Greetings mate and Welcome aboard!
Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions so…
Fair warning, this review may offend some, so if you’re a fan of the Elegia, you may want to hit that little back button on your browser. XD
Also, keep in mind that these are my honest opinions. Yours may vary.
In The Box
Focal Elegia Circumaural Closed-Back Audiophile Headphones
Asymmetric Cable (3.9′)
3.5mm to 1/4″ Adapter
Rigid Carry Case
Limited 1-Year Manufacturer Warranty
- Type: Closed-back, over-ear headphones
- Transducer Type: Dynamic
- Driver Size: 40mm
- Impedance: 35 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL / 1 mW @ 1 kHz
- Frequency Response: 5Hz – 23kHz
- THD: <0.1% @ 1 kHz / 100 dB SPL
- Cable: Detachable, 1.2m (3.9 ft) OFC cable with 3.5mm stereo mini-jack and 6.35mm stereo jack adapter
- Weight: 430g (0.95 lbs)
- Connectors: 3.5mm stereo mini-jack, 6.35mm stereo jack
When it comes to disappointments in the world of high-end headphones, the Focal Elegia stands as a prime example of how a company can utterly fail in delivering a quality audio experience.
The flaws in this headphone are not subtle; they are glaring, persistent, and unforgivable.
It’s almost baffling how Focal managed to put their name on this trainwreck of a product.
First, let’s dive into what is decent to okay.
The bass, while not completely without merit and likely the best aspect of these headphones, can be somewhat unrefined, detracting from the overall sonic experience, and making it difficult to appreciate the finer nuances of the music.
On a frequency response graph, the bass range of the Elegia seems to present a nearly flat line, which might initially seem like a positive characteristic for audiophiles seeking a balanced sound.
However, the reality of this bass representation becomes apparent when you actually listen to music through these headphones and put down the rose-colored glasses.
While the flat line might suggest a well-controlled and even bass reproduction, the practical experience is far from it.
It simply lacks in detail and refinement; oftentimes sounding slightly fuzzy/hazy, and lacking the cleanliness of the Clear MG’s low end.
So the impact is there, but instead of hitting with authority, it comes off very sloppy and unprofessional.
It doesn’t dominate the landscape per se, but it certainly does distract from the overall experience; unnecessarily drawing attention in a bad way.
This issue makes it difficult to discern the finer nuances of the music.
Furthermore, the flatness in the bass response doesn’t translate to accuracy or depth.
Instead, it results in a somewhat one-note bass that fails to deliver the texture and impact that discerning listeners and audio professionals seek.
The lack of dynamic range in the bass region also hampers the overall audio experience, leaving the music feeling lackluster and less engaging.
Now for the bad to downright abysmal.
Mid-range? What mid-range? Lol.
The mid-range is essentially non-existent.
Everything from about 2kHz onward is basically scooped out worse than when you get a hankering for some ice cream and end up eating the entire tub.
Yeah, that’s it. Eat your feelings.
It’s as if Focal decided that the heart of the music was optional for this particular headphone model.
Vocals and instruments are drowned in a sea of bass and terrible treble, leaving listeners with an utterly imbalanced and distorted Soundstage.
Everything just sounds like shit as if you’re listening to music through an AM radio.
This wonky and fuzzy character of the Elegia is perhaps its most distinguishing feature.
You’ll struggle to identify any semblance of clarity or precision in the audio reproduction, and the overall resolution is very sub-par.
It’s as if you’re listening through a thick fog, with details lost in the abyss.
Every genre of music you play becomes an indistinct mishmash of noise, making you question whether your ears are betraying you.
And no, they aren’t. This headphone is unbelievably bad.
I distinctly remember the experience at Audio Advice’s Music Matters show.
The rep handed me the Elegia with a huge grin on his face; undoubtedly super excited for me to try it out.
After listening to a few tracks, instead of saying something like “This is the most God-awful piece of trash on the planet”, I kind of just did one of those awkward “Yeah, it was okay” numbers.
I felt bad. He was a super friendly guy.
And I’m pretty sure he knew I wasn’t impressed given the the disappointment plastered all over my face, but I digress.
This was basically me (and yes, I’m super pretty):
Another critical aspect that contributes to the disappointing sound of the Focal Elegia lies in the lower mid-range frequencies, particularly around 300Hz and onwards.
This is an area that can have a significant impact on the overall tonal balance and the perception of audio quality.
Unfortunately, the Elegia seems to struggle in this region, leading to a wonky and nasally character.
For those with a background in audio production, beatmaking, or mixing engineering (such as myself), this flaw becomes all too apparent.
Professionals in these fields are trained to discern nuances in frequency response, and the Elegia’s boost in the lower mid-range exacerbates its problems.
In other words, there’s a reason we don’t boost the lower mids as you’ll typically find it literally f**ks everything up.
This boost present in the Elegia not only adds to the overpowering bass but also contributes to a muddiness and lack of clarity in the overall sound signature.
The consequence of this issue is a sound profile that lacks the accuracy and transparency necessary for critical listening tasks.
When a headphone can’t accurately reproduce essential mid-range frequencies, the results can be disastrous for anyone seeking to make informed decisions about audio content.
In essence, the shortcomings in the Elegia’s lower mid-range further compound its already problematic audio performance.
The boosted, nasally quality in this frequency range undermines the clarity and balance that discerning listeners, producers, and engineers require for accurate and enjoyable audio experiences.
It’s truly a wonder how Focal had the audacity to release such a subpar product.
The Elegia should be an embarrassment to their legacy as an audio company.
Any consumer who falls for the allure of the Focal brand and purchases this headphone is in for a rude awakening.
Honest to God, I seriously think this was a weird experiment done by Focal.
As in, they sat around the table and said something to the effect of “Let’s make an atrociously tuned headphone and see how many people lap it up like stale dog water.”
Before this gets out of hand, let’s talk about the positives – and believe me, they are few and far between.
Build & Comfort
The build quality of the Elegia is quite good, which is pretty standard for their headphone lineup.
- Recommended: 7 Focal Headphones Ranked Worst To First
The materials feel sturdy, and the headphones have a premium aesthetic.
Comfort is also very good, allowing you to endure the sonic nightmare for longer periods – if you dare.
This is standard issue Focal; great clamping force, plenty of ear cup real-estate for even the largest of ears, it doesn’t dig into the top of your head, etc. etc.
The Smoking Gun: Price
The Focal Elegia’s price trajectory over the years has raised a few eyebrows and prompted some reflection on its initial value proposition.
While price fluctuations in the consumer electronics market are not uncommon, the significant reduction in the Elegia’s price does invite speculation about its original worthiness.
In many cases, when a product’s price drops substantially after its initial release, it can be indicative of initial overpricing or misjudgment of the product’s true value.
Premium products often retain their value or even appreciate over time due to their exceptional performance and build quality.
However, for products like the Elegia, the depreciation in price can suggest a disconnect between the initial marketing pitch and the actual user experience.
This phenomenon is particularly concerning in the world of high-end audio equipment.
True audio enthusiasts and professionals are generally willing to invest in quality products that stand the test of time, regardless of initial cost.
The steep price drop of the Elegia may suggest that its initial price was inflated beyond what the market was willing to accept for its actual audio performance.
As such, potential buyers should be cautious when considering products that have experienced significant price drops, as it could signal that the product’s original price was not aligned with its actual capabilities.
While not a definitive rule, observing price trends can be a helpful factor to consider when evaluating the potential value of a product.
To put it in simpler terms, this headphone retailed at $899 (!!!) and has dropped by a whopping $500 to roughly $399.
And in my opinion, it’s not even worth that much. I would argue this mistake is worth no more than $200 – and that’s being pretty generous considering there are countless headphones in the $200-500 range that completely blow the Elegia out of the water.
For an exceptional audio experience that won’t break the bank, consider Focal’s Clear MG.
It offers a remarkable representation of the distinctive Focal sound at a more budget-friendly price than the Utopia.
If the Clear MG is still a bit out of your budget, the original Clear is a viable alternative.
While it may not reach the same heights as the MG, it certainly outshines the Elegia by a long shot.
When it comes to the ultimate in audio quality, look no further than the Focal Utopia.
This headphone lives up to its name, delivering a pristine and well-balanced representation of music across the entire frequency spectrum.
The bass is impactful, the mid-range is lush, and the treble is crystal clear.
The Utopia offers an unparalleled listening experience with an expansive soundstage that allows you to pinpoint every instrument and vocalist with remarkable precision.
The Utopia doesn’t just excel in sound quality; its build quality is top-tier, featuring premium materials and craftsmanship that justify its higher price point.
In contrast, the Elegia was a letdown in Focal’s headphone lineup, and it’s best to steer clear of it.
If you’re in search of the best of the best in audio, the Focal Utopia is the pinnacle.
It demonstrates Focal’s expertise at its finest, providing a listening experience that the Elegia can only dream of achieving.
Don’t settle for less; invest in the Focal Utopia for an audio masterpiece that truly stands out.
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Focal Elegia Review and didn’t get too offended by my frankness. If you did, oh well. xD
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
Is the Elegia a bad headphone? I would love to hear from you. Until next time..
All the best and God bless,