French high-end audio innovator Focal isn’t well-known in the United States, but their products are plenty popular across the pond. If you dig music, have plenty of money, and are dumb enough to spend it on headphones, then today is your lucky day, as Focal just released three new styles of ‘phones starting—starting!—at $250.
Beryllium? I Barely Know ‘Um
Now, to be honest, these do sound like some pretty deluxe headphones (pun absolutely intended). The highest-end set, dubbed “Utopia” because everything has to have a stupid name and can’t just be, like, “the X3 model” nowadays, claims a frequency range of 5Hz to 50kHz. Even the dumpy, lower-tier-but-still-ridiculously-expensive “Listen” model provides frequency response from 15Hz to 22kHz. That whole range is probably past the point where the average human’s ear can even discern the difference—which automatically means they must be really, really good! Right? RIGHT!?!
Better lock up them Focals, son.
The Utopia ‘phones, called “reference-grade” by Focal, are open-backed and include what the company claims is “the world’s first full-range loudspeaker” in a set of headphones. Utopias include beryllium drivers, a carbon fiber yoke (carbon damn fiber), genuine leather ear cups and headband from Pittards, and shielded Lemo connectors to connect/disconnect the headphones from their cable. Beryllium is more expensive than gold, so that’s probably part of the reason these suckers cost $4,000. See what I mean about being rich and stupid?
If you’re some kind of garbage person who can only swing $250 for your headphones, Listens have a closed-back design, a titanium-coated mylar driver, memory foam headband, a microphone, and a remote control. Why one could possible need a remote control for one’s headphones remains a mystery.
Between Utopia and Listen is Elear, which don’t even get a real word for their stupid name. Elears are open-back, with an aluminum-magnesium driver and multiple input jack options. At “just” $1,000, these are the perfect headphones for those who don’t blow their noses on hundred-dollar bills, but who are also not human dumpster fires.
Go Focal Yourself
Above, I eluded to the mystery of the headphone remote. However, the real mystery here is why anyone would want to drop a couple months’ mortgage payment on headphones. Unless you’re behind the boards at Abbey Road, no one needs that level of audio equipment. Heck, even those dudes didn’t spend four grand on ‘phones. One can get some dang good ‘phones for like fifty bucks if one know where to look. (Pro tip: check the internet.)
Remember: just because something is super expensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. And just because something is good doesn’t mean it has to be super expensive.