Focal Utopia General Discussion
Sep 14, 2016 at 7:53 AM Post #377 of 20,655
I can not wait to see the used Z1R pricing
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If it's cheaper than Hotel California I'll have a peaceful easy feeling.
 
Sep 14, 2016 at 8:26 AM Post #378 of 20,655
Thanks thatonenoob great impressions. Just wondering bass aside did you find the TH900 had any other similarities to either of the Focal's? I'm wondering about the tuning? I found the TH900 to have a slightly euphoric tuning as opposed to the HD800 more technical & neutral sound. I'm actually a big fan of both the HD800 & the TH900 each headphone has distinct advantages with different music genres.
 
Sep 14, 2016 at 9:05 AM Post #379 of 20,655
Thanks thatonenoob great impressions. Just wondering bass aside did you find the TH900 had any other similarities to either of the Focal's? I'm wondering about the tuning? I found the TH900 to have a slightly euphoric tuning as opposed to the HD800 more technical & neutral sound. I'm actually a big fan of both the HD800 & the TH900 each headphone has distinct advantages with different music genres.

Thnaks!  I'd say that the TH-900 has a very different signature from either the Elear/ Utopia.  In fact, very few things sound like the TH-900.  I mainly used it because I felt that I needed to provide a solid reference on some of the perceptions regarding the bass of the Elear/ Utopia (okay I'm just going to call it the EU).  Generally, EU has a much smoother signature (less grain) with a far better midrange than the the TH-900. It's a lot more refined and pleasant to listen to, especially in the upper mids.  In the highs, the TH-900 has a certain sparkle/ brilliance that is not quite natural but can be a heck of a lot of fun.  If we go into soundstage, imaging and separation, Elear < TH-900 < Utopia.  The EU are what I would consider more "moderate" and natural sounding headphones.  TH-900 is quite another creature altogether.
 
Sep 14, 2016 at 11:17 AM Post #380 of 20,655
  Very interesting review. Curious how the HD 800 S still matches it and beats it in so many areas (midrange, highs, clarity/detail, imaging/soundstage and separation) yet the overall sound seems to be more fun on the Utopia. I guess what matters is the overall tap-your-foot feeling we get, but considering that the Utopia cost more than TWICE the 800s price, it seems a bit hard to justify. I'll try to hear them to see what the magic is all about.
 
What about build quality in general? Is it at the level of the best? Something to last 30 years?

 
For what it's worth, I disagree that the 800S beats it in all those areas.  The Utopia is clearly better in midrange, clarity, detail and imaging to my ears.  These specific categories, along with bass, are what separate it from the Sennheisers for me.  
 
But as he said, some of it will really come down to personal preference.  The soundstage and highs, I think will be very preference-based and I know people that prioritize those two over everything else (looking at you, Luke!).
 
Sep 14, 2016 at 11:23 AM Post #381 of 20,655
For what it's worth, I disagree that the 800S beats it in all those areas.  The Utopia is clearly better in midrange, clarity, detail and imaging to my ears.  These specific categories, along with bass, are what separate it from the Sennheisers for me.  

But as he said, some of it will really come down to personal preference.  The soundstage and highs, I think will be very preference-based and I know people that prioritize those two over everything else (looking at you, Luke!).


I agree with your assessment. In addition, the treble in the Utopia outperforms the HD800 S. About the only thing that the HD800 S does that is bigger (but not better) is having a larger sound stage. In comparison I find the HD800 S's sound stage to be artificially large. In short, there is nothing about the HD800 S that I think is technically superior to the Utopia.
 
Sep 14, 2016 at 11:38 AM Post #382 of 20,655
I agree with your assessment. In addition, the treble in the Utopia outperforms the HD800 S. About the only thing that the HD800 S does that is bigger (but not better) is having a larger sound stage. In comparison I find the HD800 S's sound stage to be artificially large. In short, there is nothing about the HD800 S that I think is technically superior to the Utopia.

Interesting points raised.  For me, an overly large sound-stage or disorienting sound would be a matter to be handled under the overall coherence and cohesiveness of sound.  But if we're going to compare these points directly, the HD800S does technically have a larger soundstage, more air, more separation to my ears.  I think it's also quite indicative of different forms and methods of assessment and consideration of sound.  For me, the technical advantages of the HD800S does not always lend itself to sonic advantages.
 
Sep 14, 2016 at 2:44 PM Post #383 of 20,655
Treble is done amazingly well on the Utopia. One of my favorite things about the headphone. I can listen to the most treble hot tracks I have with no issues of fatigue at all. Can just blast the music and enjoy all the nuances and details. So good.
 
Sep 14, 2016 at 3:12 PM Post #385 of 20,655
  Interesting points raised.  For me, an overly large sound-stage or disorienting sound would be a matter to be handled under the overall coherence and cohesiveness of sound.  But if we're going to compare these points directly, the HD800S does technically have a larger soundstage, more air, more separation to my ears.  I think it's also quite indicative of different forms and methods of assessment and consideration of sound.  For me, the technical advantages of the HD800S does not always lend itself to sonic advantages.


I think you were clear in your comparison for these two. Calling out some specific capabilities for the 800S, but the overall preference for the Utopia.
 
"I’m actually surprised that the HD 800S put up such a good fight in terms of technical capability.  It’s still going toe to toe with a headphone that is more than twice its price. However, if we’re going to deal with the general tonality and continuity of sound, Utopia is my choice by far."
 
Reality is that, in the current context of TOTL headphones, the HD800S is now a value-priced headphone with a Sennheiser sound that many still appreciate for what it is. I think the HD800S will be around for a long time, similar to the lifespan of the HD600. But it would be interesting to see what Sennheiser would/could deliver for $4000. No doubt they have R&D projects ongoing for the next flagship entry.
 
Great to see Focal enter the TOTL headphone arena. Essentially they have successfully designed and implemented a simplified transducer diaphragm with an extreme excursion, and additionally they have been able to fabricate the Utopia version with pure Beryllium. Easy to imagine the richness of the low end with this amount of air movement. Extraordinary that they were able to do this and then compete with some of the best headphones in the detail/micro-dynamic categories.
 
What will we see next? The Sony Z1R seems to combine aspects of both designs, the large center metal dome of the Elear/Utopia and the very large articulated ring diaphragm of the HD800. (However excursion seems to be consistent with typical designs.) That along with some ambitious designs for airflow and damping. Very interested to see how successful they have been. And almost half the price of the Utopia. If it is good, Focal might have to fill the gap between the Elear and the Utopia with something to compete. Actually, to me, after the dust settles and the market is established, it seems they would want to do that anyway.
 
Sep 14, 2016 at 3:16 PM Post #386 of 20,655
I kind of wish I would have never heard of the Focal Utopia to be honest. Now I'm really wanting one, lol.
 
Sep 14, 2016 at 4:21 PM Post #387 of 20,655
  Yup I am waiting on the Z1R as well.  Please come home for (an early) Christmas....

 
Ha...I thought you had some time with them at IFA? Need a closed back can for my late night listening session and it's basically down to either Z1R or Ether C Flow for me at this moment, hoping to audition both soon 
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Sep 14, 2016 at 9:29 PM Post #388 of 20,655
I think you were clear in your comparison for these two. Calling out some specific capabilities for the 800S, but the overall preference for the Utopia.

"I’m actually surprised that the HD 800S put up such a good fight in terms of technical capability.  It’s still going toe to toe with a headphone that is more than twice its price. However, if we’re going to deal with the general tonality and continuity of sound, Utopia is my choice by far."


Reality is that, in the current context of TOTL headphones, the HD800S is now a value-priced headphone with a Sennheiser sound that many still appreciate for what it is. I think the HD800S will be around for a long time, similar to the lifespan of the HD600. But it would be interesting to see what Sennheiser would/could deliver for $4000. No doubt they have R&D projects ongoing for the next flagship entry.


Rest assured sennheiser is working on filling the gap between the hd800 and he-1! :wink:

Ha...I thought you had some time with them at IFA? Need a closed back can for my late night listening session and it's basically down to either Z1R or Ether C Flow for me at this moment, hoping to audition both soon :wink_face:


Yup now I need more time with them haha. Really interested in a head to head comparison.
 
Sep 14, 2016 at 10:41 PM Post #389 of 20,655
I agree with your assessment. In addition, the treble in the Utopia outperforms the HD800 S. About the only thing that the HD800 S does that is bigger (but not better) is having a larger sound stage. In comparison I find the HD800 S's sound stage to be artificially large. In short, there is nothing about the HD800 S that I think is technically superior to the Utopia.

 
Casting a more expansive sound stage is the only thing sonically that the HD800S does better to my ears. But precise placing of players in that soundstage, I give the edge to the Utopia.
 
Sep 15, 2016 at 1:00 PM Post #390 of 20,655
Compared to my HD800S with Cardas Clear cable, my Utopia with Silver Dragon cable beats the HD800S in every respect, except for soundstage.
However, I find the imaging on Utopia more accurate and virtual.

I wonder what Sennheiser's new flagship will sound like, because I can't imagine how something can sound better than Utopia atm. Utopia will be tough to beat in terms of sonic performance.
It's hard to believe that I'm experiencing more eargasm with the Utopia+Yggy,Rag combo than the Blue Hawaii+SR009 combo and the Dave+LCD4 combo.
 

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