Focal Listen review: Sound that is well engineered

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Focal is a French company that has been in the business of designing and making high-fidelity audio systems since the 1980s. Their line of headphones, designed in France, includes both over the ear and in-ear headphones that range in price from $129 to $4,000. I have recently had the joy of spending some time with their entry level over the ear Focal Listen headphones. Read on for the full Focal Listen review and find out why they earned a Top Pick of 2016.


The Focal Listen headphones have the following features and specifications:

  • 40mm Mylar/Titanium drivers
  • Soft touch headband
  • 22mm thick thermosensitive memory foam ear cushions
  • Connector cable with locking cable system
  • Multifunction attached remote with omnidirectional microphone
  • Compatible with all smartphones

What’s In The Box

  • Focal Listen headphones
  • Soft carrying case
  • 4.6 ft (1.4m) OFC cable with built-in remote and omnidirectional microphone
  • Airplane adaptor

Focal Listen


Focal has done a wonderful job in designing the look of the Listen headphones. The chrome plated ear cups look like brushed aluminum. They have a very high-end, modern look to them. All the plastic on the outside of the headband has a soft matte finish that is very nice to the touch. It may be plastic, but it’s a very nice plastic. The inside of the headband that sits on the top of your head is made of a soft, flexible rubber.

The design makes the Focal Listen headphones very comfortable, even when worn for extended periods of time. The large ear cushions are made of dense memory foam, adding to the comfort level that these headphones provide. The cable also includes an attached, easy to use multifunction remote. You can answer calls and control your music playback with this remote. The Listen headphones are also designed to fold up into a rather small package for ease of transport.


In the owner’s manual Focal says not to operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery while listening to or wearing your Listen headphones. They also don’t recommend riding a bicycle, running or walking in heavy traffic areas. After having used the Listen headphones for a few days, I can completely understand why Focal makes these statements. When you have music playing, these headphones block out almost all ambient sound. This leaves you completely, and blissfully, immersed in the music of your choice. You had better not close your eyes when you have these headphones on. Someone, possibly your sixteen-year-old daughter, will inevitably throw a dog toy at you to get your attention. Nothing like a squeaky toy hitting you on the head to pull you out of a state of sound nirvana!

Once you start the music playing through the headphones, you’ll notice the sound is extremely well balanced, just the right amount of treble, mid-range, and bass. With the Listen headphones on, I heard nuances that I had never noticed before in songs that I have heard hundreds of times. It was almost like hearing the songs for the first time. Every vocal and instrument sounded clear and crisp. A word of warning, though, if you are one who thrives on a deep, bone-jarring bass, you may be a bit disappointed in these headphones. The bass is just one instrument you’ll enjoy with these headphones strapped on, it doesn’t thump out an overwhelming presence as in some headphones. For my taste, the Listen headphones are engineered perfectly. I enjoy a music mix with a balanced, even sound.

Call Quality

These are not Bluetooth headphones, but thanks to the omnidirectional microphone on the cable you can make calls while you are wearing the headphones when attached to a supported device. Voices sound deep and rich while on a call. Callers state that there is no noticeable difference in sound quality on their end of the call either.


The Listen headphones are priced at $249.99USD. Considering the wonderful sound quality alone, I think this is an excellent price. When you add the great style and the high level of comfort, I think anyone in the market for over the ear headphones should put these headphones at the top of their list.

Wrap Up

The Focal Listen headphones offer excellent sound quality, amazing comfort and beautiful design, all in a portable package that is made for those on the move. But you’ll love them even if you’re sitting still!

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*We were sent a sample of the Focal Listen headphones for the purposes of this review.

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