Focal Utopia General Discussion

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


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MidFiMoney

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I never had the 800 S, but did have the 800 for a period of 3 years before owning the Utopia -- definitely have put the hours in on the Senn's lol. When you say detail retrieval, I take that to mean how audible each frequency is, and or the ability to hear and separate every noise that was recorded in the source file. Let me just say that prior to the Utopia's, my floor standing speakers, the Triton 1 by Goldenear, was my 'reference' for sound. My combination now of the Yggy+Rag+Utopia has become my new 'reference' -- audio has never sounded so transparent and good.
 
In my experience, the HD 800 does not resolve detail as well as the Utopia. I don't have the words to correctly describe it, but at least on my set, the 800's would definitely blend more sounds together and lacked the imaging of the Utopia (not to be mistaken with soundstage, where the 800 has Utopia beat). For better or worse, on the Utopia it really feels like I can hear and make out just about everything in the source. The only instance where I have trouble with imaging is in tracks that have a lot of low frequencies playing simultaneously, and in these cases it feels much more in line with the 800.
 
So as someone who has put in very, very many hours on the 800's, the short answer to your question is that the two are very far apart in favor of the Utopia.

You articulated what I meant by detail retrieval better than I could have haha. I suspected the Utopia to be more detailed but so many people are confirming the difference is rather significant. This is well after the hype, mind you. Thanks for your input!  
 
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MidFiMoney

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Sorry, I'm not that sophisticated a listener. Luckily the topic has been discussed earlier in this thread.

Fair enough, I shall dig! Thanks for the input, though.
 
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TonyNewman

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I am a former owner of the HD800 (modded) and HD800S, current owner of the Utopia. My 2 cents is that the HD800/HD800S can give an impression of equal (or greater) detail due to the treble emphasis/brightness of those headphones. I think that the Utopia gives significantly better detail, but it can take a while to figure it out (took me a while, anyway). The clarity of the Utopia is simply stunning. It makes the HD800/HD800S (and just about anything else) seem almost muddy in comparison.
 
I have never heard the SR009 driven from a BHSE / KGSSHV Carbon ... etc, but I have read the impressions of several folks that have - the feedback has been pretty consistent - the Utopia is a just a little behind the SR009 for speed / clarity / transparency / detail. I have not heard of any other non-electrostatic headphone described that way.
 
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MidFiMoney

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  I am a former owner of the HD800 (modded) and HD800S, current owner of the Utopia. My 2 cents is that the HD800/HD800S can give an impression of equal (or greater) detail due to the treble emphasis/brightness of those headphones. I think that the Utopia gives significantly better detail, but it can take a while to figure it out (took me a while, anyway). The clarity of the Utopia is simply stunning. It makes the HD800/HD800S (and just about anything else) seem almost muddy in comparison.
 
I have never heard the SR009 driven from a BHSE / KGSSHV Carbon ... etc, but I have read the impressions of several folks that have - the feedback has been pretty consistent - the Utopia is a just a little behind the SR009 for speed / clarity / transparency / detail. I have not heard of any other non-electrostatic headphone described that way.

Your 2 cents are worth at least dollar in my book! I'm starting to think I would initially be content with the HD800S/MDR-Z1R but then it would eventually eat away at me that there is so much more performance out there within reach. The Utopia clearly seems like the way to go. Was it an issue for you, moving from a wider to more intimate soundstage?
 
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TonyNewman

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Your 2 cents are worth at least dollar in my book! I'm starting to think I would initially be content with the HD800S/MDR-Z1R but then it would eventually eat away at me that there is so much more performance out there within reach. The Utopia clearly seems like the way to go. Was it an issue for you, moving from a wider to more intimate soundstage?
 
Not at all. Sound stage is probably the factor of audio that I notice the least. Just how I am wired, I guess. The Utopia sound stage is small-ish, but it is precise. There is separation and things are arranged as you might expect, just don't expect HD800 size.
 
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MidFiMoney

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Not at all. Sound stage is probably the factor of audio that I notice the least. Just how I am wired, I guess. The Utopia sound stage is small-ish, but it is precise. There is separation and things are arranged as you might expect, just don't expect HD800 size.

Gotcha. I haven't heard the HD800 so I guess it's a non-issue. People praise the soundstage on the 800 so I was just curious to read your take on it, considering you've heard both. Thanks!
 
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dannybgoode

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Not at all. Sound stage is probably the factor of audio that I notice the least. Just how I am wired, I guess. The Utopia sound stage is small-ish, but it is precise. There is separation and things are arranged as you might expect, just don't expect HD800 size.

The thing about the soundstage with the Utopia is people say it's in their head and people assume this means narrow.

What's difficult about to articulate about the Utopia when people say 'in their head' its not a limitation as such but more a description of how the Utopia get the sound there.

Its like they inject the music into your consciousness, like you're dreaming music. It can be hard to reconcile what you're hearing with the fact it's coming from a pair if headphones.

Of this sounds slightly hyperbolic apologies, just trying the explain the whole soundstage thing!

The 800's you know the music is coming from headphones and marvel at the way the give the impression of such a large soundstage.

With the Utopia you marvel at the music just being there.

That said i would also class the HEK v2 well above the 800 and Elear-in fact I'm beginning to like it even more than the Utopia.

The Utopia I think is clearly technically the best but I find myself listening to the HEK for longer as its a shade more relaxing and no less detailed.

Worth demo'ing of you're in the market for a totl pair.
 
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traehekat

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I have owned the HD800 for a couple of years and recently picked up the HD800S and Utopia. Both the HD800S and Utopia have incredible detail. I'm not positive that the Utopia has MORE detail, but it definitely has better imaging and separation, which may result in at least the perception of greater detail (if not greater detail itself? If the details are there, but you can't hear them because they are a little more muddled, are they REALLY there? Who knows?). To my ears, one of the biggest differences between the HD800S and the Utopia is how natural and real the Utopia sounds. This might have something to do with the dynamics, but the HD800S sounds very "digital" in comparison to the Utopia. The Utopia is as close to "being there" as I have ever heard from a pair of headphones.
 
All that said, I am a big fan of the soundstage on the HD800S (and the headphone overall), and so I could never see myself selling them and having the Utopia as my lone pair of headphones. In fact, I'm listening to my HD800S right now while my Utopia collects dust! The Utopia is, in my opinion, the better headphone, but the HD800/800S gives you something you can't get from any other can. It's been fun switching back and forth between the two over the last few weeks. I've found that spending time away from one or the other gives me more appreciation for both of them. 
 
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MidFiMoney

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The thing about the soundstage with the Utopia is people say it's in their head and people assume this means narrow.

What's difficult about to articulate about the Utopia when people say 'in their head' its not a limitation as such but more a description of how the Utopia get the sound there.

Its like they inject the music into your consciousness, like you're dreaming music. It can be hard to reconcile what you're hearing with the fact it's coming from a pair if headphones.

Of this sounds slightly hyperbolic apologies, just trying the explain the whole soundstage thing!

The 800's you know the music is coming from headphones and marvel at the way the give the impression of such a large soundstage.

With the Utopia you marvel at the music just being there.

That said i would also class the HEK v2 well above the 800 and Elear-in fact I'm beginning to like it even more than the Utopia.

The Utopia I think is clearly technically the best but I find myself listening to the HEK for longer as its a shade more relaxing and no less detailed.

Worth demo'ing of you're in the market for a totl pair.

Hmmm I haven't given the HE1000 too much consideration. I've been quite fascinated by what's been going on with dynamic drivers at the top tier as of late. Perhaps, I'll dig through the HE1000 threads. 
 
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MidFiMoney

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  I have owned the HD800 for a couple of years and recently picked up the HD800S and Utopia. Both the HD800S and Utopia have incredible detail. I'm not positive that the Utopia has MORE detail, but it definitely has better imaging and separation, which may result in at least the perception of greater detail (if not greater detail itself? If the details are there, but you can't hear them because they are a little more muddled, are they REALLY there? Who knows?). To my ears, one of the biggest differences between the HD800S and the Utopia is how natural and real the Utopia sounds. This might have something to do with the dynamics, but the HD800S sounds very "digital" in comparison to the Utopia. The Utopia is as close to "being there" as I have ever heard from a pair of headphones.
 
All that said, I am a big fan of the soundstage on the HD800S (and the headphone overall), and so I could never see myself selling them and having the Utopia as my lone pair of headphones. In fact, I'm listening to my HD800S right now while my Utopia collects dust! The Utopia is, in my opinion, the better headphone, but the HD800/800S gives you something you can't get from any other can. It's been fun switching back and forth between the two over the last few weeks. I've found that spending time away from one or the other gives me more appreciation for both of them. 
I kind of have a similar experience with IEMs. The Katana is clearly better than the Sirius but there is just something about the sonic presentation that keeps me coming back to it.
 
If your house was on fire and you only had time to grab one pair of headphones, would it be the Utopia or the HD800S?
 
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dannybgoode

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Hmmm I haven't given the HE1000 too much consideration. I've been quite fascinated by what's been going on with dynamic drivers at the top tier as of late. Perhaps, I'll dig through the HE1000 threads. 

I currently have the Utopia and HEK v2 and I'm deciding which to keep.

I've had two weeks with the Utopia but there's just something about them that doesn't quite gel with me.

Yes they're technically the best music reproduction device (or headphones or speakers) I've ever heard but I don't quite find them enjoyable if that makes sense.

They present the music in such a forthright and honest way-they add nothing they take nothing away-but I find myself wondering if that approach works for me.

The HEK v2's just let the music flow a bit more, they add a hair of colour (and I mean a hair) and just a hint of warmth (not full on gushing warmth, more a candle's worth).

They are therefore technically more flawed but none the worse for it imo. I was surprised to be honest when I first heard them. I was actuality looking at amps and wax using the Utopia but gave them a quick whirl and just thought 'yes-these are the ones. This is exactly what I'm looking for'.

They lack the outright dynamism and punch of the Utopia but are not slow by any means and have real depth to the bass-they just offer it up in a different manner.

So I bought a pair for a longer evaluation against the Utopia and haven't put the Utopia's back on since...
 
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MidFiMoney

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I currently have the Utopia and HEK v2 and I'm deciding which to keep.

I've had two weeks with the Utopia but there's just something about them that doesn't quite gel with me.

Yes they're technically the best music reproduction device (or headphones or speakers) I've ever heard but I don't quite find them enjoyable if that makes sense.

They present the music in such a forthright and honest way-they add nothing they take nothing away-but I find myself wondering if that approach works for me.

The HEK v2's just let the music flow a bit more, they add a hair of colour (and I mean a hair) and just a hint of warmth (not full on gushing warmth, more a candle's worth).

They are therefore technically more flawed but none the worse for it imo. I was surprised to be honest when I first heard them. I was actuality looking at amps and wax using the Utopia but gave them a quick whirl and just thought 'yes-these are the ones. This is exactly what I'm looking for'.

They lack the outright dynamism and punch of the Utopia but are not slow by any means and have real depth to the bass-they just offer it up in a different manner.

So I bought a pair for a longer evaluation against the Utopia and haven't put the Utopia's back on since...

You're destroying my world right now haha. I thought I was set on the Utopia, HD800S, or MDR-Z1R or some combination of them. I want to hear the most revealing sound I can "afford" but I don't know if I want to hear that all time. Finding the perfect balance between analytical and musical can be challenging. Definitely going to read up on the HE1000 for sure!
 
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dannybgoode

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You're destroying my world right now haha. I thought I was set on the Utopia, HD800S, or MDR-Z1R or some combination of them. I want to hear the most revealing sound I can "afford" but I don't know if I want to hear that all time. Finding the perfect balance between analytical and musical can be challenging. Definitely going to read up on the HE1000 for sure!

You'll hear very polarised opinions on hifiman in general because Dr Fang Brian is a polarising kind of guy and some people slate his products without elven hearing them.

I don't care for the politics of hi fi, nor do I care that hfm are a Chinese company etc. I care about sound and the HEK's are right up there and they're £1k ($1250 or so) cheaper than the Utopia.

That's a chunk of change!

You really need to hear both I think as you need to see which you prefer.

Just for reference the headphone specialist I bought my amp from said the Utopia and HEK see the two totl can's these people go for. Some prefer one, some the other...
 
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Is the Ether Flow rated as good as the Elear? Would love some opinions of people that have heard both Focals and the Ether Flows.
 
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MidFiMoney

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You'll hear very polarised opinions on hifiman in general because Dr Fang Brian is a polarising kind of guy and some people slate his products without elven hearing them.

I don't care for the politics of hi fi, nor do I care that hfm are a Chinese company etc. I care about sound and the HEK's are right up there and they're £1k ($1250 or so) cheaper than the Utopia.

That's a chunk of change!

You really need to hear both I think as you need to see which you prefer.

Just for reference the headphone specialist I bought my amp from said the Utopia and HEK see the two totl can's these people go for. Some prefer one, some the other...

Yeah, it's definitely on the list now but I'm still leaning towards the dynamics. We'll see how that goes. I've always wanted to try a set of HiFiMans.
 
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