First day of having the Utopia, used them while working and then more critically into the evening. I'll wait a few more days to go more in-depth and compare to the Expanse when I have them, but I owned the OGs for quite a bit of time and on this same system (minus the Innuos Phoenix USB) which is making this a pretty simple evaluation for me
. I'm using them directly from the Dave, which I did primarily for about half of my time of ownership with the OG (the latter half). However, with all of that said, this is from memory, obviously direct comparison would be best. Only a few initial thoughts:
- Immediately fun and well balanced out of the gate, just like the original version, but probably a bit more balanced for most users given the taming of the highs
- Although I don't have them directly to compare, from memory, the differences between the two are pretty subtle across the board with one exception imo: tonal balance. As just mentioned the Nutopia is definitely less offensive in the highs than the original, andis also a bit warmer altogether. This doesn't seem like a huge difference, but there is a pro and a con to it. The pro: there hasn't been an ounce of brightness to my ears at any point. The con: there is a very slight veil to the resolution, which I think is a bit of a tradeoff here. I noticed this immediately and I never felt that way about the OG. I can see the appeal of both and actually I would hate to have to decide between both on this front lol, but if the clarity and detailed nature (overall more analytical sounding, which we know isn't everyone's cup of tea either) of the OG is what love about them, I would definitely try to hear them first
- Also because of subjectivity, this is the one aspect where I think people may think there's a larger difference between the OG/Nutopia than I do. I.e. if the highs were a major offender to you, you will likely think there is a much larger difference than I do overall.
- Still for me, it's clear that neither the OG, nor the Nutopia is as resolving as the TC/Susvara/009 level of headphones. However, on this second go round, I partially wonder how much of that is due to the more intimate and closed in presentation, which also has its own strengths and benefits (I enjoy it), vs. actually being less resolving generally. I'll be thinking about this as the days go on and as I compare to the Expanse (I'll also compare to the 009 as well). Also, I want to be clear here that the difference is not huge. It's right behind that class imo and very acceptable and impressive in its own right.
- Soundstage left to right is a bit wider than the original. Not by much, but opens things up just a bit more ever so slightly, it's still a bit more compressed than other headphones, but again there are direct strengths from that I would not want to lose by opening things up further. What is still very impressive is just how much space it covers from front to back, which it always did. Very impressive in that regard, as it gives a very holographic effect despite not having the widest soundstage.
Overall again, it's very good and very fun. I would hate to have to choose between both as it would be hard for me, but what I can say about the Nutopia is for certain it's the easier of the two to listen long term. In fact, when I had the original, rarely would I listen for more than two hours (although I did love the original presentation as well tbc). I did that today easily, without a single issue. That said, being as transparent as I can be, I have to mention that I confirmed my original hunch very quickly. It would be hard for me to justify the leap given the price difference and used market and the small difference in changes from the OG (again, from memory). The OG has certainly become an incredible value, sans any reliability concerns. That's not to open a can of worms, I just had two issues personally with my OG and had them repaired at one point. I'm simply admitting that if Focal did something to improve reliability, certainly to me it bumps up the justification factor just a bit. Lastly, had these seemed drastically different even just from memory, I was possibly planning to purchase a used OG Utopia to compare, but that is just no longer in the cards given my findings above--unless things change.
Edit: I'll share some pics tomorrow, but they look the same lol. The Utopia has always looked amazing, and I do like the newer look just a bit better I think.