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Focal Elegia Loaner Program @ TTVJAudio!

Discussion in 'Sponsor Announcements and Deals' started by Todd, Oct 18, 2018.
  1. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    The Focal Elegia is in stock and shipping! We have set one aside for our loaner program and are looking for people to sign up!


    Loaner Program Rules:

    Send your name and address as well as a telephone number and your Head-Fi user name to Todd at todd@ttvjaudio.com. Do NOT PM me as you will not be included in the program without an email.

    You will get the loaner for 1 week to use in your home with your system. After your one week is up, you must send it to the next loaner participant. Email me (todd@ttvjaudio.com) the tracking info so I can pass it on to the next recipient.

    You MUST write a review and post it in this loaner thread. It must be posted in the same thread as this announcement for the loaner program. Please post the review here first and feel free to post it somewhere else if you like!

    Once you have received the loaner, email me to let me know you have it and I will send the address for the next person.

    Our loaner programs are USA only. We are restricted from shipping/selling outside the USA on most products.

    Have fun with this great new closed headphone from Focal!

    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
  2. ngoshawk
    Excellent! Another opportunity to field test some of @Todd’s fine gear!

    Thank you!
  3. Nosaj1969
    Would love to audition these as I have the Elex, but always looking for really great closed backs so I don't annoy the wife! I love the Focal brand headphones, and think these would fit the bill!
  4. Todd Contributor
    Focal Elegia Loaner program participants - I will add 1 or 2 more names to the list and then the program will be closed. Thanks to those who signed up. The headphone will be heading to Buffer Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. Enjoy the Elegia!












    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018
    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
  5. Todd Contributor
    This loaner program is now closed - I have no more room at this time for more participants. if all goes well I will consider adding a new program later. Thanks to all who signed up. Enjoy!

    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
  6. paul2qute
    A great idea to sell more products
  7. RobertSM
    Thanks Todd. Let me know when it's my turn to sample via this loaner program so I can get you our another fellow tester my shipping info. This should be fun!
  8. Theabs
    Looking forward to the testing time!
  9. buffer
    Before I begin, I wish to express my appreciation to Todd. All he asks for is an honest review. These headphones he provides as loaners are generally his personal pair and i am highly appreciative of the opportunity he affords us to listen.

    I received the Elegia Saturday evening (yesterday). Todd informs me that the unit should be nearly burned in already. I thought I'd provide an initial impression but will certainly update after spending more time with the unit. I will preface my remarks by saying I like the Focal line of headphones quite a bit. I do not wish to put a damper on folk's enthusiasm but I thus far have been a bit disappointed. The sound signature reminds me of a bell curve both in terms of frequency response and soundstage. The unit is mid-centric, and lacks extension on both ends. The midrange is boosted. I tend to like a slightly mid-forward sound but, in truth, I prefer neutrality in tonal balance overall. This headphone is certainly not neutral and the boosted midrange comes off as slightly unnatural to me. Now it does make for a vibrant sound, maybe even slightly more so than the Clear. And when I first listen, the boosted midrange of the Elegia gives the illusion of clarity. But this is one headphone where the more I listen the more noticeable the flaws. The midrange lacks ultimate clarity / resolution and is less revealing than the more expensive Clear and Utopia headphones. Perhaps it is an unfair comparison, but i tend to compare in absolute terms. Sometimes I feel a headphone has greater or less clarity due to tonal balance but in this case it seems to me the driver (or overall design) is just not on par with the other units. The soundstage is not as wide but maybe taller? The unit is somewhat punchy, but the punch comes from the midrange and upper midbass. The unit does not have a mid-bass hump and in fact I feel it lacks all but the highest frequency portion of the midbass but the midbass it has does lend towards a punchy sound. I guess its the bass and treble that feels lacking. Due to the lacking bass quantity [bass it does have is tight and doesn't bleed into the midrange] I don't think the headphone will present the raw power of rock music that the Clear and, to a greater extent, the Utopia can portray. As for the treble, I wouldn't say the treble feels rolled off, but the mids are just too dominant. To its credit, I do not feel the unit is shouty, but the upper midrange is somewhat bright. If the recording is recessed in mids the Elegia will help nicely. The Elegia is also significantly more sensitive than the Clear. At this time, if I wanted to opt for a closed headphone I would choose the McIntosh MHP1000 for its greater neutrality and clarity. It also leans towards a brighter sound.

    Speaking of closed, the Elegia does isolate pretty well. The sound does not escape too much and it does seal you off from the outside environment. The unit is lightweight and feels well put together. It doesn't have the looseness of my Utopia. I think tolerances have been improved on the headphone frame.

    Thus far I have listened to mostly rock and pop music. I llke jazz, classical, easy listening, and other genres and will continue to listen throughout the week. I will update my report after my week is up.

    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
    DoctaCosmos, Theabs, RobertSM and 3 others like this.
  10. buffer
    My week with the Elegia is nearly complete so it is time to write my review here, as promised to TTVJ in exchange for the opportunity to listen to the Elegia. I will try to be concise here.

    Bass - good quality but average extension. I am not a bass-head, but feel that the bass does not go as deep as many flagship headphones. The midbass is nice. It does not bleed into the midrange and it is punchy, tight, and strikes the right balance. Bass is clean, but not plump or overly full. I am satisfied with midbass, but I don't feel that bass below the midbass has sufficient quantity or extension to be considered a top tier performer in this regard.

    Midrange - I like a neutral to slightly forward midrange. The Elegia to my ears sounds midrange forward. In fact, I feel that the Elegia midrange is a little unnaturally forward, meaning the overall connection between midrange and lower frequencies or between midrange and higher frequencies does not feel linear to me. In short, the midrange is a bit emphasized beyond what I would prefer. Depending on the type of music and the recording quality, this can work to the listener's advantage or disadvantage. With music suffering from a recessed mids these will bring them forward to sound more balanced. For properly recorded music, the forwardness may be a bit too much.

    Treble - the treble does not sound rolled off, but I feel that it is a bit overpowered by the focus on midrange and is not fully extended. I am not sensitive to treble normally, and I think the treble is ok, but certainly not exceptional. It's not sparkly or crystal clear, or super smooth. It's there and present but it does not call attention to itself.

    Overall tonal balance - The sound of these headphones is not particularly weighty nor is it airy or ethereal. I haven't paid particular attention to the frequency response graphs, but the Elegia sounds a bit like I would picture a bell curve. The sound is focused on the midrange and goes in both directions from there rather than being a top down or bottom up sound, For rock music with kick drums and raw power these headphones are not optimal. For simpler compositions , like a jazz ensemble with a vocalist, the lack of neutrality does not bother me and in fact the fullness and forwardness of the midrange can be appealing. But no, I really don't get visceral impact from the bass. Impact is delivered from the mid-bass and midrange and can be palpable. In my opinion, these headphones fall short of portraying visceral power delivered by some of the hard hitting rock bands. Of course, depending on what you listen to this may not be an issue,

    Another word on tonality. I have heard some mention that the Elegia is congested. I have heard some say it is bright. I think to some extent, both of those things are true. That's consistant with the frequency emphasis being placed squarely on the midrange, I consider the sound to be somewhat open, but not nearly as open as the flagships. And I would typically be bothered if the sound in the lower midrange was emphasized and congested. I could sense it sometimes, but normally I had no sense of congestion. Sometimes I felt the midrange sounded slightly warm and sometimes I felt the sound could be slightly bright in the upper midrange, but perhaps this was dependent more on the recording than the headphone. What did hold true was lack of extension in either direction...that is very much a function of this headphone.

    Side note - I like the way the Elegia does trumpet

    Clarity - Clarity is reasonably good, but lack of high resolution is where the headphone really fails to compete with flagships, in my opinion. These headphones, in part due to frequency response and in part maybe due to design or the drivers themselves, is not what I would call a high resolution headphone. To use a video analogy, it's like a 1080p compared to the top flagships that are more like 4K screens- the Elegia is certainly not awful, but clarity and resolution is well below what I am used to when listening to flagships like Susvara or Utopia, or even the Clear. Initially, because of the forward midrange you may disagree, but the longer I listened the more it became evident to me that the lack of high resolution and lack of ultimate clarity holds these headphones back in a substantial way. Again, depending on music, it's not always apparent. I do feel that I would recognize the lack of clarity, even if not directly comparing to higher-end headphones, but not sure the untrained ear would feel that way.

    Imaging - reasonably good, but not overly precise or special. In fact, I would consider the McIntosh MHP1000, (also a pretty much closed headphone) to be far higher in resolution and in imaging precision. BTW, technically, the MHP1000 is ported but I consider it a closed headphone. Incidentally, it is more recessed in the mids and brighter overall than the Elegia, for those interested in comparing.

    Soundstage - the sound is sort of bunched in the middle of the soundstage. The unit has a respectably sized sound that is more upright (read vertical) than wide. The soundstage width is respectable, but not as wide as many of the flagships. And I realize, here I go again. [Let me digress for a moment.] I'm comparing the Elegia to the best of the best and the best are usually open headphones. I tend to compare in absolute terms and doing so is a double-edged sword. Some might think the comparison is unfair, but this approach also allows me to recognize when a cheap headphone competes with more expensive ones. In the case of the Elegia, I consider it a strong mid-fi contender for its overall sound. Does it compare with Susvara, Utopia, Clear, Final Audio D8000, Stax SR009 or L700? Nope. Should it? That's for you to decide. I do consider it an enjoyable listen, but <spoiler alert> I am not tempted to purchase the Elegia given my experience with the flagships.

    How does it seal? Interesting question. When you put the headphone on, it creates a subtle vacuum on the ear, kind of like a noise cancelling headphone but to a much lesser extent. It's also not nearly as bothersome to me as what I experienced when listening to the Audeze Sine or EL8, but I do feel it has a bearing on how I perceive the sound. The closed feeling is more evident when the sound is not running or when the music is sparse, as in just a few instruments playing in a soft way. No doubt, these headphones do attenuate external sound, but these are not as isolating as some other closed headphones I own. One thing is certain, at normal volumes the sound does not escape; others nearby will not be disturbed when you play these headphones.

    Construction - more clamping force due to what I perceive to be tighter tolerance on the frame than something like the Clear or Utopia. The unit is relatively comfortable, but not as comfy as the lighter, bigger, Hifiman headphones.

    Conclusion - These headphones are not flagship killers. If you go into the listening experience with that understanding I think it can be a satisfying experience. If you are seeking neutrality, high resolution, or flagship quality, then I think you would not be interested in these headphones. Ultimately, if you are interested in a closed headphone, I think it is worthy of consideration. I have not heard the Sennheiser HD820 or Audeze LCD-XC, so I cannot compare the Elegia to those headphones. Most of my headphones are of the open variety. If I had to pick a closed headphone I prefer the Ether C, the Aeon Closed, Audeze Sine, and the McIntosh MHP1000. But the Elegia are respectable and I can see the appeal for those seeking a strongly mid-forward sound. When simply listening for enjoyment and not doing comparisons with other high-end headphones and when not listening with a particularly critical ear, the Elegia is very enjoyable.

    One last item for those interested in the equipment I used. Amps included GSX-Mk2 and Woo Audio 5LE and I used Chord Mojo, and the MassDrop Cavalli solid state LCX+SDAC and a variety of other equipment with these headphones. I used YouTube and Tidal as my sources as well as an Oppo Blu-ray player with traditional CDs.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
  11. Theabs
    Did these reach the next person? We haven't had a new entry for a while.......
  12. RobertSM
    @Theabs, I was thinking the samething. Status update from someone please.
  13. Todd Contributor
    Wormsdriver is currently in possession of the Elegia headphones. He will be shipping them off on or before next Monday...

    TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/ todd@ttvjaudio.com
    wormsdriver likes this.
  14. RobertSM
    Thanks @Todd. Just as a heads-up. I'll be out of the country from mid December till the new year. I don't know the order of the review tour but please keep this in mid as I'd hate to be sitting on these HP's when someone else could be reviewing them.
  15. Nosaj1969
    First and foremost, I would like to thank @Todd @TTVJaudio for promoting the loaner tour for the Focal Elegia! I like many other users out there want to get unbiased reviews from the community and especially when you look at potentially living with a not inexpensive headphone that you may purchase without the opportunity to go to a brick and mortar store to demo yourself. Honestly, even if you did have such a place near where you live, it’s not the same as being able to listen and judge against equipment you are familiar with to do direct comparisons. Additionally, would like to give a shout out to Buffer who sent them along all the way from the other side of the country for my chance to give these beautiful headphones an audition. His views I have to say are very spot on, and I hope not to duplicate much of what he has already said in my review, but rather to share some additional thoughts that may help to decide on a very high performing headphone at just under $1k price point in the market.


    As someone who not so long ago was looking for a closed-back headphone in this price/performance category, had these been available when I was in the market, it would certainly be a strong contender based on the information that is out there regarding similarities that are drawn on Focal’s other headphones that they draw influence from. I have not heard the Clear, but descriptions I’ve seen have said that this is the inspiration for the Elegia in terms of voicing and tendency to sound most similar as to openness given that they are closed, which presents a challenge for sure given the rave reviews of the Clear I’ve seen, and at close to double the price. I have no reason to doubt either since I have a pair of Massdrop Elex that I was able to compare with and can certainly hear very similar characteristics with them as well, and are similar enough in many ways so as to see unquestionably that these are of the same family. Obviously, they share the exact same form and fit of the others in the Focal line such as the Elear, Clear, Utopia and Elex. I also have some Dekoni pads for my Elex that I can confirm are compatible with Elegia and tried both the Elite Sheepskin and Elite Hybrid versions. I hope to shed some light on the changes I heard while using the different pads since I think there are some definite benefits to this particular pair of headphones given the mid-forward tendency as Buffer pointed out. While I too felt the performance to be very Mid-centric and without the bass and High-frequency balance that I feel is more present in the Elex, much of this was changed in a good way using the other pads. I believe that the pads that came with the Elegia are very good, comfortable and I was certainly enjoying the sound characteristics with them on, the Elite Hybrid pads were better in every way in my opinion. I feel that although these headphones are described as closed, with the stock pads, there really isn’t much “seal” given the very lightweight materials used in the pads rather than the denser sheepskin used in the Dekoni pads. When you have the better isolation, the bass to me was much more present and similar to what I get from the Elex. That isn’t to say that the mid-forwardness isn’t still there, but it does bring them closer to being what I would feel to be more overall neutral. I also thought that the openness as it is with the Elegia wasn’t changed greatly either. This is surprising since I suspected more bleed from the original pads was a major contributor to the openness you do get to hear with the Elegia. The highs are more clearly heard and present as well especially using the fenestrated sheepskins. That is one of the great things about the quality and design of the driver and design of the Focal line. I think the fact that subtle changes that are easy to do like changing pads make for an all the more pleasurable listening experience, and if you did take the plunge for such a headset you still have some options to help tune more to your individual tastes. I’m not a bass head but like to really hear the bass in songs clearly and with impact, and like a wide range of music, and enjoyed everything I threw at them. I enjoyed listening to trance with heavy bass as much as recordings that lack the more present and heavy bass lines such as listening to the new Beatles White Album. It sounds great by the way. I wish I had had more time with these to really do a more complete testing as I think like many great headphones, you need to be able to really get used to their characteristics, and come to appreciate them. I think that would be my main message with these is that if you are looking for a very high performing closed headphone under $1000, then these very well will fit that mark, and I don’t think you would be at all disappointed.


    I do feel a tendency to prefer my Mr. Speakers Aeon Flow Closed over these as a better all-around headphone, but you also need to have a much more powerful amplifier to get the most out of them. I like the soundstage more with the Aeon, as well as the bass is more present and overall the balance over the spectrum is flatter. The midrange of the Elegia is also very clear and brings out some subtleties in some recordings as well, but I think some might find it somewhat fatiguing for longer listening sessions. The biggest advantage in the Elegia may be that they are extremely efficient and even sounded very good playing off my phone or Shanling M3s DAP. I doubt anyone is going to be taking these out in public, but if you did, they would do well. Not the best isolation though as there is some leakage, and neighbors in my office could hear me more than usual, but I didn’t try them outside at all.

    Please feel free to ask me questions if there is anything specific you might want me to comment on more. I appreciate greatly the opportunity to have these for the week!
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
    wormsdriver, JohnIgel and buffer like this.

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