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Focal Stellia Review, Measurements, Interview - Head-Fi TV

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by jude, Feb 12, 2019.
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  1. QueueCumber
    Concerts usually have terrible sound, and even orchestras are very dependent on where you’re seated. I go to concerts to be a part of the energy of the experience, but have low expectations for sound quality. My stereo setup is world’s better than live concerts that I’ve been at. Fun thing is that some of those shows are on CD/Internet and I can listen to them at home. Still, nothing beats the energy/comraderie of being a part of a great live performance.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
  2. Ciggavelli
    So, I'm new to the forum, but I'm currently trying to decide on some good closed back cans for work. I have some Fostex TH900 mk2s, which sound pretty good, but leak sound, so I can't use them at work.

    I also own Focal Utopias, Audeze LCD-2, Sennheiser HD 800, and Grado Rs1e headphones. I very much love the sound of the Utopias, but I also like my LCD-2s. Has anybody compared the LCD-XC to the Stellia? If so, what do you think? The LCD-XC is obviously a lot cheaper than the Stellia's, but I was just wondering if anybody made a direct comparison.

    Also, do the Stellias leak sound?
  3. Tsukuyomi
    Hello fellow Focal fans,
    Recently there was a show in my city. Focal had an entire lobby dedicated to their products and speakers. I had the opportunity to test every focal headphone, down from their listen all the way up to their gold encrusted utopia.

    The stellias were a very curious pair of cans, i had the luxury of using them for 45mins(as did i the elegia, utopia, clear and clear pro) as i reserved a booth that had these headphones for me and my father. My initial impression was that the stellia and elegia are almost 75% similar in sound. I was quite shocked to find them so similar in that respect. I noticed the build on the stellia was quite nice. I didnt really like the cardboard feeling dome located under the metal outter cage. It would of been nicer if this tougher leather was replaced by something else or a more plush to the touch leather. The earpads were great, far better than on the elegia and clear, however i still found the pads on the utopia softer, more plush, breathable and better sealing. The cable is the same stiff flat cable with twin adjacent chords as the elegia and other focal cables. In this respect, nothing to say about it as its what ive come to expect from focal now. The padding on the headband for some reason didnt feel as good as other focal cans. Maybe because mine was brand new for the show and i was only the 2nd person to demo them.

    Sound, now ill keep this brief as sound impressions werent the best having been at a show despite having a private booth. The stellia for me sound better than the utopia, but the comfort and weight is better on the utopia by far. The elegias are noticeably close to the stellia to the point where i dont think id need to dish out the extra 3k and id be content with the sound from the elegia. As for the clear, the stellia definitely outshines them. For me, the clears sound profile fits under the elegia, stellia and utopia. I do not like how the clear muddies up the low mids and on some tracks even creeps into the mids in an unwanted manner. Id be curious to know what an owner of a pair of elegia and stellia think of their sound.
    ev666il, JohnnyCakes and Beagle like this.
  4. teknorob23
    Interesting impressions. I had both before deciding the stellia were a big enough leap in performance to warrant the premium. I had the elegia for about a month before the stellia and enjoyed them a lot, dynamics, tone and stage width were great, detail about and resolution were good enough.

    When the stellia arrived I was a little underwhelmed although they immediately sounded more open and detailed making the elegias sound closed by comparison. They did sound a little muddy and the bass was laking quantity and resolution, but this all changed at 50hrs+. After this they stretched their legs leaving the elegia behind in every department. So much detail, only matched or bettered by totl open backs, more extension at both ends than the elegia, as I’ve mentioned buckets of well resolved detail and most pleasing is the texture and weight of each instrument. Tone is lovely and the whole presentation is beautifully coherrant and right, with zero fatigue even over 4-6 hour listening sessions. I’m definitely repeating myself from earlier posts, so I’ll leave it at, I haven’t found they’re limit in terms of scaling with better components and for me they’ve been worth every penny of their premium :)
  5. Tsukuyomi
    I think possibly my impression might be similar to yours, they're brand new after all, and i only had 45min with that specific pair. as i'm currently looking for closed backs myself. however i'm not sure i personally change justify their premium over the elegia having tried them literally back to back. the stellia does sound better, there's no question there. however.. how much better, people may differ on that aspect. although... those stellia pads over the elegia... am i right :wink: *nudge nudge* so much more comfortable. i'm wondering if pad swapping between the two closed backs would be ok? i know focal has stated that pad swapping isnt a thing with their cans as they design each pad specifically for that can and swapping them would ruin the signature sound. but, the stellia and elegia are both closed, have similar drivers (although stellia is tweaked slight different) but the acoustic dampening on the inside of the cup i saw was almost exactly the same. which leads me to believe they can be swapped with minimal impact to sound.
  6. Beagle
    What if the pads are contributing to much of the sonic differences between the two?
  7. teknorob23
    You’re right the elegia are really good and if you’re not compairing as most people won’t theyll do the job fine. On the comfort front i found the elegia pads more comfortable for extended listening. I get hot ears with the stellia and find them a bit more fatiguing. For this reason I did experiment fitting the elegia pads to the stellia and they were more comfortable, but the quality of the bass was effected slightly in terms of resolution lost a bit of weight too. The top and middle weren’t quite as open and free but this was a very minor degradation of the sq vs comfort. I asked focal what they thought about using the elegia pads and unsurprisingly they weren’t keen, but equally they didn’t come with any alternate solutions to improve the comfort. The other slight cosmetic negative is that the leather being light in colour is very prone to marking and darkens as it gets greasy. I shave my head so there’s no avoiding this in the long run, so it’ll be interesting to see what focal suggest as a cleaning routine. I suspect this might be limited! The utopias with their dark materials were way better on this front
    Tsukuyomi and bidn like this.
  8. zolkis
    Finally, at least one manufacturer that does this. I am a great fan of pad swapping/modding, but I would not touch the Focal pads if this is true.

    That being said, it might be that different preferences might be pleased better with different pads.

    I don't know how the Focals sound without pads, but I would be cautious with pad swapping on those headphones that need specifically designed pads to sound good.
    It's much easier with headphones that sound good without pads as well. Then add a pad only for comfort and try not to get in the way of the drivers.

    (This is not to say that headphones that need specific pads are worse - pads are part of the acoustic environment - just that I'd prefer a headphone sound good without pads as well if possible.
    I noticed this so many times, even between iterations of the same prototype headphones that my preference got a lot of reinforcement.)
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
  9. Tsukuyomi
    Thing is i dont personally pad swap, that being said, focal pads tend to be a bit expensive. I think a single set of pads runs 150-250$ which... is quite steep considering how hard they are to find in stores that are official retailers for focal or on amazon. I think the only way would be to order from focal direct. And for me that would mean its priced in euro, plus taxes for importing and shipping. Might end up being almost 300$.. for a single set of pads???
  10. Tsukuyomi
    Yeah, i may end up getting the elegia only for the fact i cant afford the stellia at the moment. Im aware many people on the elegia forum have Lready commented on the darkening on the lighter material. I wonder how quickly the "cognac and espresso" lesther will darken. I usually only ever use higher end headphones after ive showered as to minimize hair oils on my headband or earpads. When i had the fostex th900mk2s i noticed they never got oily or greasy anywhere. However... the urushi cups got very finger printy lol. And dust seemed to enjoy sticking to the headband.
  11. teknorob23
    It’s a bit rubbish to only be able to use a pair of headphones in a hermetically sealed box. For this money I should be able to use them anywhere and not have to have bathed a minimum of 30 minutes prior to use :wink:
    Beagle and Tsukuyomi like this.
  12. zolkis
    If you are in eurozone, it should be cheaper since it's supposed to come from France (or cheaper labor EU countries). It's the same with all manufacturers nowadays, I can only get branded pads through the dealers or importer. At least this way the price is a bit cheaper than the rare occasions on ebay (for new items). The Focal pads quality is super high, and they indeed look like purpose built, so I understand why is it higher than even Stax pads. Third party pads (especially Chinese replacement pads) are rarely good, but sometimes good basis for modifications. The better 3rd parties for pads are AHG (ebay.co.uk), Dekoni, Vesper Audio.
  13. FangJoker
    Anyone have listened to the Stellia with heavy metal? And if so how did you like it?
  14. Tsukuyomi
    Im in canada unfortunately :frowning2:
  15. Tsukuyomi
    I did !

    I demo'd Amon Amarth, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Kvelertak, Iron Maiden, Lords of the Lost, and a few other bands i can't remember lol.

    over all impression as as i stated far above, they're good, sound better than Utopia. I'm sure you wont be too disappointed if you choose to listen to metal with them.
    ev666il likes this.
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