Focal Utopia: unboxing and initial impressions

After reviewing the HiFiMAN Susvara, I wondered, and I’m sure many readers on this blog wondered, which of the Focal Utopia and the Susvara would be king of the mountain. Unfortunately, during the Susvara review, I didn’t have both on hand to compare. Now I do, but I’m not going to tell you the result of that yet. There are many who have wrote about the sound of the Utopia at this point. It is almost certainly the most reviewed flagship and probably the most praised. I like it. It sounds excellent and deserves the praise you can freely read sprinkled liberally all over the intertubes.

Some initial impressions:

  • The display case is swanky, ooh leather, ooh foam. Oooh. I like how it opens. It has a magnetic clasp and it reveals the headphones from the bottom up. It’s a good look.
  • Inside the headphones rest luxuirously in a bed of foam with lots of protection
  • An outrageously long cable is housed at the bottom (3m, single ended). Lemo connectors are balanced and this can be driven off a portable. Why no shorter cable? Why no balanced cable?
  • The cable is reassuringly thick and heavy. You can buy a replacement for around $200. That is a silly price. It has solid feeling connectors and a y-split that looks well built instead of like a plastic triangle adorned by gummy straws (do better HiFiMAN).
  • The materials look luxurious. It screams flagship.
  • The leather pads look luxurious and feel luxurious, but there is uneven pressure on the pads with more pressure being applied at the bottom. I feel this pressure more over time.
  • The carbon fibre yoke can swivel slightly, which should allow better matching to the angle of your head.
  • The plastic body of the cups are fingerprint magnet shiny shiny. I would have used matte plastic, textured plastic, or wood. I think these headphones would look a lot more attractive with a contrast material on the cups, not just in the carbon fibre yoke.
  • Looking into the driver is like looking into the eye of Sauron. Fiery red ring of financial doom. Bad for The Shire economy. My Precious!

Image time! Warning to aspiring Utopia photographers: these are dust and fingerprint magnets. Keep a cloth handy.




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