In the realm of high-end audio equipment, few brands command the respect and admiration that Focal does. Known for their meticulous attention to detail and unparalleled commitment to sound quality, Focal has been a frontrunner in the industry for years. Today, we delve into the Focal Elegia – a closed-back dynamic headphone that promises to deliver the company’s signature sound in a portable and versatile package. Let’s explore this intriguing device in detail.
The Focal Elegia, a premium offering from the renowned French audio company, is a closed-back dynamic headphone that is a testament to Focal’s dedication to audio excellence. Despite being discontinued in 2020, the Elegia still holds its ground as a high-end contender in the audio market. Replaced by the likes of the Focal Celestee, the Elegia continues to be a beloved choice among audiophiles for its unique blend of performance, design, and comfort.
The Focal Elegia presents a design that is both aesthetically pleasing and functionally robust. Sporting a stunning black-and-silver color scheme, the Elegia’s visual appeal is undeniable. The absence of a grill on the ear cups, replaced by a unique dimpled design, adds to the headphones’ distinct style.
The build quality of the Elegia is exceptional, with a solid aluminum frame that exudes durability and longevity. The detachable cable is another noteworthy element of the design, enhancing the headphones’ overall usability and lifespan. The Elegia supports both balanced and unbalanced cables, though only the unbalanced 3.5mm cable is included.
Regarding the included cable, it’s honestly not very good. It’s very stiff and not flexible, and a bit too short for most use cases. It’s disappointing that a high end headphone has such a poor cable included with it.
Also included is an extremely well built and well designed case. It’s not too bulky, and is extremely sturdy so the headphones are protected when inside. There’s also room inside to stow the included cable and 6.35mm adapter. In fact there’s extra room if you want to store another cable or two.
The earpads are removable but have a proprietary design. The pads use five pins that clip into the earcup, making it easy and simple to replace.
When it comes to comfort, the Elegia doesn’t fall short. The headphones are generously padded, offering a luxurious feel that makes for hours of comfortable listening. The ear cups are large and deep, accommodating most ears without any discomfort. While the headphones are slightly heavy, they are well-balanced, and the plush padding on the headband and ear cups ensures a comfortable listening experience.
However, one aspect that some users might find a bit challenging is the clamping pressure. The Elegia headphones have a relatively tight fit, which could potentially cause discomfort during prolonged use. Even wearing glasses, I did not experience any issues after hours of prolonged use, so you’re mileage may vary here. Regardless, the general consensus among users is that the Elegia provides an overall comfortable fit, making them an easy all-day wear.
The Focal Elegia comes with an array of impressive features that contribute to its high-end status. The headphones are equipped with a new iteration of Focal’s 40mm aluminum/magnesium M-dome driver. This unique hardware configuration allows for a bass-reflex configuration, reducing the range of driver articulation required for a given sound pressure level.
The headphones also boast a volume-optimized enclosure that employs a progressive vent to dissipate low-frequency back-wave from bass notes. This, combined with a series of acoustic diffusers, breaks up standing waves and further dissipates any residual back-wave pressure. Lastly, a specially shaped EVA foam absorber sits behind the driver to control higher-frequency reflections.
At the heart of the Focal Elegia’s appeal is its exceptional sound quality. The Elegia delivers a sound profile that’s characterized by a largely neutral tonality, with just a hint of more mid-range presence. The headphones’ rendition of vocals and instruments is breathtakingly clear and vibrant, making them perfect for genres like folk and acoustic.
The bass response, while not overly emphasized, is accurate and natural. The Elegia’s bass is clean, punchy, well-textured, and generally well-controlled. However, bass enthusiasts might find the bass a tad underpowered, as it lacks the sub-bass rumble commonly found in bass-heavy headphones.
The treble range is another area where the Elegia shines. The headphones deliver a smooth yet highly detailed treble response, creating an airy and spacious soundstage for a closed-back design. The Elegia’s treble maintains a good balance, providing plenty of sparkle without veering into brightness.
The sound profile of the Focal Elegia makes it ideal for both critical listening and just enjoying listening to music. However, I’d recommend against using these for gaming due to the lack of sub-bass.
As mentioned before, both balanced 4.4mm and unbalanced 3.5mm cables can be used with the Focal Elegia. There’s not a massive difference in the listening experience, but I did notice the soundstage opened up a bit more when using a balanced cable. I’ve been using the Meze Audio OFC balanced cable from their 99 series. It’s not too expensive, and it sounds great.
One final thing to note is that the Focal Elegia is extremely easy to drive. It has a relatively low impedance of 35 ohms, which means even the average smartphone can drive these with plenty of headroom. No high powered amp is needed here, though the Elegia does sound fantastic when paired with something such as the iFi Zen DAC V2, which we reviewed not too long ago.
The Focal Elegia stands as a testament to Focal’s commitment to audio excellence. While they might not be the cheapest headphones on the market, their premium design, exceptional comfort, and unparalleled sound quality make them well worth the investment. The Elegia punches well above its weight in my opinion, making it an easy choice if you’re budget is in the $350-$450 range.
HiFi Oasis VerdictHiFi Oasis Verdict
- Design & Comfort8/10 Very good
- Features7/10 Good
- Sound9/10 Amazing
- Excellent soundstage and imaging for a closed back
- Premium design, very comfortable
- Easy to drive, perfect for portable listening
- Amazing value
- Included cable is very stiff, inflexible, and short
- Lack of sub-bass means not ideal for gaming, or music genres like EDM
- Clamping force could be a deal breaker for some