Yup. It absolutely is. They named it the Utopia for a reason. Imagine for a second, one headphone encompassing absolutely everything positive about the hobby in a single package. The Utopia is exactly that, without question.
Out of over 100 demoed units at the time of this review, it not only stands out amongst the crowd but is by far the best out of them all and it’s not even close.
I’ve demoed one on at least 4 separate occasions, always thinking to myself,
“Surely I’ve overhyped this thing. It can’t be as good as I initially thought, right?”
It actually sounds better with each successive listen if you can believe it.
One experience at Audio Advice for their “Music Matters” show stands out in particular. I had just finished listening to the Utopia paired with a NAIM DAC V-1 and was smiling from ear to ear (in other words, a roughly $6500 set-up).
As I took it off, I looked to the Focal rep and said “I can’t believe it. It actually sounds better every time I hear it”, or something to that effect. He just smiled and nodded. He knew. That or he was just another shill. I highly doubt that given my same reaction over and over after hearing it + the fact that Focal does indeed make amazing products.
I was astonished at how perfect the music sounded. Again.
Keep in mind this was like the 4th or 5th time listening to it.
With the Utopia, I always purposefully set myself up for disappointment but it delivers mightily and then some. I know that the first part doesn’t make much sense, but bear with me.
You have to understand that this headphone retails at roughly $4k, and you all know how I get about The Law of Diminishing Returns. I believe this is one of the very few outliers in the hobby, and I’ve said as much for the last 3 or so years without wavering. I’m always expecting to be brought back down to earth, but it refuses to comply with my preconceived notions.
The fact that it kind of lives up to that outrageous price tag is flabbergasting, to say the least. We’ll get into that more in a bit so hang tight.
One thing that makes Utopia stand out is its concert hall-like presentation. The music takes on a more boundless quality. The possibilities seem vast and limitless. It doesn’t even really feel like I’m listening to music. It feels majestic; borderline spiritual. Like not of this world. It’s as if I’m experiencing the same space and time that the artists did.
As if I were somehow transported back to when the track was recorded, understanding completely what went into the song’s creation, but also just how delicate life is in general. The way the Utopia presents music is just that. Fragile, delicate, rare, elegant, graceful, and extraordinary.
If a 7506, 400i, HD600, LCD-3, and 9500 made me look at music differently and re-evaluate it through the lens of an artist, the Utopia makes me feel as though I can never quite put my finger on the nature of reality and how I’m able to actually perceive at a core level – through the incredibly complex heart, mind, and soul.
It makes me want to instead re-evaluate myself; my own motivations for the things I do. My deepest and innermost feelings about people, the world, why I am the way that I am. It makes me want to be a better person. To love more and judge less. To create more and complain less. To talk about ideas more rather than things or people. To focus on what is infinite and eternal, rather than what is fleeting and temporary.
Describing the sound of the Utopia cannot be done with mere words. It’s something profoundly personal, but at the same time universal. It’s something that must be experienced rather than simply talked about or reviewed.
Hearing the sound in the way that the Utopia portrays it is incredibly humbling. A true blessing. The joy you get listening to music in that way is enormously liberating. Cathartic. It’s a release in every sense of the word. There are no other headphones I can think of that have that type of power.
The power to make you want to come out of yourself and understand that the world doesn’t revolve around you and never has. That the concept of self is just a construct meant to keep you closed off and divided from others. The Utopia is like being freed from the nonsense of everyday life; The Matrix. Getting un-plugged from this messed up world, if only for a little while.
Wake up, Neo.
Imagine for a second the time, effort, and ingenuity it took to create a headphone the caliber of a Utopia. A build so perfect you couldn’t come up with a complaint if you tried. A comfort level on par with air. Timbre on par with a planar, but somehow better. The detail you could almost taste. An image that looks more like a painting in your head. The drum hits, which resemble brush strokes. The Utopia has it all, and it works with anything and everything you can think of. Any genre, any application, for any purpose, for mixing, mastering, reference, gaming, etc. It’s a product that comes along once in a lifetime, much like the person you’re meant to spend the rest of your life with. I truly believe that.
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.