Focal Elegia - 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

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


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


  • 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.
  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.

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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.

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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 True. However, the last three cons are questionable whether to include them in the sound evaluation, I guess :) In the overall evaluation, sure.
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Thanks for your informative review. Have you tested them with classical music? If so, how do they perform with this kind of music?
Just wondering if you can eq the bass for a fuller sound.
Pros: build quality is top
Cons: to bright to my taste
weak bass
clamp force
I got a new pair on great sale price.
When I received it, I put it on to start listening, and it confirmed all the reviewers'
comment about two drawbacks.
1. its clamp force makes me uncomfortable
2. this headphone has weak bass response, not only recess as others said, but also weak
3. it sounds brighter than all my other headphones that is not the SQ to my taste

And I have no interest to tweak the pad to rectify the clamp force because
of its SQ.

All are true and that is deal breaker to me, so I returned it.

Please note, this is my personal opinion, your mileage could very.
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:

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%.
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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.
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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
Given your sonic preferences, which closed back cans did you move on to?
Pros: NA at this time.
Cons: NA at this time.
i have to send these back..
The bass response went from less then zero, to grainy noise the more i played them.
Can't determine if its QC or some shipping issue, but nevertheless, i deleted my mini-review as its possible these were a malfunctioning set.

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Pros: Fantastic, engaging and detailed sound. Accurate and wide soundstage (for a closed can).
Cons: Bass-heads should look elsewhere. Comfort issues for those sensitive to clamping force. Treble could be fatiguing over long listening sessions. Unforgiving to poorly recorded tracks.
First of all, I would like to thank Todd over at TTVJ Audio for the opportunity to spend some time with the Elegia in exchange for my honest impressions.

After I signed up for the review tour, I was very careful to avoid reading any reviews or impression threads of the Elegia in order to avoid coloring my impressions. I knew very little about the Elegia when signing up and absolutely nothing about their sound signature. I had recently spent some time with the Focal Clear and was seriously impressed. That headphone has probably some of the best bass in both quantity and quality that I’ve heard from an open headphone. The Clear and Elegia have similar drivers so I was expecting a serious bass cannon.

The first few seconds of the Elegia were shocking to say the least. There was no prodigious bass. It sounded thin and I was a little disappointed. I was using my DX150, so I dismissed it as needing better amplification. I was on a business trip and didn’t have much else to use as a source. I pressed on and kept listening. The more I listened, the more I started to like Elegia’s sound signature.


Sources use:
iBasso DX150 (AMP6)
Chord Hugo 2
Schiit Asgard 2 (Hugo 2 as a DAC)

Some Tracks Used:
Old Love - Eric Clapton
Take Five - Dave Brubeck
Kangaroo Court - Capital Cities
For You - Angus & Julia Stone

The Elegia has similar packaging to the Clear minus the extra box for the two addition cables. There is a nice exterior box that holds the Elegia inside their outstanding carrying case. While not compact, it is still easily transportable and keeps the headphones secure and protected. There is even room inside the case for the cable, 1/4” adapter as well as a smaller DAP. The brick like iBasso DX150 didn’t fit.

One definitely gets the feel that the Elegia is designed for portable use. The stock cable is short and is terminated to a 3.5 SE plug but there is a screw on 1/4” adapter included. The longer 1/4” and 4 pin XLR cable that comes with the Clear would have been a nice addition.


The cups of the Elegia don’t articulate all that far and as a result I did experience a little more pressure than I would have liked in front of my ears. I’m a little sensitive to pressure in this area so most people probably won’t have an issue with it. It reminded me a little bit of a new pair of Sennheiser HD600s. It may improve with time.

Build Quality:
While they don’t feel substantial in the hand, the Elegia is very well build and every surface has a quality feel to it. The cable has a nice feel to it. Again, very similar to the look and feel of the Clear cable.

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These are fairly bright headphones but I at no point felt like there was any sibilance or harshness to the highs. Cymbals have a nice metallic sound to them and sound like they should. Kangaroo Court is a track that sounds a little sibilant with my ESRs (with Spiral Dots). I thought for sure that the Elegia would be a little harsh here but it wasn’t at all. The highs went just high enough and were never uncomfortable.


I would say that the mids are just slightly forward. Julia Stone’s vocals are very unique in my option and really shine with the Elegia. It’s a very engaging and seriously enjoyable listening experience. Again, the term natural comes to mind. The saxophone at the beginning of Take Five is just wonderful. You really feel like you’re there. Closing your eyes almost makes you feel like the person playing is in the room with you. I haven’t had this feeling with other headphones besides the HD800S. Extremely impressive.

Here is where things become a little more of a mixed bag. With some genres, the bass is a little light. Bass-heads will want to look elsewhere. I found them a little thin with genres like EDM and hard rock. If you like classical, jazz, folk or anything instrumental look no farther.

What little bass there is digs very deep and after a while no longer left me wanting more. The sub-bass is very good. You really get the feeling that these drivers are different than your traditional DD headphone or planar.

Sound Stage:
The soundstage is wide for a closed can and also very accurate. On the track Old Love there is a cymbal at around the 3 o’clock position. It felt very precise as if I were listening to a live performance. It really stood out to me. I swapped to my Eikons (which I seriously like) and the specific instruments were not as easy to pinpoint. Very impressive. I stopped analyzing this track and just sat back and enjoyed it.

The DX150 had no issues powering the Elegia to uncomfortable volumes with headroom to spare. That being said, they do scale well. I noticed the bass is a little more present and digs deeper when hooked up to something like the Hugo 2 or Asgard. You also get more separation and depth to the sound. The Asgard 2 is one of my favorite amps regardless of price and really makes the Elegia shine. It adds a touch of warmth and musicality to many headphones including the Elegia.

Other thoughts:
Like the fairly bright ESRs, the Elegia is pretty unforgiving when it comes to poorly recorded music. The Elegia is a treat with well recorded music.

Focal stock pads are VERY expensive. At the time of writing this review, I was not able to find the cost of the Elegia pads. The Clear pads are almost $200 so I'm guessing they will be in the $150-$200 range. The pads will get nasty over time and will need to be replaced.


Like I said before, I didn’t like the Elegia at first but the more time I spent with them the more I liked them. I was sad to see them go because I definitely enjoyed the week I had with them. My experience with Focal headphones has been brief but I’m seriously impressed so far. My time with the Clear and Elegia really makes me want to try the rest of the Focal line up.

The Sound description reminds me K701.
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I love the Elegia. It pairs beautifully with the balanced Schiit Jotunheim amp w/Multi-Bit DAC and a Moon-Audio Blue Dragon XLR cable. This setup gives you the bass you need and also creates a very liquid, and rich toned sound with the Elegia. It's now my desktop system while I'm working and can enjoy all day without any fatigue. Pure enjoyment.
Pros: Affordable.
Typical Focal open sound.
Vocals presented well.
Pleasant sound representation.
Cons: Missed a tremendous opportunity in my opinion.
Build not up to Focal standards.
Plastic looks cheap.
Headphone slider scratches...already...
Focal Elegia: $899. A Closed-back that opens new doors.

Rating = 3.75/5

Spec sheet:

I want to profusely thank Todd from TTVJ for yet another stellar tour. A good portion of my gear has come about as a result of his tours, including a huge wish for the Apex Pinnacle 2, the finest piece of gear I have ever tested. He graciously offers his wares, for the betterment of the Head-Fi society, as well as to expand our own knowledge surrounding new products. I had a fantastic week, and it was another grand effort.


Upon finding out that Focal would make a closed-back headphone, I immediately started perusing the net looking for clues and reviews. Since I happily own the Elear, I quickly surmised that this could/would be a closed back version of them. Some had mentioned the sound was closer to the Clear. Having not heard the Clear, I relied upon the findings of others, and pulled my Elear back out. It was as sound as I recall, but now just one from my arsenal as opposed to being top dog. I did not mind, other than not being in the rotation as much; so this would make for a revisit to an old friend. Old friends rock.

There would be stiff competition in the house as I was graciously offered (and accepted!!!) @pinky powers superb ZMF Atticus, in Ash (1 of 20, so I treated them better than my wife…don’t tell her that…), my Campfire Audio Cascade (picked on up used since the new ones are sold out; superb bass from my review of Will’s wonderful set), and a newly acquired set of Mr. Speakers Ether-C Flow (used again, and turned out to be the bargain of the century, at least for me). So, one direct competitor, and two filling the tiers above. Not a bad week if I say so myself.


Elegia is an audiophile circum-aural closed-back pair of headphones from Focal. The ergonomic design makes them incredibly comfortable and offers excellent sound isolation, making these headphones the ideal solution for long listening sessions. Continuing its headphone development programme, the Focal R&D team has introduced several new innovations, all with incredible audio performance in mind. The full-range 'M'-shape aluminum/magnesium dome speaker driver provides a very high frequency response, which is the basis for Elegia’s supremely dynamic sound. In addition, the frameless voice coil, which is lightweight yet incredibly stiff, reproduces the minutest details that adds to the convincing all-round performance. With its incredible tonal balance combined with long-term comfort, the Elegia is a key reference in the high-end closed-back headphones sector.


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: 15.4 oz (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)

Gear used/compared:

Focal Elear (2.5bal cable)
Campfire Audio Cascade (2.5bal cable)
ZMF Atticus (2.5bal cable)
Mr. Speakers Ether-C Flow (3.5/6.3se cable)

*iFi Stack of: iTubes2/iDAC2, Micro Black Label*
MacBook Pro/iFi Stack
Thebit Opus #2
Macbook Pro/Burson Play
Questyle QP2R

Songs used:

Coldplay-All I Can think About Is You
Coldplay-A Message
Coldplay-White Shadows
Dona Onete-Sonos de Adolescente
Los Lonely Boys- Heaven (en Espanol)
twenty one pilots-Trees
twenty one pilots-Car Radio
twenty one pilots-Heathens
Damian Marley-Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
Damian Marley-So A Child May Follow
Damian Marley-The Struggle Discontinues
Ziggy Marley-Lighthouse
Ziggy Marely-See Dem Fake Leaders
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado

twenty one pilots-Trench


Coming in a traditional black rectangular box, the packaging is glossy but unassuming. Understated as expected from Focal. But, be careful…for the top comes off by standing the unit up. If you are not careful, the top WILL slide off and the rest of the box will fall. Luckily, I caught it, but not the best use of the box in my opinion. Whew! With specs on one side-end, and vertical pictures with horizontal writing about the uses on the other, there is not a whole lot. That’s OK, inside is what we are after.

The “bottom” portion reminds me of an old self-paced reading box, complete with u-shaped slot on the front so you can look at the Focal symbol on the fabric case. A nice addition is the formed foam on the bottom of that section, so the case sits cradled in protection.

A slot on the back “wall” houses the quick start manual of brochure-type as well as a small booklet for the warranty in many languages. Tasteful.

Lifting the headphone case out, I marvel at the presentation. Dark gray glued fabric on the outside, headphone-shaped formed hard plastic, with a soft-touch graces the inside. With an elastic to hold the cable in place between the cups, the case is top notch. Embossed with Listen Beyond, a leather strap crosses both halves on top as well as a two-way zipper (two pulls of very high quality). This is good stuff.

Sitting inside, the silver, gray and black Elegia nestle safely inside. Almost belying the sturdy construction of the headphone, itself, the case takes on the look and feel of a caring parent to a baby. Overly dramatic description, but so be it.


Since I am familiar with the Elear build, I had no surprises since they look all but identical. What did take me back (even if I had read about that aspect already) was the plastic backing on the cup. With lightly cupped divots the pattern is regimented and formal. Again, what one would expect. What I did not expect was how cheap the plastic would feel. I could even discern a couple of “almost” finished gluing spots as well (see picture).

Using the same brushed aluminum finish, the yoke feels thinner to me upon first look. I also noticed on both sides of the headband where the yoke enters/exits for adjustment were subtle, but visible scuffing from the slider. I have done my Elear hundreds of times and have no such mark. So, for this to happen on a tour, even with many adjustments, is unacceptable. This should not happen at all on a $900usd headphone. Minor blemishes, yes but still visible.

Bendable aluminum (just like the Elear) allows for a semi-custom fit. I carefully bent my Elear to form my head. It took me about three days of carefully doing so. Based upon the sliders scratching, I did not try this. Covered with fine leather on top and a perforated, absorbent terry-like cloth underneath the feel and fit is good. Nicely embossed silver Focal logos grace each end of the pad/housing.

That same terry-like cloth is used on the pads, and I really do not mind. The same as the Elear, I would like to try leather pads to see the difference in isolation. Coming off easily to reveal the slanted driver, it is easy to change pads. The driver is angled for a reason. Focal decided that angling the driver forward gave a better sound presentation. 3.5mm jacks finish the bottom, which leads to a brief discussion of the cable…

That cable…oh that cable. An audio appliance has not garnered this much discussion or hatred since the debate about cables themselves (don’t go there…). Shorter than normal, but still attractive to me; the cable is flat until the y-splitter, and it looks like a Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha). It is as hard as the Zebra Mussel’s shell, too. Very well built, with an innovative screw on 6.3mm jack the cable itself works very well to me, providing good sound. But there are pretty severe microphonics as well above the y-splitter. Plus, did I mention it was stiff? Since it has the same connectors as the Elear, I will be using my LQi cables ( as well. I do like the look and performance of the cable, but I, like others, cannot get past the feel of it. Not the best option, Focal.

To a Deeper Understanding (not really, but it sounds good…):

The Elegia is easy to drive. One would hope this is the case, since it is aimed not only at the top tier closed-back market; but more importantly the commuter/smartphone/office geek who must have their sound the whole while (I certainly do not fault that, as I often carry quality gear to use on my plan, so more power to us!!). While not foldable (like the Cascade), but what I would call a “transportable” (I first used that term with the iFi Black Label, and find it appropriate here as well) case, the Elegia can be fairly easily taken with you. I could see myself happily strolling down an Avenue in NYC (or Tokyo, THAT would be nice…) with the Elegia on. I might worry about the bling aspect, since the silver highlights are plain for all to see. Then again, the Wallyworld brands carry more bling so you might get away with it. Maybe if Focal made an off-gray/black for those who like to keep their gear incognito would be appreciated (like the Cascade or Flow). Then again, compared to the Atticus, this is downright humble, so there is that.

Speaking of the Atticus, I mentioned in the comparison part (here as well) that I quickly became tainted by that sound. I won’t repeat the conversation I had with Caleb during that time, but suffice to say I was the one doing the talking….oh my. But, once I cleared my head (and thoughts), the Elegia grew on me. Part of that might be the ingrained nature of their sound due to my Elear, but part of it might be simply because the Elegia is good. Very, very good. Neutral is thrown about quite a bit, and as I stated in other reviews, I probably cannot tell you what that means, or reference for that matter. But, if I had to gander a thought on that (hard for me sometimes), the Elegia just might fit that mention. Nothing really stands out to me. Some mention that the treble is “cut off” at the top, but I would dribble that I am the wrong one to glimpse that query. The treble does sound a bit short.

Going full neutral on the EQ setting, the treble does seem to stop short of the mountain top. But I must state that the view is just fine where it does. Clarity, conciseness and details revel from that position. This is one of the finer treble presentations I have heard of late.

Mids are hard for me to nail down (always have been, other than forward/recessed), but Aretha’s soulful Rolling In The Deep is a wonder to hear. Her voice can drive lesser cans to their knees with that reach and punch of sound. The Elegia acts like one of the support singers and adds that bit of flair needed to complete the song. Vocals are just about perfectly centered, and I will admit a bit tame. Not quite the thoroughness that the treble provides. This is verified on her seminal song At Last. Where the Atticus and Ether-C Flow drop ME to my knees with subsequent tears coming out, the Elegia does an adequate job, and quite decent. Just not sensual with full representation. Quite adequate, but I was expecting to be wowed.

Which of course brings us to what I feel is the real Achilles of the Elegia…a lack of far reaching bass. And this is where that reference to well “reference” or neutral sound comes in. I have what has been called a neutral/reference/studio sounding IEM right now, and the difference is stark. That IEM is one I would purchase to replace something in my stable right now. It has supreme detail, and clarity. The sublime way it presents sound is impeccable. And here is where I think Focal didn’t take that chance. They had a chance to make something truly special at the sub $1k market and it falls short. I expect this out of my Elear, since it is a semi-open, but not with a fully closed. I can EQ bass in for the Atticus and Flow, but they really do not need it to be special. The Cascade? Doesn’t need any more bass. Too much for some, I relish that bass and anytime I get to hear it.

Now, the above might come across as truly negative towards the Elegia. It shouldn’t. Focal has a sound, which is quite successful, and they should be lauded for that. I do love listening to my Elear to clear my thoughts, but I don’t want a closed-back version of the Elear. I want an Elear with better bass. MORE bass. Better control of that bass. When Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes comes on, I want the feel of that Irish pub in my bones. I want to be the one singing the song at the top of my lungs with the other patrons as we swig back that fine single-malt or stout. The way it is presented on the Elegia though is one for that quiet evening in your drawing room. Nothing wrong with that, but I WANT that kick from the song, and the Elegia doesn’t make it.

Other rambling items:

So…if you are still with me (and I do so hope), fortunately this story does not end on that somewhat-sour bass note above. That clarity of sound is infectious, and some other manufacturers would do well to ask Focal how it is done. And some of those same corporations should be jealous of that as well. I find this to be among the best of late in those terms, and there is something to be said for a presentation that reminds you of what is there. Nothing else, but what is there. And the Elegia does it with aplomb. I can clearly hear where the percussive instruments are on Corazon Espinado, one of my all-time favorite test tracks. If this song does not scream sensuous to you, then I cannot help you. The drums are a bit laid back (those mids again), but Carlos man…goodness gracious. Succinct and ever so detail oriented, his solos are worth the price of any admission. That succinctness carries over to the vocal and percussive support. Clearly stage left and right can be discerned. And those layers. It is as if the audio engineers literally peeled each layer of tape (think old school) and precisely laid them over the others. No mismatch, no delay, just precise to a degree.

Followed by See Dem Fake Leaders, there is good quality of bass, just not that thump and rumble the song deserves (think Cascade). Ziggy’s vocals are the sounds of heaven, I am sure. And the Focal does that splendidly. The support horns slightly stage-left give the song that brassy edge, which is needed to offset the thump of bass guitar. With a bit of reverb built in, the song represents well.


Focal Elegia ($899usd) vs ZMF Atticus ($1100usd):

Had I listened to the Elegia first, I would most likely have been floored that Focal could take the wonderful sound of the Elear (I still love mine dearly, even though it is not the “flavor of the month” anymore) and all but turn it into a closed-back gem. It really is quite good, and a full review is forthcoming. But alas, I listened to the Atticus first, and that memory is burned into my cranial matter just like the evenly spaced venting slots. The Elegia wins the bass department. Better reach it all but rumbles. All but. The mids and treble are where it falls behind the Atticus. More of a forward nature presents itself well, but there is not nearly the air between notes on the Elegia. Nicely sparkled up top to a point, it just doesn’t sing like the Atticus. The velvet sound of Ella on At Last is a sound to die for. Oh…my…GAWD, that song is as sensuous as it gets. The Elegia presents it well. The Atticus lives it well. That is the difference.

On R.E.M.’s seminal Losing My Religion, the mids seem a bit hidden on the Atticus. Not quite as airy as other songs. A warm sumptuous presentation, which I can account for variation possibly due to the warm song of the iTubes2. On the Elegia, the mids are forward, presenting themselves front and center. Almost a bit too much. There is a lack of depth to the bass as well.

The velvety fit of the Atticus wins as well. You wear the Elegia, and rather tightly. You envision the Atticus.

Focal Elegia ($899usd) vs Mr. Speakers Ether-C Flow ($1799):

The Ether-C Flow was a find, after borrowing Caleb’s Atticus. I was looking at several closed-back headphones (a step higher than the Cascade) and happened across a used pair on eBay. Shooting the dealer an offer, we agreed and (other than silly FedEx delaying) I had them in hand to compare. Suffice to say, THIS is the closed-back pair I have been looking for. To say they are marvelous would be an understatement. I have not heard detail on a headphone like this until now. Even the Atticus falls behind (in my mind) on a couple of options. That said, there is a very fine review, which includes all of the top “dog” closed-backs you really must peruse. Even after that (I disagree with the findings, duh) you really should make your own decision.

Where the Elegia has a more central mid, the Flow’s mids are more forward, and peaky to me as well. I feel the presentation of the mids are better in the Elegia, but quality is better on the flow. The high end belongs to the Flow, though. Sparkle in a high-end headphone is present and accounted for. I am in love with the treble presentation. But what truly separates the two to me (other than cost, duh) is the bass. On Ky-Mani Marley’s Love Over All, the bass guitar would make car windows rattle and possibly break on a top car audio system. On the Cascade, I can honestly feel the headphone vibrate (in a good way). While the Flow does not do that, the quality of which the sound is presented is exactly what I wanted from Focal in the Elegia. If they had come even close to the way bass is presented (not quantity), the Elegia would be the toast of closed-backs. And those of higher price would certainly be looking over their shoulders. I made the right choice.

Focal Elegia ($899usd) vs Focal Elear (now $700-750ish):

As stated elsewhere, I rather enjoy pulling the Elear out for a run to clear my thoughts between reviews. I do this with my UM Mentor V3 on the IEM side as well. Popping the Elear on brought a smile back to my face. Man, these are good, and perfect for what I use them. Solo time and when I need to compare. Solo time is at a premium in our house, so this made me smile knowing I brought out an old friend. Better bass. Period. Better quality. Better quantity. From a semi-open. That defines the problem, right there. I will detail that in my finale suffice to say.

I will say that the Elegia treble is of a better quality to me. A bit more detail and sparkle (even if they cut it short), and this as I recall was one of the “flaws” mentioned by many when the Elear came out. Well, people overreact, and this would be one time it was unwarranted. The treble in the Elear is just fine. I laugh and dance with them on and to those who don’t like it so be it, that leaves more for the ones who like this sound. A bit darker of sound than the Elegia, but just fine in my book. Again, Corazon Espinado finishes it for me. Just sensual sound in nature does it for me. The Elear holds a very special place in my house, and it will continue to do so.

Focal Elegia ($899usd) vs Campfire Audio Cascade ($799):

Every time I listen to the Cascade, I chortle with mirth at the fact that something with such bass quantity (some would say it shouldn’t be considered a basshead headphone. I laugh in your general direction!) can sound overall so good. This is CA’s first attempt at a headphone, for goodness sake!!! My extended time with Will’s tarnished me to what a closed-back could sound like (deepened lately). Ever since then I looked to find one. It is a supreme example of what American mettle and work ethic can produce. While I don’t really care for the plastic surface, it is not meant to please me, but protect the Cascade. Making a truly portable top-tier closed-back, the Cascade can be likened to a tank. It can play Stravinsky as well as Santana. Dylan as well as Dobro music. It essentially knows no bounds in my humble opinion. The only place that the Elegia wins in my book is fit. Where the Elegia comforts your cranial, the Cascade clamps your cranial. It can be tight, too tight fitting for many. Throw in glasses, and it can become painful after an hour or so. Luckily you can order fixes, which aid that. Sound wise? The Elegia has better clarity and detail representation. So, if that is what you are looking for, then give the Elegia a try for it is good.

So…what the heck are we left with now?..


Through the last bit of comparisons and convections, you may surmise that I really did not care for the Elegia. Especially when compared to others. Well, that may be partially correct. Again, if I had heard the Elegia before the Atticus, my ears (and mind) would not have been tainted by that sweet melodious sound. From removal of that thought, I garnered that the Elegia slightly edge the Atticus out on detail. If you are looking for air between your notes, and represented honestly, then the Elegia does it in exemplary fashion. Somewhat better than the Atticus. But there is so much more to the overall package than air between notes and placement of instruments. So much more, and it is here that I think Focal missed the mark.

I believe they aimed for the Clear/Utopia sound, leaving their core behind (OK, non-Utopia coree…). There is little wrong with the Elear in my mind, and they had an opportunity to make a closed-back version, which raised the bar (the way they did with the air between notes) sound wise, while adding a killer bass sound. THIS would have set the world on fire in my opinion, and I do believe focal fell victim to persuasion. Internet persuasion.

Following the absolute success of the Utopia (even with its detractors, good lord give me a break…) was hard, extremely hard. How do you rightly bring down that stellar sound to a more affordable model? Well, you don’t. you make something a bit different, taking a chance. And in the Clear, they tried. They tried to “correct” what what wrong with the Elear, while bringing some of the aspects of the Utopia down. I will admit I have never heard the Clear, and it does get good reviews, so they must have succeeded. And this is where I think they could have taken a real chance with the Elegia. Go a different route (a bit) for the sound. Make a Utopia, which has such superb bass along with that air, and people would line up for days to purchase. TAKE A CHANCE, on something different. Don’t be cautious, with that caution we may have never had the Utopia, arguably one of the 4-5 best headphones in existence. All that said, the Elegia is good. Quite good. And it should receive serious consideration if you are looking for a superb closed-back sub-$1000.

Focal was aiming for a competent closed-back, with their usual stellar sound qualities’ and they did succeed. I just wish they would have taken that chance; much the way Ferdinand Pech did all those years ago. Look what that got us.

I profusely thank Todd for a superb Christmas week with the Elegia. It was my honor to have it grace my house. I do like it quite a bit, but it misses too many marks for me to give it that wholehearted unabashed love that it should have received if done properly.

I own both the Elegia and Atticus. They are very different headphones. The Atticus, in my opinion, is more resolving and dynamic. You sit up and take notice. The Elegia, is more detached, relaxed and liquid. Better for longer listening sessions. I get excellent bass extension with the Elegia using a Schitt Jotunheim amp w/multi-bit DAC and a Moon-Audio Blue Dragon XLS cable. The synergy is fantastic.
Pros: Very high sound quality, travel/carry case, build quality
Cons: Stock cable, not the most isolating, a bit of clamping/pressure
Hello all.

My audio connective trail and setup:

16 & 24-Bit WAV lossless files,

Foobar2000 with WASAPI event output,

Digital optical toslink cable,

Chord Qute Ex with a MCRU linear power supply,

a custom 6 core pure silver litz RCA cable,

Graham Slee Solo with PSU1.

Mine have been burned in for about 50 hours.

I’ll get the negatives out of the way first.

That stock cable.

It is a poor choice from Focal to include it with these stunning cans. I find it microphonic, too short and far too rigid and stiff.

Seriously, what where they thinking?!

Luckily I had a spare Beyerdynamic 2nd gen T1/T5/Amiron Home cable (article number 718637). Now that cable is highly recommended, just like a few other members mentioned in a thread. It is well made, has very good quality conductors, it’s longer, not as microphonic and nowhere near as stiff.

Also I find the Elegia a bit too clamping for my liking, so long listening sessions are a bit of an issue for me. A bit too much pressure is applied to my jaws, I have stretched them out a little over time. It is a little better but still not great to be honest.

The ear cups do not swivel horizontally, just vertically. If they did that, it would improve comfort and fit even further.

I don’t think the thick microfibre ear pads are the best choice for these cans, they are not the most isolating (which is an important factor with closed back cans). Synthetic leather or genuine leather ear pads would be better for that job from experience, I would prefer to hear these cans with perforated leather ear pads (but that’s just my preference). They block out sufficient sounds for me but something to consider...

Just like the Focal Utopia and Elear cans, these are not the most airiest or spacious sounding and they do not have a large soundstage.

Now the good stuff, and it is bloody good!

I really like the travel/carry case it comes in, superb materials and build quality. It exudes quality and class.

The build quality of the Elegia is very good, I feel it is an improvement from the Elear. I’ve not heard any creaking from the yokes/headband.


I’m going to say something that I have not said before, these cans adapt to whatever music genre/type/style you are listening to. Be it a bright recording or a well mastered one. They are neutral sounding but have undeniable life and energy. They are not bright, they do not have recessed mids and do not have an emphasis on bass. They are very balanced sounding and coherent.

It is not harsh, it is not boring at all and I don’t find it analytical or clinical (I personally never found the Elear or the Utopia to be those things either).

They are very lively, engaging, punchy and very dynamic.

They are detailed and clear, resolving and defined. They image well and have good separation.

They have good attack and a slightly forward presentation.

The sound stage is quite wide with good depth but not great height.

The mids are just exceptional, really incredible to be honest. Meaty, textured, visceral and powerful.

Vocals are of the same calibre, mesmerising. Male or female singers. They sound authentic, realistic, intimate, and in no way thin. You can hear the emotion.

The lows are outstanding! Excellent impact and slam, superb depth and extension. So resolving, utterly smooth, full and warm. Not the fastest but it's luscious.

Negative resonance and reverberations can be heard when the drivers are pushed, which is off-putting and distracting but I believe that is a limitation of closed back cans. It is an infrequent issue to be honest.

So to sum up, if you are looking for a pair of very high quality closed back cans which is neutral in signature but fun, enjoyable and captivating then you have found it.

It’s the Focal Elegia, highly recommended from me but remember I did warn you about that stock cable.

Happy listening everyone : )
iFi audio
iFi audio
Very cool review!
Thank you so much : )
I use the Moon Audio Blue Dragon XLR cables with my Elegia and they sound fantastic.