Focal Utopia General Discussion
Mar 18, 2024 at 9:23 AM Post #20,386 of 20,635
People listen to the Utopia to relax?!
I do actually, and I'm a OG Utopia + Hugo 2 user. I don't personally find analytical listening unrelaxing, and I feel there's enough musicality to the Utopia that even with the Hugo 2 it's not a sterile experience.

That said, the experience can be tailored with a tube amp if one is in the mood for it.

Personally, if I just want to "relax", I don't see the point of a high-end headphone, I would use one that prioritizes a fun signature. There's plenty lower-costing headphones that are fun-sounding and have plenty of detail.
 
Mar 18, 2024 at 10:07 AM Post #20,387 of 20,635
Don’t think you will like Chord dacs with Utopia if you are looking to relax and not get listening fatigue.
I’d say this is subjective. I’ve tried several DAC/Amp combos with Utopia and all of them seemed to place a “veil” over Utopia's frequency response. Kind of like having a thick blanket between the ear pads and your ears.

Chord stuff allows Utopia to reveal detail like nothing else.

I used a Mojo 2 in the past w/ Utopia and I agree it was a little bit fatiguing after a few hours, but my Chord TT2 sounds somewhat even fuller than the Mojo 2 and I have consistently listened to it for 8-10 hours at a time. The Filters (warmth + HF rolloff) help a bit as well without comprising sound.
 
Mar 18, 2024 at 10:21 AM Post #20,388 of 20,635
With Utopia I like to push towards its strengths. Slightly analytical yes, but it's loads of fun and excitement. Would never listen to Utopias before bedtime, unless i'm planning to stay up late
 
Mar 18, 2024 at 1:28 PM Post #20,389 of 20,635
I would have no issues listening with Utopia 2020 through the Folkvangr for hours. I just can't sit for that long, It's the most effortless sounding but dynamic headphone I own.
 
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Mar 18, 2024 at 1:47 PM Post #20,390 of 20,635
I’d say this is subjective. I’ve tried several DAC/Amp combos with Utopia and all of them seemed to place a “veil” over Utopia's frequency response. Kind of like having a thick blanket between the ear pads and your ears.

Chord stuff allows Utopia to reveal detail like nothing else.

I used a Mojo 2 in the past w/ Utopia and I agree it was a little bit fatiguing after a few hours, but my Chord TT2 sounds somewhat even fuller than the Mojo 2 and I have consistently listened to it for 8-10 hours at a time. The Filters (warmth + HF rolloff) help a bit as well without comprising sound.
I think in the right system Utopia 2022 can be musical, transparent and detailed. You can relax and listen to the whole or focus on each part. It’s one of the best qualities of Utopia. Utopia is not unique like that but it’s the best dynamic that can do both.
 
Mar 18, 2024 at 5:27 PM Post #20,391 of 20,635
I think in the right system Utopia 2022 can be musical, transparent and detailed. You can relax and listen to the whole or focus on each part. It’s one of the best qualities of Utopia. Utopia is not unique like that but it’s the best dynamic that can do both.
What DAC/Amp setup do you recommend that maximizes detail and is relaxing as the same time? That would be the holy grail!
 
Mar 18, 2024 at 5:35 PM Post #20,392 of 20,635
What DAC/Amp setup do you recommend that maximizes detail and is relaxing as the same time? That would be the holy grail!
A Schiit stack will do this at a surprisingly low cost. I used Utopia with Bifrost + Lyr 3 w/ a quality NOS 6SN7 tube (*the tube is currently FS in the marketplace, btw!) for a couple of years and found it a very good match. I personally found Valhalla 2 to go a little too far in the soft "tubey" direction with Utopia, but if you're looking for "relaxing" that could be a really good combo, too.

And if you feel like spending a lot of money, Holo + DNA + Utopia is tbh exactly what you're asking for. :wink:
 
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Mar 18, 2024 at 5:40 PM Post #20,393 of 20,635
A Schiit stack will do this at a surprisingly low cost. I used Utopia with Bifrost + Lyr 3 w/ a quality NOS 6SN7 tube (*the tube is currently FS in the marketplace, btw!) for a couple of years and found it a very good match.
This is personally what I found using tubes too. I just wanted both flavors haha
 
Mar 18, 2024 at 6:06 PM Post #20,394 of 20,635
What DAC/Amp setup do you recommend that maximizes detail and is relaxing as the same time? That would be the holy grail!
Playback Designs anything or Emm Labs before current gen/upgrade. CFA3 with JFET. I am sure there are other combos.
 
Mar 18, 2024 at 7:57 PM Post #20,395 of 20,635
What DAC/Amp setup do you recommend that maximizes detail and is relaxing as the same time? That would be the holy grail!
I would recommend any good-measuring DAC (I'm of the school that DACs are DACs until anyone produces objective empirical research that says otherwise), plus the Nitsch DSHA-3FN. It's smoooooooth but incredibly revealing. The fact that it was designed specifically with the Utopia in mind to exploit its strengths says volumes. There's another batch being made this year.
 
Mar 18, 2024 at 8:22 PM Post #20,396 of 20,635
I would recommend any good-measuring DAC (I'm of the school that DACs are DACs until anyone produces objective empirical research that says otherwise), plus the Nitsch DSHA-3FN. It's smoooooooth but incredibly revealing. The fact that it was designed specifically with the Utopia in mind to exploit its strengths says volumes. There's another batch being made this year.
How about this w/ Chord Qutest?
 
Mar 19, 2024 at 1:53 AM Post #20,397 of 20,635
What DAC/Amp setup do you recommend that maximizes detail and is relaxing as the same time? That would be the holy grail!
I’ve spent time Utopia OG and 2022 with both Qutest and Hugo2 into the Feliks Euforia EVO and the LTA Z10e and both experiences seemed like what you describe to me. I’ve settled on HMS/TT2 with the LTA MZ3 as my daily driver. Having access to the two (subtly different) flavours are nice when you feel like a change. I was very nearly as happy doing that with Hugo2/MZ3. The Euforia EVO is a warmer amp than the MZ3.
 
Mar 19, 2024 at 4:24 AM Post #20,398 of 20,635
How about this w/ Chord Qutest?
I'm using Utopia with Qutest for approx 5 years. Now a bit less, but still it's played at least couple times a week in home office. In my case Chord's stuff is very sensitive to noise coming via USB as I use my laptop as a streamer. Hugo2 was poorer performer then Qutest with added PSU and Intona USB isolator, milage may vary for others.

Qutest will show it's finesse against budget delta sigma based dac's, but differences are not as big as someone would hope. As well I've tried Weiss DAC204 in my setup and did not feel it was a worthy upgrade for Qutest.

Some of the higher end stuff will surely introduce another leap in performance and different presentation. Holo is more analog sounding, lampizator DAC's gives you thick, layered yet still very detailed presentation which I use it mainly in speakers. To me higher end DAC's is a bit of overkill for a headphone use. If on budget I would try to go cheap on DAC and pour the rest into SS/Tube amp.
 
Mar 19, 2024 at 1:24 PM Post #20,400 of 20,635
Sorry but when my Utopias mark 1 drivers BOTH failed, I bought the Hifiman HE-R10P as its replacement. I understand that the 2022 Utopia has 'more bass' but I was perfectly happy with the amount of bass with my 2018 Utopias but the R10P's go much deeper bass wise. Amusingly, it was my Focal Bathys that I bought last November that convinced me to not buy a pair of Utopia 2022's. Of course the Bathys have electronic trickery etc but the fuller (but lower quality bass) convinced me to buy the R10P's.
I also upgraded my Hugo 2 to a T + A HA200 headphone amplifier/DAC (in preference to a Hugo TT2 + Mscaler). My N8 was slowly failing after 5 years of constant use so last week a Cayin N8ii took over its duties. Very happy with my purchases.
 

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