Priced at an unapologetic $3,000 and available to buy right away from Focal and Amazon, the Stellia satisfy the demands of both luxury and tech enthusiasts.
Putting a closed-back design around the beryllium speaker of the Focal Utopia, the Stellia are also sonically impressive and will wow music lovers whether they’re audiophiles or not.
Focal lives up to the most exacting of standards with its Stellia: they’re dressed in full-grain leather, they have thick memory foam cushions that clamp your head into a vice of loveliness, and their aluminum yokes, woven cables, and contoured hard case just exude quality.
To like these headphones, you’ll have to be a fan of the color brown — or “cognac and mocha,” in Focal’s words — because there’s no other option.
Though built on the same physical frame as the preceding Focal Utopia, Elear, and Clear, the Stellia are recognizably unique, thanks to their striking exterior, which features an overlay of perforated metal atop yet another layer of leather.
Focal actively encourages thinking of these as a more portable, more universal version of the Utopia — but that look of theirs, together with the sheer, irreducible bulk, makes for plenty of curious stares should you ever try to wear the Stellia out on a walk anywhere.
The noise isolation of the Stellia is good for headphones in their heavyweight class, but it’s still nowhere close to the passive isolation you get from, say, studio cans like the Sennheiser HD 380 Pro that were designed for the purpose.
Given the performance contained within those glamorous cognac walls, I’d say Focal has done an amazing job of reducing the need for additional equipment to get the most out of the Stellia.
By comparison, anyone trying to enjoy the Focal Utopia without a beefy desktop amplifier was really not doing them justice, whereas you can get close to the Stellia’s best performance even when plugged directly into your portable audio device.
Turning to the main attraction of the Focal Stellia, I have to confess that their sound did not sweep me up on a magic carpet joyride upon my first listen — because it’s not meant to.
Focal calls these headphones reference-class, which signals the company’s aim for a purist sound that exaggerates or diminishes as little as possible.
With the Focal Stellia, much as was the case with the Focal Utopia before it, I hear rather than feel it.
Well, the Focal Stellia are like those huge 8K TVs we see only at trade shows, exposing all the nuance you could want from any given song.
If you’re only going to listen to underground rap or grime, you’d probably be better served by a cheaper and bassier alternative like Focal’s own Elear, but if you want to genre-hop and truly feel the differences between various productions, the Stellia do that better than almost any other headphones.
The Stellia give life to the bamboo flute in a wonderfully organic way, and the combo of that peaceful music and the headphones’ comfort and noise isolation has had me listening to the album on repeat for many hours at a time.
That being said, it’s safe to assume that the Stellia at $3,000 is basically blowing whatever headphones budget you have for the next decade, if not the rest of your life, on one single pair of cognac-colored cans.
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