Focal is no stranger to these parts and their wares have impressed the Techaeris crew. The company has a track record here, winning four Techaeris Top Pick awards and now hoping for their fifth. The company sent over their latest offering, the Focal Listen Wireless headphones. The Focal Listen Wireless are based on the Focal Listen headphones, which gained high praise from our own Pete Hernandez. I know exactly why Pete raved about the Focal Listen headphones as I had a chance to test them myself. What is offered up with the Focal Listen headphones comes over to the Focal Listen Wireless but without the wires. Read on and find out why Focal is taking their fifth Techaeris Top Pick award home.
The Focal Listen Wireless has the following features and specifications:
- Wireless Technology: Bluetooth 4.1
- Range: >15m (50feet)
- Battery: Up to 20 hours
- Impedance (passive mode): 32Ω
- Sensitivity (passive mode): 122dB SPL @ 1kHz – / 1Vrms
- Frequency Response: 15Hz – 22kHz
- Drivers: Electrodynamic (137/64“) Mylar Titanium
- Microphones: 2 Omnidirectional (Clear Voice Capture)
- Weight: 300g
- THD @ 1kHz / 100dB SPL < 0.4%
- Heat-sensitive memory foam ear cushions
- Controls for calls and music
What’s In The Box
- Focal Listen Wireless headphones
- Carrying pouch
- Detachable cable with mini jack input
- USB cable
- Instructions and Warranties
Focal’s design language is fairly subtle and low-key. There is a good amount of branding on these headphones but at least it isn’t gaudy and in your face. The wired Listen headphones came with a chrome plated design whole the Focal Listen Wireless version ditches the chrome in favor of a glossy black plastic. I actually like this better than the chrome, it’s much more subtle and simple than the chrome plating. Despite the headphones being made of nearly all plastic, the plastics are very high-quality.
Most of the action is on the right ear cup with the left cup only housing the AUX port and a some Focal branding. The right ear cup is where you’ll be spending most of your time as the controls for music playback, volume, calls, Bluetooth, power, and the USB port are all located on this earcup. In a nice little design cue, the outer edge of the USB port glows orange when plugged into charge and turns white when it’s done charging.
Focal says they’re using heat-sensitive memory foam ear cushions that are 22mm thick and boy are they comfy. The headband is also super comfortable and the weight of these headphones isn’t an issue. The headphones also fold up nicely for easy storage and portability with the included soft case. Overall the design is nice, it’s not overstated though Focal does like their logos. As for comfort, these are some of the most comfortable headphones I’ve used.
Ease of Use
Pairing through Bluetooth 4.1 is simple, power up the Focal Listen Wireless, push the Bluetooth button and find them in Bluetooth settings on your device. Operating the playback buttons on the headphones is equally easy, it may take a few runs to know where each control is by feel. Overall just very easy to use.
First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Directly wiring your headphones to your source will always sound better, at least for now. The Focal Listen headphones sounded amazing and much of that was due to their wired nature. Bluetooth technology improves year over year and I’d have to say that the average consumer can’t distinguish the sound quality between wired and wireless. Audiophiles out there will most certainly be able to tell, that being said.
The Focal Listen Wireless sound is clean, balanced with just a very subtle bass undertone. The highs and mids are super balanced and that bass is just enough to hold it all up. This is the type of soundstage I love, balance with a foundation. If you’re a deep bass lover, I’d suggest using an equalizer to bring these where you’d like them.
The memory earcups on these things also serve to block out ambient noise very well. These are not noise-cancelling but they do an excellent job of noise-isolation. Overall the sound is spot on here but if you like a heavier low-end I’d suggest adusting your equalizer or use other headphones altogether.
With Bluetooth 4.1, the Focal Listen Wireless can get up to 50 feet away from your source. This is dependent on walls, corners, and line of sight. I was able to get just under 50 feet before experiencing some loss of signal. Call quality is great, I’m not much of a headphone phone call guy but the earcups do a great job of letting you actually hear the call. The omnidirectional mic also does a great job of delivering clear voice to the caller.
Focal claims 20-hours of battery life on the Focal Listen Wireless and that will vary on use. I was able to actually pull 21-hours with the volume set at 50% and with the headphones right next to the source. Volume levels and distance from source will affect battery life so your mileage may vary.
The Focal Listen Wireless are priced at $299.99USD and that’s just $50USD more than the wired version. For the sound and build quality you get here, these are a tremendous value.
The Focal Listen Wireless stand up to some of the best wireless headphones in this price point and arguably some priced higher. Focal continually impresses us with their sound and build quality and their comfort is pretty amazing as well. If you’re looking for really great sounding wireless headphones, these are a pair you should consider.