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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. leftside
    Agreed the Stellia does sound amazing straight from something like a Surface Pro or iPhone, but when at home I do still like to hook it up to a standalone DAC/preamp/amp.
     
    up late likes this.
  2. teknorob23
    I had quite a bit of cross over time with stellia and elegia before i sold the later. I previously owned the utopia which before buying i compared at length with the clears. I dont listen to huge amount of jazz apart from a bit of Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson and modern electronica like Floating points.

    Stagewise the Stellia arent quite as wide as the Clear, but i find them to have more bass and a more natural tonal tuning. They are very airy and more open sounding than the Elegia. Switching between the two, the Elegia sounded noticeably more cupped and lacking in resolution so you dont get the crispness or textures in the brushed cymbals in something like Freddie Freeloader/ miles davis. The horns sound sweeter (the Elegia sound good here too) and theres way more space between the instruments. Overall theres similar amount of dynamism between the the two CBs but Stellia, goes higher and lower, has spades more detail and its all beautifully separated. The Stellia scale better too and i've yet to find their limit with the introduction fo higher end components, whereas the Elegia do scale but their limitations are far more easily reached with noticeable drop off in transparency, detail and they dont respond to changes in the stage introduced by for example a new USB or RCA cable, which the stellia lets you hear all of (much like the Utopia Vs Clear).

    My comments versus the clear rely more in memory with only an hour or 2 of direct comparison with the Stellia. As i've mentioned the clear are slightly wider, but i find the Stellia deeper and a more holographic sound is achievable with the right chain of components behind them. I would also say they pip the clears for resolution, dynamism, pace and more subjectively in their tone too which to my ears is sweeter and richer. Again very noticeable with Kind of Blue, where sound is so convincing and enveloping, with every instrument defined but presented with complete coherence , i can get totally lost in the music, which i struggled with listening to the Utopia (less so with Clears).

    I'm not sure how much this helps, but i guess to summarise, with Stellia i get 95% of the jaw dropping technicalities of the Utopia, the tonal balance of the Clears, the naturalness of tone of the Elegia all combined in one package with little of no compromise. For both reference and listening pleasure i think the stage feels as close to natural "sitting in the room" as i've found and is just about perfect for me... i just managed to stop myself using the "endgame", but i doubt i'll be buying another closed back or open back headphone until Focal ups the ante again. :)
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
  3. mixman
    Exactly. I find the Stella to be a well balanced Utopia or a Clear on steroids. Like you mentioned, about 95% of what the Utopia offers with a better tonal balance.
     
    teknorob23 likes this.
  4. Joseph Lin
    I am not a professional reviewer so my words and experience are limited. To me the sound stage on Utopia is like siting in a living room listening to music with floor standing speakers coming from all corner. The Stellia is more like listening to music in a hall if you know what I mean. The sound stage is wider but not by a lot. Utopia is still my favorite when listening to music at home. Out going, I would bring the Stellia and I would not regret hearing 95% of details in the music. I found the sound isolation is adequate, I do not know what people are talking about sound leaking but it seals well because my son sitting next to me playing his video games cannot hear what I am listening.
     
    Ruslanimus, bidn and teknorob23 like this.
  5. BiggieBig
    OMG after 1 hour :)

    I haven't owned anything this level but damn do they sound good. Excellent bass hits hard but no bloating , good high everything sounds just right :) but not too much but enough of everything and very dynamic.

    Amazing sound stage.

    Only negative, regardless of what people say about the ultimate comfort I find they clamp a bit too hard. But then I'm quite sensitive to this + my ears tend to get hot very easy so can't see myself in these for prolonged periods. I imagine they need this level of calming to achieve the stage.

    I originally tried the clears and compared to HD800s and preferred the focal by long shot . So I already knew I would love their signature.
     
    bidn and Joseph Lin like this.
  6. arielext
    I felt the clamp more when I just got them vs now, where they seem to disappear.
     
  7. teknorob23
    Agreed, it was my only criticism when they were new and i even enquired with focal about different pads, but after about a month i stopped noticing hot ears or clamping force being and issue. To be honest hadn’t even thought about it again until I read this post
     
  8. up late
    i hear the stellia as having a different tonal balance to the utopia but not a "better" one. nor does it have the utopia's clarity, which i value. and i hasten to add that i'm a fan of the stellia. i also find the subjective use of percentages to quantify one headphone's performance against another's as kinda meaningless tbh.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
  9. teknorob23
    Obvs percentages are just an illustrative tool and are not meant to be accurate representation of the differences between these headphones, but if it helps, the stellia have nearly but not quite as much width, resolution and extension when compared to the utopia, but they have bit more of a natural and balanced tone :wink:
     
  10. up late
    which is why i find them pretty meaningless. :wink: i don't think that the stellia sounds any more "natural" or balanced than the utopia, but i do find its warmer presentation inviting.
     
    teknorob23 likes this.
  11. mixman
    For me the Stellia is the better HP or at least a better balanced one. I agree with that 95% figure. The Utopia isn't giving you a lot more information or "clarity" than the Stellia. I like the Utopia but I could never pull the trigger on it because for me it is too bright with not quite enough bass. I find the Stellia fixes much of that. In all honesty for me the biggest advantage of the Utopia is that it's an open design.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
    teknorob23 likes this.
  12. theophile
    I 98% agree with this statement.
     
    teknorob23 and up late like this.
  13. SilverEars
    I also think that stating 95% is a stretch and this percentage quite meaningless. A video reviewer said the same about the Elex, so does Elex equal Stellia? I don't think so.

    And Clear on steroids? Can't see what that would mean either.

    Lets try to control our urge for propoganda. Lol.
     
    teknorob23 likes this.
  14. mixman
    I don’t think any hyperbole was being used. If I or someone else said “best closed back ever’” that might be over the top. With the 95% we were just trying to quantify the difference and seeing as the Stellia has the same driver, just retuned, I don’t think I am way off track. My Clear reference is to say well balanced like the Clear, but better. Is that a better explanation?
     
    teknorob23 likes this.
  15. SilverEars
    Just because both has beryllium doesn't mean both nearly identical in sound, nor should there be expection (bias) of that. Even the fact that somebody said beryllium shouldn't sway us. When it comes to sound, no matter what driver is inside, we should compare fairly based on the sound performance, the driver type shouldn't effect our opinion.
     
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