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Focal Elegia Review (Closed Back Headphone)

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 30 17.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 88 50.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 45 25.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 11 6.3%

  • Total voters
    174

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Focal Elegia closed back headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $543 on Amazon including Prime shipping.

Focal nails the luxury look and feel of their headphones:

Focal Eligia Review Closed Back Headphone High-end.jpg


It is a heavy headphone at 420 grams but felt quite comfortable on my head:

lightest closed back headphone measurements.png


Drivers are angled so there is quite a lot of depth in the cup on that side (62 mm x 54 mm x 32 mm: height x width x depth).

By far the worst aspect of this headphone is the super stiff and short cable that I received with it. Yes, it is sturdy but if the idea is portable use, who wants to carry a stiff rod in their backpack or purse? It is also microphonic. Fortunately it terminates in mono 3.5 mm connectors so you can make or buy a replacement easily.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitment on the fixture was good.

Focal Elegia Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response:

Focal Elegia Measurements Frequency Response Headphone High-end.png


This is a very wavy response. It is one thing to decide to have flat response in bass and midrange but why the ups and downs? I am also not used to seeing the sharp drops so low in frequency. Macro level picture is obvious with lack of bass to go with lack of lower treble:
Focal Elegia Measurements relative Frequency Response Headphone High-end.png


Is it me or every Focal headphone I have tested has a different response?

Distortion measurements are good but not exceptional:

Focal Elegia Measurements Relative Distortion Headphone High-end.png



Focal Elegia Measurements THD Distortion Headphone High-end.png


Since we need to boost the bass, I expect audible issues there at elevated playback levels.

Group delay says something is amiss at three frequencies that we had troughs in frequency response:
Focal Elegia Measurements Goup Delay Headphone High-end.png


Zoomed version of our impedance measurement tells the same story:
Focal Elegia Measurements Impedance Headphone High-end.png


Focal Elegia Measurements Impedance zoomed Headphone High-end.png


Likely there is an out of phase resonance that causes cancellation at the upper two frequencies.

This is a very sensitive headphone despite its low impedance:

most sensitive headphone reviewed.png


So you should be able to get good dynamics out of it even with low powered sources. Keep this in mind however as you do any AB tests against much less sensitive headphones. These may seem less dynamic without equalizing levels.

Focal Elegia Listening Tests
Per my past experience, lack of energy in a few areas translates to an uninteresting but non-offensive sound. The lower treble energy made my female vocals much less enjoyable. So I dialed in a few parametric filters in my Roon Player to compensate:

Focal Eligia Equalization EQ Closed Back Headphone High-end.png


The difference as expected was dramatic. The sound opens up with very nice spatial effects. Deep bass is now easily heard and even felt at elevated levels. Alas, if you crank it up, the bass notes start to produce static. It is soft tone though and doesn't ever fall apart like Focal Clear did in my review. Turn the levels down a bit though and the deep bass is there without much of any distortion.

EQ combined with the comfort this headphone provides, allowed for very enjoyable experience.

Conclusions
The wild west of headphone design continues with the Elegia presenting yet another frequency response. I hope the industry starts to rally behind something -- anything is better than each headphone producing its own response gambling for some adoption. Fortunately equalization is incredibly beneficial on this headphone, elevating not only its tonality but also its spatial qualities.

I can't recommend the Focal Elegia without equalization. With EQ, it becomes very good to superb if you don't turn it up too high and cause static in the drivers.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

sweetchaos

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To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -6.2 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 20 Hz Gain 5.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 39 Hz Gain 1.5 dB Q 1.0
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 3277 Hz Gain 5.0 dB Q 2.5
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 7000 Hz Gain 6.0 dB Q 3.0
Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead:
See my GEQ guide for 10-band, 31-band, and 127-band GEQ profiles.
 
Last edited:

PeteL

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I have these cans, purchased from Adorama for for $399 and they came with a different cable. It looks like one from Clear. It's a bit longer, not very stiff, non-microphonic. There are softer cables but it's not a rod.
The cable from my Elex is quite stiff.
 

Doodski

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@amirm is the cable microphonic when it sustains a impact or when it brushes against clothing like a shirt or pants or both? I'm wondering how sensitive it is.
 
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amirm

amirm

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@amirm is the cable microphonic when it sustains a impact or when it brushes against clothing like a shirt or pants or both?
It is a mechanical transmission. Literally like a stiff rope.
 

Rja4000

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Thanks for the review.

I have a pair of those.

I'm pretty aligned with Amir's conclusion that it's not very interesting without EQ but very enjoyable with.

Also, the cable is probably the worst you may find on earth, indeed. And it's so rigid that it eventually completely failed. Given the jack connectors, it was quite easy to find a good replacement for not too high a price, though.

Where I'm not aligned -but that might be sample related ?- it's about the static at high volume.
I happen to listen at (very) high volume, from time to time, pushed by the RME ADI-2 Pro fs (R), and I never experienced that.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Where I'm not aligned -but that might be sample related ?- it's about the static at high volume.
I happen to listen at (very) high volume, from time to time, pushed by the RME ADI-2 Pro fs (R), and I never experienced that.
Sounds like you could use my sub-bass heavy headphone test playlist! :D
 
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amirm

amirm

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@amirm
By the way, why not to use a bass shelf boost rather than peak EQ ?
Trying not to extend the boost below 20 Hz. I can also customize it better with two filters.
 
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amirm

amirm

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