Focal Utopia Review (err, well some subjective impressions) Measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/focal-utopia-measurements.2670/ 2020 Update / Revisit: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...the-mighty-utopia-focal-utopia-revisted.9750/ I'm sitting here with some super expensive headphones, and I'm like wow! (I'll be teasing you guys for a bit.) But wow in terms that what we have done as a community. Call me an old fart, but I'm not really a big fan of what the Internet has become. I cringe at all the weird Twitter Facebook nonsense; I am saddened at what Amazon has done to brick and mortar stores; I am pissed at how PayPal effectively operates as a bank but is not subject to many banking regulations (so at least we can get some customer service.) I remember when a coworker showed me Mozilla and the World Wide Web in the early nineties. There was none of this shit. I imagined the Internet as a force more for good, to disseminate information, to teach, to learn, and less for commerce. You know, stuff like the Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5. And the Utopia sitting here in my lap (which will go on loaner tour after two weeks) reassures me that there is still good on the Internet. All of you guys made this happen! This very concept of a group of people with shared interests, putting their minds, money, and energy for the purpose of sharing information and helping each other in their journey to find good sound has become a reality. SuperBestAudioFriends.org has exceeded my expectations. This is real. We are real. Thank you! Tonal Signature Similarities to UERM, @LFF's Code-X, @ohhgourami's HE-6, STAX Omega 1. This is more for people who have been around for a while and have heard these headphones. I can't think of anything else today that sounds quite like it in terms of tonal signature. There is a very evident middle-midrange bump however; and I am not sure if @Serious would like this, but the overall balance is definitely not as "off" as the Elear. Personally I don't mind it. The bump seems narrow affecting certain recordings more than others. The higher treble region seems smoother and more refined than the Elear. Still not as smooth as HD650 or Andromeda. Upper mids and lower treble can be emphasized depending upon recording, but nothing near how difficult a stock HD800 can be. Thankfully, there does not appear to be any suckout in the upper mids as on the Elear. Bass appears neutral with none of that "warmfag" that @Psalmanazar seems to immensely dislike. I could probably use another 1 or 2 db more below 50Hz, but this is a nitpick. Technicalities Seems a little bit less explosive than Elear. I think it's less efficient, but being a traditional dynamic driver, you won't be hearing any of that planar compression. I'd say on the level of the HD800 in macrodynamics, possibly better. Impacts are very tight, solid, and sudden. The Utopia's greatest trait is that it does not immediately bring attention to itself. It doesn't scream "hear how clear I am" while being extremely clear sounding. It doesn't shout "look how resolving I am" while bringing us all the layers of musical information that is often missed while louder sounds are being played back. It doesn't squeal "look how fast my transients are" while pulling off that tight articulated Moffat bass or separating the high hat hits or fast strings plucks. The transients of the Utopia remind me most of the HE-6 transients. Fast, tight, and solid - but without that etchy crap. Impressive indeed! These are manly transients. Not that effeminate ethereal girly-man STAX crap. Traditional dynamic grain is actually on the low side, less than the HD6X0. Headstage doesn't seem to be as oddly wide, left / right as with Elear. The stage is more narrow with much better depth. I'd say the stage is similar to HD6X0. Personally, I have no problems with this because I've come to dislike diffuse headstages or headstages that are too wide in relation to their depth. I know some people will not like the intimate staging. However, the sense of openness is very good. At no point did I feel closed in. Layering and separation are not as good as HD800 or even Andromeda. Don't laugh at the recording. It's a fanciful production of the early 80s, but it was engineered well and is way less processed (meaning more plankton) than the Michael Jackson recordings that came after it. The imperfect nature of the recording and the layers of synth and other effects allow for a good assessment of the Utopia. This is the vinyl mastering and John Taylor proves an awesome bassist. P.S. The Utopia sounds good from the Schiit Vali 2 / Modi AKM4490 stack too. It's a synergistic combination. Vali 2 is slightly laid back. AKM4490 has slightly recessed middle-mids and is warm sounding.