Focal Spirit Professional

General Information

Upgrade your studio with Focal Spirit Professional headphones. With over 30 years of experience creating loudspeakers and studio monitors, Focal brings their first set of audiophile-quality headphones to the market with Spirit Professional. Designed for musicians, sound engineers, and producers, Spirit Professional headphones give you an extremely natural and uncolored sound. This combined with the dynamics of the transducers allow you to mix and record with precision.

Latest reviews


New Head-Fier
Pros: Dynamic, punchy, neutral and detailed - great sound
Cons: Headband design has broken on 2 pairs making them a poor long term investment
I have pasted a review I wrote a while back posted on Amazon - saved me saying all the same stuff again.
I've had these headphones for a few months now and so feel in a better position to comment on their merits, in my eyes(or should I say, ears) as they have been burnt in nicely and the headband/earcups have settled in. I have been so enamoured with their sound and comfort, I felt compelled to share this.

First of all, I was looking for some closed back headphones for a degree of sound isolation, as I'm often in an environment where sound needs to be kept in or out. The Focals are exceptionally good in this regard because their memory foam ear cups provide a good seal around my ears. I guess this will vary dependent on the size of your ears, but they work for my "average" size ears. They are obviously not going to be Bose QC25 standard for noise isolation, but they are no where near as "coloured" sounding and muffled as those cans either.

The Focal Spirit Professional cans are the least congested sounding headphones I've ever heard. Now I know that starting with a double-negative doesn't sound like the best way to describe the positive attributes of these headphones, but believe me, when you put these on after some others you will be surprised by the clarity and "see-through" ability of these cans. Now I've not listened to loads of headphones and certainly not headphones in the £500+ category, so I guess you'll have to qualify my comments with cans in higher echelon as I cannot speak from experience. However, given that most people will be spending well under £500, I hope I can make some relevant comparisons.
I didn't purchase my headphones from Amazon, but from Thomann and paid just over £150 for them.
Headphones I have owned or own are:
My main cans before I purchased the Focals were the open backed Sennheiser HD558 - you can get these on Amazon for £120 ish at the time of writing and so this puts them in a similar price bracket. Now when I got the Senns I was blown away by the soundstage, smoothness, comfort and what I thought at the time, clarity. I have always thought that open backed cans gave a better soundstage and up to this point that has definitely been the case, to my ears. Personally, I feel the Focals have an exceptional soundstage for closed cans and what they lack in "air" they make up for in precision. Dynamically, they are light years better than the Senns and tonally neutral and true to life. A lot of headphones I have heard in the past can only be described as harsh. The Senns aren't harsh, which I like, but it's only when you listen to something like the Focals that you realise that headphones tend to be harsh or veiled. The Senn HD558 are definitely veiled in comparison. My Grado SR80's are positively harsh in comparison - dynamic yes, but definitely harsh. On my auditioning journey, I listened to the AKG K550, greatly reduced in price and therefore a definite option given their closed back design. Unfortunately they sounded harsh and congested to my ears and were off my list as a result. Next up I thought I'd try the Shure SRH 1540. Now these are luxuriously comfortable and definitely not harsh in any way. However, they are close to £400 and I thought they had a boosted upper bass and treble, albeit with a nice soundstage and smooth sound - too smooth and slightly lacking in dynamics in my opinion though. I have also listened to the Shure SRH 840(great value, good sound for the money but still a little edgy) and the Shure SRH940(were on offer but I can see why - way too trebly and harsh to my ears with poor bass). Onto the Beyer Dynamic brand, T51i(on ear closed back - I really liked these and nearly bought them. Sweet musical sound and comfortable but I didn't want on ears), DT770(just sounded muffled to me). Audio Technica M50's(harsh and bass emphasis). Sennheiser HD650's as a reference(loved these but they are open backed so there'd be no point buying them given my requirements). There have been others but I forget. So, as you can see, I have tried a few en route. Now I bought the Focals on a bit of a punt, but only after a lot of research and reading of reviews, including those here on Amazon. There are few places to audition the Focal Spirit Professionals in store, so I found the best price at Thomann and bought them, thinking I'd send them back if they were crap!
I've still got them in spite of a few concerns about manufacturing quality(no problems so far) and comfort(some people complained of a high clamping force). They do take a week or so for maximum comfort as they do have a fairly high clamping force to begin with. Mine are fine now, either because I've got used to them or, more likely, they have loosened off somewhat with use.
Finally we get to the sound. Amazing clarity, neutrality, lack of congestion, great soundstage and instrument placement. The treble is smooth and detailed but not overly so. Bass is extended and very detailed but not woolly or bloated in the way "fashion" dictates how bass should be. Dynamics are exemplary - listening to percussive sounds on these is so addictive. They can sound a little dry or bland, I guess, with some recordings because they are none too forgiving of mixing quality or compression, but give them something well produced, they sound amazing. Piano is a great way of testing sound reproduction and nothing I've listened to come close to the reproductive qualities of the Focals when playing back piano sounds. I'm a big fan of Oscar Peterson's playing and his dexterity and touch come through with aplomb.
I have worn these headphones on journeys too and from social events and when people have tried them, on the whole, with the exception of people who don't care, weren't listening or are plain "deaf" to anything of quality, they have been blown away with the clarity of the sound these things produce - as have I.
For the money, they are in a different league from most of the competition around them and provided you are not into the heavily equalised, bass bloated sound of Beats headphones you might be pleasantly surprised. They are a sonic bargain of massive proportions!

Update to review above.
Sonically there is nothing to add, but I am on my 2nd pair because of a crack in the headband which forced me to return them.
New pair are fine for the moment but I don't hold out much hope for these in a year's time, so buyer beware in terms of construction quality.
If they go again I will be looking to another brand, which would be a pity, because these sound perfect to my ears.

Further update (Mar 2017)
My second pair have developed a crack in the headband as well. Sending them back and will be asking for money back this time. Pity because all my earlier comments re sound still apply.


500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Soundstage, Speed, Refinement, Build quality (it's a tank), Isolation (awesome!), Bass, Midrange, Treble, BALANCE, Removable Cables, etc.
Cons: A bit heavy, a bit pricey but worth it, not the most detailed headphones
I am apologizing beforehand, this is not a review but only praise for the Focal Spirit Professionals. Forget the B&W P7's, PSB M4U1's, Sennheiser Momentums, or as a matter of fact any portable headphones that are $300+ or below a thousand something dollars. These are absolutely amazing headphones with absolutely no flaw I can nitpick. As neutral and smooth as they are, they are still packed with fervent energy without the stridency or grain in the higher frequencies. The bass is also very satisfying with great body in the mid-bass and precise rumble in the sub-bass. Moreover, the soundstage is truly impeccable for a closed-back portable headphone. Beautifully melded sound. As a matter of fact these portable-headphones are competitive against some high-end open cans  in my opinion and that speaks volumes. Lastly, I would like to point out that when listening to drums, the timbre is soo spot-on; it reminds me of the HIFIMAN HE-500's :]
My FSP headband got cracks after only few days of use, others experienced similar problems as well, so i wouldn't call this 'built like a tank' really, except if it's a toy plastic one...and it's a pity, since i really love the sound. Sorry if i spoil something here, just wanted to reflect on this part of the review. Thank you.
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Wow that's unfortunate. I sold mine a couple weeks ago to fund for my speaker system and really thought they were well built.
I think the Spirit Pros have a very annoying harsh sound in the uppermids


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Sound is exceptional. Detailed, great imaging, great bass and sounds as if it were close to neutral.
Cons: This is an on-ear headphone and not an over-ear headphone.
First off, I do need to stress these sound excellent. Excellent clarity, great bass, fun and a neutralish sound that is enjoyable for long-term listening. I think they need a bit more treble but I can certainly see how many people think the treble is there in just the right amount.
However, the real let down is the many design choices that really harm this headphone.
On-ear or Over-ear?
  1. For the average ear these are on-ear headphones not over-ear. The ear cavity is far too small to fit the average ear inside. The ear pads also take up half the potential space.

    Inner cup dimensions: 48mm x 38mm
  2. The pads are glued on. They can be replaced but you will have to rip them off the glue first. See this link for pictures. This is absolutely not ideal with a headphone that already has a critical flaw of a tiny ear cavity.
  3. If you have hair over your ears then these are not going to stay on your head if you are moving around.
  4. Even though the pads stick to your ear I wouldn't be confident running around in an outdoor environment. For outdoor professional use they simply have to be over-ear and you cannot worry whether your headphones are going to fall off.
  5. Isolation is pretty good.
  1. I wear glasses and am able to wear over-ear headphones for hours on end with them on. Within an hour the top of my ears are starting to get a bit sore and I find myself trying to readjust them to get them comfy.
Build Quality
  1. This headphone has the remarkable ability to somehow feel solid and yet rattle if shaken. The key problem is the arm design which rattles and this is probably going to be the point where these would break.
  2. Ironically, it's the metal joints that connect the cup to the headband that feel the flimsiest on these headphones. They have give in directions they shouldn't and this is the main contributor to the rattle like quality of this headphone.
  3. The arms do swivel and mine has a squeak squeal. Not terrible but not confidence inspiring either. The squeal is by far one of the worst sounds I've heard. It's a loud metallic squeal from a joint that that connects the headband to the cup and it happens every time I readjust the cup. Lubricating the hinges that connect the cup to the headband has stopped the metal squeal.
  4. Anything with the black waterdrop paint is plastic. The top part that says 'professional' is some kind of rubber.
  1. There is a sacred rule in good headphone fashion design that the headband and arms should not stick out from the persons headphone. The headband should follow the curvature of the head. It's the difference between this and this. Focal breaks this rule with the arm design which makes them look goofy and unfashionable. In an age where headphones must sound good and look good this is unacceptable. You'll also note that all images of the Focal are done from an angle so this goofy headband design is less noticeable. If Focal wants to look for inspiration then they should start with the Sennheiser Momentum. Just try and keep the headband flush to the head.
  2. Water drop finish is pretty nice and has a slightly bumpy texture. Personally, I think the finish would look better if they went for a black aluminium style finish instead. I don't care if it's metal or plastic as long as it feels sturdy and if using plastic makes the headphone lighter and cheaper to produce then I don't have a problem with that.
  1. Headband slider has no markings and the slider doesn't have a solid click between each setting. It's annoying and difficult to get it in the correct place each time.
  2. Has a detachable cable. The 3.5mm socket in the headphone can only accept a connector housing that is less than 6.04mm. You'll need to make sure the cable you are using has a slim connector housing.
  3. Excellent for gaming with sharp imaging and yet still has that fun bass. For competitive gaming I'd EQ up the treble and EQ down the bass.
Overall Impression
It's a real shame that such an amazing sounding headphone has these design flaws. For professional use I believe a headphone simply should be over-ear and for outdoor professional use it absolutely must be over-ear and have a good clamping force.  For portable use it must also look good and this 'signature design' from Focal is simply not fashionable.
From a sound perspective it is excellent. Superb bass, excellent clarity and sharp imaging. However, from a design perspective it is poor. I hope Focal in the future re-evaluates their design because these are serious problems that can't be ignored. It feels gutting to write this about headphones that I enjoy so much but I believe that Focal is one of those companies that strives to be better.
Thanks for the review. Another one off my list (too small ear cups). I don't understand why Sennheiser (Momentum), NAD (HP50) and now Focal made the same mistake. Perhaps it's an engineering tradeoff between size for all ears and controlling cup reverberations within the critical range. Whatever the reason, too small is bad for long term listening.
Thanks for the review. Another one off my list (too small ear cups). I don't understand why Sennheiser (Momentum), NAD (HP50) and now Focal made the same mistake. Perhaps it's an engineering tradeoff between size for all ears and controlling cup reverberations within the critical range. Whatever the reason, too small is bad for long term listening.
They ARE over year for me :)


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