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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. SilverEars
    I wouldn't agree about the 1Z driving the Stellia well, but TA-ZH1ES isn't great either.

    It just makes me wonder how well people have heard the headphones being driven given such enthusiasms from such setups, and odd comparison results.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
  2. freesole
    By all accounts, the Stellia seems to be a very easy to drive headphone but scales well with changes upstream. I don't doubt that it sounds great with modest setups but can sound even better. Trying to decide between the Stellia and the Empyrean's at the moment, though they are very different. They will primarily be used at home.

    Has anyone heard of any reliability/QC issues with the Stellias? Driver failures?
    tekkster likes this.
  3. Automata
    TBH for a $2000 DAC/amp combo I have to say ZH1ES performs really well compared to the Hugo2 I had. And I hardly find any dac/amp combo can beat it at this price point in terms of build and performance. The reason I got this only because my headphone terminated with a 4.4mm balanced connector.

    I now drive my Utopia and LCD4 with Dave and TH900/Stellia with ZH1ES.
  4. joshuachew
    I would strongly disagree that the WM-1Z is unable to properly drive the Stellia. Not having a good pairing and synergy to you tastes - maybe. But it certainly does have enough power to drive the Stellia. The Stellia is very easy to drive.
    The WM-1Z could even drive the Utopia directly balanced out and the Stellia is even easier to drive than the Utopia.
    Others may verify the above if they have had a similar experience driving the Utopia/Stellia out balanced from the WM-1Z.
    Not being able to drive a headphone and being able to drive a headphone BETTER are 2 different things that I think you are being mistaken with.
    xxx1313 likes this.
  5. joshuachew
    I think that the WM-1Z drives the Stellia sufficiently well and I do believe that it was designed to be driven by portable DAPs.
    The way you're putting it is like the Stellia should and could only be driven by high powered desktop amps.
    Again, being driven well and being driven BETTER are two quite different issues.
    Yes, of course almost every traducer would sound better and benefit from more power and a better amp in the chain.
    But what you're suggesting seems to be that other than like probably 2 amps in the whole world, using anything else 'isn't great'.
    up late likes this.
  6. Automata
    To prove if the device can drive your headphone properly. An easiest way is to plug your headphone into your DAP and plug your iem into your DAP and compare. Straight out from the 4.4 of WM1Z my T8IE mk2 even sounds better than the Stellia. Yes the 4.4 output has sufficient “volume” to power the Stellia to very loud level but that does not mean it provided sufficient ability to drive the Stellia well. The very obvious result is the bass is deeper and background music sounds well separated, more transparent on the iem compared to Stellia. Also, just like TH900, low impedance high sensitivity headphones are actually very hard to drive well. You can easily get nice sound out of an iPhone but definitely not HiFi level.

    On the other hand, the Stellia is a beast when it’s being drive on a decent desktop device. After hearing the sound from the desktop combo I can hardly come back to portable setup. Now WM1Z with T8IE mk2 is my on the go set up but definitely not Stellia.

    I understand you like this portable solution a lot and want to defend your choice, but all I want to say is, give something else a chance and it might amaze you. :wink:
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
    joshuachew likes this.
  7. SilverEars
    You hit the nail on it's head. Trying it out will eventually lead to the results, and end up finding things out.

    Based on the manutacturer's spec, we'd think we know how it should respond, but in reality based on actual trial we may notice differences from expected. I have looked at the spec as well, but also I have tried out various combos until I heard it the best. So, if you have the gear, might as well try out different combos to see what the results are. I had times that the results would surprise me.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
    Automata likes this.
  8. domho7
    Yes indeed when I tested Stellia on ifi Pro dsd with ifi Pro Ican using the xlr cable fr Stellia the sq was fantastic.
    freesole likes this.
  9. Cerumen

    Does anyone have impressions about Stellia with Woo Audio WA8? I’d really appreciate any comments about that combo.

    Some background: I’m pretty new to this high-end headphone hobby and I would like to make my first purchases. I started to audition and study high-end headphones around the time when Utopia came out. I’ve now listened to both Stellia and WA8 separately and I like them both. But I haven’t got a chance to listen them together. I listened WA8 with Focal Clear and it was a really nice combination (and I assume/hope that Stellia is even better than Clear). Also, I really liked Stellia with Naim DAC-V1 (but that Naim DAC is too big for me). I’m currently planning to buy both WA8 and Stellia but before making these purchases, I’d appreciate if anyone could comment this combo. I just need some confirmation. I’m mostly going to listen to electronic music at home from my computer. If I had to choose, I’d pick slightly warm and “musical” combo instead of neutral and overly analytical.
  10. freesole
    Since you have both the Utopia and the Stellia's, would you be able to comment on their similarities or differences in sound signature? I've read that they sound very different and that it isn't just a function of one being open vs closed. What are your thoughts? I love my Clears and wouldn't want the Stellia to sound too similar. If I'm getting another headphone, I would want something better and different.
    tekkster likes this.
  11. musicday
    What a nice nick you have : earwax :)
    You may also know Saukki?
    This is a saying we used to say it back in the days:
    Welcome to Headfi and sorry about your wallet !
    Cerumen and moemoney like this.
  12. guitardave
    I can comment on that. I have not heard the clears, but own the stellias and Utopias. They do have the same signature, which is detailed, musical, revealing and nuanced. The Utopia is a bit more detailed and open. The stellia is easier to drive, although the Utopia is not tough to drive. Long story short, to me they do sound about as similar as an open and closed headphone from the same manufacturer can sound. Both are completely satisfying to listen to. When i am using either one, i have no desire to switch to another. I own and have owned quite a few headphones and can say that these are both the only headphones i can say that about.
    ev666il, freesole, up late and 2 others like this.
  13. up late
    on the contrary, headphones that have a low impedance and high sensitivity are efficient and therefore "easy to drive". the th900 is no exception and i doubt that the stellia would be either based on its specs of 35 ohms and 106 db spl / 1mw @ 1khz. a portable dap would provide ample power to drive both of these cans.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
    bidn likes this.
  14. freesole
    Thanks for that comment. As I have the Clear's and Elegia's, I feel like the Stellia's are likely to be very enjoyable but close to the sound signature that I am already used to. I may try the Empyrean's first.
  15. x RELIC x Contributor
    'Sounds better' and 'warmer' and 'well separated' are not indicators of drive ability when comparing different transducers on different gear. Could just be better implementations, better tuning, better synergy, etc. Also, using an iPhone compared to dedicated audio gear is not a valid comparison either given the iPhone's cheap audio implementation (dongle), and certainly not a useful tool specifically for drive ability comparisons.

    In fact, your analysis for drive ability looks more like differences between source gear and transducers and synergy. Try using the IEM on the same desktop gear as the headphone. Now compare the sound signatures to get a sense of the differences between the headphone and IEM. Now move over to another piece of audio gear, like a DAP, and do the same with both IEM and headphone. Do they both change their audio presentation by the same factors? This is the key. Some DAPs are bright. Some desktop gear is warm. The same could be reversed. Does one source gear sound relatively more or less warm with both transducers? It's the relative differences between sources that need to be listened to because each transducer will have a different synergy. Warm paired with bright, etc..

    Electricity moves in a voice coil reacting with the magnetic field which moves the membrane. More power=more volume, always, and adding more will always also increase volume so saying there is more than enough volume but not enough power is complete nonsense unless the gear is Current limited and the headphones are very low impedance. Quality gear and synergy is what matters and saying something is electrically difficult to drive because one does not like the synergy with certain gear is not really accurate.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
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