Focal Listen Premium Mobile Headphones Review
This is the first time I’ve had any real hands on experience with Focal, and I must say, that it’s been a great experience. These are the Focal Listen headphones, which are claimed to be their premium wireless headphones for mobile use. Being wireless, it means they can use Bluetooth to connect to a mobile phone for all of your listening needs.
From the moment you open the packaging, you can tell that these headphones scream premium, and I think that’s because the cans are sitting in a mould. It looks like Focal have thought about all aspects of presentation. The actual box however is rather plain, with a few marketing terms to really sell the headphones to you, as well as a back full of information to give you an idea of the headphones.
Inside though you’re greeted with not very much at all. Well I wasn’t. I’m not sure if this was because we had a review model sent to us, or whether Focal are keeping accessories down to a minimum, but I was surprised to only see the headphones and a 3.5mm auxiliary cable for wired connections. Don’t worry, there is a carry case that looks very much like the mould the headphones sit in that’s hidden. Under head is a USB cable for charging and an instruction manual. There’s a microphone built into the aux cable too for hands-free phone calls, so make sure you plug them in the right way.
The headphones admittedly when picking them up for the first time felt a little flimsy, but not in a bad way. They feel very resilient, as in they’d probably survive a trip in a packed back or even a drop. They’re also very plain looking. I was sent a pair of the black version, which means the backs of the 40mm drivers are covered with a black shiny plastic. It feels tough though, so don’t worry.
The earpads are made from memory foam which makes them extremely comfortable to wear. The bottom of the headband is also soft so there’s no added pressure to the crown. The over-ear design made these really hug your head and increase the noise isolation from the outside world. There’s no active noise cancelling here. The metal hinges on the headphone folds gave me confidence in the longevity of these headphones. Too many times I’ve seen hinges and headbands made from plastic.
The left earcup is where you have to attach the 3.5mm auxiliary cable to connect them to your phone. On the right earcup you will find all the buttons of operation, including a physical switch for turning the headphones on and off which I found a little out of place. There’s also four more buttons, two on the front and two on the back. The back two are responsible for volume control if you’re using Bluetooth, while the front three are there for play/pause and skip tracks.
As I wanted to test these how I know many of you would be using them, I plugged them straight into my Honor 7X mobile to use with Spotify. I could have used a DAC, or some kind of high resolution music file, but that’s not true to life. So, I started off with a new track from State Champs. Dead And Gone sounded extremely full during the intro, even down to the point of hearing the string flicks through each burst of overdriven music.
It sounded wonderful to tell you the truth. Each word sung was extremely clear, and it wasn’t until I moved on to listening to a bit of Aerosmith that you could hear the kind of reverb mixed with Steven Tyler’s voice. I followed this up by testing the bass frequencies with Boyz by M.I.A. Even though the headphones rattled with bass, it still never overpowered the mids and high frequencies. Top stuff if you ask me when it came to music performance. The Focal Listen headphones made each track we threw at it sound great. The fragility of each instrument within a composition meant that everything could be heard, and heard in enough detail to pick it out among a busy track. Things like the singer taking a breath that you never knew existed before. Who knew that Kendrick’s conscious in Swimming Pools drifted between your left and right ear?
There’s up to 20 hours of battery life included with these headphones which is absolutely superb, seeing as you don’t need to blare these headphones at top volumes to get the most out of them. On test, these lasted me a full week of commuting before I needed to give them a charge. The indicator surrounds the USB port.
So, should you invest? Absolutely. If you love your music, and you’re finding yourself listening on-the-go, then there is no better choice right now than the Focal Listen premium wireless headphones. Their noise isolation works very well indeed, especially when you’re in the city, and the music playback is extremely detailed and full, perfect for music streaming services. The 20 hour battery life means you’re not going to be constantly looking for a USB port either. For more information on the Focal Listen headphones, then head over to their website.