I first became interested in headphones after I listened to the complex music of Jacob Collier. I loved it, but it was so foreign that I couldn’t figure-out what I was hearing. I wanted to pull it apart & identify as much as I could.
— so I bought several pairs of great headphones, including the Utopia, a killer DAC/Amp from Bloom, (the Burson Conductor 3X Reference), & a tube amp from ZMF, (for the times I want to use the Burson solely as a DAC).
The combination of the three is spectacular/astonishing/captivating...
It’s so much more than what I hoped it would be.
- For once, forget that your kid needs new glasses & decent shoes. Buy the headphones.
The most obvious characteristic of the Utopia is the detail and clarity. Other top notch headphones sound vailed and smeared in comparison even when they never sounded that way before. This is demonstrated when you understand words for the first time on a track you are very familiar with.
These are very engaging. Giving the music most of your attention results in a very entertaining experience. For background music I had to keep the volume down.
Although there is not an abundance of base, it is authentic and satisfying.
The one issue I had: At high volumes, loud passages of violins and voice sound piercing, some times harsh. This is maybe how violins sound in the first row or may be my 69 year old ears. (I read a couple of reviewers who mentioned glossiness.) At any rate, this was mitigated somewhat by the Burson Conductor 3R's slight warmth.
I bought the Utopia oner the Meze Empyrean because the Meze sounded boring in comparison on my music--mostly classical and singer/songwriter. Most listening is on Qobuz high resolution.
For several years, I have avoided purchasing a Focal headphone. Recently the Utopia was revisited on one of the forums where I participate. The gist of the revisit had one important finding. If you do not have a DNA or EC tube headphone amp, you are not getting the most out of your Utopia. Since I have a DNA Stratus, I decided to upgrade.
Right out of the box, Stratus sounded pretty good on my SS/digital system. ( SPL Phonitor E & Matris Sabra Pro MOQ DAC). I ran that combo for 8 days 24/7 for break in. When I hooked up the Utopia to my Stratus/Shiit Yiggy/PS Audio CD transport, It was great. I played some Sade and wondered what Utopia owners were complaining about. Not enough bass?? I would not say so. Not too much certainly, but bass was lightening quick, detailed and bountiful.
Midrange was clear and musical as it was supposed to be.
All in all, an excellent combination.