Published 2022-10-18 - 8:00 am
The Focal Utopia are among the very best dynamic headphones we’ve heard. With amazing transparency, low distortion and extreme dynamics! This is thanks in part to the lightest and thinnest diaphragms on the market – that is, if you don’t count planar magnets and electrostats. The headphones themselves have a combat weight of 490 grams without cable.
Now, six years later, we get its successor, the New Utopia. And we’ve been assured that the new headphones will once again shake up the whole standard.
“Real speakers on your head”
The goal of Focal Utopia was to give us a pair of headphones that sound like a pair of high-end speakers – on your head. In fact, we think they’ve largely succeeded, thanks to their very own drivers; and with the New Utopia, the manufacturer now promises us that they’re even closer to that goal.
In the press release, you can read about promises such as “an intravenous injection of detail and dynamics“, and a “musical performance that evokes emotion and depth“.
The new version of Utopia has a redesigned exterior. When this journalist tested Clear MG, he was impressed by the prominent honeycomb pattern, both inside and outside the ear cups. Hexagonal edges that are largest at the outside, and get progressively smaller towards the middle.
The size ratio between them is equivalent to one larger figure being equal to the sum of two smaller figures. This is the Fibonacci sequence, which is found in nature, including on snail shells, in flowers, and much else. The idea of applying it to acoustics is that it allows better air flow, and makes resonances more harmonious with each other, with better sound as a result.
The asymmetric pattern also leads to unmatched acoustic transparency, thus providing no acoustic compression for the lightning-fast beryllium driver.
On New Utopia, the honeycomb pattern is painted a lovely anthracite-grey.
Lambskin cushions and new carbon yoke
The ear cups are suspended in a yoke. This is now made of moulded recycled carbon fibre. The fibres never lie identically, and mean that each headphone gets a slightly different light reflection from the yoke. The cushions are made from memory foam, covered in “breathable lambskin leather”, and should mean you can wear the headphones for hours on end without compromising on comfort.
The headband is also genuine leather, all in all a true premium finish from end to end. All materials have been selected for low weight and high comfort. Nevertheless, the New Utopia weighs the same 490 grams as its predecessor.
Beryllium with new coils
Focal uses beryllium as the diaphragm material for its top models, and the Utopia can of course be no exception. The diaphragm is M-shaped, if you see it in profile, to give it extra rigidity, and the shape is also said to effectively absorb any resonances.
The coil is now lighter than before, with a refined alloy of copper and aluminium. Along with an ultra-thin suspension, we’re promised “the lightest and fastest headphone driver we’ve seen so far from Focal”.
The entire design is engineered and hand-built at the factory in Saint Etienne, France.
5 Hz to 50 kHz
The new drivers should make the New Utopia better in every way, but not least when we’re talking precision in the high frequency range. This is the area where most headphones show their most non-linear side, and we’re excited to see how the Utopia anno 2022 will perform here.
The New Utopia comes with both a 1.5 metre cable with combined 3.5 and 6.3 mm jacks, and a 3 metre long 4-pin XLR cable for balanced operation. It comes with a carrying case for easy and safe transport, and a leather-covered storage box to underline its exclusivity.
Focal Utopia (2022): price and availability
The new Focal Utopia should be in stock now, and the dollar price is a daunting $4,999.