Focal Elegia the New Reference in a closed design!
Focal has been manufacturing outstanding headphones over the last few years, to complement their speaker line. The French based speaker company hit the market with the high-end Utopia and created a stir with the $4000 dynamic reference open-back reference headphone. The Utopia set many new design benchmarks with its unique driver technology and competed with planar designs that were in the same tier and some even costing more money and went on to win numerous industry awards for best headphone and the personal audio community was impressed with the sound.
The ability of the Focal Utopia and the less expensive Focal Elear to recreate studio space in recordings was revolutionary. The ability to recreate space is difficult yet Focal manages to recreate the space and take the user on a magical journey with its unique listening experience.
Build quality of both headphones was exemplary and the materials used in their designs were top shelf. Using good quality parts in their design, both of the models took the community by storm and were received by users and press alike as world-class performers that captivate and recreate a live musical experience that will capture the imagination and reward you with an unforgettable listening experience.
The Focal Elegia benefits from the expertise derived from the company’s design experience as closed headphone designs are risky and most closed designs fail to attain the level of transparency of open designs and suffer from a restricted soundstage. The challenge for Focal was to use their technology to overcome the soundstage issues of closed designs and to design a product that would be as transparent as their award-winning open designs.
Good quality closed designs are in demand especially for listeners who need privacy or for people who want to listen in a room while others in the same room are not disturbed.
Focal uses many new innovations in the design of the Elegia. The frameless copper voice coil, which is exclusive to Focal products, was incorporated into the design, as well as the M shape inverted dome, which Focal designed into their other headphones. The aluminum magnesium alloy used gives the new Elegia excellent damping and creates a larger surface area that can provide a spectacular listening experience, and the 35-ohm impedance is easy to drive whether using a portable device or a full range system.
Focal uses a full range speaker driver in the design and the Elegia was created with innovative and new cutting edge technology. Listening in total privacy to a full range speaker is everyone’s dream and to this end, the Elegia closed back design has outstanding comfort and the build quality makes no compromises. The $899 offering includes a nice carrying case and a 1.3 MM cable. The shorter cable is used to allow users of portable sources to carry the Elegia easily.
The Elegia is a unique and beautiful design and while listening I knew that this was a new benchmark in closed designs. Focal has mastered the sound of actually bringing the listener to the venue.
Critical listeners will be impressed with the Elegia’s ability to take you to the studio and be with the artist. Listening to the Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack presented in the new MQA format the Elegia took me to Queens’sinner sanctum.
Freddie Mercury’s vocal on “Doing it Right” was vivid with inner detail and the Roger Taylor drum kit was alive, and man the bass was deep and textured and had impact on the “Radio Gaga” track. Brian May’s guitar was alive and sounded crisp and magical.
Freddie’s performance was beyond spectacular. Deciding to watch the live performance from Live Aid, I was rewarded with being taken to Wimberley stadium and it felt like I was sitting at the front of the stage. The video is well recorded and the Elegia captured the entire performance and made watching music videos a rewarding experience.
Many people say this was the best live performance ever recorded by Queen and with the Elegia I was able to become part of the event and make it my private affair. Cranking the volume up, the Elegia always kept the performance private, without ever disturbing anyone in my listening room.
The Elegia had no noticeable leakage and kept all music private and was especially good at recreating the venue and making me feel I was at the performance.
Listening to Cuong Vu Trio meets Pat Metheny, the song “Acid Freak” was excellent with the Elegia’s clean and transparent extension in the treble. The trumpet was clear and never sounded harsh and was always musical with excellent tonality of the instrument.
Manufactures when creating a product put all of the money into the design of the drivers and material of the headphone, the 1.3MM cable was too restrictive for me and it had a serious issue of getting tangled up and crimping. Using an aftermarket cable with a 6-foot length is more to my preference so I decided to use Moon Audio’s Black Dragon.
Elegia and the Moon Black Dragon
Once I switched the cable I was able to move around more freely while listening to music and use my favorite listening chair to move away from my desk and get more comfortable in my listening chair. The $385 custom made Black Dragon when purchased with the Elegia is discounted to $260.
The Black Dragon made the Elegia inner detail come more alive. Using the excellent single ended version, I could hear more detail, especially with cymbals and drums. The sound had better transparency and never sounded muddy in the presentation.
Santana’s new song “In Search of Mona Lisa” was a great listen. Carlos Santana’s guitar had his trademark sound and the detail the Elegia was extracting was amazing. The soundstage was vivid and alive and Santana’s guitar work was fast and detailed with the strings exploding outside of my head.
The Elegia captured all the magic in the recordings and once again took me to the venue. I felt as if I was listening to another live performance and the addition of the Black Dragon made the listening experience more enjoyable. The Cable just got out of the way and never once detracted from the listening experience. The excellent structure and build of the Black Dragon eliminated crimping and allowed me to move around more freely.
Olivia Ong ’s vocal on “Sometimes When We Touch” from Voices of Love was articulate and had no sibilance while she was singing. The acoustic guitar was alive and with my eyes closed, I could see her defined in her own space and the vocal was transparent and sounded beautiful.
Frank Sinatra’s “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” showcased Sinatra’s vocal with clarity and his dynamic performance on this tune was incredible and had that you are there feeling while listening. The Elegia proved it was a vocal champion, whether listening to male or female performers, it always delivered a masterful performance.
Focal continues to deliver products that are new benchmarks to what is possible in headphone listening. The Elegia is a first-rate closed headphone destined for greatness. The only thing I did not like was the included cable, which was easily rectified with using the Moon Black Dragon as the main cable.
If you want to experience true sound reproduction that comes alive and takes you to the studio while making your experience private and magical, you need to audition this magnificent transducer.
Built for a lifetime of musical delivery the Focal Elegia is a true reference closed design that inspires you and is addicting. The addition of the Moon Black Dragon will enhance your musical experience and is the finishing touch to get the most from the Elegia.
The Elegia price of $899 makes this an incredible value and a new benchmark in closed-back designs. The sound of the Elegia never disappointed and the headphone’s ability to recreate space had me totally hooked. Ten years ago we were searching for new life in personal audio and Focal continues to push the boundaries of what is possible, creating new transducers that are world class and offer an exceptional rewarding listening experience.
The Elegia is an easy recommendation that merits consideration as one of the worlds best closed-back designs. Using the upgraded Black Dragon cable made listening more enjoyable and extracted more detail from the Elegia. The folks at Focal continue to design and offer new products that continue to inspire and make the art of music listening more enjoyable. Highly Recommended.
Frank started his journey in high-end audio in 1978 and was quickly hooked. Frank’s passion for music and great sound reproduction is stronger than ever. His main focus is with high-end headphones and portable related gear. He is a regular Head-Fi.org contributor and is a co-founder of Headphone.Guru.