Focal Stellia Review
Focal is known for its ultra-high-end luxury headphones, and its latest model, the Focal Stellias, is no exception.
These closed-back, over-ear headphones are so expensive you’d have to be an audiophile to consider buying them.
After testing the headphones for a few weeks, we were blown away by their sound and build quality. Would they be worth the price? Read on to find out…
Focal Stellia: Design
With a luxurious ‘cognac and mocha’ color scheme with brushed aluminum accents, the Focal Stellias has an appealing design.
The ear cups and headband are made of full-grain leather, and the headband and headband are padded with memory foam that molds to the shape of your ears. Because these cans are made of leather, they may not appeal to vegans or those who don’t use animal products.
Its design may not appeal to people who prefer a more minimalist design for their audio devices – the Focal Stellias are made to be seen – and its large size may make them too cumbersome for listening on a packed commuter train.
Despite that, we found them to be extremely comfortable to wear, even for long listening sessions.
The aluminum yoke is also designed to mold to the shape of your head, according to Focal. Although it’s hard to say if the yoke actually changes that much after a long period of use, I did find it very comfortable, in part because of the generous and breathable padding.
I was also impressed with the cables – they are woven in the same color scheme as the headphones, and they felt sturdy and well made.
From the leather-effect box in which they are packaged to every aspect of the Stellias screams opulence. In addition to the sturdy carrying case, you’ll also find a leather-style wallet containing user manuals, which could easily pass as a designer handbag.
Almost justifying the $3,000 price tag is this attention to detail.
Focal Stellia: Features
These headphones have pure 40mm Beryllium dome-style drivers that include copper voice coils, so they have a lot of high-end audio tech.
Their frequency response ranges from 5Hz to 40kHz (most headphones have a frequency response range of 20Hz-20kHz), and their impedance is 35 Ohms and sensitivity is 106dB.
According to a white paper published by Focal regarding the development of the headphones, an improved transducer enables the headphones to maintain extreme clarity, even at low volumes.
As part of the Focal Stellia package, you’ll find an XLR lead, a TRS jack lead, and a jack to the mini-jack adapter. Each cable has an attractive woven design that makes it feel sturdy and well made.
What does all that audio tech sound like? Simply put, listening to the Focal Stellias is a delight.
This pair has an impressively wide soundstage, which gives the impression that you’re sitting in the same room with the musicians you’re listening to, as opposed to the closed-off, ‘inside the head’ sound that some over-ear headphones can produce.
We played a wide variety of music genres to test how well the Stellias handled different timbres and frequencies, and we were impressed by the results.
We began by listening to Riders On The Storm by The Doors. The cascading organ melodies felt sweet and sonorous, while the electric guitar was gutsy and detailed.
They really shone, however, when it came to reproducing the vocals. In the mix, Jim Morrison’s voice sat confidently at the front, resonant and precise. Similar care and precision were shown to the percussion.
We performed Edward Elgar’s The Snow, Op.26, No.1, and the different harmonies blended without sounding indistinct.
We tried more bass-heavy artists, including Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Janelle Monáe, and Billie Eilish, and were equally impressed.
The bass frequencies in Monáe’s Django Jane were warm and punchy, and her aggressive vocals were clear and defined.
The snare drum hits were enjoyable grainy, while the violins and violas exhibited a stunningly analog quality before melting into sweeping synths and digital disturbances.
We listened to Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major after being intrigued by the taste of strings on that track.
The lower strings had a rich and warm sound, while the higher violins had a clear and sweet tone. It was wonderful to hear every squeak and brush of the bow against the strings.
|Opulent design||Potentially too big for listening on the move|
|Stunning, precise sound|
I love the sound of the Focal Stellias. They can make any genre of music sound brilliant thanks to their wide soundstages and detailed sound treatment.
Listening to songs you think you know inside out, the Stellias’ precise separation of frequencies means you’ll probably hear something you haven’t heard before.
Focal Stellias can feel a little chunky for wearing during your commute to work, so if you like minimalist headphones, you probably won’t like the showy, opulent design.
If you like a luxury, the full-grain leather cups, woven cables, brushed copper accents, and matching carrying case may appeal.
You may well expect to find a luxury feel all the way down to the presentation of the manuals in a neat little leather-style wallet if you have paid $3,000.
Focal Stellia headphones are prohibitively expensive for most people, at 10 times the price of our current favorite headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM3.
The Stellias may sound exceptional, but we can’t say for sure that they are 10 times as sonically proficient as the WH-1000XM3s – but you get 10 times as much luxury for your money.
You’ll have to decide if that’s the kind of thing you’re willing to pay for based on your lifestyle – and your bank account – but if you ever find yourself with $3,000, the Focal Stellias could be a good investment.