Focal Utopia Measurements
Dekoni Audio is pleased to share a “deep dive” look into our Focal line of Earpads, specifically tuned to elevate your listening experience.
We start with comfort, using our soft, high density, slow rebound memory foam for an extra plush experience that conforms to the shape of your face (and accommodates glasses stems). Like all our earpads, they are offered in a wide range of fabric options, including premium Sheepskin, Fenestrated Sheepskin, Elite Velour, and our Hybrid pads. We also ensured the pads mount just as securely as the stock pads. Finally, we shaped and measured the pads to tune the sound and share a preview of how they sound compared to stock pads.
In our measurements, we aren’t using compensation except to cancel out the ear response of our microphone dummy head. We have been fortunate to have acquired a certain Audio Precision-based measurement rig, and will continue to keep the measurements coming! Some measurements by others are made with adjustments to reflect the effect that the shape of a generic inner and outer ear will have on the sound waves – we don’t do that, because as every experienced audio enthusiast knows, we all have different ears! So, as part of a series of Dekoni Describes posts, we will walk our readers through understanding our graphs.
The first thing to understand about an uncompensated graph is that it will sound different to the listener than the graph will show. For one, we haven’t smoothed our graphs, so there are many peaks and valleys that would have been lost information, but also there are other factors, such as our extra sensitivity to vocals, and that the shape of our ears and depth of our ear canals can actually amplify certain frequencies. For the purposes of swapping earpads, it is enough to say that a flat line along the 0 dB line wouldn’t sound “good,” and mainly we want to focus on how a Dekoni pad compares to the Stock pad. With our measurements, we went straight to the top model, the Focal Utopia, which comes Stock with Fenestrated Lambskin.
We use supple, natural Sheepskin that is the softest and most breathable available today, available in solid or Fenestrated (French for “windowed,” it has little holes in it). With our solid Sheepskin, overall we see a similar shape and only up to a 6 dB deviation from stock, with a small lift in sub bass quantity and the biggest quantity reductions of around the 2 kHz and 7.5 kHz range.
Our Fenestrated Sheepskin is the closest to stock sound, and overall each pad follows a similar shape as the stock pad, though there is a small lift in sub bass response and no spike at the 6 kHz range, a pitch that can add energy but sometimes trigger sibilants for some people with shorter ear canals.
Our Elite Velour is closer to alcantara in feel than typical velour pads, soft and breathable but as you can see there is no loss of foundational bass (in fact it traces very similar to the Sheepskin pads) and has a smaller quantity reduction at 7 kHz than the other pads, contrary to most velours which lose low end and high end pitch quantity that leave a bare the midrange.
Finally, our Hybrid pads, which are sealed with solid Sheepskin on the outside face, neutral Fenestrated Sheepskin on the inner face, and comfortable with Velour on the face facing your face, measure with less low midrange at 1 kHz and the most energy at 5 kHz, but again overall a similar frequency curve shape as the stock pads.
The subjective factor of experiencing headphones and earpads matters the most, of course. If it sounds good, it is good! We do listen with our pads for several revisions before release, and we want to thank reviewers and our patrons on Head-Fi (such as GLer!) and other platforms who have shared their experiences. Real user experience is the best judge, and we thank everyone who has tried to describe their experience!
Our Focal pads fit the Utopia, Clear, Clear Pro, Elear, Elex, Elegia, and Stellia headphones, and are available now at our fine dealers internationally and dekoniaudio.com.