Focal Elegia - Closed Back Headphones - Official Thread



And I take that back…my brain is working well today…sigh it has plenty of room on the volume pot I have it at a comfortable listening volume and it is only at about 20-30% volume level.


I agree with @Torq, it sounds great by itself, but I prefer it with the Element.


Cool, good to know. I’m a fan of JDS. I’ve owned their O2 variant and the C5D. I thought the C5D was an amazing bit of kit for the price. Also, good people. I should add the Element and EL stack to my list. Anyone heard any of the Focal headphones out of the EL stack?


I have the El DAC, and had it paired to the Element and enjoyed it. Now it is doing the bit work for my desktop monitors.


Got mine yesterday. Listening at work now and they sound great. They are replacing my Sony MDR-1000X I. I have the HD800 here too but don’t want to bug my co-workers so only listen to them when I am alone here.

OnePlus 6 + Fiio Music --> Hugo 2 --> Elegia

Listened to Daft Punk, Bob Dylan, Blur so far. Will report back when I have more hours on them.


Sorry to ask a silly or trivial question, but…

I wear Etymotic’s for travel but could clearly use a pair of over the ears as Etymotics become “complicated” when you need to put them in and out with announcements. I do like good sound, as a recovering audiopholic should be, and was wondering between having ANC headphones (XM3?) or these closed Focals. I saw Darth’s picture of him using them for travel, so it may be the pertinent person to ask this question.



For travel, I really enjoyed them…you still get plenty of noise coming in, enough to hear announcements, but with music going I was fine with the surrounding noise levels. I will say that using ANC headphones is better if you like to be shut off to your surroundings, but if you like to know what’s going on, but still have quality, comfortable headphones, then the Elegia works great! I use it daily at the office and people have to ping me or wave in my periphery to get my attention, as I can barely hear them with music going.


I totally get the inconvenience of having IEMs on a flight. It’s bad enough when traveling alone. When in company people always seem to want to talk at the least convenient moments. Usually managing to have one more thought/comment to make right after you’ve just put the bloody things back on your ears!

I would expect, if you’re coming from the triple-flange tips on the Etymotics, that you’re going to find the isolation provided by the Elegia to be significantly lacking. Certainly better than using open-back headphones, but they’re more about keeping sound in, than out.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 will give you slightly better passive attenuation than the Elegia, and WAY better with ANC engaged. The difference is immediately noticeable just walking in the street with a 60-65 dB ambient sound level, it’s going to be much more pronounced in the 85 dB (typical) levels in a modern airliner at cruise.

And if you want to hear announcements while wearing the XM3, you can just put your hand over the ear-cup and it’ll mute the music and engage the microphones so you can hear, clearly, what’s going on. No need to stop playback, adjust volume or take them off.

The XM3 also take up about 1/3rd the space of the Elegia …

Another option, if you want something smaller (at the cost of sound quality), is the Bose QC20 … which are nearly as effective as the QC35ii (minus the additional passive isolation those provide), are IEM-sized, don’t need to “seal” in the ear, and have a “passthrough” button for listening to conversations/announcements etc.

If it were me … it’s a “right tool for the job” situation - which for flying is something either fully mechanically isolating (like the Etymotics) or an ANC solution. The better overall sonic performance of the Elegia (or any other closed-back non-ANC I can name) will either be lost due to low-level sounds being lost in the ambient noise, or will need to be played louder than I would want (especially given the 85 dB ambient level on a plane).

Just my 0.01 GBP.


TLDR: Buy the Sony and travel in peace!



I did forget to mention…the Elegia is not the most travel friendly when it comes to taking up space. Plus there is the whole $900 headphones while traveling thing lol…


I also use my CA Andromeda while I travel and they are surprisingly easy to take in and out…but can be finicky with source and you need to have multiple dongles or the iFi “NiBL” with its iEMatch output (it is what I was plugging the Elegia into in the travel picture). Honestly if I traveled more solo I would probably pick up the XM3 over all the others. I usually travel with the family, or co-workers which as @Torq mentioned have this uncanny ability to ask questions just after you put your earbuds back in…or headphones back on… SMH handpalms puts on a smile, and takes out earbud, while containing rage:wink:


Thank you all, very reasonable comments. It was the child in me that was eager for the Focal’s. But the Sony clearly makes more sense. I may get the Focals for home eventually.

Travel and Etymotics is complicated. When you sit with the huddled masses travel companions or announcements are annoying. When you travel on Business (on UA) the socket is behind you, so sometimes you pull the plug from the socket, an inconvenience, or pull the Etymotics from your ear, an annoyance. More reason for the XM3 plus, I am happy to say, the iFi xDSD.

By the way, has anyone tried streaming to the iPad or PC on air and then going through DACs or DAC/amps and then to headphones?


Using in-flight WiFi for streaming?

Many of them simply block streaming - especially on complimentary tiers - and those that don’t will usually require you pay for their highest tier of access (which can be $25/hour).

Beyond that, even on the premium tiers it’s very hit or miss.

If you can get that part to work reliably, then there’s no particular issue with feeding the stream to a DAC, DAC/amp or to the headphones. In general I just make sure I have the content I want on my device before they close the aircraft door, and then it’s not different to playing any other local file.



Also, you may not realize any/many benefits from a secondary DAC/Amp with ANC headphones from Sony or Bose. They are intended to process airplane jack output and Bluetooth signals. They have moderate quality goals and meet them.

I read an emotional posting elsewhere where a 10 pound (weight not currency) tube headphone amp blew out some guys Bose headphones…


I was not clear. On United, you can stream THEIR movies to your iPad or PC. They don’t have screens on the back of seats and you have to depend on your device.

I would connect the ANC wired and not through Bluetooth.


Well, that’ll work fine.

If you want the ANC to function though, you’ll be going through the headphone’s internal ADC and then it’s DAC/amp anyway - even if using the wired connection (the only way to bypass the ADC is to run in Bluetooth mode or turn the headphones off and run them passive, and the only way to bypass the DAC/amp involves not having ANC … i.e. turning the headphones off).

Using the XM3 passive, for travel, pretty much defeats the point of them, though and is really a fallback feature for if you run out of battery power.

As @generic says, with ANC on it’s probably not worth using an external DAC/amp (I was thinking about that more in the context of using non-ANC IEMs).


I see! Thanks!

I’ll use the DAC/Amp with the Etymotics and the XM3 directly.


My own personal Elegia came in yesterday as an early Xmas present to myself (and from @andrew). Spent the evening just using it with the apple lightning dongle straight out of my iPhone 7 Plus as well as my morning commute with the same set-up.

I still don’t understand how these are being described as bass-light by some. I can’t hear that at all. For me the bass presence is detailed and precise, along the same lines as the AEON Flow Closed. The double kicks in metal are very fun to listen to especially in songs like This Calling by All That Remains. Or even the background drum line in Bastille’s Pompeii.

Sure they may not have that booming bass like the Cascade or Fostex TH-x00 but its definitely there. And its very enjoyable.

This isolation I also found to be perfectly acceptable on Vancouver’s noisy SkyTrain system. Once I was listening to music I could still hear some of the sounds around me but I pretty much got completely lost in the sound and was able to tune the noise out completely. Not the top of the passive isolation list but perfectly passable in that regard.


I don’t hear them as being bass-light either.

While they measure as having lower bass-amplitude (as well as lower upper-mid and treble amplitude - which likely helps balance the overall perception out) than the open-back models, they don’t sound that way. And I find them a very satisfying listen.

I wonder how much of it is due to a common expectation that closed-back headphones tend to have (often significantly) emphasized bass, and the Elegia just maintains a more neutral profile instead …


I actually had that exact same conversation with @andrew yesterday. And then we got onto the topic of whether people really wanted a closed-back reference headphone or if they would prefer a closed-back with an emphasized bass boost and keep their open-backs as the reference pair. I can see a case for each point but its definitely an interesting question.

For what it’s worth the Elegia will be become my daily driver (along with the Mobius mixed in there for flavour) as I am enjoying the hell out of the sound. All I need now is a reasonable cable for portability as the Elegia cable is way to stiff and microphonic.