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Focal Stellia Review (Closed Back Headphone)

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 61 32.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 89 47.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 30 15.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 9 4.8%

  • Total voters
    189

MalinYamato

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Why does closed back dynamic need to be a category? Why not just closed back?
good point. the simpler the better. is closed-back planar magnetics a category?
 

Jimbob54

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good point. the simpler the better. is closed-back planar magnetics a category?
It is if you want to group them thusly, but I'm not sure why it needs to be . Over ear/ on ear is a physical split, so is Open/ closed, but I'm not sure why planar/ dynamic needs to be.
 

CopperFox

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Why does closed back dynamic need to be a category? Why not just closed back?
There are several advantages and disadvantages to various technologies of transducers and failing to acknowledge this on a hifi-themed forum would be both semi-bizarre and off topic in this particular thread.
 

MayaTlab

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So which closed back dynamic headphone would you see as better or best in these regards?

Depends on your point of view. Up to 5kHz in terms of lack of resonances / nulls the Airpods Max spanks Focal's headphones (above it's quite messy but so are all Focal HPs) - or most other headphones for that matter. So at the very least that makes them more EQable. I can't EQ Focal's closed backs to any target because of their basal FR.
If you're ready to consider other drivers than dynamic ones the Stealth for example looks like it's quite devoid of significant resonances / nulls, possibly even quite a bit above 5kHz, which is quite rare among headphones in general it seems.
 

Jimbob54

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There are several advantages and disadvantages to various technologies of transducers and failing to acknowledge this on a hifi-themed forum would be both semi-bizarre and off topic in this particular thread.
I dont doubt there are from an engineering perspective, as well as weight , but as it pertains to the "performance" of the headphone from a user perspective, I'm not sure why they should care about how they make the sound and not the qualities of the sound. So why do we need to put the Stellia in a smaller class than it actually exists in, which is closed back over ear headphones.

Oh , and I edited my first post since you quoted it. I gave you one.
 

watchnerd

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Dang it, I was going to buy these as a self Xmas present because they looked so posh.

But now I know ASR would just make fun of me for having expensive, under-performing gear.

Oh, wait....
 

Rottmannash

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Dang it, I was going to buy these as a self Xmas present because they looked so posh.

But now I know ASR would just make fun of me for having expensive, under-performing gear.

Oh, wait....
Buy the Drop Elex on sale and call it a day. I have way too many HPs and the Elex is my 2nd favorite of them all.
 

Skinner001

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Elex not posh enough to tickled luxo itch.

And I just ordered a pair of HD6SE that are on their way.
But you're missing out on all the fun of receiving and returning the Elex for a few times to Drop. That feeling of getting a delivery, the wonder and expectation of how long will this pair last :D
 

Rottmannash

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But you're missing out on all the fun of receiving and returning the Elex for a few times to Drop. That feeling of getting a delivery, the wonder and expectation of how long will this pair last :D
I've never had to return mine so I guess I'm lucky.
 

charleski

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how could we find a way to objectively mesure the listening instrument separation
This is called the Minimum Audible Angle and was first studied by Mills in 1958. It varies significantly with frequency, so FR has an effect here.:
mills 58.PNG

As shown, Mills also found significant variation with azimuth, though this wasn't replicated in the work of Perrott & Saberi 1990.

It is certainly possible to adapt the free-field test to headphones, and there are several examples in the literature: Brimijoin & Akeroyd 2014; Alzaher et al., 2020. But doing these tests requires a psychometric lab with trained scientists and a battery of test subjects, i.e. $$$.
 

srkbear

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If I understand well you're concerned about whether or not, or to which degree, these measurements are representative of how you'll actually be experiencing the headphones ?

While I'll be the first in line to temper over-interpretation of headphones measurements as the actual on-head FR may differ quite audibly from what's measured for plenty of reasons (leakage issues, sample variation, feedback mechanism + possibly some specific acoustic properties with some active / ANC headphones, geometry around the pinna not matching the ear simulator, pad wear and / or break-in, etc.), not anything goes either. These ear simulators aren't some random bits put together by bob in his garage and are purposefully designed to be representative of a real human to a degree. There's a truckload of red flags for me with the Stellia starting from the collection of high-Q resonances and nulls scattered throughout the mids (as with most of Focal's closed backs), which are in my limited experience with on-head measurements (and, well, just running sweeps when I had the recent opportunity to listen to the Celeste and Elegia) highly unlikely to all magically disappear once on someone's head.
I never meant to disparage the techniques used to provide these measurements. I’m only asking how they translate to real-world listening applications because my Utopias, which got panned on here, are a transcendent experience for me and my ears for audio quality are not indiscriminate—I’ve been a musician my entire life of 52 years.
 

watchnerd

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I never meant to disparage the techniques used to provide these measurements. I’m only asking how they translate to real-world listening applications because my Utopias, which got panned on here, are a transcendent experience for me and my ears for audio quality are not indiscriminate—I’ve been a musician my entire life of 52 years.

Panned?

The Utopias were Recommend both with and without EQ.
 

srkbear

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So, on the Utopia thread you say "I’d have to say that I definitely don’t think I can afford utopia, but when I listen to these I get to visit." - but you own both, might be an issue of expressing it precisely, but do you own both, or can't afford Utopia, because I guess these two would be mutually exclusive.

Ah, "objective listening" which is an oxymoron, and celestial which is a beautiful word, very nice, stylish language - and it's all it is.
Focal is overblown, overhyped and overpriced - everything from Elegia to these - but the industry is what it is, mostly marketing.

If someone likes them subjectively, kudos, enjoy them and rejoice. That means nothing for the average consumer, in an age where you can't possibly try everything yourself measurements even the playing field. If a person understands what they prefer they can narrow their decision making based on measurements which are not burdened by inconsistent subjective impressions.

Most reviewers out there get stuff for free, and earn money through the content they make - if they are not constrained by objective measurement (and some are starting to do so which is a good trend) then their impression is worth about as much as the marketing material that comes from the compony itself. And some are just deaf, like Zeos.
Well thanks for reducing my entire character to the lowest depths of the toilet. I don’t know what I’ve done to you (or to the honest hard-working folks who are providing these measurements for our benefit) to warrant such derision—although your vitriol does seem to be informed in part by a particularly passionate distaste with Focal’s offerings. I do resent your implication that those of us who appreciate them have deaf ears.

My comment about the Utopia being great to visit was a jocund one in the context of a light-hearted exchange. I do in fact own the Utopias, which I landed on after auditioning an obsessive array of cans. If I used the term “objective listening” then allow me to apologize and correct that to “subjective listening”, which is what I meant—and if the word “celestial” bothered you in its pretense, you’ll forgive me if I allowed some bit of nonsense rub off on me while I was studying English Literature at Oxford. I think you got what I meant, and my sentiments were sincere.

The implication for which I really wanna call you on the carpet is any suggestion that I’m a privileged buyer of high end audio who has no appreciation for the budgetary limitations of others on here. That is not me. This is a forum pertaining to the performance of extraordinarily exacting, premium audio components, which by their own design are often out of reach. I saved long and hard for the gear I purchased, precisely because music is such a foundational part of my life—I don’t have this stuff under glass as museum pieces to impress my friends.

There is a fair amount of snobbery on here—to gaslight me otherwise is unctuous to say the least. Many folks have their preferred brands and some judge other worthwhile manufacturers harshly in ways that are occasionally capricious. You have absolutely no authority to toss me off as a fraudulent, “deaf” Focal enthusiast for the joy I’ve received listening to my Utopias, measurements or no. Amir gave them a pan on here, and although I do have great respect and trust in his expertise, the suggestion that these exceptionally designed headphones are junk is preposterous. And as for you sir, your aggressive, gratuitous attack on me leads me to assume that either you’re a measurements snob who hasn’t stepped away from your calipers long enough to even appreciate music yourself, or you’re just sour grapes.

And in response to your “deaf” comment, I may be a physician by profession but my father was a professional jazz pianist, and my mom sat me down on our 1921 Conover grand piano at age five and insisted that I take lessons from the most celebrated teachers from that point on—until I graduated from college with a major in piano and electronic music (which amounted to synthesizer programming). And I’ve spent decades up to my ears in the most discriminating of audio components—not satisfied with the sound from a stock Fender Tweed Bassman, I built my own boutique one from scratch with point-to-point wiring and an obsessive journey with my tube tester on a quest for the ultimate in matched NOS Telefunken 12ax7s.

I wouldn’t ordinarily stoop to such a pretentious, agonizing review of my credentials if your comment hadn’t been such a personal attack on my inventory. I came to this forum for friendship—and if you’re here for grandstanding then let me assure you you’ve targeted the wrong guy. If you want to waste time and space on here getting into a contest of credibility I won’t engage—because what you’ve shown me of yourself thus far is a clear indication that it would be an embarrassment to attempt to take down someone who is so unsuited to the task.

Thank you for taking your time working out your family of origin issues here at my expense. Now I’m going to move on to more important matters, and you can kindly sit down.
 

srkbear

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Panned?

The Utopias were Recommend both with and without EQ.
They were deemed a mess without substantial EQ. Is it really necessary to quibble over this with me? What did I do to you personally? What on earth is going on here? If my original comment was read as disparaging or condescending in any way, that was the last thing I could have possibly intended and I apologize. I’ll re-read it for my part and edit it to reflect my true purposes. Peace.
 

watchnerd

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They were deemed a mess without substantial EQ. Is it really necessary to quibble over this with me? What did I do to you personally? What on earth is going on here? If my original comment was read as disparaging or condescending in any way, that was the last thing I could have possibly intended and I apologize. I’ll re-read it for my part and edit it to reflect my true purposes. Peace.

The review index actually lists them as Recommended even without EQ.

 
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