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Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions, so…
The Focal Stellia, a highly anticipated addition to the Focal lineup, presents itself as a paradox of sorts.
On one hand, Focal has demonstrated an uncanny ability to craft premium headphones that redefine audio excellence.
On the other, the Stellia falls victim to an uneven sound signature that leaves one pondering whether it truly belongs in the upper echelons of the audiophile realm.
Join me as I unpack everything and help you decide if the Stellia is ultimately worth an investment.
In The Box
Focal Stellia Over-Ear Closed-Back Headphones
10′ Cable with 4-Pin XLR Connector
4′ Cable with 3.5mm Connector
3.5mm to 1/4″ Adapter
Rigid Travel Case
Limited 3-Year Warranty
- Type: Closed-back, over-ear headphones
- Driver: 40mm full-range driver with M-shaped dome
- Frequency Response: 5Hz – 40kHz
- Impedance: 35 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 106dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <0.1% @ 1kHz / 100dB SPL
- Weight: 435g (without cable)
- Cable: 1.2m detachable OFC cable, 3.5mm stereo jack plug (balanced cable available separately)
- Connector: 3.5mm stereo jack plug (with 6.35mm adapter)
First, let’s commend Focal for their unparalleled craftsmanship evident in the Stellia’s build quality.
The luxurious combination of leather, metal, and attention to detail speaks volumes about the company’s dedication to aesthetics and durability.
These headphones are undeniably a testament to exquisite artistry, making it difficult to deny their allure.
There are few other headphones I’ve tried to date out of 130+ that compare to the elegance on display and I’m sure most would agree.
This goes for all in the line including the Stellia.
The Stellia’s design is a marriage of elegant aesthetics and top-tier materials.
The closed-back ear cups are meticulously crafted from full-grain leather, exuding a sense of refinement and sophistication.
The metal components, including the yoke and grille design, are not only visually striking but also contribute to the headphones’ structural integrity.
Attention to Detail
Focal’s meticulous attention to detail is evident in every aspect of the Stellia’s build.
From the stitching on the leather headband to the precision-engineered hinges, every element has been carefully considered to ensure both functionality and aesthetics.
The Stellia doesn’t compromise on durability either.
The combination of materials used ensures that these headphones can withstand the rigors of daily use while retaining their premium appearance.
The leather-wrapped memory foam ear pads not only provide a comfortable fit but are also built to last like Duralast.
Unlike the open-back design of some other Focal headphones, the Stellia features a closed-back design that enhances noise isolation and privacy.
This is particularly suitable for those who want to immerse themselves in their music without disturbing others or being disturbed by external noise.
This unfortunately comes at a cost, but we’ll discuss that in a bit.
Cable and Connectors
The Stellia’s detachable cables are made with high-quality materials, ensuring a reliable connection while minimizing signal loss.
The cables are terminated with 3.5mm connectors, and a 6.35mm adapter is included for added versatility.
The Focal Stellia’s build quality encapsulates a sense of luxury and precision engineering that’s befitting of its premium status.
It’s a showcase of Focal’s expertise in marrying form and function to create a product that feels like a work of art.
Whether you’re admiring the leatherwork, marveling at the intricate design details, or simply holding them in your hands, the Stellia’s build quality leaves a lasting impression of uncompromising excellence.
Comfort, too, is an area where the Stellia shines.
The plush ear pads, adjustable headband, and overall ergonomic design make long listening sessions a breeze.
Focal’s commitment to ensuring users can indulge in their music for extended periods without discomfort is commendable.
The clamping force is nearly perfect, and the headphones don’t dig into the top of your head either.
Some would have liked to see the cups with a bit more maneuverability, and I can certainly understand the sentiment.
These are rather rigid and stiff, but it’s a small price to pay for such extraordinary comfort levels.
It’s important to note that the cups do move a little bit, but again, don’t expect full rotations or jaw-dropping backflips.
However, the heart of any headphones lies in their sound performance, and this is where the Stellia stumbles in its endeavor to impress.
Focal’s reputation for producing headphones with a signature that pays homage to accuracy and detail has been, unfortunately, mislaid in the Stellia’s case.
The sound signature is marked by a perplexing unevenness that muddles the overall experience.
While some frequencies are portrayed with a rich and enveloping quality, others seem to lack the crispness and clarity that Focal has come to be associated with.
The bass response, while impressive in its depth, can often overpower the delicate nuances of the mid-range frequencies.
Vocals, which should be the centerpiece of many genres, lose their luster as they compete for attention against the bass-heavy backdrop.
This imbalance detracts from the emotional engagement that a top-tier headphone should offer.
Furthermore, the treble end of the spectrum feels a tad restrained, robbing the music of its airiness and sparkle.
The Stellia falls short of reproducing the intricate high-frequency details that are often the highlight of Focal’s other offerings.
This lack of brilliance and openness compromises the overall sense of fidelity that one would expect from a headphone of this caliber.
The Focal Stellia’s sonic predicament doesn’t end with the unevenness just discussed.
Delving deeper into its sound signature reveals an additional flaw that further tarnishes its audio prowess.
The mid-range, a crucial domain for rendering vocals and instrumental timbres with authenticity and clarity, experiences a noticeable dip after the 2kHz mark.
This deficiency is hard to overlook, as it contributes to the already wonky sound profile that plagues the Stellia.
Vocals, instrumental solos, and other mid-frequency elements that should be the heart and soul of music often find themselves competing with the overbearing bass, only to be followed by a treble range that lacks the necessary brilliance to bring out their inherent nuances.
The dip in the mid-range not only diminishes the emotional connection one should feel with the music but also impairs the overall coherence of the listening experience.
This omission in the mid-range renders the Stellia’s sound profile unbalanced, robbing the music of its natural warmth and intimacy.
Focal’s oversight in this regard is especially lamentable given their reputation for precision and accuracy in audio reproduction.
The absence of a lush mid-range resonance is akin to leaving a void in the very heart of the soundstage, leaving listeners yearning for a more complete and immersive auditory encounter.
In a product that demands a premium price, such a glaring shortfall is disheartening and frankly inexcusable.
While the Stellia boasts superb build quality and a luxurious fit, its lackluster mid-range presence and subsequent misalignment with Focal’s audio heritage cannot be ignored.
The headphones fail to capture the soul-stirring essence that music enthusiasts anticipate from high-end headphones, reminding us that even respected brands can sometimes falter in their pursuit of perfection.
In sum, the Focal Stellia is a paradox of quality and disappointment.
For a brand known for pushing the boundaries of audio performance, the Stellia falls a bit too far from the mark.
Before we wrap up, let’s discuss amplification.
With an impedance of 35 Ohms, the Focal Stellia falls into a range that can be comfortably driven by a variety of audio sources.
This moderate impedance means that the headphones are not overly demanding in terms of power requirements.
It allows them to work well with a wide range of devices, including smartphones, portable music players, laptops, and more.
This aspect of the Stellia’s design ensures that you don’t necessarily need a dedicated headphone amplifier to achieve enjoyable listening experiences.
The Stellia boasts a sensitivity of 106dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz.
- Related: What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
This sensitivity measurement indicates how effectively the headphones convert electrical signals into sound, and the Stellia’s sensitivity level suggests that it can produce relatively loud sound levels with less input power.
This further contributes to the headphones’ ease of use, making them suitable for both mobile and home audio setups.
These specifications collectively make the Focal Stellia a user-friendly headphone that caters to a broad audience.
You won’t find yourself struggling to achieve satisfying volume levels, even when connected to devices with relatively modest power outputs.
This accessibility extends to various scenarios, from casual listening on the go to more dedicated listening sessions at home.
That said, the Stellia is not something I’d recommend.
For those who seek an unmatched headphone experience, one that transcends the limitations of uneven sound signatures and delivers perfection across the sonic spectrum, Focal has an offering that stands head and shoulders above the Stellia—the Focal Utopia.
Unlike the Stellia’s stumbling attempts at sonic balance, the Focal Utopia is a masterpiece of audio engineering.
It is a testament to Focal’s unrelenting pursuit of audio perfection, delivering a sound signature that exemplifies clarity, accuracy, and overall resolution.
Every note, every instrument, and every nuance is rendered with exceptional precision, placing you at the heart of the music and enveloping you in a cocoon of sonic richness.
The Utopia is a sonic revelation where the mid-range flourishes, with vocals and instruments assuming a lifelike presence that makes you forget you’re wearing headphones.
Its bass response is both articulate and authoritative, providing a foundation that complements the rest of the frequencies without overpowering them.
The treble is shimmering and delicate, offering an exquisite high-frequency extension that captures the minutest details without ever veering into harshness.
Beyond its sonic prowess, the Utopia is a marvel of comfort and design.
Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, it offers a feather-light frame that ensures hours of fatigue-free listening.
The open-back design contributes to the expansive soundstage, creating an immersive experience that rivals the ambiance of a live performance.
While the Utopia comes at a premium price, it’s important to recognize that it represents an investment into a true end-game headphone.
If you’re a discerning audiophile seeking the pinnacle of audio excellence, the Focal Utopia is unequivocally the direction you should be headed.
It stands as a beacon of Focal’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in headphone design and sonic reproduction, showcasing that when Focal aims for perfection, it delivers nothing less.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Focal Stellia Review and came away with some valuable insight.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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Do your impressions regarding the Stellia line up with mine? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,