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Focal Utopia General Discussion

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by Allanmarcus, Jun 14, 2016.

Has your utopia needed repair from your dealer or Focal, either under warranty or not?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  3. I prefer not to answer

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  1. jibzilla
    Just the Utopia. The Elear had a more preferable bass but that's about it. The Utopia bested the Elear in every other category. The Elear is what I was hoping for with the hd700. Very nice headphone in its price segment but considering you can get used/demo hd800 I would like to see the price drop just a bit to say $699. Just a little over the hd650.
  2. jibzilla
    It was an amp and sound amp and a dac that I can not remember. The other setup was a Lyr2/Bifrost. Not my Pavane/Ravenswood that I have for my hd800. Forgot an adapter so I could not listen to the Utopia on that but I overheard the amp and sound amp was around $1500 which isn't cheap imo. 
    Considering I got a demo deal on my hd800 and a used deal on my Pavane I bet the first setup I mentioned and my own were pretty close in overall setup price. I'm probably biased and it was meet conditions but I felt my hd800 setup won more categories than lost and in my stable I do feel the need for an open and spacious soundstage and no other headphone I have tried has matched the hd800 let alone surpass it.
  3. TSAVJason
    That's probably never going to happen. The HD800 is an over wide sound stage but to some people that's what they like. The HD800S is closer to a normal sound stage presentation. The Utopia is a reference headphone so it's purpose in design it to keep things realistic and linear in tonality.
    The Source AV TSAVJason Stay updated on The Source AV at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
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  4. jibzilla
    Yeah I do not think that is going to happen either. I was kind of hoping for an open and spacious sound stage with the Utopia after looking at the head-fi video. At least to me it seemed the design would lend itself to that.
    I can understand your over wide thinking of the hd800 but have you listened to the hd800 with a Teton or Ravenswood? I wish I had not forgotten that adapter. Maybe I will bite on the Focal but I need a black Friday/ used deal. $4k is just too much. For $4k I will gladly take the headphone amp section of my Teton or Ravenswood. Totally transformed the hd800 and to a lesser extent the Lcd-X into completely different beasts.
  5. TSAVJason
    :thumbsup_tone1: You know gibzilla, I agree. It's all about what you like, that is all that matters! :cocktail::smiley:
    The Source AV TSAVJason Stay updated on The Source AV at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
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  6. up late

    "over wide sound stage" compared to what?
  7. FLTWS
    My experience with recorded orchestral music and the 800 (haven't heard the S yet) has the 1st violins and cellos often seeming to come from more than 90 degrees left and right at times. Photos of recording sessions can show a dozen or more mics suspended directly directly over various parts of the orchestra when recordings are made.  Microphone placement techniques for stereo over the past 50+ years have varied from 2 or 3 mics (early Mercury's and RCA's) to many (Decca's, DG's, etc.). A lot of classical music recordings tend to give  me a perspective of being on the podium with the conductor which is exactly what I'd expect with the given mic placements I've seen in photos of those recording sessions. I think the 800 (among some others) is just being very accurate at revealing details like mic placement with their sound field presentation.
    I've attended well over 150 live classical performances over 40+ years from Boston to Washington to Milwaukee and places in between. This conductor's perspective on the orchestra never happens in real life if your a member of the audience. I don't care where I sit in a concert hall, the image is a lot narrower in the live listening experience. Even in the early years when I could only get orchestra pit seats, the sound was far right and left, but always in front of me.
    With rock and jazz I expect a more intimate, closer in perspective in a smaller sound space, but I tend to go with the flow of the music and  the sound without being very critical of imaging width and depth with these genres. More about just enjoying what I'm listening to.
    My top two evaluation CD's (relatively recently discovered by me) with headphones are the Chesky Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc and Reference Recordings Britten's Orchestra discs.These two pretty much tell the tale for me not just with headphones but anything in the chain on the way to the headphones.
    I feel a headphone like the 800 is just revealing accurately how the recording was made/engineered. A headphone that narrows the field a bit would be an attempt to make the sound field presentation more realistic to the live experience, to my way of hearing it, with orchestral music. With headphones the imaging/depth presentation is always a compromise. But, as long as images remain stable (don't float left/right, fore/aft) I accept what I hear. The tonal qualities of instruments and voices is what I feel headphones can excel at compared to in room speakers and that's what draws me into the headphone listening experience. The sometimes illusion that a real instrument(s) or singer(s) is in front of me when I close my eyes.
    True to the source and the way it was recorded, pleasantries be dam'd, or, true to a real concert hall listening experience, even if it's not what I'm use to with recorded sound. I can enjoy it both ways. Tonal fidelity, transient attack and decay, dynamic range, and recreation of the sense of the recording site acoustic are what I listen for most with headphones and associated equipment.
    Can't wait to evaluate the Utopia and hear how it compares to others and what, possibly, unique qualities it brings to listening experience.
    RKML0007, bosiemoncrieff and fapman like this.
  8. Arniesb
    Sounded Like some kid comment "my toy is better, because it's mine...
  9. up late
    given that headphones don't have a soundstage to speak of compared to say, loudspeakers, i found tsavjason's comment rather curious
  10. Music Alchemist
    Yeah, I think those who care about soundstage (or full-body impact) should just use speakers.
    ...I'm really hoping I never end up liking loudspeakers more than headphones, because the effort and investment involved in getting ultimate performance from the speaker game makes even the most uncompromising headphone systems look like child's play. For me, the intimate presentation of headphones is more blissful.
    HoloSpice and FLTWS like this.
  11. fapman
    Original goal with the HD 800 wasn't men't to be "better soundstage than listening with loudspeakers"... Their goal was redefine what's possible with headphones while getting the precision that you get with headphones. This is what HD800 does and what Orpheus-lineup does. 

    So no, it isn't stupid to care about soundstage in headphones. You have to pump up your budget at least 3 times if you want to get same precision that you get with headphones. (Some say 100 000 pair of B&O don't get the same precision) The listening room, surroundings, the distance all play factor on loudspeakers. 

    And some of us don't have that luxury to listen with loudspeakers the begin with. Including me who lives in a small apartment downtown. 

    Just that Focal didn't manage to achieve same soundstage that Sennheiser did, doesn't mean it's irrelevant 
    FLTWS likes this.
  12. Music Alchemist
    I didn't mean to imply that it's stupid to care or that people shouldn't care about soundstage in headphones; it's just that the difference in soundstage between an affordable open headphone and the most expensive open headphones is almost nothing at all. When I read about the soundstage of headphones like the HD 800 and so on, I was expecting something unbelievable...but what I actually heard, no matter which type of music was used, was such an insignificant improvement that it was barely noticeable. This shouldn't be surprising, since headphones are literally tiny speakers next to your ears, and there's only so much you can do in that respect. Use nearly any type of loudspeakers and you'll get a sound that's so much more spacious it's not even funny. In my own experience, however, that added spaciousness makes me feel disconnected from the music. Most of the advantages, for my own preferences at least, go to headphones. I get what you're saying about precision too, but if you mean imaging, like being able to tell where instruments are, I wouldn't say you need to spend much on speakers to get that.
    conquerator2 likes this.
  13. Guss2

    I could sell my HE90 rig and easily get a 2 channel speaker setup that would wipe the floor with them in most areas, my opinion of course. You just need the proper space to do it, and truth be told, I've gotten quite used to them. I've heard very, very good sound from below 10,000 dollar 2 channel systems, it's not as hard as some on this forum think. Again, this is only my opinion.
    DMck2000 likes this.
  14. robm321
    ^ Agreed. 
  15. james6333

    Agreed 100% but I enjoy headphones also. You can have both. No need to choose.

    For example, even just sticking with focals you could get a pair of SM9 speakers (active speakers, $7500ish) and run them off any DAC/headphone amp. If that is too much a pair of Event Opals runs about the same price as a pair of Utopia headphones. No need to break the bank on a 30k system.

    I like headphones but the discussion of soundstage is silly when compared with speakers or the live performance.
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