With the PR machine in full gear, the reaction to Focal’s new closed-back headphone called Stellia has mostly been about its color. The $3k can now sits just under the flagship Utopia ($4k) and above most of the remaining product line of hifi personal audio. The Stellia does borrow much of the driver tech from the Utopia, mainly its M-shaped beryllium dome transducer and suspension harness.
The color isn’t particularly off putting to my tastes. The diversion away from audiophile black and silver is a nice change up in a sea of consistent color schemes. But the deviation from the norm has already managed to inspire comments, satire and even a few memes in its wake. I actually got a chance to hear the headphone at CES this year. While everyone has their favorite, the Utopia has always been a top performer on the highest tier of headphone fidelity – so it’s always exciting to see what the team at Focal will come up with next. What I heard at CES was inspiring, although a bit tough to break out without a proper reference of comparison.
Also offering a two nice new tricks was the upcoming Arche DAC/AMP ($2.5k). Aside from the usual DSD compatibility and internal technicalities, the dual mono designed headphone amplifier offers a removable headphone stand that fits nicely into the top grill and selectable pre sets that correspond with the headphones Focal makes. The pre sets are not a form of EQ correction, but rather a wide range of changes that include voltage adjustments to secure optimal performance from each headphone. The Arche is due out next month and the Stellia ships this month.