Focal Stellia – The perfect closed headphone?

Focal Stellia Headphones

In this review, we are taking a look at the stunning Focal Stellia Headphones from the famous french speaker company that has been making a significant impact on the head audio world.

We already reviewed the Utopia headphone, which is their flagship offering, but with an RRP of around $3000, the Stellia isn’t exactly considered a budget or midrange offering. 

Pricing and Availability of the Focal Stellia

Focal is a mainstream HiFi brand and as such the Stellia should see more availability than the obscure niche brands that populate the audiophile space. However, they are still a luxury item so physical in-store availability will likely be at dedicated Hifi stores.

Online availability is no problem at all and many vendors carry these headphones. Please feel free to check the links below for current availability and pricing.

 

What are the Focal Stellia Headphones?

The Stellia is a set of audiophile headphones designed for both home and portable use. They are large headphones, but with a closed-back design, they are far more suited to use in areas where there is a lot of ambient noise.

What technology do they offer?

Focal Stellia

There is nothing special about the spec sheet of the Stellia. They aren’t making crazy claims here. Instead, Focal is drawing from their experience and proven ability to create high fidelity products.

It utilizes single electrodynamic drivers in each housing. These have beryllium cones and 100% copper coils. Berylium is well known and loved for its engaging sound properties and the cone’s hardness compared with standard paper units. It should mean less distortion and greater clarity in the upper frequencies if implemented correctly.

The emphasis in recent years has focused on the chamber and how tuning the enclosure can significantly improve sound quality. Of course, Focal points draw from their vast experience with speakers, which are incredibly dependent on their environment for maximum optimization of the listening experience. Look at the exploded diagram of the Focal Stellia below. You can see the insane attention to detail paid to design the inside of the earcups to tune the treble and remove unwanted distortion.

What about the Focal Stellia Design and Build Quality?

Focal Stellia

The design ethos and language are consistent throughout the Focals line of premium headphones, with both the more expensive Utopia and the cheaper models sharing a similar housing style. 

When Focal brought their headphones to market, people noticed that their designs were by far the most modern and forward-thinking on offer. They take everything to a whole new level, and while I love my Utopia, these are, in my eyes, the best-looking headphone in the range, if not the entire high-end audio space.

The bronze/tan metal bands sweep beautifully into the earcups, covered in a rather striking sunburst pattern faceplate design with etched circles. The brushed metal has a tastefully done logo sitting in the middle. All the contact points have buttery brown leather in two tones. Even the inside grills of the earcups get treated to a metal panel with laser cut hexagonal pattern. It has forward-thinking looks, but it’s done so tastefully that they ooze class.

The build quality is fantastic as well, with the materials all being of the highest quality. You don’t get the same carbon headband and bridge that you find on the Utopia, but the action to adjust for size is super smooth and, once selected, never falls out of place. The leather quality on the pads is fantastic, and my only gripe is that they aren’t perforated for extra breathability. Padding is through memory foam that molds comfortably around your ear, thus ensuring an excellent seal to optimize the listening experience.

The headband is also leather padded, and it does have perforations on it. Even though I have never had a problem with heat build-up here, I suspect this might increase grip and stop the headband from sliding on your hair.

The Focal Stellia Accessories are Amazing

Usually, there is not much you can do with a set of headphones when it comes to the accessories, but Focal has kitted out the Stellia with some top draw extras. None of these is an afterthought. They are purpose-designed for the headphones and are some of the highest quality accessories we have seen. It makes it feel like you are getting that little bit more for your money.

Let’s start with the box, which is a stunning presentation. Its high-quality materials and a faux leather finish get you excited about the unboxing experience.

You get two cables, both made from the same materials but with different lengths and terminations. The first is a 3-meter cable terminated with a 4 Pin XLR cable designed with home audio systems. The second is a shorter 1.2m cable with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, which I’m guessing is to accommodate using the headphones on the go.

Next up, we have a beautiful rigid carry case that you can use when traveling with the headphones. It has custom-molded inserts inside, which will dictate how you place the Stellia on the inside. Additionally, there is space in the middle where you can keep your cables and possibly a small DAP. My only gripe is that they should have carved some channels that allow the line to be attached to the headphones when in storage. 

Do the Focal Stellia Sound Good?

Focal Stellia

It sounds terrific. While the Utopia is the visceral and accurate, and more level headed big brother, the Utopia plays the part of the more laid back and wilder little brother. The tonality of the stela’s tuning is much less aggressive with a natural warm leaning and a more impactful and hard-hitting low end. 

Not exactly bass cannons, but they can hit very hard when called upon, and this is in no doubt down to the volume of air the large driver can move and the closed-back earcups further enhancing the lows. It’s a fast and responsive low end capable of dynamic shifts in speed and weight without feeling overworked. iTs never sloppy even when tasked with producing mid and sub-bass blends, and at the same time, it never leaks into the upper frequencies.

The midrange is smooth and just warm of neutral, lending itself to a wonderfully engaging listening experience. These are headphones capable of taking to task music in critical listening sessions but shine when you want to enjoy your music to the full. The lack of distortion and ease of placement in mid-range instruments is a joy, and both vocals and strings are as good as I have ever heard in closed-back headphones. 

The treble is what stood out for me in the Utopia, and it’s here again now. We see the benefit of the design of the inner earcup in full force. There are simply no artifacts that I could detect coming from resonance or bounce back from the cups. It’s hard to explain but something you notice when you spend time in properly tuned listening environments. When sound bounces off a hard or less than an ideal surface, that sound get bounced back to your ears in a distorted form. The padding at the back of the headphones has the same effect as acoustic foam place on walls, trapping and killing those waves without them rebounding. The result here is a very nonfatiguing top end that still has fantastic extension and clarity with zero sibilance issues. It brings the sparkle but none of the pain.

The soundstage is large compared to other closed-back designs, really if you want to get bigger than this, you need to go to fully open or semi-open headphones, but then you lose the versatility of use that a closed-back headphone affords you.

Final Verdict: Focal Stellia Review Conclusion

I love these headphones, and honestly, it’s hard for me to say a bad thing about them. The build and styling are impressive, and the sound quality puts them into the elite level of closed-back headphones. You have the benefits of a well known and respected manufacturer warranty and knowledge that support will be there for years to come.

While they are still too big for me to be using them as daily drivers in a portable sense as a home or office headphone, they were perfect where I could listen to music without being disturbed by others around me.

The price is exceptionally high, and thus, few people will be able to afford them, but if you are one of the lucky few, you will love listening to music on these.

For more information on the Stellia please visit the Focal Website.

Audiophile Onhttp://www.audiophileon.com
Audiophile On is a website dedicated to high-end audio products. With over 15 years as a reviewer, all articles are hand-written by one person to allow the comparison of products. Headphones, earphones, speakers, amplifiers, or DAC's we cover here.

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