Focal Radiance Bentley Edition

General Information



● A 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo jack cable
● A 1/8" (3.5mm) to 1/4" (6.35mm) jack adapter
● A hard carrying case thermoformed in the shape of the headphones.
● Special Bentley finishes.
● Black leather-effect packaging


Focal Radiance tech specs:
Type: Circum-aural closed-back headphones
Impedance: 35Ω
Sensitivity: 101dB SPL / 1mW @ 1 kHz
THD: 0,1% @ 1kHz / 100dB SPL
Frequency response: 5Hz – 23kHz
Speaker driver: 50mm Aluminium/Magnesium “M” shape dome
Weight: 435g
Cable: 1.2m) OFC 24 AWG cable with 3.5 mm TRS jack connector
Hard-shell carry case: 250 x 240 x 120 mm


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Headphoneus Supremus
High quality and fun headphone in a competitive market
Pros: Clean sound with just enough color to make music fun again, sound signature ideal for low-level listening.
Cons: Not the most comfortable design for all head sizes and shapes, Focal design language is not for everyone (especially in copper)

Even before seeing the $1300 price tag, expectations for the closed back Radiance for Bentley headphones were high -- it is made by Focal under a special license. Focal makes one of the consensus three best headphones you can buy, the $4400 Utopia. I haven’t heard that model, but the ZMF Auteur and Drop 8xx happen to be available for comparison. Let’s look and listen.

I Love France

As all Americans remember, France saved America’s bacon during the our Revolutionary War, supplying troops, gold and other materials to the fledgling Continental Army. Without France, America would have been a British colony well into, and perhaps past, the 19th century. Focal is a manufacturer in France.

Focal headphones seem very fancy, and you are paying a bit for appearance in addition to great sound. Radiance for Bentley is no exception and it contains most of the Focal ‘design language’ and adds plenty of copper-hued pizzazz. This might make Radiance a difficult fit in a listening room with a more subdued appearance.

If you’re interested to see more, please visit Focal’s web site. There you will find interesting information about how cool their stuff is and how it’s made. Cool gear and great technology at a reasonable price. And France!

Fit and Finish / Packaging

The choice of materials is appropriate for Bentley and that’s an elegance any consumer can appreciate. They feel comfortable for an hour or two, but do try them on and make sure the fit is comfortable for you. The headphones have a firm grip that feels like a welcome hug. I enjoyed my time with them. For many people, especially as a gift, these are exactly what they want.

A 3.5 mm stereo plug and a screw on ¼” to 3.5 mm adapter to go with the 4 foot cable. The headphones come in a fairly large, luxurious case that seems unusually fashion forward. Altogether the looks and sound come together nicely and the Radiance feels price appropriate.

A fancy case is included for storage, but doesn’t feel like it’d be a good traveling case on it’s own. Kind of a case to put in a suitcase.


The Radiance sounds radiant even when driven by the 3.5 mm headphone jack from an above average telephone or laptop. The sound is very open for a closed back, and I’d consider it more of a semi closed back. Isolation isn’t great.

Sound quality improves with the addition of an outboard headphone amplifier like the Schiit Hel, or better yet, the Jotunheim 2 (which was used for most listening done for this review ... tubes don't play well with Radiance).

The Focal Radiance has a colorful, quick, vivacious sound. It adds a bit of warmth and detail if not present in the original recording. The soundstage is a good size with each instrument portrayed well, with a slight smearing of position but mostly in their own space. I hear a rising lower treble (others disagree) combine with a generous bump in the upper bass to give a response curve shaped like an upside down W. The deepest sub bass and extended upper treble are mostly absent.

Detail is not what I hoped for, and at this price it is easily surpassed by the Audeze LCD XC. Where exactly it fits is difficult to say, as Radiance is tuned with a lifted treble (others disagree) that makes apparent detail high. On balance I’d say the slightly more expensive Auteur has nearly the same level of actual detail, and the slightly cheaper $1100 Drop 8xx has more.

ZMF’s Auteur bests the Radiance on tone. Brass and woodwinds sound more natural in the ZMF neckbreakers. Auteur has a darker background holding everything together. The Radiance provides an airy, ethereal air to music, taking the best of the spaciousness of the 8xx but in a smaller, denser stage. Notes sound sweeter and damp, losing the occasional dryness of the Auteur and the sterility of the 8xx and presenting a warm, not quite syrupy sound that reminds me of an excited, fun version of the Audioquest Night Owl (a discontinued closed back that retailed for $700).

Radiance is quite satisfying with synthetic rock like 70s Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream and 90s jam type bands such as Phish, Widespread Panic and Dave Matthews Band, for example. But with small ensemble acoustic groups, its sound is not as satisfying. Still good though, remember, this is a $1k + headphone, so 'not as satisfying' is relative. Rap and large group classical music sounds pretty good.

Where the Radiance excels is in low-level listening. The elevated bass and treble serve the listener well here. If you don't want to push your ears to the max, consider this headphone.

The Radiance has a bigger, fuller sound than the $1100 8xx. There is a great deal of criticism of this new version of the 800S regarding it’s tuning, and these arrived together more or less, so I’ll not compare beyond that. The Radiance isn’t as detailed but is a much funner headphone than the Drop 8xx.

The Radiance draws colors with good effect over a variety of music. Their sense of space and detail is good. And if you like to rock, the Focals provide a great, bopping bass bump so full of verve that it is impossible to dissuade your feets from feasting as they tap a hole to China.


It’s a fun tuning of a very capable headphone and I believe most people will enjoy Radiance for Bentley from Focal. Listen first, buy second.
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100+ Head-Fier
Pros: 1. Pleasant and fun, organic tuning.
2. Zero sibilance or shout. Not as metallic sounding as previous focals
3. Good details and technicalities for a closed back
4. Beautiful build and aesthetics
5. Comfortable
Cons: 1. Less than ideal stock cables
2. A bit closed in . Not very wide
3. Not neutral, might not suit listeners who prefer a more energetic presentation
The headphone is a personal unit owned by Mr. Sajid Amit.
His Head fi profile:
I'll occasionally post reviews as a Co Reviewer of Amplify. This is a hobby project and there are no incentives involved as always.

Build and Comfort
Focal is French and their headphones are generally the epitome of French elegance. Radiance takes that up a notch. Radiance was made in Collab with British luxury automotive manufacturer Bentley and it successfully portrays the design philosophy of both brands. The mesh like pattern on the cups resembles modern Bentley interior while the overall headphone design is unmistakably Focal.

Radiance is closed back yet incredibly comfy rivaling even lightweight open backs. Stock leather pads has just the right amount of softness and pretty easy on skin. Also happy to report that the stock cable supplied is decent and not janky/stiff as focal stock cables usually are (Still leaves a lot to be desired). Supplied carrying case is beautiful.


Impedance: 35 Ohms
Driver: M-shaped, inverted-dome, full-range driver measuring 40mm
Weight: 435 gm.
Sensitivity: ~101 dB/mW

Radiance is extremely easy to drive. You can run them off your smartphone or dongles just fine. They will sound their best with dedicated desktop setups though. My listening session was done via Holo May+ Accuphase e380 (headphone out) combo.

Bass, Midrange and Treble

Radiance has hard hitting fun bass with ample slam and rumble. The bass texture is however not as detailed or layered as its open back cousin Clear but definitely more in quantity. This can be a double edged sword. I personally love bass but bass here is not slightly elevated from neutral but quite a bit elevated (not bass head level though). This will appease moderate/ slightly enhanced bass lovers but can be too bassy for people used to neutral/clinical bass.

I loved the midrange on these. Lower mids are full and while upper mids are a bit snubbed it effectively eliminated the trouble involving shouty/shrill vocals. Overall the the midrange is smooth and natural with a slightly warm tilt. Radiance favors female vocals a bit more but overall the midrange is a strong reminder of Sennheiser HD 6X0 series.

Treble here is right up my ally. Clears are clearly superior in treble but I like Radiance's treble presentation more. The treble here doesn't feel jagged or uneven. Its very rounded and soft with enough extension/air. Not a dark sounding headphone by any mean. This is the type of treble you can listen to for hours yet it'll never feel dull or muted.

Detail retrieval while good isn't exceptional especially considering the price. However I like the way details and minor nuances are presented. I retains the excellent dynamics of Focal Clears all across the frequencies.

Soundstage while not very wide is mostly accurate and thanks to extremely good imaging, It sounds three dimensional. There are no weird blobs and every single instrument can be pinpointed in the soundscape. A very ethereal experience indeed. Separation is excellent as well and every single instrument can be picked apart no matter how complex the music is.

Is Focal Radiance worth the price? Hell yes it is. There ain't many easy to drive closed back headphones that have both the build and look to match the sound. This is the second headphone after the venerable Meze 99c that made my jaws open in pleasant surprise. If you want to chill in the balcony with just a DAP and a pair of headphones, This is it.
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100+ Head-Fier
Focal Radiance - by WaveTheory
Pros: Macrodynamics and overall physicality; will satisfy most bassheads; less trouble with metallic timbre than other Focal models; isolates well; very easy to drive and mobile/transportable friendly
Cons: Bass may be too much and treble/mid presence too little for some listeners; earpads show dust quickly; Focal stock cables continue to be a joke

The Focal Radiance, or more technically the Focal + Bentley Radiance, is a closed-back, dynamic-driver, around the ear headphone designed and built by Focal but with Bentley styling and name plastered on the headband. I’ve been sitting on this one for awhile because I’ve been loaded up on review material. To let the cat out of the bag a little, this one was loaned to me and I bought it…I liked it that much and found a space for it in my already crowded headphone collection. Read on to find out why…


In this reviewer’s humble opinion, the Radiance is a triumph. It has a warm sound signature with punchy dynamics and very healthy bass presence without the bass bleeding into the mids and while maintaining very good clarity and detail retrieval throughout the audible spectrum. Add to that that it’s efficient, easy to drive, isolates well, and is quite comfortable and you have an excellent overall package whether at a desk or on the go. Highly recommended.


My preferred genres are rock/metal and classical/orchestral music. I’m getting to know jazz more and enjoying quite a bit. I also listen to some EDM and hip-hop. My hearing quirks include a high sensitivity to midrange frequencies from just under 1KHz to around 3Khz, give or take. My ears are thus quick to perceive “shoutiness” in headphones in particular. I describe “shoutiness” as an emphasis on the ‘ou’ sound of ‘shout.’ It’s a forwardness in the neighborhood of 1KHz and/or on the first one or two harmonics above it (when I make the sound ‘ooooowwwww’ into a spectrum analyzer the dominant frequency on the vowel sound is around 930Hz, which also means harmonic spikes occur again at around 1860Hz and 2790Hz). In the extreme, it can have the tonal effect of sounding like a vocalist is speaking or singing through a toilet paper tube or cupping their hands over their mouth. It can also give instruments like piano, but especially brass instruments, an added ‘honk’ to their sound. I also get distracted by sibilance, or sharp ‘s’ and ‘t’ sounds that can make ssssingers sssssound like they’re forssssssing esssss ssssssounds aggresssssssively. Sibilance does not physically hurt my ears nearly as quickly as shout, though. It’s distracting because it’s annoying and unnatural. Finally, I’m discovering that I have a preference for more subtle detail. I like good detail retrieval and hearing what a recording has to offer, but I prefer what many would consider relaxed and subtle rather than aggressive or detail-forward. To my ear, more subtle detail-retrieval sounds more realistic and natural than aggressive, detail-forwardness. There is a balance here, though, because detail retrieval can get too relaxed and that can sound unnatural, as well, or simply leave out important aspects of the recording. Readers should keep these hearing quirks and preferences in mind as they read my descriptions of sound.


Subjectively the styling of the Radiance is excellent, IMO. The black with bronze accents is tasteful and attractive without being overstated. Outside of that the aesthetics and build are quintessential Focal. The basic look is there from the shape of the earcups, the pattern on the back of the earcups, the yokes, etc. The one possible downside is that the earcups don’t squeeze together when not in use like many headphones do, causing them to take up a larger amount of real estate than many models:


Focal headphones: always canspreading.

The comfort is solid. I don’t notice any hotspots on the top of my head from the headband. The clamp force is snug but not too tight. I’m also a glasses wearer and did not have any comfort issues as a result. The one comfort downside is that the pads are a leather or faux leather as opposed to the fabric covered pads Focal often uses. These trap heat in a bit more and on occasion they could get warm. This didn’t happen enough to me to be a deal-breaker, though. The pads also give excellent isolation. There is very little sound leakage inward, and it’s not bad outward either, depending on volume, of course.

I think unique to the Radiance and its pad material is its inability to hide dust. If ever they sit out, either on a stand or on a tabletop, and aren’t used for awhile, the amount of dust that collects will remind you that you haven’t used them. Here’s a pic I took after not using them for about 48 hours:


I managed to get that in direct sunlight and made a mark with my finger to wipe the dust off one spot. I frequently have to wipe the pads down with a paper towel or cloth before putting them on.

The stock cable is as bad as it is on any other Focal headphone. It’s thick, stiff, and generally unmanageable. In a departure from other Focal cans the cover of the cable is vinyl as opposed to nylon or cloth. Fortunately, my set came used with a nice Plussound cable (which the seller couldn’t remember the name of). I used either the Plussound or Hart cables for this review. I think Focal’s motto for their cables is “At least they aren’t HiFiMan cables.” And that’s about all that can be said.

Finally, the driver is the typical M-shaped, formless voice coil, dynamic driver that is common in Focal headphones. In this case the driver material is aluminum/magnesium. The rated impedance is 35Ω and the rated sensitivity is 105dB/mW. Those numbers are quite believable as I found them to be very easy to drive, even for DAPs and other mobile devices.


Test Gear

The bulk of my listening was with the Chord Hugo 2 transportable DAC/amp fed by a Cayin N6ii connected via either USB or with Cayin’s USB-C-to-coaxial spdif cable. I also tried the N6ii’s E02 module 4.4mm balanced headphone output to drive the Radiance directly. Desktop gear included the Berkeley Audio Designs Alpha S2 and Schiit Modius and Bifrost 2 DACs with Violectric HPA-V281, Monolith Liquid Platinum amps, as well as 3 amps from Schiit: IEMagni, Magnius, and Asgard 3.

Quick Editorial

It’s not very often that I put a headphone on and am immediately grabbed by it. I was immediately captivated by the Radiance. My first impression with it came while sitting out in my sunroom with the Hugo 2. I had been looking for a headphone that isolated well and sounded great off the Hugo 2 for a transportable solution, as the Hugo 2 is quite picky as an “amplifier.” The Radiance immediately made me sit up straight and pay attention. Bass. Detail. Clarity. An almost tactile dynamic punchiness. I knew right away this one was a serious contender. HiFiMan did this to me with the Edition X V2 and then again with the HE1000V2. The transformation the HD6XX makes on a tube amp did it the first time, too. But usually, even with cans I end up liking a lot, the initial impression isn’t the raw “WHOA!” that Radiance gave me. With that said, on with the details…

Sound Signature

By ear the signature of the Radiance presents as having an elevated bass shelf of 2-4 dB above neutral until about 100ish hertz. There is a slight dip in the midbass, but not very audible with most listening material, and then seemingly neutral and nearly flat frequency response starting in the lower mids and going all the way through the air frequencies. This comes across as almost an “L” shaped signature, which is a very odd term but is how many audiophiles communicate an elevated bass shelf into a more flat remainder of the frequency spectrum. The resulting presentation is warm and bassy without being bloated and maintaining excellent clarity and resolution in the mids and treble. The presentation is both aggressive and relaxed overall, as well. It’s aggressive in the macrodynamics, punching very hard in the bass, but also having a lot of pop and snap in the transients throughout the frequency range. At the same time it’s relaxed and laid back in terms of details, not forcing itself in that regard, and maintaining a smoothness despite the physicality.


As a self-professed basshead, the Radiance leaves me satisfied. The bass is extended, plentiful, punchy, detailed, and pulls this off without being boomy or bleeding into the vocals. There isn’t quite as much texture as my HE1000V2 can pull off, but that’s also more than twice the price. For a dynamic driver headphone under $1500 the bass texture here is noticeable and impressive. I love it, but I must also caution many a reader. Many listeners are not as much into the bass as I am. If you’re bass-sensitive this headphone could very well be too over-the-top for you. There also can be a bit of an adjustment if listening to my HE1000V2 for awhile before going out to a transportable situation and listening to Radiance. In comparison the bass on the Radiance can be a bit one-notey. I don’t think most listeners will call its bass one-notey in an absolute sense, but it’s not as tonally accurate as the more expensive model.

I’m just going to say one more time this headphone punches hard. It is very dynamic, almost to the point of being able to feel it.


My previous experience with Focal was the Elegia. The Elegia had very detailed mids but at times could sound too mid-forward and shouty. I did not notice any shoutiness with the Radiance that I can recall. The mids are clear and detailed, with good instrument and voice separation, and a generally natural timbre. The timbre doesn’t quite rise to the level of organicness that the Senn HD600/650 reach, but it’s quite solid in its own right.


The treble is clear, sparkly, and extended but will strike some as recessed. To my ear it isn’t recessed, it’s more in line with the same level as the mids, but some will want a bit more top-end presence. The detail and separation are good here too, with the ability to separate rapid cymbal crashes reasonably well and present the attack and decay of each strike. Sibilance is also never added, just presented if it’s in the recording. The balance here between being laid-back yet sparkly, detailed yet relaxed, at $1300, is remarkable. I can listen to it for hours without getting fatigued or feeling like I am missing too much.

Resolution & Detail Retrieval

The Radiance is not the most detailed headphone I have ever heard, but for a $1300 closed-back it is excellent. Classic signs of excellent detail retrieval like room reverb and ‘hearing the room’ are appropriately present without coming across too aggressively.

In what will certainly be a controversial statement, the Radiance also has the resolution chops to distinguish between DAC and amp signatures as well as slight differences in the sounds of headphone and signal cables. The Plussound cable that came with my set definitely sounded better than the Harts I used, with a little cleaner overall sound, slightly wider staging, and better tonal balance in the treble. Cymbal hits sounded more natural and less tizzy, for example. The Cayin usb-to-spdif cable I mentioned earlier showed up after I had been connecting my N6ii and Hugo 2 via el-cheapo USB cable. The Radiance showed me that the Cayin cable was cleaner, smoother, and separated sounds better. The Radiance showed me that the Magnius is what it is, rather flat and dull sounding (a curse of these high feedback op-amp designs, I’m afraid). It showed me that the Asgard 3 and V281 have very similar overall signatures (warmer, thicker, and highly dynamic) but that the V281 is several tiers higher in overall technical performance. I make this point because this stands in contrast to what the Elegia was able to do. The Elegia’s biggest party trick was to sound fantastic when powered by budget-tier source gear at the expense of it being able to scale up and truly resolve differences between higher quality source gear. The Radiance also does a good job of sounding excellent on budget gear – I thoroughly enjoyed it from the IEMagni and Asgard 3 – but still having something left to resolve differences in higher level source gear. Its scalability is not on the legendary level of the Senn HD600/650 or Beyer DT880 – which all keep finding new ways to surprise you as you go up in source gear quality – but it also does not seemingly approach an asymptote in its scaling like the Elegia does.

Spatial Presentation

The soundstage is Focal-like in creating that 360-degree bubble around the head. Audeze and Focal are similar in how they stage by wrapping your head in sound rather than presenting it out front like many others do. For orchestral recordings it’s often like standing on the Maestro’s box rather than sitting in the audience. It’s a different effect that has its merits. The size of this bubble is neither Sennheiser HD600/650/6XX narrow nor HiFiman egg-shaped line HUGE. It’s in the middle. Within that staging, imaging and separation don’t call attention to themselves for either good or ill. I wasn’t wowed by the placement and separation, but I was also never distracted by the lack of them. In my classical recordings the instruments seem realistically placed, but I also wasn’t as wowed by their placement as I was with the HiFiMan Arya’s placements, for example.

You’re Mostly Fawning Over This Headphone…


What’s Not to Like?

If anyone is going to object to Radiance’s sound I think it will be because it’s just too bassy for some. Some may find it chunky sounding as a result. I don’t get that, but I loves mah bass. Some may find it not bright enough. My subjective impression is that the audiophile industry is moving slowly toward a more bright, leaning-to-analytical signature as the proverbial “audiophile signature.” At least, more and more stuff is seeming to tilt that way. Radiance goes the other way. That may bother some. If spatial chops are your number one priority, even though the Radiance is pretty good, it may not satisfy that itch. However, I can’t name another full-sized closed-back headphone that matches it for the price right off the top of my head.


Naturally, we all want to know how the Radiance fits in with Focal’s other closed-back models, Elegia, Celestee, and Stellia. I have not heard them all. My understanding is that the Radiance is the bassiest of the set. The Stellia has higher quality bass, but the bass isn’t as present. I honestly don’t know much about the Celestee, other than that blue-green color is SWEET! I owned the Elegia for awhile (review here) and spoke a little bit about the scalability comparison between Radiance and Elegia above. I’ll compare these two a bit more.

The Elegia and Radiance are both easy to drive and are closed-back with good isolation. This makes them both excellent candidates for mobile/transportable use. The Radiance is the more complete headphone from a sonic performance perspective. It’s more resolving, has more natural timbre, and improves upon Elegia’s already impressive macrodynamic punch. The Radiance’s signature is warm and bassy where the Elegia is slightly mid-forward. The Elegia also at times suffers from the metallic timbre that Focal headphones are known for among some listeners. The Elegia ends up having a bite to it that is almost entirely absent from the Radiance. Another key difference is the Radiance is nearly $1300 where the Elegia frequently goes on sale for $399, thanks to Adorama.

The other high-end closed-back I have on hand is a Fostex TH900 with Lawton purpleheart chambers and tune-up mod. Strengths of the Lawton’d TH900 are bass presence, impact, detail, timbre, and frequency extension in both directions. The TH900 is also more V-shaped, with elevated bass and treble. I would say the TH900 and the Lawton are roughly equals in terms of bass presence and macrodynamic punch/overall physicality. The TH900 has more treble energy and can come across as sounding overall brighter as a result. The TH900 is also not very forgiving of source gear. It exposes warts and is also quite picky. If not paired with the right source gear, it will sound any or all of very harsh, sharp, shouty, honky, boomy, you name it. When it’s matched to electronics well, though, it easily surpasses the Radiance in resolution and detail and timbre, sounding like it costs a few hundred dollars more…because it does (by the time you put the whole Lawton package together). The Radiance is not nearly as aggressive in the high frequencies and is also much more source-gear independent. Yes, it sounds better with better source gear, but it also still sounds good with source gear that isn’t great or is more budget-oriented. The TH900 is therefore somewhat of a specialist that can create magic with the right source gear and music selections. The Radiance is much more of a generalist with a lower performance ceiling but a much higher performance floor. This is another reason why the Radiance is mobile/transportable friendly. It’s generalist nature means it can be used with a lot of gear combinations for a wide variety of music, making it a friendly travel companion. Last point here, the TH900 is technically more of a semi-closed or semi-open design. It does not give anywhere near the amount of isolation that Radiance offers.


Yeah, I’m keeping this one. I may not have it for long, but to paraphrase a quote from the cult sci-fi movie Starship Troopers “this is it until it’s dead or I find something better.” I love the warm, bassy signature, the dynamic punch, and the ability to do all of that without seeming to sacrifice much, if anything, in clarity and detail everywhere else. Most importantly to me, it sounds wonderful through the Hugo 2, which combined with its comfort and isolation, make it a great travel companion. I could rehash all of the glowing things I said above but I don’t think I need to. For me this is a great headphone. If your tastes are similar to mine, try to get your hands on this one. Someday it might be tough. It’s a limited edition…

Thanks for reading! Enjoy the music!

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John Massaria
John Massaria
this hobby is a great one thanks for your take on Radiance :wink:
Great write up. I'm going to try and find your Edition X V2 review now.
Thank you for the great information.


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