The Mighty Utopia: Focal Utopia Revisited

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Aug 13, 2020.

  1. neo_the_one

    neo_the_one Facebook Friend

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    For those who own and like/love the focal utopia, do you also own a complementary headphone(s)? If so, which one(s) and for what reason(s)?
     
  2. Stereo Skunk

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    I owned 'complementary' headphones.

    Keyword owned.
     
  3. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    I had a ZMF Verite Closed (and Eikon) that served as a 'complementary' HP for a while. In the end I wanted to try the Stellia (also closed) because why not and I need a closed back so I sold the Verite. Right now I don't really have a "complementary" HP I regularly use because the Stellia is close to Utopia in too many characteristics and I don't count the HD6XX because its stays around merely as a reference.
     
  4. wbass

    wbass Friend

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    Complementary to the Utopias...

    I have a pair of HD800 for their stage width.

    HE6SE for a bit more oomph and tactility.

    LCD-2(F) for BASS.
     
  5. animus

    animus Almost "Made"

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    I would say that the reason I settled for the Utopia in the first place was because a vast majority of headphones were comparatively too compromised in the areas I care about, but one I would like to own as a complementary pair might be the HD580, or maybe some sort of HD6 modded to a similar tonality. Partly as a reference, and partly because I think the Senns are unique in how they portray timbre. Though I doubt I'd ever go through with it because building a setup around Utopia is its own set of troubles, and the rabbithole of squeezing maximum performance out of the Senns is quite deep.
     
  6. Stereo Skunk

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    When I first heard the Utopia, I was greatly underwhelmed. But as I recalibrated, I noticed that the Utopias had naturalness in dynamics, full spectrum, that other headphones didn't seem to have. Since then, I've been convinced that there is a need for a dedicated, compliant surround to allow the pistonic motion of the driver. I find it harder for me to hear (and localize) the driver, which results in a sound stage that is continuous to the center of my head, but also seems to extend as far as the recorded soundstage.
     
  7. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    Interesting to note this. How many dynamic drivers use this?
    2uje4azd87941.jpg
    vs this?
    HD800s.jpg

    As far as voicecoil/diaphragm attachment, HD6xx follows the HD800 form but is not a ring-radiator. I think certain others (maybe Fostex TH900) follow the Utopia's form, using different materials obviously. Perhaps the surround attachment that the Utopia uses engenders more potent dynamics, micro and macro. All speculation of course. A million different factors at play.
     
  8. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    There's no way Focal can use diaphragm material for the surround. Their metal alloys are made to be stiff, hence they don't like to flex, hence the need for a glued on rubber surround. Mylar and paper-like materials don't mind flexing, so their stiffness can be controlled by geometry where needed.
     
  9. Stereo Skunk

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    Omitted to respect focus of thread.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
  10. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    The Utopia driver is a modified tweeter from Focal's car audio inventory. Many of their speakers have tweeters with surrounds as well - they claim this feature allows them to have a lower crossover point for 'better cohesion between the mid driver and the highs'.

    All of the Denon D series, Fostex dynamics, EMUs also have surrounds, though they are implemented differently as far as my eye can tell, I think in this case it's marketed as FreeEdge or whatever. Lots of excursion with a flexing surround on the Focals, hence why it's so important to have a highly rigid diaphragm. And also likely one of the reasons why some Focals hit xmax not far beyond listening level with deep bass content.

    All of the drivers mentioned have a sense of 'pushing a lot of air'. 'Tactility' seems to be a primary strength that can be loosely attributed to this type of design.
     
  11. Stereo Skunk

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    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
  12. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    You can see some sort of knurling on the HD800 driver image I posted. Near the the outermost and innermost points where the diaphragm connects to the frame.

    I recall many moons ago there being much ado about a certain (playnar) headphone manufacturer knurling his diaphragms but the resulting sound to be a downgrade. Perhaps the knurling process is not without drawbacks.
     
  13. Stereo Skunk

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    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
  14. crenca

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    Since this tread is an impressions thread on the Utopia, these sorts of design speculations about orthos really belong elsewhere, assuming they belong anywhere at all. Before you get more dislikes, attempt to consolidate your thoughts into one or two posts to keep the thread/forum noise down. Stream of consciousness posts such as this one are generally frowned upon although long time Friends are allowed more leeway than Rando's...
     
  15. Stereo Skunk

    Stereo Skunk New

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    Well thanks for explaining why I was getting dislikes. I thought everyone was welcoming me to SBAF. Nobody told me that my questions were inappropriate, such as why the EC Jr and not the Studio T for the Utopia. Can someone please tell me where this question might belong? Or if they belong anywhere?

    I didn't really think it was stream of consciousness... more a tangent if you want to be exact.

    I'm so lucky that SBAF is such a welcoming bunch.
     
  16. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Well, like you said you "got tired of reading this thread", so you wanted to be spoon-fed answers instead of doing a bit of work by reading the relevant threads around those EC amps, Focals, dac-amp-HP synergy, etc. SBAF has a culture and part of it is a high signal-to-noise ratio. In other words this community does not exist to spoon-feed you answers to questions that just happen to come to you. Are you really even all that interested in rare/boutique out of production amps like Eddie Current?? I noticed you signed up just on Saturday and made 8 posts in this thread alone, and several others elsewhere. Here is what I recommend: don't post anything else for 3 days. Spend that time to utilize advanced Google search a read all about EC amps, Focal HP's and system synergy. If after three days you have a question that has not already been answered and is worth answering (not all questions are), then ask it.
     
  17. Stereo Skunk

    Stereo Skunk New

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    nah.
     
  18. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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  19. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    IME most people who start with 2-ch and try out Utopias (this category accounts for most Utopia customers at Upscale Audio) will generally feel the lower midrange to be lacking in body and the bass lacking in sustain. This is one of the reasons Upscale really pushes the lush, soft-sounding high-OI Feliks OTLs with the Utopias.

    Those amps certainly have their weaknesses and have lost a fair bit of ground value-wise, but at least they play to diminish Utopia's weaknesses enough for the customers who only use headphones once in a blue moon. These guys aren't entrenched enough into headphone culture to know about the likes of EC, ECP, DNA, etc. To them, diminishing weaknesses is as valid an approach as accentuating strengths. Then again, we don't have proportionally nearly as many ORFAS types here on SBAF.

    edit - my 2c on Utopia: as an MOT I could have easily taken a Utopia home at an accessible-to-me price. But never been tempted.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
  20. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    LOL, from an O2 :rolleyes:.
    Come on now, let's be real!
     

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