Focal Utopia General Discussion
May 30, 2020 at 5:45 AM Post #11,851 of 16,337

Frozen Rat

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A few months ago, in a trip to Berlin had the chance to audition these, amongst a few other pairs. It was quite an experience, since at that point I owned the Elex and HD800 for almost a year each. The speed was (still is) quite impressive, and so is the ability to deliver good bass while keeping up with really busy passages. The tonality is also right up my alley, so I can use it with other recordings that weren't favoured by my Sennheisers.
So, fast forward to this week, I was finally able to grab one myself. Sold most of my older, mid tier pairs, keeping them just makes no sense for me anymore.

When I took the plunge and bought the Utopias I sold all four of my other headphones and an amplifier to offset the cost. No way I was going to listen to them once I had the Utopias.

I'll have these on my head and forget they're there (distracted) and a sound will come from, say, 8 o'clock, from something I'm listening to through the headphones, and it'll startle the crap out of me because I'll think someone just came up behind and to my left. Has happened more than once. They're so darn real.
 
May 30, 2020 at 8:06 AM Post #11,852 of 16,337

jp11801

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after 2 years with the Utopia it is still the King for me,
  • yes the Empyrean is more comfortable and more forgiving but at the expense of clarity, bass definition and timbre also the highs are not as clean
  • I like the LCD4 but still not as even top to bottom and needs more eq to bring out it's best (try the Roon plug in takes the Audeze to a whole new level)
  • liked the ZMF Veritie closed a lot but not enough to have it displace the Utopia, pretty comfortable for the weight but had a bit of a W frequency response for me. Probably the best closed HP in production
  • I really like the Rosson RAD-0 and use it as my Utopia alternative when I want to rock the F%^k out super clean bass and great tone in the mids. My favorite of the Utopia alternatives that have come through my home.
  • The Sony was too wonky for me although fun out of the Sony TAZ amp
  • the Heddphone wow great tone and detail but not for the weak necked (its heavy) and not for people with larger heads
Just a sample of what's been through my house and with each headphone guest that tries to temp me the Utopia still reigns supreme for me
 
May 30, 2020 at 2:11 PM Post #11,853 of 16,337

MacedonianHero

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after 2 years with the Utopia it is still the King for me,
  • yes the Empyrean is more comfortable and more forgiving but at the expense of clarity, bass definition and timbre also the highs are not as clean
  • I like the LCD4 but still not as even top to bottom and needs more eq to bring out it's best (try the Roon plug in takes the Audeze to a whole new level)
  • liked the ZMF Veritie closed a lot but not enough to have it displace the Utopia, pretty comfortable for the weight but had a bit of a W frequency response for me. Probably the best closed HP in production
  • I really like the Rosson RAD-0 and use it as my Utopia alternative when I want to rock the F%^k out super clean bass and great tone in the mids. My favorite of the Utopia alternatives that have come through my home.
  • The Sony was too wonky for me although fun out of the Sony TAZ amp
  • the Heddphone wow great tone and detail but not for the weak necked (its heavy) and not for people with larger heads
Just a sample of what's been through my house and with each headphone guest that tries to temp me the Utopia still reigns supreme for me

Have you tried the Stellia as a closed-back option? I find them quite similar to the Utopia actually. They sound a tad more open with a bit more heft down low. The Utopia offer improved clarity/transparency. I love owning both Focal headphones.
 
May 30, 2020 at 2:16 PM Post #11,854 of 16,337

LCMusicLover

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after 2 years with the Utopia it is still the King for me,
  • yes the Empyrean is more comfortable and more forgiving but at the expense of clarity, bass definition and timbre also the highs are not as clean
  • I like the LCD4 but still not as even top to bottom and needs more eq to bring out it's best (try the Roon plug in takes the Audeze to a whole new level)
  • liked the ZMF Veritie closed a lot but not enough to have it displace the Utopia, pretty comfortable for the weight but had a bit of a W frequency response for me. Probably the best closed HP in production
  • I really like the Rosson RAD-0 and use it as my Utopia alternative when I want to rock the F%^k out super clean bass and great tone in the mids. My favorite of the Utopia alternatives that have come through my home.
  • The Sony was too wonky for me although fun out of the Sony TAZ amp
  • the Heddphone wow great tone and detail but not for the weak necked (its heavy) and not for people with larger heads
Just a sample of what's been through my house and with each headphone guest that tries to temp me the Utopia still reigns supreme for me
Funny, I’ve played the same game, but there’s actually no clear winner. The ‘new girl’ always seems to be winning for a while, but then things settle down again. Right now my new HEKse is getting the most headtime. But Utopia, Auteur, RAD-0, Ether 2 all get to play.
 
May 30, 2020 at 3:44 PM Post #11,855 of 16,337

catscratch

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Utopia has displaced pretty much everything else for me too, at least for critical listening. I'll routinely dig up other headphones and compare them, and the Utopia just about always wins. The only thing that competes is the SR-007 in its various variants, but the ergonomics are a real problem for me, I pretty much have to hold the earcups in place or the fit isn't right. Utopia it is.

Which is not to say it's perfect - it has its flaws, and I need to EQ it to fix some of them - but other headphones have bigger flaws.

For all-around listening however, it's HD650 all the way.
 
May 31, 2020 at 8:35 AM Post #11,856 of 16,337

Rob49

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I was thinking of buying Focal headphones & can't decide between the Utopia's or the Stellia's ?? I own a few headphones, the Sony MDR - Z1R's being one, my most expensive and i use a few walkman's mainly Sony & i also have the Sony TA-ZH1ES headphone amp / dac.
Any feedback regards the two and what would best compliment my other gears ?? Thanks.
 
May 31, 2020 at 9:03 AM Post #11,857 of 16,337

emrelights1973

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I was thinking of buying Focal headphones & can't decide between the Utopia's or the Stellia's ?? I own a few headphones, the Sony MDR - Z1R's being one, my most expensive and i use a few walkman's mainly Sony & i also have the Sony TA-ZH1ES headphone amp / dac.
Any feedback regards the two and what would best compliment my other gears ?? Thanks.
If you own z1r go for Utopia for a different kind of signature/flair, I own all 3, utopia is my favorite but I listen stellia and Sony regularly:)
 
May 31, 2020 at 9:18 AM Post #11,858 of 16,337

thecrow

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I was thinking of buying Focal headphones & can't decide between the Utopia's or the Stellia's ?? I own a few headphones, the Sony MDR - Z1R's being one, my most expensive and i use a few walkman's mainly Sony & i also have the Sony TA-ZH1ES headphone amp / dac.
Any feedback regards the two and what would best compliment my other gears ?? Thanks.
Unless you need closed back then the utopia
 
May 31, 2020 at 9:27 AM Post #11,859 of 16,337

Rob49

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If you own z1r go for Utopia for a different kind of signature/flair, I own all 3, utopia is my favorite but I listen stellia and Sony regularly:)

How much better, or how much different are the Utopia's ( or Stellia's ) to the Z1R's ? Thanks for feedback / advice.

Unless you need closed back then the utopia

I don't need closed back, but could save a little by buying the Stellia's, but i do want the best sound, ultimately. From what i have read both these are possibly the best headphones for open & closed headphones ??
 
May 31, 2020 at 9:37 AM Post #11,860 of 16,337

up late

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How much better, or how much different are the Utopia's ( or Stellia's ) to the Z1R's ? Thanks for feedback / advice.



I don't need closed back, but could save a little by buying the Stellia's, but i do want the best sound, ultimately. From what i have read both these are possibly the best headphones for open & closed headphones ??
what do you regard as being better in a headphone and how do you quantify it?
 
May 31, 2020 at 9:50 AM Post #11,861 of 16,337

Rob49

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what do you regard as being better in a headphone and how do you quantify it?

I suppose that's difficult to say, it's something imaginary in my head i suppose, but the Utopia's have been described as the best headphone in the world & that creates an impression without even listening....with my Z1R's, i've loved them and still do...but i've had moments recently where i've been fatigued by them, or it's just me ! ?? Hearing that treble peak at times...and i want an headphone that's good with every music genre, without any harsness, if possible ??
 
May 31, 2020 at 10:01 AM Post #11,862 of 16,337

up late

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well if it's difficult for you to say then it's impossible for me to answer you in a meaningful way. i suggest that you try and give both of these expensive cans a listen to see if the reality lives up to your imagination
 
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May 31, 2020 at 10:08 AM Post #11,863 of 16,337

emrelights1973

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If you can try them it would be the best...

utopia and z1r are quite different animals, it is like a range rover vs Ferrari they are both very good in what they do...
I use utopia for every kind of music but excels in classical.... use z1r when I listen electronica and sometimes blue note jazz....
stellia also is somewhere between them... I bought them because I need a closed back when kids are around...
if I live in a silence home my only one could be utopia
 
May 31, 2020 at 10:23 AM Post #11,864 of 16,337

jp11801

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I was thinking of buying Focal headphones & can't decide between the Utopia's or the Stellia's ?? I own a few headphones, the Sony MDR - Z1R's being one, my most expensive and i use a few walkman's mainly Sony & i also have the Sony TA-ZH1ES headphone amp / dac.
Any feedback regards the two and what would best compliment my other gears ?? Thanks.
I owned the Sony TA-ZH1ES and it is a great match for the utopia. While that dac/amp is not the last work in detail retrieval or speed it is very good and the combo with a smallish footprint is excellent. The amp does a great job of controlling the utopia driver and the warmish sound signature from the Sony works well with the utopia.

The utopia should not be matched with OTL tube amps as they do not do a good job or controlling the driver and it leads to flabby ill defined and overblown bass.
 
May 31, 2020 at 10:44 AM Post #11,865 of 16,337

Rob49

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If you can try them it would be the best...

utopia and z1r are quite different animals, it is like a range rover vs Ferrari they are both very good in what they do...
I use utopia for every kind of music but excels in classical.... use z1r when I listen electronica and sometimes blue note jazz....
stellia also is somewhere between them... I bought them because I need a closed back when kids are around...
if I live in a silence home my only one could be utopia

Thanks for further feedback. As much as i've loved my Z1R's and as i said still do, there's times when "busier" music can be a bit fatigueing, as i said it's probably myself to factor in too, my mood. I think Z1R's are great for easy listening music, where there's plenty of percussion e.t.c. I want to feel like the vocalist is in the room, i do feel that with the Sony's.
I like the analogy and would like to own a "Ferrari"....unfortunately, i can't demo without the option to return ?? I'm basically housebound, so everything as to be a blind buy.
.
I owned the Sony TA-ZH1ES and it is a great match for the utopia. While that dac/amp is not the last work in detail retrieval or speed it is very good and the combo with a smallish footprint is excellent. The amp does a great job of controlling the utopia driver and the warmish sound signature from the Sony works well with the utopia.

The utopia should not be matched with OTL tube amps as they do not do a good job or controlling the driver and it leads to flabby ill defined and overblown bass.

Thanks for that feedback, it's helping me in the right direction to go.....i also wonder how the Utopia's pair with the Sony DMP-Z1 Hi Res player....something i've been considering for awhile now...??
 

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