Focal’s Utopia headphones have always been one of the best sets of open-back headphones you could buy. The 2022 release of the Focal Utopia looks to once again be among the best on the market, and at a RRP of AUD$6,999 they actually cost less than most of their top-end competition.
The Focal Utopia 2022 release offer some small but nice enhancements over the previous version including a new design to offer more airflow and a more spacious and dynamic sound, a new voice coil made of copper and aluminium for a new signature sound with “even greater neutrality.”
This year’s Focal Utopia arrive in the box with a stylish, box opening experience that you would expect from a near $7,000 set of headphones. Inside the luxurious faux leather box is of course the headphones but also an array of audio cables to allow you to get the best possible sound out of the headphones.
The cables included in the box are:
- 1 x 5ft cable (1.5m) with 1 x 1/8″ (3.5mm) asymmetric TRS Jack connector and 2 x Lemo® connectors
- 1 x 10ft cable (3m) with 1 x symmetrical 4-point XLR connector and 2 Lemo® connectors
- 1 x Jack adapter, 1/8″ (3.5mm) point socket – 1/4″ (6.35mm) point plug
The 1.5m cable is included in the premium carry case with the headphones whereas the 3m XLR cable is included within a peripheral box that also includes the instruction booklet. The entire packaging is extremely premium and gives that high end experience before you even put the headphones on your head.
Build and features
The Utopia build quality is, like the rest of the experience, ultra-premium. The yokes are forged from carbon fibre, connecting the head band to the black-on-black earcups. The black-on-black earcups is new to this year’s Utopia with the new honeycomb design of the aluminium grille on top a stylish look.
That honeycomb pattern with the small hexagonal holes is not just there for looks either. It apparently gives a more open design to help produce a more spacious and dynamic sound. The centre of each earcup has the Focal flame logo on top of the mesh over the traditional dark red/maroon Focal colour.
The inside of the earcups has wide, soft ear pads covered in a perforated lambskin and memory foam. Sitting over the ears, they are extremely comfortable on the head while at the same time feeling secure. Inside the pads is a metallic grille to protect the French-made 40mm beryllium drivers – the grille is now M-shaped to deliver less distortion of the sound at high frequencies due to it following the curves of the speakers themselves.
As discussed above, the driver has a new voice coil made of copper and aluminium instead of just aluminium in the previous version – the addition of copper gives it greater reliability while still retaining the lightweight aluminium. These drivers are also angled to present a more spacious “out-of-the-head” experience, closer to that you would expect from speakers.
The headband is leather-bound and relatively wide. No matter how long I wore the Utopia, they did not cause any issues with comfort. The headband sits nicely on your head while also applying a secure clamp-force to prevent slippage of the earcups. They felt comfortable on the head and over the ears thanks to all of the above. Focal has done a great job with that with the Utopia.
Although at 490 grams the Utopia sound heavy but compared to their competition they are lightweight.
Sound out of this world
I listened to a variety of music with the Utopia – mostly from my headphone testing playlist with FLAC being the file format of choice.
I reviewed these headphones immediately after reviewing the Focal Bathys Bluetooth headphones which are the best Bluetooth headphones I have ever used – and by a fair way. I was thus able to compare the Utopia to the Bathys, both using a wired connection with music played from an audiophile-quality media player (A&K SP3000 – review here).
I used the 1 x 5ft cable (1.5m) with 1 x 1/8″ (3.5mm) asymmetric TRS Jack connector and 2 x Lemo® connectors cable for the Utopia connection to the media player and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack cable to connect the Bathys to the media player. (note. Addicted to Audio also included an aftermarket Cardas cable with Lemo connectors but also a 4.4mm balanced connection into the media player but that isn’t standard so won’t include my thoughts on that here – see the A&K SP3000 review).
Firstly, by themselves, the Utopia offered a veritable ocean of fine detail to deliver every single texture of the music, from every instrument to the vocals. The experience blew me away. There is a reason they are considered one of the best headphones on the market today.
The more complex the music the more Utopia shone. The sound is extremely expansive delivery that full experience that you expect from speakers only. Focal promised to deliver an out-of-head experience with Utopia and boy have they delivered in spades!
The sound signature is very neutral without any over blowing of the bass and the sheer delivery of the mids and highs without being overbearing is amazing. The balance of the sound signature needs to be heard to be believed with each and every subtle change in the music delivered to your ears.
As you can see, I’m running out of superlatives to describe the sound from these headphones. The low end delivers a deep but still natural and clean bass. There is no bleeding of the sound here with the bass crisp and enjoyable, even on the more expansive bass rifts or beat drops.
Mids and highs are lively without overpowering the bass. The highs are not over compensated and flow naturally into the sound to deliver a true experience. The piano in a concerto were crisp and delivered nicely alongside the rest of the range of frequencies.
It would be remiss of me not to compare the Focal Utopia with their new Bluetooth wireless sibling, the Focal Bathys. I discussed in the Bathys review how they blew away their wireless competitors and was expecting a close race between them and the Utopia even though the retail prices are not close — the Bathys sounded that good on their own. After listening to them side by side, I can easily see why audiophiles prefer the wired versions.
The difference between the Utopia and the Bathys was even more than the difference between the Utopia and their competitors. The sheer accuracy and natural sound of the Utopia was just near perfection and I can see how Focal justify their price.
Whenever you use a Focal product you know you are getting something special, and the new Utopia are no exception. I’ve used Focal headphones before and have been impressed — I even have competitive Focal speakers in my SSV Redline — but these new Utopia have blown me away.
The new design looking great while at the same time adding functionality to the headphones — creating an even better sound than their predecessor. If you are looking for an open-back headphone that is going to give you near perfect sound for a long time then look no further.
The Focal Utopia (2022), to the average person, are not cheap but if you are the average person, these headphones are not for you. These are for the audiophile who wants to sit down and enjoy a full music experience using headphones without having to worry about speaker and room acoustics.
For these people, the audiophiles, the Focal Utopia are not out of their price range. At this high end of the headphone market, comparative-quality headphones will cost you more than the Focal Utopia, making the Focal Utopia an enticing purchase and may well be the last pair of open-backed headphones you ever need to buy.
The new Focal Utopia headphones are available now via Addicted to Audio for RRPAUD$6,999 (NZD $8,299).