Holiday season is around the corner, and people will be looking for tech gifts. The Focal Listen seeks to be the perfect headphone for your listening needs.

M. Shazni  |  Singapore
Published 2016-10-25 11:26:00

French audio equipment manufacturer Focal is definitely one of the go-to brands for audiophiles to get their gears from.

They make everything from home sound systems, in-car audio, and computer speakers, but what gets people coming back to them is their line of headphones.

They’re good – like really good, and have earned rave reviews from many tech reviewers.

Focal representative, Quentin Morieux
Focal representative, Quentin Morieux

In Singapore, they recently held a launch for three of their newest headphones, the Utopia, the Elear, and the Listen.

Each is aimed at a very specific demographic, and I even had the chance to speak to Focal representative Quentin Morieux as he explained the patented technologies that goes into each product.

Focal Utopia headphone
Focal Utopia headphone

The Utopia is the top-of-the-line model, and is the best headphone that Focal has ever produced, costing an eye-watering $5,699. After listening to it, you certainly feel like you are in your very own Utopia, until the price tag slaps you back into reality.

The Elear is priced at $1,399, while the baby of the group, the Listen, is the most affordable of the bunch at $339.

Today we will be looking at the Listen, and here’s what I thought of it.

A Headphone By Focal Made For Your Mobile Lifestyle

@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post
@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post

First of all, the Focal Listen is a full-sized, on-ear headphone. This makes it bigger than what most people would consider to be ‘portable’. Before we get into specifics about the headphone itself, let’s take a look at what you will be getting in the box.

@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post
@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post

Accessories are sparse, but functional. You get the headphones itself, a detachable cable, a neoprene zipped pouch for storage, and an airline headphone jack adapter.

As I later found out, what it lacks in freebies, the Listen makes up for in sound. The Listen has a collapsible frame going on, letting you fold in both speaker sections before you store it in the provided pouch.

@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post

The detachable cable is home to two little sub sections, a microphone portion nearer to the headphones for voice calls, and a singular silver button some ways down for easy reach.

Overall, don’t expect some over-stylised design that is available in all colours of the rainbow. The Listen is understated and has a look that most people can live with regardless of preference.

Sounds Awesome, Just Don’t Use It For Extended Periods

@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post
@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post

This is the kind of headphones that you can use fresh out of the box. No need for that mystical ‘burn-in‘ periods, although the music did sound a little better after a while.

If you come from the generation that worships Beats headphones, please turn back now, these are not for you. There’s no overwhelming bass here making music all muddy and disgusting. It drives just enough bass to make listening to everyday tracks a delightful experience.

@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post
@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post

The headband length can be extended, and the ear cups move around just enough to fit on most head sizes. One thing I have to mention is that these headphones clamp down on your head quite tightly.

Yes, this is definitely good for noise isolation (don’t use it while crossing the street) since there is no noise cancelling feature.

On the flip side, it takes a toll on your head, especially the ears, which may result in some fatigue after extended listening.

@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post
@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post

As for performance wise, I am no audiophile, so don’t expect me to tell you anything about the highs, mids, and lows, or even about frequency response.

What I can offer you though is the perspective of an everyday user who listens to music that most millennials go for, from the latest Electronic Dance Music to even Korean Pop. Each song sounds as good as the next, and you can really tell the difference in audio quality when compared to cheaper options.

I used the headphones on a mixture of songs that I have on stored mp3 files, as well as on the music service Spotify. I can safely say that unless you are a diehard bass head, these headphones are for you.

Should You Buy It?

@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post

In my defence, I have owned some consumer headphones throughout my lifetime thus far. For as long as I can remember, my go-to brand has always been Sony, but in the last few years, I have also taken a liking to Sol Republic and their line of Tracks headphones.

The problem however, is that the headphones that I own are starting to show its age, and so now I was starting to look around. When I first tried the Listen during the Singapore launch event, I more or less proclaimed to the organizers that this was probably the headphones that I was looking for.

But the golden question is still, “Should you get one?”

Yeah, why not? Though at $339, it is at a price point where not many people would be willing to shell out for a pair. Especially if you are the sort to only rely on the stock earphones that come with your smartphone.

For everyone else though, it makes for an interesting proposition for your music listening needs.

If you are interested to purchase a set, go on ahead to audiobar.com.sg

Win One For Yourself!

@passerbyshaz / Vulcan Post

You didn’t think we’ll leave you hanging right? Congratulations for making it this far, now here’s your chance to own a pair of these awesome headphones for yourself.

One winner will walk away with a Focal Listen worth $339. Here’s how:

  1. Follow us on Instagram! @vulcanpost (https://www.instagram.com/vulcanpost/)
  2. Upload a screenshot of this article on your Instagram profile.
  3. Tell us why you should win one and use the hashtag #VPListen, and tag us @vulcanpost in your photo.
  4. Make sure your Instagram profile is set to public so we can find you!

Contest is only open to our readers in Singapore, and the giveaway ends on 31 October 2016, 2359.

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