Focal got its start when its founder created a new driver which could pack a full sized speaker sound into a bookshelf speaker cabinet. Making a huge sound in a small package is basically what headphones are all about, and Focal continues to do just that with their current headphone lineup. The Stellia and Utopia feature Focal's flagship technologies, including beryllium drivers. The Stellia is the most recent addition to Focal’s lineup of circumaural headphones, and features not just the latest driver technology, but also an experience to go with it.
The Build and Design
The Stellia uses the same chasis as Focal’s other high end headphones, but it ups the ante with a striking color scheme, upgraded materials, and an incredible presentation that starts before you even open the box. The materials used for its box are higher quality than the materials used on many actual products. From the “mocha and cognac” color scheme, to the mottled tweed-like case, to the soft leather on the headphone band – the whole aesthetic drips with an air of vintage luxury goods. The product information is even packed in a nice leather case, rather than loose in the case or in the standard cardboard sleeve. Once you get them out of the box, these headphones would fit right in on a bookshelf in the private study of a retired British art dealer. And the Stellia doesn’t just look nice: the entire construction is sturdy and has a solid feel. The materials are all top quality.
Along with the case, the Stellia comes with a balanced XLR cable, and an unbalanced 3.5mm cable with 6.3mm adapter. The connections to the headphones themselves use standard 2.5mm jacks, so if you need something different – like 2.5mm unbalanced – you can easily find replacements. Everything about the design, packaging, and build of the Stellia is absolutely top end and befitting of $2990 headphones.
The Stellia presents powerful bass, clear mids, and a touch of airiness on the high end. The bass response is fast and tight. Overall, the Stellia’s sound is more on the reference end of the spectrum, with flat mids and small elevations and some tuning in the far end of the spectrum in the bass and treble. The closed-back design helps build the bass presence even with a tuning that leans towards a neutral presentation, but the tuning is closer to reference. With that said, I wouldn’t say that the Stellia is truly neutral: they’re just a bit on the warm side.
The Stellia performs well across a variety of music. On Charlie Xcx’s “Detonate” the Stellia deftly managed the interplay between low bass synth and the quick bass hits in a way that was exciting without losing coherence. The mids and highs are transparent and personal. I felt like Norah Jones was whispering in my ear during the softer passages of “Trying to Keep it Together.” The Stellia was great for listening to softer pop and alternative music as the vocal delivery is very transparent and personal. While they create a great sense of space and position listening to most jazz, I found that the bass lacked the punch and physicality to get me into the groove on more soul or funk jazz type tracks.
Overall, the Stellia’s sound is intimate and personal – massive and spacious – all at once. For someone who enjoys a broad range of music, these are headphones that will reveal something new or something different in a variety of songs. The transparency and soundstage are absolutely out of this world. The combination of the tuning and its other characteristics makes the Stellia addictive and easy to listen to.
The Bottom Line
Starting with the materials, design, and even the box itself, everything about the Stellia is top notch. They can put you face to face with the singer, or in the middle of a concert hall where you’re surrounded by music. The Focal Stellia aren’t just high-end headphones, they’re a luxurious Hi-Fi audio experience.