Focal Stellia Loaner Program @TTVJAudio.com
post-15072017
Post #16 of 29

PeteSTRADAMUS

Headphoneus Supremus
Previously known as ILLMATIC9108
Joined
Mar 4, 2016
Messages
2,341
Reaction score
953
Location
Lakewood, NJ USA / Zielona Gora, Poland
Joined
Mar 4, 2016
Location
Lakewood, NJ USA / Zielona Gora, Poland
Posts
2,341
Likes
953
Age
33
Cough... 3 weeks later ... cough lol I never even got to finish my 1 week, channel imbalance with bass.
 
     Share This Post       
post-15153917
Post #18 of 29

441879

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 21, 2015
Messages
503
Reaction score
497
Joined
Dec 21, 2015
Posts
503
Likes
497
Just received the Stellia today. Very impressed overall. I should have them off to the next reviewer in about a week along with a detailed review.
 
     Share This Post       
post-15161609
Post #19 of 29

441879

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 21, 2015
Messages
503
Reaction score
497
Joined
Dec 21, 2015
Posts
503
Likes
497
The Focal Stellia
E1F4CF0E-EAF8-449B-9762-57CA369C134F.jpeg


I’d like to thank TTVG for the chance to review these phones. For the price of my honest opinion, I had the pleasure of enjoying an exceptional pair of headphones for a whole week. My sincere appreciation to TTVG for the opportunity and their contribution to the Head-Fi community.


About myself:
I’m a 53 YO engineer with strong analytical tendencies and I’ve been an audiophile since I was twelve. My ears are also 53 YO so I can’t hear above 15 kHz but at least my taste in music has improved. Live recordings with really amazing guitar work are probably what I most like which is reflected in my test tracks. I tend to be skeptical of significant differences between cables and am willing to admit a lot of my perceptions of sound differences may exist exclusively in my head.


Testing method:

Not very scientific I’m afraid. Just me listening to music I enjoy over and over with different headphones. Some of the tracks used for testing are listed further down.


Test rig:
8181DBF7-6B49-4DE4-9F12-DCE49A1BCB25.jpeg
High bit rate recordings via usb to Topping D50 DAC then Schiit Loki (set to flat unless otherwise stated) and finally to a Schiit Lyr3 with a Psvane CV-181 T Mark II tube which adds a little air and punch over the stock tube options. I did replace the factory cable with a spare OFC cable lying around the house as I was getting drop outs on the left channel. Eventually I figured out the problem was with the 3.5 mm to 1/4” adapter and not the cable itself.


The Headphone:
B5839FE4-CDDB-4E55-AAEE-4B7188F7D5BD.jpeg

Focal the company is well known for producing stylish high performance speakers for the audiophile market and If you’ve ever seen Focal speakers, you know how good they are at design. Headphone enthusiasts also know Focal makes high end headphones and the Stellia is their premier closed headphone. Priced at $3000, it’s very much a luxury product targeted at consumers who want superb sound and stylish top quality construction. Cosmetically it shares a lot in common with other Focal headphones, differing primarily in color and accessories from the relatively affordable Focal Elex ($700) to the top of the line Focal Utopia ($4000). All Focal headphones scream quality at you from the moment you see them and you really can’t go wrong on build quality with any of them.


The Stellia in particular is gorgeous with a copper and leather color scheme that is masculine and and sophisticated. The cups are (I think) anodized magnesium with aluminum hardware and easily replaced pads. They provide moderate sound isolation from the environment (Not really a good choice for air travel or commuting). Padding (headband and earpads) is leather covered memory foam. Comfort is top notch thanks to moderate weight, good weight distribution and relatively light clamping pressure. They aren’t quite as comfortable as open Focal headphones thanks to less air circulation around the ears. The pads have a just right level of firmness but my generously sized ears touch the inside of the cups which means I get tired of wearing them after a couple hours. The demo I received came with a fairly long balanced cable and a remarkably short single ended cable..

D124B4B1-A03D-441B-85A9-954BC150259B.jpeg
0E1CE9A3-2BBB-4155-A244-6AB9622A22B3.jpeg


One of the nice things about the Stellia is that it’s very efficient. Pretty much anything can drive it, whether it’s an iPhone or tube amp. OTL amps probably won’t work as the headphone impedance may not be high enough. I’ll also say that they really work well with the Lyr 3 and seem to synergize well with a little tube sound. That said, The resolution of this headphone is outstanding and likely to benefit from higher end stuff than my relatively inexpensive upstream equipment.


Tracks on which this review is based:
Note: if you can, listen on Tidal. The higher bit rate sounds better to me.

Gabin
Listening to this Italian duo makes me think of martinis, cocktail dresses, night clubs and beautiful people. The Stellia does an amazing job of capturing the cool, jazzy 1960s jetset musical ambience while also delivering a brilliant technical performance in terms of sound stage, detail, dynamics and speed. My other headphones all sound muffled and boring in comparison. The third track shows the Stellia’s occasional flaw- it can be a touch metallic sometimes. Quite worth a listen if you have a Stellia, and especially if you can do it through a tube amp:​

https://tidal.com/track/62221458
https://tidal.com/track/62221461
https://tidal.com/track/31938130

Dido

The layering in this song can jam up most headphones, but presents no problems for the Stellia. You to hear every breath, every note, every echo, while never taking away the spotlight from the vocalist. Gives me chills.​

https://tidal.com/track/105418593



Dance to Trance:

This track is a good example of where the Stellia is not the ideal headphone. While it sounds good, other warmer, less mid-forward headphones will do a better job of delivering the strong bass / drum track. That said, the Stellia still delivers solid, fast bass performance and a level of clarity and detail that is world class.

https://tidal.com/track/4673721


Miles Davis:

This is what the Stellia is made for- when you want to put yourself in the room with master musicians performing at the top of their game and hear what it was like to be sitting in the audience.

https://tidal.com/track/2178486

Anders Osborne:

This track captures the musicality the Stellia can deliver, rendering the singer’s voice and instruments with texture and richness, soul and emotion. Also a great track for tube amps.

https://tidal.com/track/58001142


Sound:

Overall the sound is very much in line with other Focal headphones I’ve listened to, though much more mid forward than the Elex / Elear. Pretty mid forward with excellent but not emphasized bass extension and smooth treble. I wouldn’t recommend these for someone interested in a bass heavy headphone. The treble is slightly rolled off compared to my Aeon Open (AFO) and Closed (AFC) headphones (black filter only) and a little more prominent than my Elex. The biggest differences between the Stellia and other headphones in my stable is the level of detail / resolution and the quality of the soundstage.


Bass has no bleed or bloat. It’s clear, well articulated, fast, and there’s a sense of solidness. It comfortably reaches right down to 20 hz with no perceived bumps or valleys. Overall it’s very flat and comparable to my other closed headphone, the MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Closed (AFC). In comparison to my AFO it’s much more neutral (no upper bass hump) and sounds cleaner. Focal’s Elex sounds more V shaped with more prominent bass (at least my version with aftermarket pads).


Dynamics: Sonic punch is a little bigger than the AFC and AFO and a little less than the Elex, though it’s more likely a matter of sound profile rather than actual difference in sound energy.


Treble: The Stellia is without sibilance compared to the AFC or the AFO which are a bit of a compromise between sibilance and detail. I can’t speak that well to extension since my ears cut out around 15khz, but people who are sensitive to sibilance should have no problems with the Stellia. The Elex isn’t any more sibilant than the Stellia, but sounds veiled in comparison, giving up detail and clarity. There is a tiny hint of metallic tone to the Stellia, but not as much as the AFO or AFC.


Mids: Mids are definitely forward, which makes switching from most headphones a little jarring for the first minute or two as your ears adjust.


Soundstage: The Stellia is notable for how consistent and stable the sound stage appears, with instrument locations being extremely well defined spatially. It’s probably the most holographic headphone I’ve listened to. It doesn’t feel artificial which is occasionally the case with my Focal Elex. Depth and width are good, but not exceptional. That said, it sounds very real and is one of the areas where this headphone really shines. Extremely impressive for a closed headphone.


Clarity and Resolution: This is the other area where the Stellia really shines. While the AFC comes the closest of all my headphones, it does so at the expense of smoothness, sounding harsher and rougher without quite getting there. The AFO really isn’t competitive at all, being harsher, rougher, and muddy by comparison. The Elex also falls well short and while sounding smoother than the MrSpeakers headphones, also sounds veiled and fuzzy in comparison to the AFC and especially the Stellia.


The cable:
4FEC447C-0773-42ED-85DA-F3A7B62EB2B1.jpeg

The headphones came with a 10 foot balanced cable terminated with a typical XLR connector and a 4 foot single ended cable terminated with a ⅛” TRS jack. A ⅛ to ¼ adapter is also provided. Both are extremely high quality, not microphonic and not too stiff. That said, if you use the Stellia with a single ended desk top amplifier, you’re probably going to want an extension cable or longer aftermarket cable.


Power requirements:

My IPhone 8 had no problems driving them and neither did anything else I tried. That said, they really need top notch upstream equipment to show what they can do. The iPhone really sounded mediocre, missing the soundstage and detail these can deliver. I would recommend using these with a very high quality amp and DAC. They’re good enough to be able to hear the difference and you won’t be getting the full performance the Stellia can deliver without top quality upstream equipment and sources.


To summarize:

The Stellia has the best soundstage and is the most detailed headphone I’ve ever listened to. It’s musical and engaging with no harshness and excellent tolerance for mediocre recordings. It’s a good all rounder, performing well over a wide range of genres though I found it truly excellent for vocals, jazz and classical music and a little bass light for EDM and anything else that benefits from a more V shaped sound signature.. Without a doubt it’s the best headphone I’ve ever had the opportunity to really audition over an extended period of time. However, at this price level, the law of diminishing returns very much applies. To appreciate the differences between much less expensive headphones and the Stellia requires attentive listening, top quality recordings and high end equipment. Highly recommended for hard core audiophiles who listen to a lot of jazz and classical and want the absolute best closed headphone available.
 
Last edited:
post-15162514
Post #20 of 29

GreenBow

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 6, 2015
Messages
3,291
Reaction score
971
Joined
Feb 6, 2015
Posts
3,291
Likes
971
Just out of curiosity, does the TTVJ loaner program cover the UK?
 
Last edited:
     Share This Post       
post-15179281
Post #22 of 29

turbomustang84

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
609
Reaction score
776
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Posts
609
Likes
776
I am so excited to be getting these for a week
I've been saving for a Sennheiser's HD-800s but I have decided to hear these before I proceed with that .

My wife thinks I'm such a child lol
 
     Share This Post       
post-15182501
Post #23 of 29

mk351e

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 23, 2010
Messages
168
Reaction score
44
Location
NJ
Joined
May 23, 2010
Location
NJ
Posts
168
Likes
44
Just sent the Stellia out to the next participant, so it's my turn to write a review. First, here's a little about me:

My equipment: Audio GD Master 11 (class A, solid state, R2R, balanced all in one) in Balanced mode only.

My music: DVD/Blu-ray concerts + lossless files of RHCP, Rage against the machine, Van Halen, Soundgarden, Slash, etc.

HP’s I like: HD820, HD800S, TH900, Ether 2, LCD4, IE500pro, THX00

I didn't take any pics - I'm a lousy photographer, and everyone else did it already, and much better too, so no point. As has been said before, the build quality and packaging are both first rate. I've not seen anything that's made better than this, and outside of making a HP out of precious metals or gems, this is about as luxury as a HP can get! I don't like the color scheme, but that's entirely subjective. I will agree with everyone else, and say that these do look better in person than pics.

But how do they sound? Well, here's what I heard:


Treble: highly detailed, very natural – cymbals are amazing! Totally inoffensive (this shocked me given the metal diaphragm), but treble is just too soft – I have to listen for it. I’m no treble head, but this is strange. What’s up with this tuning, and how’d they do this? I don’t remember this at all from the Utopia, but the last time I heard that was a year and a half ago at CanJam.

Midrange: very detailed, often natural and always transparent, very fast, but shouts with electric guitar – I’m hearing what sounds like some weird resonance – kind of sounds like it’s happening in the space between the driver and my head. The midrange seems nicely balanced and flat except for this. It does also sound like there’s some resonance going on inside the earcups at louder volumes – hard to explain but this is what (I think) I hear.

Bass: powerful, clean, very tuneful bass. Not the most detailed, but not far off either. Doesn’t seem to go down quite deep enough, but plenty of impact and punch from say, 50hz and up. Sub bass is slightly weak. This is not for bass heads, but should satisfy any other audiophile. It may even bother some audiophiles, as I’ve noticed in my years that audiophiles seem to hate bass for some strange reason (I STILL don’t understand this).

Soundstage: very large – sounds the way I remember Fostex to sound – very big for a closed HP. Sounds like a pair of big speakers in a medium size room - NICE!

Tonal balance: sounds like it’s pretty even from upper mids down to bass. Sub bass and treble seem toned down though – like an upside down U.

Dynamics: highly dynamic from treble to bass. I will say I noticed that distortion seemed to creep in if you made these too loud. To be clear, this was at levels that were too loud to listen to for extended periods of time, so technically not an issue, but I did notice it. Reason I bring it up is I have not experienced this with any other cans that use larger (50mm) drivers. I feel this is a matter of volume displacement, though I could be wrong and it could be a result of restricted air flow behind the diaphragm, but who knows. I don’t want to overstate this, as you should not listen at these volumes, but it is present here, and not in others like the HD820 or Fostex cans.

Comfort: mostly comfortable – didn’t wear them long enough to sweat, weight is not an issue due to excellent distribution, headband is great, cups would be better if they were slightly larger, but they are comfortable.

Other: not a fan of the travel case – it requires the headband to be in the smallest position with cables removed – lots of unnecessary wear, and makes unnecessary work out of taking on and off. Packaging is nice, but over the top. Materials are top notch. They are very efficient! I bet you could use these with a phone!! This is interesting, because while these are crazy expensive, the very high efficiency makes them very versatile and does not require some monster amp.

NICE CANS!

EDIT: I can't believe I forgot this! A HUGE thanks to Todd for allowing me to participate in this program! This is such an awesome program and I wish there were more of it!
 
Last edited:
post-15197318
Post #24 of 29

turbomustang84

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
609
Reaction score
776
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Posts
609
Likes
776
I have them and it's too early to write a full review ......

But I would like to say a couple of things now ...
First thanks to Todd for doing this I for one don't take this incredible opportunity for granted .

And as far as the Sound and over all Quality = Holy Crap
to be continued
 
post-15200340
Post #25 of 29

turbomustang84

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
609
Reaction score
776
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Posts
609
Likes
776
Well it's time for me to give my opinions on the Focal Stellia.

First off I own plenty of Headphones and I use the one that happens to be best for what I am listening to.

The Focal Stellia's are extremely premium in fit and finish and they are absolutely beautiful.

they are nearly twice as heavy as my Sennheiser HD-600s but due to the design and use of extremely soft leather it is more comfortable than anything I've experienced.

Although it cost $3000 you will save money on expensive Amplifiers because my Geshelli Lab's Archel Pro as well as the Loxjie P20 Balanced Hybrid Tube amp is all you need .

The DAC I used was the Geshelli Enog2 balanced DAC.

also I used everything from my iPod classic to the headphone jack on my Teac Reel to Reel and all powered it fine .

I usually have issues with closed back Headphones because after a relatively short amount of time my ears start to feel stuffed up and with the Stellia's this was not an issue at all.

Until hearing these my endgame favorite Headphones were the Sennheiser HD-800s because of the imaging and Crystal
clear highs .

The Stellia's imaging is just as good and also has phenomenal highs but the driver's are so fast that you would think it was a planar .

What shocked me is the incredible Bass that these are capable of....
Not bloated but very clean and impactful.

As far as soundstage is concerned for a Closed back it's wide but not exagerated.

When I got them I had been listening to the new Tool Album Fear Inoculum and from the incredible Drumming , Bass ,Vocals and fantastic guitar all sounded incredible .

I listen to a lot of different types of music and usually I find different Headphones tend to excel for different genre's....

But these sound great when listening to everything from Steely Dan to AC/DC and beyond ...
Also when listening to Classical they are very captivating.

I usually prefer open Headphones but find most situations I really need the isolation that closed backs provide and the Stellia's not only are the best closed Headphones I've heard but by a large margin the best I've ever heard period .

It will be a sad day in the Gray houshold when my time is up in a few days...
After the New Year if I can swing it I might be giving Todd a call.

I do wish that someone local had the alegia for me to hear....... Because if they are 70 percent as good as the Stellia's they would still be incredible
 
     Share This Post       
post-15202631
Post #26 of 29

turbomustang84

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
609
Reaction score
776
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Posts
609
Likes
776
I was listening to an Album that I've probably heard a hundred times and there was a reverb in the mix when listening with the Stellia's.

I thought it sounded great but was concerned that it was something being added by the Stellia's that was not in the recording but I got out my Hifiman HE-4XX and isolated it with my Audiosource One Equalizer and it was in the recording but only the Stellia's brought it out .

Incredible.......
I'm ruined now these are simply incredible and if I did not love my wife so much I'd pack up my Harley and grab the Stellia's and make a run for our southern border ...

I simply can not believe that a $3000 Headphone actually seems like a bargain but I've spent time with some very expensive Speakers that did not come close .
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: 441879
post-15211283
Post #27 of 29

datka3

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 4, 2019
Messages
15
Reaction score
3
Location
Highwood, Illinois
Joined
Jan 4, 2019
Location
Highwood, Illinois
Posts
15
Likes
3
Just wanted to mention that i've sold Utopia to get Stellia and have been running it off Chord DAVE for some time now, I find it really good match.
I have not looked back at Utopia since ... to me it was too much analytical, Stellia lets me enjoy music more than Utopia did for me. I think DAVE has enough juice to properly power Stellia.
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: turbomustang84
post-15215041
Post #28 of 29

turbomustang84

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
609
Reaction score
776
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Posts
609
Likes
776
Just wanted to mention that i've sold Utopia to get Stellia and have been running it off Chord DAVE for some time now, I find it really good match.
I have not looked back at Utopia since ... to me it was too much analytical, Stellia lets me enjoy music more than Utopia did for me. I think DAVE has enough juice to properly power Stellia.
I have heard that using the Chord Dave as an actual Headphone Amplifier is problematic with harder to drive Headphones but being the Stellia's are so easy to drive I'll bet that pairing is absolutely magical.

After shipping the Stellia's to the next person on the list I've had seperstion anxiety that I've not felt with the loss of some dieing relatives lol.

I will eventually buy a set because they are just on another level from everything else I've heard.

Buying a Dave to go with it is unlikely to happen anytime soon but then again I do play the lottery occasionally . LoL
 
     Share This Post       
post-15250301
Post #29 of 29

Todd

Headphone Vinyl Meister
Sponsor: TTVJ
Joined
Jun 21, 2001
Messages
1,855
Reaction score
404
Joined
Jun 21, 2001
Posts
1,855
Likes
404
Hi All,

Well, the Stellia loaner program is over with the exception of a review or two still to come. I hope you all had fun with it! I look forward to listening and spending some time with it myself in the coming weeks. It has been a while since it hit the road for you to hear and I have been missing it!

We think very highly of the Stellia and have them in stock should anyone want one!

Until the next loaner program...

Todd
 
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top