyone.


It's clear that the Focal Elegia, is a well designed headphone with alot of thought gone into it. But it's not without it's shortcomings and perhaps those are the prices we pay for opting for closed back designs.

Also for those interest, there is a whitepaper on the focal elegia and Stellia that goes into great detail. Please find here.

I hope this useful to someone, any questions please feel free to ask.
atahanuz
atahanuz
Thanks. But based on the positive and negative points you stated 3.5 or 4 stars would me more appropriate.
  • Like
Reactions: iBo0m
Craig Fralick
Craig Fralick
Clamping force seems to get better with time, I have a big head and I can wear these for hours now, however when I first got them I’d definitely agree!
iBo0m
iBo0m
@atahanuz True. However, the last three cons are questionable whether to include them in the sound evaluation, I guess :) In the overall evaluation, sure.
  • Like
Reactions: Gowla
Pros: Great sound quality. Wide sound stage, precise placement of instruments and vocals.
Cons: Comfort issues, but they can be addressed...
I have had my Elegias for three weeks, and feel they are nicely broken in.
I had comfort issues that some reported. With the clamping force and the perforated velour pads, my ear hit the top of the inner cup.

My solution was to purchase the Dekoni Audio Elite Fenestrated Sheepskin Earpads:
https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07BYYJRL8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

With a bit of gentle stretching on the headband the clamping force is now comfortable. Careful... this is a plastic headband.The pads from Dekoni are MUCH more comfortable. My ear does not touch any more. Still not comfortable lying on a pillow, but great sitting up in a chair.

Next I installed a 2.5mm balanced cable, and drive them from my HyBy R6 balanced out. Seldom set the volume higher than 50%.
Elegia DSCF1316.jpg

Now very happy with these headphones. I rate them as a slightly brighter sound than my LCD-2F. I really like the closed head-space, and do not find any problems with the bass at all. It is tight and meaty when challenged (e.g. Toy tracks). Whereas the LCD-2F bass has a bit more punch, the Focal bass is faster and more distinctive.

However heavy EDM bass fans will not get the really thumping bass they may be looking for.
  • Like
Reactions: Cat Music
Pros: Build quality, detailed, easy to drive
Cons: Light bass, forward treble, short and stiff cable
Focal Elegia Review:

I want to start off giving thanks to Todd of TTVJ for putting these up for tour. He has offered all types of different equipment for us to experience and this definitely doesn’t go unnoticed in the community. My first experience with Todd was when on a tour for a quite pricey Audioquest power conditioner. I tried for the life of me but couldn’t rationally put a review on something in which I couldn’t tell a difference in my chain. Still, thanks to Todd I learned that in my situation I wouldn’t benefit from such a product and I am thankful for that.

This time around I’m very excited to actually have something in my hands to put words to. I’ve always wanted some extended time with a Focal product and that day has finally come. When I’ve visited CanJam given the show conditions, different setups and other factors I’ve never been able to really take things in at my own pace. These tour allow me the time to really take things in and make an educated purchase decision and develop my tastes further in audio.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the market for a closed back headphone and with Elegia in my budget and on my radar this tour has come at the perfect time. I’ve plenty of experience with closed back headphones ranging from my beat’em up DT770, Ether C 1.1 and Shure 1540’s. I’ll touch on a few key areas on the Elegia.

Comfort – The cups on these headphones fit with room to adjust to preference. Sound is not impacted heavily due to positioning thanks to the angled driver. Clamping force is present however given the metal yokes can be firmly adjusted if need be (I did not do this, it is a tour pair after all!) The headband is solid with perforated leather at the top of the head however pleather wraps the top of the headband which I’m not a fan of. Weight is however evenly distributed and I did not have any pressure spot issues. Isolation is not the best given the light velour pads with perforated inner section, however it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the Shure 1540’s.

Durability - The Elegia cups are primarily plastic which is alright as it saves on weight. They have heft and feel great in hand. The only issue I’ve got here is with the pleather over the top of the headband. If this was to get worn it would get unsightly very quick.

Sound – For a closed back these sound quite decent. Easily besting the DT770’s of course and playing with the bigger contenders. However, for *my* preferences the treble comes in a little forward and the bass a bit shy in the lower mids. This was most noticeable on guitar plucks and drum hits however some genres this actually played quite nicely with. Vocals are portrayed with clarity and are engaging. Violins are crisp and the treble has great sparkle and expanse for a closed back headphone. These generally played nicer at lower volumes, anything much higher would bring forth fatigue.

Scalability – With gear changes the character follows suit however this is minor and these are very easily driven from just about anything. They saw little benefit moving up my ladder of gear which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as you won’t need $1,000 worth of equipment for the Elegia to sound great.

In closing you may think I’m pretty mixed on my impressions on the Elegia. Actually I’ve truly enjoyed my time with it and I’m quite curious what else Focal has to offer. Sadly, for my preferences this headphone is not what I’ve been looking for as I prefer a bit more laid back treble and neutral or very slightly lifted bass. I did however find quite a few songs that clicked well with the Elegia and when this headphone clicks it does so quite well. Some people stick to certain genres however my tasted vary wildly so strong all around performance is a must in my book. I'd give it a 3.75/5


Gear: For this review I used the following

iFi iDSD Silver

Grace SDAC+JDS Atom

Topping DX7S+THX789

Fiio X5iii

Comments

I have had my Elegias for three weeks, and feel they are nicely broken in.
I had comfort issues as well. With the clamping force and the perforated velour pads, my ear hit the top of the inner cup.

My solution was to purchase the Dekoni Audio Elite Fenestrated Sheepskin Earpads: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07BYYJRL8/

With a bit of gentle stretching on the headband the clamping force is now comfortable. Careful... this is a plastic headband.The pads from Dekoni are MUCH more comfortable. My ear does not touch any more.

Now very happy with these headphones. I rate them as a slightly brighter sound than my LCD-2F. I really like the closed head-space, and do not find any problems with the bass at all. It is tight and meaty when challenged (e.g. Toy tracks). Whereas the LCD-2F have bass more punch, the Focal bass is faster and more distinctive.
 
Top