Focal Listen wireless headphones review
• Fantastic Battery.
• No active noise cancellation.
• Headphone buttons aren’t great.
Focal Audio have been listening to their fans feedback and have finally decided to move in the direction of offering high-end headphones. The past week I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing their latest pair, the Focal Listen Wireless. So far I absolutely love them. Yes, they do have their flaws, but for the current price, I would go far as to say that they are an absolute steal. If you’re looking for a pair of portable wireless headphones, which are comfortable, responsive and competitively priced then I implore you to carry on reading.
How is the sound?
When picking a new set of headphones the sound quality should always be one of your highest priorities. I’ve tested these with a range of different genres, from Rock, Classic, Reggae, House and everything in between. What I found was that the performance was pretty awesome throughout the different styles of music. With a frequency of 15Hz-22kHz, these headphones pack a powerful punch. Some improvements I’d like to see would be more response within the lower frequencies, especially when using the wireless feature.
If wireless isn’t your cup of tea, then also included is a cable. You can definitely tell the difference between the performance of the headphones when comparing wired to non-wired. Vocals seem sharper and crisper, whilst the kick drum is more pronounced. Also included is “clear voice capture” technology which is perfect for when you’re on a long car trip and wanting a hands-free conversation.
Noise isolating, but not noise cancelling
If noise isolation is important to you then the Focal Wireless will do the job; but be warned there is no active noise cancellation technology. Given these points, it means the noise will spill into the surrounding environment when you’re playing music at high volumes. This isn’t ideal if you’re a daily commuter and you don’t want anyone around to hear you. Furthermore, the buttons to control the headphones aren’t the most ergonomic. They do work, but they just don’t have the satisfying feeling other headphones when pressed. My preference was to control the volume and song choice using my phone instead.
Headphones you will want to be wearing
Finished with a black high gloss finish, these headphones look stunning. I have always been a fan of Focal Audios equipment both technically and aesthetically. I find their unique style is the perfect combination of clean, sharp and stylish. The added benefit of these being wireless and looking cool is definitely something that makes these a valid contender for the headphones you want to be wearing this year and the next.
Wear them for four hours straight, and then wear them some more
The first thing that struck me when I tried on the Focal Wireless Headphones was how comfortable they were. Looking at other reviews I found this to be quite a contradictory point to make, as many other reviewers think they feel unnatural. I guess this comes down to personal preference, but for me, they’re the perfect fit. I even found myself walking around my house, completing my daily tasks and ended up forgetting I was wearing them because they felt so natural. No annoying earache after a few hours and the headband fit snugly around my head (Yes, I have quite a large head). Included in the ear cushions is heat sensitive memory foam!
Focal Listen Wireless has a long battery life
For a pair of wireless headphones, one of the most important features for me personally is having a significant battery life. Whether you’re on your commute to work, your bi-weekly run or fancy kicking back and drowning out your annoying neighbours, these beautiful headphones will have you covered. Focal claim that the battery life will last around 20 hours, however, I’ve got closer to 25 hours. They’re charged by a micro-USB connection and the little red light will turn to white once the device has charged. Nice and straightforward.
An additional feature which I found to be really helpful was that when the headphones are connected to your phone the battery will be displayed along the top, next to your phone battery. It’s small attention to detail like this which I love to see in headphones.
Seamless Bluetooth connectivity
The Bluetooth connectivity of the headphones is seamless and there are no hiccups when connecting to your phone. You’re even notified of your connection to the headphones by a friendly, welcoming voice, which is a nice little touch. A downside, however, is that these headphones do not support multipoint Bluetooth. The connection range is also pretty decent, (15m) and I found that sometimes I could leave my phone in my room and take a quick trip downstairs without the sound being interrupted too much.
Last year Focal Audio won us over with their slightly more reasonably priced predecessor, the Focal Listen wired headphones. With a similar design and sound quality they were a great set of headphones, but simply lacked the wireless functionality which is becoming increasingly popular. Since the new wireless version has been released I believe the older pair to be somewhat redundant. Sure, they are slightly more expensive, but in my opinion completely worth the extra $50.
Overall, the Focal Listen Wireless Headphones are a great follow-up to their previously wired headphones and are much more convenient. They are comfortable, have an excellent sound quality and look fantastic. These headphones would be perfect if some sort of noise cancellation was implemented and also the button functionality was tweaked a little bit to make them less awkward. I’d still definitely recommend them to an avid music listener whose main concern is portability, the longevity of battery life and comfort.
- Bluetooth® wireless technology 4.1
- Range > 15m
- Battery Up to 20h
- Impedance (passive mode) 32Ω
- Sensitivity (passive mode) 122dB SPL @ 1kHz – / 1Vrms
- THD @ 1kHz / 100dB SPL < 0.4%
- Frequency response 15Hz -22kHz
- Driver Electrodynamic (137/64“)
- Mylar Titanium
- Microphones 2 Omnidirectional
- (Clear Voice Capture)
- Net weight 300g