Focal Spirit One
French company Focal inhabits rarified terrain with their uber high-end $100,000+ room speakers. Focal now sets their sights on the headphone world with their first release, the sealed-back Focal Spirit One headset. Featuring a built-in mic + Apple controller on the cord, audiophiles and iPad / iPhone owners a couple bucks shy of elite Focal speaker magic may have an alternative in a more immersive personal audio experience -- and at a more human $279 pricepoint. Your wallet may have just dodged a bullet.
- First ever headphone from the French R&D room speaker scientists!
- Mic + remote on cord compatible with all Apple devices
- Smooth tone with great 'built-in' microphone clarity
- Full-size padded earcups for a comfortable wearing experience
- Detachable headphone cable - 4ft cord length
- Free 2-year Focal manufacturer's warranty
What's In The Box:
- Focal travel case / valise
- Soft storage pouch
- 2-prong airline plug adaptor
- 1/4" stereo plug adaptor
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The Focal Spirit One headset "mic'd" headphone is a full-size circumaural construction and -- like the storied Focal name promises -- the French engineering design hits the mark with stellar looks plus full iPhone / iPad telecommunication features. Also impressive is the reasonable $279 investment it takes to get into the first headphone from this high-end audio company renown for making only the very best. The Focal Spirit One's mic + remote is located on the headphone cord and works seamlessly with all recent Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch players and delivers clear voice resolution for calls and hands-free chat. The sealed-back earcups and leather-type material on the padded earcups helps to attenuate some mild environmental noise and offers good durabilty and decent comfort. Technically not a 'noise-cancelling' headphone, the mid-sized sealed-back design only tamps down a modicum of ambient noise, so the Spirit One remains a candidate for those commuters intent on punchy bass response and that handy Apple feature set, not necessarily maximum isolation or noise-blocking. Musically, there's some audible leveled roll-off in the upper frequencies with a silken presentation that listeners sensitive to treble harshness or glare may appreciate. But audiophiles seeking soaring extension into the upper highs will find the Spirit One likely lacking air and detail in much of the treble ranges with a unengaging, laid-back 'flatness' of tone. It does retain a nicely full bottom-end punch [claimed down to 6 Hz (!)] and doesn't skimp on bass, so EDM or hip-hop styles may still be well-served. And, fortunately, the low-end is not over-blown and manages to stay out of the way of the critical voice/telephony frequencies for best speech + call intelligibility.
The Focal Spirit One headphone has a pretty sweet black-on-brushed aluminum cosmetic that's decidely cool and upscale. Although designed as full-size/circumaural cans, our testers found the earpad ergonomics oddly placed between 'on-ear and 'around-the-ear' coverage, resulting in a finicky fit for some. The Spirit One arrives in a tidy slim-box packaging featuring a protective carrying case valise for travel which contains a full-size 1/4" stereo plug adaptor. The older airline 2-prong adaptor is also provided along with a soft storage pouch. The headphone cord is easily detachable with a simple 'straight' 3.5mm stereo connection into the headphones and a similar 1/8" [3.5mm] jack into the audio source. The headphone cord features the 3-button Apple device controller and extends about 4ft in total length, ideal for non-tangled listening when on the move. The 2-year manufacturer's warranty stays free with your 'authorized Focal dealer' HeadRoom purchase receipt.
- Noise Cancelling: No
- Microphone: Yes
- Sensitivity: 104 dB
- Manufacturer Warranty: 2 Years
- Connector Type: 1/8
- Headphone Type: Full Size
- Weight: 225 grams (w/o cord)
- Isolation: -12dB ~ -18dB
- Impedance @ 1kHz: 32 Ohms
- Detachable Cable: Yes
- Cord Length: 4ft
- Ear Coupler Type: Full-Size
- Cord Type: Straight Left-Side
- Driver Type: Dynamic
- Acoustic Seal: Closed
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Posted by Rillion from Maryland on 2012-11-28
Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Bass and mids sound nearly perfect. Blocks external noise well.
Cons: Upper treble falls off a cliff. Clamps hard.
I bought these expecting a bass-heavy headphone, so I can't complain too much about the missing treble. With my head+ears, the frequency response of these headphones is very natural up to 2 kHz, which means speech should sound normal. Above that point, the frequency response drops precipitously. It is fun to occasionally hear music with the bass punch these headphones can pack, but it is not really my usual preference.
With a decent equalizer, a headphone amp (to compensate for precut) and a lot of patience, the treble can be made to sound quite good. In fact, after all the EQ tweaking, this may be the best sounding headphone I own, but only by a tiny margin. There are some recordings (principally of violin) that I normally cannot stand too listen to that sound great with these headphones and this is true with or without equalization. I'm not sure what magic the Focal wizards did make the harsh edges disappear but it is dramatic.
In terms of comfort, I was at first astonished that such a well sealing headphone can actually be comfortable. Unfortunately, after several minutes of listening, the clamping force becomes annoying. The `phones barely fit around my ears (I have normal sized ears for my slight frame), which could effect the seal and comfort for someone with larger ears. For me, these headphones block out external noise exceedingly well--better than anything I've tried except in-ear phones.
Clearly a lot of thought was put into the design and feel of these headphones. They really exude quality. The only minor issue I have is a clicking noise in the left ear cup when I move my head. The noise goes away (even with head motion) after a minute once the seal settles down to conform to the shape of the head.
These headphones are not for everyone. I was seriously considering returning them, but they do some things better than any other headphone I've tried, so I'll keep them and look forward to Focal's next offering.
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