Focal Stellia Review, Measurements, Interview - Head-Fi TV
Oct 17, 2021 at 12:39 AM Post #3,706 of 3,981

sparkofinsanity

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I did a little comparison with three of my headphones that some of you might get something out of, though I did it solely for myself to figure out what I like.
They all definitely make you choose what type of music you listen to in them, but they complement each other pretty well. But yeah, brick walled stuff (Californication etc) and badly recorded songs are rough listens on all of them.

Instead of making a playlist with tracks that sound great in headphones I decided to just do a little comparison with albums I love (a Top 30 list I made long before I even owned any of these headphones, except a later addition of the Phoebe Bridgers album). A somewhat diverse set of albums across multiple genres, although my picks pretty much shows my age, gender and country of birth.

Let’s meet the contenders:
Focal Stellia (no EQ) - Closed back that punches hard with well extended (and elevated) bass and lots of micro details. In your face kinda sound.
Audeze LCD-XC 2021 (with EQ) - Closed back with sultry bass and more laid back warm sound compared to the other two (note: that’s with Audeze’s DSP settings in Roon).
Sennheiser HD 800 S (with EQ) - Open back with a fairly bright sound signature with lots of treble micro details and comparatively large soundstage, no real sub bass even with EQ.

Flac played through Roon on Topping D90/A90.

Stellia……..Opeth - Blackwater Park
LCD-XC…..Jim James - Eternally Even
HD800S…..Under Byen - Det Er Mig Der Holder Træerne Sammen
HD800S…..Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man - Out Of Season
Stellia……..Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Stellia……..Meshuggah - obZen
Stellia……..Songs: Ohia - Axxess & Ace
LCD-XC…..P J Harvey - Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
Stellia……..Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
HD800S…..Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People
Stellia……..The Oh Hellos - Oh. Hello.
HD800S…..Joni Mitchell - The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
LCD-XC…..Tool - 10,000 Days
Stellia……..Blacknuss - Gold - A Decade Of Soul, Jazz & R’N’B
HD800S…..Esbjörn Svensson Trio - From Gagarins Point Of View
Stellia……..Tim Bowness / Peter Chilvers - California, Norfolk
Stellia……..The Mars Volta - Frances The Mute
HD800S…..Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
Stellia……..Jill Scott - Beautifully Human - Words And Sounds Vol. 2
LCD-XC…..Ed Harcourt - Here Be Monsters
Stellia……..This Will Destroy You - This Will Destroy You
Stellia……..The Haunted - Revolver
Stellia……..Thomas Dybdahl - One Day You'll Dance For Me, New York City
HD800S…..Stavros Lantsias ‎– Diary of Dreams
LCD-XC…..Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
Stellia……..Nine Horses - Snow Borne Sorrow
Stellia……..Ólafur Arnalds - Living Room Songs
LCD-XC…..Peter LeMarc - Nio Broars Väg
Stellia……..Kaah - Kaahlender
Stellia……..2814 - 新しい日の誕生

Most of these sound good on all headphones but the HD800S clearly is the hardest to please, but where they do work they work really well. The Stellia works with basically everything but is a little too ”eager” and treble forward for some songs that should feel more relaxed, but over all these are engaging headphones like nothing else I’ve heard. The LCD-XC on the other hand feels a little too dull with certain songs, and on stuff like Meshugga’s Obzen details get lost in the barrage of guitars (that the Stellia manages to pull up), but on stuff like Eternally Even everything gels and sound so sweet (Rolling Stones Exile On Main Street is another).

headphones-1.jpg

headphones-2.jpg
headphones-3.jpg
 
Oct 17, 2021 at 7:00 AM Post #3,707 of 3,981

marcus2704

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Can anyone whom is able to compare the Stellia's to the Fostex TH900MKII please let me know your thoughts?
 
Oct 18, 2021 at 9:59 PM Post #3,708 of 3,981

ozz007

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Can anyone whom is able to compare the Stellia's to the Fostex TH900MKII please let me know your thoughts?
I don't have the mkii but I got the Originals. What you want to know?
 
Oct 22, 2021 at 6:36 AM Post #3,710 of 3,981

Roasty

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Favourite work from home headphones. Drowns out the noise from the kids.

and I'm very proud of the condition of my headband leather *grin
 
Oct 22, 2021 at 3:03 PM Post #3,711 of 3,981

marcus2704

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So, having decided to take the plunge and buy a pair of Stellias to partner with my Chord Hugo 2, should I be considering an aftermarket cable, and if so are there any recommendations?
 
Oct 22, 2021 at 3:28 PM Post #3,712 of 3,981

u2u2

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I have a set of these for Stellia and Utopia. Excellent quality with lengths and terminations tailored to my needs. I went with silver for both but also run copper on Stellia. No regrets.
UtopiaDragons.jpeg


So many choices it really boils down to individual tastes and perceived needs.
 
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Oct 22, 2021 at 3:28 PM Post #3,713 of 3,981

sparkofinsanity

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So, having decided to take the plunge and buy a pair of Stellias to partner with my Chord Hugo 2, should I be considering an aftermarket cable, and if so are there any recommendations?
Yeah, you’ll probably want to get a less stiff and microphonic cable. The short one is ok but the long balanced one is not fun.

If you’re in Europe Forza AudioWorks Noir HPC Mk2 works well.
 
Oct 22, 2021 at 4:50 PM Post #3,714 of 3,981

Doug2507

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Been a bit of a lurker recently but have now acquired a pair of stellias...

I bought a pair of clear mg's a few weeks ago to pair with a dx300 max (ss) for a return to portable when at work. I'm reasonably familiar with Focals range of hifi speakers and was a little weary of their headphone range as they're notoriously picky for pairing in the hifi world.

The max sounded fairly neutral with other cans so thought I'd flip a coin and grab a pair of MG's to see how they paired. Initial impressions were pretty good, very dynamic which is up my street being a rock fan. My only two main criticisms were the stage / separation being a little too much for my liking (distracting and maybe a little too spaced out) and being open back with a tendency to need the volume being cranked up which resulted in too much leakage for the work environment.

Stellia wasn't even a thought at the time due to retail price but I decided I 100% needed closed back purely for social acceptance when blasting foot tapping tunes. Stealths were a lot of cash and an unknown sound to me, VC didn't look as "portable" friendly as the stellias, and I liked the Focal house sound with MG's. In the end I managed to get a good deal on a new pair of stellia so hey ho, they arrived a few days ago.

Initial impressions weren't great. The broken in MG's trounced them. Massive mid range suck out, no depth, top end flat, bass a bit muddy and bloating into the lower mids (lack of clarity). I'm a big believer of burn in so wasn't too phased but after the Initial listen they went onto burn in straight away. I tend to use an audiophile burn in track that cycles through the frequency spectrum for a few days at moderate volume before any proper listening.

After a few days I started listening to tracks I know well then onto full albums. I've been thoroughly impressed enough to be getting up earlier than usual to get a couple of hours listening in before the rest of the house wakes up. Stellia and dx300MAX is a really hard combo to put down. Even so, I felt it still wasn't giving 100% satisfaction. This was most notable with the treble being slightly recessed. I wouldn't call it flat but it took a back step to mids and bass which lost the magic on a few tracks. Cymbals didn't have the presence they should and guitar lacked a bit of sparkle / glisten.

Yesterday morning I decided to put them back on the burn in track but this time cranked the volume up a fair bit to get the drivers shaking. Unfortunately my wife has seriously good range for hearing and i had to muffle the cans with a few garments so she didn't go crazy on the high freq passes.

I put them on this afternoon and my oh my, how things can change. These are not the stellias I first listened to! Full range, rich, dynamic, sparkle, coherence. They sound pretty effing amazing now. Any seeds of doubt are truly banished to the back of my mind and they're now full on eargasm mode.

I've got a library that needs sorted out due to having multiple masterings of various bands. AD/DC was 1st on the hit list and it was an absolute joy going through albert/atco/atlantic/remasters. The stellias highlight just how good most of the Albert's are for capturing the realistic / rawness of Albert masterings. Genuinely felt like I was sat in the studio with the band.

Anyway, wee bit of a rant but these are seriously good cans in my book, you just need to break them in well or they'll fall short of what they're capable of. Don't be shy in cranking the dB's up whilst doing so, they need it, 110%. The past 24hrs have been way above my normal listening level.

For cable I've been using a meze 99 silver plated that I purchased for the MG's. Between Stellia and MG, I've still not taken a stock cable out of the box. I use xlr for desktop but 4.4 for portable as I prefer bal over se. I don't have 4 pin to 3.5/6.3 so wouldn't be able to compare vs stock. I also like a nice supple non tangle cable for portable hence the meze.

I have however ordered an Arctic Integra from Val... I've been a cable believer for years whether it's hifi (been through almost every major cable brand going) or portable and have gone through many a cable over the years. Arctic seems to get good feedback, the actual wire is good quality, the finish appears to be good and they don't try and sell you flagship when it's not suited to your transducers. Very much looking forward to it arriving as things are sounding pretty damn good already.

One very satisfied Stellia owner!

Edit: This post is a lot longer than I had planned!
 
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Oct 22, 2021 at 5:47 PM Post #3,715 of 3,981

TooFrank

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20211021_142737-01.jpeg

Favourite work from home headphones. Drowns out the noise from the kids.

and I'm very proud of the condition of my headband leather *grin
Wow, I can see that you have still the "original leather stamp" attached to the HPs :) I chose to cut it off after some time....Anyway, now the band is dark brown and looks gorgeous after all....
 
Oct 22, 2021 at 6:06 PM Post #3,716 of 3,981

Roasty

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Wow, I can see that you have still the "original leather stamp" attached to the HPs :) I chose to cut it off after some time....Anyway, now the band is dark brown and looks gorgeous after all....

Yea I thought of cutting it off, but leaving it on wasn't much of a bother. Probably helps resale value, but then again, I don't think I'll ever sell the Stellia.. Pretty, fuss free, and sounds great out of a dap.
 
Oct 23, 2021 at 4:54 PM Post #3,718 of 3,981

gazzington

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I’m thinking of buying a stellia. Do they still sell spare pads for it? Can’t see any online.
 
Oct 23, 2021 at 6:41 PM Post #3,720 of 3,981

TooFrank

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I like the tag because it makes it really easy to see which side is left and which is right.
I don't have that ability:) I have to look carefully each and every time.....tag or not....
 

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