Focal Elegia - Closed Back Headphones - Official Thread



I was playing around and decided to move my MCTH up to my office and connected it to the DX7 and then compared the MCTH to the DX7 and the Starving Student Tube Amp with the Elegia. I was actually a little surprised that the DX7 sounded fuller than the MCTH. The SSTH basically sounded the same as the DX7 but less extended. The MCTH gave a wider stage than the DX7 which I think contributed to it sounding a little more lean and clean. I actually prefer it and have now decided to keep the MCTH upstairs.

And… so now my living room is sparse. I moved the Millet SSTH down there but I actually prefer the sound of the Cambridge Azur integrated amp over it. So, its there for DIY decor.

Anyway, I have noticed some small resonance issues in the Elegia in the upper mids (I think) when compared to the open backs but its not terrible. Still sounds a lot better than any closed back I’ve listened to before (which isn’t a whole lot outside the popular ANC ones and whatever I’ve owned in the past – Sine, Momentums, Mobius, etc.)


Got the review pair in today!

…I’m not a fan at all honestly. They sound super hollow and cold. The upper mids definitely are quite uneven. The tone sounds very metallic. They’re not my least favorite closed headphone but they’re not something I’d like to listen to for longer than a couple minutes for pleasure.

I took some measurements with my EARS and flat plate coupler:

Though, I still like this more than the Elear.

I’ll have more detailed impressions later this week I’ve been taking care of my sick SO for the past few days so I haven’t been able to sneak in much listening time.


What are your least, and most, favorite closed back cans?


It’s a tie between the Ether C and original tuning LCD-XC for least favorite. My favorites are the Stax 4070 and Eikon

I’ve been using the Elegia since my last post so I’ll write up some more concrete impressions in a bit.


The cables that comes with these Focal headphones are awful.


They match my iPhone charger quite nicely.


It is something they don’t seem to be able to get a good handle on.

The ones for the Elear and Utopia are very thick, long and heavy … but also a lot more flexible. The longer ones for the Clear are not so bad, but the short one is a problem. And the ones with the Elegia are … well, let’s just say I use my own cables for actual listening …

Though that’s true in general anyway (using my own modular cable build makes for a much easier time swapping things in and out, and between single-ended and balanced connections).


Yea, I generally use my own DIY cable, but I didnt bring a balanced to single-ended adapter with me to work and so using the Focal cable for the first time with my amp in the office. And it quite mediocre. I also do not like the one that came with the Elex, which is I believe the same cable but longer.


Alright, after a couple more hours of use, I wrote up a bit more:

The Focal Elegia sounds…bizarre. It sounds metallic throughout the frequency range, but it doesn’t sound overly harsh or bright. It just has this kind of metallic, harsh timbre that I don’t find super pleasant to listen to. It sounds like odd-order distortion but I didn’t measure any when I tested that theory.

The bass is quite solid. It’s slightly elevated but it’s tasteful with good impact and relatively clean. It’s cleaner than I remember the Sony Z1R’s bass being, but not as clean as the Fostex TH900’s. It’s no bass cannon, but I’m more than content with the amount of bass the Elegia has. I could actually use a bit less than what it has relative to the upper midrange.

The midrange is less positive. It’s not overly thick in the low midrange which is welcome, and doesn’t show much drama up to 2kHz, but after that, it’s downhill, literally and figuratively. The dip doesn’t sound as severe as the Elear because I can actually hear upper midrange presence, but it’s definitely lacking a bit in that area. It doesn’t quite sound veiled, but there’s a distinct lack of energy. It seems to partially be compensated by the metallic timbre that gives everything a harsher attack, but it just sounds…weird. This is one of the hardest headphones I’ve ever had to describe the midrange of because it’s so unlike anything else I’ve ever heard. It’s hollow sounding, but not in the low midrange like headphones such as the Fostex TH900 in which the lack of body causes them to sound hollow. The hollowness seems to come from the upper midrange recession combined with the metallic timbre. Decay seems to almost echo.

The treble is pretty uneven with a peak somewhere around 9kHz, but it isn’t overbearing relative to the rest of the sound like a lot of Beyerdynamic headphones or the Sony Z1R and Fostex TH900 can be. They don’t sound particularly closed in because they have more air than many other closed headphones.

Overall, meh. They’re not the worst thing I’ve ever heard but I wouldn’t buy one for myself. Relative to the higher end closed market, they’re somewhere in the middle. I’d easily take these over the Beyerdynamic T5p I just sold and I’d take these over the Mr.Speakers Ether C and Aeon, Audio Technica W5000, the early revision Audeze LCD-XC I heard, the Denon D7200, the HD820 from my demos with it, and possibly the TH900 because the low midrange dip on those bugs me so much, but I wouldn’t take it over the ZMF Eikon, Sony Z1R, Stax 4070, or Denon D7000. I guess relative to the cost of the other closed headphones I like more the Elegia at $900 isn’t a too bad of a value if you can work with their weird sound, but I feel like these have too many compromises sound-wise for the price. Closed headphones are really difficult to get right though, so I’m not incredibly surprised that I’m not particularly satisfied with them, but considering I loved the Elex for the cost, knowing these cost $200 more and sound like they’re a couple steps down is disappointing. I can see the rationale in justifying these are closed vs the open Elex, but the vent leaks enough that I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable using them in a library or next to someone sleeping.

I’ll give it the rest of the week to form more concrete impressions before sending them off to be measured by a 4128C HATS, but my impressions shouldn’t change too much.

Here’s a FR measurement comparison with the Elear, Elear with Clear pads, and Elegia:

As you can see, the presence region past 5kHz is closer to the Elear with Clear pads (which measures identically to the Elex) than the stock Elear, but it does seem to have a bigger upper midrange dip which I honestly don’t think is as severe on the Elegia as the Elear, but I could be wrong.


I’m basing my response on owning the Elex, and have never tried the Elegia. The Elex do indeed have a metallic brassy tone – especially for the first 20-30 hours. This either went away or my ears adapted, and I don’t really hear it any more. However, the mid-high range has a glare to it, and the high end remains intense (not quite the same as bright). The glare declines substantially when used through a balanced DAC/amp.

My theory is that Focal’s metal drivers simply respond to vibration like metal. Please see the frequency response curve for a trumpet below:

Full website here:

As I’m incredibly sensitive and picky about high range noise, what I perceive is that the metal drivers merge random hiss into narrow harmonic bands. And in the process some tones become excessively peaky.

To my finicky ears, Focal’s profile is preferable to hiss-heavy drivers (e.g., Grado). But it’s still a bit weird and definitely intense.


I lazy man’d it and ordered some Periapt cables, one single ended the other balanced… maybe one day I’ll finally put my HD800 DIY cables fully together(currently need to hot glue and sleeve, and solder HD800 plugs)


This is actually exactly what I was thinking! I don’t want to make any assumptions because I don’t know enough about these drivers to say anything definitive, but this is basically what I’m hearing. I heard a bit of the metallic sound in the Elex, but in the Elegia it’s pretty overt.


I have to agree that the short Focal Clear cable isn’t very good. It twists and ties up no end. A pain in the neck.


These are great so far for traveling…cut down noise, comfortable…yet I can still barely hear announcements enough for me to pull them off my head to hear


How loudly are you all listening? I brought them with me to study and found that having them quieter like ~75dB which is 10dB quieter than I normally listen, I notice the metallic timbre a lot less and they’re a bit more enjoyable overall.


I havent been listening to the Elegia super loud which is probably why I enjoy it. I listen to the Elex typically at higher volume because it’s fun to listen to loud. I found the Elex to have a slight metal sheen sound to it as well (maybe more). It’s not super annoying or anything, but both have that sound to it to me compared to some more laid back headphones.

I think the Elegia sounds a bit more congested and all the issues of closed backs comes back at higher volumes - louder than I normally listen to.


I’m at 80-85 dB.

I don’t notice anything metallic about the sound.

Whether that’s because it isn’t present in my setup, we’re using different terms, or my normal listening-for-pleasure headphones being Utopia at home and Clear at work is hard to say.

Cranking it up some doesn’t produce anything I would describe as a metallic timbre either. Though if I really push them, and with the right music, I can occasionally excite a little resonance towards the top of the midrange. This requires more volume than I would ever realistically listen at, however, and doesn’t occur at my normal levels at all.

Also, I’m someone that would rather listen to the Elear with Sonarworks compensation than to the Elex as-is. Though if just running them unmolested, then the Elear is quite wonky and the Elex is definitely the better headphone.


I should also add … when reviewing things, I do my best to keep the listening levels consistent across the board - session to session, item to item. Otherwise you run into problems with unequal loudness contours, which will significantly shift ones perception of the sound (I think most reviewers are aware of this … I just figured I’d mention it for completeness).


We’ve finally got our unit in the office today.

I will be getting some pictures (of course) and we will be using them with all sorts of set-ups. Right of the box though I can definitely agree that the cable is awful and stiff. I guess I never really noticed it for the Clears because I never considered using the Clears for portable use unlike the Elegia. But that cable will be the first thing to go!

Now onto a day of listening!


I have a similar experience to @Torq… I don’t pick up the metallic “sheen” or timbre, I tend to listen ataround 75-85db for everything, sometimes lower depending on the chain. The flight so far has been great with these… didn’t take them off for the full flight with zero discomfort! My seat was right over the wing and engine noise was pervasive but manageable with the Elegia. Very glad I have these!