Focal Utopia General Discussion
Sep 4, 2021 at 5:46 AM Post #15,871 of 17,891

teknorob23

Member of the Trade: Network Acoustics
Joined
Feb 28, 2018
Posts
1,689
Likes
1,982
Location
UK
Unfortunately, just a JDS Atom Amp+. Decided to upgrade DAC first as the denon I have are super easy to drive.

Ah unfortunately thats not an amp I've heard, I have paired the Utopia with qutest using a variety of amps and its an ideal partner with most of them, highly resolving, excellent layering, with good weight and providing your amp isnt overly bright its fairly hard to go wrong. The goods news or bad news depending how want to look at it, is that Utopia will scale and you'll hear more with every upgraded you make in the chain before them :)
 
Sep 4, 2021 at 6:02 AM Post #15,872 of 17,891

musicasmedicine

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Posts
227
Likes
253
Location
Australia
Ah unfortunately thats not an amp I've heard, I have paired the Utopia with qutest using a variety of amps and its an ideal partner with most of them, highly resolving, excellent layering, with good weight and providing your amp isnt overly bright its fairly hard to go wrong. The goods news or bad news depending how want to look at it, is that Utopia will scale and you'll hear more with every upgraded you make in the chain before them :)
Thanks! The end goal would be a companion chord amp in a few years.

the JDS is 1W (32Ohms) of clean, clean power with 0 noise floor. Quite amazing for 100 usd.
 
Sep 4, 2021 at 6:11 AM Post #15,873 of 17,891

teknorob23

Member of the Trade: Network Acoustics
Joined
Feb 28, 2018
Posts
1,689
Likes
1,982
Location
UK
Thanks! The end goal would be a companion chord amp in a few years.

the JDS is 1W (32Ohms) of clean, clean power with 0 noise floor. Quite amazing for 100 usd.

sounds good. The amp choices are endless, but sadly Chord dont make a headphone amp (yet), but theres not shortage choices out and most of them are mentioned in this thread :)
 
Sep 4, 2021 at 6:21 AM Post #15,874 of 17,891

musicasmedicine

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Posts
227
Likes
253
Location
Australia
sounds good. The amp choices are endless, but sadly Chord dont make a headphone amp (yet), but theres not shortage choices out and most of them are mentioned in this thread :)
Idk if you’ve seen but it seems like there’s one on the way which is the same size as Qutest. It’s called Anni
 
Sep 4, 2021 at 9:27 AM Post #15,875 of 17,891

gnomen

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 28, 2015
Posts
265
Likes
187
After hearing what you’re all saying, I think I’m starting to agree regarding whether to wait for a Utopia successor or not.

There’s no telling that the successor will be better and even if it is, at this level, it’s all about preference more than anything. I highly doubt they would change the overall sound of their flagship as well.

I think if I can get a good deal on one from my dealer (I dont care if it’s the old packaging), ill go for it. If it’s not a great deal, might as well wait a few months and see where we are.
I would not wait for a successor. Headphone/speaker tech hardware is slow to evolve and the Utopia already uses sota materials. For my money, I would recommend an after-market cable like the Lazuli Reference. It made a bigger difference than I would expect from any mooted upgrade.

I find the Utopias bring out the best in companion equipment, so choose your DAC/amp on other criteria. Whatever you choose, you will likely hear the best it can do. I am a big fan of Chord DACs but other devices also perform v well.
 
Sep 4, 2021 at 9:46 AM Post #15,876 of 17,891

musicasmedicine

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Posts
227
Likes
253
Location
Australia
I would not wait for a successor. Headphone/speaker tech hardware is slow to evolve and the Utopia already uses sota materials. For my money, I would recommend an after-market cable like the Lazuli Reference. It made a bigger difference than I would expect from any mooted upgrade.

I find the Utopias bring out the best in companion equipment, so choose your DAC/amp on other criteria. Whatever you choose, you will likely hear the best it can do. I am a big fan of Chord DACs but other devices also perform v well.
Yeah definitely true. There’s not much they can do to make it better. One thing that would be interesting is a bigger sized driver for increased soundstage.

the Lazuli reference is beautiful but it will be quite a long time before I spend 1K on a cable haha.

yeah I’m very excited to use my Qutest with it!
 
Sep 4, 2021 at 2:18 PM Post #15,878 of 17,891

iamoneagain

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Oct 26, 2006
Posts
1,828
Likes
782
Location
San Diego
sounds good. The amp choices are endless, but sadly Chord dont make a headphone amp (yet), but theres not shortage choices out and most of them are mentioned in this thread :)

I think the idea was Chord would have you just buy the Hugo 2, TT2, or Dave or wanted to use with headphones. The Qutest was for people that didn’t need or want to use Chord’s headphone out. I believe the Qutest is supposed on par with the Hugo 2 but with the right amp, guessing would make a better pairing. I’ve never heard the Qutest or TT2.
 
Sep 4, 2021 at 3:14 PM Post #15,880 of 17,891

BassicScience

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Posts
1,109
Likes
1,949
Hi All,

A few days ago I received my Utopias back from being serviced. The left driver had just died out of the blue while listening at moderate volume. The cans were still under warranty, so I was only out about $15 for shipping. Kudos to Focal and @TSAVWayne (Source AV) for excellent service and communication throughout the repair process. I tested the Utopia very briefly the day I received them back, but actually listened to them at length last night. A few things became apparent:

1) They sound much better to me than they did before. Bass sounds fuller/louder while still maintaining tautness. Soundstage size also increased. The gap between Utopia and Susvara has now significantly decreased for me. Obviously, this impression is subject to change with more extended listening, but I truly enjoyed my session with the Utopia last night!

2) The clamping force is now much less than previously, to the point where the cans feel as if they might fall off when leaning forward or backward. Previously, they were very secure on my noggin. When holding an ear cup in either hand, there is FAR more lateral play before as if the headband is simply much more compliant now.

3) Focal provided new ear pads. For all I know, they may have simply replaced the entire driver/ear cup/slider assemblies, including the pads. The new ear pads have a lighter, cushier feel than the old ones. They feel a bit less substantial, but I believe the outer material is the same (or very similar).

So, my questions are:

A) Did Focal modify the drivers or ear cups on the Utopia at some point?

B) Can anyone shed some light on whether and when Focal did any other modifications to the Utopia?

C) Are the sonic changes (improvements) I'm perceiving likely just related to clamping force and/or ear pad composition?

I bought my Utopia almost exactly four years ago, in August 2017.

Thanks in advance for any info or insights.
 
Last edited:
Sep 4, 2021 at 3:59 PM Post #15,881 of 17,891

Gadget67

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 28, 2012
Posts
1,115
Likes
1,843
Hi All,

A few days ago I received my Utopias back from being serviced. The left driver had just died out of the blue while listening at moderate volume. The cans were still under warranty, so I was only out about $15 for shipping. Kudos to Focal and @TSAVWayne (Source AV) for excellent service and communication throughout the repair process. I tested the Utopia very briefly the day I received them back, but actually listened to them at length last night. A few things became apparent:

1) They sound much better to me than they did before. Bass sounds fuller/louder while still maintaining tautness. Soundstage size also increased. The gap between Utopia and Susvara has now significantly decreased for me. Obviously, this impression is subject to change with more extended listening, but I truly enjoyed my session with the Utopia last night!

2) The clamping force is now much less than previously, to the point where the cans feel as if they might fall off when leaning forward or backward. Previously, they were very secure on my noggin. When holding an ear cup in either hand, there is FAR more lateral play before as if the headband is simply much more compliant now.

3) Focal provided new ear pads. For all I know, they may have simply replaced the entire driver/ear cup/slider assemblies, including the pads. The new ear pads have a lighter, cushier feel than the old ones. They feel a bit less substantial, but I believe the outer material is the same (or very similar).

So, my questions are:

A) Did Focal modify the drivers or ear cups on the Utopia at some point?

B) Can anyone shed some light on whether and when Focal did any other modifications to the Utopia?

C) Are the sonic changes (improvements) I'm perceiving likely just related to clamping force and/or ear pad composition?

I bought my Utopia almost exactly four years ago, in August 2017.

Thanks in advance for any info or insights.
This is complete conjecture, but since yours are four years old they fall in the timeframe of when numerous driver failures were occurring. I would assume (of course I don’t know) that there must have been some driver modification to “fix” the problem, if there really was one. Hey, like I said, total conjecture but it’s the best I’ve got and Focal isn’t admitting to anything. My .02 cents but that‘s probably what it’s worth…YMMV…
 
Sep 4, 2021 at 4:20 PM Post #15,882 of 17,891

BassicScience

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Posts
1,109
Likes
1,949
This is complete conjecture, but since yours are four years old they fall in the timeframe of when numerous driver failures were occurring. I would assume (of course I don’t know) that there must have been some driver modification to “fix” the problem, if there really was one. Hey, like I said, total conjecture but it’s the best I’ve got and Focal isn’t admitting to anything. My .02 cents but that‘s probably what it’s worth…YMMV…
Thanks for your input! If numerous drivers were failing at that time, I would indeed classify that as a problem. :relaxed: Interesting that mine went four years before failing.
 
Sep 4, 2021 at 4:33 PM Post #15,883 of 17,891

thecrow

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Oct 18, 2014
Posts
3,878
Likes
2,522
I have never read of any changes having been made. I can only assume they looked and addressed their driver failures And made them more stable.

I had heard the (or one) issue was the outgoing wiring connecting the driver to effectively the headphone cable was very thin/fragile.


let us know what focal tell you as i assume you have asked them About any changes?
 
Sep 4, 2021 at 4:56 PM Post #15,884 of 17,891

teknorob23

Member of the Trade: Network Acoustics
Joined
Feb 28, 2018
Posts
1,689
Likes
1,982
Location
UK
I think the idea was Chord would have you just buy the Hugo 2, TT2, or Dave or wanted to use with headphones. The Qutest was for people that didn’t need or want to use Chord’s headphone out. I believe the Qutest is supposed on par with the Hugo 2 but with the right amp, guessing would make a better pairing. I’ve never heard the Qutest or TT2.

yep but hes got the qutest already so i didnt want to recommend an all in one. The qutest is near identical to the hugo, perhaps a tad smoother, but if you hadnt bought the qutest the Hugo2 is an easy choice, sounds great with the Utopia. The TT2 is step up again and add the mscaler in its awesome but suddenly we've got to a budget of £8K!
 
Sep 4, 2021 at 4:57 PM Post #15,885 of 17,891

BassicScience

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Posts
1,109
Likes
1,949
I have never read of any changes having been made. I can only assume they looked and addressed their driver failures And made them more stable.

I had heard the (or one) issue was the outgoing wiring connecting the driver to effectively the headphone cable was very thin/fragile.


let us know what focal tell you as i assume you have asked them About any changes?
I haven't yet contacted Focal (or Source AV) with these questions, but they will both be set up at CanJam SoCal, and I will definitely do so there (if not sooner). I'm also curious to compare my Utopias to a demo pair at the show, particularly in regards to the clamping force and ear pad density. I really preferred the snug fit and feel previously.
 
Last edited:

Users who are viewing this thread

Top